Category : Pastoral Theology

(CT) Fighting the Pandemic with Our Hearts and Our Smarts–A development economist and a disaster-relief expert on how to approach Covid19

My dentist was becoming a Shrewd Samaritan. But how is a Shrewd Samaritan different from others with good intentions toward the needy?

If we want to genuinely help people living in poverty—and a world in the middle of a global pandemic—rather than just feeling good about believing we have helped, we are not merely to be Good Samaritans, like the man commended in the famous parable in Luke 10. We should also be Shrewd Samaritans—shrewd like the manager in the less-famous parable in Luke 16, whom Jesus also points to as an example.

In the original Greek, the word for the manager in the parable is oikonómon, which literally means “Econo-Man.” We must be people with big hearts like the Good Samaritan but with minds like the Econo-Man. This means learning to love our global neighbors wisely, one might say even “shrewdly,” by making the best use of our resources—our time, talents, and money—on behalf of those who are victims of injustice, disease, violence, and poverty.

Shrewd Samaritans have made progress through what I call the seven I’s. They have moved past ignorance, indifference, and idealism and toward investigation, introspection, and impact. They have even come to identify with those they seek to serve.

Shrewd Samaritans understand the underlying causes of poverty and need. They can identify interventions that are likely to be effective in different contexts. Their motivation is fueled by the Christian call to love our neighbors, but their means are influenced by an understanding of cause and effect and even by good science. Shrewd Samaritans are wedded to a biblical view of humanity and informed by a desire for human flourishing in all respects: physical, psychological, social, and spiritual.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Major C of E clergy wellbeing study results shared

Key insights from an ongoing Church of England research programme into clergy flourishing are to be distributed to curates across the country as part of an initiative to promote clergy wellbeing, it was announced…[this week].

Findings from the first phase of the Living Ministry project – a 10-year study into clergy flourishing and wellbeing – have been incorporated into a new booklet, How Clergy Thrive, published by Church House Publishing.

The booklet, sponsored by Clergy Support Trust, is a practical resource for all clergy. It summaries qualitative and quantitative findings from the research in areas including the spiritual, relational, physical and mental as well as material wellbeing of clergy and ordinands.

The study identifies six principles that contribute to the wellbeing of ordained ministers, including handling expectations, recognising times of vulnerability, healthy boundaries and the importance of affirmation.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

(CNA) Pope Francis Calls for Civil Union Law for Same-Sex Couples, in Shift From Vatican Stance

In a documentary that premiered Wednesday in Rome, Pope Francis called for the passage of civil union laws for same-sex couples, departing from the position of the Vatican’s doctrinal office and the pope’s predecessors on the issue.

The remarks came amid a portion of the documentary that reflected on pastoral care for those who identify as LGBT.

“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it,” Pope Francis said in the film, of his approach to pastoral care.

After those remarks, and in comments likely to spark controversy among Catholics, Pope Francis weighed in directly on the issue of civil unions for same-sex couples.

“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered,” the pope said. “I stood up for that.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology

(NBC) Wonderfully encouraging story from California–Family’s mission to provide desks for kids in need

“Mitch Couch initially built just one desk for his daughter. After posting a YouTube tutorial, parents needing desks started reaching out, and other volunteers across the country joined in to help build desks for kids in need.”

Watch the whole thing.

Posted in Children, Education, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology

(NAE) An Evangelical Call to Civic Responsibility–For the Health of the Nation

The concerns we face in the United States are great, but they are not greater than God. In creation, God called humans to just and compassionate governance. In reverence to God and with love for others, evangelical Christians engage in the public square — not for our own sake but for the health of the nation and world.

Our responsibility to society is grounded in the truth that all people are made in the image of God. Though we all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, we can find full restoration in our living Lord. Truth that brings life leads to flourishing and results in ongoing hope that guides our day-to-day approach to civic engagement.

We also engage with a gracious and winsome spirit. We should not echo the rage and disrespect that typifies much of today’s political debates. Indeed, as the combative nature of 21st-century public discourse threatens meaningful efforts for the common good, the tone of our engagement will be as strategic as our involvement. Evangelicals of all political persuasions and backgrounds must demonstrate that differing opinions can be handled without demonizing, misrepresenting or shaming.

Therefore, in challenging and in equipping evangelical Christians to be involved in policy making and discourse, the National Association of Evangelicals emphasizes that our involvement should model the servant call of our faith and the care and concern for the other. In so doing, we may find our political efforts not only strengthen the social fabric of our nation but also rebuild the plausibility of the Christian faith in the minds and hearts of our culture.

The NAE was formed in 1942, in part, as a response to theological liberalism and rising fundamentalism. Centered on a standard set of beliefs (see the NAE Statement of Faith), NAE’s founders sought a space for thoughtful and biblical engagement with each other and with culture. We continue in this tradition as we advocate for effective public policy.

Evangelical Christians will not always agree on the specifics of governance or the best roads to social reform. However, from our understanding that all people are made in the image of God, we do hold many callings and commitments in common, including: protecting religious freedom and liberty of conscience; safeguarding the nature and sanctity of human life; strengthening marriages, families and children; seeking justice and compassion for the poor and vulnerable; preserving human rights; pursuing racial justice and reconciliation; promoting just peace and restraining violence; and caring for God’s creation.

While these issues do not exhaust the concerns of good government, they provide a platform from which evangelicals can engage in common action. In view of our civic emphasis to engage the public square with conviction and love, and in light of the aforementioned commitments held by evangelicals, we present the following principled framework that seeks to be comprehensive and consistent, and seeks to serve as a basis for cultivating thoughtful evangelical public engagement.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(3CBSPhilly) Election Stress Disorder Spreading Across US As Therapist Warns Anxiety Worse Than 2016

A new round of election stress disorder is spreading across the U.S., according to experts. They say the tension is even worse this time because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Stress levels have been sky-high for months now. We’ve been dealing with the coronavirus since March and tensions have escalated the last few weeks before the election.

Marsha Palanci says she’s been feeling election anxiety.

“I was keeping pretty zen about the whole situation, until I watched the debates, and then that went out the window and I have been incredibly stressed,” Palanci said.

“I’m getting a lot of emergency calls of resentment or anger,” therapist Dr. Steven Stosny said.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Theology

(Phil Inquirer) Excessive social media use linked to depression during pandemic

Excessive social media use during the pandemic is a predictor of symptoms of depression and secondary trauma, suggests a new study by researchers at Pennsylvania State University and Jinan University in Guangzhou, China.

The study, published last month in Computers in Human Behavior, surveyed 320 participants living in Wuhan about how they accessed and shared health information with friends, family members, and colleagues over WeChat, China’s most popular social media app. They also used a stress scale to measure anxiety and depression by asking participants to rate statements such as “I felt that life was meaningless” and “I had disturbing dreams about the coronavirus epidemic.”

Bu Zhong, a journalism professor at Penn State and a coauthor of the study, said that the team began looking into the effects of social media use on people’s mental health right after Wuhan was locked down to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

“We didn’t expect that this would become a global pandemic,” he said. “We were just thinking that we could reveal some invisible harms caused by the outbreak. In China’s situation, local media was not reporting on COVID-19. If you just read the local newspaper and watched television, you didn’t get information about the virus. This made people extremely stressed, and they began relying overwhelmingly on social media.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology

(CT) When a Christian Admits to Opioid Addiction

How is someone supposed to react when a brother or sister in Christ brings an addiction to light? There isn’t a flow chart to follow, and few resources exist, especially in the midst of a pandemic. From my experience, I’ve come to believe the answer is Christian friendship. I mean friendships based in a shared hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ, marked by faithful encouragement and mutual trust.

In my community in rural Appalachia, 65 percent of people say substance abuse is the top issue affecting their quality of life. In our three-year-old church plant, more than half of the congregation has been impacted by substance addiction. As my husband and I have ministered here, we’ve seen people in varying scenarios of substance misuse and every stage of recovery.

Recent reports say that misuse of opioids and overdoses have increased in more than 40 states during the pandemic. This isn’t surprising. Addiction is too often a lonely and isolating condition.

For people of the faith who battle against substance dependence, isolation from the Christian community can exacerbate feelings of despair, shame, and worthlessness. Yet many also avoid connection because they fear condemnation. They worry about being judged if they use again or if, during recovery, they use the legal, proven medications that can help with opioid addiction, like buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone. These are frowned on by some faith communities.

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Posted in Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(WSJ) The Covid Economy Carves Deep Divide Between Haves and Have-Nots

A two-track recovery is emerging from the country’s pandemic-driven economic contraction. Some workers, companies and regions show signs of coming out fine or even stronger. The rest are mired in a deep decline with an uncertain path ahead.

Just months ago, economists were predicting a V-shaped recovery—a rapid rebound from a steep fall—or a U-shaped path—a prolonged downturn before healing began.

What has developed is more like a K. On the upper arm of the K are well-educated and well-off people, businesses tied to the digital economy or supplying domestic necessities, and regions such as tech-forward Western cities. By and large, they are prospering.

On the bottom arm are lower-wage workers with fewer credentials, old-line businesses and regions tied to tourism and public gatherings. They can expect to bear years-long scars from the crisis.

The divergence helps explain the striking disconnect of a stock market and household wealth near record highs, while lines stretch at food banks and applications for jobless benefits continue to grow.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance, Politics in General

(NYT Magazine) Elderly and Homeless: America’s Next Housing Crisis

Oliver was born at the tail end of the baby boom, when American families celebrated postwar prosperity by having more children than ever before — 72.5 million between 1946 and 1964, or nearly 40 percent of the population of the United States at the time. Many of those children went on to live stable, successful lives. Others teetered on the edge as they aged, working jobs that didn’t come with 401(k) plans or pensions and didn’t pay enough to build a nest egg, always one misfortune away from losing all they had. Amid the pandemic, many of them are now facing homelessness, at an age when they are often too old to be attractive to employers but are not old enough to collect Social Security.

Policymakers had decades to prepare for this momentous demographic shift, but the social safety net has only frayed under a relentless political pressure to slash funding for programs that senior citizens rely on to make ends meet, like subsidized housing, food and health care. “It’s the first thing fiscally conservative people want to cut,” says Wendy Johnson, executive director of Justa Center in Phoenix, the only daytime resource center in the state set up exclusively for older homeless adults. “But this is every single senior to whom we promised that if they paid into the system, we’d take care of them.”

Last year, after analyzing historical records of shelter admissions in three major American cities, a team of researchers led by Dennis P. Culhane, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the country’s leading authorities on homelessness, published a sobering projection: In the next 10 years, the number of elderly people experiencing homelessness in the United States would nearly triple, as a wave of baby boomers who have historically made up the largest share of the homeless population ages. And that was before a pandemic arrived to stretch what remains of the social safety net to the breaking point.

“If we’re forecasting a flood, where the water will reach up to our heads,” Culhane told me, “it’s already up to our knees, and rising very, very fast.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance, Poverty, Theology

(ABC Aus) Sean Winter–Cultivating patience, and working for justice, in the face of hardship

The first is patience. This is the idea that little is to be gained by allowing the arrival of adverse circumstances to distract us from doing what we have always know to be good, and right, and of enduring value. Paul names what endures in terms that lie at the heart of a Christian vision of human flourishing: sincerity, kindness, love, truth, and the assurance of God’s presence and power.

It is notable, however, that these virtues are not named in isolation, as abstract ethical or theological principles that are somehow to be imbibed, or believed. The list begins with a hard gaze on the reality of deprivation and distress, the all-too-human locations and manifestations of external circumstances placing a life under significant stress. The preposition used throughout is the Greek word “in” (en). In the initial list of circumstances it refers to these various locations of adversity, but in the second list of virtues the meaning shifts to connote the commitments that we make in the face of such distress and difficulty. It is in plagues that we discover what it means to live with genuine love. It is in protests that we can find out test our capacity to speak with truthful words.

The cultivation of patience became something of a theme in the life of the church in the early centuries. Tertullian, Cyprian, Lactantius, and Augustine all wrote explicitly about patience in the tumultuous context of North Africa in the third and fourth centuries of the Common Era. The Mennonite historian Alan Kreider has argued that the church’s commitment to this (non-violent) “lost bequest” of patience undergirded the church’s self-understanding and mission in the early centuries, before giving way to forms of violent impatience in the form of Christendom.

This ability to respond to deprivation, persecution, and adversity through the patient cultivation of core Christian virtues proved to be a “fermenting” presence within the wider world of antiquity. It bore witness to a way of life that was characterised by hope in a God who relates to creation with continual forbearance. Crucially, it was deeds and not creeds that really mattered. As Cyprian put it in his treatise on De Bono Patientia (“On the Good of Patience”): “we do not speak great things, but we live them.” Only this kind of embodied patience provides strength in “the varied ills of the flesh and frequent and severe torments of the body with which the human race is daily harassed and wearied.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–Do We As a Church Embody and Embrace the Grace of God? (Romans 12:12)

It starts about 22 1/2 minutes in; listen carefully for a great story about the swimmer Florence Chadwick, among many other things.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

(CT Pastors) Wendy Alsup–Grieving Ministry Loss? You’re Not Alone.

My brother-in-law is a pastor in upstate South Carolina. He and his wife shared with me their grief when they realized that they had to completely cancel their summer vacation Bible school, after months of planning and regardless of handwashing protocol.

My own pastor, ministering in our cross-cultural church plant, shared with me the impact of the loss of our community’s call and response pattern of worship, which cannot be replicated through our current options to broadcast live services. It sounds small to some, and yet it has impacted our congregation in real ways. Most of all, we have lost contact with folks we were discipling, fragile buds just beginning to bloom into true discipleship. Though core members have hung together and grown closer, we weekly note the number of fringe attendees, those just beginning to feel a part of our church community, who have fallen away despite efforts to reach out and include them.

The evangelical church in America needed refining. But along with those things that needed to be pruned, it seems ministries are losing many good opportunities that fit God’s call to disciple the nations. Pastors sought God’s face before making their plans. Their ministries moved into the doors God seemed to be opening. In light of global suffering from the pandemic and racial injustice, such ministry losses may seem trivial to some. But they are not trivial. These losses affect pastors and ministry leaders in real ways, though sometimes we don’t even know how to name the feeling of loss they bring.

Ministry losses are piling up for pastors as hopes they had for their churches and joys they found in their ministries seem destroyed by the stifling measures we must all take right now to love our neighbor and slow the spread of this pandemic.

Read it all.

Posted in Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bishop Stephen Cottrell: safeguarding statements

Statement from Bishop Stephen

“Ten years ago I was approached about a safeguarding allegation regarding a priest. I was able to see the survivor and begin to hear what was a difficult and harrowing story. However, I was moving between roles at the time and although I did speak with colleagues about the actions that needed to be taken, I failed to ensure that these were properly documented and followed through in the way I would expect. Now that I have discovered that this incident was not followed up as it should have been, I am deeply distressed and extremely sorry. Because this has recently come to light, I am both thankful that it is being addressed properly now, but also mindful that in my new position as Archbishop of York it is absolutely essential that I am open and transparent about the need for the whole of our church to be scrupulously honest with each other about any failings in safeguarding.

“In the past, the Church of England has been too quick to protect its own reputation and slow to admit its failings. This must change. Those in public office should be subject to scrutiny. Good safeguarding is an absolute priority for the Church of England and for me personally.

“In the diocese of Chelmsford where I have served for the past 10 years, I have been helped by survivors I have worked with as well as a first rate safeguarding team to have a much greater understanding of why safeguarding itself is so important and how we must be prepared to confront our failings and learn from them. Therefore, although I am embarrassed that I did not follow this up as scrupulously as I should have done 10 years ago, I want to go on the record about what has happened in order to demonstrate a new spirit of openness and transparency over how we ensure that the church is as safe as it can be, that survivors are listened to and dealt with honestly, and perpetrators brought to justice.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

Abp. Foley Beach’s ACNA Provincial Council address–Pursuing Racial Reconciliation

A few years ago, the College of Bishops was able to hear Dr. Albert Thompson from the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic speak to us about the history of our Anglican heritage and the failures of racism, the many injustices, and some of the progress we have made over the years. Last year in Plano at our 10th year Anniversary, we heard the Rev. Anthony Thompson from the REC Diocese of the Southeast. His precious wife was shot, along with eight other people, while having a Bible Study at Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston by a hate-filled man seething with racism. Anthony told us about the power of the Gospel of Jesus and how it has enabled him to forgive the man who murdered his wife. In spite of this evil, we saw in the city of Charleston brothers and sisters like Anthony responding with the love of Jesus and the incredible power of forgiveness.

We need to search our hearts and make sure there is no offensive way in us as the Anglican Church in North America. All the words about spiritual renewal and revival in the Bible are not directed to the non-Christian culture, but to the people of God. We need to look within ourselves. And it starts with me. What the Lord has shown me about me in the past few weeks is this–I have failed to understand the incredible burden and pain that many of my black brothers and sisters live with every day. I have not wept with those who weep. And I have not understood the depth of the effect of racism and injustice. I have not understood the burden of living under racist acts, slurs, and systems they have to endure every day, nor have I understood the fear with which they constantly live for themselves and their families. It is not enough not to be a racist; we must not be blind to the sin of racism and ignore it in our midst.

Channing Austin Brown writes in I’m Still Here about a white student in a college class, who after visiting a museum on lynchings, said this to her fellow classmates: “I don’t know what to do with what I’ve learned,” she said. “I can’t fix your pain, and I can’t take it away, but I can see it. And I can work for the rest of my life to make sure your children don’t have to experience the pain of racism.” He writes, “And then she said nine words that I’ve never forgotten: ‘Doing nothing is no longer an option for me.’”

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Regent College Vancouver) A new language for the sexual crisis of our generation- with Dr. Sarah Williams

Dr. Sarah Williams addresses the current sexual identity crisis that we experience today by advocating for 1) a better understanding of history and 2) a more nuanced use of language that can help us have better conversations about marriage, sex, and identity.

Posted in Anthropology, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Seminary / Theological Education, Sexuality, Theology

(CT Pastors) Pastor and author Jared C. Wilson shares what America’s first ordained African American taught him about facing hardship in ministry

I have to admit I didn’t know who Haynes was until I read an article about him recently. How did you encounter him?

When I was pastoring in Vermont, I did some research into the history of the area, and I stumbled across him. Haynes wasn’t from Vermont, but he spent 30 years pastoring a church in West Rutland. I was about five miles down the road from where he preached. So I was just looking into the church history of Vermont, and he’s a towering figure in that state. But when I started reading up on him, I thought he should be better known in American church history. He’s the first African American ordained by a religious body in America and the first black pastor of a mostly white congregation. That’s rare today. It was unheard of then.

You wrote, “I had a friend who once said ‘fall in love with a dead guy.’ Haynes is my guy.” Why do you feel this special affinity for Haynes?

One reason is his faithful pastorate. He was a devotee of the theology of Jonathan Edwards, so he was in that American Puritan tradition. He was heavily influenced by the revivals; he cites Edwards and George Whitefield in his final sermon to the congregation in West Rutland. So he has that theology, and he was just a faithful shepherd. The first substantive biography of him, by Timothy Mather Cooley, is full of wonderful anecdotes, vignettes of things Haynes did and said. He was so funny; he had the wit of a Spurgeon. I loved that he was a political-minded guy but kept that out of his pulpit preaching. His theology was very rich.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

(TEC OPA) TEC Bishop Love of Albany’s Hearing Scheduled for this Friday

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

(NPR) ‘Breathe, Pray, Meditate’: Born From Resistance, Black Churches Now Leading In Crises

As her church distributed masks and hand sanitizer as it does each Friday, the Rev. Traci Blackmon said that black churches “have always been on the bottom rung ladder of all of this.”

“We’ve always had to figure out how to take care of our community, to take care of our neighborhoods and take care of our seniors, even when the economy is booming,” said Blackmon, associate general minister of justice at the United Church of Christ, who leads a church in Florissant, Mo. “So in some ways, we’re ahead of the game with this, because we know how to survive with less, because we’ve always had to survive.”

She said that “the way we are accustomed to being governed in this country is being challenged in ways that it has not been challenged in recent history before.”

“So I think it is all erupting and that makes this moment very different because we are in this moment partly created by a lack of leadership,” she added. “And now we have to navigate this moment without leadership.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

David French–American Racism: We’ve Got So Very Far to Go: And the journey must continue step-by-step

So now I sit in a different place. But where do I stand? I believe the following things to be true:

  1. Slavery was legal and defended morally and (ultimately) militarily from 1619 to 1865.
  2. After slavery, racial discrimination was lawful and defended morally (and often violently) from 1865 to 1964.
  3. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not end illegal discrimination or racism, it mainly gave black Americans the legal tools to fight back against legal injustices.
  4. It is unreasonable to believe that social structures and cultural attitudes that were constructed over a period of 345 years will disappear in 56.
  5. Moreover, the consequences of 345 years of legal and cultural discrimination, are going to be dire, deep-seated, complex, and extraordinarily difficult to comprehensively ameliorate.

It’s hard even to begin to describe all the ramifications of 345 years of legalized oppression and 56 years of contentious change, but we can say two things at once—yes, we have made great strides (and we should acknowledge that fact and remember the men and women who made it possible), but the central and salient consideration of American racial politics shouldn’t center around pride in how far we’ve come, but in humble realization of how much farther we have to go.

Moreover, taking the next steps down that road will have to mean shedding our partisan baggage. It means acknowledging and understanding that the person who is wrong on abortion and health care may be right about police brutality. It means being less outraged at a knee on football turf than at a knee on a man’s neck. And it means declaring that even though we may not agree on everything about race and American life, we can agree on some things, and we can unite where we agree.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Theology, Violence

(The Week) Damon Linker–Don’t willfully ignore the complexity of what’s happening in America right now

The very least we can do is make a concerted effort to legitimize the pain and anger of African Americans, while defending the constitutionally protected right to protest. But this must also be paired with an unconditional condemnation of looting, stealing, smashing, burning, and destroying lives and property — none of which is protest, and all of which will succeed only in further rending the social fabric while giving would-be authoritarians pretext to crack down in the name of the public good.

If that much proves impossible for us to manage, we will have failed. And in that failure, we will have demonstrated before the world that we did all of this to ourselves.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Grace & Race Statement from Redeemer Church, NYC–Concerning the Killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd

We remember that throughout Scripture, God shows particular care for those who are most vulnerable, he commands authorities to be characterized by righteousness and justice, and he holds nations accountable for how they treat the least powerful groups and persons in their societies.

We recognize the pervasiveness of sin, we acknowledge that the bloody history of racially motivated violence in the United States continues to this day, we denounce any doctrine of racial superiority, and we join the many calls for systemic change in a nation that has often failed to uphold God’s vision of justice and has persistently worked against people of color. We pray that local officials will exercise their authority to pursue justice for Mr. Arbery, Ms. Taylor, Mr. Floyd, and countless others whose stories have been neglected.

We repent of the ways that we as Christians have far too often failed to adequately stand against the evil of racism and violence: diminishing its severity, averting our gazes, and even perpetuating such injustice deliberately or complicitly.

We realize that for many of our brothers and sisters, the revelation of these deaths is but another reminder of an everyday reality, and that even now as we lament the loss of these lives, many others are overlooked while being subjected to cruelty and death due to the color of their skin. Even still, we remember that ​“nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bishop Mark Lawrence offers some Thoughts on our Current Cultural Moment of National Unrest–Groanings too Deep for Words

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Ed Stetzer’s The Exchange) Race, Gospel, and Justice: An Interview with Esau McCaulley in 4 Parts

We have all been stirred by the events surrounding the death of George Floyd as well as the protests happening across the country. I wrote, “George Floyd, a Central Park 911 Call, and All the Places Without Cameras,” last week. Over the weekend, I invited John Richards to write a guest post, “Letter From a Quarantined Home: Expressing Disappointment with Some of My White Brothers and Sisters in Christ.”
To better understand the reaction to his death, to think about how we can respond as believers to the protests, and to consdider how we should address looting and riots, I interviewed my colleague and friend Esau McCaulley. The following multi-part series will walk us through that important interview. You can listen to that interview on my Moody Radio show, Ed Stetzer Live, right here. Or, we will post the interview in several parts here.

Read it all (and make sure to catch all 4 parts).

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(BBC) Bishop of Lincoln faces safeguarding disciplinary proceedings

The Bishop of Lincoln will face disciplinary proceedings in relation to a safeguarding children inquiry.

Bishop Christopher Lowson, who was suspended last year, faces allegations he “failed to respond appropriately to safeguarding disclosures”.

The Church of England said there was no allegation the bishop “committed abuse of a child or vulnerable adult”.

Officials also confirmed the bishop’s suspension would continue

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

Canon J John–The recipe for resilience

what’s the recipe for resilience? I think we need to balance several things.

First, there needs to be a balance between both hope and realism. Hope is essential to getting up off the floor after some hard blow; without it we may as well stay there. Hope is one of the great virtues of the Christian faith (1 Corinthians 13:13). The only safe and unbreakable hope comes from putting our faith in the God who, in Christ, has defeated all evil. Yet matching our hope there needs to be a realistic view of life that accepts that conflicts and challenges are inevitable. It’s an attitude that encourages people to make preparations well in advance. Resilient individuals put their armour on before the battle starts.

Second, there needs to be a balance between toughness and flexibility. Toughness is obviously important but resilient people know there are times and places where we need to be flexible. To survive a crisis often needs elasticity; the ability to bend not break before returning to our original shape when the crisis is over. In a gale, flexible willow trees may survive better than sturdy, rigid oaks.

Third, there needs to be a balance of both independence and dependence. It’s hard to give anyone else resilience; once someone has decided that they will lose a battle, then that’s what they will do. You’ve got to want to get up off the floor! That said, resilience is much easier if there is someone there to help you get on your feet. I feel that one of the most important roles of any church or church leader is to try to help people bounce back after the blows of life. Ultimately, the one who helps us all to get to our feet after we’ve been knocked down is God himself.

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Posted in Anthropology, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Yesterday’s NYT front page–‘I Can’t Turn My Brain Off’: PTSD and Burnout Threaten medical Workers

Screw all of you now I see exactly why the only thing left to do is suicide. — a Facebook post by a St. Louis paramedic in April

After Kurt Becker, a paramedic firefighter in St. Louis County, saw that post, which included a profanity-laced screed of frustration and despair over the job, he sent a copy to the man’s therapist with a note saying, “You need to check this out.”

“I’m reading this, and I’m ticking off each comment with, ‘stress marker,’ ‘stress marker,’ ‘stress marker,’ ” said Mr. Becker, who manages a 300-person union district. (The writer is in treatment and gave permission for the post to be quoted.)

The paramedics are part of a “warrior culture,” Mr. Becker said, which sees itself as a tough, invulnerable caste. Asking for help, admitting fear, is not part of their self-image.

Mr. Becker, 48, is himself the grandson of a bomber pilot and son of a Vietnam veteran. But his local has been hit by a dozen suicides since 2004, and he has become an advocate for the mental health of its members. To maintain his equilibrium, he works out and sees a therapist.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(CJ) The Therapeutic Campus–Why are college students seeking mental-health services in record numbers?

“I don’t know anyone [at Yale] who hasn’t had therapy. It’s a big culture on campus,” says a rosy-cheeked undergraduate in a pink sweatshirt. She is nestled in a couch in the subsidized coffee shop adjacent to Yale’s Good Life Center, where students can sip sustainably sourced espresso and $3 tea lattes. “Ninety percent of the people I know have at least tried.” For every 20 of her friends, this sophomore estimates, four have bipolar disorder—as does she, she says.

Another young woman scanning her computer at a sunlit table in the café says that all her friends “struggle with mental health here. We talk a lot about therapy approaches to improve our mental health versus how much is out of your control, like hormonal imbalances.” Yale’s dorm counselors readily refer freshmen to treatment, she says, because most have been in treatment themselves. Indeed, they are selected because they have had an “adversity experience” at Yale, she asserts.

Such voices represent what is universally deemed a mental-health crisis on college campuses. More than one in three students report having a mental-health disorder. Student use of therapy nationally rose almost 40 percent from 2009 to 2015, while enrollment increased by only 5 percent, according to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Pennsylvania State University. At smaller colleges, 40 percent or more of the student body has gone for treatment; at Yale, over 50 percent of undergraduates seek therapy.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Young Adults

(Unherd) Giles Fraser–Let priests pray in their churches

…[Today] the bishops of the Church of England will meet to consider the growing opposition to their policy of banning clergy from saying prayers in their churches.

To recap: on 24 March the Archbishops of Canterbury and York wrote to the clergy of the Church of England with the following instruction: “Our church buildings must now be closed not only for public worship, but for private prayer as well and this includes the priest or lay person offering prayer in church on their own.”

The guidance of the government makes it specifically clear that clergy are allowed into their churches on their own to pray and to broadcast prayer. And the Roman Catholics and other churches continue to do so. But the C of E has banned its clergy from doing this, in some Dioceses with the threat of disciplinary action hanging over those who do.

The deep unhappiness about this continues to grow. Today a letter was sent to The Times signed by hundreds of clergy and lay people complaining about the current restrictions. And as the resistance grows so too does the counter-resistance — with arguments from those defending the official line appearing all over social media.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

(CC) Peter Marty–Looking for constancy when routines are disrupted

I’ve been thinking a lot about constancy in recent days. The initial stay-at-home decree from health officials may have felt cozy or even exotic at the outset, especially to Americans accustomed to being on the go. But that sentiment fast morphed into waves of personal anxiety and disequilibrium as huge swaths of the country settled into extended isolation. With daily rhythms for life and work now disrupted, people with serious financial, medical, and relational constrictions are feeling especially exhausted.

I’ve had to face my own disorientation since the cancellation of in-person worship has become more than a momentary phenomenon. I’m lost on Sunday mornings as I try to navigate between online worship, reading the newspaper, texting colleagues, and lounging around within the confines of my home. It’s like having one’s circadian rhythm interrupted, only much more significantly than with a flight across time zones. The clock that regulates my spiritual metabolism has spent 60 nonstop years calibrating itself to weekly worship. I realize that people who don’t worship in a congregation have no idea what I’m talking about. But for me, this arrhythmia is huge.

Constancy isn’t just a virtue in horn playing. Spiritually speaking, it’s that God-inspired equanimity that allows us to find our way through turmoil. If I don’t get my bearings back soon, I may just have to pull out the horn and give myself a lesson.

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Posted in Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Music, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology