Daily Archives: April 17, 2011

PBS' Religion and Ethics Weekly: Moral Questions and Military Intervention

[KIM] LAWTON: Carter has a new book called The Violence of Peace: America’s Wars in the Age of Obama. He claims the man many voters considered the “peace candidate” has turned into a “war president” with an expanding philosophy about the use of force. Carter says that philosophy was signaled in Obama’s 2009 acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize.

President Barack Obama (from 2009 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech): Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. That’s why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.

{STEPHEN] CARTER: What’s striking about the war in Libya, whether one is for it or against it, is that it shows that President Obama was serious, that he actually meant what he said, that he actually believes that’s a justified use of American power.

Read or watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, The U.S. Government, Theology

Time Magazine Cover Story–Is Hell Dead?

There is… no escaping the fact that Jesus speaks in the Bible of a hell for the “condemned.” He sometimes uses the word Gehenna, which was a valley near Jerusalem associated with the sacrifice of children by fire to the Phoenician god Moloch; elsewhere in the New Testament, writers (especially Paul and John the Divine) tell of a fiery pit (Tartarus or Hades) in which the damned will spend eternity. “Depart from me, you cursed [ones], into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels,” Jesus says in Matthew. In Mark he speaks of “the unquenchable fire.” The Book of Revelation paints a vivid picture ”” in a fantastical, problematic work that John the Divine says he composed when he was “in the spirit on the Lord’s day,” a signal that this is not an Associated Press report ”” of the lake of fire and the dismissal of the damned from the presence of God to a place where “they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”

And yet there is a contrary scriptural trend that suggests, as Jesus puts it, that the gates of hell shall not finally prevail, that God will wipe away every tear ”” not just the tears of Evangelical Christians but the tears of all. [Rob] Bell puts much stock in references to the universal redemption of creation: in Matthew, Jesus speaks of the “renewal of all things”; in Acts, Peter says Jesus will “restore everything”; in Colossians, Paul writes that “God was pleased to … reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”

So is it heaven for Christians who say they are Christians and hell for everybody else? What about babies, or people who die without ever hearing the Gospel through no fault of their own? (As Bell puts it, “What if the missionary got a flat tire?”) Who knows? Such tangles have consumed Christianity for millennia and likely will for millennia to come.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Eschatology, Evangelicals, Multiculturalism, pluralism, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology

Thunder's Durant finds a different calling in the NBA

The NBA’s leading scorer walks slowly into the Oklahoma City Thunder locker room, his eyes fixed on an open black leather Bible with his name engraved on the cover.

A pack of reporters awaits him, but he remains embedded in Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, a book in the New Testament. He reads carefully in front of his locker for several minutes, marking favored passages with a light blue highlight pen.

Shortly after reading the command, “Find your strength in the Lord, in his mighty power,” Kevin Durant closes his Bible and lifts his eyes to the reporters.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Sports

Doctor can't explain man's Palm Sunday miracle

At the time, [Stan] Winder was disabled and relied on a wheelchair to get around. At age 56, doctors told him his illness would likely get worse.

But the voice returned with its command…[“Get up and walk].

“I went through all kinds of rationalizations why that could not happen,” he said, “and this was a crazy thing, all that sort of thing.”

It seemed to Winder that God was speaking to him, offering to restore his health if only he would cooperate.

“So I said, ‘OK, I’ll do it.’ I got up, and the minute my feet hit the floor, there was absolute freedom,” he said.

Read it all–also from the front page of the local paper.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Health & Medicine, Spirituality/Prayer, TEC Parishes

South Carolina Man emerges unharmed after violent storm flattens church around him

Craig Robinson heard the wind turn violent outside Refuge Temple of St. Stephen, where he cleans up every Saturday afternoon to prepare for the next morning’s services.

Curious, the 50-year-old Moncks Corner resident made his way from the sanctuary to the front of the church. That’s when he saw the tornado outside.

“I bent down on my knees and asked the Lord to have mercy,” Robinson said, standing before the wood, brick and glass remains of Refuge Temple on Saturday evening. Shortly after he began his prayer, he heard the roof collapse and, over the next five minutes or so, nearly everything around him turned to rubble while he stayed on the floor.

Read it all from the front page of the local paper.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * General Interest, * South Carolina, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Spirituality/Prayer

Gavin Dunbar–Dying and Rising with Christ

Our business this week is to die and rise with Christ, who died and rose for us: dying to sin, that we may rise again to righteousness, in repentance, faith, and good works. Throughout the week we exercise Faith, by hearing the account of his Passion written in all four gospels, and we imitate his sacrificial Charity, by acts of offering and intercession. On Good Friday follows the ceremony known as the Veneration of the Cross. A cross is unveiled before the congregation: “before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you” (Galatians 3:1), and we approach the altar to kneel at its foot. In that act of worship, we acknowledge our sin, our betrayal of the Lord’s charity, as the choir sings the Reproaches of Christ: “O my people, what have I done unto thee, or wherein have I wearied thee? Testify against me”. The choir expresses our Repentance with the Trisagion: “Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy and Immortal, have mercy upon us”. Yet “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20), and penitence turns to praise of what his perfect love and obedience has accomplished for us on the cross: “We adore thy cross, O Lord, and we praise and glorify thy holy resurrection; for, lo, by the cross, joy hath come to the whole world”. With this praise is mingled the prayer for blessing in Psalm 67. Thus do we bear testimony to the wonderful exchange transacted for us upon the cross: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us – for it is written, Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree – that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:13, 14). He took upon himself the curse of our sin, that he might give us the blessing of his righteousness.

–(The Rev.) Gavin Dunbar is rector Saint John’s, Savannah, Georgia

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Theology

Philip Turner–The Achilles Heel of Anglicanism (In North America and the United Kingdom)

There is something beautiful about the way in which Augustine and Thomas integrated the map of the self society provided them within a complex account both of Christian belief and practice and an extensive account of the forms of human relationship. Indeed Anglicans still employ versions of these exhortations and prayers. Nevertheless, they sound strange to many in the pews who think of themselves not as embodied souls with intellect, will and appetite but as persons with rights, selves with particular histories and individuals whose nature is unique. These people may well look to marriage to provide mutual society, help and comfort. These, after all, are good things for selves in search of flourishing. Nevertheless, the tie of marriage to procreation will most certainly be jarring if children are not part of a couple’s notion of flourishing. Again, persons (in the modern sense of the word) probably do believe government is to provide civil order and administer justice fairly. These tasks create the space necessary for the pursuit of private goals. However, is government within its rights to maintain true religion, and ought government to be given the right to monitor the private virtues and vices of individuals? Embodied souls once thought that as the intellect was to order the powers of will and appetite, so the ruler was to order the unruly wills and affections of the citizenry. Nevertheless, in our time persons protective or their rights may with good reason believe assignment of these responsibilities to government intrudes inordinately on the freedom of individuals in pursuit of good, as they understand it.

The theological task, therefore, is to integrate the present account of human agency within a comprehensive account of Christian belief and practice. It is false to say that progressive voices have not attempted to do just this. It would also be false to say that more traditional voices have not sought to bring the changes in moral practice now common in the West under the scrutiny of such an account. The problem is that progressives have made the connection by reducing Christian belief to rather vacuous account of divine and human love; and traditionalists have, as it were, “majored” in dogmatic assertions while remaining unaware of the moral gains that have come with our present map of the self. If I hope for a more adequate account of Christian belief and practice from progressives, I hope also that traditionalists will manifest less dogmatism and more awareness of the moral gains that have accrued to the West because of its current account of moral agency. In a way, addressing these inadequacies defines the theological and moral task now presented to the churches of the West. If this task were to be undertaken by Anglicans, the Achilles Heel of Anglicanism in North America and the United Kingdom would most certainly be exposed, and perhaps the Anglican Communion in those lands would be spared Achilles fate. Perhaps other churches might even undertake the same task.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Analysis, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Everliving God, let this mind be in us which was also in Christ Jesus; that as he from his loftiness stooped to the death of the cross, so we in our lowliness may humble ourselves, believing, obeying, living, and dying to the glory of the Father; for the same Jesus Christ’s sake.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is the King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory!

–Psalm 24:7-10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Zenit) Egypt's Ali Al-Samman on Freezing Relations With Holy See

The president of Egypt’s Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs is noting that a decision to freeze dialogue with the Holy See from Sunni Islam’s highest authority may have been hasty.

In 1998, Ali Al-Samman was the architect of the joint committee that brings together the Cairo-based Permanent Committee of Al-Azhar for Dialogue among the Monotheistic Religions and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

In Part 1 of a two-part interview with ZENIT, Al-Samman offered his perspective on the Jan. 20 announcement of a dialogue-freeze from the Cairo-based Islamic Research Council of the University of Al-Azhar, which came in protest of Benedict XVI’s statements on religious freedom following a Jan. 1 attack on a Coptic church in Alexandria.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Egypt, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

(Think Africa Press) William Clarke: Nigerian Anglicans May Control the Future of the Church

The opposition of Nigerian Bishops and their congregations to any softening of attitudes towards homosexuality has made them increasingly uneasy with the notion of being in full communion with overseas churches which allow – in their view – an unacceptable latitude in sexual matters. The size and faithfulness of this province means that in any ensuing schism, to be able to claim communion with the Church of Nigeria will be invaluable for a body seeking to present itself as the genuine inheritor of the Anglican tradition. As British, Australian and North American churches fight within themselves over the status of women Bishops and active homosexual clergy, the Church of Nigeria, along with the other African provinces such as South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda, finds itself courted by traditionalists and reformists, Anglo Catholics and Evangelicals, as a fountain of legitimacy for whatever schismatic or unifying agency can claim it. In an extraordinary moment of thwarted ecumenicism the low church, evangelical, and frequently anti-Catholic African Anglicans even found themselves rejecting an advance by Pope Benedict XVI, who wanted to bring them into his newly formed Personal Ordinariate, where they would have been permitted exceptional latitude in liturgy and practice, including the ordination of married men.

The irony of this is that the Church of Nigeria itself is relatively untroubled by internal dissent. The old debates between Anglo Catholicism and Evangelism which wracked British and North American Churches in the 19th century barely touched the African Provinces, where Anglicanism was always defined by its distance from both the Catholic Church on one side and the Baptist and Pentecostalist movements on the other.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria

Alliance consultation ends in Nairobi, next one to be held in South America

(ACNS) The key development priorities proposed by the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA) and agreed by the assembly were:

Economic empowerment, with support for micro-finance, including working on a roadmap towards an Anglican bank. (The conference heard powerful presentations on micro-finance from Peterson Kamau of Five Talents, the church’s micro-finance institution, and Moses Ochieng of the CGAP consortium of donors and development agencies.)
Peace and reconciliation, learning from the experience of the church in countries affected by conflict.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Africa

Rural churches take on more active roles in Canadian Communities

Recovering addict Danny Mocibob loves race car driving and sometimes even smashes them up — all in the name of doing church work.

“I lived on the streets when things got really bad for me, so I know what can happen if you get caught up in addiction,” says the member of Brockville’s Wall St. United Church.

Now he’s part of the novel church outreach program called Racing Against Drugs, which he says is stopping rural kids from drinking, drugging and driving. His church sponsors cars at Brockville Ontario Speedway and in demolition derbies, and racers like Mocibob work with law enforcement to get the message out to young people and families at the events.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture

BBC Today Programme–Thousands more middle age people in Britain 'living a lonelier life'

The number of middle aged people living alone has soared by a third in the past decade, with singles making up 29% of Britain’s 26m households.

Home editor Mark Easton explained that an extra half a million of 45 to 64-year-olds were now living on their own.

The reasons behind the trend were both the demographic bulge caused by the baby boomer generation, but also the dramatic drop in marriage and co-habitation.

Listen to it all (a little under 8 1/4 minutes).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Middle Age

(RNS) Court Dismisses Challenge to National Day of Prayer

The law calling for an annual National Day of Prayer imposes solely on the duties of the U.S. president, leaving private citizens no legal standing to challenge it, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday (April 14).

The unanimous decision overturns a 2010 lower court ruling that found the law unconstitutional. The ruling comes just weeks before many Christian groups plan to hold annual observances to mark the contested day on May 5.

“If anyone suffers injury … that person is the president, who is not complaining,” ruled a three-judge panel of the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture