Daily Archives: February 21, 2012

(CNN Belief Blog) Facing death, a top pastor rethinks what it means to be Christian

Ed Dobson is not afraid of dying. It’s the getting there that really scares him.

A former pastor, onetime Christian Right operative and an icon among religious leaders, Dobson has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. When he was diagnosed, doctors gave him 3 to 5 years to live.

That was 11 years ago….

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(New Yorker) Dorothy Wickenden–Barack Obama, Republicans, and the Campaign for the Middle Class

One of the key questions of 2012 is which party can make the stronger case to voters who, in Obama’s words, “feel the American dream slipping away.” Democrats are heartened by more favorable reports on employment, rising approval ratings, and their apparent victory in Congress on extending the payroll tax cut and jobless benefits. But, as the Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg notes, the Party’s base now consists mainly of young people, African-Americans, Latinos, single women, and affluent suburbanites. In 2008, Obama struggled to connect with voters he referred to as “lunch-pail folks”””the ones clinging to their guns and their religion. He lost them by eighteen points. As the conservative political analyst Michael Barone points out, even though Obama won a higher percentage of the total vote than any Democratic President except Andrew Jackson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson, he did it with “a top-and-bottom coalition”””holders of graduate degrees and high-school dropouts.

With the Republicans preoccupied by their race to the right, Obama has the luxury of honing a message aimed at the middle. The slogan he tried out in the State of the Union, “an America built to last,” sounded like an ad for a mattress company, or a car company””a little like Clint Eastwood’s “halftime in America” Super Bowl commercial for Chrysler. The Republican onetime mayor of Carmel, California, huskily declared that “all that matters now is what’s ahead. How do we come from behind? How do we come together?”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Personal Finance, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Psychology, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(RNS) Nonprofit Groups Oppose Obama’s Proposed Change in Charitable Deductions

For the fourth year in a row, President Obama is proposing lower tax deductions for the wealthy on donations to churches and other nonprofit organizations. And for the fourth year in a row, nonprofit groups say the change would lead to a dramatic drop in charitable giving.

The reduction, included in Obama’s 2013 budget proposal, rankled the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.

“We were hoping this would not come up again this year. We asked that they not renew it, but unfortunately the request was not taken,” said Nathan Diament, the group’s Washington director. “It’s a real concern.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Economy, Office of the President, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Taxes, The U.S. Government

Kendall Harmon's Sermon from this past Sunday

Listen to it all should you so desire.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Robert E. Lee pulpit attracts historians to St. Mary’s Episcopal Church since 1910

Each year, Graham Historical Society members take fourth-grade students on a tour of Bluefield, Va., with stops at various places where history was made. The stops include the New Deal era Post Office building with its tempera mural painting, “Coal Mining” (1942) by Richard Kenah, as well as the Linkous House.

Through the years, one of the favorite stops along the way has been the sanctuary of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church on Logan Street. In recent years, Father Russell Hatfield, pastor of St. Mary’s, has had the honor of telling the story of the Robert E. Lee pulpit and explaining to the students how the town of Bluefield, Va., came to possess such an interesting artifact….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Church History, Defense, National Security, Military, Episcopal Church (TEC), History, TEC Parishes

Church Leaders Bring Pakistan Peace Mission To Bishopthorpe

Church leaders in Wakefield have secured Foreign Office funding to bring a Pakistan delegation of lawyers, police, imams and priests on a peace mission to Britain to share good practice and help heal rifts between Muslims and Christians.

Three imams, three priests, three police officers and three lawyers from Pakistan – close to the village where Christians were burned to death in 2009 – arrived in London on Sunday for a five day fact-finding tour there and in Yorkshire to learn more about how crimes are investigated, our judicial system, share good practice of interfaith work and how to build bridges between faiths.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Asia, Church of England (CoE), Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Pakistan, Religion & Culture, Violence

Bishop Humphrey Southern's Sermon from this past Sunday Commissioning the Diocesan Vocations Team

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

(Inside Higher Ed) The Other Birth Control Debate

Not directly related to ”“ but probably not completely independent from ”“ the raging debate over birth control coverage in Roman Catholic college health plans, the availability of the emergency contraceptive Plan B One Step, or the morning-after pill, has been making news on a number of campuses across the country, and not all of them are religious.

Some colleges have been criticized for not making Plan B easily available; others, for expanding access or accommodating it in unusual ways. But, playing out against the backdrop of the latest culture war, each case reinforces the considerable impact colleges can have in this area of student health.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Science & Technology, Theology, Young Adults

181 Roman Catholic Bishops (100% of Dioceses) Have Spoken Out Against the HHS Mandate

Check it out.

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

(USA Today) Richard W. Garnett–HHS mandate still undermines religious freedom

A crucial thing to remember, both about the mandate and the promised adjustments-to-come, is that it is deeply un-American in its hostility to diversity and pluralism in civil society. The mandate’s religious-employer exemption is limited only to inward-looking entities that hire and engage only their own. It embodies the view that religious institutions may be distinctive only insofar as they stay in their place ”” in the pews, in the pulpit, at the altar. It reflects a troubling tendency to impose ideological sameness and conformity in the public sphere, to insist that all groups and associations act like the government, in the service of the government’s goals.

The mandate prompted an impressively united reaction by those who cherish America’s tradition of religious freedom and accommodation. On the left and on the right, among Republicans and Democrats, there was an appreciation for the fact that this was an overreach. It was, and still is.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Economy, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Senate, The U.S. Government

Beth Moore is Coming to Charleston, South Carolina this August

It is great that a nationally known women’s Bible study teacher is coming to Charleston, S.C. for the first time next August. My friend Nancy Borrett is the city coordinator for this event. If you want more information, or are interested in volunteering for the event contact her at dancesc54[at]hotmail.com. Consider coming and please tell your friends and contacts as you are abl–KSH.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Women

(Washington Post) Bob Reiss–How health-care costs are taxing the middle class

At what point is a middle-class American ”” who has insurance ”” allowed to complain about the increasing taxes we pay to finance the national health-care system?

After all, what is a tax but an assessment imposed by authority on citizens for public purposes? And that seems a fair description of how our health-care system works. The federal government tells companies which services they must provide. In turn, the companies raise rates so they can meet these requirements and still make a profit. Basically, each time a federal official tells us that “insurance companies” will pay for, say, free condoms or expanded coverage, premiums paid by the middle class go up. Call it an unofficial tax, one collected by private industry instead of Washington.

Don’t get me wrong: I’d prefer to pay a federal health-care tax and get European-style care. But the current plan is the worst of both worlds: socialist enough, if you will, to provide free care for the poor; capitalist enough to make sure companies are guaranteed profit.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Personal Finance, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate

PBS' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Church Worship Services in Public Schools

KIM LAWTON, correspondent: At FDR Public School on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Abounding Grace Ministries held what could be one of its last worship services in the building. The nondenominational church has been renting worship space here for the last three years. Pastor Rick Del Rio says the reasonable rent was critical to his predominantly low-income congregation.

REV. RICK DEL RIO (Pastor, Abounding Grace Ministries): It’s the only thing we could afford. Two, it becomes that place where families can unite, and we really cultivate those relationships so that it is an oasis.

LAWTON: Del Rio describes his church as a source of stability in the neighborhood and says the city’s policy is unfair to the people he serves.

Read or watch it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, City Government, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

George Weigel: John Henry Newman’s Faith

I once had the honor of spending time in Newman’s rooms at the Birmingham Oratory, which are much as the aged cardinal left them at his death in 1890. Over the altar, which occupies one side of the room, are tacked-up notes by which Cardinal Newman reminded himself of those for whom he had promised to pray. In the sitting room, a tattered newspaper map, also tacked to a wall, bears silent testimony to Newman’s interest in Kitchener’s efforts to lift the siege of Khartoum and rescue General Gordon from the Mahdi, a 19th century jihadist (Gordon died with Newman’s poem, “The Dream of Gerontius,” in his pocket). Perhaps most touching are Newman’s Latin breviaries, which he began to use as an Anglican, causing much controversy about such popish practices.
It is as a man of faith that the Church beatified John Henry Newman, however: the kind of man of faith who could write the following (which I take from another prayer card I’ve had for years, given me by Catholic Worker artist Ade Bethune):

God has created me to do him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught”¦Therefore I will trust Him, whatever I am”¦He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me””still, He knows what He is about.

Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for us and for the unity in truth of Christ’s Church.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Theology

A Prayer for the (Provisional) Feast Day of John Henry Newman

God of all wisdom, we offer thanks for John Henry Newman, whose eloquence bore witness that thy Church is one, holy, catholic and apostolic, and who didst make of his own life a pilgrimage towards thy truth. Grant that, inspired by his words and example, we may ever follow thy kindly light till we rest in thy bosom, with your dear Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, where heart speaks to heart eternally; for thou livest and reignest, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Grant us, we beseech thee, Almighty God, a steadfast faith in Jesus Christ, a cheerful hope in thy mercy, and a sincere love to thee and to all our fellow men; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–The Lutheran Church

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

(NC Register) Very Good Times for Catholic Colleges and Universities

The economy might be experiencing one of its worst times, but Catholic colleges seem to be experiencing their best times, all things considered, because of their commitment to Catholic identity.

The Augustine Institute in Denver, which offers graduate degrees on campus and through distance education, saw record enrollment this past year. “One big draw for us is our program,” said Edward Sri, provost and professor of Scripture and theology. “Particularly, our distance-education program is booming.”

The distance program was launched in 2008, and by fall 2011, it had more than 200 students. Students like how the DVD format makes them feel part of a live class, plus the flexibility of the program means they can “maintain their work and revenue and responsibilities on the home front with their families and still work on their master’s degree,” Sri said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Education, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology, Young Adults

From the Morning Scripture Readings

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith; that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

–Philippians 3:7-11

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) Syria crisis: Red Cross presses for humanitarian truce

The International Committee of the Red Cross says it is in talks with “all those concerned” in Syria’s conflict to negotiate a ceasefire.

The group says it wants to negotiate a brief truce in the most affected areas to allow it to deliver aid packages.

Correspondents say the fact that the ICRC has spoken publicly about the negotiations shows just how concerned it is by the situation in Syria.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Foreign Relations, Health & Medicine, Middle East, Politics in General, Syria, Violence

Possible Iran Raid Seen as a Huge Task for Israeli Jets

Should Israel decide to launch a strike on Iran, its pilots would have to fly more than 1,000 miles across unfriendly airspace, refuel in the air en route, fight off Iran’s air defenses, attack multiple underground sites simultaneously ”” and use at least 100 planes.

That is the assessment of American defense officials and military analysts close to the Pentagon, who say that an Israeli attack meant to set back Iran’s nuclear program would be a huge and highly complex operation. They describe it as far different from Israel’s “surgical” strikes on a nuclear reactor in Syria in 2007 and Iraq’s Osirak reactor in 1981.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Science & Technology

(RNS) Yonat Shimron–Lauren Winner tackles doubt, divorce and the priesthood

Lauren Winner is a jumble of contradictions: A Jew who found Christianity in a dream starring Daniel Day Lewis as Jesus, an accomplished historian who rides an oversized tricycle to work, and a memoir writer who wants to keep details of her private life private.

In her latest book, “Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis,” Winner, 35, writes about what happens when belief falters. Her spiritual crisis, she writes, was precipitated by the death of her mother from cancer and the breakup of her marriage three years ago.

“In my case, as everything else was dying, my faith seemed to die, too,” the recently ordained Episcopal priest writes. “God had been there. God had been alive to me. And then, it seemed, nothing was alive ”” not even God.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Episcopal Church (TEC), Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology