Daily Archives: December 23, 2012

(CSM) Are you smarter than an atheist? A religious quiz

Atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons are among the highest-scoring groups in a 32-question survey of religious knowledge in 2011 by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. On average, Americans got 16 of the 32 questions correct. Atheists and agnostics got an average of 20.9 correct answers. Jews (20.5) and Mormons (20.3). Protestants got 16 correct answers on average, while Catholics got 14.7 questions right.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

(The [Uganda] Independent) Passing the staff on–Archbishop Ntagali takes office at trying moment

He sat between two men of God. They have been in his position. Faced with a tougher job, under close scrutiny of a bigger congregation, the new Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Stanley Ntagali, looked relaxed and only shifted occasionally in his seat during his enthroned on Sunday, Dec. 16. The 57-year old sat between his mentor, retired Archbishop Livingstone Mpalanyi Nkoyoyo, and his predecessor, immediate-past Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi. After signing a few documents as the new archbishop, he said something that left Orombi in quiet laughter and smiles.

Over 30,000 people flocked St. Paul Cathedral, Namirembe to witness the enthronement. President Yoweri Museveni, Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, ambassadors, chief justice, Catholic Cardinal Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, Pastor Joseph Serwadda, head of the Pentecostal Churches, the Metropolitan YonaLwanga, and a representative of the Mufti of Uganda attended.

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

Honoring Those who made the Ultimate Sacrifice in Georgia

In Fort Stewart, Ga., soldiers from the Third Infantry Division are honored with wreaths laid by their graves. NBC’s Matt Taibbi reports.

A ery important reminder–watch it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Advent, America/U.S.A., Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(USA Today) Marine Corps to discuss ethics with generals after scandals

The Marine Corps’ top officer is meeting with all the service’s generals to talk ethics in the wake of recent scandals that have taken a toll on the reputation of the nation’s military leaders.

Gen. James Amos, the commandant, told USA TODAY he doesn’t believe standards among the Marine Corps’ top officers are slipping, but said the recent publicity has presented an opportunity to discuss standards and the public perceptions recent scandals have generated.

In the first such meeting, held near the Pentagon, Amos cautioned against a complacency that could lead to ethical lapses. “You reach a point where you become insensitive,” Amos said. “It’s not so much a sense of entitlement I think as much as you just forget.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Theology

Peter Moore–Did Jesus have to be born of a Virgin? Rethinking the Virgin Birth

…if we put aside the necessity of the Virgin Birth, can we not see the congruity of it? In other words, does the Virgin Birth not fit into a kind of biblical logic once you accept the Bible’s overall Trinitarian framework?

Since God was in the business of re-starting creation in the sending of his Son, might we not expect him to create “out of nothing” the second time, just as he did the first? Karl Barth, the greatest theologian of the 20th Century, thought so. Just as the Spirit brooded over creation the first time, so again in the birth of Jesus the Spirit “brooded” over the virgin Mary. Also, just as creation was totally initiated by God the first time, so creation (the second time, in Jesus) gets to be totally initiated by God. The Virgin Birth tells us that Jesus was not born “of the will of man”, but wholly of the Father’s initiative. God chose to by-pass the normal male role in the work of redemption, in part, so the logic goes, to signal his own headship. “Man as a creating, controlling, self-assertive, self-glorifying being was set aside in favor of a woman who listened, received, and served.” (From, A Step Further, by the author)

We honor the Virgin Birth, of course, because Scripture teaches it. But we can also see the logic behind it. God’s sovereign action is a challenge to the human psychological need to contribute to our own salvation, to be co-creators with God. Mary is a witness against the drive, push, and self-assertion that men especially (though not exclusively) associate with a healthy self-image and by which men often mask their own impotence.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Ascension, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Soteriology, Theology

David Mathis–A Festivus for the Rest of Us

We don’t need to abandon wholesale the tinsel and bells and mistletoe like Frank, but we do need to be particularly vigilant to keep ourselves, and those we love, from being occupied with everything that has become Christmas, save Jesus.

For the Christian, the best answer to the Christmas mess isn’t Festivus ”” entertaining as the idea of “playful consumer resistance” made for a beloved sitcom. Our best response is clarity and explicitness about the true miracle of Christmas, that God himself, in the person of Jesus, took a true human body and a reasonable human soul (as the ancient creed puts it) that, fully God and fully man, he might bring us humans from our mess to himself.

In the midst of layer after layer of holiday common graces that quickly become distraction after distraction of the celebration’s true essence, it is a beautiful thing, when for a memorable, unhurried moment, everything stops and Linus reads from chapter two of the Gospel of Luke.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Advent, America/U.S.A., Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Gospel Coalition Blog) Carl Laferton–The Rusty Anglican Auto: A Lesson for Every Denomination

What has caused the rust? The easy answer: the church lost the gospel. Waves of pragmatism, liberalism, and “Anglo-Catholicism” (a blend of Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism) have swept through the church, leaving wreckage in their wake.

But the actual cause is slightly more subtle. Anglicans still talk about the gospel, a lot. And mission. And even about being evangelical—the new archbishop self-identifies as an evangelical, though he certainly wouldn’t recognize the definition of the term Don Carson and Tim Keller give in TGC’s Gospel-Centered Ministry booklet.

The denomination never lost the words. But it lost the biblical content. In order to keep unity among people who differ over essentials, Anglicanism has increasingly emptied key concepts of their content. So you can sit in a room with 10 Anglican ministers and talk for half an hour about “the gospel” without ever defining the term and always knowing there are probably ten (or eleven!) different views.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Soteriology, Theology

(AP) Egypt's Brotherhood claims constitution passes

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood claimed Sunday that the Islamist-backed constitution has passed with a 64 percent “yes” vote, the day after the final voting in a two-round referendum that deeply divided the country.

The constitution’s critics however may contest the outcome. A spokesman for the main opposition group which has been campaigning for a “no” vote said there were “a lot” of irregularities in the voting.

The Brotherhood’s unofficial results come a day before the election commission is expected to announce the final official tally for voting organized over two weeks. The group has accurately tallied the outcome of past elections.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Egypt, Middle East, Politics in General

”˜Destructive device’ found at a Local S..C. College could have been a test for authorities

A device made of materials like those used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing could have been a former student’s “dry run” to see how authorities would respond to a bomb threat at Trident Technical College, Sheriff Al Cannon said Friday.

Local investigators and federal terrorism experts wouldn’t say whether the device could have exploded and caused damage near the North Charleston campus’ Student Center, which was mostly abandoned Monday for the holiday break.

The device contained ammonium nitrate, the same, readily available fertilizer that Timothy McVeigh used in his attack on the Oklahoma City federal building that killed 168 people.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Terrorism

Kendall Harmon–Are you getting A Glimpse of Glory in Advent 2012?

Does Advent in your parish serve as a season of anticipation for the second coming of Christ? It is to focus on preparing us for both comings, the first in Bethlehem and the second in glory, but Christmas preparation has gained huge precedence in the last century.

It wasn’t always thus. Advent was once a time for hearing about the last four things, death, judgment, heaven and hell. A word about heaven is apt here.

The Scriptures teach that we were made by the God of heaven, in Jesus Christ heaven begins now on earth, and we are ultimately destined for the fullness of that heaven. And what is heaven? A place of rejoicing in and seeing God’s glory reflected in creation, a place of family reunion, of ultimate worship, of the final homecoming, and of the joyful face to face encounter with God himself who loves us more than we could ever imagine.

Why focus on our ultimate destiny? Because one of the most profound ways in which to think of the church is as a little glimpse of heaven on earth. So who are we called to be? A place where people are stewards over and delighters in God’s creation, a place of rich fellowship, where the stranger is welcomed and given refuge, a place of deep worship, where God is encountered in his full glory, a place of real homecoming, where people are safe to love and be loved and to develop their gifts for ministry in a context where they are free to
fail, and, finally, a place where God’s face is truly seen. Wow.

There is a vision for every church in the twenty-first century. I pray that God might grant us the grace to embrace this vision and to move forward into it together as the new millennium begins.

–The Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall S. Harmon (From 2002)

Posted in * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Eschatology, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty Father, whose blessed Son at his coming amongst us brought redemption unto his people, and peace to men of goodwill: Grant that, when he shall come again in glory to judge the world and to make all things new, we may be found ready to receive him, and enter into his joy; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’s and the fulness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein; for he has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the rivers. Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false, and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the LORD, and vindication from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. [Selah] Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is the King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! [Selah]

–Psalm 24

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Video Delight–Sweet Mother Dog Interacting with a Beautiful Child with Down Syndrome

Gear up the handkerchiefs and watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Animals, Children

(WSJ) Cooper, Huffman and Adlerstein: The Most Persecuted Religion

Recently [in Nigeria] a new line of inhumanity was crossed. In October, armed attackers, presumed to be members of Boko Haram, an Islamist terrorist group with links to al Qaeda, invaded the Tudun Wada Wuro Patuje area, entering the off-campus housing of the Federal Polytechnic State University.

The attackers called students out of their rooms and asked for their names. Those with Christian names were shot dead or killed with knives. Students with traditionally Muslim names were told to quote Islamic scripture. The selektion completed, at least 26 bodies were left in lines outside the buildings.

The attack was a pogrom, the victims of which were African Christians, not European Jews. To be sure, it lacked the scale and scope of Hitler’s total war against the entire Jewish people. The Boko Haram seem content to burn churches and to maim and murder those””including other Muslims, but especially Christians, by the scores””who would stop the spread of their version of Shariah law in Nigeria alone.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Washington Post) Chinese leaders are still suspicious of religion, a party document shows

Chinese leaders issued an order last year quietly directing universities to root out foreigners suspected of plotting against the Communist Party by converting students to Christianity.

The 16-page notice ”” obtained this month by a U.S.-based Christian group ”” uses language from the cold war era to depict a conspiracy by “overseas hostile forces” to infiltrate Chinese campuses under the guise of academic exchanges while their real intent is to use religion in “westernizing and dividing China.”

The document suggests that despite small signs of religious tolerance in recent decades,China’s ruling officials retain strong suspicion of religion as a tool of the West and a threat to the party’s authoritarian rule. And with the country’s top leadership in transition and looking to consolidate power, Chinese religious leaders worry that the stance is unlikely to change in the near future.

Read it all and note there is a link to the 16 page document itself for those interested.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, History, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

St. John's Episcopal Church in Norristown, Pa., installs its new rector, celebrates its bicentennial

The oldest church in Norristown, St. John’s Episcopal Church, installed the Rev. Scott Albergate as just the 20th rector in the history of the church on the eve of its bicentennial.

Albergate, who was first a bankruptcy lawyer before being called to his current role in the church, comes to St. John’s after previously serving parishes in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and, most recently, New Orleans, where he was called to serve in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, serving first in the Diocesan Offices of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana before being called to the parish of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

“We found him in our search,” explained Carmen Branco, who was the head of the search committee for the church and actually went down to New Orleans to interview Albergate. “He seemed to fit with what we were looking for more so than any of the other candidates and we look forward to a long tenure.”

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

The Diocese of South Carolina is the Only Authority to Convene a Convention in the Diocese

“What the Presiding Bishop is trying to do is to organize a new diocese of the Episcopal Church in this area,” …[ Bishop Mark Lawrence] said. “We in the Diocese of South Carolina have nothing to do with that undertaking. The name “The [Episcopal] Diocese of South Carolina” is the registered property and identity of the Diocese.”

Bishop Lawrence explained that the continued use of the Dioceses’ corporate name and identity by TEC is causing confusion among the members of the Diocese and the wider South Carolina public. “This misuse of our name and identity by TEC is a violation of South Carolina law and can subject it to liability for treble damages and attorneys’ fees, he explained. “I call upon TEC to cease and desist from the continued misuse of our name and identity.“

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Polity & Canons