Daily Archives: December 21, 2010

Christmas tree becomes new Korean flashpoint

A Christmas tree is threatening to become the latest flashpoint between the two Koreas just a day after both sides stepped back from the brink of war.

South Korean marines have been deployed to protect a large Christmas tree on top of a military-controlled hill along the tense land border with the North.

A South Korean church is planning to switch on Christmas lights on the tree later today, the first such display in six years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, North Korea, Religion & Culture, South Korea

A parish profile of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Larchmont, New York

St. John’s Episcopal Church, at 4 Fountain Square in The Manor, is the oldest church in Larchmont. It was founded in 1891, the same year the Village of Larchmont was incorporated, and began as a little clubhouse on Horseshoe Harbor.

If you want to talk about its modern history, many people will direct you to Elaine Viebranz.

Viebranz, 84, has been a St. John’s member since 1953, when she and late husband, Al, moved to Larchmont. She was very active in the church, and Al wrote one of the two church histories.

Read it all and there are photos if you are interested.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Parishes

New Zealand Community backs church restoration

With a parish base of about 45 families, St Paul’s holds a Holy Communion service at 10am on Sundays, a midweek Holy Communion service at 10am on Wednesdays, and small “intimate” services at 8am and 7pm on Sundays.

“One of the things we did not anticipate is the number of people who come to St Paul’s in times of transition,” Mr Nicolson says.

“Sometimes they are new migrants, or people in times of emotional or personal crisis.

“The ministry of this place is significant to people in transition, and we have a range of cultures that worship.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(ABP) Report details hopeless conditions in Gaza

Residents of Gaza see no hope for a brighter future — and that’s one of the most distressing aspects of the situation in the Middle East, according to an international Christian aid-and-development group’s advocacy officer for the region.

Hanan Elmasu of the United Kingdom-based organization Christian Aid worked on a new briefing detailing the impact of Israel’s measures to ease the blockade of Gaza after six months.

Elmasu, a regular visitor to Gaza, told the British Baptist newspaper The Baptist Times, “Life for Gaza civilians is very traumatic. There is very little economic activity, high unemployment and much of the population are dependent on handouts.”

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Israel, Middle East

Mental Health Needs Seen Growing at Colleges

Rushing a student to a psychiatric emergency room is never routine, but when Stony Brook University logged three trips in three days, it did not surprise Jenny Hwang, the director of counseling.

It was deep into the fall semester, a time of mounting stress with finals looming and the holiday break not far off, an anxiety all its own.

On a Thursday afternoon, a freshman who had been scraping bottom academically posted thoughts about suicide on Facebook. If I were gone, he wrote, would anybody notice? An alarmed student told staff members in the dorm, who called Dr. Hwang after hours, who contacted the campus police. Officers escorted the student to the county psychiatric hospital.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Psychology, Stress, Suicide, Young Adults

Rick Ezell: Five Significant Facts about Church and First”“Time Guests

Healthy and growing churches pay close attention not only to their members but also to those who are not yet a part of the flock. New people are the lifeblood of a growing church. We want to ensure that nothing impairs or cuts off the flow of new people to the church.

[Parish clergy]… need to be aware of five significant facts about first-time guests looking for a church home….

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care

U.S. Military Seeks to Expand Raids in Pakistan

Senior American military commanders in Afghanistan are pushing for an expanded campaign of Special Operations ground raids across the border into Pakistan’s tribal areas, a risky strategy reflecting the growing frustration with Pakistan’s efforts to root out militants there.

The proposal, described by American officials in Washington and Afghanistan, would escalate military activities inside Pakistan, where the movement of American forces has been largely prohibited because of fears of provoking a backlash.

The plan has not yet been approved, but military and political leaders say a renewed sense of urgency has taken hold, as the deadline approaches for the Obama administration to begin withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan. Even with the risks, military commanders say that using American Special Operations troops could bring an intelligence windfall, if militants were captured, brought back across the border into Afghanistan and interrogated.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Pakistan

Ross Douthat–Christmas is A Tough Season for Believers

Christmas is hard for everyone. But it’s particularly hard for people who actually believe in it.

In a sense, of course, there’s no better time to be a Christian than the first 25 days of December. But this is also the season when American Christians can feel most embattled. Their piety is overshadowed by materialist ticky-tack. Their great feast is compromised by Christmukkwanzaa multiculturalism. And the once-a-year churchgoers crowding the pews beside them are a reminder of how many Americans regard religion as just another form of midwinter entertainment, wedged in between “The Nutcracker” and “Miracle on 34th Street.”

These anxieties can be overdrawn, and they’re frequently turned to cynical purposes. (Think of the annual “war on Christmas” drumbeat, or last week’s complaints from Republican senators about the supposed “sacrilege” of keeping Congress in session through the holiday.) But they also reflect the peculiar and complicated status of Christian faith in American life. Depending on the angle you take, Christianity is either dominant or under siege, ubiquitous or marginal, the strongest religion in the country or a waning and increasingly archaic faith.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, History, Religion & Culture

(MomHouston Blog) The craziest parenting freak outs of 2010

Lenore Skenazy, who wrote Free-Range Kids, just put out her 2010 “Golden Helicopter Parenting Awards” list. Skenazy, if you’re not familiar with her work, Skenazy advocates for parents to stop being so scared all the time and let kids play the way they’ve always done….

[This is]…[one of] my favorites…

Next Week The Today Show Explains Why You Should Never Cross in Front of a Black Cat: The Today Show warned viewers that no one under 13 should trick or treat without an adult, because, “people put on masks and…do bad things.” Meanwhile, an actual study of sex crime statistics found, “zero evidence to support the idea that Halloween is a dangerous date for children in terms of child molestation.” Somehow, that didn’t get mentioned on the show….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Marriage & Family

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Thomas

Almighty and everliving God, who didst strengthen thine apostle Thomas with sure and certain faith in thy Son’s resurrection: Grant us so perfectly and without doubt to believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, that our faith may never be found wanting in thy sight; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Eternal God, who rulest the world from everlasting to everlasting: Speak to our hearts when men faint for fear, and the love of many grows cold, and there is distress of nations upon earth. Keep us resolute and steadfast in the things that cannot be shaken; and make us to lift up our eyes and behold, beyond the things that are seen and temporal, the things that are unseen and eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

And Zechari’ah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechari’ah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth; for he will be great before the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Eli’jah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

–Luke 1:12-17

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Reader in Writing Enjoys Her First Time on a Sledge

What a nice picture.

Posted in * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Weather

Steve Reinemund, CEO of Pepsi Co., Gives His Views on a Life in Business

Last summer, Steve Reinemund, got a surprise phone call from the CEO of Coca Cola thanking him for an enormous favor. But Reinemund, at the time the CEO of Pepsi Co., had no idea what that favor had been.

It turns out an unsuspecting Pepsi Co. administrative assistant received a package in the mail containing confidential Coca Cola documents. In keeping with Pepsi’s commitment to high ethical standards, the employee notified the appropriate company manger and the entire contents were immediately returned to Coke’s headquarters in Atlanta. Only two Pepsi employees were directly involved, and they both knew what they had to do right away. No executives at Pepsi so much as glanced at the secrets contained within that envelope.

Steve Reinemund recounted this story to a rapt group of 250 in February as an example of the type of integrity he believes is ”“”within the very DNA”of Pepsi’s corporate character.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

An Article from Der Spiegel on the Approaching Referendum in Sudan

Voters in Southern Sudan will soon decide whether to secede from Sudan. Many anticipate that the referendum could result in renewed violence between the north and the south. Southern Sudan’s regional representative in Cairo, Ruben Marial Benjamin, spoke with SPIEGEL about the approaching ballot.

SPIEGEL: On Jan. 9, 2011, Southern Sudan will vote on secession from the republic of Sudan. Are you certain that the majority will vote for secession?

Benjamin: Yes, we are already flying the flag of an independent state on our government buildings. The government in Khartoum doesn’t have anything against it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Politics in General, Sudan, Violence

Church of Ireland Gazette Editorial–Faith Challenged

There is no doubt that we are living in a time of immense challenge to faith. Atheism is on a campaign, and not only with Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins taking a lead. In the US, the Freedom from Religion Foundation – established in 1976 by Anne Nicol Gaylor and her daughter, Annie Laurie Gaylor – has grown in numbers from 5,500 in 2004 to about 16,000 today. It boldly claims that the history of Western civilization “shows us that most social and moral progress has been brought about by persons free from religion”. So much for the Church. Of course, the history of the twentieth century alone witnesses to the absolute disaster of Godless totalitarianism.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Ireland, Religion & Culture

(Ministry Matters) Heather McCance–The church and social media

Social media…, Web 2.0, is far more interactive. A blogger says something in her post; I respond with a comment, someone else chimes in. I post a link to a website on my Facebook page; someone comments on it, and the conversation continues. Someone makes a video about how a church might be more welcoming; someone else makes another, and posts it as a video response on the original video’s YouTube page, and the comments weigh the pros and cons of each approach.

If the question facing us is only, “How does social media form a part of the marketing strategy of the church?” then the suspicion and concern with which it is clearly viewed by some is understandable. (Mostly this criticism is from those who are not themselves participants in that world, and it is unclear to me whether the lack of participation bred the suspicion or vice versa.) Social media is free flowing, radically democratic, unpredictable, impossible to control. In this sense, it is far more like the children’s talk than the sermon, more a conversation than a professorial lecture. More the realm of the Holy Spirit, one might say, than the purview of the levitical priesthood.

The social norms in our culture are known to most of the members of that culture. We don’t, for the most part, say hurtful or abusive things to one another. We respect one another’s points of view, even when we disagree. These norms, for the most part, also exist in the online world. Perhaps without the element of face-to-face connection, it is easier for some to breach those norms, but we all know of people who simply seem unable to cope with externally imposed norms regardless of context.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Blogging & the Internet, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture