Daily Archives: September 2, 2012

Signs of the End Times from the Wittenburg Door (2008)

After three months of testimony costing taxpayers over $1 million, a mistrial was declared in a drug conspiracy prosecution in Sydney, Australia, after it was discovered that five of the jurors spent most of their time in court playing Sudoku.

Read it all. I miss Mike Yaconelli–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Humor / Trivia, Religion & Culture

Silent testimony: Black churches combine pantomime and Christian message

On stage in a church on Detroit’s east side, Myra Morrison thrust her right fist down in front of her body and pulled it up slowly – as if she was yanking out her soul and delivering it to God. She was dressed in a white robe, wearing white paint on her face like a mask.

With a flip of her wrist, she glided her hand up, her furrowed brow melting into a face of bliss.

“I give myself away, so you can use me,” a gospel singer sang on a recording, as the Farmington Hills, Mich., woman acted out the words to the song.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Theatre/Drama/Plays

Benjamin Carver Enters into the Ross Douthat Mainline is in Decline Discussion

New York Times colum-nist Ross Douthat recently described the collapse of liberal Christianity in America, pointing to a 23 percent drop in Episcopal attendance over the previous decade as evidence of its demise. While Douthat and others single out the Episcopal Church, the rapid decline is shared by other mainline denominations, including my own, the Presbyterian Church (USA).

This collapse is all the more startling in light of the current global success of Christianity. Historian Philip Jenkins observes that African Christianity is growing at 2.36 percent annually, and the number of Christians on the continent is expected to double in less than 30 years. According to Jenkins, the growth of African Christianity represents the largest quantitative religious change in history….

In my own denomination, I have witnessed the casual dismissal of essential truths of the faith by pastors and professors. One Presbyterian pastor in Tennessee has gone even further, rejecting the idea that Christ died for our sins ”” claiming the idea is “absurd” and stating that the cross “doesn’t even make sense.”

Without orthodox biblical truths guiding and protecting the church, liberals have become immersed in religious pluralism, leaving the church with a weakened message of tolerance and theological relativism. Yale theologian Richard Niebuhr described this situation back in the 1930s, asserting that liberals preach a “God without wrath who brings human beings without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a bloody cross.”

Read it all from the local paper’s Faith and Values section.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Theology

(AP) Mormon church clarifies stance on caffeine

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Health & Medicine, Mormons, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(The Tablet Editorial) Disunited States

The rest of the world, baffled and worried by what it sees as a flirtation with extremism in the world’s most powerful nation, can nevertheless understand why President Obama has such a fight on his hands. For it, too, feels let down by the refusal of the early Obama vision to materialise, and by his failure to revive the sluggish American economy.

The social divide in America is alarming. Part of the disappointment of Mr Obama’s first term has been his inability to overcome divisions. There is no force for harmony in America at present, no shared idea of what the country is about, no unifying national conversation.

The large and powerful Catholic Church, which could have been a peacemaker, has pushed the pursuit of its own agenda so far that it is now another source of disunity. Cardinal Dolan’s willingness to appear at the Republican Convention has partly been rectified by his acceptance of an invitation to the Democratic Party event next week. But his long-standing friendship with Paul Ryan ”“ a disciple of the notorious atheist Ayn Rand ”“ will cause consternation in Catholic circles around the globe.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, The U.S. Government, Theology

(Christian Century) Philip Jenkins–Jesus meets the Buddha

One prolific author is R. S. Sugirtharajah, of Sri Lankan origin, who teaches at Birmingham University in England. Although he ranges widely in his interests, he is particularly interested in the possibility of South Asian linkages to the New Testament itself and to early Christianity more broadly. Any attempt to draw such connections has to be made cautiously, given the dismal track record of past efforts, but Sugirtharajah makes a strong case.

He shows how the campaigns of Alexander the Great brought the Hellenistic world into contact with Asian societies. Indian emissaries reached the West, while Central Asian Greeks encountered Buddhism. An early Christian interest in Indian affairs surfaces in apocryphal texts like the Acts of Thomas, and of course India’s truly ancient Christian communities proclaim Thomas as their founding evangelist. For this reason, Sugirtharajah claims the sizable body of Thomas literature as a critical tool for approaching Asian Christianity, even citing the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas as “an interesting starting point for Asian hermeneutics.”

I am usually skeptical about claims for direct Asian influences on the Mediterranean world, but one of Sugirtharajah’s examples intrigues me. In the Epistle of James, the King James translation of verse 3.6 declares that “the tongue . . . defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature.” Different translations offer widely varying versions of the words here translated “course of nature,” but the Greek phrase is trochos tes geneseos, which can be rendered “wheel of birth.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Church History, History, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Archbishop Okoh Inaugurates Missionary Diocese Of The Trinity In the U.S.

Sunday, August 19, 2012, was a memorable day in the history of the Anglican Communion Worldwide.

It was when the Primate of Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh; the Primate of the Anglican Church in North America, Most Rev. Robert Duncan, accompanied by three Nigerian Archbishops (Most Rev. Olu Akinyemi, Most Rev. Ikechi Nwosu and Most Rev. Ignatius Kattey), and nine other Bishops, inaugurated a new diocese in North America.

The duly elected and consecrated Bishop of the Diocese, Rt. Rev Amos Akinseye Fagbamiye, was also enthroned at the Anglican Cathedral Church of the Resurrection, Indianapolis.

The new cathedral was filled with the glory of God and people from within and outside the United States of America and Canada who gathered to witness the historic event.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anglican Provinces, CANA, Church of Nigeria, Parish Ministry

(VOA) US Special Forces Suspend Training of Afghans

The U.S. military in Afghanistan says it has temporarily halted the training of Afghan Local Police in order to redo the vetting of current members after a string of attacks by Afghan soldiers and police on their international allies.

Forty-five international troops have been killed in a wave of insider attacks in Afghanistan this year, throwing doubt on the ability of Afghan and coalition forces to live and work together during a key time in the transition to Afghan control of security. International forces are set to hand over responsibility for the country’s security to Afghans by the end of 2014.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, War in Afghanistan

(Jewish Daily Forward) David Brooks Channels 'Perplexed' Maimonides

A column on the Obama-Romney race by political and social commentator David Brooks in the August 20 New York Times bore the caption “Guide for the Perplexed.” Brooks was trying to give some helpful counsel to undecided voters trying to make up their minds, and either he or the editors of the column thought this would make a good title. If it came from Brooks, I have no doubt that, a man of cultivation, he was aware that it is also the name of a greatly influential, late 12th-century work of Jewish religious philosophy by Maimonides or Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, widely known among Jews by his acronym of “Rambam.” If it came from the editors of the columns page, I’m not so sure.

I say this because, lately, “guides for the perplexed” have been popping up everywhere, like mushrooms after a rain. Recently, the British Daily Telegraph published an article on “Cancer Cure: A Guide for the Perplexed.” August’s Jewish World Review has a contribution called “A Parenting Guide for the Perplexed.” This past June, The New Yorker ran a piece on the euro crisis, titled “The Spanish Bailout: A Guide for the Perplexed.” Last January, American film historian David Bordwell reviewed the movie version of John le Carré’s “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” under the title “Tinker Tailor: A Guide for the Perplexed.” Among books appearing in the past several years, you can find “Christian Bioethics: A Guide for the Perplexed,” “China Energy: A Guide for the Perplexed,” “Egypt and Islamic Sharia: A Guide for the Perplexed” and “A Guide for the Perplexed: Translations of All Non-English Phrases in Patrick O’Brian’s Sea-Tales.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, History, Judaism, Other Faiths, Philosophy, Religion & Culture

Very Sad Local Story–Goose Creek, S.C., grieves at candlelight vigil for two murdered women

Both victims have been described by family members as straight-laced women and diligent employees. [Dana] Woods, of Alvin, was a delivery driver for Papa John’s. [June] Guerry, an Alvin resident, was a stock clerk at Walmart and the mother of a 2-year-old daughter.

Read it all. Also, there has recently been an arrest in the case.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Rural/Town Life, Violence, Women, Young Adults

C.S. Lewis on Theism, a Christian Worldview and "popular scientific cosmology"

On these grounds and others like them one is driven to think that whatever else may be true, the popular scientific cosmology at any rate is certainly not. I left that ship not at the call of poetry but because I thought it could not keep afloat. Something like philosophical idealism or Theism must, at the very worst, be less untrue than that. And idealism turned out, when you took it seriously, to be disguised Theism. And once you accepted Theism, you could not ignore the claims of Christ. And when you examined them it appeared to me that you could adopt no middle position. Either He was a lunatic, or God. And He was not a lunatic.

I was taught at school, when I had done a sum, to “prove my answer.” The proof or verification of my Christian answer to the cosmic sum is this. When I accept Theology I may find difficulties, at this point or that, in harmonising it with some particular truths which are imbedded in the mythical cosmology derived from science. But I can get in, or allow for, science as a whole. Granted that Reason is prior to matter and that the light of the primal Reason illuminates finite minds, I can understand how men should come, by observation and inference, to know a lot about the universe they live in. If, on the other hand, I swallow the scientific cosmology as a whole, then not only can I not fit in Christianity, but I cannot even fit in science. If minds are wholly dependent on brains, and brains on biochemistry, and biochemistry (in the long run) on the meaningless flux of the atoms, I cannot understand how the thought of those minds should have any more significance than the sound of the wind in the trees. And this is to me the final test. This is how I distinguish dreaming and waking. When I am awake I can, in some degree, account for and study my dream. The dragon that pursued me last night can be fitted into my waking world. I know that there are such things as dreams; I know that I had eaten an indigestible dinner; I know that a man of my reading might be expected to dream of dragons. But while in the nightmare I could not have fitted in my waking experience. The waking world is judged more real because it can thus contain the dreaming world; the dreaming world is judged less real because it cannot contain the waking one. For the same reason I am certain that in passing from the scientific points of view to the theological, I have passed from dream to waking. Christian theology can fit in science, art, morality, and the sub-Christian religions. The scientific point of view cannot fit in any of these things, not even science itself. I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.

–C.S.Lewis, The Weight of Glory: “Is Theology Poetry?” (Harper Collins 2001 edition) pages 139-140, emphasis mine

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Apologetics, Books, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who scatterest the proud in the imagination of their hearts: Forgive our sins of pride, we beseech thee, especially our pride of race and class. May we never despise our fellow human beings, but in honour prefer one another; for the sake of him who humbled himself that he might exalt us, Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens, praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his host! Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the LORD! For he commanded and they were created. And he established them for ever and ever; he fixed their bounds which cannot be passed. Praise the LORD from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command! Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Beasts and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds! Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Young men and maidens together, old men and children! Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven. He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him. Praise the LORD!

–Psalm 148

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Larry Lindsey on the Budget and the Economy–Someone who actually Talks some Sense

Watch it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Medicare, Social Security, Taxes, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

(Chicago Tribune) Keeping the faith at home: Instilling spirituality in children still matters

We are a nation of believers. Mostly. A Gallup poll last year found that 91 percent of Americans believed in God or some universal spirit. Yet a more recent poll by WIN-Gallup International and published by Religion News Service found that the number of Americans who say they are “religious” dropped from 73 percent in 2005 to 60 percent today. And in that poll, 5 percent of Americans said they are atheists, up from 1 percent in 2005.

Believing in God doesn’t necessarily translate to belonging to an organized religion. And parents who do not belong to a religious institution, as well as those who don’t believe in a higher power, are faced with a difficult question: How do they instill spirituality and faith in the children?

Kara E. Powell, assistant professor of youth and family ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., says parents need to make themselves available to talk about spirituality and religion at home. They should be extra diligent in making faith a topic that can be discussed so that children won’t be confused or ashamed about any observations or questions they might have. Even if there is no organized religion in the home, she says, religious holidays such as Easter and Hanukkah and their rituals can be one of the entry points into the discussion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Children, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Full Text of the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism statement on mission and evangelism

5. The history of Christian mission has been characterized by conceptions of geographical expansion from a Christian centre to the “un-reached territories”, to the ends of the earth. But today we are facing a radically changing ecclesial landscape described as “world Christianity” where the majority of Christians are either living, or have their origins in the global South and East.[2] Migration has become a worldwide, multi-directional phenomenon which is re-shaping the Christian landscape. The emergence of strong Pentecostal and charismatic movements from different localities is one of the most noteworthy characteristics of world Christianity today. What are the insights for mission and evangelism ”“ theologies, agendas and practices ”“ of this “shift of the centre of gravity of Christianity”?

6. Mission has been understood as a movement taking place from the centre to the periphery, and from the privileged to the marginalized of society. Now people at the margins are claiming their key role as agents of mission and affirming mission as transformation. This reversal of roles in terms of envisioning mission has strong biblical foundations because God chose the poor, the foolish and the powerless (1 Corinthians 1:18-31) to further God’s mission of justice and peace so that life may flourish. If there is a shift of the mission concept from “mission to the margins” to “mission from the margins”, what then is the distinctive contribution of the people from the margins? And why are their experiences and visions crucial for re-imagining mission and evangelism today?

7. We are living in a world in which faith in mammon threatens the credibility of the gospel. Market ideology is spreading the propaganda that the global market will save the world through unlimited growth. This myth is a threat not only to economic life but also to the spiritual life of people, and not only to humanity but also to the whole creation. How can we proclaim the good news and values of God’s kingdom in the global market, or win over the spirit of the market? What kind of missional action can the church take in the midst of economic and ecological injustice and crisis on a global scale?

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Globalization, Missions, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology

World Council of Churches statement invokes new understanding of mission

The statement draws on insights from Protestant, Evangelical, Orthodox and Roman Catholic mission theologies, and will be presented at the WCC 10th Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea in 2013.

“The significance of the statement lies in its concept of ‘mission from the margins’, which emphasizes the universality of working for all Gods’ people, as well as the creation, despite divisions and divides,” said Dr Agnes Abuom, WCC Executive Committee member from Kenya.

“The gift of the mission statement is that without attacking the old paradigm of mission values, it invokes new understandings which respond well to our different contexts, including that of migrant churches,” she added.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Globalization, Missions, Other Churches, Religion & Culture