Daily Archives: February 14, 2011

(CNS) After protests, priests fear Egyptian youths will turn away from church

Two priests with strong ties to Egypt said they feared young Egyptian Catholics will turn away from the church because it did not back the protests that led to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.

“If we lose the youth in the church, then we are done,” said Father Makarios Isaac, an Egyptian-born priest of the Archdiocese of Toronto and an associate of Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers who is currently based in Kenya.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Egypt, Middle East, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Time Magazine Cover Story–2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal

Computers are getting faster. Everybody knows that. Also, computers are getting faster faster ”” that is, the rate at which they’re getting faster is increasing.

True? True.

So if computers are getting so much faster, so incredibly fast, there might conceivably come a moment when they are capable of something comparable to human intelligence. Artificial intelligence. All that horsepower could be put in the service of emulating whatever it is our brains are doing when they create consciousness ”” not just doing arithmetic very quickly or composing piano music but also driving cars, writing books, making ethical decisions, appreciating fancy paintings, making witty observations at cocktail parties.

If you can swallow that idea, and [Raymond] Kurzweil and a lot of other very smart people can, then all bets are off. From that point on, there’s no reason to think computers would stop getting more powerful. They would keep on developing until they were far more intelligent than we are. Their rate of development would also continue to increase, because they would take over their own development from their slower-thinking human creators. Imagine a computer scientist that was itself a super-intelligent computer. It would work incredibly quickly. It could draw on huge amounts of data effortlessly. It wouldn’t even take breaks to play Farmville.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, History, Science & Technology, Theology

(Indianapolis Star) one Indiana Church promotes God as an expert on sex

Posters, banners and even drink coasters are popping up around Brownsburg showing a picture of a man with eyes and mouth wide open and asking: “What happens when God gets between the sheets?”

New Day Church is finding sex helps sell its message of faith. The edgy marketing campaign promotes a sermon series starting today focusing on the link between sex and religion.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(Zenit) Statement of Massachusetts Roman Catholic Bishops on Solidarity During Economic Crisis

We see then that the consequences of the recession have destabilized the provision of essential services, especially for the poor. We realize the unyielding pressures facing public officials. Thus we recognize the responsibility we have as Church to stretch our resources to the limit as we collaborate with others on behalf of the most vulnerable in our midst. Pope Benedict XVI, addressing the whole Church in his letter God is Love (2005), stressed that the work of charity is an imperative, not an optional choice for us. In words that carry unique gravity for us as Bishops, the Pope affirmed: “Love of neighbor, grounded in the love of God, is first and foremost a responsibility for each individual member of the faithful, but it is also a responsibility for the entire ecclesial community at every level: from the local community to the particular Church and to the Church universal in its entirety. As a community, the Church must practice love.” We take seriously this call to love, and it is for this reason we are offering this statement of solidarity.

In light of the extraordinary challenges our state faces and in view of our religious and moral responsibilities, we use this occasion to make a pledge and to issue a plea. Our pledge is that we will do all we can as Bishops to enable our institutions-parishes, Catholic Charities, health care facilities and schools- to continue to do their best in extending help to our neighbors in need. The persons we must serve include not only those defined statistically as poor, but also those recently unemployed who once enjoyed stability, and who constitute the newly fragile as a result of the recession’s impact.

Our plea is that in the decisions facing our elected officials, and in the discussions and actions of all citizens, there be preserved, for the sake of human dignity, a special place and regard for the vulnerable — those forced to choose between heat and food, and between shelter and clothing — those for whom the destination of every dollar is now so consequential.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

The Economist Leader on 3D Printing Technology–Print me a Stradivarius

The industrial revolution of the late 18th century made possible the mass production of goods, thereby creating economies of scale which changed the economy””and society””in ways that nobody could have imagined at the time. Now a new manufacturing technology has emerged which does the opposite. Three-dimensional printing makes it as cheap to create single items as it is to produce thousands and thus undermines economies of scale. It may have as profound an impact on the world as the coming of the factory did.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Globalization, Science & Technology

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly: Religion in a Changing Egypt

{BOB] ABERNETHY: There was a poll that came out this week taken by phone in Cairo and Alexandria asking questions about these things, and a very low percentage, 15 percent, said they approved of the Muslim Brotherhood. Has there been a change since years ago in that as a new generation has come up?

[GENEIVE] ABDO: Well, I think that the statistic that people that have used is 20 percent generally””that if there were free elections today, 20 percent of Egyptians would vote for Brotherhood candidates, but I think that could be sort of an underestimation.

ABERNETHY: But so what would that mean in a government if the Muslim Brotherhood or any strongly Islamist group had influence?

ABDO: Well, there are a lot of parties in Egypt. There are a lot of political parties, as we all know. Some of them are secular, some are nationalist. The Brotherhood is only one of them. However, the Brotherhood is very well organized, and they’ve been around for a long time. They’re a social, also, organization. They run hospitals. They do a lot of sort of social work in Egypt. So they are very, very influential.

Read or watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Coptic Church, Egypt, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Frederick Buechner–Anger is really you wolfing down yourself

Of the 7 deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back–in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.

–Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking (SanFrancisco: Harper, 1993), p.117; quoted by yours truly in the sermon yesterday.

Posted in Pastoral Theology, Theology

(SMH) David Marr–Faiths rule on sex from staffroom to bedroom

The churches of Australia guard with absolute determination the right to hire and fire according to the ancient sex rules of their faiths. Orthodox Jews and Muslims claim and exercise the same right, too. But across the faiths and denominations, religious leaders are far happier talking the talk of religious liberty than detailing the human cost.

Are de factos on the list? “Yes.” Single mothers? The bishop pauses. “General carte blanche, no. You need to know why.” The key is repentance: an unmarried mother is employable if she repents of the “behaviour” that occasioned conception. Indeed, everyone on this list of shame can save themselves ”“ and their jobs ”“ by being seen to wrestle with their sins.

[Robert] Forsyth, who speaks on this issue for the Anglican Church in Australia, says it isn’t a matter of proving harm or showing someone can’t do the job. The damage to church organisations is inevitable: “In the long run, someone behaving in a way that is consistently immoral working for an organisation is going to depower and chill the fervour and the life of the organisation.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Theology

Thomas Friedman—The people of Egypt did it by themselves

In the end, Barack Obama made a hugely important but unintended contribution to the democracy revolution in Egypt. Because the White House never found the voice to fully endorse the Tahrir Square revolution until it was over, the people now know one very powerful thing: they did this all by themselves. That is so important. One of the most powerful chants I heard in the square on Friday night was: ”The people made the regime step down.”

This sense of self-empowerment and authenticity – we did this for ourselves, by ourselves – is what makes Egypt’s democracy movement such a potential game-changer for the region. And in case other autocrats have not picked up on that, let me share my second favourite chant from Cairo’s streets after Hosni Mubarak resigned. It was directed at the dictator next door in Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, and it went like this: ”We’re not leaving Tahrir until Gaddafi leaves office.” Hello, Tripoli! Cairo calling.

This could get interesting – for all the region’s autocrats….

Read it all.

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Cyril & Methodius

Almighty and everlasting God, who by the power of the Holy Spirit didst move thy servant Cyril and his brother Methodius to bring the light of the Gospel to a hostile and divided people: Overcome, we pray thee, by the love of Christ, all bitterness and contention among us, and make us one united family under the banner of the Prince of Peace; 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

Almighty Father, in whom is no darkness at all: Shine upon our path, we pray thee, that we may walk in thy light. Lift from our hearts all anxiety and fear, and teach us to trust thee both for that which we see and for that which is hidden from us. So evermore lead us in thy way and keep us in thy peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

I thank him who has given me strength for this, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful by appointing me to his service, though I formerly blasphemed and persecuted and insulted him; but I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the foremost of sinners; but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience for an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life

–1 Timothy 1:12-16

Posted in Uncategorized

Jay McInerney reviews Kenneth Slawenski's "J. D. Salinger: A Life"

For this reader, the great achievement of Slawenski’s biography is its evocation of the horror of Salinger’s wartime experience. Despite Salinger’s reticence, Sla­wenski admirably retraces his movements and recreates the savage battles, the grueling marches and frozen bivouacs of Salinger’s war. It’s hard to think of an American writer who had more combat experience. He landed on Utah Beach on D-Day. Slawenski reports that of the 3,080 members of Salinger’s regiment who landed with him on June 6, 1944, only 1,130 survived three weeks later. Then, when the 12th Infantry Regiment tried to take the swampy, labyrinthine Hürtgen Forest, in what proved to be a huge military blunder, the statistics were even more horrific. After reinforcement, “of the original 3,080 regimental soldiers who went into Hürtgen, only 563 were left.” Salinger escaped the deadly quagmire of Hürtgen just in time to fight in the Battle of the Bulge, and shortly thereafter, in 1945, participated in the liberation of Dachau. “You could live a lifetime,” he later told his daughter, “and never really get the smell of burning flesh out of your nose.”

That July he checked himself into a hospital for treatment of what we would now recognize as post-traumatic stress disorder. In a letter to Hemingway, whom he’d met at the Ritz bar shortly after the liberation of Paris, he wrote that he’d been “in an almost constant state of despondency.” He would later allude to that experience in “For Esmé ”” With Love and Squalor.” Readers are left to imagine the horrors between the time that Sergeant X, stationed in Devon, England, meets Esmé and her brother, Charles, two war orphans, and the time that Esmé’s letter reaches him in Bavaria a year later, after he has suffered a nervous breakdown.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, History

(Northern Echo) It's up to you – Anglican priest tells C of E congregation planning to defect

A priest who heads a branch of the Catholic church has told members of an Anglo-Catholic congregation they face an individual choice whether to defect.

Father Keith Newton, a former Anglican bishop who was ordained as a Catholic priest last month to head the Ordinariate, today addressed worshippers from St James the Great, Darlington, about plans to convert.

Its priest Father Ian Grieves has already publicly declared plans to leave the Anglo-Catholic church to join the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

He expected “most” of the congregation would support the plans. However, the future of the church and its buildings remains unsure.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Church Times–Peru Anglicans set up own ordinariate for RC priests

An “Ordinariate of Postulants” has been set up by the diocese of Peru in the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone to host a growing number of Roman Catholic priests who are keen to join the Anglican Church.

In contrast to the situa­tion in England, where three former bishops recently joined the Ordinariate for former Anglicans established by Rome, clerics are making the reverse journey in South America.
The Bishop of Peru, the Rt Revd William God­frey, said that, so far, about ten RC priests had joined the new group to explore the possibility of switching denominations. Some may bring con­gregations with them.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone], Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Peru, Roman Catholic, South America

(Christianity Today) Egypt's Christians After Mubarak

Many Christian leaders believe that the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic political group banned in Egypt, will grow in political power with Mubarak’s ouster. The brotherhood maintains strong support among some Egyptians. Religious-freedom analysts believe the leaders of the brotherhood, famous for the slogan “Islam is the solution,” could very well usher in repression of all minority religious groups. Christians are Egypt’s largest minority, representing 6 to 10 percent of Egypt’s 85 million people. About 90 percent of all Christians in Egypt are Orthodox.

But while most Egyptian Muslims are Sunni, like the brotherhood, they are not as fundamentalist as it is. One Coptic Orthodox businessman based in Cairo told CT that he was surprised that Christians’ property was not targeted during the growing protests. “I thought that the first thing to be attacked [by protestors] would be the churches,” he said.

“It wasn’t like that. In the neighborhood of my parents, there are many mosques and churches. No single mosque has announced anything against us Christians. Very soon, a big change will happen. Egypt has been like someone sleeping. Now, wake up! Do something better.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Coptic Church, Egypt, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

(BBC) Colchester vicar happy to remain with Church of England

In January it was revealed up to 300 Essex Anglicans and seven vicars could join the Ordinariate set up by Pope Benedict XVI for disaffected clergy.

Father Richard Tillbrook of St Barnabus Church in Colchester said he had thought long and hard about the offer.

“I have made my decision to stay because I love the Church of England,” he said.

“I pray the new synod may well understand more fully the need to have provision within the Church of England for our sacramental surety and what it’s all about.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

(Boston Pilot) Bishop Arthur Kennedy appointed to Anglican dialogue commission

Bishop Arthur Kennedy has been appointed by the Vatican to participate in an ecumenical dialogue with the Anglican Communion this spring.

Bishop Kennedy, who is the rector of St. John’s Seminary, has been named by Pope Benedict XVI to participate in the next phase of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), the Catholic Church’s official dialogue with the Anglican Communion.

He has previously served as the executive director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

For Some Troops, Powerful Drug Cocktails Have Deadly Results

Airman [Anthony] Mena died instead in his Albuquerque apartment, on July 21, 2009, five months after leaving the Air Force on a medical discharge. A toxicologist found eight prescription medications in his blood, including three antidepressants, a sedative, a sleeping pill and two potent painkillers.

Yet his death was no suicide, the medical examiner concluded. What killed Airman Mena was not an overdose of any one drug, but the interaction of many. He was 23.

After a decade of treating thousands of wounded troops, the military’s medical system is awash in prescription drugs ”” and the results have sometimes been deadly.

By some estimates, well over 300,000 troops have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan with P.T.S.D., depression, traumatic brain injury or some combination of those. The Pentagon has looked to pharmacology to treat those complex problems, following the lead of civilian medicine. As a result, psychiatric drugs have been used more widely across the military than in any previous war.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Iraq War, Military / Armed Forces, Psychology, War in Afghanistan