Daily Archives: November 28, 2011
The number of religious advocacy groups in the nation’s capital has more than tripled since the 1970s, with conservative groups seeing the biggest growth, according to a new report.
Together, faith-based lobbying and advocacy groups spend $390 million a year to influence lawmakers, mobilize supporters and shape public opinion, according to the report, released Monday (Nov. 21) by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
The report reflects shifting fortunes in religion and politics: the rise of the religious right 35 years ago, the decline of mainline Protestant churches and the outsized presence of the Roman Catholic Church.
Researchers who study megachurches are skeptical that a bubble exists. Scott Thumma, a sociologist of religion at Hartford Seminary and co-author of Beyond Megachurch Myths: What We Can Learn from America’s Largest Churches, said all churches are vulnerable when they switch pastors or when their demographics change.
Good megachurches will adapt, he said. Bad ones will struggle.
He said people have predicted the end of megachurches for years. But like the big-box retailers they often resemble, Thumma believes, megachurches are here to stay.
[The] Revd John Pritchard is far from your average man of the church. Whilst guiding his flock back here in Oxford, he’s caused national controversy with his calls for church reform, in the process becoming the ultimate bogey-man for CofE traditionalists. Yet to some he is a leading progressive voice in a church plagued with doubt about its place in the world, an institution which in the eyes of many is fast descending into irrelevance. So who is this robed reformer?Despite hailing from Salford in Manchester, under the shadow of the Manchester Utd spotlights, Bishop John was educated right here in Oxford. Rather then reading Theology at some obscure Private Hall, the younger Pritchard was in fact a somewhat run-of-the-mill lawyer at St Peter’s. Of course this was before he received his ”˜calling’. “While I was putting all my ideas in the melting pot” the Bishop recounted “I encountered a Christian faith that was intellectually credible and emotionally satisfying”. From then on it was a matter of taking the relevant qualifications, at Oxford, Cambridge and Durham, eventually being ordained in 1972. Having successfully ascended the Anglican equivalent of the greasy pole, in 2007 he found himself returning to where it all began.
Bishop John sent shockwaves throughout the Anglican community when, in April 2011, he called for church schools to “serve the wider community”, arguing that they should reserve only one in ten places for church-going Christians….
As a younger man Jobs had visited Japan and become a Zen Buddhist. By contrast with Martin Luther King who “just wanted to do God’s will”, he never did. There was no God in Steve Jobs vision of the universe, just the overwhelming mandate to “become yourself” untrammeled by dogma, or other people’s thinking. To Stanford students in 2005 he said: “Your time is limited”¦follow your heart and intuition”¦know what you want to become.” Of course, if this life is all there is, then that will pass about as much muster as any other earth-bound philosophy. “Death doesn’t happen to life,” as a former classmate of mine once said. “Death happens in life.” But all such
att empts to romanticize the hard reality of the grave still cause one to ask: “Is that all there is?”
Pioneering work from across the province ”“ from support for orphan-headed households in Malawi to peace-building in Zimbabwe ”“ was highlighted as delegates made a reality of the Anglican Alliance mission to build the church’s mission to the poor and oppressed.
Delegates from Botswana, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe came together in a highly successful consultation led by the Archbishop of Central Africa, the Most Rev Albert Chama and spearheaded by provincial secretary Bishop William Muchombo and Ms Grace Phiri Mazala, national programmes director for the Zambia Anglican Council.
To be a serious Christian in modern Western culture is to be the favoured easy target of every progressive thinker and every half-witted comedian. It is to have your sensibilities and your deepest beliefs on perpetual call for taunts, mockery and desecration. At a time when all progressives preach full volume for inclusivity and sensitivity, for the utmost care in speech when speaking of others with differing views or hues, Christians, as Christians, are under a constant hail of abuse and disregard. There is nothing too low or too vulgar.
Something as inconsequential as a Christmas special, for example, will have ”” almost as an essential element, it being “Christ’s” birthday after all ”” something determinedly offensive to Christians. Russell Peters, the Canadian joker, for his special this year has invited Pamela Anderson, pinup queen and soft porn actress, to play the Virgin Mary.
Pamela Anderson as Mary the Immaculate: I know ”” the wit, the daring, the originality ”” hell, the bravery of it all….
Rejected by the Roman Catholic Church, in 2004 he became an …Episcopal] priest, even after informing the then bishop of Nevada, Katharine Jefferts Schori, that he had sexually transgressed just a few years earlier. She was also told by his former monastery about his sordid past and given highly damaging psychological records. Surprise, surprise. In July this year he resigned from his post and is currently facing criminal charges.
But here is where it all becomes somewhat Kafkaesque. Rather than campaigning against Jefferts Schori and demanding to know why she accepted into ordination a man with such a grotesque record ”” reports that suggested he was likely to reoffend ”” the usual anti-Catholic brigade have set up shop locally to attack the Catholic bishop and the Catholic Church.
Ms. Jefferts Schori, of course, is now the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States, or in other words the head of the American version of the Anglican communion. She is also a roaring liberal, a darling of the left, the gay community and those who believe Catholicism to be reactionary, ultra-orthodox and on the wrong side of history.
A priest has been arrested in the Indian state of Kashmir and charged with promoting religious enmity and outraging religious feelings after he baptised 15 Muslim young men who had converted to Christianity.
The Rev. Chander Mani Khanna, rector of All Saints Church in Srinigar in the Church of North India’s Diocese of Amritsar was jailed on 19 Nov 2011 by police following complaints laid against him by a local Muslim leader.
While India does not have a law forbidding religious conversions, a police official told the Hindustan Times Mr. Khanna had been booked for having violated laws against offering “allurements” to converts and for breaching the peace by having baptised the young Muslims.
A move by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to soften the women-bishops legislation, rejected by the General Synod in July last year, might return to the Synod next February.
The Catholic Group in Synod said on Tuesday that it was likely that the Synod would be invited to debate in February a motion “calling on the House of Bishops to exercise its powers to amend the Measure in the manner of the amendment jointly proposed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York”.
The Archbishops’ amendment had sought to establish bishops acceptÂable to traditionalists whose authÂority was derived from the legisla-tion ”” not delegated from the diocesan bishop, who might be a woman, as is proposed in the main Measure. AlÂthough it was defeated narrowly in the House of Clergy, it nevertheless achieved an overall majority.
How do you ask a room full of executives, actors, writers and producers expecting humor to forgive someone of an offense? That was exactly what happened recently at the Cinematheque Award Ceremony when Robert Downey Jr. received the prestigious honor.
During Downey Jr.’s acceptance speech, he said. “I asked Mel to present this award for me for a reason. When I couldn’t get sober, he told me not to give up hope and encouraged me to find my faith. It didn’t have to be his or anyone else’s as long as it was rooted in forgiveness. And I couldn’t get hired, so he cast me in the lead of a movie that was actually developed for him. He kept a roof over my head and food on the table and most importantly he said if I accepted responsibility for my wrongdoing and embraced that part of my soul that was ugly ”“ hugging the cactus he calls it ”” he said that if I hugged the cactus long enough, I’d become a man.
“ . . he asked in return that someday I help the next guy in some small way. It’s reasonable to assume at the time he didn’t imagine the next guy would be him or that someday was tonight. So . . . I would ask that you join me, unless you are completely without sin . . . in forgiving my friend his trespasses and offering him the same clean slate you have me.”
Who would have thought 10 years ago that Robert Downey Jr. would have such care for another actor to plea for someone else’s forgiveness, and such respect in the community that the audience would respond in applause and thereby give forgiveness implicitly.
O Sovereign God, who raisedst up (King) Kamehameha (IV) and (Queen) Emma to be rulers in Hawaii, and didst inspire and enable them to be diligent in good works for the welfare of their people and the good of thy Church: Receive our thanks for their witness to the Gospel; and grant that we, with them, may attain to the crown of glory that fadeth not away; through Jesus Christ our Savior and Redeemer, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.
O Lord, who hast taught us in thy holy Word that the night is far spent and the day is at hand: Awaken us from all sloth and slumber, that we may live as sons of light and of the day, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation; for his sake who died for us and rose again, even our Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion, Archbishop John Hepworth, will only be accepted as a layperson if he is to reconcile with the Catholic Church, reports the Australian.
Archbishop Hepworth has been notified by the Catholic Church that his bid to reunify the TAC with Rome has been successful, but his own case is conditional.
The dam is breaking in Europe. Interbank lending has seized up. Much of the financial system is paralysed, setting off a credit crunch just as Euroland slides back into slump.
The Euribor/OIS spread or`fear gauge’ is flashing red warning signals. Dollar funding costs in Europe have spiked to Lehman-crisis levels, leaving lenders struggling frantically to cover their $2 trillion (Â£1.3 trillion) funding gap.
America’s money markets are no longer willing to lend to over-leveraged Euroland banks, or only on drastically short maturities below seven days. Exposure to French banks has been slashed by 69pc since May.
Susan Howatch, whose books have sold more than 20 million copies, is financing the Starbridge Lectureship in Theology and Natural Science. She wants to ”strike a blow for theology to show that religion is not dead, but complements scientific discovery”.
Ms Howatch, 52, believes God has been guiding her. Although she made her first fortune writing blockbusters such as Penmarric, success and its trappings left her spiritually empty. She had houses in several countries, drove a Porsche and a Mercedes and after the break-up of her marriage had too many ”facile, transient liaisons”. In the early Eighties she told her editor she would be late with a novel and he said: ”What will I tell the accountants?”
”I was not interested in fame and fortune any more – I’d had it all since I was 30 and it hadn’t satisfied me. So I thought, ‘If I’m not in it for that and I’m not in it to keep my publishers in the black, what the hell am I doing it for?’
”God seized me by the scruff of the neck, slammed me against the nearest wall and shook me until my teeth rattled. I thought: ‘Okay, what does God actually require of me?’ ”
–The Independent, March 18, 1993, page 7, emphasis mine (a section of this was quoted by yours truly in this morning’s sermon)
Despite the chanting and the plastic tents, Tahrir Square now is a different place than it was during what is known in Egypt as the “18 Days,” back in January and February when protestors overthrew the Mubarak regime.
In Cairo, protestors have called for another massive demonstration in advance of Monday’s parliamentary elections. There are fears of renewed violence come Election Day; one man was killed on Saturday during clashes with Egyptian security services.
This latest phase of Egypt’s revolution has been a lot more violent, protestors say. In just nine days, at least 40 people have been killed and 2,000 more wounded in clashes with security forces. And, as the atmosphere changes, paranoia and sexual violence are on the rise.
FM: What inspired you to write “The Prague Cemetery,” and what did you hope to accomplish with it?
UE: I always said that one of the main features of human languages is the possibility of lying. Dogs do not lie. When they bark to say that someone is outside, they tell the truth. Human beings lie continuously … A particular form of lying is forgery … like “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” which, if not the only cause, certainly contributed to the Holocaust. I find [“The Protocols”] interesting because, one, they are a completely self-contradictory text … Second scandal, they were proven in 1921 to be false, and after that they were believed more and more, so it’s an interesting story. The fact that many beautiful and interesting historical essays were written on this topic is evidently not enough, because they have not reached the mass public audience. So, I don’t say it is the only motivation, but one of the motivations was that, maybe, transforming it into a narrative, I could reach more of an audience. I was just told yesterday that my book has been asked to be translated for Indonesia, a Muslim country. I don’t think Indonesians have gotten many opportunities to read the great scholarly books on “The Protocols”, which are reserved to a few scholars.
Read it all (emphasis mine).
Dear Mr President,
I write to you as one who grew up under a system that oppressed and censored the media ”“ a system that invoked fear in anyone who dared to read, or embrace, different views to those of the government of the day. The passage of the Protection of State Information Bill has stirred up in me vivid memories of my time as a student in the 1980s at Wits, and the traumatising experience of police ransacking our residence as they looked for classified material. The undercurrent of fear running through our lives that this created is so totally in contradiction to the open atmosphere of constructively critical readings of our life and times which we so much need in South Africa today.
Of course, every country has state secrets, and needs to classify them as such and protect them. I fully understand this. That South Africa needs to replace the old law from apartheid times, I also fully agree. Yet I also hear the cry that the current bill passed this week lacks the one necessary thing, an adequate public interest clause that relates to the criminality of those who ”˜transgress’ on these grounds.