Daily Archives: February 5, 2013

In Hard Economy for All Ages, Older Isn’t Better … It’s Brutal

…the Labor Department’s latest jobs snapshot and other recent data reports present a strong case for crowning baby boomers as the greatest victims of the recession and its grim aftermath.

These Americans in their 50s and early 60s ”” those near retirement age who do not yet have access to Medicare and Social Security ”” have lost the most earnings power of any age group, with their household incomes 10 percent below what they made when the recovery began three years ago, according to Sentier Research, a data analysis company.

Their retirement savings and home values fell sharply at the worst possible time: just before they needed to cash out. They are supporting both aged parents and unemployed young-adult children, earning them the inauspicious nickname “Generation Squeeze.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Medicare, Pensions, Personal Finance, Psychology, Social Security, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Theology

Will Willimon on the Ordained Parish Minister

My admiration is unbounded for clergy who persist in proclaiming the gospel in the face of the resistance that the world throws at them. But I found too many clergy who allowed congregational caregiving and maintenance to trump more important acts of ministry, like truth telling and mission leadership. These tired pastors dash about offering parishioners undisciplined compassion rather than sharp biblical truth. One pastor led a self-study of her congregation and found that 80 percent of them thought the minister’s primary job was to “care for me and my family.” Debilitation is predictable for a kleros with no higher purpose for ministry than servitude to the voracious personal needs of the laos.

Most people in mainline churches meet biblically legitimate needs (food, clothing, housing) with their checkbooks. In the free time they have for religion, they seek a purpose-driven life, deeper spirituality, reason to get out of bed in the morning or inner well-being””matters of unconcern to Jesus. In this environment, the gospel is presented as a technique, a vaguely spiritual response to free-floating, ill-defined omnivorous human desire.

–Christian Century, the February 4, 2013 edition (emphasis mine)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, Theology: Scripture

More in France Are Turning to Islam, Challenging a Nation’s Idea of Itself

In Marseille, on the southern coast, “conversions have increased at an incredible pace in the last three years,” said Abderrahmane Ghoul, the imam of the major mosque of Marseille and the president of the local branch of the French Council of the Muslim Faith. Mr. Ghoul signed about 130 conversion certificates in 2012.

Hassen Chalghoumi, the moderate imam of Drancy, another suburb near Paris, says he thinks conversions have also been propelled by France’s official secularism, which he says breeds spiritual emptiness.

“Secularism has become antireligious,” Mr. Chalghoumi said. “Therefore, it has created an opposite phenomenon. It has allowed people to discover Islam.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, France, History, Islam, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Secularism

Justin Lewis-Anthony–The new archbishop of Canterbury should be a disciple rather than a leader

In this way leadership is a myth, a story we tell ourselves over and over again in an attempt to make sense of the world around us. We look for leadership, because we expect leadership, because we look for leadership….

This is the plot of Shane, Triumph of the Will, Saving Private Ryan and practically every western every made. It is the founding myth of our politics and our society. It tells us that violence works, and that leadership only comes from the imposition of a superman’s will upon the masses, and preferably those masses “out there”, not us. Williams recognised this: “When people say, ‘We want you to give a lead’, what they mean is, ‘We want you to tell them, not us. We don’t want to be led.'” In the end, leadership means doing beastly things, to other people.

The need for “leadership'” in our society is fatally flawed by its roots. Instead, the Christian faith has a better word for the ministry to which he, and every Christian, is called: disciple. It doesn’t matter how many hyphens we tack on to the front of it (“servant-leadership”, “compassionate-leadership”, “collaborative-leadership”), it is still leadership, and therefore antithetical to the model, ministry and challenge of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. I don’t want Justin Welby to be a leader. I’d hope that the new archbishop could be a disciple, and one who can help others to become disciples as well.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Christology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(RNS) Justin Welby confirmed as new Archbishop of Canterbury

[Justin] Welby listened intently to the rituals, his poker face a picture of both concentration and concern. “Do not be quick to anger, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools,” came advice from the Bible ”” not unlike Williams’ parting advice last year that his successor would need “the constitution of an ox and the skin of a rhinoceros.”

Stepping out of a medieval court inside the cathedral and into the bright sunshine of the London cold, Welby was asked by reporters about his and the church’s position regarding a contentious bill in Parliament to allow same-sex marriage.

While sticking to the church’s position that marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman, he told a BBC reporter: “The government wants it. We think there are issues around the way it’s going forward. But it’s not a collision course. … We’ve made our views clear and I’m very much with the House of Bishops on this. They have made their views clear.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(PBS Newshour) A Brief Overview of Teacher Evaluation Controversies

Why is it so hard to determine what makes a good teacher? The answer is both complicated and polarizing. In recent education reform history, judging teacher evaluations has become as much an issue as how to evaluate student achievement.

The NewsHour’s American Graduate team recently traveled to Bridgeport, Conn., to document how one charter school’s system of constant instructor feedback is incentivizing good performance and encouraging teachers to stay in the classroom.

Nationally, charters have experienced higher rates of teacher turnover than traditional public schools.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

(Living Church) Archbishop-designate No More

It’s official: We can now call Justin Portal Welby the Archbishop of Canterbury. On Monday St. Paul’s Cathedral in London was the scene of a confirmation ritual begun in the fourth century. Welby is the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury.

When George L. Carey was confirmed in office in 1991 the venue was the crypt of St. Mary le Bow in Eastcheap in the City of London. Apart from members of the church court comprising a handful of bishops, the Dean of Canterbury plus lawyers, attending were immediate family and a handful of observers.

In 2002 Rowan Williams rang changes. He moved the event to St. Paul’s where the court was located at the high altar. To see the action clearly people sitting under the famous St. Paul’s dome would have needed opera glasses. To improve viewing this time round the proceedings were located further forward around the nave altar.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, England / UK, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

Samuel Emadi reviews Michael Bird's "Jesus is the Christ: The Messianic Testimony of the Gospels"

Bird has produced a model of solid research, literary clarity, and forceful argumentation. His arguments are exegetically rigorous and hermeneutically rich, employing everything from narrative analysis to a tempered and wise use of redaction criticism. He demonstrates remarkable knowledge of the literature of Second Temple Judaism and early Christian writings. The quality of Bird’s research and his interaction with current scholarship will also impress readers. While some may quibble with a textual interpretation here or there, Bird’s primary argument will still stand. In other words, readers will find that, for Jesus Is the Christ, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Bird has effectively shown us how to read the Gospels with Israel’s messianic hope in the foreground without deprecating the theological richness of other Christological aspects. He has integrated all the major theological themes of the Evangelists into the Gospels’ fourfold messianic witness. Jesus Is the Christ brims with such an array of exegetical and theological insights that it will be worth returning to again and again.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Archbishop John Sentamu–An Encounter Between Generations

A motley group of British retirees adventurously going off to a retirement home in India; a home full of former musicians who use their marvellous talents in an annual fundraising concert. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel last year, and Quartet this year have been two of the most popular recent films, with veteran actors and musicians playing characters who are full of humour, intelligence and talent. And now 66 year-old David Bowie has brought out a new single to rave reviews.

Are our attitudes to older people changing a bit? I hope so. For too long they have been side-lined and discounted, their gifts and experience undervalued. Now perhaps, as our working life lengthens, we may be returning to a proper appreciation of all that older people have to offer.

Our bible reading for today is about an encounter between generations, two very devout godly people ”“ Simeon and Anna. They are present when Mary and Joseph go to the Temple ”“ forty days after Jesus’ birth – to give thanks for him….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE)

Eric Metaxas Speaks to an Adult Forum at Saint Michael's, Charleston, on Dietrich Bonhoeffer

This is available to listen to or download, you may find it here (currently at the top of the page and dated January 27, 2013).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Church History, Europe, Germany, Theology

(Telegraph) Jill Kirby–Our abortion law is being undermined

As the Duchess of Cambridge emerges from the ordeal of pregnancy sickness and displays her discreet bump to the world’s press, it is sobering to remember that more than one in five women becoming pregnant in the UK choose not to give birth, but to have an abortion. The latest available figures show that only 1 per cent of these are carried out because the baby would be born handicapped. Another 98 per cent are on the grounds that the continuation of the pregnancy would carry a risk to the woman’s mental health.

All told, more than 190,000 abortions are carried out each year on this basis ”“ yet Professor Clare Gerada, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, has admitted that the risk is not objectively tested. “What we have is what the woman tells us,” she says. “It isn’t for me to judge her or be moralistic. It’s for me to explore potential other options but to take her at face value.” In other words, if a woman asks for an abortion, she will almost certainly get one.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Children, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

We give thee hearty thanks, O heavenly Father, for the rest of the past night, and for the gift of a new day, with its opportunities of pleasing thee. Grant that we may so pass its hours in the perfect freedom of thy service, that at eventide we may again give thanks unto thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to thee, when my heart is faint. Lead thou me to the rock that is higher than I; for thou art my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in thy tent for ever! Oh to be safe under the shelter of thy wings!

–Psalm 61:1-4

Posted in Uncategorized

Justin Welby urged to provide 'wisdom' for the smartphone age as he is 'sentenced' to be Archbishop

Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, told the Most Rev Justin Welby, that he would lead the Church of England amid an age of seemingly unprecedented selfishness ”“ in a society obsessed with individualism and rights.

The New Archbishop was also formally charged with the task of providing “a voice for faith” in the face of attempts to marginalise religion.

The 57-year-old former oil executive’s election as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury was confirmed in a ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church History, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Philosophy, Politics in General, Psychology, Theology

(Washington Post) U.S. counterterrorism efforts in Africa defined by a decade of missteps

The U.S. military was closely tracking a one-eyed bandit across the Sahara in 2003 when it confronted a hard choice that is still reverberating a decade later. Should it try to kill or capture the target, an Algerian jihadist named Mokhtar Belmokhtar, or let him go?

Belmokhtar had trained at camps in Afghanistan, returned home to join a bloody revolt and was about to be blacklisted by the United Nations for supporting the Taliban and al-Qaeda. But he hadn’t attacked Americans, not yet, and did not appear to pose a threat outside his nomadic range in the badlands of northern Mali and southern Algeria.

Military commanders planned to launch airstrikes against Belmokhtar and a band of Arabs they had under surveillance in the Malian desert, according to three current and former U.S. officials familiar with the episode. But the ambassador to Mali at the time said she vetoed the plan, arguing that a strike was too risky and could stir a backlash against Americans.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Islam, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Terrorism, Theology

The Official Diocese of Mississippi Release on Bishop Gray's Change in Policy

In his address, Gray also announced a discernment process which congregations may voluntarily enter in order to gain his permission to bless same gender unions. He compared his process to the one implemented by the Bishop of Texas.

While a general ban on the blessing of same gender unions remains in place, he will allow congregations which self-select and undergo a thorough process to move toward blessings of same gender unions.

Clergy and vestry ”“ the elected lay leaders of a local congregation ”“ will be free to enter into a process of prayer and study on the matter. They will be asked to submit the design and results of their study and also to explain to the Bishop how the blessing of same gender unions would enhance the congregation’s missional efforts. He said he would also require those congregations discerning such a call to describe how they would prepare couples for the blessing liturgy. Congregations would also be required to report back on their experience in time for the 2015 General Convention.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture