Daily Archives: February 7, 2013

(Christianity Today) Barry Cooper–Imprisoned by Choice, resisting the false god of endless options

1 Kings 18:21 describes a crucial moment of decision. It’s the final showdown between the God of Israel and a false god called Baal. Elijah calls God’s people to choose once and for all between the living God who delivered them, and this false god who has captured their affections: “‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.’ But the people said nothing.”

They seem unable, or unwilling, to make a choice. They want to hedge their bets, sit on the fence, and keep their options open. How different are we Christians in the 21st century? Would you prefer to make an ironclad, no-turning-back choice, or one you could back out of if need be? Do you ever find that you’re afraid to commit? Do you reply to party invitations with a “maybe” rather than a “yes” or “no”? Do you like to keep your smartphone switched on at all times, even in meetings, so that you are never fully present at any given moment? Will you focus on the person you’re talking to after a church service, or will you look over her shoulder for a better conversation partner?

If so, you may be worshiping the god of open options.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Movies & Television, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Reuters) Vladimir Putin says the Orthodox Church should have more control over Russian life

President Vladimir Putin said on Friday the Orthodox Church should be given more say over family life, education and the armed forces in Russia, as he celebrated the leadership of its head Patriarch Kirill.

Faith runs deep in Russia after the fall of the officially atheist Soviet Union and Putin has looked to the largest religion in Russia for support since he began his third term as president after a wave of protests against his rule.

He has also tried to mix spirituality with his own brand of patriotism in order to unify the officially secular country where ethnic and political fault lines are beginning to show.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Russia

(Leadership) Adam Stadtmiller–Leading Distracted People–ways to declutter ministry w/o lost impact

How has constant connection and endless distraction changed the church’s task? How are we to advance our ministries without compounding the problem? How do we shepherd overwhelmed sheep?

Possibly the biggest transition since the onslaught of media-saturated culture is that the church’s trajectory is being shaped less by where church leaders are trying to direct it and more by the responses of their followers. A leader’s course matters less when those being led won’t or can’t follow due to an avalanche of distraction, competing messages, and overly stressed lives.

Most of the training we receive focuses on the ways of a leader. Allow me to suggest a more pertinent question: How do digital-age believers follow?

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

Jack Cranwell offers Thoughts on the South Carolina Episcopal Church Conflict

From a letter to the editor in the local paper:

As a 74-year-old lifetime Episcopalian, I am totally disappointed in the direction of our church. For years I’ve prayed for our local and national church and for Presiding Bishop Katharine [Jefferts] Schori. Like many other national churches they have been taught God winks at sin.

The 39 articles of religion clearly teach that the positions of the national church are wrong. I am personally a “grace Christian,” but clearly God does take sin seriously.

God’s will is perfect. We all need forgiveness of sin, and all are called to be new creations.

Repentence and revival is the only hope of the national Episcopal Church.

I will continue to pray for my Bishop Mark Lawrence and hope and pray for a spiritual awakening in the national Episcopal Church.

Jack Cranwell Charleston

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

(Sightings) Ousmane Kane–Is Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa More (or Less) Peaceful than Elsewhere?

The destruction of the sixth-century monumental Buddha statues of Bamiyan in March 2001 by the Taliban shocked many persons concerned with the preservation of world cultural legacy. Such examples of iconoclasm were not new in Islamic history. In the name of the restoration of the purity of the faith, groups with similar persuasions have destroyed Sufi and Shiite shrines in various parts of the Arabian Peninsula during the nineteenth and twentieth century. But until very recently, few observers believed that such examples of iconoclasm will ever reach the Sahel. Although the Sahelian countries had overwhelming Muslim populations, Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa was believed to be peaceful compared to elsewhere in the Arab World. In most of the twentieth century, no armed Islamic group was to be found anywhere in the Sahel. Very few Sub-Saharans trained in Afghanistan during the Soviet Occupation or joined Al-Qaida, and suicide bombing was unheard of until a few years ago. This is not so much because intolerant Islamic groups were not to be found in the Sahel, but they had neither the sophistication nor the logistical and financial resources to challenge state power.

In recent years, a variety of jihadi groups have appeared in the Sahel, the Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahidin in Somalia, Boko Haram in Nigeria, the Movement for Unicity and Jihad in West Africa. Recently, these groups have linked up with AQIM which provided them with sophisticated military training and substantial financial and logistical resources….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, History, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Violence

(BBC) Iran's Khamenei rejects US nuclear talks offer

Iran’s supreme leader has dismissed a US offer of one-to-one talks on Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech posted online that the US was proposing talks while “pointing a gun at Iran”.

On Saturday, US Vice-President Joe Biden suggested direct talks, separate to the wider international discussions due to take place later this month.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, History, Iran, Middle East, Politics in General, Science & Technology

Betsy McCaughey: Health Care Act's Exemptions From Insurance Mandate Will Leave Millions Uninsured

On Jan. 30, the Obama administration unveiled a long list of exemptions from the ObamaCare insurance mandate. Flaws and contradictions in the law will cause millions of people to be uninsured. The administration also estimated that the cheapest family plan will cost $20,000 by 2016. This new information indicates that the Affordable Care Act is failing in both goals: making insurance affordable and covering the uninsured.

Children are the biggest victims. The hastily drafted law, passed before it was read, overlooked them.

The law says that beginning in 2014, employers with 50 or more full-time employees must offer coverage or pay a penalty. The law’s sloppy drafting left it unclear whether that meant worker’s coverage or family coverage.

Read it all from IBD.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Children, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, Senate, The U.S. Government

(ACNS) Bishop Gandiya: "Forgiveness biggest challenge for Zimbabwe Anglicans"

Anglican Bishop of Harare the Rt Revd Chad Gandiya has said that forgiveness still remains the biggest challenge for Christians in his diocese after years of “living in exile”.

Bishop Gandiya said: “People are very happy to have returned to their churches but they are still hurting. The church needs to find new ways of teaching on healing and forgiveness.”

The Bishop was referring to the pain suffered after breakaway bishop Dr. Nobert Kunonga and his supporters grabbed church properties including churches, schools and orphanages, leaving Anglicans nowhere to worship.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Zimbabwe

(Vancouver Sun) [Premier] Christy Clark stands up for her Anglican faith

During her informal 50-minute talk before the ethnically mixed audience, Clark discussed what it means to be a lifelong Anglican, her support for “faith-based” social services, her views on same-sex marriage, her commitment to “kindness” and her approach to the Bible.

“For me it’s been kind of an interesting experience to realize, for the first time in my life, that perhaps being a Christian is something that I should not talk about. But I reject that,” the premier said.

Saying B.C. has more “declared atheists” than any province in Canada, Clark nevertheless said for her “the most important thing is to go to church every week and be reminded, by someone whom I respect, to be kind ”¦ to be compassionate.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canada, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(First Things On the Square Blog) Justin Dyer–The Legacy of Baker v. Nelson

….our marriage culture started to fracture long before the current debates, and a recent article in the Economist nicely summarizes the consequences. With the decline in marriage “come rising out-of-wedlock-birthrates” and “with illegitimate births come single-parent homes.” The effects of single-parent homes (which in most instances mean fatherless homes) are well-documented and well-known: “Children brought up in such homes fare worse than children raised by married parents in a range of academic and emotional outcomes, from adolescent delinquency to dropping out of school.”

Regardless of how the dust settles at the end of the Supreme Court’s term, the steady erosion of the American family will remain a significant and pressing concern in the coming years. But the ability of marriage, as a public institution, to address the issue will be further weakened if the court finally imbibes the arguments it dismissed in 1972.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Living Church) Sue Careless–Mere Anglicanism Grows On

About 280 people gathered at the eighth and largest annual Mere Anglicanism conference Jan. 24-26 in Charleston, South Carolina. Two scholarly bishops ”” the Rt. Rev. Paul Barnett, retired Bishop of North Sydney, Australia, and the Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, retired Bishop of Rochester, England ”” addressed the gathering’s theme of “Behold the Man!: The Person and Work of Jesus Christ.”

“I could not reject the historical reliability of the New Testament, even if I wanted to,” said Bishop Barnett, author of Is the New Testament Reliable? (IVP Academic) and several other books.

In his eucharistic sermon, Bishop Barnett challenged the congregation: “Let us learn from Judas, who loved money more than God; from Peter, who loved man’s approval and praise more than God’s; and from Caiaphas and Annas, who loved power more than justice. The sins of them live on in us; the same foibles beset us.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Christology, Theology

Modern Lessons From Arranged Marriages

Arranged marriages can work “because they remove so much of the anxiety about ”˜is this the right person?’ ” said Brian J. Willoughby, an assistant professor in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University. “Arranged marriages start cold and heat up and boil over time as the couple grows. Nonarranged marriages are expected to start out boiling hot but many eventually find that this heat dissipates and we’re left with a relationship that’s cold.”

He also credited supportive parents.

“Whether it be financial support for weddings, schooling or housing, or emotional support for either partner, parents provide valuable resources for couples as they navigate the marital transition,” Dr. Willoughby said

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, History, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Sociology, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Cornelius the Centurion

O God, who by thy Spirit didst call Cornelius the Centurion to be the first Christian among the Gentiles: Grant to thy Church, we beseech thee, such a ready will to go where thou dost send and to do what thou dost command, that under thy guidance it may welcome all who turn to thee in love and faith, and proclaim the Gospel to all nations; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Lord Jesus, who in thy tender love didst stretch forth thy hand and touch the leper who came to thee for cleansing: Grant us a like compassion for all who claim our help, and a willingness to identify ourselves with them in their need; for thy sake who wast made sin for us, and who art our righteousness and our salvation, now and for ever.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Now I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who receives circumcision that he is bound to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love. You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine; and he who is troubling you will bear his judgment, whoever he is. But if I, brethren, still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? In that case the stumbling block of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would mutilate themselves! For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another.

–Galatians 5:1-15

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NBC) Navy to pull aircraft carrier from Persian Gulf over budget worries

Budget constraints are prompting the U.S. Navy to cut back the number of aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf region from two to one, the latest example of how contentious fiscal battles in Washington are impacting the U.S. military.

According to Defense Department officials, the USS Harry S. Truman, which was set to leave for the Persian Gulf region on Friday, will now remain stateside, based in Norfolk, Virginia.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered the change to the department’s “two-carrier policy” in the Persian Gulf region early Wednesday.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Budget, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Egypt, Middle East, The U.S. Government

A Picture is worth 1000 Words–Blind Side's Michael Oher with his Adopted Family after Super Bowl

For those of you who know the story/like the movie, etc. here is the Baltimore Raven’s Michael Oher with his adopted mother after winning the Super bowl, and here he is with his adopted sister.

If interested, you may read a lot more about this over here.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Marriage & Family, Movies & Television, Sports

James Ueberroth Chimes in on the Presiding Bishop and her recent South Carolina sermon

From a letter to the editor in the local paper:

While not in The Post and Courier’s coverage of the activities on Jan. 26, it has been reported in other sources that Katharine [Jefferts] Schori, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, made several pronouncements in her sermon during Saturday’s “convention” which I find to be highly inflammatory and quite offensive.
First, she has labeled my bishop, who was duly elected to the office and removed from same by a trumped-up ploy, a “tyrant.” I have heard this man preach, watched recorded interviews with him and followed his actions. If I may be audacious and paraphrase Piiate’s words – I find him to have done no wrong.
Second, as an Episcopalian who has spent his entire life in the faith – choirboy, acolyte, vestryman, member of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew and an elected delegate to a diocesan convention, I feel I am not only well-grounded in the faith, but have grown through the years in my faith which remains relevant in today’s world. I am highly offended that because I do not view the world through her skewed vision, nor accept her warped goals for the future, I am to be labeled a member of the ovine species.
Following her nefarious actions of October 2012, I have moved on and have found a far greener and acceptable meadow for grazing and growing my spiritual well-being.

James Ueberroth, Charleston

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

(Brookings) Isabel Sawhill–Family Structure: The Growing Importance of Class

What was happening to black families in the ’60s can be reinterpreted today not as an indictment of the black family but as a harbinger of a larger collapse of traditional living arrangements””of what demographer Samuel Preston, in words that Moynihan later repeated, called “the earthquake that shuddered through the American family.”

That earthquake has not affected all American families the same way. While the Moynihan report focused on disparities between white and black, increasingly it is class, and not just race, that matters for family structure. Although blacks as a group are still less likely to marry than whites, gaps in family formation patterns by class have increased for both races, with the sharpest declines in marriage rates occurring among the least educated of both races. For example, in 1960, 76 percent of adults with a college degree were married, compared to 72 percent of those with a high school diploma””a gap of only 4 percentage points. By 2008, not only was marriage less likely, but that gap had quadrupled, to 16 percentage points, with 64 percent of adults with college degrees getting married compared to only 48 percent of adults with a high school diploma. A report from the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia summed up the data well: “Marriage is an emerging dividing line between America’s moderately educated middle and those with college degrees.” The group for whom marriage has largely disappeared now includes not just unskilled blacks but unskilled whites as well. Indeed, for younger women without a college degree, unwed childbearing is the new normal.

These differences in family formation are a problem not only for those concerned with “family values” per se, but also for those concerned with upward mobility in a society that values equal opportunity for its children.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Children, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Sociology, Theology