Daily Archives: February 12, 2011

(NY Times On Religion) Christians Embrace a Jewish Wedding Tradition

In a San Antonio chapel last August, after reciting their wedding vows and exchanging their rings, Sally and Mark Austin prepared to receive communion for the first time as husband and wife. Just before they did, their minister asked them to sign a document. It was a ketubah, a traditional Jewish marriage contract.

The Austins’ was not an interfaith marriage. Nor was their ceremony some sort of multicultural mashup. Both Sally and Mark are evangelical Christians, members of Oak Hills Church, a nationally known megachurch. They were using the ketubah as a way of affirming the Jewish roots of their faith.

In so doing, the Austins are part of a growing phenomenon of non-Jews incorporating the ketubah, a document with millennia-old origins and a rich artistic history, into their weddings. Mrs. Austin, in fact, first learned about the ketubah from her older sister, also an evangelical Christian, who had been married five years earlier with not only a ketubah but the Judaic wedding canopy, the huppah.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Judaism, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry

A Living Church Editorial on the Dublin Partial Primates Meeting

Given these shortcomings, it’s hard to see how the Dublin document advances even “honest conversation,” much less “our common life in Christ” (46-47). We will all have to do better.

1. With a full 15 of their membership missing in action, many for reasons of conscience, that the Dublin primates saw fit to produce any document at all on “the purpose and scope of the Primates’ Meeting” appears presumptuous and imprudent. In the current climate of broken trust, it was bound to be approached suspiciously. For what commonly accepted criteria of Christian decision-making were used, shorn of party prejudice? And if it is pointed out that the document lacks theological conviction as well as continuity with the recent past, this only creates other problems. Why publish such a thing, when the chances are small that the text, even as a non-committal working document, will be received by a future, restored Primates’ Meeting?

2. “No meeting can allow itself to be shaped wholly by the people who are not there,” said Archbishop Williams afterward, a sound general principle. Given the deep divisions within Anglicanism, however, which the several instruments of the Communion have proven increasingly unable even to address directly, much less resolve, it may have been better to call off the Dublin meeting altogether, as Canterbury reportedly contemplated at one point: refuse to press on with business as usual, in favor of an intervention or course correction. One hears an impatience in the archbishop’s statement that “two thirds of the Communion at least wish to meet and wish to continue the conversations they have begun.” Who will take responsibility for the whole by speaking publicly and candidly about the way forward and how we will get there? The archbishop himself has done so before and must do so again, as a “focus and means of unity” for the Communion (Anglican Covenant, 3.1.4)….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Global South Churches & Primates, Partial Primates Meeting in Dublin 2011, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Windsor Report / Process

(R.I. Catholic) In Rhode Island Leaders of several faiths rally in support of Marriage

Bishop [Thomas] Tobin has found strong support for his position on same-sex marriage in Episcopal Bishop Geralyn Wolf and in Imam Farid Ansari, of the Muslim America Dawah Center of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Council for Muslim Advancement.

“As Episcopal bishop of the Diocese of Rhode Island, I firmly support the traditional definition of marriage as the union between one male and one female,” Bishop Wolf said in a statement released to Rhode Island Catholic in January. “I believe that Holy Matrimony is a sacred religious rite, whose definition should not be re-interpreted by legislation or civil courts.”

According to a statement released by the Media Committee of the Rhode Island for Muslim Advancement, the Islamic community of Rhode Island “affirms the standards set forth in the Torah, Gospel and Holy Qur’an on the issue of same-sex relationships and marriage.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, TEC Bishops

Tariq Ramadan argues for a new understanding of what it means to be a “moderate” Muslim

Not only is political “moderation” an ill-­defined concept, but the confusion between religious and political spheres makes analysis even more problematic. People are quick, far too quick, to assume that because a woman or a man is religiously “liberal” with regard to Islamic practices such as wearing the hijab or drinking alcohol, for instance, she or he will hold equally “liberal” political views. In my ­experience, nothing could be further from the truth. There are innumerable cases of political personalities, intellectuals and civil society activists who are indeed Muslims with liberal views and practices but who publicly support the most hardline dictatorial regimes and/or the most violent resistance groups everywhere from Algeria to France. So moderation in religion cannot be correlated with its supposed political equivalent. In the western-generated analysis, however, there is a tendency to conflate these categories.

Relations with the “west” offer another interesting standard by which to evaluate the political and religious stances of contemporary Muslims. The violent extremist groups view their relations with the west only in terms of complete opposition and enmity, couched in religious, political, cultural and economic ­conceptual language. Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of the world’s Muslims – particularly western Muslims – recognise the achievements of western societies, while at the same time claiming the right to determine for themselves the parameters of their identity, the nature and extent of their religious practices, and their spiritual and moral convictions. Seen from this perspective, criticism and rejection of the west are linked only to a refusal to accept political, economic or cultural domination.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Wayne Rooney’s Second Half Scissor-kick Seals derby win for Manchester United

By sheer happenstance, I happen to have caught this live this morning.What an amazing goal–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

(Athens Banner-Herald) Seeing the light

At St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church, the staff recycles 30 different types of trash. They got rid of the old Coke machine, installed motion-sensor lights that run on solar power and have stacked quite the compost pile.

St. Gregory’s has gone green, and the moves aren’t just about saving the planet – they’re saving the congregation money, too.

The church partnered with Georgia Interfaith Power and Light, a nonprofit that works with churches, synagogues and all bodies of faith to make them more environmentally friendly. The group’s reach soon may grasp more Athens churches – Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Baptist and nondenominational clergy took in a GIPL presentation last week.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

London Times Leader: Revolution on the Nile

What happened in Egypt yesterday will change not only this 80 million-strong nation; it will change politics throughout the Arab world. Not all the dominoes will fall. But many governments will now scramble to avoid the same conditions that engendered revolution. So they should. Democracy is in a lamentable state in the Middle East. Rulers routinely abuse rights, flout the public will and deny their people a future. They must learn that only good government can bring happiness and stability. Egypt has been both a warning and an inspiration.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Egypt, Middle East, Politics in General

(WSJ) Gerald Seib: A Pivotal Moment for America

The fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak marks a historic shift in the Middle East, away from the power structure America has leaned on for the past three decades and toward a new one still being shaped by a demographic and technological wave that the U.S. and its allies haven’t learned to control.

America’s future standing in the region now depends heavily on whether Washington’s other friends, especially those in the Persian Gulf, are more adroit than Mr. Mubarak at getting ahead of that wave.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Egypt, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Politics in General

(NY Times) Uncharted Ground After End of Egypt’s Regime

One revolution ended Friday. Another may soon begin.

In a moment that may prove as decisive to the Middle East as the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, 18 days of protest hurtled Egypt once again to the forefront of politics in the Middle East. In the uprising’s ambition, young protesters, savvy with technology and more organized than their rulers, began to rewrite the formula that has underpinned an American-backed order: the nation in the service of a strongman.

The ecstatic moments of triumph in Tahrir Square seemed to wash away a lifetime of defeats and humiliations, invasions and occupations that, in the weeks before the revolution, had seemed to mark the bitterest time for both Egypt and the Arab world.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Egypt, Middle East, Politics in General

A Prayer to Begin the Day

God Almighty bless us with his Holy Spirit this day; guard us in our going out and coming in; keep us ever steadfast in his faith, free from sin and safe from danger; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

On the holy mount stands the city he founded; the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God.

–Psalm 87:1-3

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

What a Day–Egypt's Mubarak resigns as leader

Hosni Mubarak has stepped down as president of Egypt, after weeks of protest in Cairo and other cities

The news was greeted with a huge outburst of joy and celebration by thousands in Cairo’s Tahrir Square – the heart of the demonstrations.

Mr Mubarak ruled for 30 years, suppressing dissent and protest, and jailing opponents….

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

Diocese of New Westminster Opposes Appeal to Canadian Supreme Court

The Diocese of New Westminster today asked the Supreme Court of Canada to bring an end to a lawsuit brought by the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC) that has dragged on since September of 2008.

In a Brief filed with the Court today, it is asking that the court decline to hear the Appeal initiated by ANiC so the Anglican Church in the Vancouver area can stop spending money on lawyers and devote more resources to ministry for its people and those in need.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry

(Christianity Today) Stanton L. Jones–How to Teach Sex

For a community that prides itself on being “biblical,” it is shocking how out of focus our views of sexuality can be. A biblical view of sexuality is a profoundly positive, profoundly appealing, and profoundly life-affirming foundation from which to address the abortion problem. Evangelicals are fundamentally not anti-abortion””at the most basic level, we are defined by what we are for rather than what we are against. We are fundamentally life-affirming and sexuality-affirming because we celebrate the truths that are ours in Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, we start the formation of our young people’s understandings of sexuality tardily, anemically, ambiguously, and ineffectively. We are stuck in avoidant, negative, sub-biblical paradigms for thinking about sexuality. Our pastors avoid the topic except for the safest messages, which too often are shame-oriented, “just say no” litanies. We engage easily in negative culture-war rhetoric. Sadly, too many evangelical leaders fail to live up to the standards they proclaim and become very public examples of hypocrisy. Competing views about sexuality take advantage of these failures and seduce our youth.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Adult Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology

Goddess Worshipers and Tax Authorities Clash in an Upstate New York Town

During Palenville Pagan Pride Day in August, the agenda reflected the goddess-centered theology of the Divine Feminine, which members say has its roots 12,000 years ago in the Goddess Cybele in Central Anatolia, in Turkey.

So after the opening ritual at 9 a.m. and sandwiched around “Lunchtime with the Priestesses,” the schedule at the old Central House inn included “The Goddess in Antiquity,” “Pagans in the Mundane World” and sessions on sacred drumming patterns, dragon rituals and the Cybeline Revival.

Still, it was the least celestial item that perhaps mattered most. That would be “Discussion of Maetreum of Cybele v. Town of Catskill, N.Y.,” a legal case dating to 2007 after the town first approved and then denied tax-exempt status for the group, which has been certified by the federal government as a tax-exempt religious charity. The goddess may rule the universe, but the lawyers will help decide whether the pagans of Palenville have a future in this historic old town just down the snowy hills from Hunter Mountain.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, City Government, Economy, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Taxes