Category : * Culture-Watch

Heartrending story from the local paper–After his son is fatally shot and he’s wounded, Mount Pleasant pastor finds hope

Sophia Grace talks about him every day. Daddy wasn’t great at braiding her hair, she recently said to her mother, but he tried his best. She tells people he’s in heaven now.

The rest of the family talks about Bryan Cooke all the time, too.

On his cellphone, Mike Cooke found a voicemail his son had left him in October. He didn’t listen to it before his son’s death, and he still hasn’t. The message — to hear his son call him “Pops” again — is a gift he anticipates opening.

Lynda Cooke also saved a voicemail from her son. She plays it over and over, memorizing his laughter. She prefers to hear his voice when she can slip out alone to the dock behind their home.

The Matipan Avenue residence the Cookes were working on is now home to Alecia Wright, 47, who lives with her sister and disabled mother. Their lives are peaceful, but they feel for the Cooke family.

With the shooting in mind, Wright hung a sign with a cross on the front door that reads: “Bless our home and all who enter.”

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Posted in * South Carolina, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(WSJ) Barbara Bush Remembered as Tough, Loving Matriarch

Before more than 1,000 people, including four former presidents, at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, speakers lauded Mrs. Bush as a loving but steel-tough “enforcer” who steered a powerful family through trying times. She was the second woman in U.S. history to be the wife of one president and the mother of another.

“She called her style a benevolent dictatorship, but honestly, it wasn’t always benevolent,” her son Jeb Bush recalled. “There were no safe spaces or microaggressions allowed with Barbara Pierce Bush.”

Many also made note of her quick, sometimes biting, wit—a central characteristic that helped her resonate with everyday people across the political spectrum.

“She was the first lady of the greatest generation,” historian Jon Meacham said at the funeral, comparing her to Abigail Adams, the wife of America’s second president, John Adams, and mother of its sixth president, John Quincy Adams. Mr. Meacham wrote a book about President George H.W. Bush, to whom Mrs. Bush was married for 73 years.

Mrs. Bush died Tuesday at her home at age 92 with her husband at her side. Two days earlier, a family spokesman said in a statement that she was in failing health and had declined continued medical treatment to focus on “comfort care.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Marriage & Family, Office of the President

(CT) Ed Stetzer–The Church and Mental Health: What Do the Numbers Tell Us?

Most of us know someone who is in counseling, on medication, or has even taken his or her own life as a result of a mental illness. There are many difficult issues for Christians to talk about, and mental health would certainly be near the top of that list.

Yet, this is a conversation the Church needs to have. Suicide may be one of the most complex and demanding topics of all. Over the past few years, the discussion has felt forced, especially when the event is connected to high-profile suicides of prominent Christian leaders or their family members and close associates.

While the circumstances in these situations are varied, the question of mental health always comes up; and when we talk about mental illness and suicide, it immediately creates a unique challenge for believers. The question is “Why?” Why is it uniquely challenging for us to address issues often associated with mental illness?

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Mental Illness, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Uncategorized

(NPR) April Is A Cruel Month For This Columbine Teacher And Survivor

April 20 is the anniversary of the Columbine massacre. That day in 1999, two Littleton, Colo., high school students killed 12 students and one teacher before killing themselves.

Reed was a teacher at Columbine High School school that day, and still is today. This week, she spoke to NPR from the same classroom she was teaching in before everything happened.

On April 20, 1999, she evacuated with her students as the fire alarm went off, a “Pavlovian” response, she says, to what they thought was a drill or a student playing a prank.

Reed remembers walking out into the sunshine of a beautiful day when kids ran by yelling, “They’ve got guns, they’ve got guns!”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Education, History, Marriage & Family, Teens / Youth, Violence

(Wash Post) Michael Gerson–Perhaps the recent Wheaton gathering will provide an alternative narrative to that of the (so-called) Trump evangelicals

Enter the group that met at Wheaton, which included some of the most prominent pastors, theologians and writers of the evangelical world. Many are disturbed by the identification of their faith with a certain kind of white-grievance populism, which cuts them off from the best of their history, from their nonwhite neighbors, from the next generation and from predominately nonwhite global evangelicalism.

But the stated goal of the leaders who gathered at Wheaton is not to push a politicized faith in a different political direction. It is to provide an alternative evangelical narrative — a more positive model of social engagement than the anger, resentment and desperation of many Trump evangelical leaders.

People like me can point out the naivete and political self-sabotage of the president’s evangelicals. But the groundwork for a new narrative will ultimately be theological, which makes the Wheaton consultation strategically significant. Many political views and denominational traditions were represented in the room. But any thinker who takes the authority of the Bible seriously must wrestle with the meaning and implications of one idea: the kingdom of God.

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

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CEN) Hungarian Premier in new ‘Christian Europe’ controversy

Hungary’s ‘strong man’ premier Viktor Orban’s sweeping electoral victory heralds deeper confrontation with EU – and increased anxiety for Christians across Europe who deplore his equating ‘Christian Europe’ with anti-Muslim and antirefugee sentiment.

Orban’s ethno-nationalist election campaign centred on antimigrant rhetoric, declaring Islam and EU “enemies of Christian Hungary”. Justifying Hungary’s border fence as a “bulwark of Western Christian civilisation”, Orban poses as “defender of Christian Europe” against Muslim settlement and what he deems EU imposed multi-culturalism.

Pledged to build with Poland an anti-Brussels coalition of Central European states, Orban (pictured on the right) sees himself as inheritor of Hungary’s 16th and 17th century resistance to Islamic expansion against Christian Europe. Significantly, Pope Francis I immediately rejected Orban’s ‘defender of Christian Europe’ claims with a post-election message urging Catholics to care for migrants “as much as caring for the unborn”, and a Vatican video featuring a Muslim refugee from Afghanistan with a message of Christian compassion.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, Hungary, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) PM Theresa May apologises to Windrush British citizens

After pressure from campaigners, the Prime Minister was forced into a U-turn this week after she initially refused to meet Caribbean leaders to discuss the plight of the “Windrush generation” — a reference to the ship Empire Windrush, which, in 1948, brought workers from the West Indies to Britain — who face deportation despite living in Britain for decades…

Thousands of people from the Caribbean, including children who travelled under their parent’s passport, made their home in Britain between 1948 and 1971. Owing to a lack of paperwork, many children of the Windrush generation have struggled to prove that they are in the UK legally, and have faced the prospect of deportation and the suspension of benefits or access to health services.

In a meeting on Tuesday, Theresa May apologised to the 12 Caribbean heads of government for the treatment of the Windrush citizens, and promised that no one would be deported.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Caribbean, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Religion & Culture

(Dallas News) After landing troubled Southwest plane, pilot Tammie Jo Shults hugged passengers, texted ‘God is good’

It seems that nearly everyone in Boerne[,Texas,] has a Tammie Jo story, and taken together, they paint a picture of a woman almost too impossibly caring, too impossibly devoted to her community. But, they say, that’s why she was a role model long before she landed that damaged jetliner.

Longtime friend and fellow church member Staci Thompson said a deep Christian faith has guided the way Shults lives.

Shults has taught nearly every grade level of Sunday school at their church. She’s volunteered at a school for at-risk kids and turned a cottage on her family’s property into a temporary home for victims of Hurricane Rita and widows.

“She would tell you everything she has she’s been given from God, so she wants to share it,” Thompson said.

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

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks–‘I’ve been doing Thought for the Day for thirty years but I never thought that in 2018 I would still have to speak about antisemitism’

It’s happened because of the rise of political extremism on the right and left, and because of populist politics that plays on people’s fears, seeking scapegoats to blame for social ills. For a thousand years Jews have been targeted as scapegoats, because they were a minority and because they were different. But difference is what makes us human. And a society that has no room for difference has no room for humanity.

The appearance of antisemitism is always an early warning sign of a dangerous dysfunction within a culture, because the hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews.

At the end of his life, Moses told the Israelites: don’t hate an Egyptian because you were strangers in his land. It’s an odd sentence. The Egyptians had oppressed and enslaved the Israelites. So why did Moses say, don’t hate.

Because if the people continued to hate, Moses would have taken the Israelites out of Egypt, but failed to take Egypt out of the Israelites. They would still be slaves, not physically but mentally. Moses knew that to be free you have to let go of hate. Wherever there is hate, freedom dies. Which is why we, especially leaders, have to take a stand against the corrosive power of hate.

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

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Media, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(Wash Post) I have no fear of death’: Barbara Bush on faith and finality

Barbara Bush had spent an hour talking about legacy and family — about the Christmas dance where she met the man who’d become her husband, about being “the enforcer” of a family that included two former U.S. presidents.

Then, in a flash, she was talking about death.

It was 2013 and Bush was 88 at the time of the interview, part of a C-Span series focusing on first ladies. She wore a pink blazer and her trademark faux pearls — and spoke with a mixture of grace and bluntness that her family and the American people had come to instantly recognize over the past four decades.

“I’m a huge believer in a loving God,” she said. “And I have no fear of death, which is a huge comfort because we’re getting darned close.

“And I don’t have a fear of death for my precious George or for myself because I know that there is a great God.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Marriage & Family, Office of the President, Religion & Culture

(Terry Mattingly) Billy Graham’s advice to newspaper editors on covering religion

[Billy] Graham gave the editors four pieces of advice that still ring true, even in today’s embattled journalism marketplace.

1. Increase local, national and global religion news coverage — period. Look for “street-level” religion and don’t be afraid to put these stories on page one.

2. Dig deeper than the “bare facts,” probing the ethical and moral angles of issues in medicine, science, business, academia and law.

3. “Build bridges” to religious leaders through face-to-face contacts, just like media leaders do with business people and politicians. Also, help religious leaders understand the realities of the news business.

4. There’s no way around it: Hire experienced religion reporters who have demonstrated excellence on that beat. Isn’t that, Graham said, the way you hire sports reporters?

…one truth cannot be denied.

“Religion often sways whole societies,” Graham said, “and can even change the course of history.”

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Posted in Evangelicals, Media, Religion & Culture

(Local paper) Can ‘restorative practices’ in schools get at the root of bad behavior? The idea is being tested in Charleston, South Carolina, area Schools

The two boys were play-fighting, until suddenly they weren’t. The slap rang out at Northwoods Middle School.

Students at Northwoods are bound by the same rules and consequences as anyone else in the Charleston County School District. But thanks to a pilot program that started at their school and four others last year, the students also have a unique opportunity to face one another and make amends for their mistakes.

The pilot program is known as “restorative practices,” an approach to resolving conflicts that emphasizes personal responsibility and healing relationships. The approach was developed by Australian police to work with juvenile offenders in the 1990s, and it has since spread to schools worldwide.

Read it all.”>Read it all and note the important previous background article there.

Posted in * South Carolina, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture

(DP) At Princeton, Prominent South Baptist Russell Moore argues politics has altered US evangelicalism

“God does not need the evangelical movement; the evangelical movement desperately needs God,” Moore said.

Moore explained that there is conflation between the evangelical church and politics in modern America.

“So often in 2018 America, evangelicalism is associated more with Iowa caucuses than the good news of Jesus Christ,” Moore said.

He defined evangelicalism as “the link of renewal and revival movements which unite historic, conventional orthodoxy with the necessity of personal conversion and evangelism.”

Additionally, Moore said he believes that any true evangelical movement must be focused upon the Cross.

“An emphasis on the Cross is one of the hardest thing to maintain in any Christian group, and that includes American evangelicalism,” Moore said.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, President Donald Trump, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology)

(Diocese of SC) Tyler Prescott–Is Your Church Reaching the Community That Actually Surrounds It?

Tell me if this description fits: You’re a centuries (or maybe only decades) old congregation in a rapidly changing community of the coastal plain or Pee Dee area of South Carolina. For years you’ve been trying to “reach young families” or, more recently, “engage millennials,” but you aren’t really sure where to begin. Does that sound familiar? It could be the constant refrain of many a church in South Carolina and certainly for many in our Diocese! Where is one even to begin?

An important starting place is by asking ourselves a few questions:

Who are we?
Who are our neighbors?
How can we be better neighbors in our community?” (see Romans 15:1-2 for but one Scriptural imperative).
Such questions allow us to thoughtfully consider how our congregations both reflect and diverge from the communities they serve. Further, these questions invite us to consider how our congregations may then bring the Gospel into these communities in a way that showers their particular concerns, particular fears, particular shame, and particular guilt with the all-encompassing love of Christ.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture