Daily Archives: April 7, 2011

Libyan Rebels Don’t Really Add Up to an Army

Late Monday afternoon, as Libyan rebels prepared another desperate attack on the eastern oil town of Brega, a young rebel raised his rocket-propelled grenade as if to fire. The town’s university, shimmering in the distance, was far beyond his weapon’s maximum range. An older rebel urged him to hold fire, telling him the weapon’s back-blast could do little more than reveal their position and draw a mortar attack.

The younger rebel almost spat with disgust. “I have been fighting for 37 days!” he shouted. “Nobody can tell me what to do!”

The outburst midfight ”” and the ensuing argument between a determined young man who seemed to have almost no understanding of modern war and an older man who wisely counseled caution ”” underscored a fact that is self-evident almost everywhere on Libya’s eastern front. The rebel military, as it sometimes called, is not really a military at all.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Libya, Middle East

British Astrophysicist Wins Templeton Prize

A British theoretical astrophysicist who has achieved renown for his study of the cosmos and for sounding warnings about the future of humanity has won the $1.6 million 2011 Templeton Prize.

Martin J. Rees of Cambridge University, a former president of Britain’s prestigious Royal Society, was announced the winner on Wednesday (April 6) by the John Templeton Foundation.

The annual prize honors an individual who has made “exceptional contributions to affirming life’s spiritual dimension.” Rees is a somewhat unorthodox choice because he holds no formal religious beliefs.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

A Caution to Those in Parish Ministry? Sunday's Coming – Movie Trailer

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

(USA Today) Backlog buries veterans' claims

The number of veterans’ disability claims taking more than four months to complete has doubled, prompting criticism from veterans and Congress that the Department of Veterans Affairs failed to prepare for a rise in cases it knew was coming.

“Without question, I believe that the VA disability claims system is broken,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., chairwoman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, said Wednesday.

The number of claims that take more than 125 days to decide has gone from 200,000 a year ago to 450,000 today, according to administration budget documents. As a result, veterans must wait even longer to receive payments for disabilities.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Military / Armed Forces, Personal Finance

Mark Almlie–Are We Afraid of Single Pastors?

I’m ordained, 37, single (never married), with experience pastoring in large churches. Given my credentials, I had zero anxiety initially. Then I started reading “job requirement” phrases like these in pastoral job applications:

-“We are looking for a married man”
-“Preferably married”
-“Is married (preferably with children)”

These churches explicitly were not looking to hire someone single–like Jesus or Paul. I then was surprised to discover that even though the majority of adult Americans are single (52 percent), that only 2 percent of senior pastors in my denomination are single! Something was clearly amiss.

Read it all and note part two is there.

Follow up: the New York Times ran a piece on this there.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(NPR) At 40, 'Take Me Home, Country Roads' Still Belongs

[John] Denver asked to hear what [Bill] Danoff and [Taffy] Nivert had been working on. Nivert urged Danoff to play the “Country Roads” song, which he’d been working on for several months, but he hesitated.

“I said, ‘He won’t like that. It’s not his thing, you know, because it’s for Johnny Cash,’ ” Danoff said in an interview.

At the time, Danoff and Nivert were only local performers. But they aimed to make it big by writing a hit song for bigger artists.

“So I played him what I had of ‘Country Roads,’ and he said, ‘Wow! That’s great, that’s a hit song! Did you record it?’ I said, ‘No, we don’t have a record deal,’ ” Danoff said.

Read or listen to it all.

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

An ABC Nightline Piece on Alleged Sexism at Yale University

Painful but important viewing, watch it all and be warned some of the language is disturbing and offensive–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Sexuality, Women, Young Adults

(Post-Gazette Editorial) Congo's plight: The vast African nation is still crippled by crisis

The recent visit to Pittsburgh of the Anglican archbishop of the Congo, Msgr. Henri Isingoma, calls attention to a problem that is largely being ignored, the country’s plight in the face of years of war and bad government.

Its population is estimated at 70 million and the nation is huge, about the size of the United States east of the Mississippi. It is rich, with copper, cobalt, coltan, gold, diamonds, oil, timber and hydroelectric power capacity as well as endless agricultural lands. It has an active press, with numerous dailies, weeklies and journals.

But the Democratic Republic of the Congo has known endless war from 1996 to the present….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Church in Congo/Province de L'Eglise Anglicane Du Congo, Anglican Provinces, Poverty, Republic of Congo, Violence

(Zenit) The Making of a Modern Exorcist

Father Thomas expressed the belief that learning about exorcisms is today more necessary than ever, because there are more Catholics who are involved in paganism, idolatry and the occult (psychics, tarot cards, Ouija boards, crystals, Wicca, séances, and the like), so there are a lot of people who are opening a lot of doors to the diabolical.

Certain signs would indicate possible demonic activity in someone. For example, “if somebody was able to speak in a language that he had no prior competency in, or if someone would foam at the mouth or have a lot of rolling of the eyes,” Father Thomas said.

Another sign of a diabolical attachment can be found “if the person were not able to walk into a church or be close to any Catholic sacramental: holy water, a crucifix, the sacrament of the Eucharist, the sacramental anointing of the sick, or someone wearing some kind of a Christian symbol. If these caused a reaction, it certainly would be a sign.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theodicy, Theology

(CSM) Will Libya stalemate force US out of its back-seat role?

As the Libya conflict appears to settle into a potentially protracted stalemate, the memory of President Obama’s demand that Muammar Qaddafi step down from power ”“ essentially a call for regime change ”“ is feeding a debate over what the president will or should do now to influence the outcome.

A growing number of policymakers and regional experts are concluding that a drawn-out war in the midst of a turbulent Middle East would be the worst of all possibilities. And as they do, doubts are mounting over the Obama administration’s decision to take ”“ or at least try to take ”“ a back-seat role among international powers involved in Libya.

Even as Libya’s rebels retreat from gains made last week and Colonel Qaddafi shows no signs of budging from his Tripoli stronghold, a debate builds over what the US should do. One side says Obama is in tune with a majority of Americans who may support the idea of humanitarian intervention, yet who are leery of any deeper involvement of the US in Libya.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Australia / NZ, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Europe, Foreign Relations, Libya, Politics in General

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Tikhon

Holy God, holy and mighty, who hast called us together into one communion and fellowship: Open our eyes, we pray thee, as you opened the eyes of thy servant Tikhon, that we may see the faithfulness of others as we strive to be steadfast in the faith delivered unto us, that the world may see and know Thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Spirit, be glory and praise unto ages of ages. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Church History, Europe, Russia, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Lift up our hearts, we beseech thee, O Christ, above the false show of things, above fear, above laziness, above selfishness and covetousness, above custom and fashion, up to the everlasting truth and order that thou art; that so we may live joyfully and freely, in faithful trust that thou art our Saviour, our example, and our friend, both now and for evermore.

–Charles Kingsley (1819-1875)

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh–for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

–Romans 8:12-17

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Lutheran–Who are the evangelicals?

As the religious landscape continues to change in North America, many voices are seeking the attention of Christians. Mainline churches were the voice of Christianity for most of our U.S. history. Today, the media often views American evangelicals as speaking for Christianity on issues of faith and society.

Who are these people, the American evangelicals? They range from members of megachurches to devotees of TV evangelists to fundamentalists and conservative denominations. Evangelicals are our neighbors, family members and co-workers.

Some questions often posed about them by mainline church members include: “Do we have conversations with evangelicals? How do we differ from evangelicals?”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Adult Education, Ecumenical Relations, Evangelicals, Lutheran, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Living Church) An ”˜Eagle and Child’ at LSU

When C.S. Lewis gathered with his colleagues in The Inklings to discuss their shared faith and latest endeavors, they met at a pub in Oxford called the Eagle and Child.

The parish hall of St. Alban’s Chapel at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge is larger than the Eagle and Child and it’s not serving draft beer, but the premise is similar: Gathering together for a meal and lively discussion of higher things.

The Rev. Andrew S. Rollins uses “Lunch with C.S. Lewis” to make some of the grand concepts of Christianity ”” the goodness of God, suffering, heaven and hell ”” accessible to an audience not limited to scholars.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Education, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Young Adults

(London) Times–Elected peers to serve for 15 years in smaller House of 300 Lords

Elected members of a reformed House of Lords would serve single terms of 15 years under plans to be announced by the Deputy Prime Minister.

Sixty peers would still be appointed to a slimmed-down chamber of 300 after Nick Clegg was forced to accept a compromise.

Instead of a fully elected chamber that was promised in the Liberal Democrat manifesto in the event that party took sole power, Nick Clegg will soon present plans for one that is 80 per cent elected and 20 per cent appointed. He has also bowed to pressure from the Church of England and reserved places for some Anglican Bishops, although many fewer than the 26 who sit on the red benches now.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Bishop Shannon Johnston: A complex Diversity–Multicultural and ethnic ministries

Even so, let’s consider some of the specifics of these various identities as they relate to the mission of the Church. From the standpoint of numbers alone, international and ethnic ministries offer a tremendous opportunity for evangelism and inclusivity. We pay a lot of lip-service to the virtues of proper evangelism and the need for real inclusivity everywhere. Well, here is surely a focus of ministry where the abstract becomes quite concrete; the theoretical is truly a very personal reality. It is estimated that there are nearly 80,000 persons of Korean origin in the Northern Virginia area alone who do not have a faith community. This is roughly equal to the population of our entire diocese! I have not seen any recent
studies of Latino/Hispanic immigrants but I would readily and easily imagine that their numbers are considerably more than that, and spread more widely throughout the Diocese. My point, however, is not to play the numbers game. Yes, we certainly should be able to grow our international and ethnic-identity congregations. These are our communities that are ready and willing to embrace their neighbors. Within our own ranks right now, we have striking examples of burgeoning growth and inspiring potential for growth. If we could ensure adequate staffing and facilities it would seem that the sky is the limit (surely a pointed example of another of the five priorities”“strengthen our congregations). But there is even more
to it. Most importantly, this is about the opportunity we have to reach people with the Gospel”“actually, our joyous responsibility to do so. This is also about the opportunity we have to enrich and enliven our congregations through outreach ministries. And, let’s face it, this is about Anglo Christians broadening their horizons and therefore growing as disciples of the Lord Jesus.

Read it all (page 9).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops, Theology