Daily Archives: October 11, 2010

RNS: Methodist Agency Can Lobby on Issues Besides Temperance

The United Methodist Church’s public policy agency can advocate on causes beyond alcoholism and temperance without violating the terms of its endowment, a District of Columbia judge ruled on Wednesday (Oct. 6).

Superior Court Judge Rhonda Reid Winston’s decision is the latest twist in a long-running debate in the UMC about how its General Board of Church and Society is funded and the positions it takes on political issues.

“This matter has been an enormous, unnecessary distraction,” Jim Winkler, the board’s chief executive, said in a statement. The board has for decades fought “predatory enterprises” such as alcohol, tobacco and gambling, he said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Church/State Matters, House of Representatives, Law & Legal Issues, Methodist, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Senate

Jerry A. Coyne (USA Today)–Science and religion aren't friends

Religion in America is on the defensive.

Atheist books such as The God Delusion and The End of Faith have, by exposing the dangers of faith and the lack of evidence for the God of Abraham, become best-sellers. Science nibbles at religion from the other end, relentlessly consuming divine explanations and replacing them with material ones. Evolution took a huge bite a while back, and recent work on the brain has shown no evidence for souls, spirits, or any part of our personality or behavior distinct from the lump of jelly in our head. We now know that the universe did not require a creator. Science is even studying the origin of morality. So religious claims retreat into the ever-shrinking gaps not yet filled by science. And, although to be an atheist in America is still to be an outcast, America’s fastest-growing brand of belief is non-belief.

But faith will not go gentle. For each book by a “New Atheist,” there are many others attacking the “movement” and demonizing atheists as arrogant, theologically ignorant, and strident. The biggest area of religious push-back involves science. Rather than being enemies, or even competitors, the argument goes, science and religion are completely compatible friends, each devoted to finding its own species of truth while yearning for a mutually improving dialogue.

As a scientist and a former believer, I see this as bunk….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

AP: Churches, other groups do more background checks

More churches and religious groups are conducting background checks and taking other steps to protect children against mistreatment in the wake of the sex abuse scandal that has plagued the Catholic Church for years.

Children’s advocates say not all background checks are equal, and warn religious groups they must be especially vigilant in screening clergy, volunteers and staff because their trusting communities are often targets for abusers.

Background checks should look into criminal databases at the local, state and federal levels and religious groups need other safety mechanisms in place, according to insurance companies. That’s because many pedophiles don’t have criminal records, either because they haven’t been caught or haven’t been prosecuted.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

In Minneapolis Downtown congregations band together to fight homelessness

The 13 churches that have joined the DCEH run the gamut: Lutheran, Unitarian, Methodist, Catholic, Episcopal, Presbyterian and non-denominational.

“We also have a Jewish temple and two mosques as members,” said McAllister. “It’s rewarding to learn about different people’s beliefs and perspectives. It’s challenging sometimes, too, to be on the same page.”

Despite their differences, the churches find common ground in monthly meetings for the senior clergy, and meetings for steering and interfaith committee members. During the meetings, members share ideas, discuss advocacy, and brainstorm ways to educate or raise funds.

“For the last two years, each fall, we’ve set aside time in our congregations to talk about homelessness,” said McAllister. “There have been discussions on affordable housing, mental health, photography exhibits, films and forums. Last year over 1,000 people attended the forums.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Inter-Faith Relations, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Poverty

Mensa's face is changing as it catches a young brain wave

When Ada Brown went to her first Dallas Mensa meeting, she half expected it to be full of slightly awkward geniuses with pocket protectors.

Instead, the former judge found a “lively, articulate cross section of people” she meets for dinner, aspiring author workshops, parties and game nights, says Brown, now an attorney who joined Mensa as an undergrad at Spelman College.

“Honestly, it doesn’t look like a convention out of Revenge of the Nerds,” she says with a laugh. “We do have that, but that’s not all. There’s a little of everything.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Young Adults

Reminder: Diocese of South Carolina 219th Convention is Reconvened this Friday

It is a very important week for the Bishop and the diocese; we appreciate your prayers.

You can read the proposed resolutions here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

Archbishop Rowan Williams–Faith, Hope and Charity in the World Today

I want to try to gain a different kind of perspective on the three great theological virtues of faith, hope and charity by seeing how they are dealt with by one of the great mystics of Christian history, the sixteenth-century Spanish friar St John of the Cross.

St John – like everybody else in his generation of Catholic theologians – takes for granted a picture of the human mind which sees it as working in three basic ways: the human mind understands, it remembers and it wants. Or, in more abstract terms, the human mind is made up of the interaction of understanding, memory and will.

And the distinctive and fresh insight that St John of the Cross offers, is that if you put together understanding, memory and will with faith, hope and charity you have a perfect picture of where we start and where we finish.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology

Information about the Peter Toon Memorial Prize (please circulate among those interested)

The Prayer Book Society of the U.S.A. is pleased to announce a competition for a prize of 1000.00. for the best essay on the following topic:

Discuss the rationale for one, authoritative Book of Common Prayer in the Church of England. Please make reference to the historic editions of the Prayer Book, the Thirty-Nine Articles, Ordinal, and/or the classical Anglican divines of the 16th and 17th centuries (i.e.Thomas Cranmer or Richard Hooker) in the course of formulating your argument.

For more information please visit http://www.pbsusa.org/index.php

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Theology

Christ Church, Plano, TX Transfers to Anglican Church in North America, Joins Diocese of Pittsburgh

In a letter dated October 6, 2010 the Rev. Canon David Roseberry, rector of Christ Church in Plano, TX, announced their intention to join the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh in order to affiliate with the Anglican Church in North America. Christ Church has actively supported the formation of the ACNA and continues to offer leadership and support for Anglican1000, a key initiative designed to encourage church planting in the ACNA. Since leaving the Episcopal Church in 2006, Christ Church has been canonically affiliated with the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA). When AMiA changed its status within the ACNA from fully integrated, diocesan member to ministry partner, which has less representation in the councils of the Church, Christ Church began to explore how it might stay within the North American provincial structure. The transfer has already received the green light from the Rt. Rev. Chuck Murphy, who currently provides episcopal oversight for Christ Church.

“We are looking forward to partnering more fully with Christ Church Plano in the coming months and years. We are especially delighted that the vestry and clergy of Christ Church consider the Diocese of Pittsburgh to be a fitting home for their mission and ministry in the season ahead,” commented the Most Rev. Robert Duncan, archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America and bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. He added, “Christ Church is a parish of immense talent and vision, and the administrative home of Anglican 1000. Dave Roseberry is one of North America’s great leaders and it will be a joy to welcome him and all the clergy of Christ Church into the leadership cadre of our diocese.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Parish Ministry

Christopher Howse: Gauguin's day to wrestle with God

Gauguin first showed his mature style of solid, simplified shapes and bold, non-naturalistic colour in Vision of the Sermon. It was 1888, he was 40, and, unknown to himself, had under 15 years to live.

The painting is on show in London at the Tate Modern’s “Gauguin: Maker of Myth”. It belongs to the National Gallery of Scotland, in Edinburgh, where I usually look at it when I’m in the city.

It is a striking image, with its red ground and clumped white head-dresses in the foreground. But, stranger is its Christian religious theme. Gauguin drew up a scathing critique of the Catholic Church, summarised in L’esprit moderne et le catholicisme, written in 1898 in Tahiti. In it, he lambasted the blindness of Catholicism in the face of the rational claims of true science.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Art, History, Religion & Culture

Steven Pearlstein (Wash. Post)–To sort this mess, both banks and borrowers must do the right thing

… if, as appears to be the case, the overwhelming majority of homeowners facing foreclosure have fallen far behind on their payments, then it is a good deal harder to summon up the same moral outrage over reports that the banks and loan service companies cut corners, failed to keep the right documents and engaged in shoddy and even fraudulent practices. Just because the banks and servicers have screwed up doesn’t mean they and their investors are no longer entitled to get their money back.

Certainly banks and servicers should, at their own expense, be sent back to do things right. Those who engaged in fraud should be punished. And if there are legitimate questions about who owns a loan, those will need to be resolved before the proceeds of any foreclosure are distributed.

But none of that changes the basic reality that there are millions of Americans who took out mortgages they could not support on houses they could not afford. It may be necessary to postpone their day of reckoning for a few months to get the paperwork in order and ensure that all the proper procedures are followed, but the reckoning is inevitable.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, Politics in General, The 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

Graham Tomlin (CEN)–The End of the Pew?

What is the biggest obstacle to the growth of the church in Britain today? Creeping secularisation? Richard Dawkins? Infighting over women bishops or gay clergy? Let me make another suggestion: how about the continued existence of pews?

For the first 1,500 years of the church’s life, pews were extremely rare. In most medieval churches people stood or sat on the floor, with only a narrow bench around the edge of the building for seating. Eastern Orthodox churches never got around to having pews ”“ still today in Russia and Greece, worshippers stand.

When they did gradually get introduced, pews were a mixed blessing. They were intimately connected with social division and hierarchy, with pews ranked according to social standing. The rich would have large grand stalls at the front and woe betide anyone who sat in the wrong one. They were exclusive then, and they are exclusive now. Pews today effectively exclude the 90 per cent of people who are not regular attenders of services.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who, calling Abraham to go forth to a country which thou wouldest show him, didst promise that in him all the families of the earth would be blessed: Fulfill thy promise in us, we pray thee, giving us such faith in thee as thou shalt count unto us for righteousness; that in us and through us thy purpose may be fulfilled; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–The Church of South India

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

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, Theology: Scripture

Eleanor Mills (Sunday [London] Times)–Without God, culture is lost

The problem with [Michael] Gove’s plan to revive the literary canon in schools is that a generation entirely ignorant of the Christian faith is going to find it incredibly difficult ”” probably impossible ”” to get to grips with large chunks of our most famous literature.

How can you enjoy the wonderful poems of someone such as George Herbert without knowing the psalms on which they are based? How can you understand Milton if you know absolutely nothing of the Bible?

And that’s just the literature. When it comes to art, the iconography of our most famous paintings is even more suffused with Christianity. Listening to a few hymns on a CD and appearing in a nativity play are not going to imbue our children with the cultural tools they need to unlock Britain’s greatest writers and artists.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Education, England / UK, History, Poetry & Literature, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Theology, Theology: Scripture