Daily Archives: April 19, 2012

Peter Berger–The Long Reach of the Protestant Parsonage in Germany?

With the incorporation of the former DDR into the Federal Republic, Germany has become a more Protestant country in demographic terms. But there has been no lasting “Protestant revolution”. West Germany is somewhat less secularized than the East, but it too partakes of the overall Eurosecularity. It seems likely that the parsonage still resonates, even if faintly, in the minds of Angela Merkel and Joachim Gauck. Does this mean a new cultural influence of the Protestant church? Probably not. More likely what we hear are the last echoes of a Bach chorale that has ended. All the same, it is useful to recall that history always has surprises.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Germany, History, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Tony Carnes–Faith on the decks of the Titanic

The reports of the band playing “Nearer, My God, to Thee” [as the Titanic sank] were enthusiastically received. The gist of the song is that whatever hardships befall us, they can only serve to bring us closer to God. In terms of the Titanic disaster, the image was of people being dragged to the depths of the sea and yet, paradoxically, scaling the heights of heaven. It was based in part on the story of Jacob’s dream (Genesis 28:10-22), in which he sees “a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.” It may have been a particular favorite at the Bethel Chapel in Colne [where the band leader became a Christian] because Jacob marked the spot where he had the dream with a stone “and he called the name of that place Bethel.”
It was the best-loved hymn of Hartley and had been introduced to the Bethel Chapel by his father, Albion Hartley, when he was choirmaster. Ellwand Moody, Hartley’s friend [and fellow ship musician], told the Leeds Mercury in April 1912: “I remember one day I asked him what he would do if he were ever on a sinking ship and he replied, ”˜I don’t think I would do better than play “Oh God Our Help in Ages Past” or “Nearer, My God, to Thee.”

It was also the favorite hymn of many in New York. President McKinley supposedly used the words as a form of prayer as he lay dying after being shot by the anarchist Leon Czolgosz at the Temple of Music in Buffalo, New York, in September 1901.

Read it all.

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

A.S. Haley–Judge Bellows Moves the Hearing on Falls Church Anglican’s motion for stay to Apr. 27

The reply brief attaches the latest annual report of the Episcopal remnant congregation as an exhibit, and it is very telling. While some 3,250 Anglicans attended Easter services at The Falls Church two weeks ago, the Episcopal parish’s report shows that it has a total membership of exactly 178 as of the end of 2010, and that its total annual budget has income of $233,641, but expenses of $249,306 (i.e., it is out-of-balance by some $16,000). That is less than what has to be paid each year just to keep up the property — let alone pay for salaries, insurance, retirement benefits and all the other expenses of operating a full-time parish.

But that reality does not stop the Episcopal Diocese from asking Judge Bellows to let it have every conceivable benefit from its victory, pending the appeal. Instead of settling simply the amount of the appeal bond, stipulating to a stay and allowing the appeal to go forward (or not, as the Virginia Supreme Court decides), Bishop Johnston and his Diocese are continuing to pay their attorneys to oppose the Anglicans in court every step of the way, by every argument imaginable, whether meritorious or not.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

(ENS) Episcopal Church's Executive Council looks to future near end of triennium

The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council began its last meeting of the 2010-2012 triennium contemplating its leadership role ”” and emotional investment ”” in the church’s journey to its future.

The council has spent much of the last three years exploring how the Episcopal Church must change in response to the challenges facing all mainline churches, including declining memberships and thus declining finances, demographic shifts and cultural changes in the place and authority accorded to religious communities in society. When General Convention convenes in July in Indianapolis, deputies and bishops will grapple with a variety of calls…for changes in the church’s structure that their proposers say will help the church meet those challenges.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Executive Council

Stunningly Powerful BBC World Service "Witness" Segment–A 1943 Auschwitz Convoy Escape in Belgium

Herewith the BBC summary:

In 1943, a group of Belgian Jews escaped from a train bound for the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.
In the only incident of its kind, they were helped by members of the Belgian resistance.
Witness speaks to Simon Gronowski, who at the age of 11, jumped from the train to safety.

Listen to it all (10 minutes). I caught this by accident yesterday in the car driving to a meeting, and it left me shaking in silence. Do take the time to give your attention to it–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Belgium, Children, Europe, Germany, History, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Violence

Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace–Vocation of the Business Leader: A Reflection

Well-integrated business leaders can respond to the rigorous demands placed upon them with a servant attitude, recalling Jesus who washed the feet of His disciples. Leadership in this servant spirit is different from the authoritarian exercise of power too often present in business organisations. It distinguishes Christian executives and the work environment which they seek to foster. In living business responsibilities in such a manner, in developing true servant leadership, they give freely of their expertise and abilities. In figuratively washing the feet of their collaborators, business leaders realise more fully their noble calling.

An important part of the business leader’s vocation is practising ethical social principles while conducting the normal rhythms of the business world. This entails seeing clearly the situation, judging with principles that foster the integral development of people, and acting in a way which implements these principles in light of one’s unique circumstances and in a manner consistent with the teaching of the Faith. The rest of this document is organised accordingly: see, judge, act.

Read it all (32 page pdf).

Posted in Uncategorized

John Allen–A Vatican document to make Socrates proud

“Vocation of the Business Leader” may thus be that rarest of Vatican texts: Something that isn’t just dissected by vaticanisti and other denizens of the church’s chattering classes, but actually used out in the field. One can imagine, for instance, retreats for business leaders organized around the document, culminating in the examination of conscience it invites. One also hopes it becomes a cornerstone of business education, especially in Catholic venues. There are some 1,800 church-affiliated colleges and universities worldwide, roughly 800 of which have business programs, and this text would be a compelling addition to their curricula.

…the real novelty of “Vocation of the Business Leader” is that it manages to bring Catholic social teaching down to earth without actually floating a single concrete policy proposal. Instead, it asks hard questions and trusts people of intelligence and good will to figure out the right answers.

Socrates would be proud.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(NY Times) Images of G.I.’s and Remains Fuel Fears of Ebbing Discipline

A new revelation of young American soldiers caught on camera while defiling insurgents’ remains in Afghanistan has intensified questions within the military community about whether fundamental discipline is breaking down given the nature and length of the war.
The photographs, published by The Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, show more than a dozen soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division’s Fourth Brigade Combat Team, along with some Afghan security forces, posing with the severed hands and legs of Taliban attackers in Zabul Province in 2010. They seemed likely to further bruise an American-Afghan relationship that has been battered by crisis after crisis over the past year, even as the two governments are in the midst of negotiations over a long-term strategic agreement.

The images also add to a troubling list of cases ”” including Marines videotaped urinating on Taliban bodies, the burning of Korans, and the massacre of villagers attributed to a lone Army sergeant ”” that have cast American soldiers in the harshest possible light before the Afghan public.

Read it all.

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

(USA Today) Al-Qaeda expands its reach to 'like-minded' groups in Africa

The Nigerian religious sect Boko Haram had been sporadically attacking police stations and people for years with machetes and sometimes guns to create an Islamic state in its corner of Africa’s largest nation.

Then, in 2010, the group exploded into violence with suicide bombings, car bombs and coordinated assaults, months after an al-Qaeda leader in Algeria disclosed that the terror group had decided to help the Nigerian radicals….

“This new Jihadist nexus in Africa” is a rising danger that the West has yet to fully comprehend,” said Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Foreign Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

Dean and professor of Christian ethics at Duke Divinity School Reflects on His 7 years There

“The University should be thinking about what its heart is,” [Sam] Wells said. “If you don’t have a heart, you simply commit yourself to a commodity culture where you are only here to get an investment, a degree…. It’s an impoverished notion of what a university can truly be.” For the Chapel to effectively operate as a church, Wells said that it is important to interact with the people Jesus spent most of his life with””the poor. He tried to accomplish this through outreach to Durham’s more impoverished areas.

“Success is seeing people’s lives change and not just saying so but actually seeing the differences,” he said. “Poverty is a mask we sometimes put on people to [conceal] their real wealth… [but it is important for] a rich person to see how poor they are or for a person coming out of prison to see how rich he is…. That’s what the kingdom of God is about, those kinds of transformations.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, Young Adults

(VOM Persecution Blog) South Sudan, Sudan Essentially at War

Sudan’s Khartoum government says the country is officially in a state of war with South Sudan.

The top United Nations human rights official confirmed that statement by condemning Sudan’s indiscriminate bombing raids that resulted in civilian casualties in South Sudan.

Khartoum began the week with a wave of air raids on Southern border areas, killing several civilians and hitting a UN peacekeeper base. South Sudan struck back with a vow to hold their positions in a contested oil field seized from Khartoum’s army.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --North Sudan, --South Sudan, Africa, Politics in General, Sudan, Violence

(Living Church) Philip Reed reviews Alasdair MacIntyre's new Book

What does it mean to be a Catholic university? This well-worn question emerges even more than usual these days in the face of budget cuts and increasing competition in higher education, as these universities have to identify what unique feature they offer prospective students that justifies their higher tuition costs. Alasdair MacIntyre, perhaps the most influential living philosopher, believes the answer to this question involves a significant place for the Catholic philosophical tradition.

MacIntyre begins his excellent book by raising a paradox for the Catholic Christian: her faith requires her to give unqualified trust to God but she simultaneously poses systematic questions about the God she claims to trust. These questions take the form of traditional philosophical problems for theists, such as the problem of evil, the relationship of body and soul, and how to speak meaningfully of a transcendent being. Thus MacIntyre identifies an apparent tension between faith and reason, a tension that the Catholic philosophical tradition wishes to dissolve.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Education, Other Churches, Philosophy, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(RNS) Vatican orders crackdown on American nuns

The Vatican has launched a crackdown on the umbrella group that represents most of America’s 55,000 Catholic nuns, saying that the group was not speaking out strongly enough against gay marriage, abortion and women’s ordination.

Rome also chided the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) for sponsoring conferences that featured “a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

The Vatican’s disciplinary action against the LCWR was announced on Wednesday (April 18), one day before Pope Benedict XVI marked seven years as pontiff.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Alphege

O loving God, whose martyr bishop Alphege of Canterbury suffered violent death because he refused to permit a ransom to be extorted from his people: Grant, we pray thee, that all pastors of thy flock may pattern themselves on the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for the sheep; through him who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord God, who never failest both to hear and to answer the prayer that is sincere: Let not our hearts be upon the world when our hands are lifted up to pray, nor our prayers end upon our lips, but go forth with power to work thy will in the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David the servant of the LORD, who addressed the words of this song to the LORD on the day when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said: I love thee, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.

–Psalm 18:1-3

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

TV legend Dick Clark dies at age 82

Bell-bottoms came and went and came back again.

But Dick Clark? He never left. With his toothpaste-ad smile and a microphone always ready, Dick Clark was a fixture in our pop culture for decades.

Maybe you hear his name and think New Year’s Eve stalwart, or American Bandstand host, or “World’s Oldest Teenager,” a nickname he picked up from TV Guide years ago, but Dick Clark was much more than any of those single images.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Movies & Television, Music, Parish Ministry

Archbishop of Wales says Same Sex Unions deserve the welcome of church

The Archbishop of Wales has lent his support to gay marriage today, saying: “All life-long committed relationships deserved the welcome, pastoral care and support of the Church.”

In his presidential address to members of the Church in Wales’ Governing Body in Llandudno, Dr Barry Morgan said Christians “need to show how the Gospel of Jesus is good news for gay people”.

He said the church had to ask itself whether it would “protect and support pastorally, faithful, stable, lifelong relationships of whatever kind in order to encourage human values such as love and fidelity and recognise the need in Christian people for some public religious support for these”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Church of Wales, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Wales

Archbishop of Wales Calls for a Change in the Church's Stance on Same Sex Unions

Lambeth 1998, as I said, accepted homosexual orientation ”“ what some have regarded as “a natural attribute for some people,” that is, a natural predisposition toward people of the same sex ”“which has only been fully understood fairly recently. Even so, the Lambeth answer was to separate orientation from practice and commend celibacy.

But can celibacy be imposed? Shouldn’t it be freely undertaken as a personal vocation by heterosexuals and homosexuals alike? As Rowan Williams once put it, “anyone who knows the complexities of the true celibate vocation, would be the last to have any sympathy with the extraordinary idea that sexual orientation is an automatic pointer to a celibate life: almost as if celibacy before God is less costly, even less risky to the homosexual than the heterosexual.” And is not separating mind and body or feelings or orientation from practice a kind of dualism which the church has condemned in the past since human beings are a unified whole and cannot be compartmentalised in such a way. If that is true of humanity in general, why should we expect people of a homosexual disposition to be singled out in this way?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Church of Wales, Instruments of Unity, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)