Daily Archives: January 14, 2012

(NC Rep.) John Allen–Five myths about anti-Christian persecution

French intellectual Régis Debray, a veteran leftist who fought alongside Che Guevara in Bolivia, has observed that anti-Christian persecution unfolds squarely in the political blind spot of the West — the victims are usually “too Christian” to excite the left, “too foreign” to interest the right.

As a contribution towards erasing that blind spot, let’s debunk five common myths about anti-Christian persecution….

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

(Washington Post) Jonathan Turley–10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free

Every year, the State Department issues reports on individual rights in other countries, monitoring the passage of restrictive laws and regulations around the world. Iran, for example, has been criticized for denying fair public trials and limiting privacy, while Russia has been taken to task for undermining due process. Other countries have been condemned for the use of secret evidence and torture.

Even as we pass judgment on countries we consider unfree, Americans remain confident that any definition of a free nation must include their own ”” the land of free. Yet, the laws and practices of the land should shake that confidence. In the decade since Sept. 11, 2001, this country has comprehensively reduced civil liberties in the name of an expanded security state. The most recent example of this was the National Defense Authorization Act, signed Dec. 31, which allows for the indefinite detention of citizens. At what point does the reduction of individual rights in our country change how we define ourselves?

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

(Belfast Telegraph) Kevin Myers on the epidemic of middle-aged Suicides in Ireland

Suicide spreads when people feel authorised to opt for it and when they have lost the will to remain alive. The second part is less important than the first part.

Most people wish they were dead at some time or other in their lives. It is the culture of authorisation that translates a possibly temporary indifference to life into a decisive and final action which can be a key factor in the spread of suicide.
The more people hear of suicides, the more suicides will follow.

And the emotive, non-judgmental, godless culture that has emerged in recent years rules out the use of taboo as a social influence on society generally.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Ireland, Middle Age, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Suicide

PBS' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Mass Incarceration

[DEBORAH] POTTER: More than two million Americans are now imprisoned, four times as many as 30 years ago. The major reason: Mandatory sentencing for non-violent crimes and drug charges.

But the war on drugs, declared in the 1980s, has not had the effect its backers predicted. Arkansas Circuit Judge Wendell Griffin has seen the results.

JUDGE WENDELL GRIFFEN (Arkansas Circuit Court): Drug use has not declined. All it has done has produced an explosion on our prison population. The whole mandatory sentencing guideline mantra was sort of like the Kool-Aid that we should never have drunk.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Prison/Prison Ministry

Religious Groups Greet recent Supreme Court Ruling With Satisfaction

Among the more or less predictable reactions from legal adversaries to the Supreme Court’s finding that ministers may not bring employment discrimination suits against their churches, there is a pious sentiment to be found here and there ”” an appeal to an even higher law.

Even those who agreed with the unanimous court ”” and who have argued all along that the First Amendment provides an exception that lets churches, synagogues and other religious institutions hire and fire ministers and other religious leaders without government interference ”” can be heard cautioning the churches not to abuse that right.

Writing on the Web site of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, which had filed a brief urging the court to affirm the ministerial exception, Don Byrd, a blogger who teaches at a Christian university, said, “This particular case though can be a difficult one to think about for those of us who stand firmly against employment discrimination.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Rusty Reno in response to Sara Ritchey on the Wives of Roman Catholic Priests

[Sara] Ritchey provides some useful historical background that outlines the early medieval shift to an all-celibate clergy. But I was struck by her naive ignorance of the recent history of the Catholic Church. The existence of Priests’ wives should, she tells us, provide the occasion on which “a real conversation about the continuation of priestly celibacy might begin.”

Might begin?…

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Sara Ritchey–For Roman Catholic Priests’ Wives, a Word of Caution

The priest’s nuclear family was also seen as a risk to the stability of the church. His children represented a threat to laypersons, who feared that their endowments might be absorbed into the hands of the priest’s offspring to create a rival clerical dynasty. A celibate priest would thus ensure donations from the neighboring landed aristocracy. Furthermore, the priest’s wife was often accused, along with her children, of draining the church’s resources with her extravagance and frivolity. Pope Leo IX attempted to remedy this problem in the 11th century by decreeing that the wives and children of priests must serve in his residence at the Lateran Palace in Rome.

Given this history, I caution the clerical wife to be on guard as she enters her role as a sacerdotal attaché. Her position is an anomalous one and, as the Vatican has repeatedly insisted, one that will not receive permanent welcome in the church. That said, for the time being, it will be prudent for the Vatican to honor the dignity of the wives and children of its freshly ordained married priests. And here, I suggest, a real conversation about the continuation of priestly celibacy might begin.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology, Theology

New Anglican Bishop enthronement in Trinidad and Tobago

The Right Reverend Claude Berkley’s Enthronement Service as the new Lord Bishop of Trinidad and Tobago, takes place…[today], at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in downtown Port-of-Spain.

Drums and bells have been chosen to replace the traditional trumpet fanfare at the Service. While it is reported in the Anglican Outlook that there is expected to be musical input from the place of his birth 54 years ago with the presence of the Signal Hill Alumni Choir of Tobago. The Trinity All-Generations Steel Orchestra (TAGS) will also play at the service and the St Agnes Dancers are to perform. Michele Dowrich of San Fernando is the musical director.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News

(SHNS) The long Anglican road to Rome

Thus, on Jan. 22, Mount Calvary Church in Baltimore will enter the U.S. ordinariate — the first Episcopal congregation that voted to take that step. The Rev. Jason Catania, its priest, expects to complete his own journey this summer.

At that point, he will do something that once seemed unthinkable.

Catania will kneel at his parish altar, as a Catholic priest, and recite one of Anglicanism’s most famous texts — the “Prayer of Humble Access” from the 1662 edition of “The Book of Common Prayer.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Downgrade of Debt Ratings Underscores Europe’s Woes

Standard & Poor’s downgraded the credit ratings of France, Italy and seven other European countries on Friday, a move that may have more symbolic than fundamental financial impact but served as a reminder that Europe’s economic woes were far from over.

Another memory jog came Friday from Greece, the original source of Europe’s debt troubles. Talks hit a snag between the new Greek government and the banks and other private investors that Athens hopes will agree to take losses on their debt so that Greece can avoid a default.

Together, those developments underscore that even as Europe’s debt turmoil enters its third year, no clear solutions are yet in sight ”” despite recent signs that a new lending program by the European Central Bank might be easing financial market pressures.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, G20, Globalization, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc)

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who by the leadings of thy providence didst bring wise men from far to give homage to Jesus, born to be King of all: Help us, who by various ways are led to Christ, humbly and thankfully to adore him with our gifts, and as our costliest treasure to present before him ourselves for his honour and service, now and always.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

–Hebrews 4:12-13

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Full Text–Marriage and Religious Freedom: Fundamental Goods That Stand or Fall Together

Dear Friends:

The promotion and protection of marriage””the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife””is a matter of the common good and serves the wellbeing of the couple, of children, of civil society and all people.The meaning and value of marriage precedes and transcends any particular society, government, or religious community.It is a universal good and the foundational institution of all societies.It is bound up with the nature of the human person as male and female, and with the essential task of bearing and nurturing children.

As religious leaders across a wide variety of faith communities, we join together to affirm that marriage in its true definition must be protected for its own sake and for the good of society. We also recognize the grave consequences of altering this definition. One of these consequences””the interference with the religious freedom of those who continue to affirm the true definition of “marriage”””warrants special attention within our faith communities and throughout society as a whole.For this reason, we come together with one voice in this letter.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(RNS) Religious Leaders: Same-sex Marriage Threatens Religious Freedom

A coalition of nearly 40 religious leaders has published an open letter that seeks to recast the battle against same-sex marriage as a fight on behalf of religious freedom.

The religious leaders, predominantly from conservative Christian churches and Orthodox Judaism, say their concern is not that legalizing gay marriage will force their ministers to perform same-sex weddings; they say they doubt that will happen.

Rather, they wrote Thursday (Jan. 12), allowing same-sex couples to marry would wind up “forcing or pressuring both individuals and religious organizations””throughout their operations, well beyond religious ceremonies””to treat same-sex sexual conduct as the moral equivalent of marital sexual conduct.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality