Daily Archives: July 6, 2011

The R.C. Bishop of Albany–Why Catholics Fall Away and why they should reconsider

Let me cite three factors in the contemporary milieu which, I believe, must be understood both if we are to nurture our own spirituality and be responsive to the spiritual needs of contemporary men and women.




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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

(CNS) Money, political clout set tone for New York debate over same-sex marriage

It was a fight involving an age-old definition of marriage, with several Catholics playing key roles.

But in the end, the effort to stop a same-sex marriage bill in the New York Legislature came down to money and political favors — neither of which were at the disposal of Catholic leaders and their allies working to keep the traditional view that marriage can only be between one man and one woman.

“Money talked in this case,” said Dennis Poust, director of communications for the New York State Catholic Conference, in an interview with Catholic News Service.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, State Government

Notable and Quotable (II)

“The cruellest lies are often told in silence.”

–Robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque (1881)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Notable & Quotable, Poetry & Literature

(SMH) Ross Gittins–The West heads to a Greek tragedy, too

The major advanced economies should not just be worried about Greece, it said, they should be worried about themselves. If the huge debt levels of the major economies prompt the world financial markets to wonder if those debts will be honoured, so that the markets take a set against sovereign debt in general, the majors, too, will be in big trouble.

But as the British economist Dr Diane Coyle reminds us in her new book, The Economics of Enough, it is worse than that.

We have known for years that the major advanced economies are facing immense pressure on their budgets from the ageing of their populations. They are committed to generous pension payments and healthcare spending for their retiring baby boomers at a time when, for many countries, their populations will be falling.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Economy, England / UK, Europe, Greece, Health & Medicine, Pensions, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Taxes

Notable and Quotable (I)

With [Will] Willimon set to retire as bishop in 2012 (he plans to return to teaching at Duke Divinity School), it is appropriate to consider how the Willimon experiment in the episcopacy has turned out. As one might expect, it has not been business as usual.

Willimon has used his authority to “decimate the career ladder,” as one pastor told me. In the process he has alienated many pastors in the North Alabama Conference. He has promoted younger clergy deemed to be more talented over those with more seniority. He has streamlined some meetings and eliminated others. “I got annual conference down to two days,” he boasts (it had previously lasted four and a half days). And he has made accountability a hallmark term.

Accountability, in this case, mainly means that every congregation’s weekly numbers for giving, attendance, hours of service, and professions of faith are posted online for all the world””and the rest of the conference””to see. They appear on a page on the conference website called the North Alabama Dashboard. These statistics become one source of input for decisions on pastoral appointments. What looks to some like a call for public accountability looks to others like an act of public shaming. For critics, the Dashboard seems to treat the dynamics of church life like so many hamburgers sold.

— Jason Byassee, “The bishop’s dashboard,” in a recent Christian Century

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Methodist, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Terry Mattingly–U.S. evangelicals see secularism as a threat

…92 percent of evangelical leaders from the United States who took part in a new Pew Forum survey said they are convinced that secularism is a “major threat” to the health of evangelical Christianity in their land, a threat even greater than materialism, consumerism and the rising tide of sex and violence in popular culture.

In a related question, a majority of U.S. evangelical leaders — 82 percent — said they are convinced that their churches are currently losing clout in American life.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Secularism

(SMH) Nicholas Tonti-Filippini–there is No dignity in Euthanasia

Seriously ill people do not need euthanasia. We need better provision of palliative care aimed at managing symptoms and maximising function, especially as we approach death. Rather than help to die, the cause of dignity would be more greatly helped if more was done to help people live more fully with the dying process.

The proposals to make provision for a terminally ill person to request euthanasia, and a doctor to provide assistance to die, make it less likely that adequate efforts would be made to make better provision for palliative care.

Legalised euthanasia would give those responsible for funding and providing palliative care a political ”out” in that respect.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

A Tablet Editorial–Churches' mission statement

Having arrived at what they described as a “broad consensus”, representatives of 90 per cent of the world’s Christians have published guidelines on how to conduct relations with each other and with members of other faiths. It is an important step forward in relations between different Christian denominations, but its real significance may lie elsewhere. In many parts of the world Christians live cheek by jowl with other religions. Often they are a minority group. Violence is sometimes stirred up by troublemakers when Christians are accused of evangelising and seeking to convert others to Christianity. This has happened time and again in the Middle East and the Asian subcontinent.

In most cases the troublemakers are militant Islamists, but in India it has also occurred with militant Hindus. Such charges will be much easier to refute now these guidelines are in existence. They also provide ammunition for church authorities seeking to restrain the more zealous of their own members.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Evangelism and Church Growth, Middle East, Multiculturalism, pluralism, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Ministry in the 21st century–Christian Century Talks to Josh Carney

[Josh Carney]…serves as teaching pastor at University Baptist Church, about a mile from Baylor’s campus….

What are overchurched college students like? What challenges do they pose for ministry?
They’re students who went to church their whole life without really knowing why. It seems we have a lot of students who were either taught good theology but had no praxis to accompany it or vice versa. When people are exposed to the repetition of liturgy””and all churches have some kind of liturgy””without understanding why, they often get frustrated or lose interest.

What has the transition toward more age diversity been like? Any bumps?
It’s been exciting. My heartbeat is for families, and as this group grows it presents an opportunity to get to know and love more people. The major hurdle has to do with congregational identity. An increase in families means a need for more resources for them, and when we shift resources we make statements about mission and identity. We are trying to figure out who we are in a way that both affirms the historical and makes room for the new.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

The Economist on the (recently held) Wild Goose Festival in North Carolina

At least 25 Christian music festivals are held each summer in America, but they have never catered for theological liberals. Until this year, that is, when the Wild Goose Festival””named after a Celtic symbol for the Holy Spirit””kicked off on June 23rd on 72 wooded acres in eastern North Carolina, not so far from the intellectual hub of Raleigh-Durham.

The idea, seven years in the making, was based on Britain’s Greenbelt Festival in Cheltenham, which draws 20,000 people a year. About 1,500 people came to the American version, which explicitly pitched its appeal to artists and musicians, nonconformists, post-Christians, non-Christians, disaffected evangelicals and a liberal evangelical subset known as the “emergent” church.

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

A Picture to Begin the Day–two Otters Carry two of their Baby Triplets

Check it out.

Posted in * General Interest, Animals

(Vatican Radio) South Sudan one week away from independence

The U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan Princeton Lyman this week expressed confidence that the breaking up of the North and South will take place peacefully but warned of many serious challenges ahead.

“Both sides really feel that a return to general war would be disastrous for both of them,” he said at a news conference.

Listen to it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Africa, Sudan

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Blessed Saviour, who art full of mercy and compassion, and wilt not cast out any that come to thee: Help us, we beseech thee, who are grievously vexed with the burden of our sins; and so increase in us the power of thy Holy Spirit that we may prevail against the enemy of our souls; for thy name’s sake.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the LORD sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

–1 Samuel 16:7

Posted in Uncategorized

(ACNS) Archbishop of Burundi tells UK: "Don't make us an aid orphan"

The Archbishop of Burundi today (Tuesday) gave a passionate appeal to the UK government to restore its bilateral funding to Burundi ”“ one of the poorest and most fragile countries in the world.

The call came when he gave evidence at the International Development Select Committee’s enquiry into the UK government’s decision to end its bilateral aid programme for Burundi and shut the DfID office in Bujumbura.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Church of Burundi, Anglican Provinces, Burundi, England / UK, Foreign Relations, Politics in General

Benedict XVI on the Yoke of Christ

Jesus promises to give all “rest,” but he puts a condition: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” What is this “yoke,” which instead of weighing is light, and instead of crushing lifts? The “yoke” of Christ is the law of love, it is his commandment, which he left to his disciples (cf. John 13:34; 15:12). The true remedy for the wounds of humanity — whether they are material, such as hunger and injustice, or psychological and moral, caused by a false sense of well being — is a rule of life based on fraternal love, which has its source in the love of God.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Communique of the Anglican – Jewish dialogue commission

The Anglican paper presented by Mrs. Clare Amos highlighted the dialectic of whether the Psalms should be considered as ‘our words to God’ or ‘God’s words to us’ and reviewed the changing place and role of Psalms in Anglican liturgy and life. In response, Chief Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen examined the place of David as temporal and spiritual leader and how this was reflected in specific Psalms.

The papers and the ensuing discussion reflected on the way in which Psalms may serve as a calibrating resource to curb human arrogance and combat despair. Furthermore, in highlighting the creative tensions between the transcendent and the immanent, the Psalms demonstrate both the constancy and intimacy of the Divine Presence.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Reports & Communiques, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Other Faiths

Notable and Quotable

Unfortunately, what has been called philosophy for more than a century has virtually destroyed any belief in the possibility of objective truth, and with it the possibility of philosophy. Our chaotic politics reflects this chaos of the mind.

Harry Jaffa in this past weekend’s New York Times Book Review

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, History, Philosophy