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A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Mary Magdalene

Almighty God, whose blessed Son restored Mary Magdalene to health of body and mind, and called her to be a witness of his resurrection: Mercifully grant that by thy grace we may be healed of all our infirmities and know thee in the power of his endless life; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Pastor’s Prayerbook

O God, who through thy Son Jesus Christ hast promised a blessing to the meek upon earth, take from us all pride and vanity, boasting and forwardness; and give us the true courage that shows itself by gentleness, the true wisdom that shows itself by simplicity, and the true power that shows itself by modesty; for Christ’s sake.

–Robert W. Rodenmayer, ed., The Pastor’s Prayerbook: Selected and arranged for various occasions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1960)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

And others are the ones sown among thorns; they are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the delight in riches, and the desire for other things, enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown upon the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

–Mark 4:18-20

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Local Paper) Clemson’s Dabo Swinney to assistants: Spend time with your own kids, or you’re fired

Rare is it that Dabo Swinney issues threats. The Clemson football coach dances with his players and takes his assistants on annual skiing trips. Fear is not part of his playbook.

But Swinney makes an exception when it comes to safeties coach Mickey Conn, whose oldest son, Brodey, plays on the same football and baseball teams as Swinney’s youngest son, Clay.

“Dabo says, ‘If you don’t go to the games, I’m going to fire you,’” Conn said.

And so Conn goes to the games. He values his employment. He then returns to the Tigers’ facility grateful to work for a boss who emphasizes the importance of family time.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Children, Marriage & Family, Sports

(PR FactTank) Which 7 countries hold half the world’s population?

As of this month, the world’s population is 7.63 billion, according to the United Nations, which celebrates World Population Day today. More than half of all people around the globe (3.97 billion) live in just seven countries, according to the UN’s estimates. China has the world’s largest population (1.42 billion), followed by India (1.35 billion). The next five most populous nations – the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan and Nigeria – together have fewer people than India.

As recently as 2014, half the world’s population was concentrated in just six countries – the same nations as above, with the exception of Nigeria. Recent population growth, however, has been faster in the rest of the world than in these six nations, meaning that the top six now hold slightly less than half (49.4%) of the world’s people. Including Nigeria’s nearly 200 million people puts the world’s seven most populous countries at 52% of the global population.

The demographic future for the U.S. and the world looks very different than it did in the recent past. Growth from 1950 to 2010 was rapid — the global population nearly tripled, and the U.S. population doubled. However, population growth in future decades is projected to be significantly slower and is expected to tilt strongly to the oldest age groups, both globally and in the U.S.

Read it all.

Posted in Globalization

(FT) An interview with Karen Armstrong: ‘We’re just not good at religion’

“I always say,” Karen Armstrong admits with a conspiratorial grin, “that God bought me that place.” She is referring to the north London house she paid for with the proceeds of her series of bestsellers on religion — and Islam in particular.

If there was one specific book that underpinned the foundations of her Islington home, it was her short history of Islam. Published in 2000, this was perfectly timed for the west’s agonising over religion and the potential for a clash of civilisations sparked by the September 11 attacks the following year.

“I never saw the inside of a library” after that, she tells me as we are steered to our table. Instead, she was on the radio nonstop, “talking about Islam ” — as indeed she has been virtually ever since. She sees it as a civic duty to defend the religion — against both the misconceptions of non-Muslims and against what she sees as the corrupting influence of certain strains of Islamic theology, notably Saudi Wahhabism.

It is, Armstrong says of the latter, “as if a tiny sect in the [American] Bible belt had petrodollars and international approval to export their form of Christianity over the rest of the world.”

Read it all(subscription).

Posted in Books, Globalization, Islam, Religion & Culture

Food for Thought on a Sunday–Corrie Ten Boom on Worry

“Worry is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength — [It’s] carrying two days at once. It’s moving into tomorrow ahead of time….[quoting someone else] worrying does not take away tomorrow’s grief; it takes away today’s strength.”

-Corrie Ten Boom, Reflections of God’s Glory, pp. 36-37

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Pastor’s Prayerbook

Grant to us, O Lord, the royalty of inward happiness, and the serenity which comes from living close to thee: Daily renew in us the sense of joy, and let the eternal spirit of the Father dwell in our souls and bodies, filling us with light and grace, so that, bearing about with us the infection of a good courage, we may be diffusers of life, and may meet all ills and cross accidents with gallant and high-hearted happiness, giving thee thanks always for all things.

–Robert W. Rodenmayer, ed., The Pastor’s Prayerbook: Selected and arranged for various occasions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1960)

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Scripture Readings

O God, thou art my God, I seek thee,
my soul thirsts for thee;
my flesh faints for thee,
as in a dry and weary land where no water is.
So I have looked upon thee in the sanctuary,
beholding thy power and glory.
Because thy steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise thee.
So I will bless thee as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on thy name.

–Psalm 63:1-4

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CT) Canadian Anglicans to Continue Same-Sex Ceremonies, Even After Failed Vote

Though the Anglican Church in Canada last week failed to amend its canon to sanction same-sex marriages, in the wake of the narrow vote, dioceses have opted to continue with them anyway.

The amendment, first passed in 2016, required a two-thirds majority vote among lay delegates, clergy, and bishops at two triennial general synods in a row. While it met the threshold among lay and clergy (80.9% and 73.2%) during this year’s synod, the bishops’ vote last Friday fell just short of two-thirds (62.2%).

On Monday, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, the Primate of Canada, read a statement to the delegation saying the bishops “are not of one mind” on the issue, but that “we are walking together in a way which leaves room for individual dioceses and jurisdictions of our church to proceed with same-sex marriage,” according to Anglican Planet.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(Guideposts) Apollo 11: When Buzz Aldrin Took Communion on the Moon

For several weeks prior to the scheduled lift-off of Apollo 11 back in July, 1969, the pastor of our church, Dean Woodruff, and I had been struggling to find the right symbol for the first lunar landing.

We wanted to express our feeling that what man was doing in this mission transcended electronics and computers and rockets.

Dean often speaks at our church, Webster Presbyterian, just outside of Houston, about the many meanings of the communion service.

“One of the principal symbols,” Dean says, “is that God reveals Himself in the common elements of everyday life.” Traditionally, these elements are bread and wine–common foods in Bible days and typical products of man’s labor.

One day while I was at Cape Kennedy working with the sophisticated tools of the space effort, it occurred to me that these tools were the typical elements of life today.

I wondered if it might be possible to take communion on the moon, symbolizing the thought that God was revealing Himself there too, as man reached out into the universe. For there are many of us in the NASA program who do trust that what we are doing is part of God’s eternal plan for man.

Read it all.

Posted in Eucharist, History, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(TLC) Arctic Diocese in Canada Declares Itself in Impaired Communion with the Anglican Church of Canada

Declaring “a state of impaired communion” over the issue of same-sex marriage, the bishops of the Diocese of the Arctic have moved to distance themselves from the actions of other dioceses in the Anglican Church of Canada.

“We are grateful that the vote to change the marriage canon failed but saving the marriage canon did not save the biblical understanding of marriage. We are saddened that so many bishops have defied General Synod and have announced an independent decision to approve same-sex marriage,” the bishops said, in a letter to the diocese. The letter was signed by Diocesan Bishop David W. Parsons and the three suffragan bishops of the diocese: Joey Royal, Annie Ittoshat, and Lucy Netser.

A resolution that would have paved the way to allowing same-sex marriage with the permission of diocesan bishops failed by two votes to get the necessary two-thirds majority in the order of bishops at the Church’s triennial General Synod, which concluded July 16. The resolution easily surpassed two-thirds in the order of clergy and order of the laity.

Within a day after the July 12 vote, primate-elect Linda Nicholls, in her role as outgoing Bishop of Huron, and the bishops of Ottawa, Niagara, Rupert’s Land, and Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island announced they would continue the practice of allowing priests in their dioceses to perform or bless same-sex marriages.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada

(MB) August Smith–The God Days of Summer

Just kidding. In fact, in this chapter our favorite Episcopal priest-turned writer [Robert Farrar Capon] argues the opposite: that an all-redeeming, perfectly loving God made known in Christ is indeed compatible both with harsh summers and their spiritual counterpart: hell. After drawing witty (and surprisingly believable) comparisons between the sweaty season and the lake of fire, he deftly explains why a robust theology of hell is indispensable in Christian doctrine. Check out this quasi-Lewisian explanation from the chapter “The Porch”:

the neat spirit of hell is a championing of the right so profound that it produces a permanent unwillingness to forgive, an eternal conviction that wrong should be prevented whenever possible and punished whenever not, but this it must never under any circumstances be absolved … That is the hell of hell. That’s why it’s presided over by the rightest angel who ever lived. That’s why it’s the least human place in the universe. And that’s why, though earth can sometimes indeed be heaven, it can never quite manage to be pure hell: there is always the chance that out of pure feeblemindedness if nothing else we might just drop the subject of being right.

We ask that God’s will may be done “as in heaven so on earth,” and we follow that by praying to be forgiven only as we forgive. The link we establish between earth and heaven, you see, is a human link and the virtue we attach most immediately to his will is a human virtue: mercy top to bottom, here as there; pardon all around, there as here. Heaven is not the home of the good but of the forgiven forgivers; hell contains only unpardoned unpardoners. Neither place, of course, is inhabited by anything but unpardonable types: it’s just that everybody in heaven, God himself included, has decided to die to the question of who’s wrong; whereas nobody in hell can even shut up about who’s right. Hell is where the finally, unrepentantly righteous and the finally, impenitently wicked have literally forever to enjoy their final, unendable war.

Read it all.

Posted in Eschatology

(DW) German churches lose 430,000 Catholic and Protestant members in 2018

Germany’s Catholic Church lost 216,078 members and Protestant churches lost some 220,000 in 2018, according to data published on Friday by the German Bishops’ Conference and the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD).

In total, around 23 million German citizens are still members of the Catholic Church and 21.14 million are members of the Protestant churches. The two groups account for 53.2% of the country’s total population of over 83 million.

Hans Langendörfer, secretary of the German Bishops’ Conference, described Friday’s figures as a “worrying” statistic.

“Every departure hurts,” said Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, president of the EKD. “Since people today, unlike in the past, decide out of freedom whether they want to belong to the church, it is important for us today to make even clearer why the Christian message is such a strong basis for life.”

Read it all.

Posted in Germany, Religion & Culture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Pastor’s Prayerbook

O God, who hast given us the grace to carry the sword of thy Kingdom of peace; who hast made us messengers of peace in a world of strife, and messengers of strife in a world of false peace: make strong our hand, make clear our voice, give us humility with firmness and insight with passion that we may fight not to conquer, but to redeem.

–Robert W. Rodenmayer, ed., The Pastor’s Prayerbook: Selected and arranged for various occasions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1960)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Then he went home; and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for people were saying, “He is beside himself.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Be-el′zebul, and by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” And he called them to him, and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man; then indeed he may plunder his house.

“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

And his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting about him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around on those who sat about him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

–Mark 3:19-35

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(RNS) Faith groups fear the end of refugee resettlement in the U.S.

Faith-based groups that help the U.S. government resettle refugees fear the future of their work is in jeopardy, after learning that the Trump administration is considering shutting down refugee resettlement for the coming fiscal year.

That move, advocates say, would dismantle an already weakened — and largely religious — refugee resettlement infrastructure dedicated to helping immigrants.

On Thursday (July 18), Politico reported that Trump administration officials are mulling the option of setting the annual ceiling for refugee admissions to zero.

The shift could devastate the refugee resettlement program, which is largely operated by religious groups: Of the nine non-profit organizations that currently partner with the federal government to resettle refugees, six are faith-based.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Atlantic) Derek Thompson–The Future of the City Is Childless–America’s urban rebirth is missing something key—actual births

Cities were once a place for families of all classes. The “basic custom” of the American city, wrote the urbanist Sam Bass Warner, was a “commitment to familialism.” Today’s cities, however, are decidedly not for children, or for families who want children. As the sociologists Richard Lloyd and Terry Nichols Clark put it, they are “entertainment machines” for the young, rich, and mostly childless. And this development has crucial implications—not only for the future of American cities, but also for the future of the U.S. economy and American politics.

The counties that make up Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, and Philadelphia shed a combined 2 million domestic residents from 2010 to 2018. For many years, these cities’ main source of population growth hasn’t been babies or even college graduates; it’s been immigrants. But like an archipelago of Ellis Islands, Manhattan and other wealthy downtown areas have become mere gateways into America and the labor force—“a temporary portal,” in the words of E. J. McMahon, the founder of the Empire Center for Public Policy. “The woman from Slovakia comes to Queens, lives in her second cousin’s basement, gets her feet on the ground, and gets a better apartment in West Orange, New Jersey,” he said. Or a 20-something from North Dakota moves to Chicago after school, works at a consultancy for a few years, finds a partner, and moves to Missoula.

But if big cities are shedding people, they’re growing in other ways—specifically, in wealth and workism. The richest 25 metro areas now account for more than half of the U.S. economy, according to an Axios analysis of government data. Rich cities particularly specialize in the new tech economy: Just five counties account for about half of the nation’s internet and web-portal jobs. Toiling to build this metropolitan wealth are young college graduates, many of them childless or without school-age children; that is, workers who are sufficiently unattached to family life that they can pour their lives into their careers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Children, Marriage & Family, Urban/City Life and Issues

(FT) It has been a good week for climate change policy–Economists’ innovative ideas are quickly moving from radical to mainstream

What is most significant about this work is that both councils now explicitly endorse two rather radical ideas (even if sometimes as one option among several), and that they do so in order to take seriously the political economy of climate change policy. In other words, they have set themselves the task of designing good economic policy in a way that makes it politically acceptable nationally and politically effective globally.

The first proposal — clearly in response to the political trauma of the gilets jaunes protests in France — is that any revenues from carbon taxes should be returned to the private sector rather than enter the government budget to be used for other purposes. The French CAE has developed a concrete and costed proposal for direct cash distribution of carbon tax revenue, in the form of regular “carbon cheques” to households. Its preferred version, where the carbon tax varies with household income and between cities and the countryside, can make virtually below-median-income households better off…

Second, both groups have also raised the possibility of linking trade openness to trading partners’ efforts to combat climate change. The German report explicitly envisages a “carbon border adjustment”. This would be a tax on the CO2 content of imported goods. The joint statement lists a number of alternative trade tools to use against countries with only weak regulation of carbon emissions, or to incentivise those trading partners with strong climate commitments to stick to them.

Read it all.

Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Stewardship

An Introductory Film on the New Bishop of Reading Olivia Graham

‘The Queen has approved the appointment of Olivia Graham as the next Bishop of Reading. In this special filmed edition of the ‘My Extraordinary Family’ Podcast, the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft talks with Olivia about her Christian formation, her ministry since ordination and her hopes for the role she is about to take on.’

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

A Local Paper Article on Molly Greene RIP, Co-founder of Water Missions International

Molly Greene was eternally optimistic, a trait that never failed to inspire others, he said, adding that he has no doubt that her legacy will continue.

“When you talked with her about this mission, she had an unbridled enthusiasm for what we were doing,” [John] Cook said. “It was hard to be around them and not be inspired. That’s one of the traits of great leadership.”

The Rev. Jeffrey Miller, rector at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church where Molly and her husband were members, said he was struck by how the Greenes dedicated their lives to helping some of the most vulnerable people around the world and by how much their humanitarian work mirrors the words of Jesus Christ.

“They reached out to the least of these and they made a difference, and it’s a difference that transcends Charleston and transcends the world,” Miller said. “It flows from their faith and it was genuine.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Death / Burial / Funerals, Energy, Natural Resources, Missions

(Church Times) C of E to back up government guidance on LGBT lessons

The Church of England is to provide support for its schools to help them deliver new relationship education required by the Government by next year, including teaching on LGBT relationships and families.

The new government guidance on Relationship and Sex Education for primary-age children comes into force in September 2020, although some schools are beginning it earlier.

A course in one school, Parkfield Community School, Birmingham, sparked weeks of angry protests from mainly Muslim parents at the school gate.

The Government’s counter-extremism commissioner, Sara Khan, criticised the Department for Education in a BBC Panorama investigation this week for its lack of support for the school, and for the assistant head teacher, Andrew Moffatt, who devised the school’s programme, “No Outsiders”.

A Church House spokesman said this week that it was considering how best to support Church schools in delivering the new relationships education.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

The Anglican Bp of Edmonton Writes Her Diocese about the Situation after the Canadian General Synod


Please note that there is an earlier letter there.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Macrina the Elder

Merciful God, who didst call thy servant Macrina to reveal in her life and her teaching the riches of thy grace and truth: Mercifully grant that we, following her example, may seek after thy wisdom and live according to her way; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from B F Westcott

O Lord, our heavenly Father, by Whose providence the duties of men are variously ordered: grant to us all such a spirit that we may labour heartily to do our work in our several stations, as serving one Master and looking for one reward. Teach us to put to good account whatever talents Thou hast lent to us; help us to overcome all sloth and indolence; and enable us to redeem our time by zeal and patience; through Thy Son, our Saviour.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

But I trust in thee, O LORD, I say, “Thou art my God.” My times are in thy hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors! Let thy face shine on thy servant; save me in thy steadfast love!

–Psalm 31:15-16

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Haaretz) Archaeologists Claim to Have Found the Church of the Apostles by Sea of Galilee

Archaeologists believe they have likely found the Church of the Apostles, which Christian tradition says had been built over the home of Jesus’ disciples Peter and Andrew in the village of Bethsaida by the Sea of Galilee.

The archaeologists, from the Kinneret Academic College and Nyack College of New York, said the Jewish village of Bethsaida on which the Roman city of Julias had been built was much larger than had been thought, they announced Thursday.

What can be said for certain is that the excavators of Beit Habek, aka el-Araj, found the hallmarks of a large Byzantine-era church. The most distinctive indicator is gilted glass tesserae (mosaic tiles), Prof. R. Steven Notley of the private Christian college in New York tells Haaretz. “Those are for wall mosaics and only appear in churches,” he says.

Read it all.

Posted in History, Israel

(NBC) Mission Control At Johnson Space Center Restored To The Way It Looked In 1969 For New Museum

‘NASA unveiled the completely restored Apollo Mission Control, brought back to the way it looked 50 years ago when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon in Apollo 11. Flight Director Gene Kranz showed NBC’s Tom Costello around and reflected on the historic day.’ Watch it all.

Posted in History, Science & Technology

(The Stream) David Mills–The Bible’s Most Politically Incorrect Teaching (You Won’t Like It)

I’d suggest one, at least for Americans and Europeans. It’s Matthew 25:31-46. You’ll remember the passage. Jesus tells the people about the judgment to come. The king says to some: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

Why them? He says: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” When did we do that? they ask. The King tells them: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

Some did not do that for the least of these. The king tells them: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Why did I choose this passage? Because few of us like this idea. As a lovely ideal, yes, but not as a truth to be lived. We don’t want so radical a change in what we do with our stuff. And not just our stuff, but our time, our energies, our space, our company, our affections even.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT Op-ed) Mustafa Akyol–The Creeping Liberalism in American Islam

I think that while this concern is understandable, the opposite may also be true: Young generations may lose the faith if Islam remains too closed to rationality, individuality, tolerance and freedom.

For that reason, I find the American Muslim quandary fascinating — and promising. “Liberalism” as a framework for a free society is painfully lacking in large parts of the Muslim world today. If the Muslim community in the United States, what Mr. Patel called the “American ummah,” can embrace that by reinterpreting its traditions without losing itself, it could contribute to the broader ummah by offering new perspectives and a lived example.

Charles Taylor, one of the most prominent thinkers on religion today, reminds us of a historical precedent in an essay from 2011: In the 19th century, American Catholics were seen by the Protestant majority as “inassimilable to democratic mores, in ways very analogous to the suspicions that nag people over Islam today.” But, Mr. Taylor added, “American Catholicism evolved and, in the process, changed world Catholicism in significant ways.”

A similar transformation took place within American Judaism, as Steven R. Weisman shows in his recent book, “The Chosen Wars: How Judaism Became an American Religion.” Rabbinical authority waned, women became empowered, practices were modernized and Reform Judaism flourished.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Islam, Religion & Culture