Daily Archives: October 3, 2012

(RNS) Shiite Muslims quietly establish a foothold in U.S.

Shiites…make up about 15 percent of Muslims globally and in America…[and] until recently, differences [between Shiites and other Muslims such as Sunnis] mattered little in the United States, where the two groups bonded as Muslim minorities and prayed in the same mosques.

“There weren’t enough of either to justify the cost of building sectarian mosques, and because in general, early generation immigrants were less focused on establishing formal houses of worship,” said Andrea Stanton, a religious studies professor at the University of Denver.

That is changing, however, as American Shiites are increasingly establishing their own mosques. According to “The American Mosque 2011,” a survey sponsored by several Muslim American organizations, 7 percent of roughly 2,100 mosques in America are Shiite, and most have been built in the last 20 years.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke Elected As Archbishop Of Armagh And Primate Of All Ireland

The Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke, Bishop of Meath and Kildare, has been elected Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland by the House of Bishops of the Church of Ireland, following the retirement of Archbishop Alan Harper on 30 September.

Making the announcement in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, the Archbishop designate said: ”˜I would like first to express my sincere gratitude for the huge trust that my fellow”“bishops have placed in me by appointing me to the Archbishopric of Armagh. I truly feel neither worthy of the heritage into which I am to enter nor adequate for the tasks that lie ahead. The God of Christian belief is, however, a God of grace rather than a god who looks for human self”“sufficiency. All I can pledge is that I will give this task the very best of which I am capable, and the prayer of all of us must be that God in his grace will enable some good to come from this.’

Read it all.

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

(Reuters) Germany resumes ritual circumcisions after bitter dispute

Shopkeeper Nevzat Cavan is rushing to meet orders for the white, fur-trimmed costumes worn by Muslim boys for their circumcision, relieved that Berlin’s city government has allowed the operations to resume.

For three months, the elaborate suits, capes and oriental slippers languished unsold due to a shock court ruling that raised the possibility of criminal charges being brought against families who had their sons circumcised.

“There were days when we didn’t even open the till, but now the phone never stops ringing,” Turkish-born Cavan said.

Read it all.

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

Church Growth Research website launched toexplore the drivers of church growth in C of E

All are invited to visit and interact with a new website www.churchgrowthresearch.org.uk built to support the work of the Church Growth Research Programme – the national 18-month academic research project exploring the factors related to spiritual and in particular numerical church growth of the Church of England. The research is being funded through funding set aside by the Church Commissioners and Archbishops’ Council for research and development. This project is being undertaken in partnership with the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex; Cranmer Hall, St John’s College, Durham and the Oxford Centre for Ecclesiology and Practical Theology, Ripon College, Cuddesdon.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE)

World faces ageing population time bomb says United Nations

A major study published by the United Nations has warned that the growing numbers of the elderly presented significant challenges to welfare, pension and health care systems in both developing and developed nations.

And it bemoans the fact that skills and knowledge that older people have acquired are going to waste in societies rather than being used to their full.

“We must commit to ending the widespread mismanagement of ageing,” said Richard Blewitt, chief executive of HelpAge International, which collaborated on the report, Ageing in the 21st Century.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Economy, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

Douglas May, the sole U.S.-Born Roman Catholic priest in Egypt responds to the Muhammad Film Trailer

After spending 18 of the last 30 years in Egypt, I am not a romantic when it comes to the realities of religious intolerance, social discrimination and sectarian violence experienced by many Christians due to religious fanatics who claim to be Christian, Jewish or Muslim. I have overheard various “men of religion” refer to Christians using the religious “M” word, “mushrik” meaning polytheist and idolater or “K” word “kafr” meaning infidel. I’ve heard it all and seen a lot. While two wrongs never make a right, Christians of most denominations should never fail to recall the violence, discrimination and persecution we have been guilty of during our own 2,000 year history “in the name of God and Jesus Christ”.

I cannot speak for Muslims outside of Egypt, but I can try to explain the reactions of many to such a film without equating these reasons to being justifications. Most Americans get quite upset when we watch the American flag being burned or trampled on. We at least get upset if someone desecrates the Bible and Catholics get very upset if someone desecrates the Eucharist. Maybe we don’t burn those who do or torture them anymore, but we have in the past. We claim to be “one nation under God with liberty and justice for all” and yet we have always found at least one race, nationality, religion or orientation to focus on and “go after”.

Western societies that profess “freedom of religion” have moved toward “freedom FROM religion”. Personally, even as a Catholic priest, I feel that “religion” in civil democracies have the obligation to form and educate the individual and collective conscience of its followers and to be “a voice of conscience” in society. However, I oppose any religion dictating to government how it should legislate morality according to any particular religious belief system. At the same time, this is NOT the current reality in the Muslim world whether I/we like it or not. Cultural sensitivity must include religious and social sensitivity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Egypt, Foreign Relations, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Middle East, Movies & Television, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Violence

In New Zealand, the Fight to save ChristChurch Cathedral goes to court

The group that has taken the Anglican Church court in an attempt to save ChristChurch Cathedral says the decision to demolish the building is breaches an Act of Parliament.

The Great Christchurch Building Trust is arguing at the High Court in Christchurch the significant national and international interest in the cathedral’s future means it should be subject to judicial review.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Timothy Dolan's testimony on Judge Lippman’s proposal to expand legal aid on behalf of the poor

I come this morning very grateful for the chance to promote an initiative I consider crucial and promising for this city and state I am now proud to call my earthly home;

I come with deep admiration for the prophetic leadership of Chief Judge Lippman, encouraged by other esteemed jurists like Judge Gail Prudenti and Mr. Thomas More; as well as our own Catholic Lawyers Guild.

I come, hardly as a legal expert or politician”¦but only as a pastor, to heartily support an endeavor that I’m convinced will bring justice to people who, simply put, have nowhere else to go but to the courts, which enflesh the assurance of this great country that there is, indeed, “equal protection under the law.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, City Government, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Politics in General, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Urban/City Life and Issues

Naomi Schaefer Riley–A girl still needs her father

One has to wonder: Where are the fathers? According to the Pew Research Center, the number of children living apart from their fathers jumped from 11% in 1960 to 27% in 2010. What’s more, there are plenty of fathers who are physically present but not involved.

Too often, it seems to be by design. Last month, the ACLU succeeded in getting a Rhode Island school district to end the practice of father-daughter dances, as if such traditions are the threat to American girlhood. The ACLU victory news release announced: “In the 21st century, public schools have no business fostering the notion that girls prefer to go to formal dances while boys prefer baseball games. This type of gender stereotyping only perpetuates outdated notions of ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ activities and is contrary to federal law.”

The point of father-daughter dances was never to keep girls in dresses and off athletic fields. These events symbolize a more important old-fashioned goal: to protect girls. And in an era when many teens attend post prom “P&H” (pimp and ho) parties in which girls shed prom dresses to prance around in lingerie, girls can probably use all the protection they can get.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Marriage & Family, Men, Women

Douglas Farrow and Others–Thirteen Theses on Marriage for the purpose of public debate

4) Sexual desire, sexual intention, and sexual action must be distinguished, whether for psychological or moral or legal purposes, and each may be well ordered or disordered.

5) Well-ordered sexual intentions have in view goods both of body and of soul, goods that are at once personal and societal.

6) Consideration of these goods ought to respect the conjugal nature and reproductive potential of the most fundamental sexual act.

7) Consideration of these goods ought to respect the highest human good, which is enjoyment of God and of one another in God.

8) All human persons are constitutionally ordered to this highest good and as such are deserving of respect regardless of their desires, intentions, or actions.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology

(CNN Belief Blog) Alan Miller– 'I'm spiritual but not religious' is a cop-out

The increasingly common refrain that “I’m spiritual, but not religious,” represents some of the most retrogressive aspects of contemporary society. The spiritual but not religious “movement” – an inappropriate term as that would suggest some collective, organizational aspect – highlights the implosion of belief that has struck at the heart of Western society.

Spiritual but not religious people are especially prevalent in the younger population in the United States, although a recent study has argued that it is not so much that people have stopped believing in God, but rather have drifted from formal institutions.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

Must not Miss–Bishop Festo Kivengere's account of the Martyrdom of Ugandan Archbishop Janani Luwum

In Uganda, during the eight years in the 1970’s when Idi Amin and his men slaughtered probably half a million Ugandans, “We live today and are gone tomorrow” was the common phrase.

We learned that living in danger, when the Lord Jesus is the focus of your life, can be liberating. For one thing, you are no longer imprisoned by your own security, because there is none. So the important security that people sought was to be anchored in God.

As we testified to the safe place we had in Jesus, many people who had been pagan, or were on the fringes of Christianity, flocked to the church or to individuals, asking earnestly, “How do you prepare yourself for death?” Churches all over the country were packed both with members and seekers. This was no comfort to President Amin, who was making wild promises to Libya and other Arab nations that Uganda would soon be a Muslim country. (It is actually 80 per cent Christian)….

It became clear to us through the Scriptures that our resistance was to be that of overcoming evil with good. This included refusing to cooperate with anything that dehumanizes people, but we reaffirmed that we can never be involved in using force or weapons.

…we knew, of course, that the accusation against our beloved brother, Archbishop Janani Luwum, that he was hiding weapons for an armed rebellion, was untrue, a frame-up to justify his murder.

The archbishop’s arrest, and the news of his death, was a blow from the Enemy calculated to send us reeling. That was on February 16, 1977. The truth of the matter is that it boomeranged on Idi Amin himself. Through it he lost respect in the world and, as we see it now, it was the beginning of the end for him.

For us, the effect can best be expressed in the words of the little lady who came to arrange flowers, as she walked through the cathedral with several despondent bishops who were preparing for Archbishop Luwum’s Memorial Service. She said, “This is going to put us twenty times forward, isn’t it?” And as a matter of fact, it did.

More than four thousand people walked, unintimidated, past Idi Amin’s guards to pack St. Paul’s Cathedral in Kampala on February 20. They repeatedly sang the “Martyr’s Song,” which had been sung by the young Ugandan martyrs in 1885. Those young lads had only recently come to know the Lord, but they loved Him so much that they could refuse the evil thing demanded of them by King Mwanga. They died in the flames singing, “Oh that I had wings such as angels have, I would fly away and be with the Lord.” They were given wings, and the singing of those thousands at the Memorial Service had wings too.

–Festo Kivengere, Revolutionary Love, Chapter Nine

[See here for further information, and, through the wonders of the modern world, you may also find a copy online there]; this was used by yours truly in a recent teaching on the Book of Acts

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of Uganda, Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

(BBC) Archbishop Rowan Williams defends 'anything but infallible' judgements

The Archbishop of Canterbury has defended his occasionally outspoken interventions on issues such as the Iraq war and Sharia law.

In one of his last public appearances before he retires after 10 years, Dr Rowan Williams told theological think tank Theos he had felt a duty to say what he believed was right.

But the archbishop acknowledged that some of his judgements were “risky”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

A Prayer for the (Provisional) Feast Day of George Bell

God of peace, who didst sustain thy bishop George Bell with the courage to proclaim thy truth and justice in the face of disapproval in his own nation: As he taught that we, along with our enemies, are all children of God, may we stand with Christ in his hour of grieving, that at length we may enter thy country where there is no sorrow nor sighing, but fullness of joy in thee; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Come, Lord, and reign over us as our rightful King. Rule in our hearts and fill them with thy love; rule in our minds and bring every thought into captivity to thyself; rule in our lives and make them holy like thine own; for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, for ever and ever.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

After these days we made ready and went up to Jerusalem. And some of the disciples from Caesare’a went with us, bringing us to the house of Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we should lodge. When we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. On the following day Paul went in with us to James; and all the elders were present. After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed; they are all zealous for the law, and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or observe the customs. What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you but that you yourself live in observance of the law. But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity.” Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself with them and went into the temple, to give notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for every one of them.

–Acts 21:15-26

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Archbishop of Cantebury delivers the fifth annual Theos Lecture

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, delivered the fifth annual lecture hosted by think tank Theos with the title ”˜The person and the individual: human dignity, human relationships and human limits’.

The lecture explored ways of understanding the human person as shaped and conditioned by relations with God and others ”“ and the risks of reducing personal dignity to individual well-being alone.

Read it all and note there is a link to both the audio of the lecture and also of the Q and A which followed.

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

([London] Times) Archbishop of Canterbury admits to regrets over Sharia intervention

In a question and answer session at the end of a densely theological lecture on the nature of the individual, organised by the religion think tank Theos, Dr Williams admitted some of his statements, which have touched controversially on issues from the Iraq war to government economic policies, were risky.

He said: “I just don’t think that it will do to be too cautious in a job like this, you are here, as is true for any archbishop, you are here to try and say what you believe you have been given to say – by which I don’t mean by divine inspiration.

“To try and share a particular picture of what the world is like, what God is like, which of course leads you into sometimes risky and anything but infallible judgments about particular issues of the day.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Uncategorized

(Telegraph) Archbishop of Canterbury defends record in office

In one of his last major public lectures before he steps down later this year, Dr Rowan Williams said he had “regrets” but insisted it was his job to speak out on important issues.

He added that when examining the divisions in the Church today, there was no point looking for a “golden age” which never existed.

In a wide-ranging lecture to the Theos thinktank in London he spoke about his views on the dignity of human beings, touching on subjects from abortion, disability rights and the economy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury