Daily Archives: December 2, 2011

(WSJ Houses of Worship) Jonathan Sarna–American Jewry's Data Problem

Do we need a new nationwide count of America’s Jews?

It has been 10 years since anyone conducted a census of American Jewry””and no major organization has plans to conduct another one soon. (The official U.S. Census can’t ask questions about religion.) This means that the Jewish community may indefinitely lack the kind of data required for communal planning””how many Jews there are, where they live, whom they are marrying, what Jewish religious movements they adhere to and so forth.

Gathering such data is no easy task. Whereas many Christian churches calculate membership as the sum of all those they have baptized or who have made public declarations of their faith, Jews see themselves as a people embracing religious and nonreligious members alike. Thus life-cycle ceremonies and synagogue membership are insufficient proxies for membership in the Jewish community….

Read it all.

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

A Joint Evangelical response to Church of Ireland Bishops' Letter on Human Sexuality

The pastoral letter of 2003 refers to those who seek a change in favour of same-sex relationships on the grounds of ”˜a developing understanding of the nature of humanity and sexuality’. We would reject any implication, explicit or implied, by default or by design, that somehow those who hold to and affirm the teaching and doctrine of the church are somehow ”˜less informed’ or have a ”˜less developed understanding’. Whilst none of us see all things clearly, there are matters on which it is possible, on mature and informed reflection, to be clear. We welcome the inclusion of, and opportunity to engage with, all shades of opinion on the presenting issues….

We welcome this purpose and hope and pray we can conduct ourselves and our conversations with sensitivity, honesty, truth and grace. We would observe however that it is not just issues ”˜related to’ human sexuality that need to be addressed, but rather issues ”˜within which’ the current issue of human sexuality presents itself. We recognise the need to establish clear parameters that will enable us to deal specifically with the issue of sexuality. However, the framework in which we must think is indeed, as you have asserted, biblical, theological, and legal, to name but three. These are issues of how we interpret scripture, how faith engages with and critiques culture, of what it means to have a unity of mind and purpose, of what our mission is. The presenting issue is human sexuality but it is not the defining issue. We must not make the mistake of allowing human sexuality to become the lens through which we look at and understand wider issues.

The defining issue is our vision of God, and what it means for His people to represent Him in His mission of love to redeem His world. If we start with the ethics of human sexuality the danger is that we will end up with rather legalistic and regulated forms of wording as to what is or is not acceptable, with potentially some very hurtful and divisive dialogue along the way. If we start with our vision of God we might just end up with a renewed confidence in what it means to be a redeemed and transformed people, a new creation, a royal priesthood and a holy nation. Perhaps in so doing the Word of God made flesh may well redeem our words that they might speak truth in love, seasoned with grace. Language, and how we use it, will be very important as we proceed. We would respectfully suggest that the third purpose be stated as being ”˜to explore issues that include and may be related to human sexuality’.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Church of Ireland, England / UK, Ireland, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

WSJ Front Page–Americans Embrace SUVs Again

The sport-utility vehicle is making a comeback.

After being largely shunned during the recession, high-riding SUVs and workhorse pickups are regaining favor as U.S. consumers grow more confident and fuel prices remain below the $4 a gallon level that triggered a shift away from larger vehicles.

The rebound was clear Thursday as U.S. auto sales in November hit a 13.6 million annual pace, the strongest in more than two years, with sales of trucks and SUVs surpassing cars at many auto makers. The results are boosting Detroit auto makers that suffered when gas-guzzlers got the cold shoulder in 2008.

Makes this heart sad–read it all; KSH.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Personal Finance

Church of Scotland opposes Proposals to allow Same Sex Marriages

The Church of Scotland said it could not agree with a change in the law to allow same-sex weddings, arguing that it would fundamentally alter the understanding of marriage in Scotland as the union of one man with one woman….

“The Church of Scotland is concerned about the speed with which the Scottish Government is proceeding on this issue, and believes that the debate has so far been patchy, undeveloped and exclusive of both ordinary people and the religious community,” the church said.

“The government states that the purpose of this proposal to redefine marriage is to accommodate the wishes of some same-sex couples. The Church believes that much more measured consideration is required before the understanding of marriage, which is entrenched and valued within the culture of Scotland, both secular and religious, is surrendered to accommodate this wish.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Politics in General, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Scotland, Sexuality

(CEN) AMiA denies Rumours of Chuck Murphy's resignation as its Chairman

Rwandan leaders told CEN that they understood that Bishop Murphy had been asked at the September meeting to halt the implementation of the planned change. However, a series of meetings was subsequently held in Pawley’s Island discussing the status of the transformation. On 31 October 2011, Archbishop Rwaje wrote to Bishop Murphy “requesting that all procedures toward the formation of the new missionary society be halted until we go through the Jerusalem moment (are of common mind).”

The Archbishop’s letter also contained a strong word of rebuke, asking Bishop Murphy to reflect on “the spirit of rebellion and lawlessness.”

Last week Bishop Murphy met with Archbishop Onesphore Rwaje of Rwanda in Washington to discuss the AMiA’s reorganisation proposal. Details of the meeting have not been released, while a January meeting has been set for the bishops to discuss the future of the AMiA.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Provinces, Church of Rwanda, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(LA Times) Chase makes it easier for consumers to overspend

{Consumers are]…carrying less debt. The New York Federal Reserve reported this week that consumer debt had dropped by $60 billion in the most recent quarter as households “deleverage” to cope with tough times.

So how are some banks responding? They’re making it easier for people to run up balances on their credit cards.

In other words, they’re trying to get people to once again bury themselves in debt.

Case in point: Chase Freedom MasterCard holders are receiving notices that in addition to new benefits, their cards are being automatically switched from having credit limits to credit access lines ”” unless customers opt out of the change.

Ugh–read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Personal Finance, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(Church Times) Egypt’s Copts fear success of Islamist groups in election

Copts and other Christian com­munities in Egypt fear that the unexpectedly large turnout in the first of the three rounds of voting in parliamentary elections will be translated into a resounding success for the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party. Other parties representing more conserva­tive Islamists ”” Salafis and Jihadis ”” are also likely to fare better than had been thought.

“The signs are very worrying,” a schoolteacher in Alexandria, Gabriel Ghali, said. “We are all worrying about what the huge queues will mean in terms of the votes cast, and we suspect it will mean a victory for the Islamic groups ”” and that’s bad news for us.”

Tens of thousands of Christians have emigrated since the overthrow of the Hosni Mubarak regime, and the outbreak of attacks on mem-bers of the community and their property.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Coptic Church, Egypt, Foreign Relations, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

The Arteries in the Eurozone Interbank Lending System Get Even Further Clogged

“Just look at my screen. It tells the story. I have one big European bank willing to lend and 40 banks wanting to borrow. And look at those names, they aren’t little regional banks. They are some the biggest banks in the eurozone and they can’t get funding in the marketplace. They have to go to the ECB.”

–A trader as quoted in this morning’s Financial Times.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

A Chance Encounter with a Magical Murmuration of Starlings–in a Canoe and on a Lake

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

Simply stunning–watch it all.

Posted in * General Interest, Animals

(Christian Post) Episcopal Church Clears South Carolina Bishop of Violating Principles

(Important note: The [South Carolina] Episcopal Forum, which is mentioned in the article as having been involved in expressing some of the allegations, has explicitly denied being involved in the accusations; they were brought by individuals whose identity is not known–KSH).

The Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, was cleared of charges that he was planning to break with The Episcopal Church.

“[L]et me express my heartfelt gratitude for the innumerable letters, emails and spoken words of encouragement I have received from so many within the diocese,” wrote Lawrence in a letter to diocese members.

The Rev. Dr. Kendall S. Harmon, canon theologian for the Diocese of South Carolina, told The Christian Post that the diocese was “relieved” by the decision.

“We are relieved at the decision and thankful for the hard work of the people involved,” said Harmon, adding that they were “deeply troubled” over what Lawrence had to go through.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Historic Christ Church in Savannah to return to local congregation Dec. 12

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Georgia

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Channing Moore Williams

Almighty and everlasting God, we thank thee for thy Servant Channing, whom thou didst call to preach the Gospel to the peoples of Asia. Raise up, we beseech thee, in this and every land heralds and evangelists of thy kingdom, that thy Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Saviour Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Church History, Missions, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

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.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

–Jude 1:1-3

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Favorite Headline of the Last Week–Facebook: We didn't do it, but we promise not to do it again

I found it there-heh.

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

The Presiding Bishop's Advent Reflection

Watch it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop

Question for the Blog Community–Good Resources for Family Devotions

When I came downstairs from running, I had this IM sitting on the screen:

Family devotions I am wondering if you have any tips…ours are (three ages listed, none yet teenagers)…I cannot say I am strong on this, actually very weak…any good books etc or suggestions on daily or weekly suggestions let me know, we do prayers with the kids…

What would your ideas or suggestions be to my friend?

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Children, Marriage & Family, Spirituality/Prayer

With few parishioners, historic Near [Chicago's] West Side Episcopal Church is closing

After nearly 130 years as one of the Near West Side’s richest landmarks, the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany is closing its doors.

The massive structure at 201 S. Ashland Ave. had a congregation that dwindled down to almost nothing. Only five to seven people were showing up every Sunday, and what few parishioners remained came to the decision in early November that it wasn’t sustainable to keep the building open.

With such a small group of parishioners, it was impossible to fill the coffers just to meet the basic needs of the church, according to one of the congregation’s leaders, Nikki Shields.

Read it all.

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