Category : Default Category Group

For his Feast Day-Mike Aquilina: John Chrysostoms Discovery of the Blessings & Mysteries of Marriage

We could honestly and accurately describe it as a mystagogy of marriage. He wants us to move from the icon to the reality. Still, he insists that we must also learn to venerate the icon. “Learn the power of the type,” he says, “so that you may learn the strength of the truth.”

It is important for us to realize that John’s mature doctrine of marriage is almost unique in ancient Christianity. His contemporaries tended to look upon marriage as an institution that was passing away, as more and more Christians turned to celibacy. The best thing Jerome could say about marriage was that it produced future celibates. In Antioch in John’s day, there were 3,000 consecrated virgins and widows in a city of perhaps 250,000, and that number does not include the celibate men in brotherhoods or the hermits who filled the nearby mountains.

Yet John glorified marriage. It pained him that Christian couples continued to practice the old, obscene pagan wedding customs. So shameful were these practices that few couples dared to invite their parish priest to attend and give a blessing.

“Is the wedding then a theater?” he told them in a sermon. “It is a sacrament, a mystery, and a model of the Church of Christ. . . . They dance at pagan ceremonies; but at ours, silence and decorum should prevail, respect and modesty. Here a great mystery is accomplished.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Listen to me, O coastlands,
and hearken, you peoples from afar.
The Lord called me from the womb,
from the body of my mother he named my name.
He made my mouth like a sharp sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me away.
And he said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”
But I said, “I have labored in vain,
I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;
yet surely my right is with the Lord,
and my recompense with my God.”

And now the Lord says,
who formed me from the womb to be his servant,
to bring Jacob back to him,
and that Israel might be gathered to him,
for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord,
and my God has become my strength—
he says:
“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to restore the preserved of Israel;
I will give you as a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

Thus says the Lord,
the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One,
to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations,
the servant of rulers:
“Kings shall see and arise;
princes, and they shall prostrate themselves;
because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

Thus says the Lord:
“In a time of favor I have answered you,
in a day of salvation I have helped you;
I have kept you and given you
as a covenant to the people,
to establish the land,
to apportion the desolate heritages;
saying to the prisoners, ‘Come forth,’
to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’
They shall feed along the ways,
on all bare heights shall be their pasture;
they shall not hunger or thirst,
neither scorching wind nor sun shall smite them,
for he who has pity on them will lead them,
and by springs of water will guide them.
And I will make all my mountains a way,
and my highways shall be raised up.
Lo, these shall come from afar,
and lo, these from the north and from the west,
and these from the land of Syene.”

–Isaiah 49:1-12

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CH) David Mills–The Ecumenical Dog That Doesn’t Bark

I’m all for praying for Christian unity and making a big deal of it for a week. But we should be clearer about what this means than the ecumenically-minded tend to be. They prefer the dog not to bark, but the barking dog warns us of something we need to remember.

Jim Packer remembered it. He wanted me to give in. I wanted him to give in. In our own circles, we both barked, and I think felt that a bond. We each knew what the other wanted and remained friends, with a deep respect for each other as well as affection. We enjoyed a great degree of unity despite our differences.

We should pray for Christian unity. But also offer the old-fashioned prayers that our Protestant friends would convert. And be the kinds of Catholics whose lives encourage people to join us.

Read it all.

Posted in Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Evangelicals, Roman Catholic, Soteriology

Mark Yarnhouse–Reflections on The ACNA Pastoral Statement

Several years ago, when I was on sabbatical in Cambridge, I was asked to speak to a group of conservative clerics in London about research on sexual orientation and identity. I was delighted to learn that Wesley Hill was also speaking. Wes describes himself as a celibate gay Christian and I recall the graciousness with which the clerics received Wes, although they themselves had questions about such a designation. The spirit of the time together was that they had convened brothers and sisters in Christ to discuss what is often referred to as a traditional Christian sexual ethic and how that ethic intersects with scientific research and the lives of people actually living out that ethic in meaningful ways.

Reading through the recently published Pastoral Statement from the College of Bishops in the Anglican Church in North America on Sexuality and Identity reminded me of this event, perhaps because sections of the statement stand in contrast to some of what I experienced that day.

After the Preamble and Purpose, the statement itself address same-sex relationships, identity and transformation, and identity and language. Let me offer a few thoughts on each of these three sections….

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother. (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cili′cia. And I was still not known by sight to the churches of Christ in Judea; they only heard it said, “He who once persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God because of me.

Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up by revelation; and I laid before them (but privately before those who were of repute) the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, lest somehow I should be running or had run in vain. But even Titus, who was with me, was not compelled to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. But because of false brethren secretly brought in, who slipped in to spy out our freedom which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage— to them we did not yield submission even for a moment, that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. And from those who were reputed to be something (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who were of repute added nothing to me; but on the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter for the mission to the circumcised worked through me also for the Gentiles), and when they perceived the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised; only they would have us remember the poor, which very thing I was eager to do.

–Galatians 1:18-2:10

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Andrew Sullivan–Joe Biden’s Culture War Aggression

Biden has also signaled (and by executive order, has already launched) a very sharp departure from liberalism in his approach to civil rights. The vast majority of Americans support laws that protect minorities from discrimination, so that every American can have equality of opportunity, without their own talents being held back by prejudice. But Biden’s speech and executive orders come from a very different place. They explicitly replace the idea of equality in favor of what anti-liberal critical theorists call “equity.” They junk equality of opportunity in favor of equality of outcomes. Most people won’t notice that this new concept has been introduced — equity, equality, it all sounds the same — but they’ll soon find out the difference.

In critical theory, as James Lindsay explains, “‘equality’ means that citizen A and citizen B are treated equally, while ‘equity’ means adjusting shares in order to make citizen A and B equal.” Here’s how Biden defines “equity”: “the consistent and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals, including individuals who belong to underserved communities that have been denied such treatment, such as Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.”

In less tortured English, equity means giving the the named identity groups a specific advantage in treatment by the federal government over other groups — in order to make up for historic injustice and “systemic” oppression. Without “equity”, the argument runs, there can be no real “equality of opportunity.” Equity therefore comes first. Until equity is reached, equality is postponed — perhaps for ever.

Helping level up regions and populations that have experienced greater neglect or discrimination in the past is a good thing. But you could achieve this if you simply focused on relieving poverty in the relevant communities. You could invest in schools, reform policing, target environmental clean-ups, grow the economy, increase federal attention to the neglected, and thereby help the needy in precisely these groups. But that would not reflect critical theory’s insistence that race and identity trump class, and that America itself is inherently, from top to bottom, a “white supremacist” country. Biden just endorsed that with gusto.

The paradox, of course, is that to achieve “equity” you have to first take away equality for individuals who were born in the wrong identity group. Equity means treating individuals unequally so that groups are equal.

Read it all.

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

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Philosophy

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Hear this, O house of Jacob,
who are called by the name of Israel,
and who came forth from the loins of Judah;
who swear by the name of the Lord,
and confess the God of Israel,
but not in truth or right.
For they call themselves after the holy city,
and stay themselves on the God of Israel;
the Lord of hosts is his name.

“The former things I declared of old,
they went forth from my mouth and I made them known;
then suddenly I did them and they came to pass.
Because I know that you are obstinate,
and your neck is an iron sinew
and your forehead brass,
I declared them to you from of old,
before they came to pass I announced them to you,
lest you should say, ‘My idol did them,
my graven image and my molten image commanded them.’

“You have heard; now see all this;
and will you not declare it?
From this time forth I make you hear new things,
hidden things which you have not known.
They are created now, not long ago;
before today you have never heard of them,
lest you should say, ‘Behold, I knew them.’
You have never heard, you have never known,
from of old your ear has not been opened.
For I knew that you would deal very treacherously,
and that from birth you were called a rebel.

“For my name’s sake I defer my anger,
for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you,
that I may not cut you off.
Behold, I have refined you, but not like silver;
I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.
For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it,
for how should my name be profaned?
My glory I will not give to another.

–Isaiah 48:1-11

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Beth-za’tha, which has five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed. One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked. Now that day was the sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the sabbath, it is not lawful for you to carry your pallet.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me said to me, ‘Take up your pallet, and walk.'” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your pallet, and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.

–John 5:2-15

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Kendall Harmon (from 1988)–Just what is it that makes a good sermon, anyway?

Stumbled onto this [from 1988!] today-I still stand by every word:

Confession: when shaking hands with people at the…

Posted by Kendall Harmon on Saturday, January 23, 2021

Posted in Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;

To the end that [my] glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

–Psalm 30:11-12 (KJV)

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Sexuality And Identity: A Pastoral Statement From ACNA The College Of Bishops

The Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) offer this pastoral statement to the Church after prayer, study, careful listening to disparate voices, and a collaborative process involving contributions from across the Province. As a result of this process, we have become even more acutely aware of the power we all need to live faithfully in Jesus Christ as He redeems the whole of our identity, including our sexuality.

The College of Bishops asked for the formation of this statement in January of 2020 after we heard reports of varied application among ACNA leaders regarding the use of language about sexual identity, especially within provincial events. We recognize there are a multiplicity of realities in our current national, political, and global circumstances into which an episcopal voice could be presented. In the midst of this tragic pandemic, we desire to continue to minister the Gospel into all aspects of our common life that have been distorted by sin such as racism, persecution, injustice, and violence, while also speaking to this specific issue of identity and sexuality. We hope this circumspect statement will speak pastorally to the issue of sexuality and the use of language within our provincial church.

Our foundation is the Scriptural truth that God made us male and female in His image—a profound unity with distinction (Genesis 1:27). God established marriage between male and female to fill the earth through procreation (Genesis 1:28). Jesus and the Apostle Paul taught that marriage is the model of God’s relation to humanity, the Church. It is a sacramental type of union by which humans work out their salvation with, and in, God’s grace. It requires a lifetime of commitment joined, blessed, and sustained by God between one man and one woman for the purposes of raising children and bearing the image of Christ’s relationship with the Church (Matthew 19:1-12, Ephesians 5:21-33). Yet, Jesus and Paul also extol, and themselves exemplify, the model of virginity for life and spirituality (2 Corinthians 11:1-2). They establish Christian celibacy as a normal, while less common, vocation of abstinent singleness for the sake of the kingdom (Matthew 19:1-12, 1 Corinthians 7:1-40).

Furthermore, we equally affirm, following Paul, that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We say, with Augustine, that this Fall has affected our lives in destructive ways that have disordered our affections. While same-sex attraction is one manifest type of disordered affection, there are many other types of disordered affections. Indeed, we recognize that same-sex sexual relationships have been an oft-targeted sin while other sinful manifestations of our common fallen nature, such as pornography, adultery, divorce, greed, and disregard for the poor have sometimes been tragically discounted or even ignored.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Bloomberg Businessweek) An Economist’s Guide to the World in 2050

Who really won the Cold War? Maybe China.

In 1972, Cold War logic pushed President Richard Nixon into an unlikely alliance with Mao Zedong—bringing China back into the mainstream of the world economy. In 1991, the collapse of the Soviet Union encouraged “end of history” hubris that blinded the West to the consequences of China’s rise.

Fast forward to 2020 and China has emerged as a major global power, its single-party rule and state-dominated economy the cause of alarm in foreign capitals—and pride in Beijing. By 2035, Bloomberg Economics forecasts, China will have overtaken the U.S. to become the world’s biggest economy and perhaps also its most powerful political actor.

China’s rise is just one part of a larger shift that’s already under way and looks set to accelerate in the decades ahead.

Bloomberg Economics has used a growth accounting framework—adding up the contributions of labor, capital and productivity—to forecast potential GDP through 2050 for 39 countries, from the U.S. to Ghana. We’ve used that data to map some of the key geographic and political shifts in store for the world economy.

The results suggest that a remarkable period of stability, stretching from the end of World War II through to the early 21st century, is coming to an end. The center of economic gravity is shifting from West to East, from advanced economies to emerging markets, from free markets to state controls and from established democracies to authoritarian and populist rulers. The transition is already upending global politics, economics and markets. This is just the beginning.

Much could happen to throw our projections off track. The Covid crisis is demonstrating how pandemics can reconfigure the global economic map. Wars, natural disasters and financial meltdowns can do the same. So could policy choices on globalization and climate change. Still, absent a crystal ball, forecasts of potential growth provide the most reliable basis for thinking about the long term.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., China, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

(Church Times) Hospital chaplains at the core of coronavirus care

The coronavirus has swept away any idea that chaplains are optional extras or “genteel outsiders”, the president of the College of Healthcare Chaplains, Dr Simon Harrison, has said.

“In the first wave of the virus, there was a bit of the ‘Perhaps the chaplaincy should stay away for a bit until we get over this,’” Dr Harrison, who is also lead chaplain at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, said on Monday. “That has long passed.”

Staff support is significantly more embedded into the infrastructure, to the extent that some trusts have newly recruited dedicated staff chaplains.

The impact of the virus on chaplaincy teams themselves has also heightened the sense of being part of the hospital team. All were now hands-on and very busy, Dr Harrison said.

“There is a lot of fatigue and ongoing anxiety among chaplains, but collegiality is at an all-time high. Staff support feels like the direction of travel for so many more.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

From the Morning Bible Readings

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”

–Mark 4:35-41

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CNS) Sacred Scripture needs to be respected, valued, Vatican says

In preparation for the Sunday of the Word of God Jan. 24, the Vatican issued recommendations for the day as well as reminders on respecting the sacred Scriptures.

For example, liturgical books should be high-quality texts and not photocopies, and the ambo is reserved for specific moments in the liturgy and prayer, and should not be used for making commentaries or announcements, said a note from the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

The note, released Dec. 19, was signed by Cardinal Robert Sarah, congregation prefect, and Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary.

The note was a reminder that the Sunday of the Word of God, instituted by Pope Francis in 2019, is meant to reawaken in the clergy and the faithful “the importance and value of sacred Scripture for the Christian life, as well as the relationship between the word of God and the liturgy,” it said.

Read it all.

Posted in Roman Catholic, Theology: Scripture

Bishop Guli Francis-Dehqani to lead Church of England drive to tackle housing crisis

Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani, the next Bishop of Chelmsford, is to become the Church of England’s Lead Bishop for Housing to spearhead the Church’s efforts to help ease the UK’s crippling housing crisis.

The announcement comes ahead of the publication next month of the findings of a major two-year commission, set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury, examining the role of the Church in tackling housing inequality and examining possible solutions.

Bishop Guli, currently the Bishop of Loughborough, will take up the new role later this year when she becomes Bishop of Chelmsford.

The new post will involve leading efforts to implement the recommendations of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on Housing, Church and Community which will be published in late February.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

From the Morning Bible Readings

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
so you will dwell in the land, and enjoy security.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.

–Psalm 37:3-5

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(PD) Andrew Walker–Protecting Christian Political Theology from the Shibboleth of “Christian Nationalism”

The very best of the Christian political tradition entails a fervent seeking of the common good, and that entails recognizing certain moral goods consistent with Christian moral tradition. This will always be interpreted as a malevolent expression of Christianity when those with the most cultural power have a different definition of the common good. If, however, all expressions of Christian faith that color one’s political activity are reduced to “Christian Nationalism,” that only leaves space for Christian faith to function as mere private piety. On this view, William Wilberforce, who labored to abolish Britain’s slave trade, and Martin Luther King, Jr., whose professed Christianity ignited the Civil Rights Movement, were Christian Nationalists who should have been silenced.

It is hypocritical for secular critics to accept only those religious claims that conform to liberal sentiment and to label any disfavored religious claim as Christian Nationalism. Christianity cannot be permissible to polite society only when it meets with the approval of its cultured despisers. Such oscillation is not only hypocritical; it is fundamentally out of alignment with the Constitution.

After January 6, everyone was awakened to the severity of how online conspiracies sparked what happened at the Capitol. If we are to have a shared project of rooting out conspiracy, it is incumbent that all parties bear certain responsibilities. It is the responsibility of orthodox Christianity to speak plainly and truthfully about the dangers lurking behind internet-induced conspiracy theories and to call loved ones back from the brink of delusion. We should renounce Christian Nationalism where it is indisputably present. We should rightfully warn against and teach against what is rightly defined as Christian Nationalism. At the same time, secular and liberal audiences who wish to protest the dangers of Christian Nationalism would do well to represent Christian political theology accurately.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Wired) The Ongoing Collapse of the World’s Aquifers

AS California’s economy skyrocketed during the 20th century, its land headed in the opposite direction. A booming agricultural industry in the state’s San Joaquin Valley, combined with punishing droughts, led to the over-extraction of water from aquifers. Like huge, empty water bottles, the aquifers crumpled, a phenomenon geologists call subsidence. By 1970, the land had sunk as much as 28 feet in the valley, with less-than-ideal consequences for the humans and infrastructure above the aquifers.

The San Joaquin Valley was geologically primed for collapse, but its plight is not unique. All over the world—from the Netherlands to Indonesia to Mexico City—geology is conspiring with climate change to sink the ground under humanity’s feet. More punishing droughts mean the increased draining of aquifers, and rising seas make sinking land all the more vulnerable to flooding. According to a recent study published in the journal Science, in the next two decades, 1.6 billion people could be affected by subsidence, with potential loses in the trillions of dollars.

“Subsidence has been neglected in a lot of ways because it is slow moving. You don’t recognize it until you start seeing damage,” says Michelle Sneed, a land subsidence specialist at the U.S. Geological Survey and coauthor on the paper. “The land sinking itself is not a problem. But if you’re on the coast, it’s a big problem. If you have infrastructure that crosses long areas, it’s a big problem. If you have deep wells, they’re collapsing because of subsidence. That’s a problem.”

Read it all.

Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology

From the Morning Bible Readings

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

–Ephesians 5:1-14

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(PD) Timothy P. O’Malley–A Communion of Anxiety: Hookup Culture and the Impossible Horizon of the Future

For those of us who are married and with kids, these micro-transformations are most of our life. We change diapers, play endless games of horsey with toddlers, teach our kids to read and write, ask our teen the questions that matter, and endure the wrath of the same teen when we limit their use of a digital device. We do this because we hope in a future in which truth, goodness, and beauty will be passed on not by us but by our progeny. After all, we will be very dead. But the pursuit of wisdom will continue through our children, who hand on the gift of life to their children, and so on until a future generation knows us exclusively because of a seventh-grade family history project on the part of our great-great-great-great granddaughter.

All of this may seem a strange way to deal with hookup culture and an increasing fear of procreation. But if hookup culture and the anxiety of introducing children into this world is about fear of the future, then we must uphold the gift of commitment, stability, and those small acts of love that no human being will recognize as an accomplishment worth fêting.

It is precisely through these micro-transformations that a future will be created that is marked by generosity and communion. In other words, a future in which everyone will introduce children into a world that is very good.

Read it all.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

My foot stands on level ground;
in the great congregation I will bless the Lord

–Psalm 26:12

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CT) Esau McCaulley– It’s Not Enough to Preach Racial Justice. We Need to Champion Policy Change.

As pastors, teachers, and Christian leaders who participate in America’s public square, we don’t remember King rightly by pulling a few disconnected words about justice out of context and plastering them all over social media. We remember him rightly by taking an honest assessment of ourselves as a country. This involves both lauding the progress and looking toward the future. And it involves a robust commitment to understanding the link between injustice and economic disenfranchisement.

King didn’t see his economic advocacy as a move toward partisanship. He saw it as the most Christian of activities, a manifestation of love for neighbor. His truth telling was not a mere venting of frustrations. He was doing work similar to the biblical prophets of old. He was holding up a mirror to American culture so that it could see what it had become in light of God’s vision for a just society.

When we pretend we can live above the fray and not get into the rough and tumble of people’s lived experiences, we are becoming less Christian. We are squandering our chance to be witnesses to what is possible. And we are forfeiting our God-given right to dream.

We are blessed that Martin never did.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.

–Ephesians 4:11-16

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

Just then his disciples came. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but none said, “What do you wish?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar, and went away into the city, and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the city and were coming to him. Meanwhile the disciples besought him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.” So the disciples said to one another, “Has any one brought him food?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest. He who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

–John 4:27-42

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(NBC) Florida Restaurant Manager Saves Boy From Abuse, Police Say

“Flavaine Carvalho, sensing distress from an 11-year-old boy with his family, secretly flashed the boy a note asking him if he needed help. When the boy said yes, Carvalho called 911. The boy’s stepfather faces three charges of aggravated child abuse, and his mother faces two charges of child neglect.”

Posted in Children, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Violence

From the Morning Bible Readings

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

–Isaiah 43:1-3a

Posted in Theology: Scripture

((JE) Episcopal Seminaries “Exploring Partnership Options”

Two historic Episcopal Church seminaries announced this week that they “have begun the process of exploring partnership options.”

While the language of the announcement offers no detail, it appears that both New York’s General Theological Seminary (GTS) and Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) of Alexandria, Virginia are now on a trajectory to eventually consolidate.

“Purposefully walking together in as many ways as possible is our goal going forward” wrote the chairs of both boards, Dr. David Charlton (VTS) and Diocese of Atlanta Bishop Robert Wright (GTS).

Episcopal seminaries including Episcopal Divinity School, Bexley Hall Seminary, and Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, each announced similar language before “federating” or being subsumed into a larger institution. A fourth seminary, Church Divinity School of the Pacific, was acquired by the endowed parish of Trinity Wall Street in 2019. Each points to an ongoing trend of consolidation among institutions as the Episcopal Church contracts in membership and attendance numbers.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Seminary / Theological Education

From the Morning Bible Readings

For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles– assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6 that is, how the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose which he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confidence of access through our faith in him. So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

–Ephesians 3:1-13

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Gary Saul Morson–Fyodor Dostoevsky: philosopher of freedom

On December 22, 1849, a group of political radicals were taken from their prison cells in Petersburg’s Peter and Paul Fortress, where they had been interrogated for eight months. Led to the Semenovsky Square, they heard a sentence of death by firing squad. They were given long white peasant blouses and nightcaps—their funeral shrouds—and offered last rites. The first three prisoners were seized by the arms and tied to the stake. One prisoner refused a blindfold and stared defiantly into the guns trained on them. At the last possible moment, the guns were lowered as a courier galloped up with an imperial decree reducing death sentences to imprisonment in a Siberian prison camp followed by service as a private in the army. The last-minute rescue was in fact planned in advance as part of the punishment, an aspect of social life that Russians understand especially well.

Accounts affirm: of the young men who endured this terrible ordeal, one had his hair turn white; a second went mad and never recovered his sanity; a third, whose two-hundredth birthday we celebrate in 2021, went on to write Crime and Punishment.

The mock-execution and the years in Siberian prison—thinly fictionalized in his novel Notes from the House of the Dead (1860)—changed Dostoevsky forever. His naive, hopeful romanticism disappeared. His religious faith deepened. The sadism of both prisoners and guards taught him that the sunny view of human nature presumed by utilitarianism, liberalism, and socialism were preposterous. Real human beings differed fundamentally from what these philosophies presumed.

People do not live by bread—or, what philosophers called the maximalization of “advantage”—alone. All utopian ideologies presuppose that human nature is fundamentally good and simple: evil and apparent complexity result from a corrupt social order. Eliminate want and you eliminate crime. For many intellectuals, science itself had proven these contentions and indicated the way to the best of all possible worlds. Dostoevsky rejected all these ideas as pernicious nonsense. “It is clear and intelligible to the point of obviousness,” he wrote in a review of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, “that evil lies deeper in human beings than our social-physicians suppose; that no social structure will eliminate evil; that the human soul will remain as it always has been . . . and, finally, that the laws of the human soul are still so little known, so obscure to science, so undefined, and so mysterious, that there are not and cannot be either physicians or final judges” except God Himself.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Russia