Daily Archives: June 14, 2017

(Reason) Young Men Are Playing Video Games Instead of Getting Jobs

Video games, like work, are basically a series of quests comprised of mundane and repetitive tasks: Receive an assignment, travel to a location, overcome some obstacles, perform some sort of search, pick up an item, and then deliver it in exchange for a reward—and, usually, another quest, which starts the cycle all over again. You are not playing the game so much as following its orders. The game is your boss; to succeed, you have to do what it says.

This is especially true in the genre that has come to dominate much of big-budget game development, the open-world action role-playing game, which blends the hair-trigger violence of traditional shooters with the massive explorable landscapes of games like Grand Theft Auto and the intricate craft and character leveling systems of pen-and-paper tabletop fantasy games like Dungeons & Dragons.

The games consist of a series of assignments combined with a progression of skills, awards, and accomplishments, in which you, the player, become more powerful and proficient as a result of your dedication. And dedication is what these games require. It is not uncommon for single-player games to take upward of 60 hours to complete. Online, multiplayer variants can easily chew up hundreds or even thousands of hours of time, with the most accomplished players putting in dozens of hours a week for months on end. Although these games are usually packaged in a veneer of fantasy, they work less like traditional entertainment and more like employment simulators.

So it is perhaps not surprising that for many young men, especially those with lower levels of educational attainment, video games are increasingly replacing work.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Economy, Entertainment, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Men, Young Adults

(AM) Essex churches pass motions of no confidence in “unbiblical leadership” of Archbishops of Canterbury and York

Two churches in Chelmsford Diocese have taken the unprecedented step of issuing public statements of no confidence in the Church of England leadership, following the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call for ‘radical inclusion’ at General Synod in February, and Bishop Stephen Cottrell’s call for thanksgiving prayers to be offered for same sex relationships in his Presidential Address to the Chelmsford Diocesan Synod.

The decision to publish the no confidence motions has been motivated by the Diocese provocatively hosting their June Synod at a church publicly supporting same sex marriage, and Archbishop Welby’s recent letter to Primates which does not mention the Scottish Episcopal Church’s departure from Christian orthodoxy but criticises Gafcon’s decision to appoint a faithful missionary Bishop.

Although two churches have gone public with their protest, Anglican Mainstream understands that several dozen clergy and a number of lay people in the Diocese have written to Bishop Stephen since February expressing deep concern about the direction of the C of E as evidenced by his statements.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Debating transgender

One of the most difficult debates facing General Synod when it meets in July arises not from the main business agenda, but from a diocesan motion from Blackburn Diocese, which will be proposed by Revd Chris Newlands:

That this Synod, recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, calls on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition.

I was approached to discuss this with Chris on last weekend’s Sunday programme on Radio 4, and if you want to see how complex and challenging this debate is going to be, then you can listen to our discussion on iPlayer starting at 30 minutes into the programme. The difficulties start (as is often the case in such debates) with the language; the question here is less about ‘gender’ (that is, socially constructed roles of men and women) but ‘sex identity’ (that is, whether someone is a biological man or woman) as is evident from Chris’ own language. That is why, in informed discussions, the situation we are faced with is described as ‘gender identity disorder’ or more commonly ‘gender dysphoria’. Chris is right to emphasise the serious and distressing nature of the pastoral issue—but unfortunately my agreement with him on this, and my explaining my personal experience of that amongst friends and family was edited out (the discussion was pre-recorded) in order to create a sense of ‘liberal pastoral care’ versus ‘traditionalist dogma’ on the programme. There is no doubt at all that this is how many will seek to configure the Synod debate.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(PR FactTank) Christians faced widespread harassment in 2015, but mostly in Christian-majority countries

Christians were harassed by governments or social groups in a total of 128 countries in 2015 – more countries than any other religious group, according to the report. But there also were 2.3 billion Christians in 2015, more than any other religious group. Large populations of Christians are present in all but a few parts of the world: Roughly two-thirds of the world’s countries, for example, have Christian majorities

By contrast, smaller religious groups may not have been harassed in as many countries simply because they are not present in as many countries. For instance, because of their dense concentration in a small number of countries, 99% of Jews and Hindus lived in nations where members of their groups were harassed. And despite being one of the most geographically dispersed religious groups, 97% of Muslims lived in countries where harassment of Muslims occurred in 2015. (By comparison, 78% of Christians lived in places where Christians were harassed.)

Due in part to the large number of Christian-majority countries, Christians were actually harassed mostly in Christian-majority countries.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(WSJ) William McGurn–Dad Meets the Sexual Revolution

The great fraud of our age, of course, is that consent and contraception are all a woman needs to have sex the way a man can. Certainly birth control and its backstop (abortion) permit women to enjoy a sexual relationship without the fear of an unwanted child. But seldom does anyone ask whether an unwanted pregnancy is the only unfortunate consequence a consensual sexual relationship might bring.

This father wonders. I know any number of accomplished women who are not prudes, who want to be more than someone’s Tinder swipe and who are looking for full and worthy partners. When these women relate the reality of modern courtship—how so many first dates end with the man making clear that not jumping into bed with him means no second date—let’s just say “empowering” is not the first word that comes to mind.

In a 2014 piece for the Weekly Standard, Heather Mac Donald noted that when the social default for unmarried sex was “no,” the woman didn’t have to explain herself. “No” was sufficient. The irony is that this default meant the woman held most of the cards when it came to deciding whether a relationship would become sexual.

Today, Ms. Mac Donald notes, the default has become “yes”—and the woman who resists is both on her own and on the defensive. For men, of course, this has been a most welcome shift….

Read it all.

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

(Phil Ashey) The Gafcon missionary bishop for Scotland and Europe

On Friday June 30, 2017, the Rev. Canon Andy Lines will be consecrated in Wheaton Illinois (USA) at the Third Provincial Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), the Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach Presiding. The consecrating Bishops will be acting on behalf of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), and Canon Lines will become its first Missionary Bishop to Europe.

Canon Andy Lines’ consecration will not be irregular or invalid.  His Holy Orders in the Province of South America have been duly and lawfully transferred to, and likewise received by, the ACNA. He will be consecrated by acting primates, archbishops and bishops of the Anglican Communion. His consecration will fall within the historical tradition of faithful Bishops who have created order in the Church during times of crisis. These are times when faith and doctrine have been threatened by others’ failure to guard against false teaching—or worse, have actively promoted such false teaching. One can trace this all the way back to Athanasius and the crisis of Arianism in the early Church. Faithful bishops like Athanasius disregarded the boundaries and autonomy of Arian dioceses in order to consecrate Biblically faithful bishops for Biblically faithful Christians. The consecration of a missionary bishop by GAFCON for Europe is as much an emergency as the consecrations that Athanasius and other faithful bishops performed, and just as necessary to guard the faith and order of the Church and prevent spiritual harm to biblically faithful Christians.

We call these emergencies “exigent circumstances.” Although this is a legal term used in criminal courts for circumstances in which the potential death of a victim, flight of a felon or destruction of evidence justifies an emergency search or seizure that overrides the freedom, autonomy and constitutional rights of a suspect, “exigent circumstances” have also been the grounds for faithful Bishops, clergy and laity to take emergency action to guard the faith and order of the Church. I recently wrote about Exigent Circumstances in the Anglican Communion, citing the works of Paul Avis, Francis Oakley and Brian Tierney for the precedent of such “emergency action” which we see in the development of  the great reforming Councils of the Roman Catholic Church during the Great Schism (1378-1417).

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, --Scotland, Church History, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Same-sex blessings, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(Diocese of Europe) Tributes to Bishop Geoffrey Rowell RIP

I experienced him as unfailingly kind, warm and hospitable. He stayed at our home in Belgium on a number of occasions. I recall with affection long conversations over a bottle of whisky late into the night. When I was appointed his successor, he was wonderfully encouraging and helpful. Geoffrey valued highly his friendship with his clergy, and those of us who served as his priests and deacons will miss him dearly.

For 12 years as Diocesan Bishop, Geoffrey embodied the Diocese in Europe in his own character and personality. He managed to remain a serious academic whilst also carrying out a demanding pastoral ministry. He was a great ambassador for a traditional, catholic, Anglicanism. He maintained an enviable quantity and quality of correspondence with ecumenical partners and friends. He travelled with remarkable energy and stamina. He inspired loyal devotion in those who worked most closely with him.

Read it all.

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

Basil the Great on the Nature of the Holy Spirit for his Feast Day

Let us now investigate what are our common conceptions concerning the Spirit, as well those which have been gathered by us from Holy Scripture concerning It as those which we have received from the unwritten tradition of the Fathers. First of all we ask, who on hearing the titles of the Spirit is not lifted up in soul, who does not raise his conception to the supreme nature? It is called “Spirit of God,” “Spirit of truth which proceedeth from the Father,” “right Spirit,” “a leading Spirit.” Its proper and peculiar title is “Holy Spirit;” which is a name specially appropriate to everything that is incorporeal, purely immaterial, and indivisible. So our Lord, when teaching the woman who thought God to be an object of local worship that the incorporeal is incomprehensible, said “God is a spirit.” On our hearing, then, of a spirit, it is impossible to form the idea of a nature circumscribed, subject to change and variation, or at all like the creature. We are compelled to advance in our conceptions to the highest, and to think of an intelligent essence, in power infinite, in magnitude unlimited, unmeasured by times or ages, generous of Its good gifts, to whom turn all things needing sanctification, after whom reach all things that live in virtue, as being watered by Its inspiration and helped on toward their natural and proper end; perfecting all other things, but Itself in nothing lacking; living not as needing restoration, but as Supplier of life; not growing by additions; but straightway full, self-established, omnipresent, origin of sanctification, light perceptible to the mind, supplying, as it were, through Itself, illumination to every faculty in the search for truth; by nature unapproachable, apprehended by reason of goodness, filling all things with Its power, but communicated only to the worthy; not shared in one measure, but distributing Its energy according to “the proportion of faith;” in essence simple, in powers various, wholly present in each and being wholly everywhere; impassively divided, shared without loss of ceasing to be entire, after the likeness of the sunbeam, whose kindly light falls on him who enjoys it as though it shone for him alone, yet illumines land and sea and mingles with the air. So, too, is the Spirit to every one who receives it, as though given to him alone, and yet It sends forth grace sufficient and full for all mankind, and is enjoyed by all who share It, according to the capacity, not of Its power, but of their nature.

de Spiritu Sancto, Chapter IX (my emphasis)

Posted in Church History, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

Gafcon Chairman Archbp Nicholas Okoh’s June 2017 letter

I am reminded of Athanasius because we are facing a similar struggle for the integrity of the gospel in our time. On Thursday 8th June, the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) changed its teaching to allow men to be married to men and women to women. It followed the path already taken by the Episcopal Church of the United States (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada.

This attempt to redefine marriage is not a secondary issue about which we can agree to disagree and continue to walk together. It means that Jesus was mistaken when he taught that marriage was between a man and a woman and that sex outside of such a marriage is a sin. It is a radical rejection of the authority of Scripture. The Church claims that it can consecrate behaviour that God’s Word clearly teaches to be sinful. According to the Bible, this behaviour, without repentance, separates those who practice it from his kingdom.

Athanasius consecrated orthodox bishops in dioceses led by Arians because he knew that the apostolic faith itself was at stake. This was the principle guiding the interventions which led to the formation of the Anglican Church in North America in 2009 and it was affirmed by over three hundred bishops in assembly at Gafcon 2013 in Nairobi. It was therefore very appropriate that on the same day that the Scottish Episcopal Church formally turned aside from the historic Christian faith, Gafcon announced that Canon Andy Lines, already an internationally recognised missionary statesman, will be consecrated later this month as a Gafcon missionary bishop for Europe.

This is not a step we have taken lightly, but from the beginning Gafcon has been committed to standing with the marginalised. Requests for help from Scottish orthodox leaders to the Archbishop of Canterbury were turned down. Indeed, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church told his General Synod last year that the Archbishop of Canterbury, had assured him that he would welcome the Scottish Church to the 2020 Lambeth Conference even if it chose to change its marriage canon to include same sex unions.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, GAFCON, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Basil the Great

Almighty God, who hast revealed to thy Church thine eternal Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in Trinity of Persons: Give us grace that, like thy bishop Basil of Caesarea, we may continue steadfast in the confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of thee, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; who livest and reignest for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Basil the Great

Eternal God, Thou uncreate and primal Light, Maker of all created things, Fountain of pity, Thou Sea of Bounty, fathomless deep of Loving-Kindness: lift Thou up the light of Thy countenance upon us! Lord, shine in our hearts, true Sun of Righteousness, and fill our souls with Thy beauty.

Teach us always to keep in mind Thy judgments, and to discourse of them, and own Thee continually as our Lord and Friend. Govern by Thy will the works of our hands; and lead us in the right way, that we may do what is well-pleasing and acceptable to Thee, that through us unworthy Thy holy name may be glorified.

To Thee alone be praise and honor and worship eternally. Amen.

–James Manning,ed., Prayers of the Early Church (Nashville: The Upper Room, 1953)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name for ever; may his glory fill the whole earth! Amen and Amen!

–Psalm 72:18-19

Posted in Theology: Scripture