Daily Archives: March 25, 2011

(RNS) Poll: Most Americans Don’t blame God for Natural Disasters

We may never know why bad things happen to good people, but most Americans””except evangelicals””reject the idea that natural disasters are divine punishment, a test of faith or some other sign from God.

The poll released Thursday (March 24), by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service, was conducted a week after a March 11 earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan.

Nearly six in 10 evangelicals believe God can use natural disasters to send messages””nearly twice the number of Catholics (31 percent) or mainline Protestants (34 percent). Evangelicals (53 percent) are also more than twice as likely as the one in five Catholics or mainline Protestants to believe God punishes nations for the sins of some citizens.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Religion & Culture

Stephen Prothero: Thomas Jefferson's Cut-and-Paste Bible

Americans have long been a people of the book. John Winthrop quoted from the Bible in his “city on the hill” sermon in 1630, and American political leaders have been quoting from it ever since.

But we craft new Bibles too, from the Book of Mormon of the Latter-day Saints to the Christian Scientists’ “Science and Health with a Key to the Scriptures” and Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s “Woman’s Bible.” Jefferson was out in front of all of these efforts. Here, too, he was a declarer of independence.

When the Jefferson Bible goes on display in November, Americans will have another opportunity to debate not only their third president’s faith (or lack thereof) but also the religious character of the nation and the true meaning of Christianity. This seems as good a time as any to ponder whether the “sum of all religion” is, as Jefferson once put it, “fear God and love thy neighbor.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, History, Office of the President, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

In a Southern California Suburb, Layoffs for Nearly Half the Staff

To solve a looming pension crisis and budget gap, city officials here said, they needed to take drastic action. And everyone agrees on one thing: they did.

Nearly half of this city’s workers were told late last week that, come September, they would probably be out of a job. Nearly every city department will be eliminated. More than a dozen tasks will be outsourced, including graffiti removal, firefighting, building maintenance and street cleaning.

Unlike the drama that played out over the last two months in Madison, Wis., the battle over public workers in this bustling suburb and upscale shopping mecca in the heart of Orange County is happening at lightning speed.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, City Government, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(CEN) Southern African bishops chided for their indecision on same sex blessings

Evangelical leaders in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa have called upon the church’s Synod of Bishops to clarify their ambiguous statements on human sexuality.

On March 17, the Fellowship of Confession Anglicans (FCA) in South Africa published an open letter on the internet, making a “plea for clarity on the position and teaching of our faith” in light of bishops’ February pastoral letter.

At the close of their Feb 7-12 meeting in Natal, the Southern African bishops deferred taking action on adopting guidelines for the blessing of same-sex unions, citing legal difficulties and theological divisions within their ranks.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(Church Times) Opinion on Libya ranges from anxious to angry

The Bishop of Exeter, the Rt Revd Michael Langrish, has warned that interfaith relations may be harmed by the “unfolding events” in Libya.

Speaking in the House of Lords on Monday, the Bishop asked whether the Leader of the Lords, Lord Strath­clyde, shared his “concern that in an increasingly volatile region there are already those who for their own ends are using somewhat inflammatory language and trying to construct a reli­gious narrative around these un­folding events.

“In this account, a vulnerable Is­lamic population is being subjected to an opportunistic attack by a power­ful Christian West. Not only does such a narrative have the power to destab­il­ise the wider Middle East region, but it could impact very negatively on community relations in this country.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Libya, Religion & Culture

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: The Mystery of the missing Muslims in the movies

Nobody should object to the making of films on the ongoing traumas of the 21st century ”“ and some docudramas have been nuanced and even poetic. The Hamburg Cell stands out. Written by Ronan Bennett and directed by Antonia Bird, it is an exploratory journey into the heads of three of the 9/11 bombers. Impressive too was Peter Kosminsky’s Britz (Channel 4), about two highly educated British Muslim siblings, a brother and sister, and how anti-terrorist legislation devastates them. The problem is, there is almost nothing else. When the IRA were terrorising the UK, Irish characters and storylines weren’t restricted to that one political conflict to the exclusion of all else.

Where is the soulful, female Muslim singer, the wily, kebab millionaire, the two-timing Pakistani cricketer, the Arab heartthrob? They do all exist, but these roles are not written into scripts. The industry does not admit or nurture Muslim talent either ”“ writers, actors, directors, producers, editors ”“ and cannot see them as worthy professionals.

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

Archbishop Rowan Williams– "Big Society – Small World?"

If we live in a milieu where a great many signals discourage empathy and self-scrutiny, and thus emotional awareness, we shall develop habits of self-absorption, the urge for dominance, and short-term perspective. Our motivation to change anything other than what we feel to be our immediate circumstances will be weak, because our sense of ourselves as continuous, reflective agents will be weak. And the clear implication of all this is that without an education of the emotions ”“ which means among other things the nurture of empathy ”“ public or political life becomes simply a matter of managing the competition of egos with limited capacity to question themselves.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Christianity Today) Missionaries may be encouraging witchcraft accusations

A recent rise in the number of people accused of witchcraft””particularly African children””isn’t just an issue for missionaries to address, say scholars. It’s also a problem they may be contributing to.

An entire track of the annual missiology conference at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School this February was devoted to witchcraft, a topic usually neglected by the field.

“We had thought this was a phenomenon that would die out,” said Robert Priest, professor of missions and intercultural studies at Trinity. “Instead we are finding that the conditions of modernity””urbanization and social differentiation under capitalism””are contributing to accusations getting stronger and stronger.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Missions, Other Faiths

(WSJ) Portugal's Woes Turn Spotlight on Spain

Portugal’s admission that it will probably need a financial bailout raises a question that will shape the outcome of the euro zone’s debt crisis: Is Spain next?

The cost of saving Spain, a €1.1 trillion ($1.56 trillion) economy, would dwarf previous bailouts and could test the financial strength of Europe as a whole.

But if Spain can continue to repair investors’ trust, as in recent weeks, then Europe stands a chance of containing the debt crisis to three countries, Greece, Ireland and Portugal, whose combined economies are half the size of Spain’s.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Currency Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Portugal, Spain, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(ACNS) 90 evangelism resources now available to Anglicans online

Anglican Communion members worldwide with access to the Internet can now take advantage of 90 evangelism resources on the Communion’s website here.

The resources were pooled after the Kuala Lumpur meeting of the Communion’s Evangelism and Church Growth Initiative’s core organising body. That the resources were selected by practitioners working in very different contexts in different countries means core group members are certain that visitors to the website will find some resources appropriate for their context.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

A Prayer for the Feast of the Annunciation

We beseech thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts; that we who have known the incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought unto the glory of his resurrection; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Teach us, O God, to walk trustfully today in thy presence, that thy voice may encourage us, thine arm defend us, and thy love surround us; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–New Every Morning

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look and take note! Search her squares to see if you can find a man, one who does justice and seeks truth; that I may pardon her. Though they say, “As the LORD lives,” yet they swear falsely.

–Jeremiah 5:1-2

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(British Religion in Numbers) Church Attendance in England, 1980-2005

Read it all and enjoy the charts.

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

(Christian Today) Anglican Church makes united stand against sexual violence

The Silent No More coalition consists of the Anglican Communion, Lambeth Palace, Tearfund, Christian Aid and Restored.

Its formation coincides with the launch of the Silent No More report documenting the role of the church in response to sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Liberia.

The report was launched today at Lambeth Palace, the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, as the coalition’s first step towards addressing the silence, pain and stigma faced by survivors of sexual violence.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Violence

Ed West–The BBC puts out two spurious reports about religion dying out, just before the Census

Now that’s funny. Just as we’re all about to fill in a Census, the most controversial issue of which is the question of religion, the BBC carries two highly spurious stories about the decline of faith…

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, England / UK, Europe, Media, Religion & Culture

All Pakistan Minorities Alliance Leadership disappointed over the probe of Shahbaz Bhatti’s murder

Dr. Paul Bhatti, elder brother of Shahbaz Bhatti, the slain federal minister for minority affairs in Pakistan, has expressed his “grave concern” over the probe into the murder of his brother.

Dr. Bhatti, the newly elected Chairman for the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA), said, “Three weeks have been passed, but nothing has been shared with the nation and mourning minorities in Pakistan. No replacement has been announced yet in the National Assembly after the martyrdom of Mr. Bhatti.”

Dr. Bhatti has demanded that government of Pakistan establish a “judicial commission” to probe his brother’s murder which took place at the start of this month.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Pakistan, Religion & Culture, Violence