Monthly Archives: August 2011

Albert Mohler–The PKN in the Netherlands, a Laboratory for Christianity’s Destruction

As the BBC reports, some church leaders in the Netherlands want to transform their small nation into a laboratory for rethinking Christianity ”” “experimenting with radical new ways of understanding the faith.”

Religious Affairs Correspondent Robert Pigott tells of Rev. Klaas Hendrikse, a minister of the PKN, the mainstream Protestant denomination in the Netherlands. Pastor Hendrikse doesn’t believe in life after death, nor even in God as a supernatural being. He told the BBC that he has “no talent” for believing historic and orthodox doctrines. “God is not a being at all,” he says, but just an experience.

Furthermore, as Pigott reports, “Mr. Hendrikse describes the Bible’s account of Jesus’s life as a mythological story about a man who may never have existed, even if it is a valuable source of wisdom about how to lead a good life.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Secularism, The Netherlands, Theology

Peter Moore–My Last Visit With John Stott

“There was a man sent from God whose name was John”

John the Baptist, to whom the above reference refers, was beheaded by a king in a palace at a relatively young age. John Stott , who I met in January of 1957, spent his final days on earth in a small bed-sitt er in a rest home for retired clergy about 30 miles south of London. He was weak, frail, nearly blind, and bedridden. He had turned 90 this spring, and was expecting to go home to the Lord very soon. But in his heyday, and for more than a half century, John Stott had an impact on his world akin to that of John the Baptist.

Both were sent from God. Both pointed to Jesus. Both att empted to live very simply. Both had few possessions. Bothwere fi lled with the Holy Spirit….

Read it all (page 4)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who hast brought life and immortality to light by the gospel, and hast begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead: Make us steadfast and immovable in the faith, always abounding in the work of the Lord, who died for our sins and rose again, and now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, world without end.

–James Mountain

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Have nothing to do with godless and silly myths. Train yourself in godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.

–1 Timothy 4:7-10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Even in Hurricane Irene, Still Watching the Tomb

He is still standing guard–take a look.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Military / Armed Forces, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.

Living to 100 and Beyond

The number of people living to advanced old age is already on the rise. There are some 5.7 million Americans age 85 and older, amounting to about 1.8% of the population, according to the Census Bureau. That is projected to rise to 19 million, or 4.34% of the population, by 2050, based on current trends. The percentage of Americans 100 and older is projected to rise from 0.03% today to 0.14% of the population in 2050. That’s a total of 601,000 centenarians.

But many scientists think that this is just the beginning; they are working furiously to make it possible for human beings to achieve Methuselah-like life spans. They are studying the aging process itself and experimenting with ways to slow it down by way of diet, drugs and genetic therapy. They are also working on new ways to replace worn-out organs””and even to help the body to rebuild itself. The gerontologist and scientific provocateur Aubrey de Grey claims that the first humans to live for 1,000 years may already have been born.

The idea of “conquering” aging has raised hopes, but it has also spurred a debate about whether people should actually aspire to live that long.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Science & Technology

(BBC) Is there a novel that defines the 9/11 decade?

According to Bowker’s Books in Print database, which tracks print and e-books published and distributed in the United States, 164 such works have been written so far – they either directly address the event or use it as a peg to hang greater literary concerns about love, life and loss.

According to Erica Wagner, Literary Editor of The Times, such epoch-making events have traditionally proven to be great canvasses for the imagination.

“Everyone wonders: what if it had been me? What would I have done? It is the job of the novelist to think that through,” she says.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Books, History, Terrorism

Al Qaeda’s No. 2 Killed in Pakistan, U.S. Official Says

A drone operated by the C.I.A. killed Al Qaeda’s second-ranking operative in the mountains of Pakistan this month, an American official said Saturday, further weakening a terrorism network shaken by the killing of Osama bin Laden this year.

The official said that a drone strike on Aug. 22 killed Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a Libyan who in the past year had taken over as Al Qaeda’s top operational planner. Mr. Rahman was in frequent contact with Bin Laden in the months before the terrorist leader was killed in May by a Navy Seals team, intelligence officials have said.

American officials described Mr. Rahman’s death as particularly significant compared with those of other high-ranking Qaeda operatives because he was one of a new generation of Qaeda leaders who the network hoped would assume greater control after Bin Laden’s death.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Pakistan, Science & Technology, Terrorism

For Psychiatric Patients, Faith, Hope and a Writing Workshop

Six chaplains serve Creedmoor, a state hospital with 400 residents and 10,000 outpatients. The majority of those patients have received diagnoses of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. The chaplains represent Judaism, Islam, Catholicism and both mainline and evangelical Protestantism. They lead worship services, text study groups, spirituality discussions. They will soon hold a 9/11 memorial event. And up and down the corridors and through the wards they offer pastoral counseling.

A black spiritual, drawing on the prophet Jeremiah, has a refrain for this work: “There is a balm in Gilead, to make the wounded whole.” Rabbi Benjamin A. Samson, the chief chaplain at the hospital, has his own description: chicken soup.

“We provide a sense of almost refuge,” said the Rev. Jeff C. Williams, an evangelical Protestant minister. “It’s nonjudgmental, nonconfrontational. In all the other parts of their lives, there are limitations based on their diagnoses.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Psychology

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

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

Survey: Roman Catholic Infant Baptisms Decline

A new study shows that infant baptisms in the Catholic Church have been declining year by year along with the birth rate in the U.S.

The numbers “are generally moving in step with the overall fertility rate, which has also been falling, more so since the recession in 2008,” said researchers from Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate on Aug. 24.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Church of England–Religious Education is vital to a healthy society

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu, both expressed their concern about the current changes in education and RE during the House of Lords debate on the riots earlier this month. Dr Williams said that the current system had less room for the building of character and virtue. Dr Sentamu said that religious knowledge formed and created a culture and asked the Government how they planned to now fill the void.

Commenting on this year’s A-level/GCSE RE results, the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John Pritchard, who chairs the Church of England’s Education Division and National Society said: “Education is about the whole person, not just results and targets. RE is an academic subject that not only teaches pupils about different faiths and cultures but gives room for discussion that develops values, understanding and responsibility. We only have to look at the events of recent weeks to see how important this is. This is not about the church guarding its territory but about safeguarding a subject that has value to all. We shall continue our conversation with the Government on this.”

Read it all.

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

The US Catholic Bishops Conference Respect Life Program "takes us back to the basics"

The Respect Life Program begins anew each year on Respect Life Sunday, the first Sunday in October. The program is highlighted in liturgies and marked by special events. The USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities publishes a program packet each year to call attention to numerous human life issues. These materials are especially helpful for priests, parish groups and other organizations.

This year’s Respect Life Program takes us back to the basics. Eight pamphlets discuss the main attacks on human life and dignity. Click around to find more information, order Respect Life Program packets, single or grouped items, or find clip art, free bulletin inserts and more information for your parish.

Check it out and there is also an article here about this.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(LA Times) Tom Petruno–Bernanke and Buffett try the feel-better approach

Squeezed into a corner, Ben S. Bernanke tried a classic escape tactic: Create a diversion.

With financial markets hoping for something of substance in the Federal Reserve chairman’s speech on the economy Friday, Bernanke instead cooked up some comfort food. The near-term outlook is a struggle, he allowed, but over the long term the U.S. has the wherewithal to return to a healthy pace of growth.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Europe, Federal Reserve, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

In Arkansas, a Rogers' Anglican community is a on journey to the Roman Catholic Church

St. George Anglican Church in Rogers is one of 100 traditionalist Anglican parishes in the United States seeking to join the Catholic Church as a group.

According to Father Bob Hall, pastor of St. George Anglican Church, the small parish of 17 members was established in 2004 when the ordination of women and the ordination of an openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church came into the public spotlight.

The Traditional Anglican Communion, which St. George Church belongs, is a group of churches that separated from the worldwide Anglican Communion in 1991. It claims 400,000 members worldwide, including Australia, Canada, Puerto Rico and England.

Read it all.

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

Jay Rosen–Why Political Coverage is Broken

…this is my theme tonight: how did we get to the point where it seems entirely natural for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to describe political journalists appearing on its air as “the insiders?” Don’t you think that’s a little strange? I do. Promoting journalists as insiders in front of the outsiders, the viewers, the electorate”¦. this is a clue to what’s broken about political coverage in the U.S. and Australia. Here’s how I would summarize it: Things are out of alignment. Journalists are identifying with the wrong people. Therefore the kind of work they are doing is not as useful as we need it to be.

Part of the problem was identified by Lindsay Tanner in his book, Sideshow: Dumbing Down Democracy. He points out how often the Australian press reframes politics as entertainment, seizing on trivial episodes that amuse or titillate and then blowing them up until they start to seem important. I’m not going to dwell on this because Tanner has it well covered. So did my mentor in graduate school, Neil Postman, in his 1985 classic, Amusing Ourselves to Death.

From a TV programmer’s point of view the advantage of politics-as-entertainment is that the main characters, the politicians themselves, work for free! The media doesn’t have to pay them because taxpayers do. The sets are provided by the government, the plots by the party leaders, back benchers and spin doctors. Politics as problem-solving or consensus-building would be more expensive to cover. Politics as entertainment is simply a low cost alternative.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Australia / NZ, Media, Politics in General

(BBC) Google's Eric Schmidt criticises education in the UK

Google chairman Eric Schmidt has said education in Britain is holding back the country’s chances of success in the digital media economy.

He made his comments at the MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival.

Dr Schmidt said the UK needed to reignite children’s passion for science, engineering and maths.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Education, England / UK

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who art Spirit, and willest to be worshipped in spirit and in truth: Grant to us that, loving thee in all things and above all things, we may please thee by our prayers and by our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–William Bright

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Some boast of chariots, and some of horses; but we boast of the name of the LORD our God. They will collapse and fall; but we shall rise and stand upright. Give victory to the king, O LORD; answer us when we call.

–Psalm 20:7-9

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

NPR–Magician Penn Jillette Says 'God, No!' To Religion

Even if you believe in God, you might still be atheist. That’s what Penn Jillette argues in his new book God, No! Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales.

The louder half of the magician duo Penn & Teller ”” of Showtime’s Pen & Teller: Bull – – – – ”” frames his new book as the atheist’s Ten Commandments. In it, he wanders from rants about the war on drugs to stories of eating shellfish and bacon cheeseburgers with Hasidic Jews….

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Books, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(BBC) Abuja attack: Car bomb hits Nigeria UN building

At least 18 people have been killed in an apparent suicide car bombing at the United Nations headquarters in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

The powerful blast destroyed the lower floors of the building. Dozens have been injured, some critically.

A spokesman for the Islamist group Boko Haram told the BBC in a phone call that it had carried out the attack.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Nigeria, Terrorism

Rasmussen–55% Say Abortion Morally Wrong Most of the Time

Slightly more voters continue to classify themselves as pro-choice rather than pro-life when it comes to abortion, but a majority still believes it is morally wrong.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 48% of Likely U.S. Voters say, generally speaking, on the issue of abortion, they consider themselves pro-choice. Forty-three percent (43%) describe themselves as pro-life.

Pro-choice voters have slightly outnumbered pro-lifers in surveys for several years. Still, 55% believe abortion is morally wrong most of the time, a finding that shows little change since April 2007.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Science & Technology

Rodney Stark and Byron Johnson–Religion and the Bad News Bearers

The national news media yawned over the Baylor Survey’s findings that the number of American atheists has remained steady at 4% since 1944, and that church membership has reached an all-time high. But when a study by the Barna Research Group claimed that young people under 30 are deserting the church in droves, it made headlines and newscasts across the nation””even though it was a false alarm.

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

Local Paper front page–Torah-saving rabbi arrested

The man behind the discovery and restoration of the [Vengrov] Torah, Rabbi Menachem Youlus, was arrested Wednesday on federal fraud charges.

Youlus, 50, was released on $100,000 bail after appearing before a U.S. magistrate judge. His lawyer, Paul Rooney, denied the accusations, according to news reports.

Court documents show that Youlus, who had been affiliated with the nonprofit Save a Torah, was charged with one count of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud for allegedly scheming to “(obtain) money and property by means of false and fraudulent pretenses, representations and promises.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Judaism, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(CEN) Archbishop Rowan Williams to seek Mugabe meeting

The Archbishop of Canterbury will travel to Harare in October and will seek a meeting with Zimbabwe strongman Robert Mugabe to plead the case for the country’s persecuted Anglicans.

Dr Williams will also visit Malawi and Zambia during his tour of the Church of the Province of Central Africa, and is expected to offer moral encouragement to the Church. President Mugabe’s office has not decided whether the country’s leader since independence will meet with Dr Williams ”” who has been a harsh critic of the regime.

A spokesman for Lambeth Palace confirmed “the Archbishop is visiting Zimbabwe as part of a wider trip, which will also see him visit Malawi and Zambia,” but noted the itinerary had yet to be finalised.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Africa, Archbishop of Canterbury, Zimbabwe

Church Times–”˜Respectful’ hearing for debate over proposed rites for same sex unions

Participants [at the International Anglican Liturgical Consultation] came from 19 An­glican provinces, including Brazil, Hong Kong, Nigeria, and the Southern Cone. Topics included theology, cultural contexts, and the shape and elements of ritual. Papers were delivered by the Bishop of Central Tanganyika, the Rt Revd Mdimi Mhogolo, and by the Revd Dr Simon Jones, of Merton College, Oxford.

Dr Jones drew attention to the particular issues faced by Church of England clergy who frequently have to deal with couples presenting themselves for marriage in church, neither of whom are baptised, or attend church regularly.

Bishop Mhogolo explained that Christian missionaries who came to Tanzania had paid no attention to traditional Tanzanian marriage-customs, in which washing and anointing rather than rings and vows were the principal symbols.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Tanzania, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(ENS) Pamela Chinnis, first female House of Deputies president, passes from this life to the next

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Parish Ministry

One Episcopal Church's Self-Understanding–The Mission of St. James

From here:

The mission of St. James Episcopal Church, Knoxville, is “to feed and tend God’s sheep,” a ministry we attempt to live out day by day.It means nourishing our own parishioners through our vibrant liturgy, our rector’s learned, inspirational preaching, and our 30-member choir’s glorious singing.
It means raising up mature Christians through Christian formation classes on Sunday, as well as weekly Disciple groups.

It means building community at St. James through our Wednesday fellowship dinners and the meetings of our ECW and Daughters of the King, our Men’s Group, our Episcopal Peace Fellowship, and many other groups.

Having been fed ourselves, we are able to help the transitional neighborhood–and world–around us, whether through our Doorstep Ministry’s daily gifts of food or our Helping Hands Food Pantry’s distributions of non-perishable food to more than a hundred people every other Saturday, through our Mobile Meals volunteers or Appalachian Resource Team workers, through our Career Closet, which provides interview clothes to job-seeking women, or through the countless, often anonymous, charitable acts of our members.

To walk into our nave or parish hall is to enter a community that embraces both the Gospel call to personal transformation and the Gospel command to bring God’s kingdom to the world in which we live. Any day of the week you are likely to see this lively process of feeding and being fed under way at St. James Church.

Also, you may explore the parish’s website there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Parishes, Theology

(ENS) Episcopal Church Executive Council draft triennial budget preparation process underway

In preparation for the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in July 2012, the year-long budget preparation process for funding the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church has begun, according to a press release from the church’s Office of Public Affairs.

The Executive Council Aug. 25 announced a new approach to solicit input broadly from across the church on what the church’s funding priorities ought to be and what the program section of the draft budget.

“Changing and challenging financial realities at the churchwide level and for dioceses and congregations demand that a reassessment be done,” the release said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Stewardship

(NY Times) Asking Candidates Tougher Questions About Faith

This year’s Republican primary season offers us an important opportunity to confront our scruples about the privacy of faith in public life ”” and to get over them. We have an unusually large number of candidates, including putative front-runners, who belong to churches that are mysterious or suspect to many Americans. Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are Mormons, a faith that many conservative Christians have been taught is a “cult” and that many others think is just weird. (Huntsman says he is not “overly religious.”) Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann are both affiliated with fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity ”” and Rick Santorum comes out of the most conservative wing of Catholicism ”” which has raised concerns about their respect for the separation of church and state, not to mention the separation of fact and fiction.

I honestly don’t care if Mitt Romney wears Mormon undergarments beneath his Gap skinny jeans, or if he believes that the stories of ancient American prophets were engraved on gold tablets and buried in upstate New York, or that Mormonism’s founding prophet practiced polygamy (which was disavowed by the church in 1890). Every faith has its baggage, and every faith holds beliefs that will seem bizarre to outsiders. I grew up believing that a priest could turn a bread wafer into the actual flesh of Christ.

But I do want to know if a candidate places fealty to the Bible, the Book of Mormon (the text, not the Broadway musical) or some other authority higher than the Constitution and laws of this country….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Office of the President, Politics in General, Religion & Culture