Category :

A Prayer in the Evening by Saint Albert the Great

From there:

We pray to You, O Lord,
who are the supreme Truth,
and all truth is from you.
We beseech You, O Lord,
who are the highest Wisdom,
and all the wise depend on You for their wisdom.
You are the supreme Joy,
and all who are happy owe it to You.
You are the Light of minds,
and all receive their understanding from You.
We love, we love You above all.
We seek You, we follow You,
and we are ready to serve You.
We desire to dwell under Your power
for You are the King of all. Amen.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

([London] Times) Men and women really do think differently, say scientists

The much-maligned but longstanding idea that women enjoy discussing their emotions while men are mostly excited by cars may be true after all.

Scientists conducting the world’s largest study of sex differences in the brain found men were more likely to prefer “things” and “systems”, while women were more interested in people and emotions. Men were almost twice as likely as women to be “systems-orientated” rather than empathetic and vice versa.

Scientists at Cambridge University surveyed more than 650,000 people and said that their results confirmed two theories: first, the empathising- systemising theory of sex differences, which predicts that, at the population level, men will be more excited by coding, for instance, while women will be more attuned to feelings; second, the extreme male brain theory, which predicts that the brains of autistic people are more “masculine” than is typical for their sex, in that they are more systems-focused.

The twin theories, from the Cambridge scientist Simon Baron-Cohen, are controversial and have previously been described as “neurosexism”.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in Men, Psychology, Women

(Economist) The Church of England plays a big role in acts of remembrance

The Church of England plays a central but slightly awkward role in commemorating war dead. In the everyday life of England’s bustling, multicultural cities, the existence of an established church, historically privileged but commanding the active loyalty of only a small minority, can seem like a curious anachronism. But at certain occasions and seasons, the Church of England comes into its own as a focus of national emotion.

One such time is the national remembrance of war dead, which takes place every year around the anniversary of the armistice that ended the first world war, which came into effect on 11th November 1918. This year’s commemorations have an added poignancy because a century has passed since the guns fell silent….

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), History, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry

(The Cut) Lie About Yourself Enough and Even You’ll Believe It

On a recent, truly excellent episode of the podcast Heavyweight, host Jonathan Goldstein attempted to solve a mysterious memory belonging to his friend Rob (Corddry, a comedian). Rob believed that, as a child, he broke his arm at camp. Rob’s family — his mother, father, sister, and brother — have no recollection of such an injury. At all. In fact, they vehemently deny it, insisting that the only Corddry sibling to suffer a broken arm was Rob’s older brother. Rob is certain, but so is his family. So who’s right? I won’t spoil it for you (it’s really a must-listen), but facts aside, there is another big question at hand: can a person come to believe their own often-repeated mythology, even when it’s patently untrue?

According to a study published in the journal of Applied Cognitive Psychology last week, the answer is a resounding, discomfiting yes. In an experiment, the study’s author, Danielle Polage, an associate professor of psychology at Central Washington University, provided her college student subjects with a list of events they may have experienced in childhood, asking them to rate them on their certainty that those events did (or did not) happen. Then, pretending not to know which of those items were untrue, Polage asked the subjects to read a scripted biography made up of half true and half untrue events, but to act as though all the events were true. The subjects were told that the experiment was meant to test their ability to lie, and were thus directed to add feasible color and detail to the false events to create a fuller story.

After they finished lying to her, Polage asked the students to again rate their certainty that each of these events had or had not happened. Fascinatingly (and a little creepily), subjects showed a statistically significant change in their beliefs, indicating that they became less sure that untrue events hadn’t happened to them after saying that they had. Conversely, when subjects were later asked to deny events that had happened to them, they became less sure that those events did take place.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

The Bp of Oxford on WWI–this is our Long Story

We are wise enough to know now that the battles our grandparents fought did not end at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month when the artillery fell silent on the Western Front. The battles against tyranny and isolation and prejudice and inequality continue. The search for purpose and meaning and love continues still. Those battles need to be set in an eternal perspective. They recur in different ways in each generation.

Paul writes of that new and eternal perspective which flows from one person, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. God has reconciled us to himself through Christ. The destiny of humankind is not fragmentation and war but common purpose and unity and a new creation. We are part of this bigger story. God has now entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation. It is our mission, in every generation, to work for peace and freedom and justice with the same commitment shown by the generation who fought the Great War.

As we look back one hundred years it is possible to see in our nation then a greater common purpose than we see today. We are not blind to the weaknesses of the war generation nor to the mistakes that were made. But we do see a commitment to a common cause, a confidence in the values of peace and truth and the common good, a desire to see the world reconciled and a willingness to face together the great challenges of the age.

Such common cause today defeats us. We are finding it difficult as a nation even to rethink and reimagine our relationship with Europe in a way that brings unity and common purpose. We grow more not less fragmented along lines of race and religion and politics and wealth. Our common discourse all too easily admits the language of hate and violence.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, History, Military / Armed Forces

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Herman of Alaska

Holy God, we bless thy Name for Herman, joyful north star of Christ’s Church, who came from Russia to bring the Good News of Christ’s love to thy native people in Alaska, to defend them from oppressors and to proclaim the Gospel of peace; and we pray that we may follow his example in proclaiming the Gospel; through the same Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, throughout all ages. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Scottish Prayer Book

O Lord God Almighty, whose blessed Son our Saviour Jesus Christ did on the third day rise triumphant over death: Raise us, we beseech thee, from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness, that we may seek those things which are above, where he sitteth on thy right hand in glory; and this we beg for the sake of the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:

Greeting.

Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the Lord.

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like the flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one; but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death.

–James 1:1-15

Posted in Theology: Scripture

The Bishop of Central New York responds to the Bishop of Albany

All human love is a reflection of God’s love, and The Episcopal Church has resolved that the rite of marriage is open to all in our Church, regardless of sexuality or gender expression. The Episcopal Diocese of Central New York continues to uphold the policies of The Episcopal Church and is dedicated to Jesus Christ who commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Our dedication to our LBGTQ siblings was exemplified this past summer when priests and laypeople from across our Diocese marched in Pride parades and participated in Pride festivities in Syracuse, Binghamton and elsewhere. As the Diocesan Bishop, I am resolute in my affirmation of equality, dignity, and full inclusion for all people regardless of their political, social, or theological views. We are, first and foremost, people committed to the loving, liberating, life-giving way of Jesus.

I recognize this is a challenging time and that some may have found the recent statement of Bishop Love of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany to be injurious. I want to be clear that God loves you and has created you as a blessing in our world. Each of us is called to be our authentic self, for only then can we truly be the beloved community God intends. I affirm marriage equality and stand as an ally for social justice for all persons. All of us—LGBTQ people, Bishop Love, the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany, and the people of this diocese—are beloved children of God….

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The President of the House of Deputies’ Responds to Bishop Love’s Letter

From there:

For more than 40 years, the Episcopal Church has prayed, studied and discerned and, in doing so, we have seen the evidence of God’s blessing in the lives of LGBT people. The Episcopal Church’s General Convention, our highest temporal authority, first acknowledged that God calls LGBT people to any ordained ministry in 2009. In 2012, the General Convention authorized a liturgical rite for the blessing of same sex unions, and in 2015, we authorized marriage equality in the church.

We recognize the Holy Spirit at work in the marriages of LGBTQ people and we know that there are Christians who have been drawn further into fidelity and service to the world by living in committed same-sex partnerships and marriages based on holy love and the gift of seeing Christ in one another. When we celebrate these marriages, the entire church is blessed by the love and fidelity of these faithful couples.

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings
President, House of Deputies

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, House of Deputies President, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Presiding Bishop responds to the Bishop of Albany

We are committed to the principle of full and equal access to, and inclusion in, the sacraments for all of the baptized children of God, including our LGBTQ siblings. For as St. Paul reminds us in Galatians 3, “in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”

As members of the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12), we also are committed to respecting the conscience of those who hold opinions that differ from the official policy of The Episcopal Church regarding the sacrament of marriage. It should be noted that the canons of The Episcopal Church give authority to all members of the clergy to decline to officiate a marriage for reasons of conscience, and Resolution B012 of the 79th General Convention does not change this fact.

In all matters, those of us who have taken vows to obey the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church must act in ways that reflect and uphold the discernment and decisions of the General Convention of the Church.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Michael Curry, Pastoral Theology, Presiding Bishop, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Bp of Albany responds to the Actions of the recent TEC General Convention on Same-Sex Marriage Rites

As a lifelong Episcopalian and as a Bishop of this Church, I call upon my fellow bishops and the leadership of this Church to rethink the path we are currently on regarding same-sex
marriages. It is not out of mean-spiritedness, hatred, bigotry, judgmentalism, or homophobia that I say this – but rather out of love – love for God and His Word; love for The Episcopal Church and wider Anglican Communion; love for each of you my Brothers and Sisters in Christ, especially love for those who are struggling with same-sex attractions.

In calling for The Episcopal Church to rethink and change its current teaching and practices regarding same-sex marriages, in NO way am I suggesting that we should return to the days of
old where our gay and lesbian Brothers and Sisters in Christ were despised and treated shamefully; when they were branded as being worse sinners than everyone else; and when they
were told or led to believe that God didn’t love them and that they were not welcome in the Church. Such behavior is not of God and needs to be repented of. While we need to resist the temptation to place ourselves in the judgement seat judging and condemning others, recognizing that we are all fallen sinners in need of God’s love, and mercy and redeeming grace, we must also resist the temptation to bless and give permission to sexual behaviors that are in opposition to God’s will and design as revealed through Holy Scripture as B012 would have us do. To do so, does an equal or greater injustice to our gay and lesbian Brothers and Sisters in Christ. When the woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus, He didn’t condemn her, as all those with stones in their hands had done, but neither did he bless her inappropriate sexual behavior. Jesus said, “Woman…Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:11 ESV)….

Therefore, for all the reasons mentioned in the above Pastoral Letter, in my capacity as Bishop Diocesan — pastor, teacher and overseer of the Clergy of the Diocese, and pursuant to
Canons III.9.6 and IV.7 of the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, I hereby issue the following Pastoral Direction to all the clergy canonically resident, resident or licensed in the Episcopal Diocese of Albany:

Until further notice, the trial rites authorized by Resolution B012 of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church shall not be used anywhere in the Diocese of Albany by diocesan clergy (canonically resident or licensed), and Diocesan Canon 16 shall be fully complied with by all diocesan clergy and parishes.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology

(CC) James KA Smith on Lauren Winner’s new book–When Christian practice (de)forms us

This complicated reality—we might call it “the Godfather problem”—is the target of Lauren Winner’s incisive, complex book, The Dangers of Christian Practice. Her argument lands on both academic and pastoral trends. As she wryly notes, “in some scholarly communities, to designate a study as a study of ‘practices’ is to cast a rosy glow.” This has been particularly true in postliberal theology over the past couple generations, as the insights of Alasdair MacIntyre in­formed the influential work of Stanley Hauerwas, who, in turn, has made a huge dent on an entire generation of Christian theologians who have looked to the practices of the church as a resource for staving off our cultural capitulation to the forces of consumerism, nationalism, and militarism. (The Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics, a widely used textbook, gathers this school of thought between two covers.)

Winner also points to a veritable industry of “practices” literature directed at practitioners and parishioners, including the influential work of leaders like Dorothy Bass and Craig Dykstra. Indeed, I think Winner would include some of her own work here, and I too should add a mea culpa.

“What unites these projects,” Winner observes, “is that in each, practices have been embraced as a way of fixing something in or for the church; practices have been embraced as a strategy of recuperation, repair, or reform.” When Protestant theologians write about Christian practices, “they are almost always extolling the practices.” The question that never seems to get asked is: “Why carry on with habits or practices, given the likelihood of their (and our) going wrong?” What good did this renewal of practices do for Catholic children in Pittsburgh or women at Willow Creek Church?

Winner is facing up to these questions and invites the church to do the same. The heart of her analysis is the concept of what she calls “characteristic damage” (with debts to Paul Griffiths). The key point is that when Christian practices de-form us it’s not simply incidental or because they have been tainted by the world. That would be to imagine the source of deformation is always other than the church, leaving the supposed purity of the church’s practices compromised by something else.

Winner’s point is more trenchant: some deformation is uniquely generated by the Christian practices themselves….

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Books, Spirituality/Prayer

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–The God who is at Work and Who provides (1 Kings 17:8-16)

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings

Samuel Seabury’s First years of Ministry for his Feast Day

Christmas day in 1753 fell on the Tuesday which was but two days after the ordination to the Priesthood just mentioned. The newly ordained priest on the morning of that day, was sent with a note of introduction from the Chaplain of the Bishop of London to the Incumbent of one of the Churches in that city, apparently with the view of assigning to him some duty for the day. The Incumbent gave him but a surly reception, sternly demanding upon his entrance to the vestry-room, who he was, and what he wanted; in silent reply to which demands he presented his note; the comment upon which was, “Hah! Well, if the Bishop has sent you, I suppose I must take you. Give him a surplice, and show him into the desk” (to the Sexton), “and do you, Sir, find your places, and wait there till I come.” A younger clergyman, of more amiable appearance, meanwhile seemed much amused at this splenetic reception. Coming back into the Vestry after the service, the Doctor turning fiercely upon the neophyte, exclaimed, “What is the reason, Sir, that you did not read the Litany?” “Because, Sir, it is not a Litany day.” “And don’t you know that if the Ordinary chooses to have it read on Festival days, it is your duty to read it?” “That may be, Sir, but it is the Ordinary’s business to let me know that.” The old man’s face was black with passion, but before he had time to explode, the younger clergyman came to the rescue, saying: “Doctor, you won’t get much out of this young man; you had better turn him over to me, for I see you don’t want him: come, Mr. Seabury, will you go with me to–Church and preach for me!” “I never preached a sermon in my life.” “Well, of all things I should like to hear a virgin preacher! ” So the young men took themselves off, and after dinner the virgin sermon was preached; though concerning its subject, and the place where it was broached, tradition is silent: as it also is in respect to any further official acts of the preacher during the remainder of his stay in England.

In the year following, 1754, having received his appointment as a missionary of the Society for Propagating the Gospel, he set sail for his native land, and soon after began the regular exercise of his ministry at New Brunswick, in the Province of New Jersey. One of his relatives, writing about this time to another, observed: “Mr. Samuel Seabury has returned to America again; an excellent physician, a learned divine, an accomplished gentleman and a pious Christian;” a record which indicates the reputation which he had in the small circle within which he was then known, and which it was anticipated that his future life would verify.

Not much is known in regard to his work during the short time of his charge at New Brunswick, but the period is interesting, both on account of the evidence of his doctrinal principles afforded by his sermons, and also on account of the evidence of the extension of his influence and reputation in a somewhat wider sphere, afforded by contemporaneous events with which he was associated.

Among his manuscripts are several of the sermons which he preached at New Brunswick….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Church History