Category : * International News & Commentary

Leaving on a Jet Plane

I’m off to a big conference and would appreciate your prayers for the Sunday sermon and Monday address–KSH. Blogging will be catch as catch can until I return.

Posted in * By Kendall, England / UK, Travel

Kendall Harmon for 9/11: Number 343

On Monday this week, the last of the 343 firefighters who died on September 11th was buried. Because no remains of Michael Ragusa, age 29, of Engine Company 279, were found and identified, his family placed in his coffin a very small vial of his blood, donated years ago to a bone-marrow clinic. At the funeral service Michael’s mother Dee read an excerpt from her son’s diary on the occasion of the death of a colleague. “It is always sad and tragic when a fellow firefighter dies,” Michael Ragusa wrote, “especially when he is young and had everything to live for.” Indeed. And what a sobering reminder of how many died and the awful circumstances in which they perished that it took until this week to bury the last one.

So here is to the clergy, the ministers, rabbis, imams and others, who have done all these burials and sought to help all these grieving families. And here is to the families who lost loved ones and had to cope with burials in which sometimes they didn’t even have remains of the one who died. And here, too, is to the remarkable ministry of the Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, who played every single service for all 343 firefighters who lost their lives. The Society chose not to end any service at which they played with an up-tempo march until the last firefighter was buried.

On Monday, in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn, the Society therefore played “Garry Owen” and “Atholl Highlander,” for the first time since 9/11 as the last firefighter killed on that day was laid in the earth. On the two year anniversary here is to New York, wounded and more sober, but ever hopeful and still marching.

–First published on this blog September 11, 2003

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Music, Police/Fire, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues

Richard John Neuhaus for 9/11–September 11th, Before and After

Fourth, after some initial sortings out, America will identify itself even more closely with Israel. Disagreements over the justice of how Israel was founded and how it has maintained itself in existence will not disappear. But the diabolical face of the evil that threatens Israel, and us, is now unveiled. Among Americans and all who are part of our civilization, it will be understood that we must never surrender, or appear to be surrendering, to that evil. Finally, the question of “the West and the rest” will be powerfully sharpened, including a greatly heightened awareness of the global threats posed by militant Islam. Innocent Muslims in this country and Europe are undoubtedly in for some nastiness, and we must do our best to communicate the distinction between Islam and Islamism, knowing that the latter is the monistic fanaticism embraced by only a minority of Muslims. But almost inevitably, given the passions aroused and the difficulties of enforcing the law among people who are largely alien in their ways, such distinctions will sometimes get lost. We can only try to do our best by those Muslims who have truly chosen our side in “the clash of civilizations.” It seems likely also that, after September 11, discussion about immigration policy will become more intense, and more candid.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, History, Islam, Israel, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

May we Never Forget Eighteen Years Ago Today–A Naval Academy “Anchormen” Tribute to 9/11

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Music, Terrorism

Must not Miss 9/11 Video: Welles Crowther, The Man Behind the Red Bandana

The Man Behind the Red Bandana from Drew Gallagher on Vimeo.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Police/Fire, Terrorism

The Legacy Website for September 11, 2001

This site is intended as a place to remember and celebrate the lives of those lost on September 11, 2001. It includes Guest Books and profiles for each of those lost.

It is well worth your time to explore it thoroughly today.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues

9/11 CNBC Coverage from 8:46-8:55

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Media, Movies & Television, Terrorism

Warm Congratulations to Rafael Nadal, winner of the 2019 US Open Men’s Tennis Final

Posted in America/U.S.A., Men, Spain, Sports

(SL) Arrest and prosecute xenophobia cases: South Africa Anglican archbishop

Anglican archbishop Thabo Makgoba said on Sunday he was “appalled and ashamed” at the violent attacks on foreigners in South Africa last week, as well as the ongoing attacks on truckers.

Preaching at church services in Cape Town, the archbishop urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to “demand that the responsible branches of government act firmly, and especially that those who attacked people and looted their homes and businesses will be arrested and prosecuted”.

“We [in the church] are deeply disturbed by the recent orchestrated attacks on citizens from outside our country – sadly called foreign nationals – for no one is foreign, all are God’s people and all are Africans. I am appalled and ashamed by the violence meted out against them, especially against truck drivers, and at the prejudice voiced against these vulnerable people who come from beyond our borders.”

He voiced his shock that South Africans could inflict the same pain on others as they had experienced in apartheid’s forced removals.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, South Africa, South Africa

Congratulations to Bianca Andreescu, Winner of the 2019 Women’s US Open Tennis Tournament

Posted in America/U.S.A., Canada, Sports, Teens / Youth, Women

(FE USA) Where is the Church in North America Heading and What are the Implications?

Last month, I was in a room in Central Pennsylvania with North American leaders and kingdom practitioners from around the country for a retreat. After lunch we centered our conversation around this question:

“Where is the Church in North America heading and what are the implications?”

For those who know me, you know I am passionate about discussing a great question. And this certainly is a significant one.

Many missiologists, theologians and scholars believe the Global Church is becoming more diverse and moving south (that is, the center of Christianity is no longer in North America, but its greatest movement is in the Southern Hemisphere, particularly South America and the southern part of the continent of Africa.)

But what about North America? What does the future of the Church look like here? Well, we don’t know for sure, but we are seeing it become more diverse (ethnic, racial, gender, etc.), more urban, and more post-Christian/postmodern. With all this as the foundation, we dug deeper. We broke down our answers into three categories:

  • Sociological (what does this mean for how we interact with others)

  • Ecclesiological (what does this mean for the Church and localized churches)

  • Missiological (what does this mean in how we join with God and His mission)

Here is what we surmised for each category….:

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Canada, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Guardian) Hundreds of clergy facing hardship despite vast C of E wealth

Hundreds of clergy are in financial hardship, with some resorting to credit cards or even a high-interest payday lender, despite the Church of England sitting on a multibillion-pound investment fund.

Some vicars are tens of thousands of pounds in debt, with many struggling to survive – especially those supporting families – and relying on charity handouts to make ends meet, the Guardian has learned.

Clergy Support Trust – a centuries-old charity which supports destitute Anglican vicars, assistant or associate priests, curates-in-training and chaplains – gave £1.8m worth of grants to 459 clergy last year.

Analysis last year found that 217 individuals who had applied to the charity for help had personal unsecured debts of £5,000 or more, totalling nearly £3m. The figures, based on a combination of grant application data over a 20-month period, do not include mortgages or student loans. Of the 217, 41% had debts of between £5,000 and £10,000, 44% between £10,000 and £20,000, and 15% over £20,000. Four applicants had debts in excess of £50,000.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance & Investing, Stewardship

For her Feast Day–(CT) Hannah More: Powerhouse in a Petticoat

Imagine yourself seated at a fashionable London dinner party in 1789.

The women are wearing hoops several feet wide, their hair dressed nearly as high and adorned with fruit or feathers. In between hips and hair, bosoms overspill. The men sport powdered hair, ruffled shirts, embroidered waistcoats, wool stockings, and buckled shoes. Politeness and manners reign around a table laden with delicate, savory dishes.

As guests wait for the after-dinner wine to arrive, a handsome but demure woman pulls a pamphlet from the folds of her dress. “Have you ever seen the inside of a slave ship?” she asks the natty gentleman seated next to her. She proceeds to spread open a print depicting the cargo hold of the Brookes slave ship. With meticulous detail, the print shows African slaves laid like sardines on the ship’s decks, each in a space so narrow, they can’t lay their arms at their sides. The print will become the most haunting image of the transatlantic slave trade””as well as a key rhetorical device used to stop it.

The woman sharing it is Hannah More.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, England / UK

(BBC) Pope Francis in Africa: Is the continent the Catholic Church’s great hope?

Pope Francis begins a three-nation visit to Africa later on Wednesday.

It will be his fourth visit to the continent since he became the head of the Roman Catholic Church in 2013, compared to the two his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, made during his eight-year papacy.

The importance of Africa to the Catholic Church can be summed up in a word – growth.

Africa has the fastest growing Catholic population in the world, while Western Europe, once regarded as the heartland of Christianity, has become one of the world’s most secular regions, according to the US-based Pew Research Center.

And many of those who do identify themselves as Christian in Western Europe do not regularly attend church.

In contrast, Christianity, in its different denominations, is growing across Africa. The Pew Research Center predicts that by 2060 more than four in 10 Christians will be in sub-Saharan Africa.

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, Globalization, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

The Episcopal Church Releases its Latest Statistics

Read it all and make sure to look at all the accompanying data sets there also.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, TEC Data

The Archbp of Sydney Responds to a vote by the Synod of the Diocese of Wangaratta

From there:

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, has issued a statement in response to a vote by the Synod of the Diocese of Wangaratta to authorise a service to bless civil marriages. The Bishop of Wangaratta has claimed this service would allow for a blessing of same-sex unions and that he personally intends to use it for that purpose.

Archbishop Davies said “It is highly regrettable that clergy and lay people in the Diocese of Wangaratta have chosen to follow their Bishop rather than the clear words of Scripture concerning God’s design for human sexuality (Matt 19:4-12).

The doctrine of our Church is not determined by 67 members of a regional synod in Victoria nor is it changed by what they may purport to authorise.

Time and time again, the General Synod has affirmed the biblical view of marriage as the doctrine of our Church. To bless that which is contrary to Scripture cannot, therefore, be permissible under our church law.

The circumstances of this event are reminiscent of the actions of the Diocese of New Westminster in Canada in 2003. It is now universally acknowledged that those events were the beginning of the ‘tear in the fabric of the Anglican Communion’.

Moreover, to claim the authority of our Church to carry out a service of blessing contrary to the biblical view of marriage and the doctrine of our Church will certainly fracture the Anglican Church of Australia.”

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Rod Nordland–Waiting for the Monsoon, Discovering a Brain Tumor Instead

On the morning of July 4, I left Delhi for Uttar Pradesh to report a story on India’s feverish toilet-building campaign. I was out on the street most of the day, when I noticed ink in my journal was smudged with raindrops. “The monsoon has arrived,” I noted.

The smudged page also contained a fragment of overheard conversation: “We will marry our daughter to you only if you have a foot.” It was the first line of an intriguing story I would never write, because the next day I went for a morning jog in Delhi’s beautiful Lodhi Gardens.

That is really the last thing I remember with certainty. I only learned later that I had, somehow, made my way from the gardens to New Delhi’s Golf Course Colony, several miles away.

This is where a malignant brain tumor, as yet undiagnosed, struck me down and left me thrashing on the ground.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, India, Media, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.

(David Ould) Wangratta Motion Passes in Australia, the Anglican Church There Faces a Crisis Moment

The Diocese of Wangaratta has passed their motion calling for the blessing of individuals who have taken part in a same-sex wedding. The voting, reported by prominent supporter of the motion Ven. John Davis (Archdeacon Emeritus of the Diocese), was that 67 for, 18 against and one abstention.

Davis has published his speech in support of the motion….

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Moving NBC piece on the Problem of Suicide among American farmers

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Economy, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Suicide

(Telegraph) 80 per cent decline in religious funerals as mourners opt for golf courses and zoos over churches

An all-black dress code, pallbearers marching in unison, and a steady stream of tears are not often associated with golf courses, zoos and Chinese takeaways.

Yet according to the most extensive ever report on UK funeral trends which, the religious funeral is dying a death.

Instead of services in crematoriums, churches and cemeteries, Britons are instead opting for increasingly quirky ways to mourn their loved ones.

The Co-op, the UK’s largest national funeral provider which conducts more than 100,000 every year, has today published a report revealing that since 2011 there has been a 80 per cent decline in religious funerals.

Eight-years-ago 67 per cent of people requested traditional religious services and just 12 per cent were non-religious. However by 2018, just 13 per cent wanted a religious funeral.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Eschatology, Religion & Culture, Secularism

Food for Thought from P T Forsyth


–quoted in the morning sermon by yours truly

Posted in * Theology, --Scotland, Church History

(Church Times) Alexander Faludy–After Brexit, bonds of affection are crucial

The Church of England can make a difference. Before the 2016 EU referendum vote, leading bishops sought to offer an appearance of neutrality which could easily be confused with disengagement. In the strange “between time” between the referendum and today, they belatedly sought to play the part of civic reconciler, urging churches to hold “tea and prayer drop-ins” to encourage better conversations (News, 22 March).

Unfortunately, clergy were not given either adequate notice or a supply of extra tea bags. The project occasioned more satire than mutual understanding. When it comes to improving Anglo-European understanding after Brexit, however, the Church does have significant, if latent, gifts to bring to the table.

To date, the C of E’s ecumenical relationships in Europe have mainly been appreciated by those who have specialist interests or personal ties to the partner Churches. Those partnerships could now be a source of social capital.

The Porvoo, Meissen, and Reuilly agreements connect us, respectively, with Christians in the Nordic and Baltic States, France, and Germany. After Brexit, link-scheme visits, exchanges, and prayer cycles might carry a new significance, emphasising a “bond in the spirit” with people to whom we are no longer bound by laws or trade.

Most people in the pews know little or nothing of the work of the fast-growing diocese in Europe. It, too, could be a valuable resource. Parishes and deaneries on “the mainland” might twin with their equivalents in the diocese in Europe for friendship and mutual support.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

A Heartbreaking and Important Washington Post Article on the Suicide of Kelly Catlin

Kelly’s father wants you to know all of it: She took classes at the University of Minnesota in 11th grade, notched a perfect score on the SAT, had enrolled last fall in the computational mathematics program at Stanford’s graduate school. This was a young woman who had become convinced, like so many of her high-achieving peers, that pedaling to the peak of one mountain only meant a better view of the other, taller ones in the distance.

“The very characteristics that made you successful will be self-destructive,” Mark says he has realized, though he prefers to keep himself busy than think too deeply about it, and indeed as much as his daughter was an outlier in life, she was part of a trend in death.

… [he] kept absorbing his daughter’s final words.

“I cry,” Kelly wrote, “because I only ever truly desired Love. Kindness. Understanding. Warmth. Touch. And these things shall be denied, for eternity.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Sports, Suicide

(AM) Rod Dreher–[Following up on the FT article already posted] Putin & The Patriarchs

UPDATE: An American reader in Moscow says there’s a lot wrong with the FT piece, at least as I have reported it. He writes:

I can’t access Max Seddon’s piece, so I am sure most of my corrections are problems with his article. In any case, there are some serious factual errors and lack of context for a lot of the information in this post.

To begin, the main problem is the narrative of the Ukrainian Church breaking from the Russian Church. This simply did not occur. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church, recognized by the rest of the Local Orthodox Churches, remains within the Moscow Patriarchate. Metropolitan Onuphry, the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, who consistently is left out of Western coverage of this crisis, is to this day a member of the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. There simply has been no change on this front.

Very basic proof: Patriarch Kirill and Metropolitan Onuphry concelebrating the Divine Liturgy in the Saint Sergius Lavra outside of Moscow in June of this year: https://pravlife.org/uk/content/predstoyatel-upc-spivsluzhyv-patriarhu-v-prestolne-svyato-troyice-sergiyevoyi-lavry

That’s right. The head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church flew from Kiev to Moscow to attend a meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church of which he continues to be a member. While there his Beatitude Onuphry served the Liturgy with His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, which in the Orthodox world means everything. The Archbishop of Greece refused to serve the Liturgy with “Metropolitan Epiphany” Dumenko because that would mean legitimizing his controversial status.

The basic fact pulls the carpet out from under the narrative of Seddon’s piece (what you have quoted) as well as most of the Western coverage. The Churches did not split. This is a classic case for Terry Mattingly at GetReligion — journalists who don’t know enough about the religion they are writing about simply cannot resist the temptation to bend the narrative so that it perfectly reflects the political narrative. In this case, that would be “Russia is mad that Ukraine wants independence.”

Read it all.

Posted in Orthodox Church, Russia

A group of Church of England Bishops issue an open letter on Brexit

Seeing the evidence of division in every part of England, we are deeply concerned about:

  • Political polarisation and language that appears to sanction hate crime: the reframing of the language of political discourse is urgent, especially given the abuse and threats levelled at MPs doing their job.
  • The ease with which lies can be told and misrepresentation encouraged: leaders must be honest about the costs of political choices, especially for those most vulnerable.
  • The levels of fear, uncertainty and marginalisation in society, much of which lies behind the vote for Brexit, but will not be addressed by Brexit: poor people, EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in Europe must be listened to and respected.
  • The Irish border is not a mere political totem and peace in Ireland is not a ball to be kicked by the English: respect for the concerns on both sides of the border is essential.
  • The sovereignty of Parliament is not just an empty term, it is based on institutions to be honoured and respected: our democracy is endangered by cavalier disregard for these.
  • Attention must be paid not only to the Union, but also to the meaning of Englishness.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General

(FT) Putin and the Patriarchs–how geopolitics tore apart the Orthodox Church

Kirill thought his status as post-Soviet patriarch would earn him a key role of peacemaker, according to people close to the church. But when Russia annexed Crimea in February 2014, a rift opened between Kirill’s and Putin’s conceptions of the “Russian world”. Keenly aware that Putin’s actions severely undermined his authority in Ukraine, Kirill refused to absorb Crimea’s parishes and boycotted a ceremony in the Kremlin to celebrate Russia’s annexation.

Later that year, Putin underscored the rift by declaring that the Crimean town of Khersones — where Vladimir the Great, the first Christian ruler of Rus, was baptised in 988AD — was “Russia’s Temple Mount”.

The notion has no grounding in Orthodox theology and, by implication, undermines the primacy of Kiev and the Lavra. According to Roman Lunkin, a senior researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, it was an attempt to justify the annexation by presenting Putin as the protector of all Russian-speaking people.

The growing divide between Ukraine and Russia was underscored by the war with ­Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine shortly afterwards, where more than 13,000 have died. Filaret backed Ukraine’s offensive, saying the local population “must pay for their guilt [in rejecting Kiev’s authority] through suffering and blood”. Rebels in Donetsk, meanwhile, enjoyed support from Konstantin Malofeev, a Russian oligarch and prominent member of Moscow’s Orthodox elite.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Orthodox Church, Politics in General, Russia

Please pray for the 2019 ReNew Conference

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Eschatology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(The Week) The crisis of American loneliness

You maniacs. You blew it up.” How else should we respond to a storyabout how the most relentlessly communicative generation in the history of the world feels all alone?

According to a recent YouGov survey, some 30 percent of American millennials say that they are “lonely.” More than 20 percent report that they have no friends; a quarter claim to have no close ones. Many even insist that they have no “acquaintances,” which should, one hopes, be impossible. But I wonder. For even younger people, in so-called “Generation Z,” the figures are even bleaker.

We can make facile jokes about avocado toast and baristas with degrees in cultural studies who spend more time on Instagram than they do in real-life conversations with non-customers. There may be a bit of truth in these caricatures. But I’m not sure we should find them amusing.

“We don’t quite know why this is happening,” a psychologist who has studied the problem of loneliness in Germany tells Vox. Of course she doesn’t. Even pretending to would violate roughly 7,500 norms of her profession. Thankfully the rest of us have eyes and ears and mouths.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Psychology

(Northern Echo) Prayer spaces in schools ‘encouraged positive mental health’

Prayer spaces in schools have helped encourage positive mental health in young people, according to pupils who have been involved in a project promoting them.

Four Church of England secondary schools in the Diocese of Durham were involved in the “reservoirs of hope” project, which started in February.

The prayer spaces were set up in The Venerable Bede Church of England Academy in Sunderland, Ian Ramsey Church of England Academy in Stockton, Whitburn Church of England Academy in Sunderland and St Aidan’s Church of England Academy in Darlington.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Education, England / UK, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Jillian Kay Melchior–Joshua Harris Kisses Christianity Goodbye

Mr. Harris’s book seems to have taken a special toll on young Christian women, who felt controlled and objectified when church leaders told them that immodesty, even if unintentional, makes them responsible for violating men’s spiritual and emotional purity. Worst of all, some readers told Mr. Harris they had lost their faith because of the shame and spiritual duress his book inflicted.

Hearing such things left Mr. Harris “in a place where I would find my own faith really shaken,” he said in December. “The brand of Christianity that I practiced was so specific, and was so tied to thinking certain ways, certain practices.” Questioning them means “I’m having to figure out what does that mean, in regard to my relationship with God, because my relationship with God was those things.” Mr. Harris was questioning whether “I can let go of this, and not let go of God.”

In July, Mr. Harris made two personal announcements on Instagram: He and his wife were separating, and he had “undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus,” he wrote. “Many people tell me that there is a different way to practice faith and I want to remain open to this, but I’m not there now.”

Many Christians responded with mourning, but I’m hopeful. Abandoning untrue beliefs is progress, and a faith that doesn’t stand up to the toughest inquiry isn’t worth believing. The Book of Hebrews says that “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Mr. Harris, please keep seeking, and I’ll be praying as you wander.

Read it all.

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