Daily Archives: February 14, 2012

([London] Times) Britain’s only Muslim Cabinet member urges stop to denial of Christian Heritage

Europe must hold back a wave of “intolerant secularisation” and stop denying its Christian heritage, Britain’s only Muslim Cabinet member will urge today, as part of an important ministerial visit to the Vatican.
In a robust address that will be seen as an attack on the High Court ruling last week forcing councils across Britain to stop holding prayers during formal meetings, Baroness Warsi will say that politicians “need to give faith a seat at the table in public life”.
In a landmark ruling, a judge backed a complaint from the National Secular Society and an atheist councillor that Bideford council in Devon had no formal powers to hold the prayers.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, England / UK, History, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(AP) Penn Class Teaches Students How To Live Like Monks

Looking for a wild-and-crazy time at college? Don’t sign up for Justin McDaniel’s religious studies class.

The associate professor’s course on monastic life and asceticism gives students at the University of Pennsylvania a firsthand experience of what it’s like to be a monk.

At various periods during the semester, students must forego technology, coffee, physical human contact and certain foods. They’ll also have to wake up at 5 a.m. ”” without an alarm clock.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Education, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Young Adults

Tim Keller–On NYC Schools' Decision to Ban Churches

I am grieved that New York City is planning to take the unwise step of removing 68 churches from the spaces that they rent in public schools. It is my conviction that those churches housed in schools are invaluable assets to the neighborhoods that they serve. Churches have long been seen as positive additions to communities. Family stability, resources for those in need, and compassion for the marginalized are all positive influences that neighborhood churches provide. There are many with first-hand experience who will claim that the presence of churches in a neighborhood can lead to a drop in crime.

The great diversity of our city means that we will never all agree completely on anything. And we cherish our city’s reputation for tolerance of differing opinions and beliefs. Therefore, we should all mourn if disagreement with certain beliefs of the church is allowed to unduly influence the formation of just policy and practice.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, City Government, Education, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Zenit) Divorce and Children: New Study Confirms Irreparable Harm

Each year in the United States over a million children are the innocent parties to the divorce of their parents. While divorce also hurts the parents it is the children who particularly suffer, according to recent research.

The findings come in a study published in January by the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, “The Effects of Divorce on Children,” by Patrick F. Fagan and Aaron Churchill.

Drawing on a large amount of published research on the effects of divorce, their paper goes through a series of areas where divorce harms children. The first one regards parent-child relationships. As would be expected, divorce affects the ability of parents to relate to their children….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(BBC) Church of England could lose key prison chaplain role

The Church of England could lose its traditional role as the provider of the chief chaplain to the Prison Service.

The Ministry of Justice has confirmed it is “considering arrangements” for appointing a new Chaplain-General – but the job might not go to an Anglican.

Prison chaplains can be of different religions and denominations, but the 1952 Prison Act requires every jail to have an Anglican chaplain.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Prison/Prison Ministry

Bishop Ken Clarke To Become New Mission Director Of SAMS Ireland From Autumn 2012

The Right Revd Ken Clarke, Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh, has been appointed as the new full-time Mission Director of SAMS Ireland (South American Mission Society). He will take up the post later this year and continue as bishop of his diocese until the Autumn. Bishop Ken Clarke is in his twelfth year as Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh, having been elected as bishop on the 13th November 2000.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of Ireland, Missions

Archbishop Sentamu attends Book Launch For ”˜Working with Street Children"

The author has twenty years experience of direct work with children and young people. In the foreword to the book , John Sentamu writes, ”˜I strongly commend this book to all practitioners, would-be practitioners, all decision makers and opinion formers to remind them and all of us that each story told in the book represents a real person and actual circumstances.’

Andrew Williams was born in Uganda and his father remembered John Sentamu in the 1960s as a promising youth leader in Kampala shortly before Idi Amin’s rise to power….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Books, Children, England / UK

(CNS) Obama's revised HHS mandate won't solve problems, USCCB president says

“We bishops are pastors, we’re not politicians, and you can’t compromise on principle,” said Cardinal-designate [Timothy] Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “And the goal posts haven’t moved and I don’t think there’s a 50-yard line compromise here,” he added.

“We’re in the business of reconciliation, so it’s not that we hold fast, that we’re stubborn ideologues, no. But we don’t see much sign of any compromise,” he said.

“What (Obama) offered was next to nothing. There’s no change, for instance, in these terribly restrictive mandates and this grossly restrictive definition of what constitutes a religious entity,” he said. “The principle wasn’t touched at all.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Children, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

Ipsos MORI–Religious and Social Attitudes of UK Christians in 2011

(This is the poll mentioned in the preceding post–KSH).

When asked why they think of themselves as Christian, the research found that fewer than three in ten (28%) say one of the reasons is that they believe in the teachings of Christianity. People are much more likely to consider themselves to be Christian because they were christened or baptised into the religion (72%) or because their parents were members of the religion (38%) than because of personal belief.

The research sought to measure a number of Christian practices, including regular reading of the Bible and prayer outside church services, to see how prevalent these were amongst respondents self-identifying as Christian. Among the results, we find that:

The majority (60%) have not read any part of the Bible, independently and from choice, for at least a year….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Secularism

([London] Times) Many ”˜Christians’ are non-believers

Many people who describe themselves as Christian have low levels of belief and little or no practice, according to new research.
They identify as Christian because they were Baptised or because their parents were Christian rather than because they believe in the teachings of the Church, according to a poll carried out by Ipsos MORI for the Richard Dawkins Foundation.
The poll, published today, comes the week before Dr Dawkins debates the question of human origins with the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams in Oxford.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Atheism, England / UK, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Secularism

(AP) Obama's budget: Government still getting bigger

Taking a pass on reining in government growth, President Obama unveiled a record $3.8 trillion election-year budget plan Monday, calling for stimulus-style spending on roads and schools and tax hikes on the wealthy to help pay the costs. The ideas landed with a thud on Capitol Hill.

Though the Pentagon and a number of Cabinet agencies would get squeezed, Obama would leave the spiraling growth of health care programs for the elderly and the poor largely unchecked. The plan claims $4 trillion in deficit savings over the coming decade, but most of it would be through tax increases Republicans oppose, lower war costs already in motion and budget cuts enacted last year in a debt pact with GOP lawmakers.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, Theology

Robert Samuelson–Budget quagmire revealed by Social Security disability program

Social Security’s disability program is a political quagmire ”” and a metaphor for why federal spending and budget deficits are so difficult to control. The numbers are too big; the details, too complicated; and the choices, when faced, too wrenching. President Obama’s new budget, estimated at $3.5 trillion or more, will raise all these problems. Experience suggests that little will be done to rein in long-term spending and deficits.

Social Security’s disability program opens a window on this larger paralysis. Created in 1956, more than two decades after Congress authorized Social Security, the program was initially seen as a natural complement to coverage for retirees. Through sickness or accident, some workers had to retire early. They, too, deserved protection. For many years, the costs were modest. But in recent decades, they have exploded….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Budget, Economy, Health & Medicine, Social Security, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

MIT launches free online 'fully automated' course

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), one of the world’s top-rated universities, has announced its first free course which can be studied and assessed completely online.

An electronics course, beginning in March, will be the first prototype of an online project, known as MITx.

The interactive course is designed to be fully automated, with successful students receiving a certificate.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Education, Globalization, Science & Technology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Cyril and his brother Methodius

Almighty and everlasting God, who by the power of the Holy Spirit didst move thy servant Cyril and his brother Methodius to bring the light of the Gospel to a hostile and divided people: Overcome, we pray thee, by the love of Christ, all bitterness and contention among us, and make us one united family under the banner of the Prince of Peace; 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, Church History, Europe, Greece, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty and eternal God, who in thy Son Jesus Christ hast revealed thy nature as Love: We humbly pray thee to shed thy love abroad in our hearts by thy Holy Spirit; that so by thy grace we may evermore abide in thee, and thou in us, with all joyfulness, and free from fear or mistrust; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Christian von Bunsen

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

The heavens proclaim his righteousness; and all the peoples behold his glory.

–Psalm 97:6

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

5 priests nominated for Atlanta's 10th Episcopal bishop

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta has announced five priests to stand for election as the next bishop of Atlanta, which serves middle and north Georgia. The five are on a slate that was presented by the Nominating Committee.

The Feb. 13 announcement opens a month-long period during which members of the diocese may petition to add additional names to the ballot….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

Moody's adjusts ratings of 9 European sovereigns to capture downside risks

Moody’s has reflected these constraints and exposures in its decision to downgrade the government bond ratings of Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain as listed above. The outlook on the ratings of these countries remains negative given the continuing uncertainty over financing conditions over the next few quarters and its corresponding impact on creditworthiness.

In addition, these constraints have also prompted Moody’s to change to negative the outlooks on the Aaa ratings of Austria, France and the United Kingdom. The negative outlooks reflect the presence of a number of specific credit pressures that would exacerbate the susceptibility of these sovereigns’ balance sheets, and of their ongoing austerity programmes, to any further deterioration in European economic conditions and financial landscape.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, 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--

TEC Presiding Bishop’s office notifies Diocese of Central Florida of successful consents

The Office of Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has notified the Diocese of Central Florida that Bishop-Elect Gregory Brewer has received the required majority of consents in the canonical consent process.

As outlined under Canon III.11.4 (a), the Presiding Bishop confirmed the receipt of consents from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction, and has also reviewed the evidence of consents from a majority of standing committees of the Church sent to her by the diocesan standing committee.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils, TEC Polity & Canons

New Jersey's Episcopalians keep the faith despite papal invitation

“We have lots of differences of opinion, but we honor the differences we all bring and a have a commitment to live and work together,” said Bishop Mark Beckwith of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, which covers North Jersey. “It’s not a problem in this diocese.”

The new national diocese, called an “ordinariate,” was created to accommodate Episcopal congregations whose members disagree with their church’s liberal stances on matters like same-sex marriage and the ordination of women and gays. The Episcopal Church, the main U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion, has some 2 million members.

Beckwith said none of the 106 congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Newark is planning to leave. And Bishop George Councell, who heads the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey, which covers central and southern parts of the state, said the same.

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

(RNS) Church Seeks Line Between Interfaith and Intolerance

In a time when disdain for other faiths is commonplace, even blessed in some religious circles, how does a Bible study instructor contrast the teachings and doctrines of another tradition and his own without seeming intolerant? And conversely, can the increased sensitivity to multiculturalism and religious diversity in early 21st-century America gradually diminish the celebration of one faith tradition’s distinctive place in the theological spectrum?

“If you’re going to take your religion seriously, you should feel it’s superior to others. Why else believe in it?” said Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College. “On the other hand, society does require a hands-off attitude toward other faiths in order for us to all live together. It’s a dilemma.”

Thomas, who was on staff at Concordia Seminary in Clayton for 18 years, said he believes the Bible studies at St. Paul’s have stayed on the respectful side of the line. His goal with the classes, he said, is to explain the teachings of another religion and to ask why Lutherans don’t believe the same thing.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Adult Education, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Lutheran, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry