Daily Archives: September 13, 2011

(RNS) Muslim Groups File Petition Against Islamic law

As a federal appeals court in Denver considers whether Oklahoma voters had the right to ban Islamic law in state courts, a coalition of Muslim groups say they don’t want to live under Shariah law in Michigan or anywhere else.

An umbrella group called the American Islamic Leadership Conference recently announced its support for a proposed Michigan law that would forbid state judges from enforcing foreign laws, including Shariah, when they violate the U.S. Constitution.

The statement said the group recognized that people of faith had the right to religious arbiters so long as their decisions didn’t conflict with American law.

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

(USA Today) More Americans tailoring religion to fit their needs

If World War II-era warbler Kate Smith sang today, her anthem could be GodsBless America.

That’s one of the key findings in newly released research that reveals America’s drift from clearly defined religious denominations to faiths cut to fit personal preferences.

The folks who make up God as they go are side-by-side with self-proclaimed believers who claim the Christian label but shed their ties to traditional beliefs and practices. Religion statistics expert George Barna says, with a wry hint of exaggeration, America is headed for “310 million people with 310 million religions.”

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

(BBC) Cost of dying 'has risen by £400'

The costs related to death, such as a funeral and a headstone, have collectively risen by £400 in a year to £7,248, a report says.

The cost is 20% higher than four years ago, according to the report commissioned by financial services company Sun Life Direct.

The cost of funerals was key to the increase, it said,

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Economy, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Kunonga faction storms orphanage

The fight over control of Anglican Church properties reached frightening proportions yesterday when the Nolbert Kunonga-led faction evicted caregivers at an orphanage in Murehwa, leaving over 100 children in a quandary.

Three caregivers at Shearly Cripps Children’s Home were reportedly forced out of the institution for aligning themselves with the Chad Gandiya diocese, which lost the court battle for the control of the church’s property last year.

According to one evictee, Dorothy Makwarimba, a messenger of court arrived at the orphanage yesterday morning, brandishing a court order for them to vacate.

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

Nelson Jones–Why should the appointment of Rowan Williams' successor be left to a committee?

If Rowan Williams resigns as Archbishop of Canterbury next year, possibly to take up a professorship in Cambridge, there will be intense speculation as to the identity of his successor. Two facts are unlikely to change, however. Firstly, even if the General Synod passes the necessary rule-change to allow the appointment of female bishops, the next Archbishop will be a man. Second, ordinary members of the Church of England will have very little say in the matter.

The process of choosing bishops and archbishops of the Established church is convoluted and arcane, but its underlying philosophy (like much in Britain) seems to be that some matters are too important to be left to the vagaries of a democratic process. Technically, senior posts in the Church of England are appointed by the Queen, in her capacity as Supreme Governor and Defender of the Faith, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister (who isn’t required to have any religious affiliations at all). Some recent prime ministers, including Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, are rumoured to have intervened in the selection process. These days, however, the practice of submitting two alternative names to Downing Street has been superseded, which means that bishops and archbishops are now effectively chosen by an obscure committee….

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

George Will–September 11’s self-inflicted wounds

Ten years on from Sept. 11, national unity, usually a compensation for the rigors of war, has been a casualty of wars of dubious choices. Ten years after 1941, and in more recent decades, the nation, having lost 400,000 in the unavoidable war that Pearl Harbor announced, preferred to remember more inspiriting dates, such as D-Day.

Today, for reasons having little to do with 9/11 and policy responses to it, the nation is more demoralized than at any time since the late 1970s, when, as now, feelings of impotence, vulnerability and decline were pervasive. Of all the sadness surrounding this anniversary, the most aching is the palpable and futile hope that commemoration can somehow help heal self-inflicted wounds.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Foreign Relations, Globalization, History, Terrorism

Leading mothers out of poverty, into jobs

[There are] 21 participants in the Mother-to-Mother program, an initiative made possible through a $70,000 grant from the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina. The 12-month project targets high- poverty, unemployed mothers who do not have a high school diploma and in many cases test below the eighth-grade level in reading or math.

The goal is for them to earn a GED and WorkKeys certificate, which is an assessment that measures real-world job skills.

“We want to move toward this program model for everything we do,” said Eileen Chepenik, the association’s executive director.

Read it all from the front page of yesterday’s local paper.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Children, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Poverty, Women

(Economist) Women are rejecting marriage in Asia;The social implications are serious

…marriage is changing fast in East, South-East and South Asia, even though each region has different traditions. The changes are different from those that took place in the West in the second half of the 20th century. Divorce, though rising in some countries, remains comparatively rare. What’s happening in Asia is a flight from marriage (see article).

Marriage rates are falling partly because people are postponing getting hitched. Marriage ages have risen all over the world, but the increase is particularly marked in Asia. People there now marry even later than they do in the West. The mean age of marriage in the richest places””Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong””has risen sharply in the past few decades, to reach 29-30 for women and 31-33 for men.

A lot of Asians are not marrying later. They are not marrying at all. Almost a third of Japanese women in their early 30s are unmarried; probably half of those will always be. Over one-fifth of Taiwanese women in their late 30s are single; most will never marry. In some places, rates of non-marriage are especially striking: in Bangkok, 20% of 40-44-year old women are not married; in Tokyo, 21%; among university graduates of that age in Singapore, 27%. So far, the trend has not affected Asia’s two giants, China and India. But it is likely to….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Marriage & Family, Women

(USA Today) Stephen Prothero–How 9/11 changed religion in America

In short, things are not looking good for Americans like myself who see religious liberty as one of the great achievements of the American experiment. Today, not only Muslims but also Hindus and Sikhs, Buddhists and humanists are on the outside of American public culture looking in. But as Jesus once said, “Take heart.”

The United States has survived a series of culture wars in which Catholics, Mormons and members of other religious minorities were anathematized as un-American. In each case, Americans as a group have eventually decided to live not by fear but by first principles, not least the constitutional protection of liberty afforded in the First Amendment to Americans of all creeds.

Sept. 11, 2001, was, of course, a national trauma. Americans responded to that trauma, however, with a show of unity that crossed lines of race, region and religion. Such unity is easier to find in wartime, of course, or when one of our cities is strewn by hate with cremated remains. But it is always there in our cultural DNA ”” in Jefferson’s insistence in his first inaugural address that “we are all Republicans, we are all Federalists,” and in the words of Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural: “We are not enemies, but friends.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Church-State Issues, History, Islam, Judaism, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

Time Magazine–How to Preach on Sunday, September 11, 2011

This Sunday’s sermon has been a hot topic for pastors across the country for months. Barbara Brown Taylor, a critically-acclaimed Episcopal preacher and Islam professor at Piedmont College, has become a go-to for sermon counsel. “I would focus on wisdom gained. I would try to think about what we have learned over these 10 years,” she says of the anniversary Sunday. “What we have learned about our religious neighbors, what we have learned about ourselves, and what does our tradition teach us about how to go forward?”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Terrorism

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John Chrysostom

O God, who didst give to thy servant John Chrysostom grace eloquently to proclaim thy righteousness in the great congregation, and fearlessly to bear reproach for the honor of thy Name: Mercifully grant to all bishops and pastors such excellency in preaching, and fidelity in ministering thy Word, that thy people shall be partakers with them of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Our God, we believe in thee, we hope in thee, and we love thee, because thou hast created us, redeemed us, and dost sanctify us. Increase our faith, strengthen our hope, and deepen our love, that giving up ourselves wholly to thy will, we may serve thee faithfully all the rest of our life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption; therefore, as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord.”

–1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Sunday Telegraph) Michael Nazir-Ali: The end of Islamic extremism is far from nigh

Apologists, both Western and Muslim, claim that Islamist extremism and terrorism have been bred by resentment of Western power. The military dominance of Israel, the roots of the Kashmir dispute, the megalomania of the Shah of Iran, and Suez are all seen to be examples of Western hubris and ill-will towards the Muslim world.

We can acknowledge that these have contributed to anti-Western sentiment in the Muslim world, but it would be a serious mistake to believe this provides a complete account of the extremism and the terror that has resulted from it.

At the heart of extremism is an ideology, a world-view ”“ and not just concerning the perceived wrong done to the Muslim Umma (or people). Such an ideology expects Islam to dominate rather than to accept a subservient place in world affairs. It promotes pan-Islam and the ultimate rejection of nation-states, even Muslim ones. It may be that some extremists chatter about an Islamic state, in this part of the world or that; however, its ultimate aim is a single Islamic political, social, economic and spiritual entity.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Independent on Sunday) Church accused of asset-stripping over property sales

Some of the Church of England’s finest historic properties are coming under the hammer as bishops’ grace-and-favour residences across the country are sold off to cut costs.

The Independent on Sunday has identified at least seven prime Church of England buildings which have been, or are to be, sold. While the Anglican church needs funds, some of the sales have prompted suggestions that it is indulging in asset stripping.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)