Monthly Archives: September 2017

(NYT Op-ed) Ross Douthat: An Honest Reflection on the life of Hugh Hefner

Now that death has taken him, we should examine our own sins. Liberals should ask why their crusade for freedom and equality found itself with such a captain, and what his legacy says about their cause. Conservatives should ask how their crusade for faith and family and community ended up so Hefnerian itself — with a conservative news network that seems to have been run on Playboy Mansion principles and a conservative party that just elected a playboy as our president.

You can find these questions being asked, but they are counterpoints and minor themes. That this should be the case, that only prudish Christians and spoilsport feminists are willing to say that the man was obviously wicked and destructive, is itself a reminder that the rot Hugh Hefner spread goes very, very deep.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pornography

(CH) Remembering George Whitefield who died on this Day in 1770

In 1739, Whitefield set out for a preaching tour of the American colonies. Whitefield selected Philadelphia—the most cosmopolitan city in the New World—as his first American stop. But even the largest churches could not hold the 8,000 who came to see him, so he took them outdoors. Every stop along Whitefield’s trip was marked by record audiences, often exceeding the population of the towns in which he preached. Whitefield was often surprised at how crowds “so scattered abroad, can be gathered at so short a warning.”

The crowds were also aggressive in spirit. As one account tells it, crowds “elbowed, shoved, and trampled over themselves to hear of ‘divine things’ from the famed Whitefield.”

Once Whitefield started speaking, however, the frenzied mobs were spellbound. “Even in London,” Whitefield remarked, “I never observed so profound a silence.”

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Posted in Church History, England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Preaching / Homiletics

A Pastoral Letter from the Synod of Anglican Bishops in South Africa – September 2017

A presentation on progress made by the Archbishop’s Commission on Human Sexuality was given by the Revd Dr Vicentia Kgabe. The Chairperson of the Commission is the Bishop of Saldanha Bay, Raphael Hess. The Commission consists of six Commissioners and has invited each Diocese to constitute a Diocesan Liaison Team to facilitate the work of the Commission at diocesan level, with the objective that the voices of all will be heard in a consultative process to hear and discern what every Diocese is saying. The mandate of the Commission is to present to Provincial Synod 2019 a proposal enabling the Church “to minister to those in same-sex unions and the LGBTI Community in the context in which ACSA operates in Southern Africa”. This mandate does not rescind the decision of Provincial Synod 2016: it neither assumes that ministry to members of the LGBTI community will include the blessing of same-sex unions, nor does it exclude that possibility, should that be the mind of Provincial Synod 2019. It also directs the Commission to consider the situation of Dioceses outside South Africa, in which there is no provision in law for same-sex unions. The mandate is in line with the injunction of the 1998 Lambeth Conference and Provincial Synod 2002 to listen to the views of the LGBTI community, and in particular with that part of Lambeth Resolution 1.10 which “calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals.” The Commission asked for prayers for its work and the members of the Commission.

We appeal to members of ACSA and the Communion please to commit these matters to prayer and offer yourselves to God to serve in God’s mission and ministry. We your Bishops will continue to lead as God’s servants and servants of the church, to the best of our ability.

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Posted in South Africa, South Africa

A Prayer from Catherine of Genoa for Noonday

Found there:

We bring to you, O Lord, our poverty of soul to be transformed by your beauty; our waywardness of passion to be tamed by your love; our stubbornness of will to be conformed to your commandments and our coldness of heart to be enkindled by your grace; now and for ever. Amen.Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

A Rembrandt Etching of Saint Jerome in Prayer for his Feast Day

Posted in Art, Church History

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Jerome

O Lord, thou God of truth, whose Word is a lantern to our feet and a light upon our path: We give thee thanks for thy servant Jerome, and those who, following in his steps, have labored to render the Holy Scriptures in the language of the people; and we beseech thee that thy Holy Spirit may overshadow us as we read the written Word, and that Christ, the living Word, may transform us according to thy righteous 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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Roman Breviary

O God, who by the lowliness of thy Son hast raised a fallen world: Grant to thy faithful people perpetual gladness; and as thou hast delivered them from eternal death, so do thou make them partakers of everlasting joys; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

On the holy mount stands the city he founded; the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God.

–Psalm 87:1-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Gafcon) Peter Jensen–A Statement on the Consecration of the Rt Revd Gavin Ashenden by the Christian Episcopal Church

We recognize that there is a spiritual vacuum caused by the silence and even compromise of much traditional leadership in the West and it is not surprising that new leadership should emerge. Our preference is that it will emerge from the highest level of cooperation and collaboration between these initiatives, so that those who uphold ‘the faith once delivered to the saints’ (Jude 4) work together as far as the integrity of their church polity allows. Nonetheless, we pray that the ministry of Bishop Ashenden, and all Christian leaders who love the truth, will bear much fruit for the gospel.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, GAFCON, Religion & Culture

Keeping Things in perspective Dept–Looking back to 1938 and what it cost to Live

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Personal Finance & Investing

([London] Times) Tony Blair institute finds that non-violent Islamist groups serve as recruitment pool for jihadists

More than three quarters of British jihadists have been involved with non-violent Islamist groups before turning to foreign fighting and carrying out terrorist attacks, a report reveals today.

Islamist groups have acted as a “recruitment pool” for dozens of jihadists who have gone on to join al-Qaeda, Islamic State and other terrorist groups, according to research by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.

Researchers examined the biographies of 113 men from across the UK who have joined the jihadist movement, from the 1980s to the Syrian civil war. The institute’s report says that at least 77 per cent of the sample had links to Islamism, either through association with Islamist organisations or by connections to those who spread the extremist ideology.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Islam, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(CNN) Some Evangelicals urge more action from Trump against alt-right

A group of prominent evangelical Christians is calling on President Donald Trump to take further steps to condemn white supremacists — specifically those in the alt-right — following the August white nationalist demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one woman dead.

letter that has been circulating privately among a coalition of pastors notes Trump’s efforts to denounce the white supremacists, but urges the President to go further in condemning the alt-right “by name.”
“This movement has escaped your disapproval,” the letter, obtained exclusively by CNN, reads. “We believe it is important for this movement to be addressed, for at its core it is a white identity movement and the majority of its members are white nationalists or white supremacists. This movement gained public prominence during your candidacy for President of the United States. Supporters of the movement have claimed that you share their vision for our country. These same supporters have sought to use the political and cultural concerns of people of goodwill for their prejudiced political agendas. It concerned many of us when three people associated with the alt-right movement were given jobs in the White House.”
Initial signers of the letter include Southern Baptist Convention President Rev. Steve Gaines, former SBC President Rev. Fred Luter and the Rev. T.D. Jakes, a mentor of Trump’s top spiritual adviser, Rev. Paula White. One member of Trump’s informal Evangelical Advisory Board, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, also signed the letter.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, President Donald Trump, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) David Gregory–How to Discuss Religion Without Arguing

Jews aren’t the only ones with profound disagreements within their community. Faith in the public square has become as polarized as politics. That’s really a shame for civic life, says John DiIulio Jr. of the University of Pennsylvania, once an adviser to President George W. Bush on faith-based initiatives. “Religion can be a tremendously and uniquely powerful civic tonic—and a tremendously and uniquely destructive civic toxin,” he noted during a talk at the Brookings Institution earlier this month.

At the same event Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, blamed heightened polarization on a loss of transcendent purpose and meaning in public life. He observed that people are “finding tribal identities in political movements or cultural arguments in a way that often really isn’t about coming to a solution to those arguments, but about identifying ‘I am the sort of person who stands here as opposed to the sort of people who stands there.’ ”

Tribalism, sectarianism, polarization, mistrust. Sounds like Twitter.

How about a real conversation? Recently I took part in one in rural Maryland at the invitation of the Jewish Week of New York, which has been convening such gatherings for more than a decade. There were more than 50 of us, all Jewish, but with different backgrounds, beliefs and experiences. The idea was that we were the ones who would set the agenda. From the start, we went around and talked less about what we do than what we care about and what we hope to do.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Judaism, Language, Religion & Culture

(SA) Nigel Fortescue reviews Vaughan Roberts and Peter Jensen’s new book “Faith in a Time of Crisis”

Why invest time in reading a book about controversies and divisions within the Anglican denomination?

With this question, the editor of Faith in a Time of Crisis opens a book that is timely, essential reading. The answer to this question is, of course, that in the controversies and divisions the gospel is at stake. It is no longer reasonable to assume that the bloodlines of British politeness that run through Anglicanism will hold the Communion together.

The fractures caused by the actions of some Anglican leaders over the past two decades have exposed the reality that at least two different gospels are being preached and believed in the Anglican Church across the world. With this in mind, Roberts and Jensen write to encourage, urge and compel us to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

In typical Roberts style, the book is surprisingly short, easy to read and filled with engaging illustrations and sharp pastoral challenge. Several questions were added to my “discuss with staff” list as I read the five chapters that unpack the True Gospel, True Sex, True Love, True Unity and True Faith – the last written by Peter Jensen.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Books, Church of England (CoE), Theology

A Church Times Article on the recently released C of E Ministry Statistics

The statistics, published on Wed­nesday, show signs that the drive to nurture vocations to the ordained ministry — a central plank of the Renewal and Reform programme — is having an effect. Overall, the number of those entering training is 14 per cent higher than last year (476 candidates).

None the less, the C of E must reach its target of 50 per cent more ordinands by 2020 if it is to reverse the overall decline in clergy num­bers. At the present rate, people are not entering the ministry at the same rate as others are retiring.

Another Renewal and Reform target is to recruit younger and more diverse candidates. Ordinands are younger than last year: 28 per cent of this year’s intake are under the age of 32, compared with 23 per cent last year. At the other end of the age range, 16 per cent are aged 55 or above, compared with 20 per cent of last year’s intake. The overall number of new ordinands under the age of 39 rose by 39 per cent, from 109 to 151….

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education