Daily Archives: December 9, 2011

Michael Paulsen–The Most Important Religious Liberty Case of the Past Thirty Years

Thirty years ago… [yesterday], on December 8, 1981, the Supreme Court decided the case of Widmar v. Vincent””probably the most important pro-religious-liberty judicial decision of the modern era. The question at issue was whether the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), a state university, could bar a Christian student group named “Cornerstone” from using university facilities because the students wished to engage in religious worship and expression. While UMKC allowed other student groups to use its facilities, the university excluded Cornerstone from doing so under a regulation forbidding the use of its buildings “for purposes of religious worship or religious teaching.”

By a vote of 8”“1, the Court held that the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause protects religious speech and association by private speakers and groups, just as it protects speech by any other speakers on any other subject, and that the Establishment Clause does not authorize discriminatory exclusion of religious speech.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

George Weigel–We Live Under a Dictatorship of Relativism

During his homily at the Mass pro eligendo Romano Pontifice (for the election of the Roman Pontiff) on April 18, 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger cautioned his fellow-cardinals that John Paul II’s successor would have to deal with an emerging “dictatorship of relativism” throughout the western world: the use of coercive state power to impose an agenda of dramatic moral deconstruction on all of society.

Some Catholic commentators charged that Ratzinger’s warning was so over-the-top that he could never be elected pope. Others thought the formula “dictatorship of relativism” a neat summary of a grave threat to freedom and believed that a man with the courage to call things by their true names would make a fine pontiff.

Recent events throughout the western world have fully vindicated the latter.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Canada, Europe, Law & Legal Issues, Philosophy, Religion & Culture

(Christianity Today) Anthony Baker–Learning to Read the Gospel Again

(Alert blog readers are asked to note where the author of this article teaches–KSH).

A recent study on youth and discipleship by Slavic theologian Jana Struková suggests that the key to this sort of formation is in renewing a sense of Christianity as a vocation. A vocation is a calling, a “voicing” of the gospel into language that speaks directly to the reader or listener. As Martin Luther argued, the gospel is nothing until I hear it addressed to me; once my ears are trained to hear it, I can begin responding, “working with words” to live out an answer to its call.

Reframing Hollinger’s concept of acculturation as vocation shows us that gospel words are irreplaceable in the formation of Christian youth. If they are brought up constantly hearing God’s loving address, they will grow to love the gospel like they love their friends and family. And this is not just due to the nostalgic familiarity of the “big black book on the shelf.” No, it is the message, the content””the very voice of God in the words of Scripture””that inspires devotion. The challenge of Christian education, according to the early 20th-century theorist George Albert Coe, is to “lead each one to adopt” the words and teachings of the faith “as his very own desire, purpose, and practice.”

How well are we meeting this challenge? A quick survey of adult classes and Sunday sermons does not paint a pretty picture….

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Adult Education, Children, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Media, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Theology

Anglican Ink–Christianity Today picks up the AMiA story

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of Rwanda, Other Churches

University of Oxford Faculty of Theology plans name change

The Faculty of Theology plans to change its name to the Faculty of Theology and Religion from October 2012, subject to approval from the Council of the University.

The change of name continues to reflect the Faculty’s longstanding traditions of Christian Theology, while acknowledging the greater breadth of teaching and research found in the Faculty today….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Education, England / UK, Theology

EU suffers worst split in history as David Cameron blocks treaty change

The European Union suffered the most damaging split in its 54 year history after David Cameron used the British veto to block eurozone treaty change after France and Germany opposed “safeguards” to protect Britain’s economy….

The Prime Minister insisted that he had been prepared to support treaty change among all 27 of the EU’s members to allow the 17-strong eurozone to take measures to tackle its debt crisis and to enforce tough new fiscal rules for the single currency.

But after 11 hours of bad-tempered talks, Mr Cameron said that he had blocked the changes because France and Germany and refused to agree to a “protocol” giving the City of London protection from a wave of EU financial service regulations related to the eurozone crisis.

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

In Tennessee, Sumner schools to stop religious activities

The Sumner County Board of Education settled a lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union over teacher-led prayer and other religious activity in public schools.

This is the third time in three years that the ACLU has taken a Middle Tennessee school district to court over religion. The Sumner suit was filed in May on behalf of nine students who complained that teachers were leading prayer in classrooms, religious groups were distributing Bibles, school events were being held in churches, and schools were allowing local churches to send youth ministers into the lunchrooms to preach to children, unsupervised.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, City Government, Education, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Civil-partnership ban seen as challenge

The possibility of getting church halls approved for the registering of civil partnerships is being explored after new regulations on civil partner­ships in places of worship came into force on Monday. The Church of England nationally is not allowing the use of churches.

A note from the General Synod’s secretary-general, William Fittall, sent to Synod members last Friday, said that under the new rules “no Church of England religious premises may become ”˜approved premises’ for the registration of civil partnerships without there having been a formal decision by the General Synod to that effect.”

An accompanying Legal Office memorandum seeks to allay fears of litigation under the Equality Act if churches refuse to hold the cere­mon­ies. It says that the “clear view” of the Legal Office and government lawyers is that churches would not be guilty of illegal discrimination.

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

(Telegraph) St Andrew's: Moscow's only Anglican church

Moscow’s only Anglican church, St Andrew’s, opened its doors 127 years ago to meet the needs of the Russian capital’s growing British community.

Seeing as the Scots were the wealthiest members of the community at the time, the church was dedicated to the patron saint of Scotland.

The architect, Richard Knill Freeman, never came to Russia, sending the drawings of the building (a replica of hundreds of Victorian Anglican churches) and his recommendations by post.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Russia

Michael Jensen–The Lost Art of Thanksgiving

Christian worship is a political act – as much as any placard waving demonstration or any conniving behind the scenes number-crunching. In worship, Christians bow to a power above and beyond Kings and Presidents. They name Jesus Christ as the supreme Lord. They proclaim a name that is above every name. In Christian worship we are reminded that reality isn’t what it appears to be.

That is the remarkable achievement of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP). It draws the worshipper into the world as the Scriptures describe it – a world in which only God is Almighty and yet supremely merciful and in which human beings are utterly dependent on him, for life and for new life.

That contemporary revisions of the liturgy have de-emphasized the sovereign power of God by preferring to address him by any name other than “Almighty” loosens a knot that binds the theology of the BCP tightly together.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Book of Common Prayer, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Globe and Mail) Russell Smith–Shame on us: The invention of sex addiction

(Please note–the content of this article may not be suitable for some blog readers–KSH).

The invention of sex addiction reflects the culture’s deep-rooted fear that too much sex without commitment is bad for you.

Interestingly, there’s no proof of that. In fact, sex addiction isn’t even an accepted disease among most psychiatric and psychological organizations in the world. The American Psychiatric Association no longer includes it as a pathology in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. This is largely because there is no consensus even among researchers of exactly what an addiction is ”“ there are as many definitions of addiction as there are treatment centres….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Movies & Television, Other Faiths, Psychology, Secularism, Sexuality, Theology

Presiding Bishop Pays a visit to Jersey City

[The Episcopal Church]…is hemorrhaging members. In the last 40 years, the Episcopal Church in the U.S. lost 34 percent of its members and 3.66 percent in the last five. This year it declined 2.36 percent and counts just over 2 million members….

Jefferts Schori did not give any response about this decline, nor did she comment on the Catholic Church’s outreach to disaffected Episcopalians….

[Instead she said she] sees encouraging signs. “Engagement in God’s mission looks different in different places, but it usually has something essential to do with Jesus’ own primary acts of service – feeding, healing, and teaching people,” said Jefferts Schori, mid way though her nine year term. “I also see church members moving out into the community to listen to the deep spiritual questions of the unchurched and dechurched.” And she’ll find out this Sunday that is also what has revitalized Incarnation.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, TEC Parishes

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty God, who in many and various ways didst speak to thy chosen people by the prophets, and hast given us, in thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of the hope of Israel: Hasten, we beseech thee, the coming of the day when all things shall be subject to him, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end.

–Church of South India

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

“Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider how you have fared. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may appear in my glory, says the LORD. You have looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? says the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while you busy yourselves each with his own house. Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. And I have called for a drought upon the land and the hills, upon the grain, the new wine, the oil, upon what the ground brings forth, upon men and cattle, and upon all their labors.” Then Zerub’babel the son of She-al’ti-el, and Joshua the son of Jehoz’adak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him; and the people feared before the LORD. Then Haggai, the messenger of the LORD, spoke to the people with the LORD’s message, “I am with you, says the LORD.” And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerub’babel the son of She-al’ti-el, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehoz’adak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month. In the second year of Darius the king…

–Haggai 1:7-15

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Washington Post Talks to new Washington D.C. Episcopal Bishop Mariann Budde

…[Mariann] Budde, who was installed last month as the ninth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, faces a tough road. After a decade of schism within the church and a broad disillusionment with mainline Protestantism in general, membership in the Episcopal Church in America ”” the denomination of FDR and George Herbert Walker Bush, the throne of high WASP-dom ”” has fallen on hard times.

Recent polls put Episcopalians in America at fewer than 2 million, which means that there are numerically more Jews, more Muslims and more Mormons in this country than there are Episcopalians. Washington, D.C., one of the largest and most visible dioceses in the country, has not suffered the same radical attrition as elsewhere; still, membership has stagnated for the past 10 years at about 40,000 members in 88 congregations.

“We got so fascinated with ourselves that the world just sped by us,” says Budde. “We’re like a boutique. We’re the most inclusive church in the world that’s the tiniest church in Christendom. .”‰.”‰. I’m not interested in being the leader of a boutique church.”

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

Siddhartha Mukherjee looks back on his time at Oxford

How did you find Oxford in 1993 after Stanford?

The differences were stark. Stanford is sunny, dry, very California, very informal; Oxford is cloudy, wet, and quite formal! Stanford was founded in the late 19th century, and Oxford’s ethos at first glance appears to belong to another era. But both schools are places of ideas and have a very committed academic culture.

What were your first impressions?

I lived at Magdalen in a ground-floor room looking onto Longwall Street. It was quite dismal so I spent as much time as I could in the Magdalen gardens. But in my second year I had a beautiful apartment that overlooked Rose Lane and the rose gardens in the Daubeny Building, and that was like being moved from a black hole into the most beautiful place on campus.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Books, Education, England / UK, History, Science & Technology

Renewing Wedding Vows–After the Years’ Ups and Downs, Beginning Again

Dr. [Alexandra] Bloom and Mr. [Tom] Nishioka, who is 42, met on Jan. 5, 2000, in a swing-dance class in the East Village. “Tom was the perfect lead,” Dr. Bloom said.

Even without the diagnosis of cancer, for which she still receives treatment, she said they would have renewed their vows.

“With any couple, the years go by, and you go through so much together ”” the birth of children, and the ups and downs of work lives, to name just a few,” Dr. Bloom said. “And time passes, and everything changes, and yet the couple stays together. And there’s something so powerful about that, and it’s so moving.”

Celebrating the renewal of vows can take many shapes and forms ”” not usually three-day events ”” depending on religious traditions and personal preferences.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

Fort Worth–Change of plans at St. Timothy's

From here:

On Dec. 2, leaders of the Diocese announced they had received a request from the Bishop’s Committee at St. Timothy’s, Fort Worth, asking that members of the mission congregation, as well as Fr. Christopher Stainbrook, the vicar, be permitted to become part of the Roman Catholic Church’s Anglican Ordinariate while continuing to use the real property of the church for worship, instruction, and fellowship activities. It was announced that a forum would be held on Sunday, Dec. 11, to discuss the situation, and that a vote of the qualified members would be taken the following week in order to ascertain the wish of the majority of the congregation.
On Dec. 6, lawyers for The Episcopal Church parties delivered a letter to our legal team inquiring about the situation at St. Timothy and commenting that the proposed use of the St. Timothy property by a body from another denomination would not be a “normal course of business use” in compliance with the order of the 141st District Court signed Oct. 20, 2011. The team was asked to explain how the situation would be handled to be in compliance with the order to avoid a hearing before the court, or the TEC lawyers indicated they would proceed to bring the matter to the court’s attention.

Our attorneys have therefore informed Fr. Stainbrook and the Bishop’s Committee that “Bishop Iker and the diocesan leadership … cannot jeopardize the entire Diocese as a result of your desire to join the Ordinariate.” It is imperative that all parties to the proceedings in the 141st, including St. Timothy, obey the October 20 order.

As a result, the Dec. 18 vote of the mission congregation has been canceled. The Dec. 11 forum will be held as planned, so that the congregation has an opportunity to ask questions and share its concerns. Bishop Iker will accept Fr. Stainbrook’s resignation from Anglican orders as part of his stated intention to seek re-ordination for service in the Ordinariate.

“We regret,” Bishop Iker says, “that the desires of the St. Timothy’s Ordinariate group to continue to use the facilities after Jan. 1, 2012, would be contrary to the court order and subject all of us to unnecessary legal proceedings that the TEC lawyers have stated they are prepared to pursue. Sadly, this prevents a pastoral solution to a sensitive issue of spiritual discernment. We are grateful to Bishop Keith Ackerman for his willingness to provide Sunday services at St. Timothy’s beginning on the first Sunday after Christmas Day.”

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth