Daily Archives: May 3, 2013

(WSJ) Sarah Pulliam Bailey: God Doesn't Guarantee a Broadway Smash

The Hollywood success of blockbusters like “Passion of the Christ” and “The Blind Side” has faith-based groups and entertainment executives looking to capture segments of the American audience eager for openly religious fare. Mr. Burnett’s “The Bible” has more mouths watering: In its first week of home video release last month, it became the top-selling TV miniseries of all time, selling 525,000 units, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

But theater presents different challenges. “Hollywood is in the business of catching lightning in a bottle twice,” says Jonathan Bock, president of Grace Hill Media, a marketing firm that has helped several Hollywood studios target religious audiences. “With movies, you can toe-dip with small releases or direct to DVD. On Broadway, you swing and hit or miss.”

The Broadway shows about religion that have been the most successful are the less-than-reverent ones….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Theatre/Drama/Plays

(RNS) Beneath the stereotypes, a stressful life for preachers’ kids

The day Franklin Graham was born, he received a telegram.

“Welcome to this sin-sick world,” the Western Union message said, “and to the challenge you have to walk in your daddy’s footsteps.”

It didn’t take long for Graham, the son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, to realize that being a preacher’s kid would be both a blessing and a burden.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin's Letter on the Approval of “Same-Sex Marriage” in R.I.

First, like many others, I am profoundly disappointed that Rhode Island has approved legislation that seeks to legitimize “same-sex marriage.” The Catholic Church has fought very hard to oppose this immoral and unnecessary proposition, and we are most grateful to all those who have courageously joined us in this effort. When all is said and done, however, we know that God will be the final judge of our actions.

As I have emphasized consistently in the past, the Catholic Church has respect, love and pastoral concern for our brothers and sisters who have same-sex attraction. I sincerely pray for God’s blessings upon them, that they will enjoy much health, happiness and peace. We also offer our prayerful support to families, especially parents, who often struggle with this issue when it occurs in their own homes.

Our respect and pastoral care, however, does not mean that we are free to endorse or ignore immoral or destructive behavior, whenever or however it occurs. Indeed, as St. Paul urges us, we are required to “speak the truth in love.” (Eph 4:15)

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, State Government, Theology, Theology: Scripture

An LA Times Article on the Havoc Caused by the Affordable Care Act for many Companies and Workers

Many part-timers are facing a double whammy from President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

The law requires large employers offering health insurance to include part-time employees working 30 hours a week or more. But rather than provide healthcare to more workers, a growing number of employers are cutting back employee hours instead.

The result: Not only will these workers earn less money, but they’ll also miss out on health insurance at work.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Personal Finance, Theology

(BBC Magazine) Alan Strathern–Why are Buddhist monks attacking Muslims?

Of all the moral precepts instilled in Buddhist monks the promise not to kill comes first, and the principle of non-violence is arguably more central to Buddhism than any other major religion. So why have monks been using hate speech against Muslims and joining mobs that have left dozens dead?

This is happening in two countries separated by well over 1,000 miles of Indian Ocean – Burma and Sri Lanka. It is puzzling because neither country is facing an Islamist militant threat. Muslims in both places are a generally peaceable and small minority.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Buddhism, Islam, Myanmar/Burma, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Sri Lanka, Violence

(AP) In Myanmar, living in fear amid Religious Violence

They have seen how trouble starts from the smallest things. They have seen the police powerless before mobs fired with religious zeal and armed with bricks and swords. They have seen on TV and in newspapers the burning homes of people just like them light up the night. And so they have erected rusted barbed-wire barricades and volunteered to sit on street corners, 10 men at time, watching through the night.

Fear courses through the streets of Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city, especially among its Muslim minority. They have watched as the sectarian violence threatening to destabilize the country’s fragile democracy creeps closer to home. With little faith in the government’s ability to protect them and a growing movement of Buddhist extremism, some feel they have little choice but to try to defend themselves.

Residents in some neighborhoods have started their own patrols.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Islam, Myanmar/Burma, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Violence

(NY Times) Boston Plotters Said to Initially Target July 4 for Attack

he surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings told F.B.I. interrogators that he and his brother considered suicide attacks and striking on the Fourth of July as they plotted their deadly assault, according to two law enforcement officials.

But the suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, told investigators that he and his brother, Tamerlan, 26, who was killed in a shootout with the police, ultimately decided to use pressure-cooker bombs and other homemade explosive devices, the officials said.

The brothers finished building the bombs in Tamerlan’s apartment in Cambridge, Mass., faster than they had anticipated, and so decided to accelerate their attack to the Boston Marathon on April 15, Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts, according to the account that Dzhokhar provided to authorities.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence, Young Adults

(Church Times) Priest declines Irish bishopric after press highlights his past

The Ven. Leslie Stevenson, who was to have been consecrated this week as Bishop of Meath & Kildare, in the Irish Republic, withdrew on Sunday after a press campaign against him.

His decision to step aside followed two newspaper articles. One in the Dublin-based Sunday Business Post noted that he would be the first divorced bishop in the history of the Church of Ireland, and that he had had a relationship after his first marriage failed.

The second appeared last Friday in the Belfast-based Nationalist daily Irish News, which suggested that Archdeacon Stevenson’s consecration was in doubt. It named the woman with whom he had had a relationship, who is now a serving priest in the diocese of Connor.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of Ireland, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ireland, Marriage & Family, Media, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Christian Century) Mary Louise Bringle–Debating hymns

Controversy sells. It sells newspapers, journals and movies. It may even sell conference registrations, to judge from the frequency with which I’m asked to speak at such events about “controversial issues” that confronted the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song (PCOCS) as it worked on the denomination’s new song collection Glory to God.

Does controversy also sell hymnals? I’m not sure. But the Presbyterian Hymnal of 1874 came out in the midst of a controversy so intense that pamphleteers took to writing about the War of the Hymn Books. The war they had in mind was a campaign launched by disaffected members of the official hymnal committee who seceded to create a rival publication. In response to this campaign, the board of publication for the denominational hymnal took pains to report (in the January 1875 edition of the Presbyterian Monthly Record): “It will be gratifying to our Presbyterian constituency to know that the persistent efforts to prevent the adoption by the churches of the new Hymnal . . . fail to arrest its sale.” Indeed, by June of 1875, the rate at which congregations were adopting the new hymnal was reported to be “without a parallel in the history of hymn and tune books.” So maybe controversy does boost sales, even where hymnals are concerned.

Still, I am relieved to note that the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song has experienced nothing as dramatic as a secession and threatened publication war. The most animated disagreements we experienced within our group were over matters of theology; our most animated disagreements with people outside our group have been over issues of musical accompaniments and (not surprisingly) of language.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture

(Commonweal) Andrew Koppelman reviews "What Is Marriage?Man and Woman: A Defense"

For better or for worse, same-sex marriage is one of the most successful social movements in American history. Its claims were outside the realm of political possibility as recently as the early 1990s. Now its victory is probably inevitable. It has succeeded largely because so many of its opponents have been so inarticulate, and””this is crucial””have failed to pass on their views to their children. According to Gallup, 46 percent of Americans oppose same-sex marriage, with 53 percent in favor. The percentage in support has doubled in only fifteen years. There is a sharp generational divide: among those eighteen to twenty-nine-years-old, 73 percent support same-sex marriages. That number drops steadily with age, to 39 percent of those 65 and older. The result has been a massive political shift. Barack Obama is the first Democratic president to support same-sex marriage. He is also the last Democratic president to oppose it. The Republicans have begun, painfully and grudgingly, to do likewise.

So What Is Marriage? is an important book. It is clear, tightly reasoned, and a remarkably fast read for a dense philosophical argument. It should be instantly recognized as the leading statement of the case against same-sex marriage, together with Maggie Gallagher’s half of Debating Same-Sex Marriage (coauthored with John Corvino). Gallagher’s strategy is consequentialist, turning on baleful but improbable predictions about the effect of same-sex marriage on heterosexual familes. The authors of What Is Marriage?, on the other hand””Sherif Girgis and Ryan Anderson are unusually bright graduate students, and Robert P. George is the McCormick Professor of Politics at Princeton””are proponents of the New Natural Law theory, a philosophical school whose leaders are the Catholic scholars Germain Grisez and John Finnis….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, our Father, we are exceedingly frail, and indisposed to every virtuous and gallant undertaking: Strengthen our weakness, we beseech thee, that we may do valiantly in this spiritual war; help us against our own negligence and cowardice, and defend us from the treachery of our unfaithful hearts; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Saint Augustine (353-430)

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Praise the LORD! O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever! Who can utter the mighty doings of the LORD, or show forth all his praise?

–Psalm 106:1-2

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Food for Thought from Charles Dickens

That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But, it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been.

Charles Dickens (1812-1870), Great Expectations, Chapter 9

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, History, Notable & Quotable, Poetry & Literature

Greg Laurie–On the National Day of Prayer, time for a revival in America

Everywhere we look in America, we see signs of decline. That’s because we have largely forgotten God, but the good news is God has not forgotten us.

In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God says, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

In other words, America has two options: judgment or revival.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer