Monthly Archives: August 2017

A Prayer to Begin the Day from The Prayer Manual

O God, we pray for Thy Church which is set today amid the perplexities of a changing order, and is face to face with new tasks: fill us afresh with the Spirit of Pentecost; help us to bear witness boldly to the coming of Thy kingdom; and hasten the time when the knowledge of Thyself shall fill the earth as the waters cover the sea.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground, a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the wickedness of its inhabitants. He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in; they sow fields, and plant vineyards, and get a fruitful yield. By his blessing they multiply greatly; and he does not let their cattle decrease. When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, trouble, and sorrow, he pours contempt upon princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes; but he raises up the needy out of affliction, and makes their families like flocks. The upright see it and are glad; and all wickedness stops its mouth. Whoever is wise, let him give heed to these things; let men consider the steadfast love of the LORD.

–Psalm 107:33-43

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Barna) Silent and Solo: How Americans Pray

Prayer is not only the most common faith practice among American adults (79% have prayed at least once in the past three months), it’s also one of the most complex and multifaceted. The Bible speaks of numerous kinds of prayers (supplication, intercession, faith, etc.) and uses diverse language to describe the practice. Different traditions and denominations tend to emphasize certain kinds of prayer over others, or even develop and build upon those laid out in scripture. Perhaps the only consistent thing about people’s prayers is that they are different. Americans do not think about approaching prayer in any kind of homogenous way—or even pray to the same deity (if they pray to a higher power at all). A new study from Barna reveals the diverse prayer habits of American adults….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Sociology, Spirituality/Prayer

(WSJ) Mene Ukueberuwa: The Acton Institute’s Moral Capital

When the Acton Institute was founded in 1990, America was in a heyday of harmonious thinking about capitalism and Christian values. Catholic intellectuals such as Michael Novak, Richard John Neuhaus and George Weigel gained renown for defending economic freedom. Novak described the ideal Christian economic creed as “ordered liberty”: a system that acknowledges the risks of consumerism and competition and mitigates them with a moral culture rather than state regulation.

This cohort influenced Acton Institute co-founder and president Father Robert Sirico. His ordination as a Catholic priest in 1989 followed his conversion from the leftism that marked his early career as a Pentecostal minister and political activist. One year after the think tank opened, Pope John Paul II published his encyclical “Centesimus Annus.” The document rejected socialism and embraced private property. Father Sirico calls it a limited but explicit blessing of the union between faith and economic freedom.

This school of economic thought transformed politics in the coming years. Jack Kemp, the Republican vice presidential nominee in 1996, argued that limited government would help lift up poor Americans, a direct appeal to the needy largely missing from the middle-class orientations of the Reagan and Bush administrations. In the same year, Congress enacted welfare reform that brought millions of Americans back to the work, guided by the premise that there is more dignity in a job than an endless stream of checks.

Two decades later, the capitalist consensus has begun to crumble.

Read it all.

Posted in Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture

(WEF) The world’s most atheistic places, mapped

China is the world’s least religious country, according to a survey by WIN/Gallup International. Only 9% of the country considers itself religious, while 67% claims to be atheist – more than twice the amount of any other country.

The data, which is based on a survey of more than 66,000 people in 68 countries, suggests a further 23% of Chinese people are non-religious. The results reflect attitudes towards religion in the country, as education rules introduced in China last year said parents should not promote hardline religious beliefs in children or make them dress in specific clothing. The new regulations also banned any form of religious activity in schools.

Sweden, the Czech Republic and the UK are the next least religious countries. In Sweden, 18% of people define themselves as atheist and 55% as non-religious, while the Czech Republic is 25% atheist and 47% non-religious. In the UK, 11% of people claim to be atheist and 58% non-religious.

Read it all.

Posted in Atheism, Globalization, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Visit England report: sharp drop in visitor numbers to churches and cathedrals

Visitor numbers at churches and cathedrals fell significantly last year, “largely driven” by a drop in visitors to St Paul’s and Westminster Abbey, a report by Visit England states.

The report Visitor Attraction Trends in England 2016, published last week, recorded a two-per-cent rise in the number of visitors to English sites in general in 2016 compared with 2015. But the number of visitors to places of worship dropped by eight per cent.

The sharp drop came as a surprise: between 2014 and 2015 there was a decline of less than one per cent in visitors to the cathedrals and churches monitored by Visit England.

No single reason has emerged as to why churches and cathedrals could be struggling to attract visitors. The fear of terrorism, rising entry fees, a post-London Olympics lull, and different ways of counting have all been suggested.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

(CEN) Prominent C of E evangelical group warns of possible split over same-sex Relations

A division of the Church of England would be required’ if the Church declares that ‘permanent, faithful same-sex relationships are a legitimate form of Christian discipleship’, warns the ‘realistic’ Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC).

A letter from CEEC President, the Rt Rev Julian Henderson, its Chair, the Rev Hugh Palmer, Treasurer, the Rev George Curry and Secretary, Stephen Hofmeyr, warns that there are three options available for the Church of England, but that only one of them will ensure that evangelicals represented by the CEEC won’t leave.

They say that while they were encouraged that the House of Bishops sexuality report contained no proposal to change the Church of England’s doctrinal position on marriage, there have been ‘disappointing developments’. They pointed to the fact that ‘a small majority of the House of Clergy refused to “take note” of the report and so, although the majority of General Synod members wished to do so, it was not taken note of by Synod’.

Read it all.

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

Makes the heart Sad–(BBCWS) More than a million people have fled South Sudan for Uganda

Uganda is now hosting more than one million refugees who have fled civil war in neighbouring South Sudan, according to the United Nations. The conflict in the world’s newest country has created Africa’s biggest refugee crisis in more than twenty years, and women and children represent 85% of those who’ve crossed the border. BBC reporter Catherine Byaruhanga tells BBC Minute about Uganda’s unique system for welcoming refugees.

Listen to it all (60 seconds).

Posted in --South Sudan, Immigration, Uganda

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) The black Christian who converts white supremacists by loving them

Whenever white supremacists march to proclaim their Europid purity and superior cranial virtue, they are usually met with an equal and opposite force of scorn and condemnation: protest meets counter-protest; hate meets hate. The result so often is violence and injury, if not death. You can quibble over whether neo-Nazis or Antifa are the more extreme; whether to be anti-black is more evil than those who are anti whoever offends them. Ultimately, it is angry people railing against more angry people; man throwing Molotov cocktails at man; woman spitting venom at woman. And so hate stokes hate; punching and kicking breeds window-smashing and car-burning. The bigots, racists and phobes can shout their disgust, but ‘We the people’ can break bones, too: just “punch a Nazi in the mouth” or ransack his house because “property destruction does not equate to violence“. To hate is to curse, and persecution is murder.

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you‘ (Mt 5:44).

There is a black Christian musician by the name of Daryl Davis. He has spent three decades befriending members of Ku Klux Klan, and hundreds have abandoned their white supremacist views because of him. He doesn’t set out to convert them: he goes to their rallies, has dinner with them, listens to them, and talks to them. Instead of protesting and yelling, he gets to know them, and asks: “How can you hate me when you don’t even know me? Look at me and tell me to my face why you should lynch me.”

And, of course, they can’t: over time, the white supremacists look into the black man’s eyes, and they see an equal human person.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of William Porcher DuBose

Almighty God, who didst give to thy servant William Porcher DuBose special gifts of grace to understand the Scriptures and to teach the truth as it is in Christ Jesus: Grant, we beseech thee, that by this teaching we may know thee, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Church of England Prayer for Barcelona after Yesterday’s Awful Attack

Posted in Spain, Spirituality/Prayer, Terrorism

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Liturgy of St. Mark

We render unto Thee our thanksgiving, O Lord our God, Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by all means, at all times, in all places. For that Thou hast sheltered, assisted, supported, and led us on through the time past of our life, and brought us to this hour. And we pray and beseech Thee, O God and loving Lord, grant us to pass this day, this year, and all the time of our life without sin, with all joy, health, and salvation. But all envy, all fear, all temptation, all the working of Satan, do Thou drive away, O God, from us, and from Thy holy Church. Supply us with things good and profitable. Whereinsoever we have sinned against Thee, in word, or deed, or thought, be Thou pleased in Thy love and goodness to forgive, and forsake us not, O God, who hope in Thee, neither lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one and from his works; by the grace and compassion of Thine only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

More From the Morning Scripture Readings

But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered; and all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, weeping as they went. And it was told David, “Ahith′ophel is among the conspirators with Ab′salom.” And David said, “O Lord, I pray thee, turn the counsel of Ahith′ophel into foolishness.”

–2 Samuel 15:30-31

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet unborn may praise the LORD: that he looked down from his holy height, from heaven the LORD looked at the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die; that men may declare in Zion the name of the LORD, and in Jerusalem his praise, when peoples gather together, and kingdoms, to worship the LORD. He has broken my strength in mid-course; he has shortened my days. “O my God,” I say, “take me not hence in the midst of my days, thou whose years endure throughout all generations!” Of old thou didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They will perish, but thou dost endure; they will all wear out like a garment. Thou changest them like raiment, and they pass away; but thou art the same, and thy years have no end.

–Psalm 102:18-27 (emphasis mine)

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(NPR) In Germany, Churchgoers Are Encouraged To Tweet From The Pews

In Germany this year, the Protestant church is celebrating 500 years since Martin Luther brought about the Reformation. Today, as the number of churchgoers dwindles, the clergy is turning to new media to appeal to those with little time to attend worship in person.

In the eastern city of Magdeburg, the monotone peal of a single church bell calls a modest flock of parishioners to evening prayers at the Walloon Reformed Church of St. Augustine.

As the faithful file into a High Gothic church where Martin Luther once delivered a sermon, most fumble around in handbags and pockets, looking for their cellphones.

But instead of dutifully switching off their phones and putting them away on this Friday evening, these 40 or so churchgoers take a pew and bow their heads over their lit-up devices as if they were prayer books.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture