Daily Archives: May 16, 2013

(CNS) Pope says there are no part-time Christians; faith is a full-time job

Catholics can’t put their faith on a part-time schedule or rely on it just for the moments they choose; being Christian is a full-time occupation, Pope Francis said.

If people don’t open their hearts to the Holy Spirit to let God purify and enlighten them, then “our being Christian will be superficial,” the pope said May 15 at his weekly general audience.

Knowing and doing what God wants is not possible with mere human effort — it takes the transformative action of the Holy Spirit, he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic

(Globe and Mail) Global economy has a ”˜long and fairly bumpy’ recovery ahead

Spring may have sprung, but not all economists are sprightly about the outlook for the global economy.

In fact, as a Toronto audience heard Wednesday morning, the risk of a recession in Canada is “higher than normal,” the U.S. is set for “unspectacular” growth, Europe is poised for another downturn and even the BRIC countries will not be the economic drivers they had been in the past decade.

Those are the views of one of the more Eeyore-ish research firms around: London-based Capital Economics, whose conference Wednesday was entitled: “Is the world on the road to recovery?” (The answer: Sort of. But it will be a “long and fairly bumpy” road, one in which Europe is in danger of veering off).

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Asia, Canada, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Europe, Globalization, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(NY Times Magazine) Michael Pollan–Some of My Best Friends Are Germs

It is a striking idea that one of the keys to good health may turn out to involve managing our internal fermentation. Having recently learned to manage several external fermentations ”” of bread and kimchi and beer ”” I know a little about the vagaries of that process. You depend on the microbes, and you do your best to align their interests with yours, mainly by feeding them the kinds of things they like to eat ”” good “substrate.” But absolute control of the process is too much to hope for. It’s a lot more like gardening than governing.

The successful gardener has always known you don’t need to master the science of the soil, which is yet another hotbed of microbial fermentation, in order to nourish and nurture it. You just need to know what it likes to eat ”” basically, organic matter ”” and how, in a general way, to align your interests with the interests of the microbes and the plants. The gardener also discovers that, when pathogens or pests appear, chemical interventions “work,” that is, solve the immediate problem, but at a cost to the long-term health of the soil and the whole garden. The drive for absolute control leads to unanticipated forms of disorder.

This, it seems to me, is pretty much where we stand today with respect to our microbiomes ”” our teeming, quasi-wilderness. We don’t know a lot, but we probably know enough to begin taking better care of it. We have a pretty good idea of what it likes to eat, and what strong chemicals do to it. We know all we need to know, in other words, to begin, with modesty, to tend the unruly garden within.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

(IHT) Christians Uneasy in Morsi's Egypt

Since the ouster of Mr. Mubarak in February 2011, a growing number of Copts, including some of the most successful businessmen, have left Egypt or are preparing to do so, fearing persecution by an Islamist-controlled government as much as the stagnant economy that is smothering their industries.

Among the most prominent are the heads of the Sawiris family, who for several months have been running their enormous business empire from abroad.

“Every week I learn of 10 people who are leaving or who have already left,” Mr. [Wasfi Amin] Wassef said. “They know that what happened to the Sawiris’ can happen to them tomorrow.”

Read it all

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Coptic Church, Egypt, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Living Church) Daniel Muth on Game of Thrones–A Medieval Pottersville

In Game of Thrones we’re shown a world of medieval technology, accoutrement, and honorifics, but without chivalry (some lame pretense is made here and there, but it plays no part even in the life of the nobility, and the tale is told solely through their eyes) because there is no Christ to inspire it and no Church to encourage it. The denizens of the land claim a belief, of whatever sort, in “the gods,” who are never specified, whose mythology is never told, and of whom worship seems virtually nonexistent. The latter is the one significant breach with real-world paganism, which always involved true belief and often extravagant liturgics. There is also (as there was with Rome) a most implausible dearth of numinous awe for the natural world. One may have to pledge one’s son in marriage to the daughter of the castle-holder controlling a vital river crossing in order to get one’s army across, but of the necessity of offering a she-goat or woodcock to the river god himself in order to be granted safe passage there is nary a trace.

This is a significant oversight and makes the world a more modern one that the filmmakers should be comfortable with. Nevertheless, we are presented a generally accurate (for Hollywood) portrayal of what theologian David Bentley Hart calls the “glorious sadness” of ancient paganism in which life was short, or at least wildly precarious, and relatively meaningless while it lasted, and death both all too common and all too horrid to contemplate. Pleasures were to be grasped in whatever form they may be readily at hand, and whether they involved cruelty or kindness was a matter of relative taste. Joy may flit briefly by, but only in such a manner and measure as to enhance the agony of its loss and the poignancy of its ephemerality.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, History, Movies & Television, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism

Alister McGrath–Try seeing it this way: Imagination and reason in the apologetics of C.S. Lewis

Here, I want to explore Lewis’s distinctive understanding of the rationality of faith, which emphasises the reasonableness of Christianity without imprisoning it within an impersonal and austere rationalism.

I came to appreciate this distinctive approach when researching my recent biography of Lewis. For reasons I do not understand, the importance of Lewis’s extensive use of visual images as metaphors of truth has been largely overlooked. For Lewis, truth is about seeing things rightly, grasping their deep interconnection. Truth is something that we see, rather something that we express primarily in logical or conceptual terms.

The basic idea is found in Dante’s Paradiso (XXIII, 55-6), where the great Florentine poet and theologian expresses the idea that Christianity provides a vision of things – something wonderful that can be seen, yet proves resistant to verbal expression

Read it all.

Posted in Apologetics, Theology

Suspected Boko Haram Gunmen Kill Christian Leader in Borno State, Nigeria

Gunmen believed to be members of the Islamic extremist Boko Haram group yesterday killed the Rev. Faye Pama Musa, secretary of the Borno state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). He was 47.

The gunmen reportedly followed the long-time Christian leader from his church building, where he was holding an evening Bible study, to his house in the Government Reservation Area in Maiduguri, and shot him dead there, said the Rev. Titus Dama Pona, chairman of CAN’s Borno chapter.

“Rev. Faye Pama was killed last light,” Pona said this morning by phone from Maiduguri, the state capital. “I am right now with his family, and they are still consulting on what next to do.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Nigeria, Religion & Culture, Violence

Christian Century asks Ministers what Texts they use for preaching preparation

We wondered what kind of reading ministers rely on for inspiration or help in preaching””apart from reading commentaries on scripture or other materials directly related to the task. Do they draw on certain authors of fiction or nonfiction? Are they influenced by essays, poetry, magazines or children’s literature? Here are some reflections

Read them all (eight in all).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Media, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Poetry & Literature, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture

(RNS) Canadians turning away from organized religion

A new national study shows that while Canada remains overwhelmingly Christian, Canadians are turning their backs on organized religion in ever greater numbers.

Results from the 2011 National Household Survey show that more than two-thirds of Canadians, or some 22 million people, said they were affiliated with a Christian denomination.

At 12.7 million, Roman Catholics were the largest single Christian group, representing 38 percent of Canadians; the second largest was the United Church, representing about 6 percent; while Anglicans were third, representing about 5 percent of the population.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Provisional Feast Day of the Martyrs of Sudan

O God, steadfast in the midst of persecution, by whose providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: As the martyrs of the Sudan refused to abandon Christ even in the face of torture and death, and so by their sacrifice brought forth a plenteous harvest, may we, too, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer, Sudan

A Prayer to Begin the Day

We beseech thee, O Lord, to give us more love to thee, more joy in our worship, more peace at all times, more longsuffering, more kindness of heart and manner. Grant us the grace of meekness and the power of self-control. May we know something of what it is to be filled with the Holy Ghost; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of all his wonderful works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his presence continually!

–Psalm 105:1-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Lord George Carey's Easter Article in the Daily Mail

As the Prime Minister knows, I am very suspicious that behind the plans to change the nature of marriage, which will be debated in the House of Lords within the next two months there lurks an aggressive secularist and relativist approach towards an institution that has glued society together for time immemorial. By dividing marriage into religious and civil the government threatens the church and state link which they purport to support. But they also threaten to empty marriage of its fundamental religious and civil meaning as an institution orientated towards the upbringing of children.

If this is not enough, the legislation fails to provide any protection for religious believers in employment who cannot subscribe in conscience to the new meaning of marriage. There will be no exemptions for believers who are registrars who can expect to be sacked if theycannot, in all conscience, support same-sex marriage. Strong legal opinion also suggests that Christian teachers, who are required to teach about marriage, may face disciplinary action if they cannot express agreement with the new politically-correct orthodoxy.

The danger I believe that the government is courting with its approach both to marriage and religious freedom, is the alienation of a large minority of people who only a few years ago would have been considered pillars of the community.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, History, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Multiculturalism, pluralism, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Secularism

A Look Back to the General Theological Seminary Commencement of 1835

Judge then, young Gentlemen, into what depths of degradation the race of young ministers to which you are to belong must sink, if you not only remain deaf to the voice of conscience, to the admonitions of history, and to the strivings of GOD’S Spirit, but also to the voice of your age and of your country, which is calling you to high and noble things in your ministry. To go forth from this most highly-honored seat of sacred learning in our Church, with low attainment and without studious habits””to enter upon your ministry in this energetic and driving age, without zeal and perseverance””and to place yourselves upon the great missionary field which our Church presents from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, without being animated by the missionary spirit””how certain the fall, how deep the dishonor, how terrible the curse, to which you must inevitably be reduced!

The fathers, the clergy, the friends of the Church, look with increased anxiety and greater hope to each successive class graduating from our theological seminaries. They have a right to expect better scholarship, as the ability of teachers, the number of books, and the aids to study are daily increasing. And surely, as the wants of the Church are better known, and the extent of the missionary field, both at home and abroad, is better understood, they have a right to anticipate a great increase of missionary zeal. A young clergyman, some twenty years ago, might have made many a reasonable excuse for his lack of that holy, self-sacrificing zeal, a want of which would now be utterly inexcusable. What! shall young men just commissioned to the holy office, be deaf to the calls of their country, of the Church, and of her Divine Head, to make full proof of their ministry, and sink down into criminal listlessness, or addict themselves to unworthy worldly pursuits? What! when the cry of souls ready to perish is borne on every wind, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south, shall they take counsel of their love of ease, their taste for human literature, or of their worldly-minded friends, and refuse to go to any part of the missionary field to which GOD shall call them?

Remember, young Gentlemen, that the great Head of the Church has placed you under influences more favorable for the formation of a high ministerial character, than with others has been the case perhaps for ages. You may, if you will, unite in yourselves more learning, more pious active zeal, more of a spirit of humility and prayer, than any of your predecessors, it may be, since the Apostles’ own times. What you may become, the Church, the world, the Saviour of man-kind, [14/15] all expect that you will become. And yet this kind goeth not forth but by prayer and fasting. You cannot even succeed well in your studies without prayer. Much less can you grow in humility, and in a spirit of benevolence and self-sacrifice without much and fervent prayer.

Read it all from the Bishop of Kentucky, Benjamin Bosworth Smith.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Seminary / Theological Education, TEC Bishops, Theology