Monthly Archives: May 2017

(The Goodbook) Vaughan Roberts on assisted dying, dignity and dependence

How should Christians bring our perspective into the public debates about assisted dying?

Well for a start, we need to make sure that we are involved in these discussions, even if it’s just closer to home—in our offices, in our communities, among our friends, as well as in the national debate. We’ve got good news to share—so let’s get engaged. So much of this discussion assumes that some lives are just not worth living—and Christians need to say, no, every life has dignity.

Second, we’ve also got something important to say about suffering. Our culture can’t cope with suffering—it wants to reduce suffering as much as possible and at all costs. Christians say suffering is bad—it’s a result of the fall—but God can be wonderfully at work in and through it.

And third, I think one key assumption underlying the argument for assisted suicide is that there’s just nothing worse than being dependent on others. But a Christian worldview says that actually our dependence on God and on one another is fundamental to our humanity. It’s a good thing! Illnesses brings that dependence to the fore, and that can be mutually very uplifting—for the carer and the one being cared for—even in the midst of very hard times. My father found the loss of independence the hardest aspect of his illness to cope with. At the very end of his life he was paralysed and unable to speak. Those last few days were intensely sad and yet also, in a strange way, profoundly beautiful. He had given so much to us and now we in the family had the privilege of caring for him, stroking and kissing him, singing his favourite hymns and praying. Such dependence is not undignified. This is being human.

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Books, Children, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Theology

(Christian Today) Egypt’s Christians say they are proud to die for Jesus as ISIS continues its deadly attacks

Coptic Christians have said that they “take pride” in dying for their faith following the latest slaughterat the hands of Islamic State terrorists.

“We take pride to die while holding on to our faith,” Bishop Makarios, the top Coptic Orthodox cleric in Minya, said over the weekend, according to CBC News.

Reports have emerged revealing that IS gunmen forced Christians on their way to a monastery off a bus on Friday, where they asked them to denounce their faith and convert to Islam. The Copts, including children, refused, which led to the massacre of 29 believers, one of the chaplains comforting survivors revealed.

Thousands of Copts have been mourning the slain in the bus shooting, expressing their grief and rage at funerals for the victims.

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Middle East, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Uncategorized, Violence

Wednesday food for Thought–‘ the real greatness of a nation its true civilization is measured by the extent..of [its] obedience to the enenforceable’

…to my mind the real greatness of a nation its true civilization is measured by the extent of this land of Obedience to the Unenforceable. It measures the extent to which the nation trusts its citizens and its existence and area testify to the way they behave in response to that trust. Mere obedience to Law does not measure the greatness of a Nation. It can easily be obtained by a strong executive and most easily of all from a timorous people. Nor is the licence of behavior which so often accompanies the absence of Law and which is miscalled Liberty a proof of greatness. The true test is the extent to which the individuals composing the nation can be trusted to obey self-imposed law.”

–[Lord] John Fletcher Moulton, “Law and Manners” (Atlantic Monthly, July 1924) [Hat tip: BA]

Posted in Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General

(ABC) A recent Trend among young Adults–Marrying Yourself, or Sologamy

For the 36-year-old, tying the knot was about making a formal commitment to the love of her life: herself.

“I’ve been told that I am a great catch and today I am catching myself,” she said.

What initially started out as a housewarming party, [Erika] Anderson said, later evolved.

“I was like, ‘And I’ll marry myself,’” she said. “I think it’s hard not to adopt whatever society’s messages are … and I certainly think that one of the messages is, ‘You are not enough if you are not with someone else.’”

Anderson is far from alone. She joins a small yet growing number of women from around the world who have held weddings for themselves. Yasmin Eleby celebrated her 40th birthday by saying “I do” to herself, and her mother even walked her down the aisle.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Sexuality

(New Statesman) Rowan Williams on Rod Drehers’ new book-The Benedict Option:a new monasticism for the 21st c.

The lack of specific discussion of groups such as the Catholic Worker movement and the Bruderhof is such that it is hard to envisage just what Dreher’s Benedict-inspired communities might look like – though he strongly commends home-schooling and likes the idea of orthodox believers living in close proximity to one another and to their church. What is left most worryingly vague is how such groups might maintain a level of self-criticism, and how they would handle issues around authority and management of conflict. Benedict has a fair bit to say about this, and Dreher shows he is aware of it and of the problem of alienating a younger generation by excessive exclusivism. However, more information on how actual communities have discovered and handled (or failed to handle) such matters would help.

The Benedict Option is unsettling. It confronts the prevailing consensus about how far the majority is willing to make room for principled dissent and public argument – yet at the same time shows a rather dispiriting lack of confidence in public argument. It puts a solid and appealing case for religious communities to be more serious about the disciplines that sustain prayer, compassion and integrity; but it is also a jeremiad against the decline of a certain sort of American public piety, and the sinister plans of relativists and revisionists.

The book is worth reading because it poses some helpfully tough questions to a socially liberal majority, as well as to believers of a more traditional colour. Yet it also fails to note the irony of advocating what it does in a climate where liberal triumphalism has already been shaken by a very un-Benedictine set of influences, through the resurgence of populist conservatism and protectionism. And neither restating liberal nostrums nor Dreher’s “strategy of hibernation” – to borrow a phrase from Adorno – seems an adequate answer to this.

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Posted in --Rowan Williams, Church History, Religion & Culture, Theology

(IFS) Tyler VanderWeele responds to Bella DePaulo–What The New York Times Gets Wrong About Marriage, Health, and Well-Being

DePaulo criticizes research of the sort we reported in the Nurses’ Health Study for not distinguishing between the transition from singlehood to marriage, versus from marriage to divorce. And indeed, the Nurses’ Health Study participants were married upon study entry so that the estimate reported above is more reflective of the adverse impact of divorce compared to marriage. DePaulo argues that if you marry, you are also more likely to divorce. That is, of course, true: the effects of continuous marriage on health are going to be more protective than marriage followed by divorce.

But DePaulo seems to suggest that the right way to avoid divorce is to not marry. A more sensible solution would be to develop support resources to work through marital difficulties, when appropriate. Marital counseling, maintaining commitment, online marriage support resources,19 and the passage of time can pay off.16 One study indicated that among those who were married and rated their marriage as “very unhappy” but stayed married, 77% said that five years later the same marriage was either “very happy” or “quite happy.”

Beyond the question of divorce, however, a vast literature now exists (in addition to the Switzerland study) on the objective health effects of marriage,including studies that have examined never-married populations: these studies find similar protective effects of marriage.

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Posted in Health & Medicine, History, Marriage & Family, Sociology

(NYT Op-ed) Bella DePaulo–Get Married, Get Healthy? Maybe Not

Today nearly as many adults are not married as married. Those who do marry are taking longer than ever to get there, and on average Americans spend more years of their adult lives unmarried than married.

The new and accumulating research suggests something heartening: People who are single are doing much better than we realized. Marriage is unlikely to bring lasting improvements to their health or well-being, and could even result in decrements.

Free of the myth that marriage is a magical potion, we can all pursue the life paths that suit us best. Marriage is still there for those who want it. But now people who prefer to live single can come out of the shadows. The possibilities for meaning and fulfillment in a single life have gone largely unrecognized. It is time for that to change.

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Posted in Health & Medicine, History, Marriage & Family

A Prayer for the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Father in heaven, by whose grace the virgin mother of thine incarnate Son was blessed in bearing him, but still more blessed in keeping thy word: Grant us who honor the exaltation of her lowliness to follow the example of her devotion to thy will; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Church of South India

O God, whose blessed Son, our great High Priest, has entered once for all into the holy place, and ever liveth to intercede on our behalf: Grant that we, sanctified by the offering of his body, may draw near with full assurance of faith by the way which he has dedicated for us, and evermore serve thee, the living God; through the same thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee, O Father, and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

–Luke 10:17-24

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Vatican Radio) Anglicans, Catholics in Erfurt: ‘Walking together on the way’

‘Walking together on the way’ is the title of a new document to be published by the the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, whose members met this month in Erfurt, Germany. Despite some “difficult conversations” and “hard questions” over the past year, the Anglican and Catholic theologians who make up ARCIC III managed, at the May 14th to 20th meeting, to conclude the first part of their mandate, finding agreement on ways in which the two Churches are structured at local, regional and universal levels.

The new statement opens the way for the Commission to tackle the second part of its mandate on how the Churches, at local and universal level, are able “to discern right ethical teaching”.

But what does the new ecumenical text contain? And how will it affect ordinary Catholics and Anglicans in the pews?

To find answers to those questions, Philippa Hitchen spoke to the Catholic co-secretary of ARCIC III, Fr Anthony Currer of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity….

Read and listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Roman Catholic

(MG) Our spire could topple, Montreal’s Christ Church Cathedral officials warn as they launch campaign

Christ Church Cathedral is asking the public for $8 million to save its spire and for other repairs to the 158-year-old building.

The Anglican church’s steel spire is corroded and could topple unless it is rebuilt, officials said at a launch of the fundraising campaign at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Earlier, Parks Canada and the Historic Monuments Board of Canada unveiled a plaque recognizing the historic significance of the 1859 church, which played a key role in expanding the city from Old Montreal to today’s downtown.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Stuff) Christchurch religious leaders rally for Anglican bishop Victoria Matthews in her Cathedral Battle

Christchurch religious leaders have rallied to support Anglican bishop Victoria Matthews in her battle over the Christ Church Cathedral.

Eight religious leaders from all the major Christian denominations – including Presbyterian, Methodist and Catholic – have written a letter to The Press calling for Anglicans to be “left to make decisions as to the future of the cathedral”.

“The role of the wider community (including other Christian denominations) is to respect their decision (whatever it might be) as being one that is true to their understanding of their call from God, in this place, at this time,” the letter states.

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Posted in Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Provinces Other Than TEC, Urban/City Life and Issues

(VOA) Famine Looms in Former Boko Haram Stronghold in NE Nigeria

The United Nations is warning that more than 1.4 million people in northeastern Nigeria could face famine by September because of a severe funding shortage. To date, only 28 percent of the U.N. appeal for more than $1 billion to provide humanitarian aid for nearly seven million people has been received.

Since Boko Haram militants began their armed rebellion against the government of Nigeria in 2009, the United Nations estimates more than 20,000 people have been killed, nearly two million are internally displaced inside the country, and about 200,000 have taken refuge in neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

Government forces have recaptured much of the territory held by Boko Haram, but the security situation remains fragile.

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Posted in Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Nigeria, Poverty, Terrorism

(Tel.) The Right Reverend Keith Sutton, Bishop of Lichfield, RIP

The Right Reverend Keith Sutton, who has died aged 82, was Bishop of Lichfield from 1984-2003 and before that spent five years as suffragan Bishop of Kingston in Southwark diocese.

He was one of the Church of England’s most highly regarded leaders, combining considerable intellectual gifts with a warm, attractive personality.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals