Category : Theology

(CT) We’ve No Less Days to Sing God’s Praise, But New Worship Songs Only Last a Few Years

Worship songs don’t last as long as they used to. The average lifespan of a widely sung worship song is about a third of what it was 30 years ago, according to a study that will be published in the magazineWorship Leader in January.

For the study, Mike Tapper, a religion professor at Southern Wesleyan University, brought together two data analysts and two worship ministers to look at decades of records from Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI). The licensing organization provides copyright coverage for about 160,000 churches in North America and receives rotating reports on the worship music that is sung in those churches, tracking about 10,000 congregations at a time.

Looking at the top songs at those churches from 1988 to 2020, the researchers were able to identify a common life cycle for popular worship music, Tapper told CT. A song typically appears on the charts, rises, peaks, and then fades away as worship teams drop it from their Sunday morning set lists.

But the average arc of a worship song’s popularity has dramatically shortened, from 10 to 12 years to a mere 3 or 4. The researchers don’t know why.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Theology

(Unherd) Mary Harrington–The key is Anthropology, why Public order has been sacrificed on the altar of empathy in America

Are humans naturally good given the right circumstances? Or are we flawed and in need of threats and guidelines to keep us on the straight and narrow? The split is a legacy of radical ideas stretching back to the revolutionary 18th century.

Perhaps the most famous proponent of intrinsic human goodness is Rousseau, who claimed in Emile (1762) that children are born virtuous. As Rousseau sees it, we only need freedom, love and the right environment to spontaneously come to an understanding of what’s right.

When Emile was first published, it stood in stark challenge to the then-dominant view, emerging from the Christian tradition, that humans are tainted by ‘original sin’. From this vantage point, we’re naturally flawed, and must always struggle against our less virtuous instincts. Rousseau’s claim so appalled adherents of this then-dominant view that copies of his book were burned in the street.

Today, though, the boot is on the other foot. The high-status view among contemporary elites is unmistakeably Team Rousseau.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, History, Philosophy

(NYT front page) A Slow-Motion Climate Disaster in Brazil: The Spread of Barren Land

CARNAÚBA DOS DANTAS, Brazil — The land has sustained the Dantas family for more than 150 years, bearing fields of cotton, beanstalks up to a grown man’s hip and, when it rained enough, a river that led to a waterfall.

But on a recent day, with temperatures approaching 100 degrees, the river had run dry, the crops would not grow and the family’s 30 remaining cattle were quickly consuming the last pool of water.

“Fifty years from now, there won’t be a soul living here,” said Inácio Batista Dantas, 80, balanced in a frayed hammock. “I tell my grandchildren that things are going to get very difficult.”

His granddaughter, Hellena, 16, listened in — and pushed back. She grew up here. “I plan to work this land,” she said.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Brazil, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Stewardship

(Church Times) Ian Todd–Secularisation and the scientists

Going beyond the accumulating scientific evidence for a spiritual dimension, there are the continuing debates concerning the origin of the universe and its fine tuning for life, and the origin and diversity of life on earth. In all of these areas, the hypothesis of an intelligent designer is equally or more plausible than the purely materialistic explanations that many assume are the only permissible theories.

So, it is my opinion that one of the few ways in which the seemingly unstoppable tide of secularisation might be reversed is by gradually, but relentlessly, countering the materialist assumptions that predominate in society with rigorous, data-based evidence that we are the spiritual children of a loving God.

Such a strategy is clearly playing the long game, which is why I estimate that it will take several generations. This may seem frustratingly slow on a human scale; but God has all the time in the world.

Read it all (registration).

Posted in Anthropology, Apologetics, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

From the Morning Scripture Readings

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved….Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fulness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.

–Psalm 16:7-8;11

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Evangelicals encouraged to engage in soul-searching after abuse

The Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) has published material intended to initiate conversations about “issues of culture, power and abuse” within its constituency.

The materials, published on Wednesday, are “designed to help Evangelical churches review, repent and reshape their cultures on the back of the recent Thirtyone:eight independent reviews into two prominent Evangelical churches and their leaders”, a press release says.

The reviews to which it refers are those of Emmanuel Proprietary Chapel, Ridgway, in Wimbledon and the Revd Jonathan Fletcher (News, 26 March), and the Crowded House, a non-denominational Evangelical church in Sheffield, at which “some instances of emotional and/or psychological abuse took place as a result of persistent coercive and controlling behaviour”.

The resources include an introductory film and a “liturgy of lament” for churches to use. There is also a booklet, Church Cultures Review Questions, which contains more than 100 questions for churches.

Read it all.

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

(NYT front page) Omicron Prompts Swift Reconsideration of Boosters Among Scientists

As recently as last week, many public health experts were fiercely opposed to the Biden administration’s campaign to roll out booster shots of the coronavirus vaccines to all American adults. There was little scientific evidence to support extra doses for most people, the researchers said.

The Omicron variant has changed all that.

Scientists do not yet know with any certainty whether the virus is easier to spread or less vulnerable to the body’s immune response. But with dozens of new mutations, the variant seems likely to evade the protection from vaccines to some significant degree.

Booster shots clearly raise antibody levels, strengthening the body’s defenses against infection, and may help offset whatever advantages Omicron has gained through evolution.

Many of the experts who were opposed to boosters now believe that the shots may offer the best defense against the new variant. The extra doses may slow the spread, at least, buying time for vaccine makers to develop an Omicron-specific formulation, if needed.

Read it all.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

“I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities,
and lack of bread in all your places,
yet you did not return to me,”
says the Lord.

“And I also withheld the rain from you
when there were yet three months to the harvest;
I would send rain upon one city,
and send no rain upon another city;
one field would be rained upon,
and the field on which it did not rain withered;
so two or three cities wandered to one city
to drink water, and were not satisfied;
yet you did not return to me,”
says the Lord.

“I smote you with blight and mildew;
I laid waste your gardens and your vineyards;
your fig trees and your olive trees the locust devoured;
yet you did not return to me,”
says the Lord.

“I sent among you a pestilence after the manner of Egypt;
I slew your young men with the sword;
I carried away your horses;
and I made the stench of your camp go up into your nostrils;
yet you did not return to me,”
says the Lord.

“I overthrew some of you,
as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomor′rah,
and you were as a brand plucked out of the burning;
yet you did not return to me,”
says the Lord.

“Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel;
because I will do this to you,
prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”

For lo, he who forms the mountains, and creates the wind,
and declares to man what is his thought;
who makes the morning darkness,
and treads on the heights of the earth—
the Lord, the God of hosts, is his name!

–Amos 4:6-13

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(The Economist) How to manage the Great Resignation–High staff churn is here to stay. Retention strategies require a rethink

The spike in staff departures known as the Great Resignation is centred on America: a record 3% of the workforce there quit their jobs in September. But employees in other places are also footloose. Resignations explain why job-to-job moves in Britain reached a record high in the third quarter of this year.

Some of the churn is transitory. It was hard to act on pent-up job dissatisfaction while economies were in free fall, so there is a post-pandemic backlog of job switches to clear. And more quitting now is not the same as sustained job-hopping later. As Melissa Swift of Mercer, a consultancy, notes, white-collar workers in search of higher purpose will choose a new employer carefully and stay longer.

But there is also reason to believe that higher rates of churn are here to stay. The prevalence of remote working means that more roles are plausible options for more jobseekers. And the pandemic has driven home the precariousness of life at the bottom of the income ladder. Resignation rates are highest in industries, like hospitality, that are full of low-wage workers who have lots of potentially risky face-to-face contact with colleagues and customers.

Read it all (requires registration).

Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology

(C of E) ‘Virus knows no national boundaries’–The Bishop of Durham calls for vaccine equity

Asking a question in the House of Lords, Bishop Paul Butler said the omicron variant showed that the virus “knows no national boundaries.”

He said: “In the light of the new omicron variant that has dominated the news over the weekend, my colleague Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town urged those of us in rich countries to do better at narrowing inequality of vaccination rates, which are 7% in Africa and 70% in Europe.

“We must acknowledge that this virus knows no national boundaries and will spread, mutate and return to us in the way that we are seeing, so we need a global approach, not simply a bilateral approach.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, South Africa

([From 2020] RethinkX) Rethinking Humanity

We are on the cusp of the fastest, deepest, most consequential transformation of human civilization in history, a transformation every bit as significant as the move from foraging to cities and agriculture 10,000 years ago.

During the 2020s, key technologies will converge to completely disrupt the five foundational sectors that underpin the global economy, and with them every major industry in the world today. The knock-on effects for society will be as profound as the extraordinary possibilities that emerge.

In information, energy, food, transportation, and materials, costs will fall by 10x or more, while production processes an order of magnitude (10x) more efficient will use 90% fewer natural resources with 10x-100x less waste. The prevailing production system will shift away from a model of centralized extraction and the breakdown of scarce resources that requires vast physical scale and reach, to a model of localized creation from limitless, ubiquitous building blocks – a world built not on coal, oil, steel, livestock, and concrete but on photons, electrons, DNA, molecules and (q)bits. Product design and development will be performed collaboratively over information networks while physical production and distribution will be fulfilled locally. As a result, geographic advantage will be eliminated as every city or region becomes self-sufficient. This new creation-based production system, which will be built on technologies we are already using today, will be far more equitable, robust, and resilient than any we have ever seen. We have the opportunity to move from a world of extraction to one of creation, a world of scarcity to one of plenitude, a world of inequity and predatory competition to one of shared prosperity and collaboration.

This is not, then, another Industrial Revolution, but a far more fundamental shift. This is the beginning of the third age of humankind – the Age of Freedom.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Globalization, History, Science & Technology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Nicholas Ferrar

Lord God, make us so reflect thy perfect love; that, with thy deacon Nicholas Ferrar and his household, we may rule ourselves according to thy Word, and serve thee with our whole heart; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

This is now the second letter that I have written to you, beloved, and in both of them I have aroused your sincere mind by way of reminder; that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles. First of all you must understand this, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own passions and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation.” They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago, and an earth formed out of water and by means of water, through which the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist have been stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up.

2 Peter 3:1-10

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Telegraph) Rowan Williams: technology has ‘disabled us intellectually – we’re forgetting how to learn’

When I meet Rowan Williams at the Southbank Centre in late October, there is much going on. The Church of England, of which he was once Archbishop of Canterbury, stands accused of trying to close churches to save cash; a famous bishop has converted to Rome; and Williams is waiting for his daughter to give birth (the boy, his first grandchild, will arrive a few days later).

Although he’s been lampooned for being wishy-washy, I find Williams’s language to be economical and exact, and though he is thoroughly loyal to his successors in the clerical hierarchy, buried beneath his metaphors is a cutting critique of where we’re at. “There was a loss of nerve in the 1960s,” he says of Anglicanism. “Like St Peter walking on the water”, the Church seemed to “look down at the wrong moment” and lose its footing.

Now, Williams believes, we are seeing the legacy of that “pervasive and paralysing anxiety about the role of the Church in society”. Amid “a general cultural tide flowing away” from Christianity, we have to ask: what if the Church “is no longer a given….”?

Information has become abundant, he says, yet “the process of acquiring that information” – ie scrolling through one’s phone – “has disabled us intellectually… We are increasingly forgetting how to learn. We assume that knowledge can be distilled and communicated and transferred just like that… a tick box approach which is found in clergy training.” What knowledge we inherit, we take for granted, yet “the absolutism of some modern social morality” – the idea that right and wrong are obvious – “did not drop from heaven. We learnt to see things this way.”

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Books, Church of England (CoE), Poetry & Literature, Theology

(Bloomberg) Disney+ Omits ‘The Simpsons’ Tiananmen Episode in Hong Kong

On Disney+, which launched in Hong Kong on Nov. 16, episodes 11 and 13 of season 16 are viewable in the Chinese territory, but not episode 12, which first aired in 2005. That episode was available over the weekend in Singapore, where Disney+ launched earlier this year.

“This is the first notable time an American streaming giant has censored content in Hong Kong,” said Kenny Ng, an associate professor specializing in film censorship at Hong Kong Baptist University.

“Basically, the whole story is for streaming companies to be more tailored to a Chinese audience and to not offend the Chinese government,” he added. “This is likely to continue in the future with more companies with financial interests in China.”

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in China, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Movies & Television

From the Morning Bible Readings

Therefore I intend always to remind you of these things, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to arouse you by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. And I will see to it that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we heard this voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word made more sure. You will do well to pay attention to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

–2 Peter 1:12-21

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(C of E) Transition Pathway Initiative energy report finds only 1 in 10 companies are ambitious enough to keep global warming to 1.5°C

The first annual analysis of major energy company transition plans to be released since COP26 has found that only 1 in 10 are ambitious enough to keep global warming to 1.5°C.

This energy sector report is the first to feature TPI’s 1.5°C benchmark which assesses corporate targets against the IEA’s pathway to keep to 1.5°C of warming.

TPI assessed 140 of the largest energy companies (76 electric utilities, 58 oil & gas, 6 diversified miners involved in coal mining) on ‘Carbon Performance’ finding that 10% were aligned with a pathway to keeping global warming to 1.5°C, and a further 24% were aligned with a ‘Below 2°C’ pathway.

Read it all.

Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stock Market

(Deseret News) ‘We can change the air that abusers breathe’: How faith communities are addressing domestic violence

They looked like the poster couple for faith and family. He was a successful professional, who provided for his wife and children and led them in prayer. She was a stay-at-home mom with a leadership position in their religious community. They seemed to exemplify how great a life rooted in belief could be.

But behind closed doors, Amy, who asked to be identified by a pseudonym, endured years of spiritual abuse as her husband turned aspects of her faith against her.

Shortly after they married, Amy says, her husband became obsessed with the idea that she wasn’t telling him the truth about her past. He forced her to pray with him about it. Constantly. He insisted she share with him every detail of her unmarried life.

After these discussions, he would manipulate and coerce his physically and emotionally exhausted wife into having sex. Only later did she realize the pattern amounted to sexual abuse, though he claimed he was driven by love and a desire to make their relationship perfect and eternal.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Islam, Judaism, Marriage & Family, Men, Mormons, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(PRC) Latest Pew Survey Includes American’s Views of the Afterlife

The new survey also asked about views of the afterlife, finding that many Americans believe in an afterlife where suffering either ends entirely or continues in perpetuity.

Nearly three-quarters of all U.S. adults (73%) say they believe in heaven, while a smaller share – but still a majority (62%) – believe in hell. Both figures are similar to what the Center found when it last asked these questions, in 2017. Among Christians, overwhelming majorities of all major subgroups express belief in heaven, but Protestants who belong to the evangelical and historically Black Protestant traditions are more likely than mainline Protestants and Catholics to express belief in hell. Meanwhile, roughly a quarter of U.S. adults say they believe in neither heaven nor hell, including 7% who believe in some other kind of afterlife and 17% who do not believe in any afterlife at all.

Americans who expressed belief in heaven and hell were asked several questions about what they think those places are like. The vast majority of those who believe in heaven – which is most U.S. adults – say they believe heaven is “definitely” or “probably” a place where people are free from suffering, are reunited with loved ones who died previously, can meet God, and have perfectly healthy bodies. And about half of all Americans (i.e., most of those who believe in hell) view hell as a place where people experience psychological and physical suffering and become aware of the suffering they created in the world. A similar share says that people in hell cannot have a relationship with God.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Eschatology, Religion & Culture

(1st Things) Peter J. Leithart–Systemic Evil And The Justice Of Advent

Advent commemorates, celebrates, and kindles hope for the justice of God. King Jesus has come and his Father has raised him to Zion’s throne to reign with a rod of iron until his enemies are made his footstool (1 Cor. 15:25; cf. Ps. 110). The promise of Advent is the promise of public justice. Advent announces the coming of the Lord who breaks the arms of the sex traffickers, the drug lords, the arms dealers, and all their respectable collaborators. It’s the hope that God will overturn worlds built on oppression and violence, and will rescue and raise up their victims.

The only good news that meets the needs of the world is the good news of God’s judgment. That’s the gospel of Advent, the joy to which the angels of Advent summon us: Rejoice! Shout joyfully! For the Lord comes to judge the earth. He has come; he will come; he will judge the world in justice and all the peoples with equity.

Read it all.

Posted in Advent, Eschatology

(NYT front page) The Woman on the Bridge Police and prosecutors spent five years chasing a domestic violence case. Would it be enough?

Frustration was nothing new, not for any of them. Ms. Burns, who specializes in domestic violence, describes the criminal justice response to these crimes as ineffectual, like “putting Band-Aids on bullet wounds.” She spends much of her time scraping for evidence that can be admitted in court, but so many of the assaults she prosecutes take place behind closed doors, she said, that not guilty verdicts are common.

Ms. Neal’s suicide — the way she had slipped away from them — made this failure different, more agonizing.

“From the criminal justice side of it, we had a piece of paper telling Nelson not to contact her, that’s what we had,” Ms. Burns said. In domestic violence cases, she added, “the dynamics and the history are too deep” to be altered by “a piece of paper from a judge.”

Domestic violence cases are so challenging that some experts, like Rachel Teicher of John Jay College’s National Network for Safe Communities, argue that arrests and prosecutions are simply inadequate as a response, and should be supplemented with other kinds of interventions.

Perpetrators and victims become accustomed to a cycle — charges dismissed or reduced, restraining orders violated — and conclude, she said, that “these are systems I don’t have to take all that seriously.”

“The folks at the front lines are often using every tool they can,” she said. “Sometimes our tool kit isn’t big enough.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Men, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Psychology, Suicide, Violence, Women

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

–Psalm 1:1-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Bible Readings

But as to the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When people say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as travail comes upon a woman with child, and there will be no escape. But you are not in darkness, brethren, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But, since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we wake or sleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

–1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Who is a God like thee, pardoning iniquity
and passing over transgression
for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger for ever
because he delights in steadfast love.
He will again have compassion upon us,
he will tread our iniquities under foot.
Thou wilt cast all our sins
into the depths of the sea.
Thou wilt show faithfulness to Jacob
and steadfast love to Abraham,
as thou hast sworn to our fathers
from the days of old.

–Micah 7:18-20

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Surely the righteous shall give thanks to thy name; the upright shall dwell in thy presence.

–Psalm 140:13

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place; and to them he said, ”˜You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing; and he said to them, ”˜Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ”˜Because no one has hired us.’

He said to them, ”˜You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ”˜Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder, saying, ”˜These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ”˜Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you, and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”

–Matthew 20:1-16

Posted in Theology: Scripture

From the Morning Scripture readings

So put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander. Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation; for you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and he who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

To you therefore who believe, he is precious, but for those who do not believe,

“The very stone which the builders rejected
has become the head of the corner,”

and

“A stone that will make men stumble,
a rock that will make them fall”;

for they stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were no people but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy.

–1 Peter 2:1-10

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(C of E) ‘I was fighting it’ an AI scientist’s 12-year journey to ordination

Henry Akingbemisilu was ordained as a Deacon earlier this year. He serves as a Self-Supporting Minister in Thamesmead, London, in the Diocese of Southwark – alongside working in Data Science.
Henry is shown in his clerical robes smiling
Henry was born in Nigeria, coming to the UK to study mathematics and computer network engineering. His journey to ordination started in 2008, but it was only in 2015 that he finally started the official discernment process with Southwark Diocese.

In the years that preceded this, he was involved in his church – in the choir, in prayer ministry groups and as Church Warden for eight years but felt a ‘calling’ to do more.

“You know, when God is calling, you just won’t be at peace with yourself until you give in,” he explained.

“It took me so many years.

“I asked myself is this God or is it me making things up?

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Seminary / Theological Education

(WSJ) Walter Russell Mead–China and Russia form an entente to hobble America, with a little help from Iran.

Asia First does not mean Asia Alone. That is the hard lesson the world is busy teaching the Biden administration and the U.S. In Europe, American diplomats last week scrambled to respond to Belarus’s weaponization of migration on its border with Poland, warned that Russia is positioning itself to invade Ukraine, and worked to defuse a crisis in the western Balkans. In the Middle East, as Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin tried to reassure key allies about America’s continuing commitment to their security, U.S. naval forces participated with Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates in the unprecedented joint Arab-Israeli military exercises in the Red Sea.

This shift from an Asia First policy to Global Engagement isn’t something the Biden administration is voluntarily choosing. It is a change forced on the U.S. by the actions of adversaries who believe that by keeping America off-balance and overcommitted, they can hasten the process of American decline.

President Biden’s original plan to focus on Asia made good political sense. Progressive Democrats are dead-set against the military spending and political engagement that a truly global American foreign policy would require. And it isn’t only progressive Democrats who are weary of endless wars, freeloading allies, and American diplomatic and sometimes military engagement in faraway hot spots like the western Balkans and Sudan. If we could get Iran back into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal and reach at least a temporary understanding with Russia on some issues, Team Biden hoped, reduced engagement in Europe and the Middle East would help make a tougher China policy easier to sell back home—and to pay for.

Team Biden is right about that. Unfortunately, China, Russia and Iran understand the situation as clearly as the White House does, and these powers want Mr. Biden and the nation he leads to fail.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia

From the Morning Scripture Readings

The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and for evermore.

–Psalm 121:8

Posted in Theology: Scripture