Daily Archives: November 2, 2012

Naomi Schaefer Riley: Young, Jewish and Going to Israel

Established by Jewish philanthropists Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt, among others, in collaboration with the Israeli government and various Jewish communal organizations, Birthright’s goal is “to strengthen Jewish identity, Jewish communities and solidarity with Israel.” As the generation that experienced the Holocaust and the creation of Israel grew older and died, younger Jews began to view the issue of a Jewish state with less and less urgency.

Birthright’s founders wanted to counter the waning interest in Judaism among the young. So far, the organization has sent more than 300,000 Jews from 59 countries to Israel””mostly from the U.S. and Canada.

Mark Shapiro, a former consultant for McKinsey & Co. who worked on the original plans for Birthright, says that some of the impetus for the project came from the 1990 Jewish Population Survey that showed an intermarriage rate for American Jews of greater than 50%….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(CNS) All Saints' Day calls for deeper belief in eternal life, pope says

The feast of All Saints should prompt Catholics to believe more deeply in eternal life, Pope Benedict XVI said.

The day “reminds us of our eternal destiny, where we will dwell, as St. Thomas Aquinas says, in true and perfect light, total fulfillment, everlasting joy and gladness without end,” he said Nov. 1, reciting the Angelus on the feast of All Saints.

He urged people to “believe more strongly in eternal life and feel in true communion with our departed loved ones,” who will be commemorated on the feast of All Souls, Nov. 2.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Souhir Stephenson–Tunisia, a Sad Year Later

There is nothing moderate or democratic about the Islamists. They played the moderate and democratic game to gain power. Now, in office, they keep postponing elections to entrench themselves in the fabric of government and judiciary by brute force.

The year voters granted them is up. The time for manipulative political Islam is over. It has lost legitimacy. It has failed to improve lives, preserve the few rights we had, or uphold the rule of law.

We must say “no” again ”” until we get it right. Democracy is a process, an evolution.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, History, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Tunisia

(Chicago Tribune) Seminarian in a Same Sex Union leaves Methodist denomination to be ordained

Bishop Sally Dyck, recently installed as head of the church’s Northern Illinois Conference, met face to face with [Michael] Overman regarding his decision to leave. She insisted that the church does not take a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach.

“We are saddened to lose a gifted person going toward ministry,” she said. “‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ is not the approach taken when referring to the church law, which bars the ordination or appointment of ‘self-avowed practicing homosexuals.’ The district committee appreciated and respected Michael’s honesty about his personal relationship and in turn had to be honest with Michael about the reality that the Board of Ordained Ministry is bound by the current laws in the Book of Discipline.

“This is the tension our denomination continues to struggle with and discerns as the United Methodist Church also acknowledges in the Book of Discipline that all persons are of sacred worth,” she added.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Ed Stetzer–Dealing with this "Mormon Moment": Cults, Truth, and Grace

Mormonism is something we cannot escape right now. We are in a “Mormon Moment,” thanks to the candidacy of Governor Mitt Romney. Christians need to address this moment with truth and grace.

Right now, many are discussing what to call members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Is it a denomination, a cult, or another religion? How should we discuss such things in the moment?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Mormons, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2012

Daniel Henninger–Are evangelical Christians Mitt Romney's Secret Voting Bloc?

You’ve heard about Mitt Romney’s problems with the women’s vote, the black vote, the Hispanic vote, the union vote and the young Democrats vote. But there’s one major voting group that’s fallen off the map since the primaries.

The evangelical vote.
When Mitt Romney’s 2012 candidacy was gaining traction in the primaries, the conventional wisdom instantly conveyed that the evangelical vote, skeptical of Mormonism, would sink him.

What if in Ohio next week the opposite is true? There and in other swing states””Wisconsin, Iowa, North Carolina, Florida””the evangelical vote is flying beneath the media’s radar. It’s a lot of voters not to notice. In the 2008 presidential vote, they were 30% of the vote in Ohio, 31% in Iowa and 26% in Wisconsin….

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Posted in Uncategorized

Gasoline Runs Short, Adding Woes to Recovery from Hurricane Sandy

Widespread gas shortages stirred fears among residents and disrupted some rescue and emergency services on Thursday as the New York region struggled to return to a semblance of normalcy after being ravaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Tiny increments of progress ”” some subway and bus lines were back in service ”” were overshadowed by new estimates of the storm’s financial cost, struggles to restore power, and by the discovery of more bodies in flooded communities.

The lines of cars waiting for gas at a Sunoco here ran in three directions: a mile-long line up the Garden State Parkway, a half-mile line along Vauxhall Road, and another, including a fleet of mail trucks that needed to refuel before resuming their rounds, snaking through a back entrance. The scene was being replayed across the state as drivers waited in lines that ran hundreds of vehicles deep, requiring state troopers and local police to protect against exploding tempers.

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Posted in Uncategorized

(RNS) Muslims Back Obama, But By Smaller Margin Than In 2008

While fewer Muslims are supporting Obama this year, Muslim support for Mitt Romney — at just 7 percent, according to the CAIR poll — is more than triple the 2.2 percent of Muslims who voted for GOP nominee John McCain in 2008.
“Muslims need tough love, not soft coddling to get over their illusions of Islamist fantasies,” said Ahmed Vanya, an engineer in San Jose, Calif.

Vanya fears that many Muslims won’t give Romney a fair chance.

“Many Muslims are not going to be happy with the way Romney would handle the civil rights issues,” Vanya said. “Even if he follows exactly the same policies as Obama, he would be perceived as worse for the Muslims.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Islam, Office of the President, Other Faiths, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2012

Terry Mattingly–Missing some fundamental facts on Obama and faith

For the life of me, I cannot understand why so many people in conservative-church pews and pulpits cannot grasp the fact that Obama is a liberal Christian. Yes, he may be so doctrinally liberal that, when it comes to eternal questions, he believes that there are no ultimate differences between Christians, Jews, Muslims and everybody else ”” but he is certainly not alone in believing that. The leaders of many denominations believe that. Legions of seminary professors agree with him.

In oh so many ways, Obama is a perfectly normal liberal Protestant Christian.

However, as recent Pew Forum research made clear, the world of liberal Protestantism is no longer at the heart of American life. The old mainline is now on the sideline, to the left of the mainstream. That does not mean that oldline churches are not important or worthy of balanced, nuanced coverage.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Church History, Media, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2012

ACC-15 told that love can still unite ”˜untidy’ Anglicans

The Archbishop of Canterbury said that he was praying for a “Pentecostal experience” at the 15th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC), which got under way last weekend in New Zealand.

Speaking to ACC members on Saturday, at the TelstraClear Pacific Events Center, in Auckland, Dr Williams said that he hoped that “divided tongues of fire will touch us all in the days ahead; that we shall learn to listen to one another’s languages, experience, and insight with all the enthusiasm and eagerness with which we would listen to God’s own word”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Consultative Council, Archbishop of Canterbury, Australia / NZ

(Her.meneutics) Halee Gray Scott–The Christian Case for the American Dream

If the American Dream was just about wealth and material gains through personal effort, I’d welcome the death of it. But though tens of millions have flocked to our shores in search of wealth, the heart of the American Dream has never been just “the acquisition of materials goods through personal effort.” As historian James Truslow Adams, who coined the term “the American dream,” once wrote, the dream is “of being able to grow to fullest development as man and woman, unhampered by the barriers ”¦ in the older civilizations, unrepressed by social orders which had developed for the benefit of classes rather than for the simple human being of any and every class.” The bedrock premise of the American Dream is not self-reliance, consumerism, or materialism. It’s liberty.

I suspect many Americans have been dealing with the same sense of loss over the past few years that I dealt with that day in the hotel room. College graduates who can’t find good jobs. Young couples and families forced to move back in with parents. People who have lost homes, lost jobs, lost cities and states they called home because they’re priced out of the market. Still, I’m not ready, yet, to let the American Dream die. Times are hard and there’s a lot of loss, but it’s not about self-reliance and materialism.

At least it’s not for me””and I don’t think it is for you, either. For me, it’s about liberty.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, History, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Politico) Dylan Byers–The 'Nobody Knows' Election

Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign says it still has momentum. President Barack Obama’s campaign says that’s all spin.

Meanwhile, there isn’t a single well-informed pundit between them who can tell you who’s right.

“The problem is: there are so many variables. And now, with the storm, turnout may become an issue in closer Obama-leaning states like Pennsylvania,” Time Magazine’s Joe Klein told POLITICO. “Polling is inexact, especially with the cell phone factor ”” not enough data over time for pollsters to be absolutely sure they’re getting it right.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2012

A Prayer for the Feast Day of All the Faithful Departed

O God, the Maker and Redeemer of all believers: Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of thy Son; that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as thy children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever. Amen

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that as a tree is known by its fruit, so we may be recognized as thy children by our obedience to thy will. Help us to put away all hypocrisy and self-seeking, that we may truly set forth thy glory and extend thy kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–L. E. H. Stephens-Hodge

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems upon its horns and a blasphemous name upon its heads. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth followed the beast with wonder. Men worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months; it opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and tongue and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, every one whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. If any one has an ear, let him hear: If any one is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if any one slays with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.

–Revelation 13:1-10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Christian Century Cover Story) Fit for ministry–Addressing the crisis in clergy health

Being a pastor is bad for your health. Pastors have little time for exercise. They often eat meals in the car or at potluck dinners not known for their fresh green salads. The demands on their time are unpredictable and never ending, and their days involve an enormous amount of emotional investment and energy. Family time is intruded upon. When a pastor announces a vacation, the congregation frowns. Pastors tend to move too frequently to maintain relationships with doctors who might hold them accountable for their health. The profession discourages them from making close friends. All of this translates, studies show, into clergy having higher than normal rates of obesity, arthritis, depression, heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes and stress.

But research also says that pastors’ lives are rich in spiritual vitality and meaning. Pastors say that they have a profound calling and are willing to sacrifice to fulfill it.

Is there a way for pastors to be both physically and spiritually healthy? What would enable clergy to become physically healthier? What effect does physical health have on spiritual well-being, if any? The Clergy Health Initiative is trying to find out the answers to these questions. Funded by the Duke Endowment, the CHI is the largest and most comprehensive effort ever made to study clergy health and to improve it.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Education, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Science & Technology, Theology

(RNS) Library of Congress exhibit celebrates Jewish history, artifacts

A 19th century copy of the U.S. Constitution in Yiddish and Hebrew. A 15th century Hebrew book from Italy open to a page of passages that had been censored by the Catholic Church during the Inquisition. A 20th century “Curious George” children’s book translated into Yiddish.

Spanning across the centuries and the globe, they’re all part of a new exhibit, “Words Like Sapphires,” which celebrates 100 years of Hebraica at the Library of Congress.

The exhibit features some 60 objects, religious and lighter fare, drawn from the Library of Congress’ more than 200,000-piece Hebraica collection….

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