Category : Pastoral Theology

(CT) For Christian Women, Persecution Looks Like Rape

Dali’s work serves but a tiny number of the millions of women around the world who suffer from persecution. Of the 245 million Christians attacked for their faith last year, many are women and girls who are specifically and most frequently targeted through forced marriage, rape, and other forms of sexual violence. These are the findings of Gendered Persecution, an Open Doors report that examined the differences in persecution by gender in 33 countries for women and 30 countries for men. (An updated report will be released this March.)

While forced marriage is the “most regularly reported means of putting pressure on Christian women” and “remains largely invisible,” when analyzing the data on female persecution, researchers Helene Fisher and Elizabeth Miller found that

Among all forms of violence… the one most often noted [for women] was rape. The research found it to be a common characteristic of persecution of Christian women in 17 countries, with other forms of sexual assault being listed for exactly half of countries with available data. There are no mentions of this form of violence against men, nor is domestic violence one of the pressures mentioned as a tactic used against Christian men.

Not only must Christian women like the Boko Haram captives deal with their own trauma, they often can’t find sanctuary within their faith communities when they come home.

“Unfortunately, it is all too common that Christian communities do not distinguish themselves from their surrounding cultures and, as a result, will stigmatize their women and girls who have been victims of violence,” Fisher and Miller, the authors of the report, wrote in a statement to CT.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Sexuality, Violence, Women

Wednesday Encouragement–After being bullied for his sneakers, teen donates shoes to those in need

Kyler Nipper started the nonprofit Kyler’s Kicks to make sure others with limited means can have a new pair of shoes. It’s a struggle Kyler knows all too well. The 14-year-old lives in a shelter with his family and says he was bullied and attacked for his worn-out sneakers

Watch it all from NBC.

Posted in Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Children, Education, Pastoral Theology, Poverty, Stewardship

(C of E) Bishop Rachel Treweek responds to the Peter Ball documentary

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

(C Of E) Response to BBC 2 documentary on Peter Ball

“The powerful BBC documentary Exposed: the Church’s Darkest Secret is a stark and important reminder of the serious sexual wrongdoing of Peter Ball against many young men, including Neil Todd who took his own life, and the complete failure of the Church to respond appropriately over a period of many years.

“Both the Gibb Report, An Abuse of Faith, commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the 2018 IICSA hearing into the case, highlighted our failings and the bravery of those who were prepared to speak out. The documentary brings home in a graphic way the courage of the survivors who shared their story.

“It is a matter of great shame and regret that the Church did not act to address the behaviour of Peter Ball at the time and that survivors were left to fight tirelessly for justice.

Read it all and follow all the links.

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

(GR) Any darkness to report? The cathedral dean (and bishop) who led St. John the Divine to relevancy

[Dean James] Morton was a liberal Protestant hero who led an Episcopal sanctuary that served as a Maypole around which activists of many kinds danced. However, his career was closely connected with an even more famous liberal Christian hero — Bishop Paul Moore — who was hiding secrets.

Read it all and the NYT article to which it refers.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, TEC Bishops, TEC Parishes

(Rod Dreher) When A Bishop Does Right

Whenever you read about bishops here, it’s usually to complain about their failings. I’m delighted to be able to write about something good a bishop has done. In this case, it’s the Antiochian Orthodox Bishop Basil Essey, of Wichita, who corrected one of his priests, Father Aaron Warwick. As I wrote here, Father Aaron published an essay in a dissenting Orthodox online journal in which he called for a strong revision in Orthodox pastoral care for LGBT people — including encouraging same-sex couples to pair off and keep their sex lives within the pairing. Father Aaron insisted that he wasn’t challenging Church teaching, only pastoral practice, but this is a Jesuitical distinction without a difference (no, it really is: this is the tactic the Catholic LGBT activist priest James Martin, SJ, uses).

Father Aaron was scheduled to be elevated to archpriest (sort of like “monsignor” in the Catholic Church) this month, but now, that’s not going to happen quite yet. This went out yesterday:

I don’t know what, exactly, Bishop Basil did, but Father Aaron issued a public apology, and a retraction of his essay….

There is no more difficult stance in contemporary American culture for a cleric, bishop or not, to take than the one Bishop Basil has taken here. When our priests, pastors, and bishops do take those stands, we need to praise them, and praise them publicly. A senior church leader who doesn’t temporize or surrender to the culture — imagine that! God, send us more!

Read it all (cited by yours truly in the morning sermon).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Orthodox Church, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology: Scripture

(Phys.org) Biologists identify pathways that extend lifespan by 500%

Scientists at the MDI Biological Laboratory, in collaboration with scientists from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato, Calif., and Nanjing University in China, have identified synergistic cellular pathways for longevity that amplify lifespan fivefold in C. elegans, a nematode worm used as a model in aging research.

The increase in lifespan would be the equivalent of a human living for 400 or 500 years, according to one of the scientists.

The research draws on the discovery of two major pathways governing aging in C. elegans, which is a popular model in aging research because it shares many of its genes with humans and because its short lifespan of only three to four weeks allows scientists to quickly assess the effects of genetic and environmental interventions to extend healthy lifespan.

Because these pathways are “conserved,” meaning that they have been passed down to humans through evolution, they have been the subject of intensive research. A number of drugs that extend healthy lifespan by altering these pathways are now under development.

Read it all.

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

Anne Kennedy–I’m Worried I Might Die of Boredom

The Episcopal church used to accuse conservatives of being sex-obsessed. It doesn’t matter what private people do in their bedrooms, they would cry. Which can feel like a bit of a fair criticism. It is upsetting that God, of all people, would care so much about what you do with your body, wherever you are, and would particularly care about who you are having sex with. God is love, and sex is love, therefore God loves you to have sex. Stop judging me, Episcopal professors and clergy would say, I don’t care what you do in your bedroom. You’re confusing me with God, I would whisper to myself.

Strangely enough, though, it is not conservatives who are sex-obsessed, at least not as a cultural monolith. It is the people who have already decided they can do whatever they want with their bodies and to hell with anyone like God who might disagree with them. It is these ones who have to bring it up in every situation, every awards ceremony, and now every Netflix show. Wellness itself promises to be about smoothies and good vibes and then ends up being only about sex–and crystals…but mostly sex. And yet I’m the narrow-minded one.

That’s how idolatry works though. It devours everything around it. Whatever you worship is going to demand all your attention and all your love. You end up beclowning yourself without knowing it. You end up with a narrow, foolish, boring life. Whereas if you worship God, and try to do what he says, even about sex, you end up with an astonishing vista of beauty, of glory, with a rich array of friends, of different kinds of love, with a deep interior peace that surpasses all the kinds of wellnesses the world has to offer.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Lessons-learnt review is launched into Jonathan Fletcher

A Lessons-Learnt review has been commissioned concerning the Revd Jonathan Fletcher and Emmanuel Ridgway Proprietary Chapel, Wimbledon, after allegations of physical beatings and spiritual abuse.

An independent Christian safeguarding charity, Thirtyone:eight, has been asked by Emmanuel Church to undertake the review into the allegations, which emerged in June last year, while Mr Fletcher was Minister of Emmanuel Ridgway Proprietary Chapel from 1982 to 2012, and an influential figure among Evangelicals in the Church of England (News, 5 July).

The allegations involve physical beatings, reminiscent of the beatings administered by John Smyth (News, 13 April 2017; 1 March). Mr Fletcher has admitted that the beatings took place. Last year, he described them as “light-hearted forfeits” in a “system of mutual encouragement”.

In September, a group of clerics condemned the public response of Mr Fletcher to allegations made against him as an attempt “to minimise them, and to feign astonishment that anyone should find his blatantly bizarre and abusive behaviour inappropriate” (News, 27 September).

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

An interesting Look Back–The Nottingham Statement: The Official Statement of the second National Evangelical Anglican Congress held in April 1977

R
MARRIAGE AND FAMILY
R1
Marriage and God’s purpose
We affirm, as the church in every age has done, that marriage, as the lifelong partnership of a man and a woman, is fundamental to God’s purpose for the whole of society. It meets the physical and emotional needs of individuals made in God’s image and affords a stable environment for the birth and upbringing of children. This most-welcome gift of God has an abiding strength and continuity that will outlast the ebb and flow of cultural change, yet it demands fresh appropriation within the cultural terms of each new generation. Sexual union and the marriage covenant belong together; the one is the appropriate expression of the love involved in the other. The tendency of modern society to separate them–in promiscuity, group sex and other experimental patterns–is one to be opposed at every point.

R2
The calling to a single life
Together with marriage, we affirm afresh the calling of God, given to some, to live singly. This is not a sign of personal failure, nor need it lead to dissatisfaction; on the contrary, the single person can enjoy a rich and fulfilled life in God’s purposes, yet there are special needs attaching to this state that can be met by a caring church fellowship.

R3
Homosexuality
We recognise the growing problem of homosexuality and our need for a better-informed understanding of this condition. There should be a full welcoming place in the Christian fellowship for the Christian homosexual. Nevertheless, we believe homosexual intercourse to be contrary to God’s law and not a true expression of human sexuality as he has given it. More thought needs to be given to the pastoral care appropriate to those with this particular need.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

C of E publishes new research findings on clergy flourishing

The Living Ministry programme tracks the progress of groups of clergy ordained in 2006, 2011 and 2015 and women and men who entered training for ordination in 2016, seeking to understand what helps clergy to flourish in ministry.

The latest research from the project includes responses from 579 ordained clergy and 113 people training for ordained ministry in the Church of England.

The quantitative study includes research into physical and mental, relational, financial and material and spiritual and vocational well-being as well as responses to questions about ministerial effectiveness.

Read it all and take the time to look through the whole report (64 pages).

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

(AI) A Message from the Vestry of Truro Parish to the congregation in reference to the recent resignation of Tory Baucum

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

(CT’s The Exchange) What Does the Bible Have to Say about Leadership?

Finally, Paul’s letter to Titus provides us with explicit characteristics that we can try to develop and refine in ourselves. In chapter one of the letter, Paul explains what church elders should look like.

He says that elders are to be blameless, faithful to their spouses, and trusted by their children. Elders should be blameless, hospitable, self-controlled, upright, and holy. Most importantly, elders should rely on the “trustworthy message” (the Gospels) so they can encourage others well.

As leaders, we should ask ourselves if we are fulfilling these characteristics. While it is important to remember that we are human and therefore always imperfect, we must also continue to strive to improve ourselves.

Here are a few reflection questions we can ask ourselves:

What is the state of my household? How is my relationship with my husband/wife? Do my children trust me and respect me?
How am I treating others? Am I living out the characteristics that Paul provides in Scripture?
Have I relied on Scripture to guide my leadership lately? How can I improve in this area?
How well am I walking alongside my people and encouraging them with the gospel?

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Guardian) Church of England reviews its handling of sexual abuse case

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(CEN) Civil partnership changes to become law next month

MPs were told that there are over three million opposite-sex couples that cohabit but choose not to marry for personal reasons. While these couples support a million children, they do not have the security or legal protection that married couples or civil partners enjoy.

The instrument extends civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples in England and Wales, by amending the definition of civil partnerships and the eligibility criteria for registering as civil partners in the 2004 Act, to remove the same-sex requirement.

It also amends Part 5 of the 2004 Act so that certain opposite-sex relationships formed in other countries, which are not marriages, can be recognised as civil partnerships in England and Wales.

The instrument also provides specific protections for religious organisations and persons acting on their behalf. The religious protections recognise the potential for diversity of religious views in this area, particularly whilst some religious organisations may choose not to be involved in any civil partnerships, others may be content to host only civil partnerships between same-sex couples, and others may prefer only to be involved in civil partnerships between opposite-sex couples, the paper explains.

The instrument also introduces a new ‘non-compulsion’ clause so that religious organisations and persons acting on their behalf cannot be compelled to do specified acts (such as allowing religious premises to be used for civil partnerships, or participating in civil partnerships on religious premises), where either the organisation, or the person, does not wish to do so.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Men, Other Faiths, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Theology, Women

(CC) Jason Micheli reviews David Zahl’s new book: Politics, parenting, and other secular things we put our faith in

Seculosity shines its light upon on the conditional “if/then” construction of the promises seculosities make. If you eat organic and sustainably sourced food, then you will be enough. In the language of the apostle Paul and Martin Luther, the oughts and shoulds of seculosities pledge the very same promise that is at the heart of any religion based only on law. The promise is predicated entirely on our performance. Seculosities ultimately lead to exhaustion because we can never measure up to their ever-shifting standard of performance. They also lead to judgmentalism: the fact that we ourselves fall short of the standard doesn’t stop us from pointing out how others fall short.

By the conclusion of the book, readers are in on the joke of the subtitle “and What to Do about It.” Doing is exactly our problem. We’re busy producing, earning, climbing, proving, striving, and performing. We’re chasing our enoughness “into every corner of our lives, driving everyone around us—and ourselves—crazy.” The law is inscribed, Paul says, not just on tablets of stone but on every heart.

The remedy is to be found not in another exhortation about something we must do but in the proclamation of something that has been done for us. The conclusion of Seculosity is a contemporary companion to Luther’s thesis in the Heidelberg Disputation: “The law says, ‘do this,’ and it is never done. Grace says, ‘believe in this,’ and everything is already done.”

In other words, relief from all our replacement religions just might be found in the opposite of religion—the promise of the gospel. Unlike religions of law, Zahl argues, Christianity does not instruct us in how to construct our enoughness. The language of earning is antithetical to the gospel. Christianity rather invites us to receive our enoughness, which is Christ’s own enoughness, as sheer gift. Our Christian activities are the organic fruit of our enoughness, not the stuff by which we earn it.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Christology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology

Archbishop Justin Welby gives the ‘Thought For The Day’ on mental health

Good communities are places where mental health issues do not prevent people from having authentic and honest relationships. Good communities are able to hold pain, honour and acknowledge it, whilst putting it within the wider story of God and His hope for His people.

Christians believe we have a saviour, a rescuer, who knows intimately what it means to suffer. Amidst all the brokenness, Christ weeps with us. In his resurrection, I believe Christ restores us. Not necessarily in the way we expected, but he makes us whole in a way that makes sense.

It is my prayer today that anyone who is walking in darkness knows this: you are not alone. You are truly valued and deeply loved. Reaching out and talking to someone can be the first step back into the light.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Charles Simeon as described by (Bishop of Calcutta) Daniel Wilson

He stood for many years alone, he was long opposed, ridiculed, shunned, his doctrines were misrepresented, his little peculiarities of voice and manner were satirized, disturbances were frequently raised in his church or he was a person not taken into account, nor considered in the light of a regular clergyman in the church.

–as quoted in William Carus, Memoirs of the Life of the Rev. Charles Simeon (New York: Robert Carter, 1848), p.39

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

(CT’s The Exchange) Another Way for Immigration Reform? How Evangelicals Can Help Lead It

As I speak in evangelical churches on a regular basis, I find most evangelicals are desperate for an approach to immigration that respects biblical principles. That means keeping families together whenever possible, being fair to taxpayers and insisting that our government fulfill its God-ordained responsibility to secure our borders and protect citizens from harm.

It also means respecting the law – the point on which evangelicals feel most conflicted. While they don’t like raids and mass deportation, amnesty – which means dismissing and forgiving the violation of U.S. law – is also a non-starter.

The solution lies in the middle.

This week in Washington, D.C., the Evangelical Immigration Table unveiled an Evangelical Call for Restitution-Based Immigration Reform.

Dozens of the most prominent evangelical leaders in the country – leaders of evangelical denominations, presidents of Christian colleges and seminaries and pastors of prominent churches – voiced their support for a process that would require undocumented immigrants to get right with the law by paying a significant fine.

If they could pass a criminal background check and meet other requirements, they would be given the opportunity to gradually earn permanent legal status. Most immigrants I know would be thrilled to make things right and stay lawfully with their families.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CNN) Meet Belfast’s ‘dementia-friendly barber’

In his home in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Lenny White gathers up his supplies for the day: a red, white and blue striped barber pole, hair clippers and a table-top jukebox — all the makings of a pop-up barbershop, catered to a very special group of clients.

White is known as the “dementia-friendly barber.” Along with his assistant, Jonathan Wray, he visits care homes across Northern Ireland to cut the hair of men living with dementia.

“When these men come into the room,” White said, “they think they are coming into the barbershop, which they really are. It is Lenny’s Barbershop, but it’s not on the Main Street. It’s in their living accommodations in the care home setting.”

White accomplishes that feeling by replicating a traditional barbershop, down to the music playing on the jukebox, from Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin to Elvis Presley.

Read it all.

Posted in --Ireland, Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship

(David Ould) Was the recent Newcastle Synod Decision A “Stitch-Up”?

The FAOC set about the task of considering the topic of human sexuality. A number of additional people were added to the core group and they were sent copious amounts of reading to begin their work. But the FAOC never met, let alone produced the promised “theological and biblical resource” on human sexuality. So it was a great surprise to many in synod that the two human sexuality bills arrived as private bills introduced by the chair of the FAOC when the FAOC had no report to deliver to inform those debates (as was its mandate) nor, it appeared, had even met once to consider the matter.

One member of synod reports what happened during the debate (the events of which have been corroborated by a number of sources also present):

On the floor of Synod the Dean had the question put to her. “Why did this bill not come to us via the Faith and Order Commission?” She paused, turned to Bishop Peter, and then replied haltingly (with some confusion in her voice), “I understand that the Faith and Order Commission has been disbanded.”

Surprise has been expressed to davidould.net that even the chair of the FAOC didn’t know whether the body had been disbanded or not.

And so the synod considered the matter. More than one person that we have spoken to have expressed a similar opinion on the mind of synod; that they are deferential to the bishop and will consider something that he approves of as something that should be approved. So it was with these two bills. While proposed by the Dean, they were understood by many to have the Bishop’s clear backing. As one synod member put it to us, “the Dean is the Bishop’s agent for getting things done”. It may have been a private bill but the implication was that this was “official” and “from the leadership of the diocese”.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CC) Shelly Rambo–How Christian theology and practice are being shaped by trauma studies

Psychological trauma is not a new phenomenon, but it is newly studied. Flagged by pioneering psychoanalysts at the end of the 19th century as a wound of the psyche, the term trauma is a modern way of describing how violence impacts us psychologically and emotionally. Sigmund Freud noted that veterans of World War I did not simply recall the violence they had endured in the war but were reliving it in the present. That observation defied existing theories of time and experience. The veterans’ failure to delineate between then and now signaled to early theorists of trauma that the timeline of how we interpret experiences is profoundly shattered in cases of overwhelming violence.

In 1983, the concept of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) entered the psychiatric diagnostic manual. Judith Herman’s 1992 book Trauma and Recovery brought trauma to further public attention by noting the similarities between the experiences of combat veterans and those of sexual abuse survivors. Studies of second-generation Holocaust survivors inaugurated collaborative work across disciplines and generated what is now referred to as trauma theory. These works widened the scope of study from an exclusively psychological framework to literary, historical, and philosophical accounts of experience, and they moved from the interpersonal to the collective realm. For example, Toni Morrison in her novel Beloved provides a specter of the unaddressed trauma of chattel slavery in the figure of a dead child whose ghost returns to tell truths about the past. Morrison understood that cycles of violence play out across generations. The wounds do not simply go away.

Experiences of pain, loss, and suffering are part of human experience, and in time many are able to integrate the suffering into their lives. But trauma refers to an experience in which the process of integration becomes stuck. Pastoral theologian Carrie Doehring identifies trauma as “a bio-psycho-spiritual response to overwhelming life events.” In traumatic response, there is a breakdown of multiple systems that we rely on to protect us from harm and to process harm. In these cases, our systems are not simply slow to integrate the impact; they fail to integrate it. Trauma marks a “new normal” in that there is no possibility of the person returning to who they were before. A radical break has occurred between the old self and the new one.

The therapeutic challenge facing someone who has experienced trauma remains that of integrating the experience into their life.

Read it all.

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

(Devon Live) Yoga teacher barred from using church hall because classes are ‘not compatible with Christian beliefs’

A Devon yoga teacher says she was “very surprised” to be told she could not use a local church hall for classes due to religious reasons.

Yoga teacher Atsuko Kato, 54, said she was told that yoga was “not compatible with Christian beliefs”.

Atsuko, who has been teaching yoga for 25 years – including one class attended by a local vicar – says she doesn’t understand why it is an issue.

But the church at the centre of the row says yoga cannot be allowed because it does not acknowledge that “there is only one God and that…Jesus Christ is God himself”.

Yoga originated in Northern India and has connections to both Hinduism and Buddhism.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(MW) Millennials like Emma Watson aren’t necessarily ‘single’ — they’re ‘self-partnered’

Move over, conscious uncoupling — a new star-powered relationship status is in vogue.

Emma Watson — the actress best known for growing up on-screen as Hermione Granger in the “Harry Potter” movies — got personal about turning 30 in a cover story for British Vogue’s December issue.

“I never believed the whole ‘I’m happy single’ spiel,” she’s quoted as saying in the story. “It took me a long time, but I’m happy.”

She continues: ‘I call it being self-partnered.’

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology, Young Adults

(BNG) Two Letters about the Controversy at Riverside Church over the Departure of the Senior Minister Amy Butler

(We previously noted this story on the blog there).

You can find the first there and the second in response here.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

(UMNS) Bishop Kenneth H. Carter reflects on the journey to the United Methodist General Conference in 2020

UM News: What do you make of the responses to the special General Conference both in the U.S. and the central conferences?

Carter: I preached in three successive churches the next three weeks in Florida — Ft. Myers, Clearwater, Jupiter. And I found increasingly that many people felt like they needed to create a counternarrative, to say, but that’s not who I am, or that’s not who our church is in the U.S.

Now many people were in favor of the outcome. Many traditionalists were. I found that they needed a great deal of, at times, pastoral care. They just felt like they were the object of this response, this emotionally intensive response.

And then many LGBTQ persons and some who talked to me were wondering: Do I have a future in the church? Can I go through the candidacy process for ministry?

UM News: I’ve heard from a number of Africans who feel like they’re being blamed for what happened. But of course, Africans are about a third of the voters. What are you hearing?

Carter: So some of the African leaders have talked to me about a couple of things. One, just that their experience is that the U.S. church at times exports its divisions into the African context. The second thing they sometimes say is that they are more than one-issue people. The connection is important in Africa because, for many African leaders and people, mission is not ideological. It’s life and death.

It’s whether you have water or a hospital or access to education for a girl or child. And so that conversation is maturing. I would say the strength of the African relationship to the United States (and I wrote about this in the summer) is the incredible missional partnerships that exist between annual conferences of the U.S. and Africa, and they’re mutual.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology

(Boston Globe) As his Alzheimer’s looms, Charles and Pam Ogletree take one last walk in love

What she now wants most is to keep him close: to care for him at home for as long as she can manage.

For the moment, it seems within her grasp. Most of the time, he is easygoing, though there are restless mornings when he paces through the house, flipping switches on and off, trying to escape an unease he cannot name.

Pam knows how quickly things can change. There was a time, late last year, when she thought she might have to let him go, to live in a place with more support, after his symptoms took a brief aggressive turn. Cooking dinner in their kitchen one evening last December, on a day when she could tell he was unsettled, she was startled when he pushed her, knocking over a jar, and then swung a hand at her when she asked him to stop. Alarmed, she called 911.

The responding officers spoke quietly to Charles, calmly asking him to come with them to the hospital. He resisted and was physically combative. In the hallway, overcome by fear and guilt, Pam could not bear to watch as the officers restrained her husband. At Cambridge Hospital, where he was confused but calm, they spent four days in the emergency room, waiting for a bed to open up at McLean Hospital in Belmont. Doctors there adjusted his medication, and the aggression disappeared, allowing him to go home again.

It felt to Pam like a reprieve, and she tried, in its wake, to anchor herself even more firmly in the present.

They still pray together many mornings, Pam kneeling on a sofa cushion on the floor in the living room while Charles sits and listens on the couch beside her. He no longer pipes up with addenda to her prayers, but he seems attentive, even calmed by what she says.

In the beginning, she prayed for him to get better. Now she prays more often for acceptance.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology

(PBS) Youth suicide rates are on the rise in the U.S.

Suicides are on the rise among young Americans of all races, part of a grim national trend that has contributed to lower life expectancy overall, according to new federal data. But a separate study suggests that there are racial disparities in youth suicidal behavior, due in great part because some children lack access to vital resources.

While suicide was the 10th most common cause of death among Americans of all ages in 2017, it was the second leading cause of death among young Americans age 15 to 24, according to new data released [last] Thursday from the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And no racial or ethnic group has been spared in this rising rate, said Sally Curtin, a statistician with the National Center for Health Statistics who has studied these suicide trends for years and served as the report’s lead author.

“The community at large needs to pay attention and figure out what’s going on, what’s driving these trends,” she said.

According to Heather Kelly, a clinical psychologist with the American Psychological Association, there is an urgent need for more research to seek out evidence-based ways to prevent suicide and help those who struggle with thoughts of self-harm, especially among veterans, the LGBTQ community, youth and young adults.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Stress, Suicide, Teens / Youth, Theology, Young Adults

(WSJ) The New Parental Obsession: Checking Kids’ Grades Online

Teachers report mixed feelings about online grade books. Sean Riley, a high-school teacher in Seattle, said students and parents can become so focused on the metrics that they lose sight of the bigger picture. “It starts to turn learning into a series of tasks to be completed instead of a process of exercises to learn more,” he said.

Obsessive grade-checking is also symptomatic of the desire, peculiar to a generation that has grown up with everything just a swipe away, to receive instant gratification. Mr. Riley said this can lead to anxiety and disappointment in some students.

The upside is when students use the information to advocate for themselves.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

(NYT) Why a judge says she gave Amber Guyger a Bible, a hug and hope of redemption

At the end of the trial, after the jury had been dismissed, Judge Kemp came down from the bench to offer her condolences to Mr. Jean’s parents, as is her habit when a family has lost a loved one. “I told them that they raised a remarkable son in Botham,” she said.

Next, she said, she stopped by the defense table to offer a word of encouragement to Ms. Guyger. “I said to her, ‘Ms. Guyger, Brandt Jean has forgiven you,’” Judge Kemp recalled, referring to Botham Jean’s brother. “‘Now please forgive yourself so that you can live a productive life when you get out of prison.’”

What followed, she said, was an exchange whose equivalent she could not remember in her decades as a lawyer and her nearly five years on the bench.

“She asked me if I thought her life could have purpose,” Judge Kemp recalled. “I said, ‘I know that it can.’ She said, ‘I don’t know where to start, I don’t have a Bible.’” Judge Kemp said she thought of the Bible in her chambers. “I said, ‘Well, hold on, I’ll get you a Bible.’”

She came back out and, together, they read John 3:16, a passage about redemption.

That is when Ms. Guyger did something that caught the judge off guard: She asked for a hug.

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Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Theology