Daily Archives: December 13, 2010

Laura Vanderkam–When's the right time for Christmas carols?

Once upon a time, kids had to wait a whole year for The Wizard of Oz to air on TV; now you can pop in a DVD of any show you want any time. Books show up on our Kindles in an instant, as do songs on our iPods. Churches can be different, inviting people to wait and hope, both as a spiritual discipline and also as a recognition of what psychologists are learning about human happiness. Happy people wring as much positive emotion from experiences as possible by spending time anticipating them.

Easier said than done, of course. “The desire to open Christmas presents early is very strong, even for adults,” Kathleen Pluth says. But ideally, Advent services can make people revel in the joy of anticipation ”” of singing Joy to the World in a few weeks’ time.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Advent, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Religion & Culture

Stress and the High School Student

What can schools — and parents — do to relieve some of the résumé-building pressure that young people are feeling?

See what you make of the ideas suggested.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Psychology, Stress, Teens / Youth

Facebook Wrestles With Free Speech and Civility

Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder and chief executive of Facebook, likes to say that his Web site brings people together, helping to make the world a better place. But Facebook isn’t a utopia, and when it comes up short, Dave Willner tries to clean up.

Dressed in Facebook’s quasi-official uniform of jeans, a T-shirt and flip-flops, the 26-year-old Mr. Willner hardly looks like a cop on the beat. Yet he and his colleagues on Facebook’s “hate and harassment team” are part of a virtual police squad charged with taking down content that is illegal or violates Facebook’s terms of service. That puts them on the front line of the debate over free speech on the Internet.

That role came into sharp focus last week as the controversy about WikiLeaks boiled over on the Web, with coordinated attacks on major corporate and government sites perceived to be hostile to that group.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Law & Legal Issues

North Carolina officials hope packed houses of worship will help spread message of healthier living

The [North Carolina] state Division of Public Health is offering 57 different documents that can be inserted in church bulletins or distributed at worship service.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, State Government

Rowan Williams: How can we know that any Christian belief is actually True?

”¦how can we know that any of this [Christian teaching] is actually true? So far, I’ve been trying to clarify what the words mean. But how does anyone ever get inside this language, get to the point where they can make it their own? Christians may be talking about a trustworthy God, but how do we know that this is a real God, as opposed to an impressive character in a book? In other words, does God exist?

You won’t be surprised to hear that I haven’t yet found the decisive new argument that will prove once and for all that there really is a God; but we do need to remember that the number of people who come into a living personal faith as a result of argument is actually rather small. Many centuries ago, a great theologian and pastor, St Ambrose, said that ”˜it did not suit God to save his people by arguments.’ Of course they have their uses. When people argue against the existence of God, it helps to have some points you can make to counter the idea that belief is just completely irrational. But what is it that shifts people’s imagination and vision and hope?

The Bible has no arguments for the existence of God. There are moments of conflict with God, anger with God, doubt about God’s purposes, anguish and lostness when people have no real sense of God’s presence. The Psalms are full of this, as is the Book of Job. Don’t imagine that the Bible is full of comfortable and reassuring things about the life of belief and trust; it isn’t. It is often about the appalling cost of letting God come near you and of trying to trust him when all the evidence seems to have gone. But Abraham, Moses and St Paul don’t sit down to work out whether God exists; they are already caught up in something the imperative reality of which they can’t deny or ignore. At one level, you have to see that the very angst and struggle they bring to their relation with God is itself a kind of argument for God: if they take God that seriously, at least this isn’t some cosy made-up way of making yourself feel better.

And that is actually quite a serious point about where belief in God starts for a lot of folk. It starts from a sense that we ”˜believe in’, we trust some kinds of people. We have confidence in the way they live; the way they live is a way I want to live, perhaps can imagine myself living in my better or more mature moments. The world they inhabit is one I’d like to live in. Faith has a lot to do with the simple fact that there are trustworthy lives to be seen, that we can see in some believing people a world we’d like to live in.

It puts quite a responsibility on believing people….

–Rowan Williams, Tokens of Trust: An Introduction to Christian Belief (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2009), pp. 20-21

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Theology

Anthony Dale Hunt–Some 2009 Reflections "on what is going on in Anglicanism"

….being in The Episcopal Church, and considering all that has happened in the last year, I wanted to throw out there some thoughts on what is going on in Anglicanism.

I will certainly make for these reflections to be theological, but I imagine that some will fall back into sentiment and they will have a sense of arbitrarity, for which I cannot apologize. It may seem that at times I will ramble but I hope, especially for our Anglican readership, that my fears and hopes will reveal a bit about the struggles in our Churches to be faithful both to the “gospel” as we perceive it, and to ourselves as a Communion of Churches.

I’ve grown a bit more into the role of a “Traditionalist” in matters of theological revision but I hope that I will never be received as a “Stand Firm” type. I have no pretensions about having the whole of Truth wrapped up and if I say things that are “conservative” or whatever the damn word we want to use, I am quite passionate about living together in diverse minds. But it is the width and nature of and reasons for diversity that is up for question.

Read it all, noting especially his remarks on what he has recently been reading.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Theology

(NY Times) With New Violence, More Christians Are Fleeing Iraq

A new wave of Iraqi Christians has fled to northern Iraq or abroad amid a campaign of violence against them and growing fear that the country’s security forces are unable or, more ominously, unwilling to protect them.

The flight ”” involving thousands of residents from Baghdad and Mosul, in particular ”” followed an Oct. 31 siege at a church in Baghdad that killed 51 worshipers and 2 priests and a subsequent series of bombings and assassinations singling out Christians. This new exodus, which is not the first, highlights the continuing displacement of Iraqis despite improved security over all and the near-resolution of the political impasse that gripped the country after elections in March.

It threatens to reduce further what Archdeacon Emanuel Youkhana of the Assyrian Church of the East called “a community whose roots were in Iraq even before Christ.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Iraq, Iraq War, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Violence

Church of England Clergyman Tim Blewett spends 4 days and nights on the streets of Leicester

A luxury item I brought with me was my prayer book. I’ve just said my prayers in a cafe with my cup of tea. The reading was relevant, to say the least, ”˜Now is the time for you to wake from your sleep…’

I now have the whole day to try and waste to get through. It’s cold and pretty miserable. People are going about their business and I’m trying to eke out my cup of tea for as long as I can. It reminds me how close you are to the edge when you have nothing or very little. The cafe waitress just dropped the saucer…crash!

We tend to be consumers of things and have our identities made by what we own rather than by who we are. We no longer understand ourselves through relationships with other people but by what we possess.

I wonder how we understood who we were in times gone by. We were part of a tribe or a village and had fixed relationships. Then the industrial revolution turned us into citizens of the nation state with rights and responsibilities. Now we live in a society that defines us as consumers – what we have rather than what our intrinsic value is.

Read it and the other three posts about his experence.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Poverty, Religion & Culture

(RNS) Survey: The Typical U.S. atheist is a white son of religious parents

The typical member of a fast-growing U.S. atheist association is a highly educated, married white male who grew up with religious parents.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation, which grew from 5,500 in 2004 to about 16,000 members this year, announced results of a survey of its members on December , Religion News Service reports.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Atheism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Provisional Feast Day of Saint Lucy

Loving God, who for the salvation of all didst give Jesus Christ as light to a world in darkness: Illumine us, with thy daughter Lucy, with the light of Christ, that by the merits of his passion we may be led to eternal life; through the same Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer, Women

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, by whose command the order of time runs its course: Forgive, we pray thee, the impatience of our hearts; make perfect that which is lacking in our faith; and, while we tarry the fulfillment of thy promises, grant us to have a good hope because of thy word; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Gregory of Nazianzus (approx. 329-389)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.

–2 Peter 1:3-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

RNS–Religious people happier with friends in pews

Close friendships among congregants, rather than theology seem to be the key to happiness among religious people, according to a new study.

One-third of Americans who attend religious services weekly and have three to five close friends in the congregation said they are “extremely satisfied” with their lives.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(America's In All Things Blog) Austen Invereigh–Put not your trust in leaky [U.S.-Vatican] cables

…there is one item which seems quite extraordinary, which in the UK is leading the reporting of this story: the alleged claim by Francis Campbell, UK ambassador to the Holy See, that Pope Benedict’s creation in September last year of a church structure for the reception of groups of Anglicans risked the worst crisis in Anglican-Catholic relations in 150 years. Even more bizarrely, he is reported to have told the US deputy chief of mission to the Holy See, Julieta Valls Noyes, that the move could lead to “violence” against Catholics.

As I told BBC News this morning — watch here — I knew, reading this, it wasn’t true: not just because I know Francis Campbell, and his reaction to Pope Benedict’s initiative; but because no UK diplomat with any sense — and Francis has more than many diplomats put together — would have said something so lurid and exaggerated.

He would have spoken about the tensions with the Anglican Church which Anglicanorum coetibus occasioned, the difficult position it put the Archbishop of Canterbury in, and the offence caused to Lambeth Palace by the way in which the move was announced — all of which are also reported.

But the remarks about crisis and violence are obviously half-heard, decontextualised, and distorted….

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

(BBC) Jersey Anglican church law review 'will secure parishes'

The revision of Jersey’s Anglican church laws will ensure the island’s traditions and customs are secure for the future, the island’s dean says.

The Canons are the rules that govern the Church of England in Jersey.

After 15 years of work, they are now being fully updated for the first time in 400 years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

Disgraced South Australian Anglican bishop removed

The primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, Reverend Phillip Aspinall, has officially approved the removal of disgraced South Australian bishop Ross Davies from the Murray diocese.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces

(Christian Century) Seminary for teens

Rivonte Moore, 17, doesn’t think of himself as a theologian. But he raised his hand in a class at Atlanta’s Candler School of Theology last summer to debate the meaning of the term “sentimental nihilism” as used by Cornel West in Democracy Matters.

Moore was one of 39 students at Candler who took part in the Youth Theological Initiative (YTI)””three weeks of learning, service and reflection for youth of high school age. Moore, from Jacksonville, Florida, has no plans to enter the ministry but found his time at Candler surprisingly exciting. “I thought it would be cool. I didn’t think it would be this cool.”

He was moved by the visit to a synagogue, where the singing in Hebrew was very different from his own church experience, yet the prayers were to the same God. He was stunned to learn that Muslims pray five times a day; in his tradition, showing up at church once a week was enough. He enjoyed meeting people from different backgrounds and figuring out how to express himself and how to listen. He doesn’t know what impact all of this will have on his life, but he does not question that he has been changed.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Teens / Youth, Theology

(Newsday) Amid Mexican violence, A Long Island Born Catholic priest thrives

The 17 masked men pulled two teenage boys off the Rev. David Beaumont’s truck in northern Mexico, forced them to the ground, and put guns against their heads as their mother screamed to the priest that her sons were about to be killed.

Beaumont, who was born in Hempstead and grew up in Commack, has spent the last 20 years as a Franciscan missionary in one of the most dangerous and violent areas of the world. On this day last April, he had to make a split-second decision.

“I was saying to myself, ‘Well, now either I’m really going to be a missionary and be prepared to give my life for the people, or run and hide,’ ” Beaumont recalled in a telephone interview. “I felt it was a pivotal moment in my life. When I walked out to them [the masked men], I realized that the last thing I might see would be the bullets coming at me.”

The men did not fire at the American priest in his tattered brown friar’s habit, and he was able to get the boys back in the truck and leave with their mother. But for the next several days they were all so shaken they lost their appetites and could not eat.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Mexico, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Violence

Peggy Noonan–There Is No Time, There Will Be Time

When you consider who is gifted and crazed with rage . . . when you think of the terrorist places and the terrorist countries . . . who do they hate most? The Great Satan, the United States. What is its most important place? Some would say Washington. I would say the great city of the United States is the great city of the world, the dense 10-mile-long island called Manhattan, where the economic and media power of the nation resides, the city that is the psychological center of our modernity, our hedonism, our creativity, our hard-shouldered hipness, our unthinking arrogance….

So now I have frightened you. But we must not sit around and be depressed. “Don’t cry,” Jimmy Cagney once said. “There’s enough water in the goulash already.”

We must take the time to do some things. We must press government officials to face the big, terrible thing….

The other thing we must do is the most important.

I once talked to a man who had a friend who’d done something that took his breath away. She was single, middle-aged and middle class, and wanted to find a child to love. She searched the orphanages of South America and took the child who was in the most trouble, sick and emotionally unwell. She took the little girl home and loved her hard…

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, History, Psychology, Science & Technology, Terrorism

Vatican Urges Prudence to Wikileaks Readers

From the Vatican Press Office:

Without venturing to evaluate the extreme seriousness of publishing such a large amount of secret and confidential material, and its possible consequences, the Holy See Press Office observes that part of the documents published recently by Wikileaks concerns reports sent to the U.S. State Department by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See.

Naturally these reports reflect the perceptions and opinions of the people who wrote them and cannot be considered as expressions of the Holy See itself, nor as exact quotations of the words of its officials.

Their reliability must, then, be evaluated carefully and with great prudence, bearing this circumstance in mind.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology

Father Cantalamessa's 2nd Advent Homily: The Christian Response to Secularism

Little by little, suspicion, forgetfulness and silence fell on the word eternity. Materialism and consumerism did the rest in the opulent society, making it seem inconvenient to still speak of eternity among educated persons. All this had a clear repercussion on the faith of believers, which became, on this point, timid and reticent. When did we hear the last homily on eternal life? Who dares any more to mention eternal life in front of the suffering of an innocent child?

We continue to recite the Creed: “Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum et vitam venturi saeculi”: “I await the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come,” but without giving too much weight to these words. Kierkegaard was right when he wrote: “The beyond has become a joke, such an uncertain need that not only does no one respect it anymore, but no one even expects it, to the point that we are amused even at the thought that there was a time in which this idea transformed the whole of existence.”[3]

What is the practical consequence of this eclipse of the idea of eternity? St. Paul refers to those who do not believe in the resurrection from the dead: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Corinthians 15:32). The natural desire to live always, distorted, becomes a desire or frenzy to live well, namely, pleasantly, even at the expense of others, if necessary. The whole earth becomes what Dante said of Italy of his time: “the flower-bed that makes us so ferocious.” The horizon of eternity having fallen, human suffering seems doubly and irremediably absurd.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Eschatology, Europe, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Secularism, Theology

(WPR) Steve Paulson's Interview with Astropyhsicist Nidhal Guessoum on Science and Islam

Let’s skip ahead to our own time. How would you assess the state of science in the Islamic world today?

It’s abysmal by all kinds of measures: how many books and publications are written or translated in the Muslim world; how many patents come from Muslim inventors; how Muslim students are performing in the international arena. By all these measures, the Muslim world is way, way down. Surveys by the UN Development Program and the World Bank place the Muslim world somewhere below sub-Saharan Africa.

This is a huge percentage of the world’s population.

We’re talking about roughly one-fifth of the world’s population – 1.2 billion people out of six billion. These 20 percent produce slightly more than 1 percent of the intellectual production of the world. This is heartbreaking. This is crushing. But that’s the situation right now

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, History, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(CNS) Border-to-be grows tense as Southern Sudan's independence vote nears

As January’s referendum on independence for Southern Sudan approaches, tensions are running high in communities along what many expect will become a new international border with northern Sudan.

Packed buses arrive in Malakal daily with southerners coming home from the North. Church workers report the exodus is fueled by the fear of being attacked should the South vote to separate.

Similarly afraid in any possible post-referendum violence, Arab traders in the town’s market are closing their shops and heading North, causing the price of basic commodities to rise as the flow of commercial goods from Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, grinds to a halt.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Africa, Sudan