Daily Archives: July 25, 2011

(RNS) Louisiana Monks Win Right to Build, Sell Caskets

A federal judge on Thursday (July 21) said a state law that limits the sale of caskets to licensed funeral directors and establishments is unconstitutional.
The ruling came in a case brought by the monks at St. Joseph Abbey in Covington, La., who alleged the law amounted to unconstitutional economic protectionism for the funeral industry.

The abbey opened a woodshop in 2007 to sell handcrafted cypress caskets for $1,500 to $2,000, which is cheaper than some caskets from a typical funeral home. The abbey hoped the sales would finance medical and educational needs for more than 30 monks. The state Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors issued a cease-and-desist letter before the abbey could sell a single casket. The abbey defied those demands and began selling the caskets anyway.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(CNN belief Blog) Carl Medearis–Why evangelicals should stop evangelizing

It may come as a surprise to many Christians that Muslims are generally open to studying the life of Jesus as a model for leadership because they revere him as a prophet.

But now that I’m no longer obsessed with converting people to Christianity, I’ve found that talking about Jesus is much easier and far more compelling.

I believe that doctrine is important, but it’s not more important than following Jesus.

Jesus met people where they were. Instead of trying to figure out who’s “in” and who’s “out,” why don’t we simply invite people to follow Jesus ”” and let Jesus run his kingdom?

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Globalization, Inter-Faith Relations, Missions, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Why jobless rate is still so high: Work is on way in South Carolina, but complex factors at play

Gwen Corey’s unemployment benefits may run out in September, if she doesn’t qualify for a second extension or find a job before then. She has $6 in her wallet and 15 cents in her bank account for the next three weeks after her rent check clears.

The Mount Pleasant woman has been laid off since fall 2008, except for a temporary stint working for the U.S. Census, and she is desperate to find work.

“I just want to be busy,” Corey said. “I want to be so busy. It drives me crazy to sit around. I cannot sit and watch TV.”

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

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, State Government, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Kendall Harmon's Sermon from yesterday on the Parable of the Mustard seed and the Leaven

Listen to it all if you so desire. Please note that in the second section of the sermon I give a description of the eruption of Mount Saint Helen’s in 1980 in Washington State but I slip up and described it as something else.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Sermons & Teachings, TEC Parishes, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Ordinariate has made a strong start ”“ but Rome needs to keep a watchful eye on the project

With 60 newly ordained clergy ready to start their Catholic ministry, morale is high in the Personal Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham. The launch of the Pope’s new ecclesial structure for ex-Anglicans has been less traumatic than anticipated ”“ though there is an urgent need for money: visit the website of the Friends of the Ordinariate to find out how to support this prophetic venture.

I say “prophetic”, but we can’t take it for granted that the prophecy will be fulfilled. Every day brings fresh inquiries from Anglicans wanting to join the second wave of Ordinariate converts ”“ but some of them are worried that the independent structure envisaged by Benedict XVI is coming together rather slowly.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

(ENS) Congo's victims of war, disease find solace and healing in Anglican church

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, Republic of Congo

From the Do Not Take Yourself Too Seriously Department–VA's Strangest In-Flight Customer Requests

Following a recent survey of over 3,000 of our cabin crew, we’ve compiled a selection of the strangest, most unusual requests received over the years. Topping the poll for popularity are “Please can you open the window?” and “Can you show me to the showers?” but the survey also revealed a few, what can we say, unique examples”¦

“An elderly gentleman who couldn’t sleep in Upper Class first asked for a sleeping pill. When I explained we didn’t have these on board he then asked if the captain could turn the noise down. When I asked what noise he meant, he replied “The noise out there!” “Do you mean the engine?” I asked. “Yes, yes the engine!” I was speechless at first and in the end just replied “We can’t do that Sir, we need the engine to stay airborne”¦””

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Humor / Trivia, Travel

Francis Beckwith on a recent Atlantic article–Surprise: The Reformation Happened!

…as a Catholic I think that Luther was deeply mistaken. But I also understand that if you take theology seriously, as something with real cognitive content, then it will by its very nature exclude certain beliefs while entailing others. Thus, the Catholic Church affirms that Protestant denominations, like the Lutherans, are not real churches. That judgment inexorably follows from the Catholic belief in apostolic succession.

Not surprisingly, Baptists do not accept infant baptisms as legitimate, Judaism believes that the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is unbiblical, Eastern Orthodoxy forbids its people from receiving the Eucharist at churches in communion with Rome, Muslims deny that Jesus is the Son of God, and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, “believes that the popish sacrifice of the mass is most abominably injurious to Christ’s one, only sacrifice, the alone propitiation for all the sins of His elect.”

It is not clear what Mr. [Joshua] Green expects to find when he investigates the churches, synagogues, or mosques of political figures. In a nation of serious believers who are citizens of a government committed to religious freedom and other basic liberties, why does it surprise Mr. Green to find that differing religious points of view should arise and that the advocates of those views would issue doctrinal statements that are at points critical in nature?

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Lutheran, Media, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

The Pastoral Letter for Pentecost 2011from the Roman Catholic Bishop of Sale

…the particular crisis facing all of us in Australia regarding the transmission of the Gospel in our times is that we are evangelising in the context of secularism. This living a supposed happy life without any reference to God is the real challenge to the faith today. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, our master teacher of the faith, continually draws our attention to the fact of secularism in Western countries.

He expresses the essential challenge in this way (from: Light of the World (2010, p.56)[:]

It is important for us to try to live Christianity and to think as Christians in such way that it incorporates what is good and right about modernity ”“ and at the same time separates and distinguishes itself from what is becoming a counter-religion.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Evangelism and Church Growth, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Secularism

(Newcastle Herald) Teen girls pushed into adult world

Teen girls are turning to destructive behaviour such as binge-drinking, extreme dieting and self-harm because of the pressures of being forced early into an adult world, an expert in adolescent females says.

Author and founder of Enlighten Education Dannielle Miller said girls had become more aggressive and overtly sexual – in their clothes, language and actions – because of the society around them.

Ms Miller is one of the keynote speakers at Pearls of Wisdom this weekend at Shoal Bay, a conference marking the 30th anniversary of Maitland Newcastle Catholic Diocese Federation of Parents and Friends.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Women, Young Adults

Canadian Kimberlynn McNabb Discusses Lutheran's Theological Shift on Clergy in Same Sex Unions

Q: Under the new policies, can a Lutheran church refuse to hire a gay pastor?

A: Hiring works a little different in the church than it does in other places. We don’t apply for jobs. And when you’re talking about spirituality, and where people are in their lives, it really takes a connection, like on a relationship level, that doesn’t necessarily come out in a regular job interview. It becomes very complicated.

Myself, if I knew a congregation didn’t welcome everyone, I would just say no to the (position). If I knew they really didn’t like female ministers, OK, you know what? I know that that’s how this community is. And perhaps if I was at the right point in my life, I might go. I’ve been the first woman pastor in a parish before. And yes, you can change people’s minds and you can show a different way. But sometimes you can’t. And I think that’s more how it will play out: people will just kind of know pockets or where they should and shouldn’t go.
Q: Do you think there will be a further split over this that no one is foreseeing?

A: There has already been a split over the past decade. We have had some parishes leave. Some have gone to the (Lutheran Church-Canada) most recently. There’s a new group called the Canadian Association of Lutheran Churches who have stepped aside on this issue and said, ”˜We don’t want any part of a church that is blessing same-sex marriages or rostered clergy who are gay.’ So we’ve already lost some, and I think we’ll lose a few more. Some congregations, some pastors, and within each individual parish we’ll probably lose a few. But it’s a risk that the church is willing to take.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Canada, Law & Legal Issues, Lutheran, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

(BBC) China officials close fake Apple stores in Kunming city

China has moved to shut down several fake Apple stores found in Kunming city.

Three of the elaborate fake stores, which mimicked the look of the real thing, came to the world’s attention after being exposed on a blog.

Following the publicity, trade officials investigated and found five stores in Kunming posing as official Apple retail outlets.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Science & Technology

Lawrence Lee RIP: Stained-glass artist acclaimed for his work on Coventry Cathedral

In 1956 the architect Sir Basil Spence commissioned stained-glass windows as part of the rebuilding of Coventry Cathedral, destroyed by wartime bombing in 1940. Spence took a holistic approach, noting in an academic paper at the time that, “I am against the inclusion of stained glass as an afterthought, and I believe that the architect as leader of the team should collaborate at the earliest possible stage with his engineers and artists.” Lee was one of three glass artists who designed the series of 10 nave windows, representing a pilgrimage through life, from infancy to maturity and fulfilment in the afterworld. John Willis, archivist and art historian at Coventry Cathedral, observes that “…Lee, with the two other members of the team, Keith New and Geoffrey Clarke, created a symbolic language of colour and light, combining figurative motifs and abstract forms in a way that is at once beautiful and spiritually moving in its expression of the Christian message.”

Coventry established Lee’s reputation and led to a wide range of projects, nationally and internationally….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Art, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of William Reed Huntington

O Lord our God, we thank thee for instilling in the heart of thy servant William Reed Huntington a fervent love for thy Church and its mission in the world; and we pray that, with unflagging faith in thy promises, we may make known to all peoples thy blessed gift of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

We beseech thee, O Lord, to give us more love to thee, more joy in our worship, more peace at all times, more longsuffering, more kindness of heart and manner. Grant us the grace of meekness and the power of self-control. May we know what it is to be filled with the Holy Ghost; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Be gracious to me, O God, for men trample upon me; all day long foemen oppress me; my enemies trample upon me all day long, for many fight against me proudly. When I am afraid, I put my trust in thee. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust without a fear. What can flesh do to me?

–Psalm 56:1-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Bloomberg) Jefferson County in Alabama May Vote to File Largest Bankruptcy July 28

Jefferson County, Alabama, may decide this week on filing a record U.S. municipal bankruptcy, according to a meeting notice from the county commission.

The five-member commission meeting on July 28 may also vote on extending a negotiating period with creditors on restructuring more than $3 billion of sewer bonds or a settlement, the notice said.

The meeting will come one day before the end of a 30-day “standstill period” in which the county and creditors led by JPMorgan Chase & Co. agreed to pursue a settlement to end the more than three-year-old debt crisis.

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

Beyond poverty: Lowcountry network seeks to marshal churches, charities in effort to empower poor

Once called Charleston Outreach and affiliated with the Charleston Baptist Association, the now-independent Human Needs Network assumed its new name officially on Jan. 1.

And it’s been ramping up its efforts lately, forging new collaborations on Johns Island and in Goose Creek, seeking to empower both the impoverished and those who serve them.

Coward and his small staff are the idea generators, the cheerleaders, the faithful who believe that communities can be healed when resources are combined and deployed by teams of caring people, he said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Poverty, Religion & Culture

Deadline Passes as Debt Ceiling Talks Languish

House Speaker John A. Boehner and the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, were preparing separate backup plans to raise the nation’s debt ceiling on Sunday, after the leaders were unable to end an increasingly grim standoff over the federal budget.

The dueling plans emerged as lawmakers appeared to miss a self-imposed deadline of 4 p.m. Eastern time to cut a deal before markets open in Asia. And at about 6 p.m., President Obama began meeting with Mr. Reid and the House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, in the Oval Office to discuss the Reid proposal.

Mr. Reid, the Senate’s top Democrat, was trying Sunday to cobble together a plan to raise the government’s debt limit by $2.4 trillion through the 2012 election, with spending cuts of about $2.5 trillion. He would seek to avoid cuts to entitlement programs, but it was unclear how those savings would be achieved.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, House of Representatives, Medicare, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Social Security, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

(LA Times) Norway attacks shatter a nation's innocence

“It’s going to have a deep, long-lasting impact,” said Atle Dyregrov, director of Norway’s Center for Crisis Psychology, which has helped other countries recover from disasters such as the 2008 China earthquake and this year’s Japanese tsunami.

“Our innocence is lost,” he said. “We used to think that these things only happened in other countries, not here. Now that illusion is shattered forever.”

He predicted that Norway’s relaxed security policies and reluctance to impinge of civil rights will give way to familiar restrictions already in place in other Western nations, including limited access to government facilities and increased surveillance of suspected extremist groups. He likened the changes to Sweden’s security tightening after the 1986 assassination of Prime Minister Olof Palme.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Norway, Politics in General, Terrorism, Violence

(Politico) No debt deal hours before markets open

House and Senate negotiators have not reached a deal that would lift the nation’s debt ceiling just hours before markets in Asia are set to open ”” a test of whether Washington political dysfunction is beginning to shake the global economy.

House Republicans are not able to reach a deal with Senate Democrats, said congressional sources, though staff-level negotiations are continuing.

And in a sign that talks with Republicans appear to be going sour, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) began to draft his own legislation Sunday that would slash at least $2.5 trillion to match an extension of the nation’s borrowing limit through the 2012 election, leadership aides said.

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

(Vanguard) Boko Haram: It’s sad Nigeria is becoming another Afghanistan ”“ Bishop Onuoha

What is your view on the vexed issue of Islamic banking in Nigeria?

It is a time bomb that is about to explode. This nation is secular in nature. It is a constitutional stipulation that no religion should be adopted as a state religion. The fact remains that Christians cannot claim to be the sole owners of Nigeria. Muslims and African Traditional Religion practitioners cannot equally claim to be owners of Nigeria. If that is the case, foisting or attempting to foist the religious practices of a particular religion on this nation is a time bomb that will explode.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Economy, History, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, The Banking System/Sector

Michael Bachelard (The Age)–The God complexity: a faith war in our schools

It’s on for just 30 minutes a week and it’s taught in fewer than half of all public primary schools in Victoria, but religious education has the power to stir mighty emotions.

Steve Bracks and his education minister Lynne Kosky tasted its power in 2005 and 2006 as they overhauled education laws, and considered changing the rules governing ”special religious instruction” – religion taught by church volunteers and decried by opponents as indoctrination.

This unleashed a relentless campaign by the religious lobby to defend their patch.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Children, Education, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth

Diocese of Europe: Tears and prayers in Oslo service

Visitors joined regular members of the congregation at St Edmund’s Anglican church in Oslo on Sunday 24 July as their 11am service focussed on the massacres two days ago in the city and at a youth camp on an island nearby

Canon Janet HeilParish Priest, Canon Janet Heil says that leading the prayers for relatives and friends of the many people affected (the death toll is currently 93 and may rise still further) was a very emotional time. The church was thronged with people after the service and clergy stayed there to welcome anyone who came seeking comfort and prayer help. Flowers and candles have been left on the steps of the church which is on the outer edge of the police cordon around the city centre.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Europe, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Norway, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Terrorism, Theology

Diocese of Europe: Message to Norwegian bishops

Bishop David [Hamid]’s letter says:- Dear Bishop Helga, dear Bishop Ole

On behalf of the clergy and people of the Church of England Diocese in Europe I want to send this message to express our sorrow and to convey our deepest condolences to our sisters and brothers in Norway, following yesterday’s massacre in the centre of Oslo and on the nearby island of Utoya. We are aware that there has not been such an act of violence to strike your nation since World War II, and that in a nation of just under 5 million people, a tragedy of this dimension will affect the whole population. That the gunman sought to attack the nation’s youth, gathered to think and reflect together about issues concerning the future of the country, adds to the pain of this immense tragedy….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Europe, Norway, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Doctrinal Divide over Same Sex Unions causes upheaval for Lutheran charities

The latest casualty of the long-running Protestant conflicts over the Bible and homosexuality is a massive network of social service agencies that work in areas ranging from adoption to disaster relief.

The theologically conservative Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod announced this week that direct work with its larger and more liberal counterpart, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, has become “difficult if not impossible,” because of doctrinal differences, including the 2009 decision by liberal Lutherans to lift barriers for ordaining gays and lesbians.

Neither denomination would discuss the potential financial impact Wednesday. Many Lutheran-affiliated agencies receive substantial state and federal money through contracts and grants that would not be directly affected by any split. However, similar to Catholic Charities, Lutheran agencies are some of the biggest service providers in their communities and have been struggling to meet increased demand for help during the recession.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)