Monthly Archives: January 2018

(Marketwatch) Sticker shock: Why people spend $10,000 on funerals

Planning for a funeral is one of the most emotionally strained financial decisions a consumer will make in his or her life, and some funeral providers appear to be profiting from a lack of transparency in the industry.

Very few funeral homes advertise price information on their websites, according to a new report from the Funeral Consumers Alliance and the Consumer Federation of America, which advocates for a “meaningful, dignified and affordable” funeral. Of 193 funeral homes with websites the report surveyed, only 30 (16%) posted the price information that the Federal Trade Commission’s “funeral rule” requires them to hand to customers who ask.

Read it all.

Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Death / Burial / Funerals, Religion & Culture

([London] Times) Screen-addicted children spend 16 minutes a day outside

Children in Britain spend just 16 minutes a day playing or exploring in parks and other open spaces, according to a detailed new study.

The figure, an average of time spent outdoors in parks, the countryside, the coast or seaside, includes excursions at weekends as well as weekdays.

Among children in their mid-teens it drops to ten minutes per day as younger children, aged between eight and 13, spend more time playing outdoors.

The figures, published by the Office for National Statistics, are the first to examine how children spend their free time and will be used to track engagement with the outdoors and sport.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology

(Darton, Longman and Todd) A Liturgy for a Renaming Ceremony Suitable for use with transgender participants

Opening Statements

Friends, we come here today to mark a change of name. It is a recognition of a pre-existing truth that has been obscured, one in which we have all played our part in uncovering. Today we witness a sacred transformationin which the true purpose of PN’s (natal name) life has been revealed.

What we do here has echoes in the Bible. God called barren Abram and Sari, struggling Jacob and the murderous Saul and transformed them into Abraham and Sarah whose descendants are more numerous thanthe stars, the patriarch Israel whose name became a nation and the Apostle Paul genius missionary of the Early Church. Both true nature and God’s purpose was recognised in a change of name and recognition of thecalling the new name symbolised. Today PN joins this honoured and holy tradition.

We come to watch God’s sacred purpose fulfilled in calling PN to their true identity. From this timeon they will be called N (changed name) as a male/female/nonbinary/gender queer (use appropriate term)servant of God.

Let us pray

Loving God, there are times when we need to mark that things have changed significantly in our lives. There are times when old ways of living need to be put to aside so that new and affirming ways of living, loving and being can be taken up.Be with us as we celebrate the journey that PN has made and bless this faithful step they are making this day. Bless each one of us that are here to witness this miracle of faith and transformation and keep us in love with each other now and in the future. Amen

Read it all, it is an excerpt extract from the soon to be published book Transfaith: A transgender pastoral resource by Chris Dowd and Christina Beardsley (hat tip:FC).

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

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

Remembering Sam Shoemaker on his Feast Day (III)–His Obituary in the New York Times, Nov. 2, 1963

Dr. Shoemaker did not confine his preaching to his church. He would mount a box on a street corner if he thought he could bring religion into someone’s life. And he often did.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Religion & Culture

Remembering Sam Shoemaker on his Feast Day (II)-the importance of soul surgery

We have no respect for a surgeon who goes in but does not cut deeply enough to cure nor a patient who backs out of an operation because it may hurt; yet people can go through their whole lives attending church, listening to searching exposures of human sin, without ever taking it to themselves, or meeting anyone with skill and concern enough to lay the challenge right in their own laps.

Experiment of Faith (New York: Harper&Row, 1957), p.22 (emphasis mine)

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

Remembering Sam Shoemaker on his Feast Day (I)–a man concerned with USA’s internal enemies

It was America’s enemies within that interested Shoemaker most. After the country entered World War II, the cleric addressed the nation’s cause in several sermons, eventually published in Christ and this Cause. In one of those sermons, “God and the War,” he lashed out at the nation’s immorality.

This nation has had the greatest privileges ever given to any nation in all time. America has been God’s privileged child. But America has become a spoiled child. We have been ungrateful to the God under whom our liberties were given to us. I believe it is high time for someone to say that this war today is God’s judgment upon a godless and selfish people.”

Shoemaker did support the war effort; in his sermon, “What Are We Fighting For?” he admitted that the war was a “grim necessity,” the means by which nations would once again have the opportunity to choose democracy. But he abhorred any self-righteous cause:

“No war can ever be a clear-cut way for a Christian to express his hatred of evil. For war involves a basic confusion. All the good in the world is not ranged against all the evil. In the present war, some nations that have a great deal of evil in them are yet seeking to stand for freedom ”¦ against other nations which have a great deal of good in them but yet are presently dedicated to turning the world backwards into the darkness of enslavement.”

Read it all (emphasis mine).

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Samuel Shoemaker

Holy God, we offer thanks for the vision of Samuel Shoemaker, priest and co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous; and we pray that we may follow his example to help others find salvation through knowledge and love of Jesus Christ our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

Sue Jones announced as the 8th Dean of Liverpool

We can announce today that the next Dean of Liverpool will be Revd Canon Dr Sue Jones. Sue comes to Liverpool Cathedral from the Diocese of Derby where she currently serves as Director of Mission and Ministry.

Welsh-born Sue, a vastly experienced priest, is the first woman to hold the post of Dean here. She comes with plenty of cathedral experience having served as Acting Dean at Derby Cathedral and prior to that Dean of Bangor. We are expecting that Sue will bring a fresh style of Leadership that will continue to help our cathedral grow and serve Liverpool, our diocese and the surrounding region.

Sue said “when I came to be interviewed for this role I was struck by how suited Liverpool Cathedral is for the city. Its imposing physical stature is matched by the strong desire to serve the community. A people-centred cathedral called to serve the people is a place that I felt God wanted me to be. I am proud to follow in the footsteps of illustrious predecessors stretching back to Dean Dwelly. I am looking forward to starting properly in the summer, working with the talented teams of volunteers, staff and clergy to continue the important work of the Cathedral”.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Saint Ambrose

Merciful Lord, the Comforter and Teacher of Thy faithful people, increase in Thy Church the desires which Thou hast given, and confirm the hearts of those who hope in Thee by enabling them to understand the depth of Thy promises, that all Thine adopted sons may even now behold, with the eyes of faith, and patiently wait for, the light which as yet Thou dost not openly manifest; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

After these things God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Mori’ah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; and he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

–Genesis 22:1-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Dangerously Low on Water, Cape Town Now Faces ‘Day Zero’

It sounds like a Hollywood blockbuster. “Day Zero” is coming to Cape Town this April. Everyone, be warned.

The government cautions that the Day Zero threat will surpass anything a major city has faced since World War II or the Sept. 11 attacks. Talks are underway with South Africa’s police because “normal policing will be entirely inadequate.” Residents, their nerves increasingly frayed, speak in whispers of impending chaos.

The reason for the alarm is simple: The city’s water supply is dangerously close to running dry.

If water levels keep falling, Cape Town will declare Day Zero in less than three months. Taps in homes and businesses will be turned off until the rains come. The city’s four million residents will have to line up for water rations at 200 collection points. The city is bracing for the impact on public health and social order.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, South Africa, Theology

(Federalist) Glenn Stanton–New Harvard Research Says U.S. Christianity Is Not Shrinking, But Growing Stronger

“Meanwhile, a widespread decline in churchgoing and religious affiliation had contributed to a growing anxiety among conservative believers.” Statements like this are uttered with such confidence and frequency that most Americans accept them as uncontested truisms. This one emerged just this month in an exceedingly silly article in The Atlantic on Vice President Mike Pence.

Religious faith in America is going the way of the Yellow Pages and travel maps, we keep hearing. It’s just a matter of time until Christianity’s total and happy extinction, chortle our cultural elites. Is this true? Is churchgoing and religious adherence really in “widespread decline” so much so that conservative believers should suffer “growing anxiety”?

Two words: Absolutely not.

New research published late last year by scholars at Harvard University and Indiana University Bloomington is just the latest to reveal the myth. This research questioned the “secularization thesis,” which holds that the United States is following most advanced industrial nations in the death of their once vibrant faith culture. Churches becoming mere landmarks, dance halls, boutique hotels, museums, and all that.

Not only did their examination find no support for this secularization in terms of actual practice and belief, the researchers proclaim that religion continues to enjoy “persistent and exceptional intensity” in America.

Read it all.

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

(CBC) How Quebec City Muslims and Anglicans found friendship through faith and grief

Members of Quebec City’s Muslim community will stand alongside those of the Huron-Wendat, Jewish, Catholic, Anglican and many other communities Sunday, as they honour the victims of last year’s deadly attack on a mosque.

The interfaith ceremony, which starts at 7 p.m. at the Pavillion de Jeunesse at Expo Cité, will not be the first time different religious communities in the city will have come together since the shooting.

Bruce Myers, bishop of the Anglican diocese of Quebec and Boufeldja Benabdallah, co-founder of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City, spoke with Ainslie MacLellan on CBC Radio’s All in a Weekend, about how their communities have built a friendship.

Read it all (and please note there is an audio option also, which is about 12 1/3 minutes).

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Canada, Death / Burial / Funerals, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Otago Daily Times) The Role is exhilarating, new Anglican Bishop of Dunedin says

For Anglican Bishop of Dunedin the Rt Rev Dr Steven Benford belief and community are more important than buildings.

For this reason, neglected churches with struggling congregations should be able to “die with dignity”, he said.

“What does it say to society in general if you have a crumbling place that’s falling down with a sign that says Anglican Church.

“It’s a bit like a funeral for a loved aunt.

“We have to thank God for what’s happened, but acknowledge that things have moved on.”

Dr Benford was ordained at St Paul’s Cathedral in September.

Read it all.

Posted in Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia, Provinces Other Than TEC

(PA) Hidden hunger crisis hitting hard-up parents in the UK- report

Speaking on behalf of the Church of England, which is a member of the UK End Hunger UK campaign, the Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Rev Rachel Treweek, said: “That nearly a quarter of parents are saying they cannot reliably afford to feed their families shows that it is time to take a serious look at what
we are doing about the growing problem of household food insecurity in the UK.

“I am amazed by the generosity of the volunteers who run food banks in churches all over the country, helping those in the most acute need, but it is now clear that we need to do much more to reduce the need for food banks in the first place, starting with a commitment from Government to measure the scale of the underlying problem.”

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, England / UK, Marriage & Family, Poverty, Religion & Culture