Daily Archives: March 25, 2012

A New Charleston (S.C.) County program for inmates stresses accountability

Deep inside the Charleston County jail, this program is trying to reach out to men who see crime as the answer. By bringing criminals and crime victims together, teacher Amy Barch hopes to show what happens on the other side of their deeds, brutality and triggers.

“They have the capacity to change and repair harm,” she said.

Whether Barch’s efforts are working is unclear, largely because her “Turning Leafs Project” is in its infancy. But anecdotal information suggests that progress is being made.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Prison/Prison Ministry, Psychology, Theology

The message of the Movie "Courageous" inspires local men in the Lowcountry of South Carolina

The Rev. Ed Grant and Elder Jim Roberts of Calvary Lutheran Church in West Ashley went to see the movie last year, along with perhaps 20 others from church, and were inspired to bring its message to all the men at Calvary, they said.

Grant had a vision that this reached well beyond his church, he said. This was an opportunity to teach Christian values to and encourage self-reflection in many.

“What does it mean to be a Christian man?” he asked.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Men, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

In Mexico, tens of thousands gather before Pope Benedict's Mass

Singing, strumming guitars and trying to shield themselves from a searing sun, tens of thousands of Mexican Catholics came together Saturday nearly 24 hours before an open-air Mass with Pope Benedict XVI.

They walked miles and took up positions in Bicentennial Park, a short distance from a hilltop monument that honors the 1920s Cristero War by Catholic counter-revolutionaries.

But as religious fervor was on display in Silao, in central Mexico’s Guanajuato state, a sexual-abuse scandal involving a notorious Mexican priest threatened to cast a pall over the pope’s first visit to the Spanish-speaking Americas.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Mexico, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Digging out of debt–Couples show there are many ways ”” some easy, others not ”” to recover

The Great Recession is officially over, but for a huge number of Americans, serious debt lives on.

U.S. households owe a combined $11.5 trillion on credit cards, car loans, mortgages and other consumer debt, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

In households across the country, big debt is causing sleepless nights, troubled relationships and uncertain futures. The good news: There are ways out. And you don’t have to file for bankruptcy.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Theology

Ole Hallesby on the Painstaking and Rewarding Work of Prayer

“The work of the Spirit can be compared to mining. The Spirit’s work is to blast to pieces the sinner’s hardness of heart and his frivolous opposition to God. The period of the awakening can be likened to the time when the blasts are fired. The time between the awakenings corresponds, on the other hand, to the time when the deep holes are being bored with great effort into the hard rock.

To bore these holes is hard and difficult and a task which tries one’s patience. To light the fuse and fire the shot is not only easy but also very interesting work. One sees “results” from such work. It creates interest, too; shots resound, and pieces fly in every direction! It takes trained workmen to do the boring. Anybody can light a fuse.

”¦the Spirit calls us to do the quiet, difficult, trying work of boring holy explosive materials into the souls of people by daily and unceasing prayer. This is the real preparatory work for the next awakening. The reason why such a long period of time elapses between awakenings is simply that the Spirit cannot find believers who are willing to do the heavy part of the mining work. Everybody desires awakenings; but we prefer to let other do the boring into the hard rock.”

–Ole Hallesby, Prayer (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortess, 1994 printing of the 1931 original), pp.77-78

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Books, Europe, Norway, Spirituality/Prayer

(NY Times On Religion) Santorum’s Catholicism Proves a Draw to Evangelicals

After more than a century of widespread antipathy between Catholics and evangelical Christians, a Catholic with Italian immigrant roots from the industrial Northeast has emerged as the favored presidential candidate among evangelicals, even in states he lost over all, like Ohio and Illinois. On the eve of Louisiana’s primary on Saturday, Mr. Santorum had won a plurality of the evangelical vote in 9 of 16 states, according to exit polls by Edison Research.

“Santorum represents a game-changer,” said D. Michael Lindsay, the president of Gordon College, a Christian school near Boston, and an expert in evangelical voting patterns. “His candidacy has the potential to reshape conservative political alignment, securing once and for all evangelical support for a conservative Catholic in public life.”

Mr. Santorum has, in fact, performed far better with evangelical Christians than with Catholics, who have preferred Mitt Romney, a Mormon, in virtually every state. Through a critical reading of the data, Mr. Santorum’s base of evangelical Protestants and conservative Catholics could be seen by cynics as a coalition of zealots, held together by intolerance. By another way of thinking, however, his candidacy offers proof of a growing tolerance on the part of evangelical Christians, a willingness to shed ancestral religious prejudices.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, History, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(NPR) 'Woodstock For Atheists': A Moment For Nonbelievers

Thousands of people are expect to descend on the Mall in Washington, D.C., on Saturday to celebrate not believing in God. It’s being called a sort of “Woodstock for Atheists,” a chance for atheists to show their power in numbers and change their image.

The “Reason Rally” could attract up to 30,000 people; organizer David Silverman says it marks a coming-of-age for nonbelievers.

“We’ll look back at the Reason Rally as one of the game-changing events when people started to look at atheism and look at atheists in a different light,” Silverman says.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Secularism

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, whose blessed Son did overcome death for our salvation: Mercifully grant that we, who have his glorious passion in remembrance, may take up our cross daily and follow him; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Scottish Prayer Book

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you.'” The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A rod.” And he said, “Cast it on the ground.” So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. But the LORD said to Moses, “Put out your hand, and take it by the tail” –so he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand– “that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.” Again, the LORD said to him, “Put your hand into your bosom.” And he put his hand into his bosom; and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous, as white as snow. Then God said, “Put your hand back into your bosom.” So he put his hand back into his bosom; and when he took it out, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. “If they will not believe you,” God said, “or heed the first sign, they may believe the latter sign. If they will not believe even these two signs or heed your voice, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it upon the dry ground; and the water which you shall take from the Nile will become blood upon the dry ground.” But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either heretofore or since thou hast spoken to thy servant; but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him dumb, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

–Exodus 4:1-12

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Former Anglican bishop ordained a deacon

A former Anglican bishop has been ordained a deacon for the ordinariate.

Robert Mercer, who was received into the Catholic Church in January, was ordained by Auxiliary Bishop Alan Hopes of Westminster at Allen Hall seminary in London. He will be ordained a priest on Monday.

Mr Mercer, 77, was Bishop of Matabeleland, Zimbabwe, in the Anglican Province of Central Africa. He was bishop for 11 years before leaving the Anglican Communion to join the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, part of the worldwide Traditional Anglican Communion. He served as metropolitan bishop from 1988 to 2005, when he retired to England.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic, Zimbabwe

Secretary General Releases Statement on the Anglican Covenant as It is Unable to pass in the C of E

(ACNS) In the light of today’s news about the decisions of the dioceses of the Church of England about the Covenant I wanted to clarify the current situation across the Anglican Communion.

In December 2009, as requested by the Standing Committee, I sent the text of The Anglican Communion Covenant to all the Member Churches of the Anglican Communion asking that they consider it for adoption according to their own internal procedures.

I have received notifications from eight Provinces that they have approved, or subscribed, the Covenant or, in the case of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, have approved pending ratification at the next synod which is usual procedure in that Province.
These Provinces are:
The Church of Ireland
The Anglican Church of Mexico
The Church of the Province of Myanmar
The Anglican Church of Papua New Guinea
The Church of the Province of South East Asia
The Anglican Church of Southern Africa
The Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America
The Church in the Province of the West Indies
What next steps are taken by the Church of England is up to that Province. Consideration of the Covenant continues across the Anglican Communion and this was always expected to be a lengthy process. I look forward to all the reports of progress to date at the ACC-15 in New Zealand in November.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)