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(Karl Vaters’ The Pivot) 5 Myth-Shattering Reasons We Have To Change Our Thinking About Church Size

Bigger churches aren’t necessarily better. Smaller churches aren’t necessarily broken, stuck or ineffective.

Effective churches exist in all shapes and sizes. Including churches that haven’t grown numerically in a while.

But the myths persist. Especially the myth that if a church is healthy it will get bigger. And the corresponding myth that if a church isn’t getting bigger it’s either a problem to be fixed (at best) or it’s beyond fixing and needs to be closed.

It doesn’t matter if there’s other evidence of health outside the numbers. For too many of us, church size is the primary (or only) factor in determining the health and value of a local congregation.

This thinking is not just mistaken, it’s dangerous. History has regularly shown us that any time we equate bigger with better in the kingdom of God, it leads to problems. Big problems.

Today, there are a handful of unintended consequences that result from the almost universal and seldom questioned assumption that church growth always means bigger churches.

Here are just a few….

Read it all.

Posted in Ecclesiology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

Thorneloe University appoints the Rev. Canon Dr. John Gibaut as its Next President

A priest of the Diocese of Ottawa, Gibaut is well known in ecumenical circles, having served on national and international dialogues and commissions.

He has been a member of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada, the Faith and Witness Commission of the Canadian Council of Churches, the International Commission for Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue, and the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations.

Gibaut earned a doctorate in theology from Trinity College, University of Toronto, and has honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees from the Montreal Diocesan Theological College and Trinity College, Toronto. He has served as canon theologian of the Diocese of Ottawa.

He has lectured in the Faculty of Divinity at Trinity College as well as academic institutions in Australia and the United States. He has an impressive list of publications and presentations to his credit, reflecting his deep and diverse perspectives on theology. He is a highly regarded scholar in the areas of ecumenism, liturgy, church history, historical theology and Anglican studies.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Canada, Ecumenical Relations, Education, Religion & Culture, Uncategorized

(Tablet) Laity must defend the faith not wait for bishops to ‘get their act together’, says Rod Dreher in Ireland

Best-selling author and conservative thinker Rod Dreher has urged the Irish laity not to passively wait for their bishops to “get their act together” but to speak out and defend the faith themselves.

In an address at University Church in Dublin, hosted by the Iona Institute and the Notre Dame Newman Centre for Faith and Reason, the author of ‘The Benedict Option’ told a crowd of 350 that Catholics in Ireland that he knew “from bitter experience that the institutions of the Catholic Church cannot be relied on to teach, defend, and evangelise for the faith”.

The popular blogger and editor at ‘The American Conservative’, who is author of several books, told The Tablet that it would be “a fatal mistake to sit back and wait for them [the bishops] to get their acts together”.

“Pray that they do but in the meantime faithful Catholics must catechise themselves and their children. They must act themselves to deepen their experience of faith through prayer, the sacraments, Bible reading, and embracing spiritual disciplines.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Ireland, England / UK, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic

(WSJ) Shashi Tharoor–How Hinduism Has Persisted for 4,000 Years

The word “Hindu” denotes more than a set of theological beliefs. In many languages, French and Persian among them, the word for Indian is Hindu. Originally foreigners used it when referring to the people beyond the Indus River, which is now in Islamic Pakistan. In fact, the word Hindu did not exist in any Indian language until its use by outsiders gave Indians a term for self-definition. Many Hindus, in other words, call themselves by a label that they didn’t invent but adopted cheerfully.

“Hinduism,” then, is the name that foreigners first applied to what they saw as the indigenous religion of India. It embraces an eclectic range of doctrines and practices—from pantheism to agnosticism, from faith in reincarnation to belief in the caste system. Yet none of these constitutes an obligatory credo for a Hindu. We have no compulsory dogmas.

The religion is predicated on the idea that the eternal wisdom of the ages and of divinity cannot be confined to a single sacred book. While others might look to the heavens to find God, the Hindu looks within himself. There is no Hindu pope, no Hindu Vatican, no Hindu catechism, not even a Hindu Sunday. Hinduism does not oblige the adherent to demonstrate his faith by any visible sign. Instead Hinduism offers a smorgasbord of options to the worshiper: of divinities to adore and to pray to, of rituals to observe, of customs and practices to honor, of fasts to keep. Hinduism allows believers to stretch their imaginations to personal notions of the creative Godhead.

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Posted in Hinduism, History

Bradford Cathedral’s annual legal service to feature Archbishop Sentamu as preacher

Bradford Cathedral will be hosting the Annual Legal Service on Sunday 3rd February from 11am, an event where the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu will preach a special centenary sermon.

The Archbishop, who is an Advocate of the High Court of Uganda, will join members of the Judiciary, including High Court Judges and Magistrates from across West Yorkshire, for this public service.

The Legal Service will take place at 11am, where there will be processions followed by a service acknowledging the sovereignty of God and the Judeo-Christian foundation of UK law and the legal system.

The processions will include members of the choir, clergy, bishops, lawyers, barristers, judges, the High Sheriff, Lord Lieutenant and the Lord Mayor of Bradford.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Church of England invests £35 million in new Christian communities

The Church of England is to fund a bold series of projects to spread the Christian faith – from a new congregation in a nightclub area to a weekday church – as part of a £35 million investment in mission, it was announced today.

The Church of England is to fund a bold series of projects to spread the Christian faith – from a new congregation in a nightclub area to a weekday church – as part of a £35 million investment in mission, it was announced today.

The biggest investment so far by the Church of England’s Renewal and Reform programme is intended to help it reach tens of thousands of people including in city centres, outer estates and rural areas.

The grants will pioneer new types of churches – which may be far from the traditional image – along with outreach by the Church of England, from a social media pastor to work with school and community choirs.

Read it all.

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

Phillips Brooks on Phillips Brooks Feast Day

Courage…is the indispensable requisite of any true ministry…. If you are afraid of men and a slave to their opinion, go and do something else. Go make shoes to fit them. Go even and paint pictures you know are bad but will suit their bad taste. But do not keep on all of your life preaching sermons which shall not say what God sent you to declare, but what they hire you to say. Be courageous. Be independent.

—-Phillips Brooks, Lectures on Preaching, the 1877 Yale Lectures (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), p. 59

Posted in Church History, Pastoral Theology, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Phillips Brooks

O everlasting God, who didst reveal truth to thy servant Phillips Brooks, and didst so form and mold his mind and heart that he was able to mediate that truth with grace and power: Grant, we pray, that all whom thou dost call to preach the Gospel may steep themselves in thy word, and conform their lives to thy will; through 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 Henry Alford

O Lord Jesus, who by thy first miracle didst manifest thy glory, so that thy disciples believed on thee: Give us in our measure that faith which dwelt in them. Fill us with the riches of thy good Spirit; change thou our earthly desires into the image of thine own purity and holiness; and finally give us a place at thy heavenly feast; for the glory of thy holy name.

Posted in Epiphany, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But fornication and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is fitting among saints. Let there be no filthiness, nor silly talk, nor levity, which are not fitting; but instead let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure man, or one who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for it is because of these things that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not associate with them, for once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret; but when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.”

–Ephesians 5:1-14

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Premier) Praying in tongues and prophecy, all part of Archbishop of Canterbury’s daily routine

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has spoken of his daily discipline praying in tongues and seeking words of knowledge and prophecy from others in a wide ranging interview with Premier.

The head of the Church of England has admitted: “It’s not something to make a great song and dance about, given it’s usually extremely early in the morning it’s not usually an immensely ecstatic moment.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

(Vanguard) 100 years: Lagos Anglican Diocese plans Centenary City, Online Radio

The Diocese of Lagos (Anglican Communion) has joined several other church organisations to express concern over the forthcoming general elections, praying to God for a peaceful polls and the election of credible leaders.

Addressing journalists ahead of the centenary anniversary celebration of the foremost mission in Nigeria, the diocesan Bishop, Rt. Rev. Humphrey Olumakaiye revealed his vision to reposition the diocese to continue to impact the society and influence the nation for the good of all citizens.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Nigeria

(NYT) Described as Defeated, Islamic State Punches Back With Guerrilla Tactics

For three years, terrorists controlled a huge stretch of territory in Iraq and Syria. They ran their own state, collecting tens of millions of dollars in taxes and using the proceeds to fix potholes, issue birth certificates, finance attacks and recruit followers from around the world.

All but 1 percent of that territory is now gone, which has prompted the White House to describe the Islamic State as “wiped out,” “absolutely obliterated” and “in its final throes.” But to suggest that ISIS was defeated, as President Trump did when he announced plans to pull out American troops from Syria, is to ignore the lessons of recent history.

The group has been declared vanquished before, only to prove politicians wrong and to rise stronger than before.

The attack last week by a suicide bomber outside a shawarma restaurant in the Syrian city of Manbij, which killed at least 15 people including four Americans, is one example of how the group still remains a serious, violent threat.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Iraq, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces, Syria, Terrorism, Violence

(Local Paper) Pittsburgh synagogue shooting survivors join Emanuel AME Church in shared sorrow

They stood hugging, a rabbi and an AME minister, two men of God united by the bloodshed of earthly hatreds.

Beneath their feet, in the fellowship hall of Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church, nine black worshipers died in June 2015 when a gunman opened fire during their Bible study, killing them because they were black.

About 700 miles north, in Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, an antisemitic gunman killed 11 worshipers less than three months ago during their Shabbat morning services, simply because they were Jewish.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Violence

Archbishop Peter Jensen hands on the General Secretary of Gafcon position to Archbishop Ben Kwashi

Much is at stake. It is the testimony of Scripture that ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23) and that ‘the wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23). Every single human being is so important in the eyes of God, that we will be held accountable for our sins of thought, word and deed on the Day of Judgement and the proper punishment for our sins is the place of destruction, hell itself.

The Gospel is not some children’s game, or some therapy to make us feel better. It is deadly serious. And it needs to be preached faithfully, in its full-orbed truth. It is about the salvation of sinners from hell.

‘The wages of sin is death’, but the rest of this wonderful sentence runs, ‘the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’, These words capture the grace of God (the free gift) given to us when we did not deserve it and were incapable of being good enough to receive it. It reminds us of the glory that is ours in eternal life, as opposed to destruction. And it tells us where eternal life may be found, namely in the Jesus who is the Christ, the fulfilment of all the promises of God, and the one who saves us by being our Lord.

In our times, the tendency is to omit two absolutely vital parts of this: First, the fact that we are faced with the choice between life and death. We fail to preach judgement, because we do not want to offend. Instead we preach a Christ who will fulfil all our desires – for money, for success, for happiness, because we cannot believe in eternal life and eternal death.

Second, we omit the summons to repentance which is integral to the true Gospel.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of Nigeria, GAFCON

Westhill Community Church votes to Leave the Scottish Episcopal Church

From here:

The result of the vote on Thursday 17th January asking whether you agree with the leaders and vestry that Westhill Community Church should leave the Scottish Episcopal Church was 87% Yes and 13% No, with 2 spoiled papers.

There will be no immediate changes. We as a Church need to take time to catch our breath and pray about the way forward.

Thanks to everyone who assisted with the process including everyone who came out on such a cold night to vote and everyone who stayed to pray together.

With every blessing, on behalf of the Leaders and Vestry

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Scottish Episcopal Church, Theology: Scripture

(AP) Paying for funerals impossible for many poor families

Darlene Hardison would have loved to have a funeral for her father and uncle and bury them in marked graves at a Michigan cemetery. But she and her family could come up with only enough money to have Hoover Heags and Arthur Hardison cremated, then they left the remains to a Detroit funeral home to bury.

Authorities later discovered Heags’ and Hardison’s cremated remains among nearly 300 others in bags, boxes and other containers inside Cantrell Funeral Home, one of two Detroit funeral homes police and state licensing officials are investigating for allegedly improperly storing remains. Heags had died about a year earlier; Hardison had been dead for about two years.

“The funds were limited … to paying house bills and we just didn’t have the money to cover everything we needed,” Darlene Hardison said at a cemetery where a memorial service was held for some of the people whose cremains authorities found in the now-closed Cantrell Funeral Home on Detroit’s east side. “We were just able to do a cremation and that was it,” Hardison said, wiping away tears.

Hardison’s story illustrates how the funeral homes now under scrutiny may have ended up having so many remains and why it is that families didn’t notice. Many poor families in the U.S. have been priced out of funerals and burials. People who can’t afford those services are left with the cheapest option: cremating their loved one’s remains and leaving it to a funeral home to dispose of them. Others may simply abandon relatives’ remains altogether, leaving it to coroners and funeral homes to pay for cremation and disposal.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance & Investing, Poverty

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Vincent

Almighty God, whose deacon Vincent, upheld by thee, was not terrified by threats nor overcome by torments: Strengthen us, we beseech thee, to endure all adversity with invincible and steadfast faith; through 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 Church of South India

Almighty God, the giver of strength and joy: Change, we beseech thee, our bondage into liberty, and the poverty of our nature into the riches of thy grace; that by the transformation of our lives thy glory may be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Epiphany, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind. For thy steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in faithfulness to thee.

–Psalm 26:2-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(ABC Aus.) Stanley Hauerwas–The Only Road to Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nonviolence

Of all the silly claims sometimes made by atheists these days, surely one of the silliest is that Christianity was in no way determinative of the politics of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Just take Christopher Hitchens’s claim that, on account of King’s commitment to nonviolence, in “no real as opposed to nominal sense … was he a Christian.” Wherever King got his understanding of nonviolence from, argues Hitchens, it simply could not have been from Christianity because Christianity is inherently violent.

The best response that I can give to such claims is turn to that wonderfully candid account of the diverse influences that shaped King’s understanding of nonviolence in his Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, and then demonstrate how his Christianity gave these influences in peculiarly Christ-like form.

King reports as a college student he was moved when he read Thoreau’s Essay on Civil Disobedience. Thoreau convinced him that anyone who passively accepts evil, even oppressed people who cooperate with an evil system, are as implicated with evil as those who perpetrate it. Accordingly, if we are to be true to our conscience and true to God, a righteous man has no alternative but to refuse to cooperate with an evil system.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CT) Dante Stewart–Martin Luther King Jr.: Exemplar of Hope

As I reflect on King, I am reminded of the language of Zechariah 9:12: “Return to your fortress you prisoners of hope.” He was indeed a “prisoner of hope.” To be a prisoner of hope is not the same thing as being optimistic. Life has been too realistic for that. Optimism is rooted in sentimentalism and believes in the inevitability of progress. Hope is rooted in a redemptive realism and the promise of the victory of God in Jesus. King was not naive about the realities he faced nor did he expect that good was just around the corner.

In the last book he wrote before he was assassinated, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, King wrote, “The majority of White Americans consider themselves sincerely committed to justice for the Negro,” but, he argued, “unfortunately this is a fantasy of self-deception and comfortable vanity.” White America was willing to welcome some change, but, just as they do today, apathy and disinterest rose to the surface when the next logical steps needed to be taken. Though the real democratic spirit of some of white America resisted this tendency, these were exceptional individuals and far too small in number for widespread change to take root. It was King’s conclusion that the practical cost of change for the nation up to this point had been cheap and characterized by the ever-present tendency to backlash—realities we still live with 51 years later.

While blacks proceeded from the premise that “equality means what it says and they have taken white Americans at their word,” far too often “equality is a loose expression for improvement” and that “whites … are not putting in a similar mass effort to re-educate themselves out of their racial ignorance.” The hard truth was that “neither Negro nor white has yet done enough to expect the dawn of a new day.”

For King, freedom is not won by passive acceptance of suffering. It is “won by a struggle against suffering.” Standing in the chasm between disappointed cries for black power, stiffening resistance from white backlash, the darkness of Vietnam, and the pervasiveness of poverty, King appealed to our common humanity and care for the common good. He called for the full participation of blacks and whites, rich and poor, natives and immigrants, Pentecostals and Presbyterians—any who would join the struggle for freedom and community. I believe Thurman is right when he claims that King’s greatest contribution was his life, which embodied a radical discipleship and a revolutionary love.

Read it all.

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

Richard John Neuhaus: Remembering, and Misremembering, Martin Luther King Jr.

As Abernathy tells it—and I believe he is right—he and King were first of all Christians, then Southerners, and then blacks living under an oppressive segregationist regime. King of course came from the black bourgeoisie of Atlanta in which his father, “Daddy King,” had succeeded in establishing himself as a king. Abernathy came from much more modest circumstances, but he was proud of his heritage and, as he writes, wanted nothing more than that whites would address his father as Mr. Abernathy. He and Martin loved the South, and envisioned its coming into its own once the sin of segregation had been expunged.

“Years later,” Abernathy writes that, “after the civil rights movement had peaked and I had taken over [after Martin’s death] as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference,” he met with Governor George Wallace. “Governor Wallace, by then restricted to a wheel chair after having been paralyzed by a would-be assassin’s bullet, shook hands with me and welcomed me to the State of Alabama. I smiled, realizing that he had forgotten all about Montgomery and Birmingham, and particularly Selma. ‘This is not my first visit,’ I said. ‘I was born in Alabama—in Marengo County.’ ‘Good,’ said Governor Wallace, ‘then welcome back.’ I really believe he meant it. In his later years he had become one of the greatest friends the blacks had ever had in Montgomery. Where once he had stood in the doorway and barred federal marshals from entering, he now made certain that our people were first in line for jobs, new schools, and other benefits of state government.” Abernathy concludes, “It was a time for reconciliations.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

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

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Letter from a Birmingham Jail

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.

There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

Read it all.

Posted in History, Religion & Culture

Music for Martin Luther King Day–I’m gonna ride the Chariot in the morning Lord

Listen to it all.

Posted in Liturgy, Music, Worship

Harriet Beecher Stowe on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Have not many of us, in the weary way of life, felt, in some hours, how far easier it were to die than to live?

The martyr, when faced even by a death of bodily anguish and horror, finds in the very terror of his doom a strong stimulant and tonic. There is a vivid excitement, a thrill and fervor, which may carry through any crisis of suffering that is the birth-hour of eternal glory and rest.

But to live, to wear on, day after day, of mean, bitter, low, harassing servitude, every nerve dampened and depressed, every power of feeling gradually smothered, this long and wasting heart-martyrdom, this slow, daily bleeding away of the inward life, drop by drop, hour after hour, this is the true searching test of what there may be in man or woman.

When Tom stood face to face with his persecutor, and heard his threats, and thought in his very soul that his hour was come, his heart swelled bravely in him, and he thought he could bear torture and fire, bear anything, with the vision of Jesus and heaven but just a step beyond; but, when he was gone, and the present excitement passed off, came back the pain of his bruised and weary limbs, came back the sense of his utterly degraded, hopeless, forlorn estate; and the day passed wearily enough.Long before his wounds were healed, Legree insisted that he should be put to the regular field-work; and then came day after day of pain and weariness, aggravated by every kind of injustice and indignity that the ill-will of a mean and malicious mind could devise. Whoever, in our circumstances, has made trial of pain, even with all the alleviations which, for us, usually attend it, must know the irritation that comes with it. Tom no longer wondered at the habitual surliness of his associates; nay, he found the placid, sunny temper, which had been the habitude of his life, broken in on, and sorely strained, by the inroads of the same thing. He had flattered himself on leisure to read his Bible; but there was no such thing as leisure there. In the height of the season, Legree did not hesitate to press all his hands through, Sundays and week-days alike. Why shouldn’t he?””he made more cotton by it, and gained his wager; and if it wore out a few more hands, he could buy better ones. At first, Tom used to read a verse or two of his Bible, by the flicker of the fire, after he had returned from his daily toil; but, after the cruel treatment he received, he used to come home so exhausted, that his head swam and his eyes failed when he tried to read; and he was fain to stretch himself down, with the others, in utter exhaustion.

Is it strange that the religious peace and trust, which had upborne him hitherto, should give way to tossings of soul and despondent darkness? The gloomiest problem of this mysterious life was constantly before his eyes, souls crushed and ruined, evil triumphant, and God silent. It was weeks and months that Tom wrestled, in his own soul, in darkness and sorrow. He thought of Miss Ophelia’s letter to his Kentucky friends, and would pray earnestly that God would send him deliverance. And then he would watch, day after day, in the vague hope of seeing somebody sent to redeem him; and, when nobody came, he would crush back to his soul bitter thoughts, that it was vain to serve God, that God had forgotten him. He sometimes saw Cassy; and sometimes, when summoned to the house, caught a glimpse of the dejected form of Emmeline, but held very little communion with either; in fact, there was no time for him to commune with anybody.

–Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Poetry & Literature, Race/Race Relations

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: I Have a Dream

You can find the full text here.

I find it always is really worth the time to listen to and read and ponder it all on this day–KSH.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast day of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Almighty God, who by the hand of Moses thy servant didst lead thy people out of slavery, and didst make them free at last: Grant that thy Church, following the example of thy prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of thy love, and may strive to secure for all thy children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Agnes

Almighty and everlasting God, who dost choose those whom the world deemeth powerless to put the powerful to shame: Grant us so to cherish the memory of thy youthful martyr Agnes, that we may share her pure and steadfast faith in thee; through 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 William Temple

Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to thee, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly thine, utterly dedicated unto thee; and then use us, we pray thee, as thou wilt, but always to thy glory and the welfare of thy people; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer