Daily Archives: August 1, 2012

Christopher Benson–Toward A Better Conversation about Same-Sex Unions among Christians

Just at the point of exhaustion and irritability, when we think the debate on homosexuality in the church has reached its end””with every position articulated, every line drawn in the sand, every constituency ghettoized””other voices emerge to remind us that the conversation must proceed. Despite anxiety for ourselves and the church, the conversation must proceed because God has called us to this annoyance as he has called previous generations of Christians to other annoyances; the interpretation of Scripture requires us to think deeply and wait patiently upon God; the shalom of the church is at risk if we close down the search for agreement; and, lest we forget, some of God’s precious children live upon the rack.

Three fresh and challenging voices aid us in their books: Wesley Hill’s Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality (Zondervan), Jenell Williams Paris’s The End of Sexual Identity: Why Sex Is Too Important to Define Who We Are (IVP), and Oliver O’Donovan’s Church in Crisis: The Gay Controversy and the Anglican Communion (Cascade). Here’s a “gay Christian” and burgeoning New Testament scholar who pursues the vocation of celibacy (Hill), an anthropologist who questions our unexamined appropriation of sexual identity categories (Paris), and a British theologian who reflects on the troubles in his church without entanglement in America’s culture wars (O’Donovan). Two big ideas emerge from their writing. They who have ears, let them hear.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Music for Wednesday

Te Deum – John Rutter – University of Utah A Cappella Choir

[Improve the sound through the ‘change quality’ cogwheel at lower right of video when playing]

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music

Office for National Statistics civil partnerships dissolutions up nearly 30%

The number of civil partnership dissolutions soared by nearly 30 per cent last year, according to provisional figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Civil partnerships were brought in by the former Labour Government in December 2005, and they offer same-sex couples the same rights as marriage.

According to the ONS there were 672 dissolutions in 2011, a 28.7 per cent rise on the previous year’s figure of 522.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

Peter Moore on the Importance of How we Treat and Describe Other Christians

[It is important that we do some]…thinking about how easy it is for us to differentiate ourselves from other Christian believers, and very subtly to consider our way of being Christian superior to theirs. It’s a sin I’m as guilty of sometimes as it is of those I accuse. But how sad! Part of the brokenness within the worldwide Christian movement is the way groups of believers will build up their own church or denomination by denigrating others. Of course, when there are basic theological differences at stake (as there frequently are), that’s a different thing.

But I recently came across an article by the distinguished rector of another downtown Charleston church in his Church’s magazine. He was arguing that his approach to the Bible was vastly different from others who take it more literally than he, and whom he dubbed “fundamentalists.”

Of course “fundamentalist” is a label that has long been a term of opprobrium. Ever since the Scopes Trial it has been an epithet flung by self-styled liberals at other more conservative believers thought to be naïve, literalistic, uneducated, or simplistic. In recent years, by association with extreme Muslims, the moniker has taken on an especially sinister cast.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Ecclesiology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Iraqi Christian children survive double bomb blasts

Canon Andrew White, the vicar of the only Anglican church in Baghdad, said it was “a major miracle” that a bus load of children returning from their First Communion were not killed in a double bomb attack.

Canon White had first alerted his supporters across the Anglican Communion in Facebook and Twitter posts at around 1pm BST. At that time, he believed that some of the children had been killed.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Iraq, Middle East, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Violence

Wednesday Morning Mental Health Break–Cute Friend Quotes Between Cats and Dogs

There are eleven pictures and eleven quotes–read them all.

Posted in * General Interest, Animals

(RNS) New poll examines minorities’ views on social issues

Compared to Hispanic Americans, black Americans are far more likely to believe abortion should be legal in most circumstances, even when they personally reject the procedure as immoral.

That’s one of the findings of a poll released Thursday (July 26) by the Public Religion Research Institute, which also explored these groups’ attitudes toward birth control and the extent to which their churches influence their opinions.

“Generally these social issues will not play a major role when these Americans vote in November’s elections,” said Daniel Cox, PRRI’s research director. “Obama has a significant advantage over Romney among both African-Americans and Hispanics, and neither candidate’s views on these questions will likely have much effect on their support.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Washington Post) Huge blackout fuels doubts about India’s economic ambitions

Power was restored in India on Wednesday after two days of blackouts that had cast a huge shadow over the nation’s economic ambitions.

On Tuesday, the overburdened electrical grid had collapsed across the whole of northern and eastern India, depriving more than half the country, or around 600 million people, of power. It was the largest blackout in global history in terms of the number of people affected ”” about 10 percent of the world population.

“Superpower India, RIP,” said the banner headline in The Economic Times newspaper.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Globalization, India, Science & Technology

Gregory Thornbury–Answering questions about Old Testament polygamy

In the middle of ongoing cultural convulsions over the definition of marriage, I have found one question increasingly on the minds of many people: “Didn’t God in the Old Testament allow for polygamy? If that is true, then how can you say that marriage is defined as being only between one man and one woman?”

The truth is that the story of polygamy in the Old Testament is, well, a problem. Although monogamy was clearly God’s intent from the beginning, the picture blurs pretty quickly after Adam and Eve’s first sin and expulsion from the Garden. By Genesis 4, you have Cain’s son Lamech taking two wives. The patriarchs Abraham and Jacob themselves had multiple wives and concubines. Technically, the practice was polygyny. In other words, men could have more than one wife, but not the other way around (polyandry)….

How does one respond to this situation? The answer begins by seeing that God always points His creation back to the primacy and perfection of the original design. Next, you have to read every book to the end — especially if it is the biblical context.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Apologetics, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Christianity Today) J. Todd Billings–The Problem with 'Incarnational Ministry'

Regrettably, “incarnational ministry” approaches fail to recognize key New Testament passages about union with Christ. The New Testament makes strong claims about the “missions” of the Son and Spirit in the world. This makes the “sending” of the church fundamentally derivative and subordinate. We are adopted into Christ by the Spirit; we do not have a divine nature, like the incarnate Christ, but only a human nature. The Spirit brings us into the benefits of Christ as ones who belong to him; fundamentally, the church is sent as witnesses to Christ and ambassadors of reconciliation in him. We are always to point beyond ourselves, as witnesses.

Christ lives in us by the Spirit. But a biblical account of union with Christ is clear that we are not Christ; we are not an “ongoing incarnation” in the world. While John’s gospel speaks about how we are sent into the world (John 20:21), the gospel uses different language for the sending of the Son. As New Testament scholar Andreas Köstenberger points out, terms such as ” ‘coming into the world’ or ‘descending’ or ‘ascending’ ” are “reserved for Jesus.” The way we are sent, he writes, is “not the way in which Jesus came into the world (i.e. the Incarnation), but the nature of Jesus’ relationship with his sender (i.e., one of obedience and utter dependence).” We are not sent into the world to perform another incarnation, but as disciples who bear witness to Christ and his reign by the Spirit.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Joseph of Arimathaea

Merciful God, whose servant Joseph of Arimathaea with reverence and godly fear did prepare the body of our Lord and Savior for burial, and did lay it in his own tomb: Grant, we beseech thee, to us thy faithful people grace and courage to love and serve Jesus with sincere devotion all the days of our life; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty God, the giver of all good things, without whose help all labour is ineffectual, and without whose grace all wisdom is folly: Grant, we beseech thee, that in our undertakings thy Holy Spirit may not be withheld from us, but that we may promote thy glory, and the coming of thy kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

–Acts 1:14

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Rector and Vestry Resign at Saint John's in Moultrie, Georgia

From here:

On Sunday, July 29, the Rev. Will McQueen resigned as Rector of St. John’s, Moultrie. That evening, all seven members of the vestry resigned. They worked out an orderly transition of the property back to the Diocese of Georgia. Bishop Benhase accepted the resignations and has named the Rev. Walter Hobgood as Vicar.

Also, you may find the parish website there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, --Gen. Con. 2012, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Georgia, TEC Parishes, Theology

(McClatchy) Uncertain consumers leave economy stuck in neutral

Americans – whose purchases account for 70 percent of U.S. economic activity – are spending carefully, and they don’t expect to improve their income or job prospects any time soon.

“Going forward, there seems to be a lot of uncertainty,” said Joe Flannery, president of Weaver’s Inc., a 155-year-old department store in Lawrence, Kan.

He, like other retailers, is watching for a ripple effect on general merchandise sales if food prices rise because of the drought later this year and into 2013.

“I think there is uncertainty about the second half of the year,” Flannery said. “I think there is some trepidation.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Psychology, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(CS Monitor) When did modern culture begin?

Poisoned-tipped arrows and jewelry made of ostrich egg beads found in South Africa show modern culture may have emerged about 30,000 years earlier in the area than previously thought, according to two articles published on Monday.

The findings published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” show that the 44,000-year-old artifacts are characteristic of the San hunter-gatherers. The descendants of San people live today in southern Africa, so the items can clearly be traced forward to modern culture, unlike other archaeological finds, researchers said.

South African researcher Lucinda Backwell said the findings are the earliest known instances of “modern behavior as we know it.” Backwell said the discovery reinforces the theory that modern man came from southern Africa.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, History, South Africa

Saskatchewan elects first diocesan indigenous bishop

The Ven. Adam Halkett, archdeacon of Saskatchewan and priest-in-charge at St. Joseph’s, Montreal Lake First Nations, has been elected the first diocesan indigenous bishop of Saskatchewan. He was chosen July 28 by the diocese’s general assembly in Prince Albert.

Read it all and enjoy the picture.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces