Daily Archives: March 13, 2012

C.S. Lewis Reflects on his Ideal Day and the Difference between Selfishness and Self-concern

For if I could please myself”¦I would choose always to breakfast at exactly eight and to be at my desk by nine, there to read or write till one. If a cup of good tea or coffee could be brought me about eleven, so much the better. A step or so out of doors for a pint of beer would not do quite so well; for a man does not want to drink alone and if you meet a friend in the taproom the break is likely to be extended beyond its ten minutes. At one precisely lunch should be on the table; and by two at the latest I would be on the road. Not, except at rare intervals, with a friend. Walking and talking are two very great pleasures, but it is a mistake to combine them.

The return from the walk, and the arrival of tea, should be exactly coincident, and not later than a quarter past four. Tea should be taken in solitude”¦for eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably. At five a man should be at work again, and at it till seven. Then, at the evening meal and after, comes the time for talk, or failing that, for lighter reading; and unless you are making a night of it with your cronies, there is no reasons why you should ever be in bed later than eleven. But when is a man to write his letters? You forget that I am describing the happy life I led with Kirk or the ideal life I would live now if I could. And it is an essential of the happy life that a man would have almost no mail and never dread the postman’s knock.

Such is my ideal, and such the (almost) was the reality of “settled, calm, Epicurean life.” It is no doubt for my own good that I have been so generally prevented from leading it, for it is a life almost entirely selfish. Selfish, not self-centered: for in such a life my mind would be directed toward a thousand things, not one of which is myself. The distinction is not unimportant. One of the happiest men and most pleasing companions I have ever known was intensely selfish. On the other hand I have known people capable of real sacrifice whose lives were nevertheless a misery to themselves and to others, because self-concern and self-pity filled all their thoughts. Either condition will destroy the soul in the end. But till the end, give me the man who takes the best of everything (even at my expense) and then talks of other things, rather than the man who serves me and talks of himself, and whose very kindnesses are a continual reproach, a continual demand for pity, gratitude, and admiration.

–C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy (Harcourt Brace, 1956), pp.141-144

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Books, Church History, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

Kendall Harmon's (recent) Sermon–The Importance of Personal Bible Study

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

(Sydney Anglicans) Raj Gupta–Church discipline – what happened?

1 Corinthians 5 is perhaps the clearest place that the Bible speaks to the need of discipline. The Corinthian church is proud of the sexually immoral behaviour of someone who professed to know and follow Christ. The church is told that some form of discipline is necessary both for the sake of the rebellious person (1 Cor 5:5) and also to protect the whole church from accepting, and ultimately engaging in the same kind of sinful behaviour (1 Cor 5:6)….

Reflecting on this and other passages, I often ask myself the question: Have we gone soft on church discipline? Immorality and other sin is a reality in our churches. Sometimes there is repentance. Other times there is not. And yet, it seems that church discipline is rarely exercised, if at all. Here are 4 reasons why I suspect we don’t do well in this area….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

([London] Times) Church is the last bastion of prejudice says Jeffrey John

The gay priest whose appointment as a bishop triggered the crisis over homosexuality in the Church of England has condemned the Church as “the last refuge of prejudice”.

Speaking on the subject for the first time in nearly a decade, Dr Jeffrey John, 59, who was pressured by the Archbishop of Canterbury to stand down as Bishop of Reading in 2003, said that the Church’s mishandling of the gay issue was at the root of rising secularism.

“Exactly the same love and commitment are possible between two people of the same sex as between two people of different sexes, and it is not immediately clear why the Church should regard such a relationship as ethically or spiritually inferior to a heterosexual marriage,” he said.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Guardian) Martin Pendergast–Same-sex civil unions stress equality, not of subjection in marriage

The Catholic bishops of England and Wales are correct to say on same-sex marriage that civil same-sex unions are not the same as marriage. To the common mind, though, they are. Bristle as I do, some of my Catholic relatives often refer to our civil partnership ceremony as a “wedding” or “when you got married”. State and church have regularly redefined marriage and its structures over centuries due to changing cultural patterns, religious influences, and insights in social and human development. The structures of marriage are rooted not in biology or gender difference per se, but in relationality. If not so, those with clearly no potential for fertility could not enter a valid marriage. Faith communities have countenanced and rejected polygamous marriage, allowed nullity, divorce and remarriage, and the 20th-century Catholic church developed its earlier teaching that marriage was solely for procreation, declaring its purpose is twofold, including the mutual relationship of the couple.

Yet I am not a supporter of same sex marriage for myself. Marriage essentially depends on the subjection of one person to another, even if it’s a mutual subjection, in the exchange of vows. So I don’t seek such status. Civil partnerships are based on equality, legally expressed in a joint signing of a contractual covenant, rather than through vows.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology

(SMH) 'I am fed up with my life': UK right to die case given go ahead

In a case that challenges Britain’s definition of murder, a judge has ruled that a severely disabled man who wants a doctor to kill him will be granted a hearing.
It is the first euthanasia case of its kind to be allowed a hearing in a British court.
Tony Nicklinson, 57, suffered a paralysing stroke in 2005 that left him unable to speak or move below his neck. The former rugby player and corporate manager requires constant care and communicates largely by blinking, although his mind has remained unaffected.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(GetReligion) Bobby Ross–Thinking Through a Reuters Article on Debt and the American church

After reading the entire story ”” roughly 1,000 words ”” I have two main reactions. The first is a general journalistic reaction. The second relates more specifically to the actual religion content (that’s our purpose at GetReligion, after all).

”” Reaction No. 1: The piece lacks perspective….

”” Reaction No. 2: The piece lacks theological content.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Media, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(BBC) South Sudan: Upper Nile cattle battle kills scores

An estimated 100 people have been killed in South Sudan in the latest of a series of ethnic clashes and cattle raids, officials say.

Jonglei state Law Enforcement Minister Gabriel Duop Lam told the BBC that at least 200 people had been injured.

The BBC’s James Copnall, in Khartoum, says these figures suggest the attacks were on a very large scale.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --South Sudan, Africa, Poverty, Sudan, Violence

(RNS) Bridgeport Roman Catholic Bishop hopes to restart White House contraception talks

The Catholic bishop leading the push against the White House’s contraception mandate says the bishops hope to restart contentious talks with the Obama administration, but cautioned that church leaders “have gotten mixed signals from the administration” and the situation “is very fluid.”

Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., who chairs the religious liberty committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told Religion News Service that Catholics have to stay united if the hierarchy is to have any chance of prevailing in negotiations with the White House.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology

(Scotsman) Outrage at move towards banning Christian crosses from workplace

Religious groups have hit out at the UK government after a leaked document suggested it was moving to deny Christians the right to wear crosses at their place of work.

The Church of Scotland stressed that there should be “no discrimination” against people who wish to make statements of faith by wearing jewellery, after it emerged that ministers were fighting a case brought by two women at the European Court of Human Rights.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of James Theodore Holly

Most gracious God, by the calling of thy servant James Theodore Holly thou gavest us our first bishop of African-American heritage. In his quest for life and freedom, he led thy people from bondage into a new land and established the Church in Haiti. Grant that, inspired by his testimony, we may overcome our prejudice and honor those whom thou callest from every family, language, people, and nation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Spirituality/Prayer, TEC Bishops

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Grant to thy servants, O God, to be set on fire with thy love, to be strengthened by thy power, to be illuminated by thy Spirit, to be filled with thy grace, and to go forward by thine aid; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

-Gallican Sacramentary

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

He went away from there and came to his own country; and his disciples followed him. And on the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue; and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to him? What mighty works are wrought by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them.

–Mark 6:1-5

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) No rush for Afghan exit after killings, says Obama

US President Barack Obama has promised that international forces will not “rush for the exits” in Afghanistan, after an American soldier was accused of murdering 16 civilians.

Mr Obama said foreign troops must be withdrawn in a responsible way.

The killings in Kandahar province have strained relations between Afghans and foreign forces.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Pakistan, Politics in General, Violence, War in Afghanistan

Bishop Mark Lawrence Addresses the 221st South Carolina Diocesan Convention

The rub of course is when what is right and what is wrong becomes the stuff of ecclesiastical politics; and this, unfortunately, is where we are. But, as much as I dislike it, most rank and file parishioners did not care about the details of the allegations that were brought against me, nor did they understand the questions of church polity which beggared the dispute. Such matters as ecclesiastical constitutionality reside in galaxies far away from where they live their daily lives ”“ thank God.. So after enduring this season of trials, while not entirely unscathed”¦and who knows what allegations may yet be forth coming”¦ I remain thankful for the broad unity we share as a diocese and with a strong desire that as much as possible we may move forward together. As you have just heard in the video, there is an African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” Together is where we need to be for what lies on the road ahead; for this is not a time for us to drift into individualistic or false realities.

I say often to congregations, “Face reality as it is: Not as it was: nor as we wish it were: but as it is.” The reality is that as the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina we have unique opportunities and unique challenges. The remarkable English scholar, missionary and bishop, Stephen Neill once commented that “To be a bad Anglican is the easiest thing in the world; the amount of effort required in a minimum Anglican conformity is so infinitesimal that it is hardly to be measured.” But he went on to say, “To be a good Anglican is exceedingly taxing business.” If we substitute Episcopalian for Anglican we have just as telling and true a statement for our challenge today. To be a bad Episcopalian is easy. Just drift with the flow of whatever cultural stream carries you and you can be an Episcopalian. I remember reading as a seminarian, Bishop Allison’s debate with O.C. Edwards on evangelism. Fitz, as you might imagine was for it. If memory serves me well, Fitz opened with the line “You can be anything and be an Episcopalian. You can be immoral, and you can be heretical; as long as you are not tacky. And apparently there’s something tacky about evangelism.” Yes, it’s easy to be an Episcopalian sitting in the pews. But to be a good Episcopalian today, well this church is no place for ostriches or for the spiritually, intellectually, or morally lazy. There is a theological, moral and demographic challenge every minute (just follow Kendall’s blog and you’ll know what I mean). I should, however, qualify the statement, when I suggest it is easy to be an Episcopalian””good one or bad one””for if we take seriously the recent Hadaway Report, the biggest challenge in many parts of our country may soon be actually finding an Episcopal parish to attend.

Read it all (pdf which includes graphs). Please note that you may find a non-pdf version there (but it doesn’t include the graphs, only links thereto).

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

Pope Benedict XVI Addresses US Bishops on Issues of Marriage, Sexuality

In today’s address, the Holy Father turned specifically to the issue of “the contemporary crisis of marriage and the family, and, more generally, of the Christian vision of human sexuality.”

Benedict called attention to the “powerful political and cultural currents seeking to alter the legal definition of marriage,” and he said that the Church needs to give a “reasoned defense of marriage as a natural institution consisting of a specific communion of persons, essentially rooted in the complementarity of the sexes and oriented to procreation.”

“Sexual differences cannot be dismissed as irrelevant to the definition of marriage,” he affirmed. “Defending the institution of marriage as a social reality is ultimately a question of justice, since it entails safeguarding the good of the entire human community and the rights of parents and children alike.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology