Daily Archives: September 14, 2012

Mitch Horowitz: The Secret Wisdom of an Ersatz Guru

In the recently released documentary “Kumaré,” filmmaker Vikram Gandhi, who grew up in a Hindu family in New Jersey and graduated from Columbia University, sets out to skewer the ersatz yogic and Eastern philosophies that have been embraced by New Age enthusiasts in America.

Taking a leaf from Sacha Baron Cohen’s “Borat,” Mr. Gandhi adopts the persona of a guru named Kumaré, or divine child. Complete with beard, flowing robes and a pitch-perfect imitation of his grandmother’s Indian lilt, Mr. Gandhi/Kumaré heads for southern Arizona, where his spiritual-sounding bromides (“illusion is truth”) attract a circle of 15 devotees, who see him as an authentic spiritual guide.

Anyone who has ever rolled his eyes at strip-mall yoga centers, Beverly Hills ashrams or commercial perfumes with names like Atman (Sanskrit for “true self”) will appreciate the film’s sendup of New Age movements and transplanted Eastern spirituality.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Movies & Television, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(Zenit) Cardinal Burke's Address in Kenya on Law at Service of Justice and Truth

Aristotle’s reflection on the political life and his preference for the republic as a form of government help us to understand the foundational importance of the rule of law. Commenting on Aristotle’s reasons for favoring a republican form of government, combining good features of both oligarchy and democracy, Monsignor Robert Sokolowski, renowned professor of the School of Philosophy at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., underlines the essential relationship between a stable political life and the respect for the norm of law. He writes:

In a republic, a large middle class ”“ middle in both an economic and an ethical sense ”“ is established between the rich and the poor, and the laws and not men rule, and they do so for the benefit of the whole city, not for any particular part. To live this way is a great human accomplishment. It is a truly exalted exercise of reason for citizens to allow the laws to rule, to have the strength of reason and character to subordinate themselves to the law, which they allow to rule for the benefit of the whole. Not all people have the civic habits and public vision to let the laws and not their own partisan interests rule over the whole; not all people are immediately capable of being citizens…

The stability of any society or government depends upon the education of the people in the civic virtues which respect the rule of law for the good of all.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, History, Kenya, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Philosophy, Politics in General, Roman Catholic

(Wash. Post) Financially troubled parts of Europe consider taxing church properties

Cash-strapped officials in Europe are looking for a way to ease their financial burden by upending centuries of tradition and seeking to tap one of the last untouched sources of wealth: the Catholic Church.

Thousands of public officials who have seen the financial crisis hit their budgets are chipping away at the various tax breaks and privileges the church has enjoyed for centuries.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(CEN) Leadership question for the Communion

The Review of the See of Canterbury chaired by Lord Hurd concluded that ”˜We believe that leadership of the Anglican Communion will remain one of the principal modern roles of the Archbishop of Canterbury’.

Brogan, former Chief Political Correspondent of the Daily Telegraph, is an experienced journalist and a practising Catholic. It is thought unlikely that he would have misrepresented the Archbishop’s words in the way suggested by Canon Kearon and it is more likely that the Archbishop was indulging in speculation and ”˜blue sky thinking’ without measuring the impact his words would make.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Church Times) Liverpool Cathedral hears of Hillsborough blunders

New inquests for the 96 Liverpool supporters killed in the Hillsborough disaster could be held after an independent panel, chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd James Jones, revealed that 41 of the victims might have survived with better medical care.

The panel was highly critical of the police, who, at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, at the neutral Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, had filtered fans into two already overcrowded pens. A barrier had collapsed, and in the ensuing crush, 96 fans had been killed and 766 injured.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), History

Nine questions church visitors aren't asking (…but churches are still trying to answer)

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

The Episcopal Bishop of Arizona–Transitional Deacons, In More Ways Than One!

Bruce is an African American and came to us from the Lutheran Church after a long and successful career as an attorney in New York City. (Someone told me that his firm was counsel to the Harlem Globetrotters, but I have not checked this out with him). Ernie was raised Roman Catholic and even started seminary many years ago, but left to get married and became a leading public school administrator in Tucson.

There are three things about their ordinations which strike me as having important implications for the future of our Diocese and the Episcopal Church.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops

A story we Missed Last Summer about an Episcopal Church in Michigan which Closed

A local church slated for closure is getting heat from parishioners who say church officials hid information about the closure and that in closing the church they are violating the Episcopal Cannons that govern it.

St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church, 15717 Stephens, will hold its last service on June 24 before completely closing down at the end of the month. For many longtime parishioners, the news came as a surprise.

They say it was first announced less than a month ago, but church representatives say the closure has been a long time coming.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

Ezra Klein on the Federal Reserve–Ben Bernanke is the economy’s tough, older friend

The Federal Reserve’s announcement Thursday is a big deal.

It’s a big deal because of what they’re doing. They’re buying $85 billion in assets every month through the end of the year, and then they’re potentially going to keep doing it in 2013. They’re promising to keep interest rates low through the recovery, and then keep them low after the recovery strengthens.

But it’s a bigger deal because of what they’re saying. Thursday, the Federal Reserve said, finally, that they’re not content with 8 percent unemployment and a sluggish recovery, and they’re willing to actually do something about it. If you’re an investor or a business owner trying to decide what the market is going to look like next year, you just got a lot more optimistic.

Read it all and there is more (with reasons for concern) there.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Federal Reserve, Globalization, History, Psychology, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

(SHNS) Terry Mattingly: Cardinal Dolan walks fine line between prayer, politics

…no one was surprised when Dolan’s Republican National Convention benediction included several references to religious liberty.

“Almighty God, father of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus, we beg your continued blessings on this sanctuary of freedom, and on all of those who proudly call America home,” said Dolan, as he began his prayer. It also included, in part: “We ask your benediction upon those yet to be born, and on those who are about to see you at the end of this life.”

This passage set the tone for anyone parsing the cardinal’s words for political content, said Deacon Greg Kandra, a 26-year CBS News veteran who now serves in the Diocese of Brooklyn and has been active in a variety of multimedia Catholic ministries.

“What caught my attention was what Cardinal Dolan didn’t say, as well as what he did say. He kept the whole thing broadminded, without getting too specific,” said Kandra. “Most of all, there was nothing overtly political in this prayer.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast of the Holy Cross

O God, who by the passion of thy blessed Son didst make an instrument of shameful death to be unto us the means of life and peace: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who for our redemption didst give thine only begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection hast delivered us from the power of the enemy: Grant us to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

And all the assembly kept silence; and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. After they finished speaking, James replied, “Brethren, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, as it is written, ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up, that the rest of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who has made these things known from of old.’ Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, but should write to them to abstain from the pollutions of idols and from unchastity and from what is strangled and from blood. For from early generations Moses has had in every city those who preach him, for he is read every sabbath in the synagogues.”

–Acts 15:12-21

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Pope to Start 'Peace Pilgrimage' to Lebanon Friday

Pope Benedict XVI will arrive in Lebanon on Friday for a three-day visit that he labeled a “peace pilgrimage” at a time when the region and its people are facing anguish, from war in Syria to violence in Libya.

Ahead of the trip, a senior Vatican official said Thursday he didn’t expect the pope to make specific remarks about the violence against U.S. embassies in the area, or the online video that many protesters said had sparked it, during his visit so as not to risk angering the Muslim street and inflaming the crisis.

The trip “was already a minefield. Now a few more mines have been tossed in,” the official said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Foreign Relations, Inter-Faith Relations, Lebanon, Middle East, Other Churches, Politics in General, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Violence

Independent alleges America 'was warned of embassy attack but did nothing'

The killings of the US ambassador to Libya and three of his staff were likely to have been the result of a serious and continuing security breach, The Independent can reveal.

American officials believe the attack was planned, but Chris Stevens had been back in the country only a short while and the details of his visit to Benghazi, where he and his staff died, were meant to be confidential.

The US administration is now facing a crisis in Libya. Sensitive documents have gone missing from the consulate in Benghazi and the supposedly secret location of the “safe house” in the city, where the staff had retreated, came under sustained mortar attack. Other such refuges across the country are no longer deemed “safe”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Libya, Politics in General, Violence

Vatican: Violence Unacceptable, Religions Must Be Respected

the director of the Vatican press office, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, …[Wednesday] released a message asserting that “profound respect for the beliefs, texts, outstanding figures and symbols of the various religions” is essential if people hope to coexist peacefully.

“The serious consequences of unjustified offense and provocations against the sensibilities of Muslim believers are once again evident in these days, as we see the reactions they arouse, sometimes with tragic results, which in their turn nourish tension and hatred, unleashing unacceptable violence,” the statement added.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Egypt, Inter-Faith Relations, Lebanon, Libya, Middle East, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Violence

From the Email Bag–Prayer requested for North Africa and the Middle East

Perhaps you could encourage readers to be praying for calm in N. Africa and the Middle East tomorrow, and safety for all of us Americans & expat Christians who live and work in these countries?

. A simple, direct request which I plan to honor–please join me.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Foreign Relations, Middle East, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Violence

'This Does Not Represent Us': Moving Photos of Pro-American Rallies in Libya

I enjoyed this–hope you do also.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Foreign Relations, Libya, Politics in General

National Association of Evangelicals Grieves Embassy Violence

From here:

The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) grieves the tragic and senseless deaths of innocent representatives of the U.S. government at the embassy in Libya. Tuesday’s violence in Libya, and other areas, is reported to be sparked by an offensive film about Islam. The film’s origins have not been verified.

“Very few Americans knew anything about this film until the violence started,” said Leith Anderson, NAE President. “This insulting video does not represent the vast majority of Americans who desire to live at peace with people of other faiths.”

The attack has been condemned by both the U.S. and Libya governments. The NAE joins together in humble prayer for the victims’ families and for peace and justice in the region. The NAE calls its members to continue in efforts that build stronger relationships of understanding between those of different faiths.

Anderson said, “How should the people of the world respond to this video? Don’t watch it.”

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Egypt, Evangelicals, Foreign Relations, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Libya, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence