No way do you get an excerpt–you have to guess your list of 12 first. Then go and read it all.
Daily Archives: March 3, 2012
Nearly 750 Cuban activists have signed a letter to Pope Benedict XVI warning that his planned visit to Cuba will “send a message to the oppressors that they can continue” to abuse Catholic opponents, dissidents reported Thursday.
“We would be very happy to receive you in our country, if the message of faith, love and hope that you could bring us also would serve to halt the repression against those who want to go to church,” the letter said.
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The last decade or so has seen a great resurgence of radical skepticism not only about God – the “new atheism” ”“ but also about Man. It is skepticism updated with reductionist attempts to explain human existence and experience, thought and feeling, in terms of matter alone. The mainstream view trumpeted in the “intelligent” media is that the moral sense, love, and reason are really just survival mechanisms developed in the course of human evolution. The mind is just the tool of a social primate developed in order to give it a competitive edge in procreation. As the effort of ‘the selfish gene’ to replicate itself, the mind can have no inherent claim on our loyalty. And God is just another construct, one which we would do well to discard. (The self-contradictory nature of such radical skepticism is rarely noticed. If reason is just a construct of the selfish gene, then the claim that reason is just a construct is itself a construct.)
The new atheists proclaim their gospel with the fervour of believers: God is dead, man is free, free from the destructive illusions of religion and morality, of reason and virtue. But then a someone dies, suddenly and cruelly, like the young man known to many in ..[this] parish [in [Eastern Georgia] who was killed in a freakish accident last weekend. And his death casts a pall of grief over his family, his friends, their families, his school, and many others. Yet if he was no more than an arrangement of molecules, a selfish gene struggling to replicate itself, there can be no reason for grief, or for the love that grieves, since these are (we are told) essentially selfish survival mechanisms left over from some earlier stage in hominid evolution. Friendship is just another illusion. But of course we do grieve, even the atheists. And in so grieving, they grieve better than they know (or think they know).
The grieving atheist cannot provide any reason why he grieves, or why he (rightly) respects the grief of others. For to grieve the death of such a young man is implicitly to affirm the reality of the soul. Man is embodied, to be sure; but what is embodied is a soul, capable of memory, reason, and love. To grieve the loss of anyone then is to lament the departure of a unique being, whose mind and heart have touched our lives in spontaneously beautiful and inimitable ways. To grieve is to travel even beyond the lost life of a loved one to the origin and source of the love we have known, and there to register our gratitude. To grieve, therefore, is to affirm that there is a higher source of value than ‘the selfish gene’ – there is a God, who is absolute truth and goodness, the very possibility of knowledge and love.
To love, to grieve, is to affirm the dignity of man; and to affirm the dignity is to acknowledge gratefully a special instance of God’s creative and lifegiving power expressed in one whose unique nature is gone. When we can no longer grieve, it is not God who dies, but we ourselves.
As C. S. Lewis says somewhere, God “whispers to us in our pleasures and shouts to us in our pains”. In our griefs God shouts, ”˜the Lord thunders out of heaven’, and his thunder dissolves the attempt to live as if he does not exist. We easily forget him; but he does not forget us, nor does he forsake us; and he permits these pains and griefs to fall upon us that we may turn to him again, and know him truly, not as our enemy but as our friend: as the one who “bears our griefs and carries our sorrows”. Our first need “in all our troubles” is (as the Litany teaches us) “to put our whole trust and confidence in him”. He confronts our grief and bears it, that he might transform sadness to joy, despair to hope, and death to new life. He does this in our souls and minds – a space from which the selfish gene is banished by necessity, and the soul that dies to itself inherits eternal life.
God shouts in our pains; and we awaken from dreams to the fact that he has travelled this way before. “Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4) up to and into his Cross. The young man who died, the friend of so many, once ”“ wonderfully! – said, “If we really believe in God, there is nothing to be afraid of.” The friend who takes our grief and carries our sorrows confirms his testimony: “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he ”¦ said, Behold I make all things new” (Revelation 21:4, 5).
——The Rev. Gavin Dunbar is rector of Saint John’s, Savannah, Georgia
The funeral cortege for well”“known comedian Frank Carson, following the Requiem Mass in St Patrick’s Church, Donegall Street on the morning of Saturday 3rd March 2012, will pause at the steps of St Anne’s Cathedral. The Dean of Belfast, the Very Revd John Mann, will say:
”˜We are thankful for Frank’s humour, for the happiness he spread, for embracing this Cathedral in his concern and for, at all times, expressing those great qualities of hope and love, through word and action, that transcend division and bring people together in common endeavour….
[Frank] Carson had left school at 14 with no qualifications and became an apprentice electrician, but at 16 switched to being a plasterer. In his spare time he worked on his spiel as a stand-up comic, a talent that earned him regular appearances on Northern Ireland television. When he was 25 he sold some scripts to the regional BBC station, and became a professional entertainer, touring with the Australian magician known as The Great Levante.
Encouraged to try his luck on the northern club scene on the mainland, Carson was spotted by the television producer Barney Colehan and signed up for his first network exposure on the music-hall tribute show The Good Old Days. Meanwhile on ITV, Carson – having thrice won Opportunity Knocks – was also booked to appear on The Comedians by the producer Johnny Hamp.
This was the show that transformed Carson from an obscure club comedian into a comedy star.
Lord God, who didst inspire thy servants John and Charles Wesley with burning zeal for the sanctification of souls, and didst endow them with eloquence in speech and song: Kindle in thy Church, we beseech thee, such fervor, that those whose faith has cooled may be warmed, and those who have not known thy Christ may turn to him and be saved; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
O God, who by thy Son dost marvellously work out the salvation of mankind: Grant, we beseech thee, that, following the example of our blessed Lord, and observing such a fast as thou dost choose, we may both be subjected to thee with all our hearts, and united to each other in holy charity; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.
–1 Corinthians 4:1-4
A number of Dr [John] Sentamu’s followÂers on Twitter, including some clergy, expressed dismay at his endorsement of The Sun on Sunday. On Monday, the Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, wrote: “All my instincts lead me to take a different view from that of the Archbishop of York on this one.”
Bishop Baines said that he did not question Dr Sentamu’s motive “for writing the article and engaging with the paper in this way”, but said: “I could not endorse the paper myself.” He went on to criticise strongly how News International, which owns The Sun, had handled the investigation into phone-hacking.
The Bishop of Swansea & Brecon, the Rt Revd John Davies, speaking on BBC1’s Big Questions on Sunday morning, said that he was “not impressed” by Dr Sentamu’s article….