Monthly Archives: August 2012

Shmuley Boteach: Germany's Circumcision Police

There was a head-spinning moment in Germany last week: News emerged that a rabbi had been criminally charged for performing his religious duties. Rabbi David Goldberg of northern Bavaria, who shepherds a 400-member community, is the first person to run afoul of a ruling by a Cologne judge earlier this year that criminalized circumcision, a basic religious rite.

There is some precedent outside of Germany for such a ruling. In 2001, a Swedish law sparked a protest from Jews and Muslims by requiring that a medical doctor or anesthesia nurse accompany registered circumcisers, and that anesthesia be applied before the procedure. The law is still in effect….

The ban by the court in Cologne, however, is the most troubling. For decades Germany has been an example of how a nation can take responsibility for its previous crimes. It is very moving to see Germany’s Holocaust memorial in Berlin, just two blocks from the country’s parliament. But the circumcision ban deserves universal scorn.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Germany, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(CEN) Two Bishops issue strong warning on Church of England’s future

Twin warnings about the Church of England becoming irrelevant ”“ or even sinking into near oblivion ”“ are being sounded in the North.
And the oblivion forecast comes from Bishop of Manchester Nigel McCulloch.
He sounds the grim message in the September issue of Crux, his diocesan monthly.
The doyen of Anglican Church leaders in the York province declares: “We are in a missionary situation.
“Alarming recent projections shared at the General Synod suggest that unless we start growing our congregations now at the rate of three per cent each year, we will decline into near oblivion.”

Read it all.

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

(Church Times) Paralympic skills on show in St Paul’s Cathedral

Organised in conjunction with the British Paralympic Association and the English Federation of Disability Sport, “Courage and Faith: The opening service for the London 2012 Paralympic Games”, was not part of the official programme, but was billed as an “act of worship”, “part of the Christian response” to the Games. Lord Coe was unable to attend, and most of the current Paralympic athletes were too immersed in training to appear….

The wheelchair athlete Anne Wufula-Strike contributed to a sense of living faith, giving her personal testimony to sport as a means of witness: “God sees me as perfect. . . He uses me and has a purpose for me.” She went on to describe how sport could also educate and empower people, especially in the developing world, to fight the stigmatisation of disability and “to be included in their communities”.

In this, she echoed the address by Baroness Grey-Thompson, the Paralympic gold medallist, who described how the Games could “challenge the accepted view of what disabled people can do. . . Paralym-pic sport has the power to change the world.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sports

([London] Times) Outrage over American blackout of the Games

The US television network NBC was branded an embarrassment yesterday for its coverage of the Paralympics as athletes, sports chiefs and disability campaigners called for better recognition by international broadcasters of the world’s second largest sports event.
Fierce reaction to the widespread blackout beyond Britain of the Opening Ceremony on Wednesday night came after a record number of people tuned in to watch the critically acclaimed event live on Channel 4.
The host broadcaster reported a peak audience of 11.2 million viewers, its biggest for more than ten years.
Conversely, NBC will wait until September 16 before screening its 90-minute special on the Paralympics, including edited highlights of the show.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Media, Movies & Television, Sports, Theology

(NY Times Op-Ed) Imraan Coovadia on the recent Horrible Story at a South African Mine

…a mine is a difficult place to learn or teach a principle. As a schoolboy I went down a coal shaft as a guest of the Chamber of Mines, which wanted to encourage children to become mining engineers. For an hour we plummeted into dark heat and noise, passages of shivering wooden pillars, rock ceilings sloping almost to the floor that wept hot water. We passed men bent over their clanging and clattering drills who could not even stand up straight where they worked. To go in and come out of such a place, each day of a short life, was, I suspected, placing too much strain on the human heart. One could do it only if one didn’t know that, in 2011, three Lonmin executives earned the same as the combined salaries of 3,600 rock-drill operators.

In the years since 1994, South Africans chose money, and faith in the growth of gross domestic product, as our country’s story line. It is a strange twist to the narrative that many of the northern mines, despite good platinum prices, are almost unprofitable.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Parish Ministry, South Africa, Theology

Albert Mohler: Atheists in the Pulpit–The Sad Charade of the Clergy Project

The Clergy Project is a magnet for charlatans and cowards who, by their own admission, openly lie to their congregations, hide behind beliefs they do not hold, make common cause with atheists, and still retain their positions and salaries. Is this how atheists and secularists groups intend to further their cause? They are getting publicity from the media to be sure, but do they think it will win them friends?

Ministers struggling honestly with doubts and struggles are in a different category altogether. Doubt will lead to one of two inevitable consequences. Faithful doubt leads to a deeper embrace of the truth, with doubt serving to point us into a deeper knowledge, trust, and understanding of the truth. Pernicious doubt leads to unfaithfulness, unbelief, skepticism, cynicism, and despair. Christians ”” ministers or otherwise ”” who are struggling with doubt, need to seek help from the faithful, not the faithless.

Christianity has little to fear from the Clergy Project. Its website reveals it to be a toothless tiger that will attract media attention, and that is about all. The greater danger to the church is a reduction in doctrine that leaves atheism hard to distinguish from belief. And the real forces to fear are those who would counsel such a reduction.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Secularism, Theology

(ENI) Kenyan faith leaders urge calm after Mombasa riots

Kenyan Christian and Muslim leaders are calling for calm in the coastal city of Mombasa after two days of violence over the killing of a militant Muslim cleric.
Churches were torched, vandalized and looted by Muslim youths who were protesting the 27 August killing of Sheikh Aboud Rogo, a cleric the American government has accused of aiding the al-Shabab militants of Somalia, allegedly linked to al-Quaeda. More than eight Protestant and evangelical churches were targeted.
A grenade was hurled at police officers who were trying to save a Presbyterian church. Three officers and a civilian were killed and 14 others injured.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Islam, Kenya, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Aidan and Cuthbert of Lindisfarne

Everliving God, who didst call thy servants Aidan and Cuthbert to proclaim the Gospel in northern England and endued them with loving hearts and gentle spirits: Grant us grace to live as they did, in simplicity, humility and love for the poor; through Jesus Christ, who came among us as one who serves, and who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Son of God, who by thy lowly life hast made manifest the royalty of service: Teach us that it is better to give than to receive, better to minister than to be ministered unto, after thine own example, who now livest and reignest in the glory of the eternal Trinity, world without end.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure. For thou dost not give me up to Sheol, or let thy godly one see the Pit. Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fulness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.

–Psalm 16:8-11

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer in the Evening of the Day

I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me this day; and I pray that You would forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.

–Martin Luther (1483–1546)

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

In New Hampshire, a Living history museum is gifted with replicas of 18th-century religious texts

Earlier this month, the Most Rev. Brian Marsh, presiding bishop of the Anglican Church in America, blessed the Bible at a Sunday ceremony that included the Rev. Art Bennett, vicar of Christ Church in St. Johnsbury, Vt., Deacon David Moody of the Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd in Charlestown and Wendy Baker, museum director at the Fort at No. 4.

Baker said Tuesday that the Bible and other prayer books enhance the museum, since religion played a vital role in the daily lives of people in the 18th century.

“It adds another dimension to the fort. It adds more depth. We think of religion as being very separate from people’s lives, but in the 18th century, we know that it had control of a lot of activity. It was a different way of looking at the world,” Baker said. “It wasn’t a question of being able to separate your life from your religion or your spirituality, as we would now say.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Continuum, History, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

New Book Coming from the Episcopal Bishop of Texas

Read it all there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Books, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

(Globe and Mail) Gary Mason–The next frontier against drunk driving

In… [British Columbia], if you blow .08 or beyond, you can avoid the justice system ”“ and a criminal record ”“ if you fit certain criteria. Conditions include not having killed or injured anyone or caused property damage as a result of your actions. If you qualify, you can opt for administrative sanctions over the courts.

If you choose this path, you have to go through a rehabilitation program, which could lead to treatment for alcohol abuse. When the person is given the right to drive again, it can only be in a car outfitted with an ignition interlock system, for a minimum of one year. The device prevents the car from starting if the driver’s blood alcohol level is above a certain limit.

“The focus is very much on rehabilitating the driver and not simply punishing him,” says Mr. Murie. “I don’t think just punishing drivers works.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Alcohol/Drinking, Canada, Law & Legal Issues, Teens / Youth, Travel, Young Adults

Notable and Quotable

Peter Berger once commented that if India is the most religious country in the world, and Sweden the least religious, then America is a nation of Indians ruled by Swedes.

–From Phillip Johnson, which I quoted in adult Sunday school last week which brought it to mind this morning

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

U.S. Firms Move Abroad to Cut Taxes

More big U.S. companies are reincorporating abroad despite a 2004 federal law that sought to curb the practice. One big reason: Taxes.

Companies cite various reasons for moving, including expanding their operations and their geographic reach. But tax bills remain a primary concern. A few cite worries that U.S. taxes will rise in the future, especially if Washington revamps the tax code next year to shrink the federal budget deficit.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Taxes, The U.S. Government, Theology

Human Rights Activist Says Pakistani Blasphemy Case Is Concocted

A leading Catholic human rights activist in Pakistan is calling for charges to be dropped in the case of a young, special needs girl accused of blasphemy.
Peter Jacob, executive secretary of the National Commission for Justice and Peace for the Church in Pakistan, told Aid to the Church in Need that he strongly doubts the allegations leveled against Rimsha Masih.
She is accused of burning 10 pages of the Noorani Qaida, an Islamic booklet used to learn basic Arabic and the Koran.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Books, Children, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Pakistan, Religion & Culture

David Bentley Hart–Through a Gloss, Darkly

What even a translator of genius can never give us, however, is the original author’s true likeness. Even the best translation is a darkened mirror, in which one glimpses only a partial figure moving among shadows. At times the mirror becomes very obscure indeed, at others delightfully bright; but at no time can any translator permit us to meet the artist face to face.

The problems of translation have been in my thoughts a great deal lately, for a variety of reasons. The most trivial of these is that I have been dipping into foreign versions of some of my own books, as well as I can, and sighing at the frequent accidental deformations of meaning. It is not that I feel myself greatly aggrieved by the mistakes I find; the texts in question are not exactly deathless masterpieces to be dithered over reverentially by their poor translators. I have, however, begun to wonder whether such distortions of meaning are not inevitable.

If nothing else, seeing what has become of my own words at the other end of the linguistic alembic has begun to make me doubt the profit in the whole enterprise of translation, even as I grant the necessity of that enterprise.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Books, Philosophy, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture, Theology

(BP) In Vermont Homeless Christians give $69.40 to missions

A $69.40 offering by a group of homeless Christians in Vermont reminds a local Baptist leader of the widow’s two mites that Jesus commended in the Gospels.

Terry Dorsett, director of the Green Mountain Baptist Association, has a new perception of the homeless because of the gift to the association’s mission offering for starting new churches and meeting church financial emergencies. Dorsett has asked the financially able among the association’s 35 churches to match the donation.

“I think we tend to think of homeless people just as being a bunch of addicts and people with problems,” Dorsett said. “And then while that does describe many homeless people, there’s a whole subculture of homeless Christians who obviously don’t have those problems and they’re just trying to live for the Lord in a different lifestyle setting than most of us might choose.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Baptists, Missions, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology

(RNS) Survey: Economy continues negative effect on churches

The economy continues to weigh on pastors, with a new survey showing that nearly two-thirds say it has affected their churches negatively.

LifeWay Research asked 1,000 pastors about the economy’s effect on their churches and found that 56 percent described it somewhat negatively and 8 percent very negatively. Nine percent reported a positive effect on their churches and one-quarter said the economy was having “no impact on my church.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(NY Times Op-Ed) Thomas Friedman–Mohamed Morsi’s Wrong Turn

I find it very disturbing that one of the first trips by Egypt’s newly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, will be to attend the Nonaligned Movement’s summit meeting in Tehran this week. Excuse me, President Morsi, but there is only one reason the Iranian regime wants to hold the meeting in Tehran and have heads of state like you attend, and that is to signal to Iran’s people that the world approves of their country’s clerical leadership and therefore they should never, ever, ever again think about launching a democracy movement ”” the exact same kind of democracy movement that brought you, Mr. Morsi, to power in Egypt.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Egypt, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East, Politics in General

Bishop [Tom] Frame Argues Anglicans need new approach to fast-changing diaconate

The role of deacons in Australia has had a seismic shift in the past 20 years and the Church needs to review, clarify and educate Anglican leaders and members about this distinctive ministry, starting with a revision of the Ordinal, Bishop Tom Frame said in Melbourne recently.

Dr Frame, the Director of St Mark’s National Theological Centre in Canberra, said he was increasingly of the view that the distinctiveness of the diaconate would be protected and preserved by a change in the Church’s approach to ordination. There was no Biblical warrant or scriptural injunction for the custom that candidates destined for priesthood be ordained deacons first.

He told the annual gathering of Melbourne deacons at Christ Church South Yarra on 7 August that a critical difference between priestly and diaconal ministries seemed to be evolving, with the former’s emphasis being on the gathered community (ministry) and the latter being most active with those not active in the Church (mission).

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Koala surprises canoeists by hitching ride in Australia

I really enjoyed this–watch it all.

Posted in * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, Animals, Australia / NZ

Armchair discovery a ”˜godsend’ for struggling British Columbia Anglican church

They’d been there, in a quiet spot along the back wall of Victoria’s St. Matthias Anglican Church, for decades ”” possibly since the parish opened the doors of its new home in the B.C. capital nearly 50 years ago.

But two elegantly designed wooden armchairs, their origin unknown to clergy or even the eldest members of the congregation, may prove to be the salvation of the financially-challenged church ”” nothing less than a “godsend,” according to St. Matthias’s rector, Rev. Robert Arril.

An antique-furniture buff’s fortuitous visit to the church two years ago for a Bible study session has led to the identification of the chairs as rare and valuable Qing dynasty treasures, expertly crafted in 17th-century China before making their way somehow ”” thanks to a long-forgotten donor evidently unaware of their significance ”” to the Vancouver Island parish.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, History, Parish Ministry, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Stewardship

Indonesian Security Forces turn to Islamic Clerics to uproot terrorism

Every few months, the head of counterterrorism in the world’s most populous Muslim nation pays a visit to a Koranic academy south of the capital to address an assembly of clerics. His message, he says, is blunt: Stopping would-be bombers “is your job, not mine.”

Ansyaad Mbai’s plea for help is also surprising, given the string of successes against Islamist militants that Indonesian security services have notched in recent years. After a blaze of attacks inspired in part by al-Qaeda’s Sept. 11, 2001, strikes in the United States, the militants in Indonesia are now a battered and diminished force. In just over two years, 33 terrorism suspects have been killed, mostly in shootouts with police, and nearly 200 have been arrested.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Indonesia, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

A Prayer for the (Provisional) Feast Day of Charles Grafton

Loving God, who didst call Charles Chapman Grafton to be a bishop in thy Church, endowing him with a burning zeal for souls: Grant that, following his example, we may ever live for the extension of thy kingdom, that thy glory may be the chief end of our lives, thy will the law of our conduct, thy love the motive of our actions, and Christ’s life the model and mold of our own; through the same Jesus Christ, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, throughout all ages. Amen.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.

–Martin Luther (1483–1546)

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

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. The cords of death encompassed me, the torrents of perdition assailed me; the cords of Sheol entangled me, the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.

–Psalm 18:2-6

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CS Monitor) Why no safe zone in Syria, yet? 5 complications

The idea of a safe zone for refugees in Syria was first proposed several months ago, but the flood of people entering Turkey ”“ as many as 5,000 a day for the past 10 days ”“ has ratcheted up the pressure for such a zone’s creation.
The UN refugee agency announced on Aug. 28 that as many as 200,000 Syrians may seek refuge in Turkey alone. Turkey says its threshold is 100,000, and it is leading the call for a safe zone so that Syrians can safely remain inside Syria.

But it’s complicated and carries risks that make the international community hesitant to implement it. Here are some complications….

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Politics in General, Syria

On a Personal Note–The Harmons Vault Even more Strongly into the Sandwich Generation

My father’s health took a major turn for the worse and so we have been scurrying around working on getting him a place to stay. He will be in a skilled nursing facility in the greater Charleston area, and he arrives tomorrow. To say this represents a major change would be an understatement.

Please pray for us and especially for my Dad, Stuart, who turns 80 next month as we all seek to adapt, adjust and let God bless us in the midst of it all–KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Aging / the Elderly, Children, Harmon Family, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family