Daily Archives: December 14, 2011

Martin Marty–Atheism in America

How can the United States be what some have noticed, “the first secular nation,” at the same time that it is “hyper-religious” in the eyes of others, notably European visitors? Pollsters are creatively busy as they listen to and observe these populations. Do the old definitions hold? Rice University sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund caught many an eye with her scholarly papers and media appearances. Ecklund’s “Atheists and Agnostics Negotiate Religion and Family” in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion gave her space to develop her case, and an important one it is. Her Science vs. Religion is a recent notable and well-noted book in this field.

What I take from her work is a caution lest citizens fall into the trap of over defining. The hyper-theistic make up a larger number than the hyper-atheistic, but both speak with similar incaution, for example between quarterback snaps in the theistic case and in most utterances of “the new atheists” on the other. Ecklund finds that one in five polled or interviewed atheist scientists with children “involve their children with religious institutions.”

Read it all.

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

(NY Times) Alvin Plantinga–A Philosopher Sticks Up for God

In “Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism,” published last week by Oxford University Press, he unleashes a blitz of densely reasoned argument against “the touchdown twins of current academic atheism,” the zoologist Richard Dawkins and the philosopher Daniel C. Dennett, spiced up with some trash talk of his own.

Mr. Dawkins? “Dancing on the lunatic fringe,” Mr. [Alvin] Plantinga declares. Mr. Dennett? A reverse fundamentalist who proceeds by “inane ridicule and burlesque” rather than by careful philosophical argument.

On the telephone Mr. Plantinga was milder in tone but no less direct. “It seems to me that many naturalists, people who are super-atheists, try to co-opt science and say it supports naturalism,” he said. “I think it’s a complete mistake and ought to be pointed out.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Apologetics, Atheism, Books, Other Faiths, Philosophy, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(Living Church) Grant LeMarquand to Serve Region He Loves

The Rev. Grant LeMarquand was in Egypt last year, preparing for a retreat at a monastery, when the Most Rev. Mouneer D. Anis invited him out for coffee. The bishop asked his friend a life-changing question: Would he consider being appointed an assistant bishop serving the Horn of Africa?

LeMarquand, professor of biblical studies and mission at Trinity School for Ministry, spent the next week and a half wrestling with Bishop Mouneer’s question while on retreat.

As part of his discernment, LeMarquand met with a committee in London, including Archbishop John Sentamu and retired Archbishop Maurice Sinclair, that advises Bishop Mouneer. The bishop announced LeMarquand’s appointment Dec. 8 in a letter to the Episcopal/Anglican Diocese of Egypt.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

Nigerian Bishop Olusina Fape Pays Tribute

The Bishop of Remo Anglican Diocese, The Right Reverend Olusina Fape, has described the Mother of the Diocese and Iya Ijo of Our Saviour’s Anglican Church, Ikenne Remo, Ogun State, Chief (Dr) Mrs HID Awolowo, as a rare gift to humanity and a blessing to her generation.

Bishop Fape stated this on Monday in a short address at the laying of the foundation of a multimillion naira HID Anglican Church, Sagamu, a church whose construction is being financed by Chief (Mrs) Awolowo.

The diocesan mother had organised a launching for the construction of the church during the Synod of Remo Anglican last May and held at Ikenne. She made history as the first individual to solely sponsor the annual event.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

BBC Radio Four Today Programme Audio Segment–Steve Wozniak on Apple and Counterculture

Allowing a counterculture to develop is vital to creating companies that will revolutionise an industry, according to Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple.
Speaking to Evan Davis for a BBC 2 programme about his former business partner Steve Jobs, he said that allowing creativity in the early days of Apple was far more important than how you dressed or the length of your hair.

Listen to it all (just under 5 minutes).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Psychology, Science & Technology

(CEN) Bishop of Ripon and Leeds Defends intervention in benefits debate

The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds and a Conservative MP have exchanged sharp words over a letter criticizing the government’s welfare reforms.

The member for Skipton and Ripon, Julian Smith, told the Ripon Gazette that Bishop John Packer was ignorant of economic reality and out of touch with ordinary people. Bishops should stay out of politics, Mr Smith said, and focus on topics with which they were familiar.

On 20 November 2011 the Observer printed a letter signed by Bishop Packer and 17 other bishops calling for amendments to the welfare reform bill before Parliament that would cut aid to families with children….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Economy, England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Washington Post) Married couples at a record low

The proportion of adults who are married has plunged to record lows as more people decide to live together now and wed later, reflecting decades of evolving attitudes about the role of marriage in society.

Just 51 percent of all adults who are 18 and older are married, placing them on the brink of becoming a minority, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of census statistics to be released Wednesday. That represents a steep drop from 57 percent who were married in 2000.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Marriage & Family

(CBS/AP) Payroll tax cut row threatens government shutdown

A Republican payroll tax cut bill that sailed through the House despite a White House veto threat is dead on arrival in the Senate, and it will soon be time for talks on a final package, the Senate’s top Democrat says….

Reid says he will schedule a vote shortly on the House-passed bill to underscore its irrelevance ”” a vote that should start the clock ticking on what stands as the year’s final, high-stakes partisan faceoff.

“It was dead before it got to the Senate,” Reid said of the House legislation. “The Senate will not pass it. The sooner we demonstrate that, the sooner we can begin serious discussions on how to keep taxes from going up on middle-class Americans.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, House of Representatives, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, Senate, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Remembering Harry Robinson "one of Canada’s most influential Christians" of the last 1/2 century

Harry’s success in parish ministry must undoubtedly be attributed to his genius as a preacher. While committed to the consecutive exposition of Scripture as the best way to build people up in the Christian faith, his highly original approach to the task reflected an innate creativity and an ability to use insightful narrative to disarm his unsuspecting listeners. He loved presenting Christianity to its wealthy, cultured despisers. Widely read and deeply culturally aware, his preaching combined piercing irony with deep spiritual insight and genuine humility.

Read all that Don Lewis wrote and read it carefully–he was a remarkable man.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canada, Church History, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Christ Church Savannah holds its last service in its Historic Building

Watch it all.

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

St. Louis church channels anger over Pujols for good

As members of The Gathering began to hear of the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments after Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols had signed a $254 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, they decided to act.

“We heard people were burning their Pujols jerseys, and someone said, ‘Why don’t we ask them to donate the jerseys, and we’ll give them away?'” said the Rev. Matt Miofsky, the pastor of the United Methodist church.

The 5-year-old church christened the effort, the “Recycle the Five Drive,” a play on Pujols’ jersey number. It began Facebook and Twitter campaigns to let disappointed Cardinals fans turn their anger into a positive.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Sports, Urban/City Life and Issues

A Prayer for the (Provisional) Feast Day of John of the Cross

Judge eternal, throned in splendor, who gavest Juan de la Cruz strength of purpose and mystical faith that sustained him even through the dark night of the soul: Shed thy light on all who love thee, in unity with Jesus Christ our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Church History, Europe, Spain, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Thou who with thine own mouth hast avouched that at midnight, at an hour when we are not aware, the Bridegroom shall come: Grant that the cry, The Bridegroom cometh, may sound evermore in our ears, that so we be never unprepared to meet him, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

–Lancelot Andrewes (1555-1626)

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

After this I looked, and lo, in heaven an open door! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up hither, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and lo, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne! And he who sat there appeared like jasper and carnelian, and round the throne was a rainbow that looked like an emerald. Round the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clad in white garments, with golden crowns upon their heads. From the throne issue flashes of lightning, and voices and peals of thunder, and before the throne burn seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God; and before the throne there is as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And round the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all round and within, and day and night they never cease to sing, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”

–Revelation 4:1-8

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Ottawa’s pension liabilities understated by $80-billion: report

The federal government is understating the liability for its employee pension plans by $80-billion because it does not use “real world” investment returns in its calculation, a new report says.

A C.D. Howe Institute study has concluded the federal liability for pension plans now totals $227-billion, which is $80-billion more than the government reports in its Public Accounts.

“Ottawa’s calculations do not reflect investment returns available in the real world,” says co-author William Robson, who is CEO of the C.D. Howe Institute.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Canada, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pensions, Personal Finance, Politics in General

NTSB urges nationwide ban on cellphone use while driving

The National Transportation Safety Board recommended Tuesday that all states and the District ban cellphone use behind the wheel, becoming the first federal agency to call for an outright ban on telephone conversations while driving.

Distracted driving, some of it due to cellphone use, contributed to an estimated 3,092 deaths in highway crashes last year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“No call, no text, no update, is worth a human life,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. “It is time for all of us to stand up for safety by turning off electronic devices when driving.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Science & Technology, Travel