Category :

(Sightings) Martin Marty–Religion in the Years Ahead

A virtual throwaway line in a recent book review in the New York Review of Books caught my attention and prompted some early-in-the-year reflections on “the times.” Stephen Holmes, in a review of two sage and sane accounts by veterans Francis Fukuyama (Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment) and Kwame Anthony Appiah (The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity: Creed, Country, Class, Culture), comments that Fukuyama “explains why liberal democracy has ceased to impress much of the world as the ideal form of political and social organization.” More Holmes: “What [Fukuyama] could not have foreseen [when he wrote an earlier book in 1992] was that the high tide of liberal democracy would last a mere fifteen years. ‘Beginning in the mid-2000s, the momentum toward an increasingly open liberal world order began to falter, then went into reverse.’” Fukuyama concludes in his new book that identity politics has supplanted it. Appiah, meanwhile, wants us to understand religious, national, and cultural identities as “labels.” In his view, they are not accurate representations but rather “coordinating devices or ‘ways of grouping people’” for a variety of purposes, and also “for good or ill.” It strikes me that our bookshelves are stacked with references to “coordinating devices” which were intended to help readers navigate their way in unsettled and unsettling times.

Familiar with the work of both authors, and moved by discernments in the Holmes review, I have spent these first days of the new year reflecting on what it means, or might mean, that the liberal world order vanished within fifteen years of Fukuyama’s depiction of liberal democracy “as the default form of government for much of the world” in his 1992 book. To review some ways in which it appeared to scholars in my field—religious history, sociology, and practical theology—I pulled down and reread two books from the lost world of 1969. We’ll open them in a moment. But first: crucial for all fair and honest appraisals or bad guesses about future cultural climates is a famed word by philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, written as he reflected back on America’s founding. Whitehead argued that the founders’ thinking, acting, and writing were characteristic of an era in which “wise men hoped, and that as yet no circumstances had arisen to throw doubt upon the grounds of such hope.” The Civil War was a decisive moment in American history in this regard, but it was only one of many “circumstances” which re-set the stage for American dreaming. While values and virtues from the founding period would live on, the changes after that period were profound.

Sightings columns don’t typically allow for the kind of elaboration that many of us as scholars prefer, so please forgive me for the way I’m perhaps teasing this subject instead of offering a comprehensive treatment of it. But it strikes me that in 1969, a high year in the “old world order,” two Chicagoans published books on the subject of religion in the future. One was Andrew M. Greeley’s Religion in the Year 2000, and the other was the young scholar Martin E. Marty’s The Search for a Usable Future. Both authors were ordained clergy, both University of Chicago PhDs, both lived for some time in the same high-rise condo building, both born in 1928. I was technically twenty minutes older than Father Greeley, but I was admittedly less productive than the famed priest, in no small part because he had priestly celibacy while I was preoccupied with family life. My book pondering a “usable future”—honestly, less usable for this column’s purposes—was devoted to life amid paradoxical claims, less predictive about specific futures and more about “how to live” in the face of a variety of options for the future. I cited Martin Luther’s putative observation that “God rides the lame horse; he carves rotten wood.” The “Usable” in the title is of the “no matter what unfolds” sort.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Religion & Culture

(Advocate) A tale of 2 churches: Baton Rouge Anglican congregation finds home in a Baptist church

For four years, Holy Cross Anglican Church met in a car dealership. The price was right — free — but the congregation wanted a more traditional space.

Holy Cross found it in a place that has made opening its doors part of its mission.

Grace Mid-City, a Southern Baptist church at 630 Richland Ave., has been sharing its facilities with Holy Cross since Oct. 28. The Anglicans worship at 9 a.m., the Baptists at 10:30 a.m., and each has its educational programs while the other is using the sanctuary. Both groups say they’re happy with the arrangement.

“The first Sunday that we both had our services, the chief complaint was that we had figured out how to move around the campus so well to accommodate one another that our congregations didn’t interact. Our folks wanted to interact more,” said the Rev. Jarrett Fontenot, rector of Holy Cross. “We wanted to see each other and meet these new faces and remind each other that at the end of the day, our mission, our work, what we’re about is really the same thing, and it’s bigger than our denominational distinctives. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Baptists, Ecumenical Relations, Parish Ministry

Saturday Food for Thought from Martin Luther

Posted in Anthropology, Church History

(PRC FactTank) Defining generations: Where Millennials end and Generation Z begins

In this progression, what is unique for Generation Z is that all of the above have been part of their lives from the start. The iPhone launched in 2007, when the oldest Gen Zers were 10. By the time they were in their teens, the primary means by which young Americans connected with the web was through mobile devices, WiFi and high-bandwidth cellular service. Social media, constant connectivity and on-demand entertainment and communication are innovations Millennials adapted to as they came of age. For those born after 1996, these are largely assumed.

The implications of growing up in an “always on” technological environment are only now coming into focus. Recent research has shown dramatic shifts in youth behaviors, attitudes and lifestyles – both positive and concerning – for those who came of age in this era. What we don’t know is whether these are lasting generational imprints or characteristics of adolescence that will become more muted over the course of their adulthood. Beginning to track this new generation over time will be of significant importance.

Pew Research Center is not the first to draw an analytical line between Millennials and the generation to follow them, and many have offered well-reasoned arguments for drawing that line a few years earlier or later than where we have. Perhaps, as more data are collected over the years, a clear, singular delineation will emerge. We remain open to recalibrating if that occurs. But more than likely the historical, technological, behavioral and attitudinal data will show more of a continuum across generations than a threshold. As has been the case in the past, this means that the differences within generations can be just as great as the differences across generations, and the youngest and oldest within a commonly defined cohort may feel more in common with bordering generations than the one to which they are assigned. This is a reminder that generations themselves are inherently diverse and complex groups, not simple caricatures.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Sociology, Young Adults

(WSJ) Erica Komisar–Masculinity Isn’t a Sickness: A denial of biology in the American Psychological Association’s new report on men and boys

The truth is that masculine traits such as aggression, competitiveness and protective vigilance not only can be positive, but also have a biological basis. Boys and men produce far more testosterone, which is associated biologically and behaviorally with increased aggression and competitiveness. They also produce more vasopressin, a hormone originating in the brain that makes men aggressively protective of their loved ones.

The same goes for feminine traits such as nurturing and emotional sensitivity. Women produce more oxytocin when they nurture their children than men, and the hormone affects men and women differently. Oxytocin makes women more sensitive and empathic, while men become more playfully, tactually stimulating with their children, encouraging resilience. These differences between men and women complement each other, allowing a couple to nurture and challenge their offspring.

Modern society is also too often derisive toward women who embrace their biological tendencies, labeling them abnormal or unhealthy. Women who choose to stay home with their children can feel harshly judged, contributing to postpartum conflict, anxiety and depression.

What’s unhealthy isn’t masculinity or femininity but the demeaning of masculine men and feminine women. The first of the new APA guidelines urges psychologists “to recognize that masculinities are constructed based on social, cultural, and contextual norms,” as if biology had nothing to do with it. Another guideline explicitly scoffs at “binary notions of gender identity as tied to biology.

Read it all.

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton+Margery Kempe

Gracious God, we offer thanks for the lives and work of Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton, and Margery Kempe, hermits and mystics, who, passing through the cloud of unknowing, beheld thy glory. Help us, after their examples, to see thee more clearly and love thee more dearly, in the Name 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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Hugh Richard Lawrie “Dick” Sheppard

Grant us grace, O Father, not to pass by suffering or joy without eyes to see; give us understanding and sympathy, and guard us from selfishness, that we may enter into the joys and sufferings of others; use us to gladden and strengthen those who are weak and suffering; that by our lives we may help others to believe and serve Thee, and shed forth Thy light which is the light of life.

–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

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fulness of God.

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.

–Ephesians 3:14-21

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) ‘Put aside differences’ to find a way through on Brexit, Bishop Lowson tells politicians

Politicians need to put aside their personal differences to find a way through on Brexit, the Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Revd Christopher Lowson, said on Wednesday.

Speaking after the defeat of the Prime Minister’s withdrawal agreement, Bishop Lowson said: “The need is for us as a nation, and especially in the Commons, is to listen to the people and to find a way forward that most can agree on.”

He went on: “We need to put aside our personal differences to find this way. Whether we have a general election or a second referendum is a question for the politicians.

“But I think there needs to be some kind of discovery process so the Commons can work out what they find acceptable — taking the temperature of what is possible. There has to be some give and take, though.

“As a nation, we have been through some fairly significant challenges over the centuries and we have found a way through them. As Christians, we believe that God will find a way forward.”

Bishop Lowson was one of four bishops to vote against the Prime Minister’s deal in the House of Lords, along with the Bishops of London, Durham, and Birmingham.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General

(CEN) Bishop Paul Butler welcomes U-turn on Universal Credit

THE BISHOP of Durham, the Rt Rev Paul Butler, has welcomed Amber Rudd’s announcement that the government will not extend the two-child limit on Universal Credit for children born before April 2017.

New changes also include pressing ahead with a pilot to support 10,000 people from ‘legacy benefits’ on to Universal Credit in a test and learn approach.

Bishop Butler, who speaks for the Church of England on issues relating to children and young people, said: “As a just and compassionate society, we believe that every child is a blessing and deserves to be treated equally.

“So I very much welcome the announcement that the two-child limit policy will not be extended to children born before the policy came into effect in April 2017.

“I also welcome the Government’s mor

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance & Investing, Religion & Culture

(Ethika Politika) David Franks–On the Pro-Life Direction of Providence: The Christian Withdrawal from Killing

Students years ago heard me complain how imprecise it was to translate the Fifth Commandment as “Thou shalt not kill.” As a moral theologian, I would note that “kill” is too generic, lacking specification by a moral object. It should be “Thou shalt not murder.” And, technically, that is true.

And yet. And yet. Human killing is something we should always be in the practice of withdrawing from—in our minds, hearts, viscera, as well as in our social practice. That withdrawal belongs at the heart of the New Law of grace. Yes: grace does not destroy nature, but rather perfects it. Yes.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Theology

The ACNA College of Bishops Communiqué January 2019

Introduction
Our meeting took place in the context of worship, fellowship, and prayer during the first week of Epiphany.  Archbishop Beach began our time together during the opening Eucharist teaching about the grace of God evidenced in the miraculous star that led the Magi to Jesus.  The contrast between the Magi and the shepherds couldn’t have been more stark, yet God calls all to his service.

Our primary work this week has been the approval of liturgies for the 2019 Prayer Book. That was followed up with conversations about womens’ ministry, discerning the admittance of two new members to the College, and receiving reports from around the Church, including updates on our ecumenical dialogues. All the discussions were in the context of fulfilling our Gospel mandate to reach North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ.

The Book of Common Prayer 2019
After six years of the use of draft liturgies, submission of extensive comments from across the Church, and significant revisions and refinements, we have approved the Book of Common Prayer (2019)! The last wave of liturgies in their final form was approved this week for our new Prayer Book, which will be available at Provincial Assembly this June in Plano, Texas. One of the documents approved was the Preface, which includes this helpful introduction to worship in the prayer book tradition:

At the beginning of the 21st century, global reassessment of the Book of Common Prayer of 1662 as “the standard for doctrine, discipline and worship” shapes the present volume, now presented on the bedrock of its predecessors. Among the timeless treasures offered in this Prayer Book is the Coverdale Psalter of 1535 (employed with every Prayer Book from the mid-16th to the mid-20th centuries), renewed for contemporary use through efforts that included the labors of 20th century Anglicans T.S. Eliot and C.S. Lewis, and brought to final form here. The Book of Common Prayer (2019) is indisputably true to Cranmer’s originating vision of a form of prayers and praises that is thoroughly Biblical, catholic in the manner of the early centuries, highly participatory in delivery, peculiarly Anglican and English in its roots, culturally adaptive and missional in a most remarkable way, utterly accessible to the people, and whose repetitions are intended to form the faithful catechetically and to give them doxological voice….

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA)

(Malawi 24) Upper Shire Anglicans demand Bishop Brighton Malasa’s removal

Parishes in the diocese accuse Malasa of abusing funds as well as being greedy and power hungry.

They also claim that Malasa appointed himself chairman of most schools and health facilities owned by the diocese

Representatives of 37 of the 41 parishes last year resolved to ban their bishop from visiting all parishes within the diocese’s jurisdiction.

The parishes, according to the communication, also accuse the bishop of grabbing board chairmanships of most schools and health facilities in the diocese.

Resignations of priests from various roles and parishes they were deployed also angered the congregants.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Central Africa, Malawi

(NYT Op-ed) Thomas Edsall–The Fight Over Men Is Shaping Our Political Future

Last week, however, the American Psychological Association entered the fray with the release of its long-planned “Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men.”

The A.P.A. guidelines argue that the socialization of males to adhere to components of “traditional masculinity such as emotional stoicism, homophobia, not showing vulnerability, self-reliance and competitiveness” leads to the disproportion of males involved in “aggression and violence as a means to resolve interpersonal conflict” as well as “substance abuse, incarceration, and early mortality….”

From a more academic vantage point, Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology at Harvard, replied to my inquiry with a detailed critique of the A.P.A. guidelines.

“The report is blinkered by two dogmas. One is the doctrine of the blank slate” that rejects biological and genetic factors, Pinker wrote, adding that

The word “testosterone” appears nowhere in the report, and the possibility that men and women’s personalities differ for biological reasons is unsayable and unthinkable.

The other dogma, Pinker argued,

is that repressing emotions is bad and expressing them is good — a folk theory with roots in romanticism, Freudian psychoanalysis, and Hollywood, but which is contradicted by a large literature showing that people with greater self-control, particularly those who repress anger rather than “venting,” lead healthier lives: they get better grades, have fewer eating disorders, drink less, have fewer psychosomatic aches and pains, are less depressed, anxious, phobic, and paranoid, have higher self-esteem, are more conscientious, have better relationships with their families, have more stable friendships, are less likely to have sex they regretted, are less likely to imagine themselves cheating in a monogamous relationship.

In Pinker’s view, the A.P.A. guidelines fail to recognize that

a huge and centuries-long change in Western history, starting from the Middle Ages, was a “Civilizing Process” in which the ideal of manhood changed from a macho willingness to retaliate violently to an insult to the ability to exert self-control, dignity, reserve, and duty. It’s the culture of the gentleman, the man of dignity and quiet strength, the mensch. The romantic 1960s ethic of self-expression and escape from inhibitions weakened that ethic, and the A.P.A. report seems to be trying to administer the coup de grâce.

Pinker suggested rather that

One could argue that what today’s men need is more encouragement to enhance one side of the masculine virtues — the dignity, responsibility, self-control, and self-reliance — while inhibiting others, such as machismo, violence, and drive for dominance.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Men, Politics in General, Psychology

A Statement from Archbishops of Canterbury+York in the midst of the ongoing Brexit debate

From here:

We echo the call of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland to Christians and all those of faith and goodwill to give time for prayer beginning this Sunday in their local churches or as they choose: praying for wisdom, courage, integrity and compassion for our political leaders and all MPs; for reconciliation; and for fresh and uniting vision for all in our country.

Archbishop Justin Welby and Archbishop John Sentamu

Posted in * Economics, Politics, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

A Prayer for the Confession of St. Peter

Almighty Father, who didst inspire Simon Peter, first among the apostles, to confess Jesus as Messiah and Son of the Living God: Keep thy Church steadfast upon the rock of this faith, that in unity and peace we may proclaim the one truth and follow the one Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Eric Fenn

O Living God, in whom is the fountain of life: So teach us to know thee through Jesus Christ that we may share the power of that eternal life which is in him, and that all our lives may be brought into obedience to thy holy will; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved….Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fulness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore

Psalm 16:7-8;11

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(The Hill) Jury awards hotel dishwasher $21 million after finding employer violated her religious rights

A former hotel dishwasher has been awarded $21.5 million in damages after a jury found that her previous employer violated her religious rights.

Marie Jean Pierre, 60, sued the Park Hotels & Resorts, accusing the group of violating her civil rights by firing her for being unable to work on Sundays, the Miami Herald reported Wednesday.

Pierre, who had worked as a dishwasher at the Conrad Miami Hotel, had requested from the beginning of her employment that she have Sundays off to participate in Christian missionary work to help the poor, according to NBC News.

“I love God,” she told the local NBC affiliate. “No work on Sunday, because Sunday I honor God.”

Read it all.

Posted in Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(Express) Bishop Alan Smith–Gambling is an addiction just like drugs – but why is the Taxpayer paying for the cure?

What dangerous activity do children do more often than smoking, drinking or drugs? If you said gambling, you would be right. Years ago, I met a family who had lost their teenage son to suicide after fighting a gambling addiction.

That family’s loss is not an isolated case: it’s been depressing to meet several other grieving parents. Those campaigning parents went on to win the battle to persuade the Government to slash the stakes on the most addictive gaming machines from £100 to £2. Yet this victory can’t lead to complacency as we face further gambling challenges.

Today there are 55,000 children defined as problem gamblers – something I term a ‘generational scandal’. Sadly, I fear we have done too little to prevent this from becoming a much wider problem.

Under-18s are regularly inundated with more than three gambling adverts a day while 90% of pubs fail to stop children from gambling on the loud and bright fruit machines found in nearly every establishment.

Children are the next target of an industry making billions in profits which shows little inclination to take any form of responsibility.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Gambling

(CT) Asia Rising: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Follow Jesus

Year after year, Open Doors has reported on the decline of religious freedom for Christians worldwide—measuring persecution through government restrictions, social pressures, and outright violence.

“In the north and Middle Belt of Nigeria … at least 3,700 Christians were killed for their faith—almost double the number of a year ago (an estimated 2,000)—with villages completely abandoned by Christians forced to flee, as their armed attackers then move in to settle, with impunity,” wrote World Watch Monitor in its analysis of the list. The news service noted that “of the 4,136 deaths for Christian faith that the List reports, Nigeria alone accounts for about 90% (3,731).”

Overall, 1 in 6 African Christians now experience high levels of persecution for their faith, according to Open Doors researchers.

The latest World Watch List indicates that religious freedom restrictions have also become more widespread, affecting 1 in 9 Christians worldwide. An estimated 245 million Christians in the 50 countries on this year’s rankings experience high levels of persecution compared to 215 million last year.

Of the 150 countries monitored by Open Doors, 73 now exhibit high to extreme levels of persecution; last year, only 58 countries showed the same. “[In 2019], 11 countries score highly enough to fit into the ‘extreme’ category for the level of persecution of Christians,” noted World Watch Monitor. “It was the same last year, but five years ago, only North Korea was in that category.”

Read it all.

Posted in Globalization, Religion & Culture

(PRC FactTank) Split between Ukrainian, Russian churches shows political importance of Orthodox Christianity

The recent decision by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to split from its Russian counterpart after more than 300 years of being linked reflects not only the continuing military conflict between the two countries in recent years, but also the important political role Orthodox Christianity plays in the region.

Ukraine is an overwhelmingly Orthodox Christian nation, with nearly eight-in-ten adults (78%) identifying as Orthodox (compared with 71% in Russia), according to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey of much of the country (some contested areas in eastern Ukraine were not surveyed). This is up from 39% who said they were Orthodox Christian in 1991 – the year the officially atheist Soviet Union collapsed and Ukraine gained its independence. With roughly 35 million Orthodox Christians, Ukraine now has the third-largest Orthodox population in the world, after Russia and Ethiopia.

In addition, Orthodox Christianity is closely tied to Ukraine’s national and political life. Roughly half of all Ukrainians (51%) say it is at least somewhat important for someone to be Orthodox to be truly Ukrainian. The same is true for Russia, where 57% say being Orthodox is important to being truly Russian. In both countries, about half (48% in each) say religious leaders have at least some influence in political matters, although most Ukrainians (61%) and roughly half of Russians (52%) would prefer if this were not the case.

Read it all.

Posted in Orthodox Church, Russia, Ukraine

(ACNS) Interim Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome rebuffs “resurrection” criticism

“Christ is Risen!”, Dr Shepherd said in response to widely reported criticism about his appointment. “There has been speculation in the press and on social media about my views on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Part of this is based on a sermon I preached in 2008.

“It is my faith that Jesus rose from the dead and I have never denied the reality of the empty tomb. The risen Christ was not a ghost – he ate and could be touched – but at the same time he appeared in a locked room (John 20: 26) and vanished from sight (Luke 24: 31) and he was often not immediately recognised.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Eschatology

([London] Times) Crispin Blunt–Why the time has come to scrap prayers in parliament

As our society becomes decreasingly religious we have to wonder why it is that in the House of Commons procedures of the day such as lawmaking and debates start with prayers.

During this time the doors are locked while MPs stand, perform an about-turn and pray. This process is closed to the public while Anglican prayers are read — hardly conducive with the diverse elected representatives and the constituents they represent.

While religious worship occupies a strong part in some people’s lives, it should no longer play a role in the way we conduct our political affairs as an independent, open and diverse nation. In 2019 for most MPs parliamentary prayers are the price paid to reserve a favourite place on the green benches for the day, having become a de facto seat reservation system. Many MPs have found that unless they attend these prayers, whether in line with their beliefs or not, they will struggle to secure a seat.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

(CEN) Paul Richardson reviews Melani McAlister’s new book: ‘The Kingdom of God Has No Borders: A Global History of American Evangelicals’

According to The Christian Century this study of how American evangelicals have engaged with the wider world was OUP’s best-selling religious book in the US in 2018. There have been numerous studies of evangelicalism within America but this is the first I know to look at how evangelicals have engaged with other cultures. It has important lessons for anyone interested in the mission of the church.

Melani McAlister describes herself as ‘secular’ but although she makes some sharp criticisms she does try to understand the people she writes about and present them fairly. Her story begins with racism in America in the 1950s and 1960s and ends with a group of InterVarsity students spending five weeks in Cairo trying to help Sudanese refugees. The evangelical community McAlister describes is diverse. Many evangelicals voted for Trump but others are struggling with issues of race, cultural imperialism and global poverty.

McAlister devotes chapters to important developments in evangelical engagement with the world: post-colonial turmoil in the Congo, relations with communism, pre-millennialism and support for Israel, the debates at Lausanne, apartheid, war in the Sudan, the growth of evangelical NGOs, the response to the HIV/AIDS crisis, short-term missionaries, relations with Islam and the war in Iraq are all discussed. The importance of people from outside the US such as John Stott and Michael Cassidy is recognised and there are interesting comments on the 1998 Lambeth Conference.

Read it all (may require subscription).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, Evangelicals, Globalization, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Antony

O God, who by thy Holy Spirit didst enable thy servant Antony to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil: Give us grace, with pure hearts and minds, to follow thee, the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from E. M. Goulburn

O Almighty God, who by thy holy Apostle hast taught us to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto thee, as our reasonable service: Hear us, we beseech thee, as we now come to thee in the name of Jesus Christ; and give us grace that we may dedicate ourselves wholly to thy service, and henceforth live only to thy glory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Epiphany, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

And when he returned to Caper′na-um after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question thus in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your pallet and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

–Mark 2:1-12

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Facts+Trends) Most Teens Drop Out Of Church When They Become Young Adults

Church pews may be full of teenagers, but a new study says college students might be a much rarer sight on Sunday mornings.

Two-thirds (66 percent) of American young adults who attended a Protestant church regularly for at least a year as a teenager say they also dropped out for at least a year between the ages of 18 and 22, according to a new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research. Thirty-four percent say they continued to attend twice a month or more.

While the 66 percent may be troubling for many church leaders, the numbers may appear more hopeful when compared to a 2007 study from LifeWay Research. Previously, 70 percent of 18- to 22-year-olds left church for at least one year.

Read it all.

Posted in Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Young Adults

(GR) Washington Post editors still don’t understand that private schools – left and right – have doctrines

All in all, this was a perfectly normal elite mainstream newsroom story about this divisive religious-liberty issue — especially since the newspaper’s religion desk was not involved. The story quotes exactly the sources one would expect to see quoted, without any troubling information from old-school liberal First Amendment sources.

As always, let me stress that journalists do not need to agree with the views of traditional religious-liberty liberals (often called “conservatives” these days) when covering stories of this kind. It is essential, however, to understand the points of view on both sides, while providing accurate coverage.

The key: Do readers finish this Post story knowing that religious institutions on the left — not just conservative schools and organizations — have these kinds of policies defending their beliefs? Religious liberals and secularists have been known to drive wedges into national life, too.

Again, please consider the experiences of an evangelical — an ordained Anglican woman — in that earlier Vanderbilt case.

Why not look at both sides of these issues? Why not examine the work of religious educators in voluntary associations on the educational left and right?

Read it all and follow the links.

Posted in Education, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Religion & Culture