Category : Anthropology

(Washington Post) Bryce Ward–Americans are choosing to be alone. Here’s why we should reverse that.

According to the Census Bureau’s American Time Use Survey, the amount of time the average American spent with friends was stable, at 6½ hours per week, between 2010 and 2013. Then, in 2014, time spent with friends began to decline.

By 2019, the average American was spending only four hours per week with friends (a sharp, 37 percent decline from five years before). Social media, political polarization and new technologies all played a role in the drop. (It is notable that market penetration for smartphones crossed 50 percent in 2014.)

Covid then deepened this trend. During the pandemic, time with friends fell further — in 2021, the average American spent only two hours and 45 minutes a week with close friends (a 58 percent decline relative to 2010-2013).

Similar declines can be seen even when the definition of “friends” is expanded to include neighbors, co-workers and clients. The average American spent 15 hours per week with this broader group of friends a decade ago, 12 hours per week in 2019 and only 10 hours a week in 2021.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Psychology

Martin Davie–The Bishop Of Southwark’s recent Presidential Address – An Intial Response.

Allowing clergy to be in same-sex marriages would also involve a change in the Church’s position. In line with the Bible and the Christian tradition the Church of England has always held that clergy need to live lives of visible holiness so as to be ‘wholesome examples and patterns to the flock of Christ,’ [4] and that this means, among other things, that their sexual conduct must be in line with the biblical principle of either sexual faithfulness within heterosexual marriage or sexual abstinence outside it. What the bishop’s suggestion would mean is either the Church saying that the sexual conduct of the clergy simply does not matter, or that same-sex sexual relationships are acceptable to God, neither of which the Church of England has authority to say.

It is also not something that is required on ‘ecumenical or Anglican inter-provincial grounds.’ There is nothing in the Church of England’s ecumenical commitments or in its membership of the Anglican Communion that means that the Church of England needs to allow clergy to be in same-sex marriages. This is a complete red-herring.

If the Church of England were to adopt either or both of the bishop’s suggestions this would mean that it had ceased to uphold Christian orthodoxy with regard to sexual ethics. At this point orthodox Anglicans would have no choice except to visibly differentiate themselves from the Church of England’s position and the only way this could be done would either be through the formation of a province within the Church of England that continued to uphold orthodox Christian teaching and practice with regard to sexual ethics, or by their leaving the Church of England to join another Anglican jurisdiction that had remained orthodox in this area.[5]

The fundamental problem with the bishop’s address is that he is not acting properly as a bishop. As he rightly says, bishops are called to be ‘principal ministers of word and sacrament’ and ‘chief pastors’ However, as the 1662 Ordinal makes clear is that this means that bishops are called to ‘teach and exhort with wholesome doctrine’ and ‘banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s word.’ [6]

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bp. Christopher Chessun of Southwark gives his Diocesan Synod Address and speaks out on the LLF process, calling for embrace of the Modernist sexual ethic and anthropology

Now, however, that we have reached this stage of the LLF process it is time for me to give you my view. When the Bishops meet to discuss the next steps they will not gather as people considering this matter for the first time. We will meet together as people who have been engaged in a very long process of reflection. We have as a Church been praying and thinking for many years, from the time of the Woolfenden Report which was published shortly after my first birthday – and with many, many reports since. The discernment, then, is not what Bishop A or Bishop B thinks individually but what we as a Church discern together, journeying forwards in faith and hope and love. I offer my thoughts humbly and as part of an ongoing conversation with my brother and sister Bishops and indeed the whole Church. I want to begin by saying clearly that I rejoice and give thanks for all God’s people in this wonderful Diocese regardless of their sexual orientation – therefore including all those who identify as LGBTQIA+.

The Vacancy-in-See Statement of Needs drawn up in 2010 after broad consultation described Southwark as “A Growing Diocese, An Open Diocese and A Global Diocese”, stating the
following: “Over the past generation the Diocese has become a place where the ministry of lesbian and gay clergy and laity can flourish in response to God’s call in accordance with the ethical teaching of the Church of England. We want to continue this tradition, and we need a Bishop who will lead us in further dialogue between people with differing perspectives on matters of human sexuality.” Fellow members of Diocesan Synod, my beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, this is our reality and I have sought to honour it as your Bishop, in particular in promoting a culture where we all speak well of each other.

As I have said before, I do not expect to see the marriage canons changed in my lifetime. I also said publicly before the Lambeth Conference that the Church of England has for a long time had a polity in which the Bishops in each and every Diocese encourage partnered gay and lesbian ordinands and clergy to consider civil partnership. We already respect the
dignity of same-sex unions in this regard and we are not being honest with ourselves if we say otherwise. The civil law of the United Kingdom – and of other countries – has moved to
legislate for same-sex marriage. Some have made the case for the Church to change the marriage canons. But I observe that it is theologically coherent to conceive of vocational
and covenanted relationships as a category that includes marriage as one constituent and same-sex unions as another. It is inaccurate to say that marriage is the only form of
covenanted relationship because it has long been the wisdom of the Church to bless those single people who see their life in terms of a covenant with God, whether they live that
covenant in community or not.

On this last point, I want to take the liberty of making a personal observation. The Word made Flesh lies at the heart of the Incarnation: Jesus was born into a human family and
remained single and unmarried through the whole of his earthly life. As a single bishop I am regularly asked the absurd question, “Do you have family?” I always answer in the
affirmative and say I give thanks to be part of a close loving family, knowing full well I have not answered the question in terms of what I was really being asked. I am strongly
committed to upholding family life and family values – the bedrock of society and our personal well-being – but please do not exclude single people like me through a too casual
use of language: we all have and belong to families, thank God. The Church needs to be more caring about the growing number of people remaining single – a task which lies beyond
the LLF process.

The Church’s polity concerning civil partnerships is the reality of our present situation, even if it is largely unacknowledged. I support a generous pastoral provision that respects freedom of conscience by the provision of a liturgy of affirmation and commitment for same-sex couples and a conscience clause that means no priest is required to officiate at such a service.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

CS Lewis on CS Lewis Day (III)–on Love, Hell and Vulnerability

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is hell.

–C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1960), pp. 138-139

Posted in Anthropology, Church History

CS Lewis on CS Lewis Day (II)–on Friendship, Death and an insight it gives us into the real nature of the Church and of Heaven

[Essayist Charles] Lamb [1775-1834] says somewhere that if, of three friends (A, B, and C), A should die, then B loses not only A but “A’s part in C”, while C loses not only A but “A’s part in B”. In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles [Williams] is dead, I shall never again see Ronald [J R R Tolkien]’s reaction to a specifically Caroline joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him “to myself” now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald. Hence true Friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the newcomer is qualified to become a real friend. They can then say, as the blessed souls say in Dante, “Here comes one who will augment our loves.” For in this love “to divide is not to take away”. Of course the scarcity of kindred souls–not to mention practical considerations about the size of rooms and the audibility of voices–set limits to the enlargement of the circle; but within those limits we possess each friend not less but more as the number of those with whom we share him increases. In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious “nearness by resemblance” to Heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest. That, says an old author, is why the Seraphim in Isaiah’s vision are crying “Holy, Holy, Holy” to one another (Isaiah VI, 3). The more we thus share the Heavenly Bread between us, the more we shall all have.

–CS Lewis The Four Loves Chapter 4

Posted in Anthropology, Theology

(Church Times) Bishop Smith condemns human-rights abuses in China

The Bishop of St Albans, Dr Alan Smith, has condemned the “wide range of human-rights abuses” committed in China against Christians and other religious groups.

He was speaking in a debate that he initiated in the Grand Committee of the House of Lords on Thursday.

Dr Smith said that he had been almost reluctant to call the debate because of his long-held admiration for China and its people. “Yet I feel I cannot remain silent in the face of such a wide range of human-rights abuses,” he said.

There was “a vast cultural gulf” between the UK and China, he continued, which was laid bare in President Xi’s speech last month to the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, in which the President had said: “We will . . . continue to take the correct and distinctively Chinese approach to handling ethnic affairs. . . We will remain committed to the principle that religions in China must be Chinese in orientation and provide active guidance to religions so that they can adapt to socialist society.”

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

(EC) Oxford Good Stewards Trust Announced in Response to Bishop of Oxford’s embrace of modernist sexual ethics

“Meanwhile, as a result of the partnership between the vicars of the four churches mentioned above, the PCC’s of those churches have met a handful of times for fellowship and discussion about how we might maintain gospel integrity, and continue to hold out the good news of Jesus as Anglican churches into our diocese. As a result, those churches have begun planning to set up The Oxford Good Stewards Trust (OGST), modelled on similar diocesan Trusts around the UK. A main purpose of such a trust would be to divert our ‘Parish Share’ (ongoing annual payments to “the diocese to finance the ministry in the local church – including the clergy’s stipend) to the Trust, in order to avoid supporting revisionist churches financially and indeed directly support churches that maintain Anglican doctrine. At the very least, in order to demonstrate our dismay, and how seriously we view the situation, a simple course of action could be to simply pay our Parish Share via the OGST. The actual setting up of the OGST was a pragmatic move to get the wheels turning, whilst we discussed how we might utilise it going forward. Whilst we have not yet made any payment to the OGST, the PCC officially aligned itself with it in November 2021 but are yet to contribute financially or to use it as a vehicle for payment (though we have received a generous gift from it). However, next Monday the PCC will be discussing ways we might utilise the fund more, going forward (with a view to making a firm decision in January 2023).

“As mentioned, in his essay “Together in Love and Faith”, which he launched on Friday, Bishop Steven argues for a change in the Church’s practice, saying the Church of England should now marry same-sex couples. This will also, de facto, involve a change in its doctrine. This goes significantly further than the Ad Clerum of 2018 as it firmly presses down the accelerator of change. Also, Bishop Steven is now the most senior cleric in the Church of England (so far) to speak out in favour of same-sex marriage, and will mean him becoming the leading public advocate for change among the House of Bishops (who meet next week to discuss this with a view to debating it at General Synod early next year). It also feels like a pre-empting of the results of the ‘Living in Love and Faith’ initiative (a countrywide ‘discussion’ regarding human sexuality based around teaching materials that were biased towards a more liberal approach. I had planned to lead something at St Paul’s to contribute to this debate, but the coronavirus pandemic and my own health meant this did not happen).

At this stage, it is important to reiterate is that, as Christians, we object to sex outside marriage in any form, not because we don’t like the idea of it, but because the Bible (which is our authority/rule) is clear in its rejection of it. This means that all our deliberations need to be conducted in an atmosphere of love and respect, acknowledging that we all struggle in different ways with different sins.”

The story continues to rapidly develop.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(SA) People With Complete Paralysis Walk Again After Nerve Stimulation Breakthrough

Using a mix of electrical stimulation and intense physical therapy, nine people with chronic spinal injuries have had their ability to walk restored.

All suffered from severe or complete paralysis as a result of damage to their spinal cord. Incredibly, the volunteers all saw improvements immediately, and continued to show improvements five months later.

A recent study by researchers from the Swiss research group NeuroRestore has identified the exact nerve groups stimulated by the therapy, using mice as a starting point.

The nerve cells that orchestrate walking are found in the section of spinal cord running through our lower backs. Injuries to our spinal cord can interrupt the chain of signals from the brain, preventing us from walking even when these specific lumbar neurons are still intact.

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Posted in Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

(IE) Could Dementia be prevented by restoring and normalizing protein clusters?

Dementia is a disease that impairs memory and decision-making skills. The clean-up of toxic protein clumps could prevent neurodegenerative diseases, according to a new study.

The study was led by researchers from the Queensland Brain Institute. The research team discovered that focusing on the relationship between two key enzymes could prevent dementia. The proteins the researchers studied were the enzyme Fyn and the protein Tau. They studied the area of the brain that causes frontotemporal dementia, a form of brain disorder that forms when parts of the frontal and temporal lobes are damaged, affecting behavior, language and movement.

The study was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

The research team was led by Professor Frederic Meunier and Dr. Ramón Martínez-Mármol of the Queensland Brain Institute. Researchers found that Fyn, an enzyme that plays a significant role in learning and memory, became active when it was immobilized within the synapses – a link between two nerve cells – that connected hubs between neurons, where the enzymes normally communicate.

“Using super-resolution microscopy, we can now see these enzymes individually and in real-time, moving around randomly in live neurons,” said Dr Martínez-Mármol, lead author on the study.

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Posted in Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Science & Technology

(Apostle Magazine) Chris & Sharon’s Choice: God’s Grace Amidst Difficult Choices

It is not often in life when you have the choice to discover something about yourself, which could potentially rock your equilibrium and throw you into a completely unknown direction. Do you stay comfortable in the known, never really risking what it would take to understand a mystery, or do you trust in a faithful God, taking the chance that after the door has been opened, only one thing is certain: life will never be the same as it was before?

That was the position Father Chris Culpepper (52) found himself in 22 years ago, when as a 30 year-old youth minister at Saint Andrews parish in downtown Fort Worth, Texas, he received a call out of the blue from his parents asking him to come over to talk and go for a walk.

“That’s always how you know something happened in my family when you’re asked to go for a walk–usually it’s good, but sometimes you don’t know. And so, we went for the walk as we always did, and they asked me if I knew a lady named Sharon Kolb. And I mean, I was racking my brain from all facets of my life and just could not come to recognizing the name. And they said, ‘Well, she’s your birth mother.’”

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family

(1st Things) John Wilson–Walker Percy’s Questions

You might be saying, about now, that it’s all too common to fetishize “questioning” and belittle solid faith. I agree. But the assertion about white evangelicals goes well beyond that; it’s a dehumanizing caricature. And that is what made me think of Percy’s essay:

Why do young people look so sad, the very young who, seeing how sad their elders are, have sought a new life of joy and freedom with each other and in the green fields and forests, but who instead of finding joy look even sadder than their elders?

Around the end of this year, my friend Dan Taylor (that’s Daniel W. Taylor to you, bud) has a novel coming from Slant Books, The Mystery of Iniquity. It’s a terrific book. Dan (who taught at Bethel University in Saint Paul for decades) has “questions”; he also has faith. The same is true, as Joseph Ratzinger observed in his superb Introduction to Christianity, of “unbelievers,” who wonder whether they are wrong.

“Questioning,” of course, isn’t evenly distributed. Those of us less beset by “questions” than some others have no reason to brag, nor can we assume it will always be thus. Which reminds me of another of Percy’s questions: “Why does it make a man feel better to read a book about a man like himself feeling bad?”

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Posted in Anthropology, Books, Language, Poetry & Literature, Theology

Monday food for Thought from Michael Card

“Our imaginations are involved in every area of our lives, in everything we do or say or are. It is no wonder that God is so intent upon recapturing them. Therefore, we must seek to understand the imagination biblically, that is, Christ-centeredly.

The imagination is the bridge between the heart and the mind, integrating both, allowing us to think/understand with our hearts and feel/emote with our minds. It is a vehicle for truth. Through the use of images, metaphors, stories and paradoxes that demand our attention, it calls for our interaction. The imagination is a powerful means for communicating truths about God, and so God shows an awesome regard for the imagination in His word.

Because we are called to creativity, a working, gut-level understanding of the imagination is vital. It can be our greatest strength or our greatest weakness. To harness the imagination, or better yet, to bring it under submission to Christ is something about which we don’t talk or pray or do enough.”

–Michael Card Scribbling in the Sand: Christ and Creativity (Downer’s Grove, Ill., InterVarsity Press, 2022), quoted by yours truly in a sermon yesterday

Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Reasserters in Oxford reject their Bishop’s endorsement of non-celibate same-sex unions

Canon Roberts writes: “In describing the negative fruit of traditional teaching, Bishop Steven seems close to accepting the assumption of many in our contemporary culture that normal people cannot live healthy, happy lives without sexual intimacy.

“This means, in his portrayal, a range of unattractive alternatives for all but the few gay/same-sex attracted Christians who are able to embrace and live out a call to celibacy: marriage to someone of the opposite sex, a double life, or reluctant and miserable singleness. There are no doubt many who do fit within his categories, but there is a serious lack of nuance in his analysis of this fruit, which is too negative in its portrayal of celibacy and singleness.”

Canon Roberts goes on to write that Dr Croft is correct to acknowledge the “missional challenge” caused by cultural shifts in society, “but there is, of course, nothing new in the Church experiencing such dissonance within and hostility from its surrounding culture. . . In the history of the global Church down the ages a gap between it and the society it inhabits has been normal.”

He continues: “Surely what is needed in the face of the disjunction between Church and society is not accommodation, but rather a winsome, confident re-presentation of the riches of Christian teaching about sex and marriage.”

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(America) Collin price–The church forbids ‘human composting’ at death. But what about ‘green’ burials?

According to Brian Pham, S.J., professor of law and canon law at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., the church considered anything besides a “regular” Catholic burial to be a pagan ritual until the early 20th century. Cremation was a practice most commonly used in religious traditions that believe in reincarnation. These religions often see the body as merely a vessel; once the soul leaves the body, the body no longer serves a purpose. For them, cremation hastens the process of the soul entering a new body because it gets the old one out of the way. Such beliefs go against the teachings of the Catholic Church.

The church teaches that the body is an integral part of the human person and that the glorified body will someday be rejoined with the soul in the resurrection. Cremation was forbidden for most of the last two millennia because its association with reincarnation and the negation of the body seemed in opposition to Catholic beliefs. But by the mid-20th century, cremation was being paired with traditional Christian funeral and burial practices. So the church updated its teachings in the 1983 Code of Canon Law to allow for cremation “unless it was chosen for reasons contrary to Christian doctrine” (Canon 1176.3).

In an effort to clarify what that means in practical terms, in 2016 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published instructions for handling cremation in a Catholic context. The document clarifies the church’s theological teachings about the body after death and applies them to acceptable burial practices. The church prefers whole-body burial but allows cremation as long as it is done in the context of church teaching about the body after death. “By burying the bodies of the faithful,” the document states, the church affirms the “great dignity of the human body as an integral part of the human person.” Any burial practice must honor the body as part of the human person and cannot consider death to be “the definitive annihilation of the person, or the moment of fusion with Mother Nature or the universe, or as a stage in the cycle of regeneration, or as the definitive liberation from the ‘prison’ of the body.” In other words, the intent of the practice may not be to destroy the body after death and must show the body honor and respect.

Scattering ashes, for instance, is unacceptable in the Catholic Church because the body is dispersed across the water or land where it is scattered. Human composting, which turns the body into fertilizer that is then scattered over a garden or around a tree, is also unacceptable. In California, a recently passed bill legalized human composting in the state, beginning in 2027. The California Catholic Conference expressed strong opposition to the bill. And the New York Catholic conference has expressed opposition to a similar bill in New York. The church forbids human composting because the body is treated as a means to an end rather than an end in itself.

Father Pham summarized the theology underlying the church’s canon law about burial practices: “The primary focus has to be honoring and continuing to honor the person, which includes the body.” For the church, honoring means keeping the body together, putting it in a sacred place and marking the sacred place with the person’s name. “Canon law does not say a whole lot, other than that cremation is allowed but burial is preferred….

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Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Parish Ministry, Theology

Martin Davie–What Should The Bishops Decide To Do After Living In Love And Faith?

All this (being interpreted) means that presbyter-bishops will engage not only in the teaching of the truth, but also in the repudiation of error… Both our Lord and his apostles did not shrink when necessary from the task of exposing and overthrowing false teaching ….If we sit idly by and do nothing, or if we turn tail and flee, we shall earn for ourselves the terrible epithet ‘hirelings,’ who care nothing for the sheep. Are we to abandon God’s flock to the wolves, as defenceless sheep without a shepherd? Is it to be said of the Church of God today: ‘so they were scattered because there was no shepherd: and so they became food for all the wild beasts’ (Ezekiel 34:5)? ’ [2]

For bishops in the Church of England today what the calling to be a faithful shepherd protecting the flock from the wolves involves is combatting all form of teaching which are contrary to: ‘the faith which is revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds and to which the historic formularies of the Church of England bear witness.’[3]

There are many forms of such erroneous teaching, but there are three forms which have become particularly prominent in the Church of England in recent years and which there is strong pressure for the Church of England to officially adopt. These are:

–The teaching that men and women can rightly adopt a form of personal identity that is not in accordance with their biological sex;
–The teaching that it is legitimate for people to have sexual intercourse with members of their own sex;
–The teaching that marriage can be between two people of the same sex.

These teachings are erroneous because they go against the teaching of both Scripture and the universal tradition of the Christian Church that people’s identity as either male or female is determined by their biological sex, that marriage has been ordained by God to be between two people of the opposite sex and that sexual intercourse should only take place with marriage.

Given that this is the case, what should the Bishops decide to do in their forthcoming meetings? I have given an answer to this question in my book Bishops Past, Present and Future which was published earlier this year…and in the rest of this paper I repeat what I said there and what I still think is the right approach for the bishops to take.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) Bishop of Oxford says church should marry same-sex couples

The Bishop of Oxford has said Church of England clergy should be able to bless and marry [same-sex] couples.

The Right Reverend Dr Steven Croft said he was sorry his views on same-sex marriage were “slow to change” and had “caused genuine hurt, disagreement and pain”.

In an essay, he said clergy should also be allowed to marry a same-sex partner if they wished.

By law no Church of England minister can bless or marry [same-sex] couples.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Christian Today) Archbp Justin Welby praying as bishops meet to discuss what’s next for Living in Love and Faith

LLF is an extensive dialogue taking place across the Church of England about marriage, gender, relationships and sexuality.

It has been underway since 2017 and parishes have spent the last two years in a process of discussion using a suite of resources prepared by the LLF team – a group formed of Anglicans from a wide spectrum of beliefs around these issues.

Feedback submitted by parishes and published in September found that comments in support of the acceptance of same-sex marriage outnumbered those against.

The College of Bishops is meeting this week to consider proposals for a way forward.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(Hedgehog Review) Tara Isabella Burton–On Hope and Holy Fools

What if the truth of our lives lay not in our self-separation from the sheeple but in our embrace of the fact that the life we live with one another is the truest expression of who we really are: that there is as much weight to our kid brother kissing us, gently, in the middle of our existential crisis, as there is in the substance of the crisis itself?

Such a reading of our lives demands humility. It asks that we envision ourselves not as special or distinct but as ordinary human beings, those shepherds and butlers and housemaids, whose ordinary lives are as worthy of attention as those of tragedy’s kings and warriors. It insists, as a moral and philosophical duty, that we take ourselves not more seriously but less, that we learn to laugh at ourselves. It demands that, instead of aestheticizing our foibles—raising our sins to the substance of high art—we see ourselves as, well, a little bit silly, perhaps well intentioned, but constantly getting in our own way: Gilligans failing in every single episode to get off the island. To accept grace—the undeserved happy ending—demands that we see our lives as a comedy (as Dante indeed understood). In order to accept our lives as a comedy, we must accept that none of us are the heroes we imagine ourselves to be.

This is the truth understood by Dostoevsky’s Alyosha and by the wider Russian tradition of the “holy fool”: the innocent whose faith in God causes him to appear stupid, if not mad, in the eyes of the world. To hope is a kind of foolishness. It is, too, a kind of refusal of the aesthetic, at least of the sophisticated aesthetic stance that rejects such populist kitsch as Hollywood happy endings. To hope is, necessarily, to hope for a narratively unsatisfying ending: to hope for an unearned joy that changes the entire genre of our lives, that brings comedy from ruin. It is to refuse the red pill or the black pill, to refuse any narrative of ourselves as uniquely heroic or uniquely brave, because we can withstand the wickedness of the world. It is a quieter kind of bravery: the conviction that, one day, we might not have to. It may not be narrative. But it remains, instead, poetry.

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Posted in Anthropology, Books, Eschatology, Russia, Theology

(CC) Samuel Wells–Understanding our dependencies

Consider three dimensions of dependency. There’s everyday dependency. I rely on a laptop and a phone, but I’m powerless without the people who make and repair them. I go outside, and there’s a whole network that makes my life possible. When things go wrong there are doctors, opticians, dentists, and a host of systems that exist to put things right. Our whole society relies on client economies to service it.

Then there’s cosmic dependency. There’s a planet, whose ecosystem we’ve woken up and realized is more fragile than we thought. There’s my parents, without whose existence there would have been no me in the first place. There’s weather and crops and livestock and transport and food processing, and on a grander scale there are a bunch of meteors that haven’t yet struck the earth but could blow us all apart one day.

But there’s also divine dependency. We have no idea what it cost God to make all things. But we can see what it cost God to be with us in Christ. The cost of our living with God forever is a cost we could never afford, astronomically beyond our capacity or ability to pay.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Books, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture

(Washington Post) U.S. workers have gotten way less productive. No one is sure why.

Employers across the country are worried that workers are getting less done — and there’s evidence they’re right to be spooked.

In the first half of 2022, productivity — the measure of how much output in goods and services an employee can produce in an hour — plunged by the sharpest rate on record going back to 1947, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The productivity plunge is perplexing, because productivity took off to levels not seen in decades when the coronavirus forced an overnight switch to remote work, leading some economists to suggest that the pandemic might spark longer-term growth. It also raises new questions about the shift to hybrid schedules and remote work, as employees have made the case that flexibility helped them work more efficiently. And it comes at a time when “quiet quitting” — doing only what’s expected and no more — is resonating, especially with younger workers.

Productivity is strong in manufacturing, but it’s down elsewhere in the private sector, according to Diego Comin, professor of economics at Dartmouth College. He noted that productivity is particularly tricky to gauge for knowledge workers, whose contributions aren’t as easy to measure.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(FT) Faith at work: the entrepreneurs who connect the spiritual and professional

Melding faith and work is nothing new, of course. Victorian Britain, for instance, produced many high-profile business leaders with a strong religious bent: men such as William Lever of Unilever fame (Congregationalist), the tourism entrepreneur Thomas Cook (Baptist) and the “chemist to the nation” Jesse Boot (Methodist).

Nor is it a solely Christian phenomenon. Strong faith positions inspire a host of business ventures around the world, from providers of Islamic finance and Buddhist healthcare to purveyors of Kosher foods and Ayurvedic medicine.

Yet the rise of the modern “profit for purpose” movement, to use Murray’s phrase, is inspiring a new generation of religious believers to connect the dots between their spiritual and professional lives.

There is a logical confluence between the two, says Rachael Saunders, deputy director at the Institute of Business Ethics, a UK charity that promotes high standards of corporate behaviour. Founders of companies or people appointed to senior roles “naturally reflect” on the difference they want to make, she adds.

“People for whom faith is important are likely to immediately see that contributing to society can be part of that, either because of their faith teaching or because they’ve seen their faith community play that role of service,” she says.

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Posted in Anthropology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Religion & Culture

(CT) Ewan C. Goligher–Canada Euthanized 10,000 People in 2021. Has Death Lost Its Sting?

How then can we as Christians respond to the matter of physician-assisted death? First, we can call upon reason and the light of nature to affirm absolutely the value of life. Assisted death and suicide is said to be a matter of respect.

But to value a person is to value their existence. A willingness to deliberately end someone’s existence therefore necessarily devalues the person. If people matter, we must not intentionally end them.

Second, our churches can be communities where assisted death is inconceivable because the weak, the aged, the disabled, and the dying are regarded as priceless members of the community. We can be a place where those who suffer enjoy the devoted companionship, love, and support that reminds them of their value and bears them up through pain. This is, after all, what all of us long for.

Third, we can advocate for access to the very best medical and palliative care for those who are suffering or dying. The palliative care movement was started by a Christian physician, Dame Cicely Saunders, and has transformed medical care at the end of life. Yet access to good palliative care in the US, Canada, and the rest of the world is still far too limited.

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Posted in Anthropology, Canada, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Communiqué From The Gafcon Primates Council

2. Fresh Challenges Facing the Anglican Communion

The original GAFCON in Jerusalem in 2008 was born out of the tragic cost that has come from Provinces that have departed from clear biblical teaching and established historic Anglican Formularies that were unquestioned until recent years. Those departures continue and are even spreading. We were deeply grieved by the recent appointment of a man who lives in a same-sex civil partnership as Dean of Canterbury Cathedral. It is a heartbreaking provocation that such a departure from biblical standards would be thrust upon the Communion in the historic See of Canterbury and in opposition to the established teaching and practice of the majority of Anglicans.

The announcement from the Archbishop of Canterbury distanced himself from this appointment, as it was the recommendation of a Selection Panel, requiring the Queen’s approval. Yet it is difficult to see how a Diocesan Bishop, let alone the Archbishop of Canterbury, could not influence the appointment of the Dean of his own Cathedral, especially given the published process for the Appointment of Deans. Moreover, filling this position was the responsibility of Mr. Stephen Knott, the Archbishop’s Secretary for Appointments, who is himself in a same-sex marriage. It is disingenuous, if not duplicitous, for the Archbishop to claim that the Church of England has not changed its doctrine of marriage, when he has engaged an Appointments Secretary, whose own union is a living contradiction of marriage as God has ordained it, and which the Church of England claims to uphold. By empowering Mr Knott to oversee the appointments of senior positions in the Church of England, it is hardly surprising that the recommended nominee was likewise in a same-sex relationship. Clearly, the process for appointing senior positions in the Church of England needs to be reformed, so that decisions are in the hands of those who abide by the teaching of the Church of England, especially in relation to same-sex marriage and civil partnerships, which are generally perceived as a cloak for homosexual activity.

Furthermore, while Dean David Monteith’s long term civil partnership may have gone under the radar in Leicester Cathedral, the moral character of the Dean of Canterbury has ramifications for the whole Communion. Canterbury has a place in our history which needs to be preserved, rather than undermined. At the recent Lambeth Conference, the Archbishop of Canterbury affirmed Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference. Regrettably, the Archbishop will be perceived as advocating the very opposite of this resolution by refusing to prevent this appointment. The so-called instrument of unity has sadly become an instrument of disunity. The tear in the fabric of the Communion has only deepened, perhaps irreparably.

The Anglican Communion evolved as a communion of Churches who held to the Reformation Formularies. Yet the Anglican Communion has over the last twenty-five years slowly but irretrievably abandoned the clear teaching of Scripture on not only matters of human sexuality but the very nature of the gospel. Yet those who remain true to the teaching of Scripture, especially in upholding Resolution I.10, are the true inheritors of the Anglican Communion. By contrast, the Canterbury Communion best describes those who accept the double speak of saying Resolution I.10 is our doctrine, but it is all right to disown it, because “we have studied the Scriptures over many years and prayed about it”. One can only wonder what Athanasius would have said if Arius had made the same claim! Yet those on two divergent paths cannot walk together, as the Council of Nicaea clearly demonstrated. We deeply lament the advocacy for unbiblical practice, and the promotion of those whose lives betray an abandonment of Christian morality. The Archbishop of Canterbury has become complicit in this trend, while providing little support for biblical orthodoxy, or offering any support for those orthodox Anglicans who are mistreated in their provinces by the revisionist agenda of bishops who defy not only Resolution I.10, but the clear teaching of Jesus in Matthew 19:4-9.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, GAFCON, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(SHNS) C. FitzSimons Allison–The Bookish Episcopal Bishop Who Dared To Say ‘Apostasy’

It has been three decades since the Rev. C. FitzSimons Allison took his first step away from his life as one of the Episcopal Church’s strongest evangelical voices.

That tentative move took place in a small-group discussion during an Episcopal House of Bishops meeting at the Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, North Carolina, during Allison’s final year serving as the 12th bishop of the historic Diocese of South Carolina. The topic that day was “Why are we dysfunctional?”

Allison attacked Episcopal priests and seminary professors who were openly proclaiming their faith in an ancient, erotic, divine spirit “older and greater” than the God of the Bible. There was, Allison said, a clear, ancient word for that — “apostasy.”

Other bishops said they had no problem accepting clergy who were testing the boundaries of ancient Christian doctrines.

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Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Soteriology, TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture

World Mental Health Day: Church-run course giving support to people living with depression

Hope in Depression is a registered charity and has been running courses through churches since 2013. People attending the course explore the causes and symptoms of depression and anxiety, learn about brain chemistry and medication, hear about counselling and discover ways that have been clinically shown to aid recovery and continued wellbeing.

Christ Church’s course leader Denise Morris has run the online course twice a year since 2019. She says, “Hope in Depression is suitable for adults of all ages – we’ve had 18-year-olds and 80 year-olds on the course and men and women of all ages in between.  Many people who have done the course have reported improvements in their mood and ability to cope day to day. It really can help make a difference.”

The course has received positive feedback from attendees who highlight the relaxed, safe and caring environment.

As one explains: ‘Meeting others, knowing there are so many of us who experience depression – knowing I’m not alone. It’s so very important that this course is available to as many people as possible.’

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CT) Robert Tracy McKenzie reviews Bonnie Kristian’s book ‘ Untrustworthy: The Knowledge Crisis Breaking Our Brains, Polluting Our Politics, and Corrupting Christian Community’

In sum, we’ve always canceled social transgressors. We’ve always been drawn to simple answers to complex questions. We’ve always been susceptible to emotional manipulation. What is new is the speed with which vast volumes of information—true and false, balanced and distorted—can be generated with such astonishing ease. This trend only magnifies tendencies to which we are already prone. Gradually remade by the devices that mesmerize us, we become less and less willing to listen, less and less tolerant of dissent, less and less able to engage constructively and charitably with others in pursuit of a common good.

In recent years, writers across the spectrum have noted the detrimental effect of social media on our politics and connected political dysfunction to a larger epistemic crisis. Christian observers like Stetzer and Daniel Darling are among those examining how social media is corrupting Christian witness. What distinguishes Kristian is the sheer comprehensiveness of her examination and, above all, her demonstration that the knowledge crisis may harm the church even more than democracy.

At the heart of Untrustworthy is a clarion call for Christians to awaken to how this crisis is wreaking havoc on our churches and tarnishing our testimony. Kristian grieves over the division of churches; the estrangement of families; and, most poignantly, her pain while watching helplessly as a Christian colleague succumbed to the power of “fearmongering falsehoods.” When we can’t agree on basic facts, conversation becomes futile, intimate connection impossible, and real Christian community unattainable. “If we can’t talk to one another,” Kristian asks plaintively, “how do we worship together?”

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Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Books, Corporations/Corporate Life, Philosophy, Psychology, Science & Technology

National report on Church of England’s second past cases review published

The purpose of PCR2 was to identify both good practice and institutional failings in relation to how allegations of abuse have been handled, assess any identified risks and respond to these where appropriate, and to provide recommendations to the Church that will lead to improvements in its safeguarding work.

PCR2, believed to be the most extensive file review undertaken by the Church, was commissioned after an independent scrutiny team concluded that the original Past Cases Review (PCR) in 2007 was not a thorough process with particular criticism of lack of survivor engagement. PCR2 was carried out by independent reviewers across all 42 dioceses, as well as Lambeth and Bishopthorpe Palaces and the National Safeguarding Team (NST).

The review has found 383 new cases which are now all being actively managed by local safeguarding leads under the House of Bishops guidance. These are cases that were identified by independent reviewers as requiring further assessment by today’s safeguarding standards and, where necessary, further action.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(BU School of Medicine) Andrew Budson develops a New Explanation for Consciousness

A Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine researcher has developed a new theory of consciousness, explaining why it developed, what it is good for, which disorders affect it, and why dieting (and resisting other urges) is so difficult.

Headshot of Dr. Budson“In a nutshell, our theory is that consciousness developed as a memory system that is used by our unconscious brain to help us flexibly and creatively imagine the future and plan accordingly,” explained corresponding author Andrew Budson, MD, professor of neurology. “What is completely new about this theory is that it suggests we don’t perceive the world, make decisions, or perform actions directly. Instead, we do all these things unconsciously and then—about half a second later—consciously remember doing them.”

Budson explained that he developed this theory along with his co-authors, philosopher Kenneth Richman PhD, at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and psychologist Elizabeth Kensinger, PhD from Boston College, to explain a series of phenomena that could not be easily understood with prior theories of consciousness.

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Posted in Anthropology, Psychology

(1st Things) Ephraim Radner reflects on the Partial Lambeth Gathering of 2022

This year’s Conference was meant to help bring things back together. I observed it only from a distance, but I am aware of the great labor, prayer, and goodwill that went into its preparation (of which I was a part), and of the efforts of many present to be faithful, open, and hopeful. For all my frustrations, I admire the archbishop of Canterbury and the many bishops who worked hard for this affair. But the result simply didn’t add up.

The penny is finally dropping. Anglicans are “irreconcilably ­divided”—that is, their divisions are viewed on all sides as arising from essential commitments, which cannot be compromised. Anglican leaders are finally admitting that these “essential commitments” are tied up with claims about sexual identity and its scriptural (and hence Christian) meaning. Not that most Anglicans did not already know this. But at the public and administrative levels of leadership within the Communion—among bishops and their theological advisors or subalterns—a refrain of the past two decades has insisted on the secondary nature of these differences. Sexuality and its scriptural significance, it was explained, do not touch “core” realities of the gospel; they are “matters indifferent” (adiaphora, in the technical sense of not being doctrinal issues that should divide the church), or, if not quite that, at least matters that can be set aside as we focus on our commonalities and continue to chug along “together.” The Communion could carry on as a Communion, we were told, without resolving the supposedly secondary issues of sex and sexual identity.

It was at best a naive view and at worst a willful refusal to admit the obvious in hopes of maintaining a grip on ecclesiastical power. Though theologians, formal and informal, can argue that this or that matter ought to be adiaphora, the category is in fact purely descriptive. Christians divide over what they think is important, not according to a template devised by scholars. So “sex” is not important? Prove it to the Communion! Opposing sides say otherwise and have proven their commitments through their actions. Confusion, disagreement, and political hostilities over sexuality reflect deep cultural issues that may one day be resolved—but not in the short term, and probably not without the intervention of catastrophic social changes driven by factors other than theological discussion.

The Anglican “Communion,” therefore, is no longer a “communion” in the twentieth-­century sense, a sense that grew out of a nineteenth-century understanding and experience of common Christian mission. There are Anglican leaders who seem quite happy with the fragmentation; indeed, this summer’s Lambeth Conference seemed at times giddy with relief at having left behind the desperate efforts to paper over disunity. But if the Anglican “Communion” is not the Communion of the past, what is it?

First, it is necessary to clarify what else today’s Communion is not and does not do. The Anglican Communion no longer holds a common teaching about the gospel….

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Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Anthropology, Global South Churches & Primates, Globalization, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(Terry Mattingly) Faith, family and the dropping number of marriages (part 1)

“There’s a whole class of young men who are not flourishing personally and professionally. … The systems have broken down that help raise up attractive, successful men. Churches used to be one of those support systems,”…[Brad Wilcox] said, reached by telephone.

“The future of the church runs through solid marriages and happy families. The churches that find ways to help men and women prepare for marriage and then encourage them to start families are the churches that will have a future.”

The crisis is larger than lonely, underemployed and internet-addicted men. Rising numbers of young women are anxious, depressed and even choosing self-harm and suicide.

The coronavirus pandemic made things worse, but researchers were already seeing dangerous signs, noted San Diego State psychology professor Jean Twenge, in a recent Institute for Family Studies essay. She is the author of the book “iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy — and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood — and What That Means for the Rest of Us.”

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Men, Theology, Young Adults