Daily Archives: April 19, 2011

(USA Today) Thomas Kidd–With burqa ban, France attacks all faiths

Some justify the burqa ban by insisting that fundamentalist Muslims who demand that women wear the full veil are misogynists. I certainly sympathize with concerns about what the burqa says about women’s dignity and rights. But we should not allow the government to act as a religious judge: keeping the government out of religion’s business is the historic heart of what church-state (or mosque-state) separation has meant. It never traditionally meant aggressive state-imposed secularism, at least not in the United States. Of course, we cannot tolerate religious violence ”” “honor killings,” terrorism, and other vicious practices of certain fundamentalist sects can never be accepted, as they cross the line from religious expression into criminal acts.

The ban on the burqa, at root, is about France’s discomfort with the increasingly visible presence of a disliked religious minority. France is catering to the tastes and comfort of the traditional French majority, composed largely of Catholics (many of them nominal) and secularists. But remember, when you do not honor religious liberty for one group, the freedom of all believers is in jeopardy.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, France, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(Reuters) Soldiers patrol Nigeria's restive north

Soldiers patrolled the streets in Nigeria’s mostly Muslim north and aid workers began to assess the toll from deadly rioting against President Goodluck Jonathan’s election victory.

The Red Cross said many people were killed, hundreds injured and thousands displaced in protests across northern Nigeria on Monday by supporters of Jonathan’s northern rival, former army ruler Muhammadu Buhari, who say the election result was rigged.

Churches, homes and shops were razed.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Nigeria, Politics in General, Violence

Pope Benedict XVI's Palm Sunday Homily for 2011

Our procession today is meant, then, to be an image of something deeper, to reflect the fact that, together with Jesus, we are setting out on pilgrimage along the high road that leads to the living God. This is the ascent that matters. This is the journey which Jesus invites us to make. But how can we keep pace with this ascent? Isn’t it beyond our ability? Certainly, it is beyond our own possibilities. From the beginning men and women have been filled ”“ and this is as true today as ever ”“ with a desire to “be like God”, to attain the heights of God by their own powers. All the inventions of the human spirit are ultimately an effort to gain wings so as to rise to the heights of Being and to become independent, completely free, as God is free. Mankind has managed to accomplish so many things: we can fly! We can see, hear and speak to one another from the farthest ends of the earth. And yet the force of gravity which draws us down is powerful. With the increase of our abilities there has been an increase not only of good. Our possibilities for evil have increased and appear like menacing storms above history. Our limitations have also remained: we need but think of the disasters which have caused so much suffering for humanity in recent months.

The Fathers of the Church maintained that human beings stand at the point of intersection between two gravitational fields. First, there is the force of gravity which pulls us down ”“ towards selfishness, falsehood and evil; the gravity which diminishes us and distances us from the heights of God. On the other hand there is the gravitational force of God’s love: the fact that we are loved by God and respond in love attracts us upwards. Man finds himself betwixt this twofold gravitational force; everything depends on our escaping the gravitational field of evil and becoming free to be attracted completely by the gravitational force of God, which makes us authentic, elevates us and grants us true freedom.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Preaching / Homiletics, Roman Catholic

Church of England asked to repent over treatment of low income families

Fr Andrew Moughtin-Mumbym Anglican priest of the parish of St Peter, Walworth, explained: “The wounds felt by residents on the Octavia Hill estate in Walworth are deep, and anger, betrayal and hurt are laid squarely at the door of the Church Commissioners.

“Residents simply cannot understand why a distribution of fair rents, key worker housing, and market rents could not be established by the Church Commissioners. The terms of the sale and the manner in which it was conducted, have clearly brought the Church Commissioners, the Church of England, and the parish churches in which these estates fall into disrepute,” said Fr Moughtin-Mumbym.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Economy, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

New Zealand Anglican Church 'pushes envelope' with latest billboard

A new billboard outside Auckland’s St Matthew-in-the-City aims to prove you can’t put all Christians in the same box, the church’s priest-in-charge says.

In response to recent Hell Pizza billboards advertising its hot cross buns with the tagline: “For a limited time. A bit like Jesus”, the latest St Matthew billboard reads: “Hell no, we’re not giving up pizza for Lent”.

Priest-in-charge Clay Nelson said the idea for the billboard came after reading a Herald story where Anglican Church media officer Lloyd Ashton said the billboards were “disrespectful to what a lot of people hold very dear…”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Media, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

South Korea Probes Possible Cyberattack on Large Bank

Authorities in South Korea are probing a large system failure at a popular bank, trying to determine whether the incident was an error or a cybercrime that could be repeated elsewhere in the country where business leans largely on electronic transactions.

Problems at the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation began on April 12 and lasted for several days. During that time, customers were blocked from online and automated teller machine transactions. While some services have returned, issues persist with access to credit card information.

The incident has generated 300,000 complaints and prompted pledges of compensation to the agricultural lender’s customers as its affected network gets up to speed again this week, local media said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Science & Technology, South Korea, The Banking System/Sector

(NPR) Hallelujah! At Age 400, King James Bible Still Reigns

The King James is woven into our lives. It was read in churches and family devotionals for centuries, and today its language laces hundreds of everyday phrases. Consider: “How the mighty are fallen” (Samuel 1:19), and “Can a leopard change its spot?” (Jeremiah 13:23), and “The writing is on the wall” (Daniel 5: 5/6), and “The blind leading the blind” (Matthew 15:14).

“These phrases have become part and parcel then of the general usage in the English language,” says [David Lyle] Jeffrey. “We do not recognize them any longer perhaps as biblical unless we have a pretty good memory for the language of the KJV.”

[Gordon ] Campbell adds that this Bible is foundational to the English-speaking world. “It’s in the texture of our society rather than on the surface of it, I think. But if you trace back who we are, how we speak, how we think, many of those things have their origins in the King James Bible.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Church History, England / UK, History, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) Misrata: Libya's city under siege

While parts of Libya’s northern coast have been changing hands from day to day, the conflict in Misrata has turned into a lethal stand-off.

Weeks of heavy bombardments by forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi have failed to break the deadlock.

This is explained partly by the size of Misrata, Libya’s third largest city.

It is the only significant western rebel holdout, and is strategically important because of its deep-sea port, so rebels have fought hard to defend it.

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

Archbishop John Sentamu–Christians now ”” a focus on Anglicanism

When I read the Gospels I am often taken by surprise by what Jesus says and does. Rather than offering his followers a life of certainty and ease, he invites them to ‘take up your cross and follow me’. This has become such a familiar phrase that it has lost its power to shock us. What Jesus was saying was ‘pick up the instrument of your own death and follow me to the place of execution.’ Hardly the most appealing invitation!

And yet people flocked to Him. In Jesus they saw life with meaning and purpose, even in the midst of uncertainty and suffering. In Jesus they saw life as it could and should be. And this life was lived out in the midst of pain and grief bringing hope and transformation. This has been the call of the followers of Jesus throughout the centuries and it remains our call today.

For me, being obedient to this call of Jesus to follow Him, even into places of pain and suffering, has meant standing up for the oppressed. This partly stems from my own experience of the brutality of General Idi Amin in Uganda, but also a genuine passion to help those in difficult times at home and overseas. Our common humanity compels us not to pass by on the other side.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of York John Sentamu

Whispers in the Loggia reminds us of the 6th Anniversary Today of Pope Benedict XVI's Election

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, History, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(NC Reporter) Thomas Reese–The hidden exodus: Catholics becoming Protestants

The U.S. Religious Landscape Survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life has put hard numbers on the anecdotal evidence: One out of every 10 Americans is an ex-Catholic. If they were a separate denomination, they would be the third-largest denomination in the United States, after Catholics and Baptists. One of three people who were raised Catholic no longer identifies as Catholic….

If you believed liberals, most Catholics who leave the church would be joining mainline churches, like the Episcopal church. In fact, almost two-thirds of former Catholics who join a Protestant church join an evangelical church. Catholics who become evangelicals and Catholics who join mainline churches are two very distinct groups. We need to take a closer look at why each leaves the church….

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst cleanse the temple courts, and didst teach, saying, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations: Cleanse thy Church, we beseech thee, of all evil, and so sanctify it by thy saving grace, that in all the world thy people may offer unto thee true and acceptable worship; for thy name’s sake.

–James M. Todd

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Beth-sa’ida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew went with Philip and they told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him.

–John 12:20-26

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Notable and Quotable

“More than two years after the beginning of the recent crisis, U.S. policymakers have still not agreed on how to reverse recent fiscal deterioration or address longer-term fiscal pressures….”

–S&P credit analyst Nikola Swann in a statement today explaining why S and P shifted its outlook on America’s credit to “negative”

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Globalization, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc)

(BBC) Nigeria election: Goodluck Jonathan appeals for calm

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has appealed for an end to “unnecessary and avoidable” post-election violence across the north of the country.

Incumbent Mr Jonathan has been declared winner in the presidential poll, with the electoral commission saying he received about 57% of the vote.

Rioting spread across the Muslim north – the opposition’s powerbase – as the outcome became clear.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Nigeria, Politics in General, Violence

In Brantford, St. Paul's Anglican closing its doors

Old age has crept up on St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Holmedale.

Now 112 years old, the petite church building, with seating for 200, will close its doors -at least to congregants of the Anglican faith -after a special May 8 service that honours its past.

Audrey Elcomb, 89, plans to have a little cry.

“When we have that service and I know it’s the end, well, I better bring a lot of Kleenex.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Parish Ministry

Adrian Hamilton–Will the last person to leave the Church of England please turn out the lights?

As the faithful look forward to Easter and the Archbishop of Canterbury prepares to officiate at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, it may seem inappropriate to be discussing the future of his Church. But this Easter week, I can’t help feeling ”“ more than ever ”“ that the Church of England will not survive my children’s lifetime and quite possibly not even my own.

It’s not the archaism of state occasions that makes me doubt the relevance of the CofE, nor the sight this Lent of a dozen or more clergy crossing the floor to join the Roman Catholics that has made me despair of its future. Nor is it the statistics showing an ever-diminishing number of English attending their services, although these are bad enough. It’s not even the spectacle of the Church wrapping itself in knots around the issues of ordaining women and gay bishops.

These are certainly signals of an institution in decline; a community turning in on itself as its relevance diminishes. But the Church has been here before and revived.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture

Palm Sunday the last service for St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Adams, Massachusetts

Palm Sunday will mark the last day of services for the former St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, which officially merged with St. John’s in North Adams in December to form All Saints Episcopal Church.

The Commercial Street church, known for its unique stone architecture and iconic red doors, along with its neighboring parish hall on River Street, will be put up for sale, according to spokeswoman Lauren Norcross.

She said the decision to shutter one of the churches, which was voted upon by the congregation’s members, wasn’t taken lightly.
“We had some independent studies done of both buildings,” Norcross said Friday. “St. John’s, which we’ve been calling All Saints North, is in better shape. Recently we had a capital campaign that raised $120,000 which was used for a lot of renovations and improvements. Prior to that, in the 1990s, the church and its adjoining parish hall underwent some major renovations, including the installation of an elevator.”

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