Daily Archives: March 10, 2012

Japan–One year after disaster, sacrificial giving gains churches new credibility

In the year since the largest quake in Japan’s recorded history, Christians have witnessed more than the walls of buildings come down. During Christianity Today’s recent travels through the quake zone, pastors and other Christian leaders said that the cultural and spiritual barriers that have for generations divided Christians from each other and from greater Japanese society have weakened in the aftermath.

“We’ve been called to remember in these months that the church really is the body of Christ,” said Joseph Handley, president of Asian Access, an interdenominational evangelical organization that works throughout Asia to develop Christian leaders.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Japan, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

Deficits Push New York Cities and Counties to Desperation

It was not a good week for New York’s cities and counties.

On Monday, Rockland County sent a delegation to Albany to ask for the authority to close its widening budget deficit by issuing bonds backed by a sales tax increase.

On Tuesday, Suffolk County, one of the largest counties outside New York City, projected a $530 million deficit over a three-year period and declared a financial emergency. Its Long Island neighbor, Nassau County, is already so troubled that a state oversight board seized control of its finances last year.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, City Government, Economy, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(AFB) Muslims being used as 'scapegoats' in French election campaigns

Muslims are being used as “scapegoats” in the French election campaign in which halal slaughter has become a hot-button issue, the French Council of the Muslim Faith said yesterday.

The statement came a day after the prime minister, Francois Fillon, urged Muslims and Jews to consider scrapping their “outdated” halal and kosher slaughter rules.

The council, asked about Mr Fillon’s comment on halal, said it “does not accept that Islam and Muslims be used as scapegoats in this [election] campaign”.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, France, Islam, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Vatican Radio) Bishop Paul Swain on Pope's address to U.S. Bishops

Bishop Paul Swain of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is making his first ad limina visit to Rome. On Friday morning, Bishop Swain, with the other Bishops from Regions VII-IX of the U.S. Episcopal Conference, met with Pope Benedict XVI . Bishop Swain spoke to us about the Pope’s message for the visiting prelates.

He said the Pope’s address on marriage and the family focused on two areas: education and the virtue of chastity. “I think two things [the Pope] said is that we [bishops] need to be better teachers, and to form those who haven’t been formed yet”¦ The message is the same: We need to teach better, and to form, particularly the young.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Grace Episcopal parishioners in Massachusetts bid farewell to rector

After six years as rector of Grace Episcopal Church, the Rev. William J. Bradbury will leave tomorrow to become priest in charge of All Saints’ Church in Chelmsford.

“It’s been a wonderful six-plus years, and I know God has great things in store for Grace Church,” he said. “I’m looking forward to my new ministry as well.”

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

Stanley Hauerwas–The Body of Medicine and the Christian Body

The problem is quite simply that, given the reality physicians confront on a daily basis, they know what their patients know but do not want to acknowledge – that is, when it is all said and done we are all going to die. Patients, however, often do not or cannot acknowledge that reality and as a result subject physicians to expectations that cannot be met.

The tension between what the patient expects and what the physician can do is complicated by the recognition that at least one aspect of the therapy a physician represents is the trust the patient has in the physician. If the physician seems to be in doubt about what is wrong with the patient, even more what might be an appropriate intervention, patients can feel betrayed making it even more difficult for the physician to speak truthfully to their patients….

The body sets a norm for medicine because the body is classically understood as the artist of its own healing. Medicine is, therefore, best understood as an ongoing tradition of wisdom and practices through which physicians acquire the responsibility to remember, learn and pass on the skills of learning to live with a body that is destined to death….

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(AP) Vatican seeks to explain U.S. money laundering tag

The Vatican on Friday sought to explain its presence for the first time on a U.S. list of countries that are a potential hub for money laundering, saying it was only natural to be included given its recent efforts to conform to international standards.

The U.S. State Department this week released its International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, which identified the Holy See as one of 68 countries or jurisdictions “of concern” for money laundering or other financial crimes….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, The Banking System/Sector

Netanyahu Says U.S. and Israeli ”˜Clocks’ Differ on Iran’s Threat

…in excerpts of the interviews shown late Thursday, Mr. Netanyahu reiterated the point he had sought to make forcefully in Washington: that if Iran did not change course, Israel, which considers a nuclear Iran a threat to its existence, would not allow itself to be in a position where its fate was left in others’ hands.

“The United States is big and distant, Israel is smaller and closer to Iran, and naturally, we have different capabilities,” Mr. Netanyahu told Channel One, the public television channel. “So the American clock regarding preventing Iranian nuclearization is not the Israeli one. The Israeli clock works, obviously, according to a different schedule.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Politics in General, Science & Technology

Oregon couple sues Health Center for 'wrongful birth' after child born with Down syndrome

On the June 2007 day their daughter was born, Ariel and Deborah Levy were overcome with excitement, then shock when hospital staff told them their daughter looked like she had Down syndrome.

A doctor asked Deborah Levy if she’d had a prenatal test — a chorionic villus sampling, or CVS for short — and Levy said yes, the results showed they’d have a normal, healthy child.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord, whose way is perfect: Help us, we pray thee, always to trust in thy goodness; that walking with thee in faith, and following thee in all simplicity, we may possess quiet and contented minds, and cast all our care on thee, because thou carest for us; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

The herdsmen fled, and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus, and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their neighborhood.

–Mark 5:14-17

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(The Salt Lake Tribune) Mormon church blocks whistle-blower’s access to baptism data

A technological crackdown, telegraphed by Mormon leaders, has effectively blocked the pre-eminent whistle-blower of controversial proxy baptisms from accessing the LDS Church’s database that chronicles so-called baptisms for the dead.

LDS officials defend the move, saying it helps prevent overzealous Mormons and mischief-makers from violating church policy by submitting the names of prominent Jewish figures, such as Anne Frank and Daniel Pearl, both discovered on the baptism rolls in recent weeks.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptism, Eschatology, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Mormons, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Sacramental Theology, Science & Technology, Theology

(WSJ Houses of Worship) Michael Oren: Israel and the Plight of Mideast Christians

…[Middle Eastern Christians] share of the region’s population has plunged from 20% a century ago to less than 5% today and falling. In Egypt, 200,000 Coptic Christians fled their homes last year after beatings and massacres by Muslim extremist mobs. Since 2003, 70 Iraqi churches have been burned and nearly a thousand Christians killed in Baghdad alone, causing more than half of this million-member community to flee. Conversion to Christianity is a capital offense in Iran, where last month Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was sentenced to death. Saudi Arabia outlaws private Christian prayer.
As 800,000 Jews were once expelled from Arab countries, so are Christians being forced from lands they’ve inhabited for centuries.

The only place in the Middle East where Christians aren’t endangered but flourishing is Israel. Since Israel’s founding in 1948, its Christian communities (including Russian and Greek Orthodox, Catholics, Armenians and Protestants) have expanded more than 1,000%.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Israel, Judaism, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Richard Dowden–Nigeria: Boko Haram – More Complicated Than You Think

In other nation states a citizen’s obligations to the state or employer, trump friendship or family connections. In Nigeria the state and institutions often rank far lower than personal affiliations. Outsiders are often shocked at the way public institutions are looted and distributed to buy personal loyalty or simply given to family and friends. The state is not a revered institution serving all citizens. It is a treasure house of power and money to be captured and looted.

This, rather than Islamic fundamentalism, is the context of the tragic deaths of Chris McManus and Franco Lamolinara in a bungled rescue bid in Sokoto on Thursday. A group calling itself Al-Qa’ida in the Land Beyond the Sahel claimed responsibility and it is said to be part of Boko Haram. Officials say that the demands they had made for the release of the hostages were confused.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Africa, Nigeria

(RNS) Jews are the world's most migratory religious group

Ever since their mad dash out of Egypt bound for the Promised Land, Jews have been on the move ”” and they continue to be, far more than any other religious group, according to a new study.

One in four of the world’s Jews has migrated from one country to another, compared to 5% of Christians and 4% of Muslims who have left their native lands.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Globalization, History, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture