Daily Archives: April 2, 2012

(RNS) Passover preparation takes spring cleaning to a whole new level

During the month leading up to Passover, which this year begins April 6 at sundown, Chevy Weiss, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish mother with five kids and a demanding career, scrubs and vacuums almost everything in her Baltimore home.

In keeping with their strict interpretation of Jewish law, which forbids Jews from possessing and consuming chametz (fermented grains) during the eight-day festival, Weiss and her husband, Yoel, clean every one of their five children’s toys by hand, with bleach.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Israel, Judaism, Marriage & Family, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Bishop Shannon Johnston–Virginia Episcopalians ready for a ”˜new dawn’ after prolonged Battle

Stewards are bound to preserve gifts for future generations. The leaders of the departed congregations have asserted that this case was never about buildings or money but about larger principles. On that we agree.

The matter of biblical interpretation is at the heart of the issues, and there are real differences. Differences over biblical interpretation, not authority, remain unsettled. Even so, the common, ancient tradition as to authority, polity and property stands with the diocese and its bishop.

To be absolutely clear, as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, I do not want merely an outcome from the court; I seek a witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I pray blessings upon those congregations who have made the painful decision to leave the Episcopal Church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

China Sees U.S. as a Competitor and a Declining Power, Insider Says

The senior leadership of the Chinese government increasingly views the competition between the United States and China as a zero-sum game, with China the likely long-range winner if the American economy and domestic political system continue to stumble, according to an influential Chinese policy analyst.

China views the United States as a declining power, but at the same time believes that Washington is trying to fight back to undermine, and even disrupt, the economic and military growth that point to China’s becoming the world’s most powerful country, according to the analyst, Wang Jisi, the co-author of “Addressing U.S.-China Strategic Distrust,” a monograph published this week by the Brookings Institution in Washington and the Center for International and Strategic Studies at Peking University.

Mr. Wang, who has an insider’s view of Chinese foreign policy from his positions on advisory boards of the Chinese Communist Party and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, contributed an assessment of Chinese policy toward the United States. Kenneth Lieberthal, the director of the John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings, and a former member of the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton, wrote the appraisal of Washington’s attitude toward China.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China

Seniors over 60 still stuck paying off college loans

The burden of paying for college is wreaking havoc on the finances of an unexpected demographic: people 60 and over.

New research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York shows that Americans in that age bracket still owe about $36 billion in student loans, providing a rare window into the dynamics of student debt. More than 10 percent of those loans are delinquent. As a result, consumer advocates say, it is not uncommon for Social Security checks to be garnished or for debt collectors to harass borrowers in their 80s over student loans that are decades old.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Economy, Education, Personal Finance

(Reuters) Too much sitting linked to shortened lives

Australians who spent a lot of time sitting at a desk or in front of a TV were more likely to die of any cause during a three-year period than those who were only sedentary a few hours a day, in a new study.

Researchers found that the link between too much time sitting and shortened lives stuck when they accounted for how much moderate or vigorous exercise people got as well as their weight and other measures of health.

That suggests shifting some time from sitting to light physical activity — such as slow walking and active chores — might have important long-term benefits, researchers said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Australia / NZ, Blogging & the Internet, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

(Christian Today) Church 'must never see older people as problem'

A respected Baptist academic has called upon churches to ensure they are a welcoming home for Britain’s ageing population.

Dr Roy Kearsley, of South Wales Baptist College, admitted that ageing was a challenge for church, mission and pastoral care.

He said that recent headlines about poor levels of care for older people in Britain were “disturbing” and indicative of a “social and spiritual crisis”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Baptists, England / UK, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Lost Lives Of Titanic Commemorated In Saint Anne's Cathedral, Belfast, Funeral Pall

The 1,517 lives lost in the Titanic tragedy will be commemorated in a beautiful hand”“crafted funeral pall which will be dedicated in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, a century after the disaster.

The pall, made of 100 per cent Merino felt, is backed with Irish linen and dyed an indigo blue, evoking an image of the midnight sea in which the Titanic finally came to rest.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of Ireland, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Parish Ministry

(NY Times) In the Eye of a Firestorm–The Trayvon Martin Shooting Prompts a review of Ideals

With five weeks’ passage, the fateful encounter between a black youth who wanted to go to college and a Hispanic man who wanted to be a judge has polarized the nation.

And, now this modest central Florida community finds its name being mentioned with Selma and Birmingham on a civil rights list held sacred in black American culture, while across the country, the parsing of the case has become cacophonic and political, punctuated by pleas for tolerance, words of hatred, and spins from the left and right.

Read it all and also note The Events Leading to the Shooting of Trayvon Martin.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Police/Fire, Psychology, Race/Race Relations, Teens / Youth, Violence

PBS' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–New American Haggadah

“New Haggadahs will be written until there are no more Jews to write them. Or until our destiny has been fulfilled, and there is no more need to say, ”˜Next year in Jerusalem,’” according to the preface to the New American Haggadah. Watch our interviews at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in Washington, DC with writers Jonathan Safran Foer and Nathan Englander about the new Haggadah edited by Foer, translated by Englander, designed by Oden Ezer, and published by Little, Brown. Interviews by Julie Mashack. Edited by Fred Yi.

Watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(NY Times Op-Ed) Jonathan Foer–Why a Haggadah?

About five years ago, I noticed a longing in myself. Perhaps it was inspired by fatherhood, or just growing older. Despite having been raised in an intellectual and self-consciously Jewish home, I knew almost nothing about what was supposedly my own belief system.

And worse, I felt satisfied with how little I knew. Sometimes I thought of my stance as a rejection, but you can’t reject something that you don’t understand and that was never yours. Sometimes I thought of it as an achievement, but there’s no achievement in passive forfeiture.

Why did I take time away from my own writing to edit a new Haggadah? Because I wanted to take a step toward the conversation I could only barely hear through the closed door of my ignorance; a step toward a Judaism of question marks rather than quotation marks; toward the story of my people, my family and myself.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Religion & Culture

([London] Times) Woman priest who saw off what she believed was Archbishop’s ”˜horrifying’ lega

The campaign, which mobilised ordinary worshippers against the so-called covenant, was co-ordindated by Mrs [Jean] Mayland from her two-up, two-down cottage in Hexham.

She criticised the Dr Williams as “a manager not a leader” and told The Times: “I still wish that he had stuck to himself and his integrity, while reaching out to those who were against gays and others, and more gently led us in the right direction.

“The next Archbishop should be someone who is able to understand that the Church should be able to bless civil partnerships and lead it into a discussion about gay marriage.”

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Covenant, Archbishop of Canterbury, Blogging & the Internet, England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

[Bishop of Buckingham] Alan Wilson–The Church of England needs a reboot, not a rebrand

Yesterday, for the third time this year, someone expressed to me genuine concern about involving the church in a project because they feared that dealing with a discriminatory organisation would compromise their moral integrity. The Church of England used to be the guardian of the nation’s morals, but is increasingly perceived as irrelevant, or even a threat to them. At first sight this is amazing, because the people I meet in church are usually kind, upright and morally aware. The nation’s moral instinct has changed, however. The church in its own bubble has become, at best, the guardian of the value system of the nation’s grandparents, and at worst a den of religious anoraks defined by defensiveness, esoteric logic and discrimination.
The collapse of empire may have led people to search for a new moral purpose in diversity not conformity. Neoliberal economics since Margaret Thatcher may have broken down networks and social tribes, regional identities and family ties. A new social and moral consensus has emerged. It is broadly Christian in the sense of “inspired by the teaching of Jesus” but disconnected from the institutional church.

This affects more than just the C of E. Evangelical bodies bemuse people who are innately suspicious of religious zeal and unpersuaded about the particularities involved. The Roman Catholic church seems corrupt and weird about sex.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, History, Religion & Culture

Pope Benedict XVI's 2012 Palm Sunday Homily

Here we find the first great message that today’s feast brings us: the invitation to adopt a proper outlook upon all humanity, on the peoples who make up the world, on its different cultures and civilizations. The look that the believer receives from Christ is a look of blessing: a wise and loving look, capable of grasping the world’s beauty and having compassion on its fragility. Shining through this look is God’s own look upon those he loves and upon Creation, the work of his hands. We read in the Book of Wisdom: “But thou art merciful to all, for thou canst do all things, and thou dost overlook men’s sins, that they may repent. For thou lovest all things that exist and hast loathing for none of the things which thou hast made … thou sparest all things, for they are thine, O Lord who lovest the living” (11:23-24, 26).

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Preaching / Homiletics, Roman Catholic

(NPR) A Rest Stop On The Road From Soldier To Civilian

For many soldiers, the main objective here isn’t getting help. It’s getting home.

“You get excited about being in the United States, but then you realize you’ve got be here for, like, five days, and that’s even more depressing,” says Spc. Jonathan Remkus just outside his barracks. “I’m basically checked out right now. I’m already considered a civilian, trapped in a military uniform.”

But leaving Camp Atterbury requires checking a lot of boxes on a lot of forms. Members of the 182nd work their way through a maze of assessments, filling out stacks of paperwork as they go.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Defense, National Security, Military, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Stress, War in Afghanistan

(NY Times Beliefs Column) Building a Business on Churches for Sale

In better economic times, workers in this dusty inland town [of Azusa, California] east of Los Angeles built motor homes in the low-slung complex at 975 West First Street.

More recently, it was an assembly site for floats in the Tournament of Roses Parade. Today it is the home of two Hispanic Protestant churches, which rent space for Sunday services in two buildings set on 1.3 acres. So when the site’s owners decided to sell the property, they called Raphael Realty.

David and Mary Raphael are real estate agents who deal only in church buildings. It’s a rare specialty. They could think of only two other real estate agencies in the country that do what they do, one in Texas and one in Northern California.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord, who, when thine hour was near, didst go without fear among those who sought thy life: Give us such boldness to confess thee before men, and such readiness to bear thy cross, that hereafter thou mayest confess us before thy Father which is in heaven.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother. To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Acha’ia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken; for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

–2 Corinthians 1:1-7

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Guardian) Palm Sunday: in pictures

Take a look at all 12 shots.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Globalization, Holy Week

At an International Meeting, Nations Move to Expand Aid for Syrian Rebels

The United States and dozens of other countries moved closer on Sunday to direct intervention in the fighting in Syria, with Arab nations pledging $100 million to pay opposition fighters and the Obama administration agreeing to send communications equipment to help rebels organize and evade Syria’s military, according to participants gathered here.

The moves reflected a growing consensus, at least among the officials who met here this weekend under the rubric “Friends of Syria,” that mediation efforts by the United Nations peace envoy, Kofi Annan, were failing to halt the violence in Syria and that more forceful action was needed. With Russia and China blocking measures that could open the way for military action by the United Nations, the countries lined up against the government of President Bashar al-Assad have sought to bolster Syria’s beleaguered opposition through means that seemed to stretch the definition of humanitarian assistance.

The offer to provide salaries and communications equipment to rebel fighters known as the Free Syrian Army ”” with the hopes that the money might encourage government soldiers to defect, officials said ”” is bringing the loose Friends of Syria coalition to the edge of a proxy war against Mr. Assad’s government and its international supporters, principally Iran and Russia.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Politics in General, Syria

Bishop of Bolivia Called as Assistant Bishop for the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh

Bishop Frank Lyons has been called by Archbishop Robert Duncan, and with unanimous support from the Standing Committee, to serve as Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. As Assistant Bishop, Lyons will assist with pastoral care and oversight to clergy and congregations in the Diocese of Pittsburgh during Archbishop Duncan’s tenure as archbishop. Bishop Lyons will also exercise a special superintendence of diocesan congregations located beyond the Pittsburgh area.

“We are delighted to welcome Bishop Frank and his wife, Shawnee, to the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. Bishop Frank is a highly capable leader who brings with him a wealth of experience. I am confident that he will provide the support our clergy and congregations need during this amazing period in our life together as a diocese,” said Archbishop Duncan.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Bolivia, Episcopal Church (TEC), South America, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh

(ACNA) Lutheran and Anglican Representatives Hold Initial Ecumenical Meeting

A first meeting of representatives of the Anglican Church in North America and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC) was held Tuesday, March 27, at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, PA.

This gathering included representatives from the two denominations, including the leaders of both groups: Archbishop Robert Duncan and Bishop John Bradosky (NALC). The Anglican Church in North America was formed in 2009 as a new Anglican Province in North America. The NALC was formed in 2010 as a reconfiguration of Lutheranism in North America. Both bodies represent a biblical, confessional expression of their respective historic traditions.

The group was hosted by Trinity School for Ministry, a biblical and orthodox Christian seminary which trains men and women for lay and ordained ministry. A presentation was made by Bishop John Rodgers on historical Lutheran-Anglican dialogue. Bishop Rodgers was a regular participant in this work at both the international and national levels from 1969 to 1990.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Ecumenical Relations, Lutheran, Other Churches, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology