Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Tablet Editorial–[Church of England] Establishment undermined

The Church of England’s position as “the Church by law established” has been weakened by the progress of the legislation to permit the marriage of same-sex couples. Not only is the law on marriage under review, but so is the nature of the Church-State relationship.

What is surprising is how few in the Conservative Party, trad itionally the party of throne and altar, seem to be aware of this. It is as if the nation is taking a significant step towards disestablishment in a fit of absent-mindedness. Perhaps not so absent-minded on the part of the more vociferous secularists, however, who have been aware all along of the potential for the gay-marriage issue to further their own agenda. They needed the Church to do its best to stop the legislation, and fail. Although the battle is not yet finished, events do appear to be going their way.

The clergy of the Church of England solemnise about a quarter of all marriages in England, and so far the law of marriage they administer has been the law of the land. This is unlike the case of the Catholic, Jewish or Muslim communities, who have their own marriage laws, customs and courts where their own doctrines of marriage take precedence.

Read it all and it may alo be found .

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

Gallup–Most Americans Say Religion Is Losing Influence in U.S.

Over three-quarters of Americans (77%) say religion is losing its influence on American life, while 20% say religion’s influence is increasing. These represent Americans’ most negative evaluations of the impact of religion since 1970, although similar to the views measured in recent years.

Americans over the years have generally been more likely to say religion is losing rather than increasing its influence in American life. In addition to the previous peak in views that religion was losing its influence measured in 1969 and 1970, at least 60% of Americans thought religion was losing its influence in 1991-1994, in 1997 and 1999, in 2003, and from 2007 to the present.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture

(ACNS) Archbishop of Cape Town encourages Anglican Communion to Think.Eat.Save

The Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Revd Thabo Makgoba, the chair of the Anglican Communion Environment Network (ACEN), is encouraging the 85 million Anglicans in 38 Provinces to use new ACEN prayers and resources from South Africa and England in church services on or around Environment Sunday (2nd June) and World Environment Day (5th June). They include a children’s prayer (written by 10-year-old Jackie from South Africa) and are available here.

This year’s World Environment Day theme – Think.Eat.Save – encourages people worldwide to reduce their ‘foodprint’. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted. At the same time, one in every seven people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of five die daily from hunger-related causes.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Provinces, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology

Michael Bird reviews the new book on Anglican Bibliology: "The Once and Future Scriptures"

Peter Catt (“Scripture, Science, and the Big Story”) is the oddest piece, arguing that we should reject the biblical storyline since it created the oppressive “Christendom narrative” and opt instead for a meta-narrative based on quantum physics and evolution.

I would aver that the central contention of this book is that Scripture is safe for progressive Christians because it is not normative but is negotiable. I would even argue that the primary aim is to reject the notion that Scripture is the “norming norm” as tradition has often put it, thus freeing us to either cherry pick its contents, or to disregard it entirely. The book, for reasons well-motivated given the context, is about liberty from biblical authority and imagining an Anglican future where the Bible has no more authority than archived copies of the church bulletin.

Let me say that I understand the dilemma of grappling with difficult passages (difficult theologically, historically, and ethically) and trying to show the relevance of a book that includes pre-scientific creation accounts, ancient near eastern law codes, Jewish poetry, Graeco-Roman biographies, lengthy letters with heavily didactic content, and an Apocalypse, all written in times and places very foreign to our own time and place.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Commentary, Books, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Michael Nazir Ali–British Churches have 'capitulated to secularism' which whitewash Islam

British schools are helping to boost Islamism with politically correct lessons that tell black pupils that slavery was entirely the fault of English and Americans, and omit the long and vicious history of Arab slave trading, according to an influential Church of England bishop.

In an exclusive interview for our Telegram podcast, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali ”“ a Pakistani-born scholar who resigned as Bishop of Rochester in 2009 in order to train Christians facing persecution ”“ says “the Churches have generally capitulated to secular culture and therefore cannot bring a distinctive voice to public debate”.

They have neglected human relations, especially the family, in favour of “welfarism” that teaches that the state should provide all the goods that citizens need. All this adds up to the slow death of people’s sense of themselves as spiritual beings ”“ and this affects “even people who go to church”.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

In Colorado Churches to bless cyclists, bikes they ride up on

Cyclists gearing up for summer bike rides can take a detour to the Blessing of the Bicycles on June 2, when four local churches will offer a few spiritual and inspirational words for bike enthusiasts.

The Blessing of the Bicycles kicks off Walk and Bike Month and also serves as a bicycle parts drive for Community Cycles, a bike advocacy nonprofit group.

“My road and mountain bikes are my beloved friends, and as an older cyclist riding on busy roads, I can use all the prayers and blessing I can get. I thought there must be other people out there who would feel likewise,” said the Rev. Susan Springer, rector at St. John’s Episcopal Church, who established the bicycle blessing.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sports, TEC Parishes

(Wash. Post Wonkblog) The Economy is holding up surprisingly well in a year of austerity

A U.S. economy that was supposed to be barely hanging on is starting to look surprisingly robust.

Housing prices rose faster over the past year than they have in the past seven, according to data out Tuesday. Consumer confidence hit its highest level in five years. The stock market rallied another 0.6 percent as measured by the Standard & Poor’s 500, leaving it just short of an all-time high reached last week. And the national retail price of gasoline fell for six days straight through Monday and is down 16 cents a gallon since late February.

It adds up to this reality: In a year when tax increases and spending cuts by the federal government were expected to bleed life out of the economy, the strengthening housing and financial markets are proving to be more powerful than acts of Congress.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Federal Reserve, House of Representatives, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Senate, Stock Market, The U.S. Government

(CC blogs) Tyler Day–Ben Haggerty[Macklemore]'s theology

A theology professor of mine liked to remind our class that everyone’s a theologian. I don’t think he meant that everyone’s a particularly good theologian or has something significant or meaningful to say. The point was that we should always be on the lookout for how people theologize, how they conceive of God in real life.

You may not find a more popular theologian right now than Macklemore. I doubt he’d be too keen on that label. But when the hip-hop chart topper isn’t busy thrift shopping with his producer Ryan Lewis, he seems fairly interested in the feasibility of God in human experience.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music, Religion & Culture, Theology

(FT) US housing lift could crimp Federal Reserve buying

The largest rise in house prices for seven years and a surge in consumer confidence have added to a fast-improving US economic outlook, increasing the chances the Federal Reserve will slow its $85bn-a-month in asset purchases.

House prices jumped 10.9 per cent in March from last year’s levels, the biggest increase since the height of the housing boom in 2006, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index. The rise in prices for homes and other assets helped push the Conference Board’s index of consumer confidence to its strongest level for five years.

Read it all (another link there.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Federal Reserve, Housing/Real Estate Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

PBS ' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Bobby McFerrin's Music and Faith

[KIM] LAWTON: McFerrin says his Christian faith permeates everything he does. But it’s particularly evident in his new album, “spirityouall,” which includes his interpretation of classic African-American spirituals and several devotional songs that he wrote. The project honors the legacy of his father, Robert McFerrin, Sr., the first African American to sing a title role at the Metropolitan Opera. The senior McFerrin also released an album of spirituals, Deep River, in 1957.

[BOBBY] MCFERRIN: I never heard my father pray. I know that he got on his knees many times before he went to bed at night and prayed, but I always heard him pray whenever he sang these spirituals.

LAWTON: McFerrin says songs like “Every Time I Feel the Spirit” still resonate today.

MCFERRIN: I certainly try to pray them as I’m singing them. That’s important. And the hope is that when people hear these pieces that they’ll carry them home with them and then they’ll inspire them to begin a spiritual journey or to continue on it.

Watch or read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Music, Religion & Culture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Lord, who didst bid thy seraph purge the prophet’s lips with the fire from off thy altar, so that he might be free to preach thy Word unto the people: Give thy priests and people within the Catholic Church pure and wise hearts, that so they may desire to go whither thou dost send them, and do that which thou dost will, in the power of him through whom we can do all things, even thy blessed Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Wilfred Hornby

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

When you beget children and children’s children, and have grown old in the land, if you act corruptly by making a graven image in the form of anything, and by doing what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, so as to provoke him to anger, I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that you will soon utterly perish from the land which you are going over the Jordan to possess; you will not live long upon it, but will be utterly destroyed. And the Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the Lord will drive you. And there you will serve gods of wood and stone, the work of men’s hands, that neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice, for the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not fail you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers which he swore to them.

–Deuteronomy 4:25-31

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Church of Ireland Episcopal Electoral College fails to appoint new bishop of Meath and Kildare

Read it all.

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

In Aiken, South Carolina, a Dog given only weeks to live saves his owner's life

Nobody was injured in the fire, and Viola suffered from just a little smoke inhalation. Viola said most of what happened that night was a blur, but he does remember that it was terrifying.

Though much of Viola’s belongings were destroyed in the fire, it doesn’t matter much to him because he still has his dogs.

“The dogs were the most important thing. They can’t be replaced, and that’s the only thing I was worried about,” Viola said. “I’m very grateful that he (Ace) got out. I would have went from room to room to find him.”

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

(NPR) Stephen King On Growing Up, Believing In God And Getting Scared

On his belief in God and whether it has changed over time

“I choose to believe it. … I mean, there’s no downside to that. If you say, ‘Well, OK, I don’t believe in God. There’s no evidence of God,’ then you’re missing the stars in the sky and you’re missing the sunrises and sunsets and you’re missing the fact that bees pollinate all these crops and keep us alive and the way that everything seems to work together. Everything is sort of built in a way that to me suggests intelligent design. But, at the same time, there’s a lot of things in life where you say to yourself, ‘Well, if this is God’s plan, it’s very peculiar,’ and you have to wonder about that guy’s personality ”” the big guy’s personality. And the thing is ”” I may have told you last time that I believe in God ”” what I’m saying now is I choose to believe in God, but I have serious doubts and I refuse to be pinned down to something that I said 10 or 12 years ago. I’m totally inconsistent.”

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, Religion & Culture

Living Church Essays on South Carolina (III): Colin Podmore–Beyond Provincialism

Jesse Zink is therefore quite right: the Diocese of South Carolina cannot properly remain independent indefinitely. To be faithful not just to Anglican but more importantly to catholic ecclesiology, its bishops should belong to a province.

Once litigation in the secular courts is concluded, this could be achieved in several ways. There could be reconciliation with the Episcopal Church’s national leadership ”” we should always pray for reconciliation leading to the visible unity of the Church, however remote human sinfulness may make that prospect seem. Or the diocese could join the Anglican Church in North America or (less ideally) a more distant Anglican province.

Alternatively, it could follow the Sudan model, to which Zink points, and become a province by dividing into four dioceses. Half of one U.S. state, with fewer than 80 congregations and 30,000 baptized members, might be thought rather small to form a separate province. However, in 1998 the geographically and numerically much smaller Diocese of Hong Kong and Macao was divided into three dioceses (with only 38 congregations between them) and a “missionary area.” This enabled it to become a freestanding province of the Anglican Communion instead of joining the Church of the Province of South East Asia, which was formed in 1996 by the more conservative extra-provincial dioceses with which it had previously been associated.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Analysis, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

Archbishop Welby: Churches must offer "friendship and hospitality" to each other

Good relations between different Christian traditions are the “oxygen” that allows the Church to fulfil its mission and proclaim the Gospel, the Archbishop of Canterbury said today.

Speaking in Leicester to members of the Meissen Commission, an ecumenical programme between English and German churches, the Archbishop said: “Ecumenism is not an extra that one can fit in because it’s an interesting occupation. It is the oxygen of mission and evangelism.”

The Meissen Commission oversees relations between the Church of England and the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD), who in 1991 signed an agreement to work towards “full, visible unity”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Relations

Kendall Harmon Post Knee Surgery Update

I am progressing, but it is a challenging process to be sure. I made it home from the hospital at the end of the day after surgery and have since had two home health physical therapy sessions. The swelling is going down, the pain is less each day, and the mobility is increasing. My therapist says I am doing well, and so does my wife. There are a series of exercises I am required to go through thrice daily. I confess that the novelty has worn off and I sometimes find patience an issue, but I am not getting this far only to peter out. As far as motion is concerned, I have moved from a walker to a cane. I appreciate your understanding and prayers–KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Culture-Watch, Harmon Family, Health & Medicine

Jeff Haanen–Two Urban Manifestos for Evangelical Christians

“The city,” says Harvard economist Edward Glaeser, “is humanity’s greatest invention.”

Not everybody agrees with Glaeser’s glowing assessment, but judging by recent population trends, most do. Every day 180,000 people move into cities, and in 2011, for the first time in world history, the majority of the world’s population became urban. It’s estimated that in 2050, 86.2 percent of the population of developed countries will reside in cities. As magnets for talent, engines of innovation, and centers of culture, cities have eclipsed the nation-state as the primary sculptors of modern life.

Following tightly on the heels of urbanologists like Edward Glaeser, Richard Florida, and Joel Kotkin, evangelicals have recognized a golden opportunity. Two new books””Stephen T. Um and Justin Buzzard’s Why Cities Matter: To God, the Culture, and the Church (Crossway) and Jon M. Dennis’s Christ and City: Why the Greatest Need of the City Is the Greatest News of All (Crossway)””herald both the unprecedented importance and unmistakable biblical significance of the city. But only Why Cities Matter strikes the right balance between social analysis and ministry focus, encouraging readers not just to live in the city but also to engage its people and culture with the gospel.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Evangelicals, Globalization, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(RNS) Lacking recognition, Italy’s Muslims face an uncertain future

Steps from the immense colonnade of St. Peter’s Square, Sarwar Jahan stood next to his souvenir stand. A dark, clean-shaven man wearing a navy blue jacket and a black knit cap, Jahan is one of the legions of peddlers selling trinkets of the new Pope Francis to tourists and pilgrims.

Like many of his fellow street merchants, Jahan is neither a Catholic nor a natural-born Italian. He’s a Muslim who moved to Rome from Bangladesh in search of work.

In a country dominated by Roman Catholics, Muslims make up Italy’s second-largest religious group. A Pew study estimated that more than 1.5 million Muslims live in Italy, a number projected to double by 2030.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Islam, Italy, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(Economist) Why does Kenya lead the world in mobile money?

Paying for a taxi ride using your mobile phone is easier in Nairobi than it is in New York, thanks to Kenya’s world-leading mobile-money system, M-PESA. Launched in 2007 by Safaricom, the country’s largest mobile-network operator, it is now used by over 17m Kenyans, equivalent to more than two-thirds of the adult population; around 25% of the country’s gross national product flows through it. M-PESA lets people transfer cash using their phones, and is by far the most successful scheme of its type on earth. Why does Kenya lead the world in mobile money?

M-PESA was originally designed as a system to allow microfinance-loan repayments to be made by phone, reducing the costs associated with handling cash and thus making possible lower interest rates. But after pilot testing it was broadened to become a general money-transfer scheme. Once you have signed up, you pay money into the system by handing cash to one of Safaricom’s 40,000 agents (typically in a corner shop selling airtime), who credits the money to your M-PESA account. You withdraw money by visiting another agent, who checks that you have sufficient funds before debiting your account and handing over the cash. You can also transfer money to others using a menu on your phone. Cash can thus be sent one place to another more quickly, safely and easily than taking bundles of in person, or asking others to carry it for you. This is particularly useful in a country where many workers in cities send money back home to their families in rural villages. Electronic transfers save people time, freeing them to do other, more productive things instead.

Dozens of mobile-money systems have been launched, so why has Kenya’s been the most successful?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Kenya, Science & Technology

(NBC Today Video) Mom fights to save sons from same fatal disease

Both of Jenn McNary’s sons suffer a deadly disease known as Duschene muscular dystrophy. But while one son qualified for a drug that has given him new life, the other didn’t ”“ and his condition is slowly deteriorating. NBC’s Janet Shamlian reports.

Watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family

(CSM) Report blames Pakistan politicians, security for anti-Christian riots

A series of violent riots against Pakistani Christians in the past decade has concerned human rights watchers and religious minorities in Pakistan.

The latest deadly incident, which took place just two months ago, raised questions about what, if anything, can be done to prevent such violence.

The March incident when a Muslim mob burned down a Christian neighborhood in Lahore, echoed a similar incident in the rural town of Gojra four years earlier. Nine people were killed when rioters torched two Christian neighborhoods over rumors the Christians had celebrated a wedding by showering the groom with pages torn from the Quran. Despite hundreds of arrests, no one was tried for the riots, and relatives of those killed have now fled Pakistan.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Pakistan, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Greenville News) Three Upstate South Carolina Veterans given their final rest

A law passed last year by the South Carolina General Assembly gives veterans’ organizations the right to receive the unclaimed remains of veterans from funeral homes and coroner’s offices and to bury them in a national cemetery.

South Carolina has three: Beaufort, Florence and Fort Jackson in Columbia. Neal, LeMaster and Gray, along with three other veterans whose remains were in storage in Richland County, will be buried on June 6 at Fort Jackson with full military honors.

“They served their country. They came home. They were different,” said Larry Truax, who spearheaded the bill.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

(AP) Liz Sidoti–America is a Nation of coexisting, Conflicted Values

Every American president has faced the same central questions: What is the appropriate relationship between security and liberty? When should the scales tip one way or the other? We have never found a universal answer, which says as much about the enormous challenge our elected leaders accept as it does about who we are and what we value.

Presidents often do what they insist needs to be done to protect their people ”” and gamble that they’ll be forgiven for the inevitable erosion of rights. Congress and the public typically fall in line, particularly in the post-9/11 world. And the nation moves on until the next situation flares.

In general, both presidents and their people inherently believe in America’s ability to remain true to its identity and not let others define it, as long as it abides by the country’s founding principles. The trouble, or perhaps the gift, is that the framers of our Constitution made sure to include leeway in the ability for leaders to tip the security-vs.-liberty scales when the situation demands.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Terrorism, Theology

A Prayer for the (Provisional) Feast Day of John Calvin

Sovereign and holy God, who didst bring John Calvin from a study of legal systems to understand the godliness of thy divine laws as revealed in Scripture: Fill us with a like zeal to teach and preach thy Word, that the whole world may come to know thy Son Jesus Christ, the true Word and Wisdom; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, ever one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, the God of all goodness and of all grace, who art worthy of a greater love than we can either give or understand: Fill our hearts, we beseech thee, with such love toward thee that nothing may seem too hard for us to do or to suffer, in obedience to thy will; and grant that thus loving thee, we may become daily more like unto thee, and finally obtain the crown of life which thou hast promised to those that love thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–B. F. Westcott (1825-1901)

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents

–Luke 15:1-10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Soldiers Place US Flags in Arlington Cemetery for Memorial Day 2013

Watch it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, History, Parish Ministry

A Litany from The Book of Worship for United States Forces (1974)

Leader: Let us give thanks to God for the land of our birth with all its chartered liberties. For all the wonder of our country’s story:


Leader: For leaders in nation and state, and for those who in days past and in these present times have labored for the commonwealth:

Leader: For those who in all times and places have been true and brave, and in the world’s common ways have lived upright lives and ministered to their fellows:


Leader: For those who served their country in its hour of need, and especially for those who gave even their lives in that service:


Leader: O almighty God and most merciful Father, as we remember these your servants, remembering with gratitude their courage and strength, we hold before you those who mourn them. Look upon your bereaved servants with your mercy. As this day brings them memories of those they have lost awhile, may it also bring your consolation and the assurance that their loved ones are alive now and forever in your living presence.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry