Daily Archives: January 11, 2018

(CT) Klyne Snodgrass–Who Are You Without Your Props? Why your identity isn’t rooted in possessions and appearances

Christ is not an add-on to an existing identity; he seeks to remake your identity. Often conversion language is a gross exaggeration and implies that nothing of the old identity remains. Obviously much remains the same; you are still physically the same person with the same history and propensities in the same culture. What is changed is the old life of sin, the old being, and its old orientation. Even the things that do not change are seen from a new perspective. Christ is not an accessory to your identity, as if you were choosing an option for a car; he takes over identity so that everything else becomes an accessory, which is precisely what “Jesus is Lord” means.

We have been sold a cheap gospel without demand and without content, as if faith were a short transaction, a prayer, or a decision, to get security taken care of so we can go to heaven, but the New Testament is far less concerned with going to heaven than people think. In fact, as important as God’s promises about the future are, the concern for going to heaven is one of the most distorting factors in evangelical Christianity. What counts is life with God and an identity shaped by God, both now and eternally.

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Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

(CEN) Irish Church leaders unite in support of families

Irish Church leaders issued a rare joint New Year’s message in support of the family, as Pope Francis prepares to take part in the Roman Catholic Church’s World Meeting of Families in the summer.

The Pope is taking part in the three-yearly meeting as part of his state visit to Ireland, and it prompted calls from Church leaders for new efforts to protect vulnerable families from hardship.

The joint message was signed by the Anglican Primate of Ireland, Archbishop Richard Clarke. He was joined by the Roman Catholic Primate of Ireland and Presbyterian, Methodist and Irish Council of Churches leaders.

They expressed their concern at the rising level of homelessness in Ireland, which they describe as “one of the most tragic and glaring symptoms of a broken system that is leaving too many people without adequate support.”

They said that in the Republic of Ireland one in three of those living in emergency accommodation is a child. And in Northern Ireland, families with more than two children are among those most at risk from the combination of welfare changes, cuts to services, and cuts to charities providing vital support to children and young people.

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Posted in --Ireland, Anthropology, Church of Ireland, Ecumenical Relations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Other Churches, Other Denominations, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Globe and Mail) A new generation of prenatal testing raises ethical questions

For about $800, an American lab would analyze the fetal DNA circulating in Ms. Owens’s blood and tell her as early as 10 weeks into her pregnancy if she was carrying a baby with the chromosomal anomalies that cause Down syndrome and a few other, less common, conditions.

“Once I found out about this test,” Ms. Owens said, “I refused to wait until I was in my second trimester. I had to know right away.”

The desire of women like Ms. Owens to know as much as possible about their pregnancies as early as possible is behind a quiet revolution in prenatal screening in Canada and other developed countries.

A new generation of simple blood tests is allowing would-be parents to learn about the sex and potential genetic anomalies of their babies in the first trimester, a stage of the pregnancy when it’s relatively easy to get an abortion in Canada.

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Posted in Anthropology, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology

(TLS) In the Name of the Godfather–Misha Glenny on the survival of Global Mafias

Things changed dramatically in the 1990s. The collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union was accompanied by a drastic weakening of the state, unable and unfit to cope with the dramatic shift from a planned to a market economy. Those people engaged in Soviet and East European studies had no choice but to write about the emergent mafias of the late 1980s and 90s because they comprised one of three constituent parts of a new polity, along with the new class of oligarchs and what remained of state institutions. Ignoring the Russian mafia would have been akin to writing a history of the United States in the 1970s without mentioning the CIA, big business, the FBI or the Supreme Court.

As coherent policies started to melt in Russia, another equally important one was already coming into being elsewhere. The Big Bang of 1986, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher’s most important joint initiative, lifted restrictions on corporate capital movement. This persuaded the political elites of countries such as India, Brazil, China, Indonesia and South Africa to adjust and accept more open markets. To varying degrees, the commercial law systems of these countries found accommodating these changes a difficult challenge.

The conjuncture of these two historical moments with a specifically criminal development injected immense vigour into the business of organized crime. This was supercharged by Reagan’s affirmation of the disastrous War on Drugs at a time of rapid growth in cocaine consumption in certain markets during the 1980s, and later by an upsurge in heroin production and distribution in the first half of the 1990s as Afghanistan’s security situation deteriorated.

Federico Varese was among a number of young students in the 1990s whose doctoral research coincided with these events. He went to Perm, located halfway between Moscow and Novosibirsk, where he recorded in minute detail the emergence of the local mafia organization, eventually leading to his seminal work, The Russian Mafia (2001). Others were undertaking similar work in various countries including South Africa, China, Brazil and India. Most framed their research with some reference to The Sicilian Mafia: The business of private protection (1993) by the Italian social scientist Diego Gambetta. More than anyone else’s, Gambetta’s work has changed our fundamental understanding of mafias and organized crime groups. Mafias usually emerge, he argues, at times of social or economic upheaval when the state finds itself unable or unwilling to regulate markets. In order to ensure the smooth running of commercial activities, mafias, or “privatized law enforcement agencies” as another researcher named them, assume the role of arbiter….

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Posted in Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, History, Law & Legal Issues

(Independent) Definition of marriage has now ‘evolved’ to include same-sex couples, EU court says

The European Union must compel EU countries that have not yet legalised same-sex marriage to recognise gay weddings held in other nations, a landmark legal statement from the EU’s highest court has recommended.

The European Court of Justice’s advocate general said in an official legal opinion on Thursday morning that there had been “evolution” in the societies of EU countries, and that the idea that “the term marriage means a union between two persons of the opposite sex can no longer be followed”.

If the advocate general’s recommendation is followed by the ECJ, EU citizens will be allowed to bring in their same-sex spouses from non-EU countries to live with them in any EU member states under free movement rules – a right some countries only recognise for opposite-sex marriages.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(FT) Bibles, cookery books and the birth of the knowledge economy–An ambitious project aims to trace the early years of Europe’s printed revolution

A knot of academics is huddled over a large bound volume in the soft light of the Bodleian Library at Oxford university, attempting to unlock the secrets buried within its 500-year-old pages.

The beautifully tooled leather binding protecting this late-15th-century Hebrew Bible — a rare survival once held in the library at Holkham Hall in Norfolk — has helped keep its printed pages in a fine state of preservation. But it is not the words of the text that hold the attention of these experts. Instead, they are interpreting and recording the fleeting evidence it retains of previous owners, whether revealed in hand-painted heraldry, scholarly annotations, scribbled thoughts or simple underlining.

It is a process they and their colleagues have gone through many times in the service of a five-year project of sweeping academic ambition: an attempt to trace the flowering of knowledge, ideas and trade in the first 50 years of Europe’s printed revolution.

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Posted in Books, Europe, History, Science & Technology

(CC) A civil debate about religious freedom John Corvino, Ryan Anderson, and Sherif Girgis agree: religious liberty is good, discrimination is bad, and the clash between these values is complicated

he major virtue of this book is its civility. As Nussbaum stresses, it “shows that people who strongly disagree can both find much common ground and also articulate their differences with respect and care, fostering a culture of reason.” The engagement these authors model is vital in a country that seems daily to become more divided and fractious. Moore laments, echoing John Courtney Murray, “Sadly, most Americans don’t have these debates at all, content to stay in our silos and never engage with those who disagree with us.” Discussion or even argument are often cast aside as giving unwarranted legitimacy to the opposition and are replaced by condescension and vilification.

Of course, we want to defeat policies that we believe are unjust. But in a democracy such victories need to be tempered by the realization that we still need to live alongside each other as fellow citizens in a political community. We continue to be neighbors. As Moore concludes: “This book will equip you, wherever you stand, on how the ‘other side’ from you thinks. If American society follows the lead of this book, our culture wars won’t end, but they just might be kinder and smarter. That’s a good start.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Aelred of Rievaulx

Almighty God, who didst endow thy abbot Aelred with the gift of Christian friendship and the wisdom to lead others in the way of holiness: Grant to thy people that same spirit of mutual affection, that, in loving one another, we may know the love of Christ and rejoice in the gift of thy eternal goodness; through the same Jesus Christ our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from The Prayer Manual

Almighty and everlasting God, Who didst make known the Incarnation of Thy Son by the bright shining of a star, and when the wise men beheld it they adored Thy majesty and presented costly gifts: grant that the star of righteousness may always shine in our hearts; and that we may freely give ourselves and all that we possess to Thy service; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–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 Epiphany, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Therefore, holy brethren, who share in a heavenly call, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession. He was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in God’s house. Yet Jesus has been counted worthy of as much more glory than Moses as the builder of a house has more honor than the house. (For every house is built by some one, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ was faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if we hold fast our confidence and pride in our hope.
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,

“Today, when you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your fathers put me to the test
and saw my works for forty years.
Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ”˜They always go astray in their hearts;
they have not known my ways.’
As I swore in my wrath,
”˜They shall never enter my rest.’”

–Hebrews 3:1-11

Posted in Theology: Scripture