Daily Archives: December 15, 2011

Al Mohler Reminds us of the Importance of the Virgin Birth

Carl F. H. Henry, the dean of evangelical theologians, argued that the Virgin Birth is the “essential, historical indication of the Incarnation, bearing not only an analogy to the divine and human natures of the Incarnate, but also bringing out the nature, purpose, and bearing of this work of God to salvation.” Well said, and well believed.

Nicholas Kristof and his secularist friends may find belief in the Virgin Birth to be evidence of intellectual backwardness among American Christians. But this is the faith of the Church, established in God’s perfect Word, and cherished by the true Church throughout the ages….

This much we know: All those who find salvation will be saved by the atoning work of Jesus the Christ ”” the virgin-born Savior. Anything less than this is just not Christianity, whatever it may call itself. A true Christian will not deny the Virgin Birth.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Advent, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Media, Religion & Culture, Theology

Province IV Bishops Release Statement Concerning Meeting with Bishop Lawrence

15 December 2011

On Wednesday, December 14, Province IV bishops diocesan were invited to attend a meeting in Charleston, South Carolina with Bishop Mark Lawrence to discuss the recent issuing of quitclaim deeds by Bishop Lawrence and the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina to parishes of the diocese. A representative group who were available at the appointed time and date attended the meeting.

Gracious hospitality and collegiality characterized the gathering during which we prayed and participated in open, honest, and forthright conversation. Probing questions were asked by all, and it is fair to say that we did not agree on all matters discussed. For the visiting bishops, the gathering particularly helped to clarify the context of the Diocese of South Carolina’s quitclaims decision. Where we go in the future is a matter of prayer and ongoing engagement of concerns before us, an engagement we embrace out of our love for Christ and his Church.

The Right Reverend Scott Anson Benhase
The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia

The Right Reverend Michael B. Curry
The Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina

The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel III
The Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina

The Rt. Rev. Don E. Johnson
The Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee

The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence
The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina

The Rt. Rev. G. Porter Taylor
The Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina

The Rt. Rev. W. Andrew Waldo
The Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Polity & Canons

Google reveals 'Zeitgeist' survey of top British web searches for 2011

Google’s annual run-down of Britain’s most popular and fastest rising searches always makes for a revealing list ”“ the internet search engine calls the study “Zeitgeist” because it aims to capture the spirit of our age.

This year the royal wedding was fastest-rising but, tellingly, it doesn’t even make the top 10 most popular UK searches. That’s dominated by functional queries for Facebook, eBay, YouTube, Hotmail and, oddly, Google itself. When it comes to individuals, the same is true: Kim Kardashian, Victoria Beckham and Emma Watson are most popular, untouched by the fastest-rising people such as the late American TV star Ryan Dunn or singers Adele and Ed Sheeran.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, History, Science & Technology

Time's Person of the Year for 2011–The Protester

“Massive and effective street protest” was a global oxymoron until ”” suddenly, shockingly ”” starting exactly a year ago, it became the defining trope of our times. And the protester once again became a maker of history.

It began in Tunisia, where the dictator’s power grabbing and high living crossed a line of shamelessness, and a commonplace bit of government callousness against an ordinary citizen ”” a 26-year-old street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi ”” became the final straw. Bouazizi lived in the charmless Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, 125 miles south of Tunis. On a Friday morning almost exactly a year ago, he set out for work, selling produce from a cart. Police had hassled Bouazizi routinely for years, his family says, fining him, making him jump through bureaucratic hoops. On Dec. 17, 2010, a cop started giving him grief yet again. She confiscated his scale and allegedly slapped him. He walked straight to the provincial-capital building to complain and got no response. At the gate, he drenched himself in paint thinner and lit a match.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Globalization, Media, Politics in General, Psychology, Science & Technology

Leon Panetta Arrives in Baghdad for Military Handover Ceremony as the U.S. Iraq Mission Ends

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta landed in the Iraqi capital on Thursday for the ceremony officially ending the military mission here and closing out a bloody and controversial chapter of American relations with the Islamic world.

Pentagon officials said Mr. Panetta would thank all American service members who served here since the 2003 invasion, and would laud them for “the remarkable progress we have seen here in Baghdad and across this country.”

Mr. Panetta also was expected to note that the American effort “helped the Iraqi people to cast tyranny aside and to offer hope for prosperity and peace to this country’s future generations.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iran, Iraq, Iraq War, Middle East, Politics in General

(Christianity Today) Katherine Richards–Frank Capra's Miracle Woman

It’s that time of year when we start watching favorite Christmas movies, and for many, the list begins with Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life. When we think of Capra’s films, it’s easy to break into a smile, for he was “the great constructor of happy endings,” as biographer Vito Zaggiro has written.

But Zaggiro doesn’t stop there. In the very same sentence””in his article titled “It’s (Not) A Wonderful Life: For a Counter-Reading of Frank Capra,” Zaggiro notes that the director’s films also often “represented enormous social contradictions and conflict that clash with the surface message of his films….”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Europe Strains World's Banks

The world’s financial system showed new signs of strain on Wednesday as banks and investors clamored for U.S. dollars and two European banks took emergency measures to address the deepening crisis.

Stresses rippled through debt and stock markets despite measures taken by European leaders last week to help restore investor confidence. Reflecting the tension, rates that banks charge each other for short-term borrowing in dollars continued to climb, hitting their highest level since July 2009. Long-term Italian government bond yields jumped back above 7%, a level that would crimp Italy’s ability to borrow in the future. Amid the rush for dollars, the euro dropped below $1.30 for the first time since January….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * 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, Globalization, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Billboard with Mary Staring at a Positive Pregnancy Test Sparks Controversy in New Zealand

Auckland’s most provocative church is at it again with a billboard showing Jesus’ mother Mary staring at a positive pregnancy test.

St Matthew’s, also responsible for the well-known Gay-Dar billboard and another suggesting God was good in bed, has placed the new version outside its central city church in a move, it says, is designed to highlight the fact that Christmas is a tough time for many people.

Erected yesterday, it shows Mary staring at a home pregnancy test which reveals she is pregnant.

In a statement, Vicar Glynn Cardy and priest associate Clay Nelson said Christmas was about “a real pregnancy, a real mother and a real child. It’s about real anxiety, courage and hope”.

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Update: Lyndsay Freer, a spokesman for the Catholic diocese of Roman Auckland, has responded:

“Once again, St Matthew’s shows us that they have moved away from traditional Christianity, even though their hearts might be in the right place,” she said.

“It is true that Christmas is real and celebrates a real pregnancy.

“It is also true that the anxiety and needs of young solo mothers today need to be addressed with compassion and care.

“But in making this point, St Matthew’s ignores the gospel account of matters surrounding the pregnancy and birth of Jesus, in which Mary is not a shocked solo mother but a young woman who has given her assent and trust to God.”

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Media, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(First Things On the Square Blog) Elizabeth Scalia–The Terrifying Tim Tebow

It says a great deal about the depths to which America’s values have fallen that Tim Tebow–who, once upon a time, would have been the wholesome, women-and-mom-respecting, clean-playing, fresh-faced and faithful Hollywood ideal of a football hero””is the target of such deep derision from so many sources, and in an era of such vaunted “tolerance.”

Although it may seem too easy to some, I blame the baby-boomers””a generation so in love with deconstructing old standards (and so completely neurotic about being perceived as anti-establishment, smart, and most of all, cool) that it only can express full-on admiration for the anti-heroes. Were Tim Tebow using his on-camera time to swagger and preen and lecture the nation on green energy, greedy millionaires, and gun control, his Christ-fixation would not only be permitted, it would be held up as a gaudy rebuke to uncool Christians everywhere, and his pronouncements””as long as he kept his mouth shut on abortion and gay marriage””would never be challenged.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sports

Stanley Hauerwas for Advent–Facing God in the face of Nothingness

…what about us – that is, those who gather to worship God, in the vague hope our lives are not pointless? Dare we acknowledge that we fear – a fear we suppress through normality – our faith may be little more than a manifestation of our species’ collective narcissism, a narcissism that cannot help but create a god or gods of our liking because we assume they exist primarily to insure the significance of our existence?

The psalmist tells us that “truth shall spring up from the earth.” The “earthy” character of William James’s description of our world has the ring of truth. In the very least, we cannot help but admire James’s refusal to offer false consolations or hope in the face of nothingness.

There is something right, as well as ironic, about the diminishment of our existence in a world in which we have made our human existence more important than the existence of God. That is why it is surely the case that the only interesting atheism left is not the denial of God, but rather the denial by some of the significance of our existence as a human species.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

Survey: CEOs making no plans to hire in the near future

A majority of chief executives of U.S. firms expect their hiring to slow in the next six months as anxiety remains high over the European debt crisis and continued slow economic growth here.

Business Roundtable’s fourth quarter CEO survey released Wednesday shows that expectations for sales, capital spending and hiring were steady in comparison to the third-quarter report, with growth expected at around 2 percent for 2012, which doesn’t translate into job growth.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord Jesus Christ, who at thy first coming didst warn us to prepare for the day when thou shalt come to be our judge: Mercifully grant that being awake from the sleep of sin, we may always be watching and intent upon the work thou hast given us to do; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

–Matthew 25:1-13

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

([London] Times) Euro falls as Anglo-French veto quarrel turns childish

One of the German Social Democrat opposition leaders, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, also told the Bundestag that the summit had been a failure. “The fiscal pact is only an illusory giant ”” from far away it looks very big but if you come close, the breakthrough is really very small,” he said. “We used to have a debt crisis but after the summit we added a veritable constitutional crisis. What we have now is more instability and a further complicated structure in Europe.”Adding to signs of the economic damage, the respected Ifo Institute cut its forecast for German growth in 2012 by half to 0.4 per cent and warned Europe’s biggest economy could slide into recession if the debt turmoil is not quelled.

In theory the incipient rescue plan is supported by 26 European nations, with Britain the only exception. But other countries outside the eurozone have also cast doubts, saying they do not yet know if they can fully sign up. Earlier this week Petr Necas, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, said that the deal was “not much more than a blank sheet of paper”.

Michael Noonan, Ireland’s Finance Minister, said on a visit to London yesterday that Ireland may need to hold a referendum on the EU treaty, pointing to barriers within the euro area itself.

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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, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

TEC Email Making the Rounds on Advent and Same Sex Blessings

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(USA Today) Survey: More teens using synthetic drugs

Nearly one in nine high school seniors have gotten high in the past year on synthetic drugs, such as “K2” or “Spice,” second only to the number of teens who have used marijuana, a new survey shows.

“Monitoring the Future,” the nation’s most comprehensive survey of teenage drug use, found 11.4% of the high school seniors had used the synthetic substances, often packed as potpourri or herbal incense and sold in convenience stores, which mimic the effects of marijuana.

“It is astounding,” said Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa. “I don’t think they have any idea how dangerous these synthetic drugs are.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Education, Health & Medicine, Teens / Youth

Episcopal Priest Sam Tomlinson profiled as he celebrate 50 years in ministry

Perhaps his infant baptism at Trinity Episcopal Church in Natchez cultivated the roots that had the Rev. Sam Tomlinson branch out in ministry but also pulled him home again.

Next week Tomlinson will celebrate 50 years in the priesthood. His friend and Bishop of Arkansas, Larry Maze, will lead what Tomlinson calls a “beefed up” festival service of Eucharist to commemorate his long career in the Episcopal Chuch.

Tomlinson was born in Natchez and grew up in Jackson. He attended Milsaps College where he majored in history.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, TEC Parishes, Theology

33 Hispanic Roman Catholic bishops write a Letter to Immigrants

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Immigration, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic