Monthly Archives: July 2013

(ACNS) Water Justice chosen as the theme of this year's Season of Creation

Water Justice is the theme of this year’s Season of Creation, or Creation Time, which many churches around the world have adopted from 1 September to the Feast of St Francis on 4 October. The Season is a time dedicated to prayer for the protection of Creation, and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles that reverse our contribution to climate change.

The Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN) has compiled a collection of liturgical resources from around the globe to help churches prepare and think about the issues involved. These include an order of service for Creation Time prepared by the Student Christian Movement India. It was first published by the Ecumenical Water Network, a group of churches and Christian organizations promoting people’s access to water, initiated by the World Council of Churches.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(SMH) Jenny Muk–Fighting trolls is more than a motherhood statement

“Mother of all rows”, the headlines trilled, but parenting website Babyology’s very public slapdown of overzealous trolls earlier this week sent out a clear message. Shut up or back off.

Here’s a recap: trolls targeted the site’s popular Facebook page with tirades of abuse, taking offence at anything and everything – from posts regarding children’s parties, to having siblings too close together, to being unable to breastfeed. (Where is the milk of human kindness when you really need it?)

The site’s moderators had long been used to filtering such vitriol. In the past their policy was to simply hide offensive posts from their 115,000+ followers and deny the “poster” a ready audience.

But everyone has their tipping point. That moment came for a Babyology staff member who was left “in tears” after being attacked over the way she had decorated her son’s nursery.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Blogging & the Internet, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Theology, Women

(Spectator) Mark Mason reviews Tim Lewis' "Land of Second Chances"

Rwanda comes across as an incredible country. The genocide produced 5.5 deaths every minute for 100 days. Adrien lost five brothers and a sister; when the 2011 Tour of Rwanda goes past his grandmother’s house he pedals faster to keep the memories at bay. Documentation disappeared in the atrocity, so the riders have to be given new birthdays ”” one nicknamed ”˜Rocky’ gets 6 July because it’s Sylvester Stallone’s.

The genocide’s longer-term consequences can be surprising: because so many men were killed, Rwanda ended up as the first country in the world whose parliament contained a majority of women. The book is good on culture shock; accustomed to packed local buses (known as twegerane, ”˜let’s stick together’), when the Rwandans visit America they all squeeze onto one row of a spacious people-carrier. In South Africa Adrien is confronted by his first ever bedsheets; he sleeps on top of them, afraid to cause a mess. Culture shock isn’t a one-way street, though: the Rwandans are amazed that the Americans keep animals in their homes.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Books, History, Rwanda, Sports, Violence

Sarah Posner on Messianic Judaism–Israel’s Best Friends or Jews’ Mortal Enemies?

“Spiritual Nazism.” Those are the first words out of my rabbi’s mouth when I tell him I’m reporting on Messianic Judaism. To him, the prospect of Jews accepting a Christian salvation narrative, but still identifying as Jews, constitutes nothing short of the destruction of the spiritual life of a people.

But after nearly a year of studying and reporting on this phenomenon, I have my doubts about this dire indictment. Messianic Judaism, despite its promoters’ predictions, will not be radically changing Judaism anytime soon. It is, however, radically changing how Jews and evangelicals relate to one another and how evangelical, Pentecostal and charismatic Christians perceive Judaism, Jewish-Christian relations and the politics of the Middle East.

To some Jews, the growth of Messianic Judaism represents a mortal threat. There are an estimated 175,000 to 250,000 Messianic Jews in the United States, 350,000 worldwide, and 10,000 to 20,000 in Israel. This isn’t too dramatic, although it’s difficult to assess the future impact of new religious movements as they’re developing””who knew in the mid-19th century that the Mormon Church would be what it is today?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Inter-Faith Relations, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(Yorkshire Post) Rod McPhee–How binge drinking became a pastime of the middle classes

It was once the curse of the working classes, but these days it seems it’s their bourgeois cousins who are developing an unhealthy relationship with drink.

To some it may come as a surprise, given that a better education, for example, could be said to aid informed decisions.

But Lucy Roca, who struggled for years with a alcohol problem, knows the truth: clever people don’t always make clever choices, they’re just good at coming up with clever excuses.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Alcohol/Drinking, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, England / UK

(ABC's The Note) Senators Graham, McCain Plan Trip to Egypt

[ Lindsey] Graham told reporters today that President Obama asked the two senators to travel to the region to assess the situation and to urge the Egyptian military to proceed with new elections.

“The president asked Sen. McCain and myself to go to Egypt next week, so we’re trying to find a way to get there,” Graham said, according to The Associated Press. “So we can go over and reinforce in a bipartisan fashion the message that we have to move to civilian control, that the military is going to have to, you know, allow the country to have new elections and move toward an inclusive, democratic approach.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Theology, Violence

(ACNS) Muslims and Christians together for Egypt

The Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa invited Muslim leaders and politicians, along with Christian leaders from different denominations, for an Iftar or a break of the fast of Ramadan, at All Saints Cathedral Hall.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Egypt, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Violence

Archbishop of Canterbury in Walsingham for annual youth pilgrimage

The Most Reverend Justin Welby joined 650 young people and their leaders at the annual youth pilgrimage to the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.

He took part in a torchlight procession along the ”˜Holy Mile’ which extends from the Roman Catholic slipper chapel to the village of Walsingham and the Anglican Shrine.

Before the destruction of the shrine in the 16th century medieval pilgrims would walk the last mile of their pilgrimage barefoot from the chapel and the tradition continues today.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

(NYT Letter from Europe) Justin Welby and A Cash Lure Cast From the Temple

As the scriptures tell it, Jesus expelled the money changers from the temple to cleanse it of a “den of thieves.” With some discernible echoes, the newly appointed archbishop of Canterbury has initiated a comparable crusade against newer financiers charging enormous interest on what are called payday loans.

Unlike the biblical showdown, though, the outcome of this newest confrontation seems freighted with moral ambiguity, risk and potential ridicule.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(Gallup) In U.S., Economic Confidence Lowest Since Late April

Even as the U.S. stock market continues to rise, Americans’ confidence in the economy has dropped to its lowest level since late April. Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index registered -13 for the week ending July 28. This is essentially unchanged from -12 during the prior two weeks, but is 10 points lower than it was in early June. Still, consumers’ confidence remains higher than it was in early March, after automatic federal budget cuts took effect.

While Americans’ confidence has generally retreated since early June, from a longer-term perspective, the current index score is still one of the best Gallup has measured since January 2008.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Psychology, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Ignatius of Loyola

O God, by whose grace thy servant Ignatius, enkindled with the fire of thy love, became a burning and a shining light in thy Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and may ever walk before thee as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

And since it is of thy mercy, O gracious Father, that another day is added to our lives; We here dedicate both our souls and our bodies to thee and thy service, in a sober, righteous, and godly life: in which resolution, do thou, O merciful God confirm and strengthen us; that, as we grow in age, we may grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

–The Pastor’s Prayerbook

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name for ever; may his glory fill the whole earth! Amen and Amen!

–Psalm 72: 18,19

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Telegraph) Andrew Lilico–C of E's ethical lending could be a healthy alternative to regulation

…in this process of liberalisation over the centuries, it seems we have forgotten a couple of key principles. If I lend money, the borrower makes a promise to repay. If I lend money to borrowers I believe will probably default, I am inducing people to make promises they will break. Inducing promise-breaking is straightforwardly unethical.

Again, although short-term high-interest loans may (as Eck and Melanchthon claimed) help people through temporary difficulties without their being forced to liquidate assets (e.g. sell the family car) unnecessarily, if I lend money very short term and at high interest to someone that is already insolvent and that person defaults on other creditors shortly after repaying me, I have profited at the expense of those other creditors. That could be seen as akin to theft ”” capturing assets that should rightly be used to repay other loans.

It could be difficult to regulate lending that induces promise-breaking or that extorts the assets of other creditors without preventing more innocent lending that helps with liquidity or business launching.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, The Banking System/Sector

The "Marriage: Unique for a Reason" website of the U.S. Roman Catholic Bishops

Check it out.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Theology

(Vatican Radio) Sean-Patrick Lovett–World Youth Day in Rio: What do you remember?

But what do you remember?

Throngs of flag-waving, chanting, cheering, singing, praying, young people extending for as far as the eye can see? A motorcade moving slowly through a vibrating, pulsating mass of humanity while a smiling Pope gestures, waves, and dispenses blessings to left and right? All this against one of the most breathtakingly beautiful natural backdrops in the world: the beach of Copacabana and the mountain of Corcovado. And of course you remember the babies ”“ babies and more babies, being kissed and cuddled and caressed by the Pope. But maybe you were paying particular attention and you also recall a visit to a slum and a hospital and a meeting with young prisoners and a prayer vigil and a papal pilgrimage to a Marian shrine”¦
But do you remember what he said?

“Promote justice and dialogue to hear the cry of the poor”, “Serve the community and a culture of encounter”, “Christ shares the crosses we carry in our lives”, “Is ours a Church that can still warm hearts?”, “Grandparents are important: the aged and the young build the future together”, “Faith isn’t a fruit-salad: don’t water it down”, “The Church is close to those suffering from addictions”, “Christian hope means being surprised by God”, “We cannot be part of a throwaway culture”, “Ours is a revolutionary Faith”, “Those who don’t go to Church are the VIP’s invited to the Lord’s table”, “We must learn how to embrace those in need”, “Jesus asks us to play on his team””¦

Read and listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Brazil, Globalization, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, South America, Teens / Youth

(Independent) Ian Birrell –Politics and religion do mix well after all

Once again, the Church of England was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, below, its relatively new leader, denounced the demons of payday lending, vowing to defeat them with the church’s own credit unions. Yet almost instantly it emerged that his own organisation had played a role in their creation through its huge investment funds.
For those of us who take little interest in this declining institution beyond wondering how it remains an established church in our multi-cultural age, it is just the latest farce involving bungling bishops and clerical contortions.

Yet this weekend, even Catholic-born atheists such as me are forced to concede that the current resident of Lambeth Palace is emerging as one of the most distinctive voices in the country. His deft political touch, sharp media abilities and displays of decent humanity could even help restore his church to the role expected by its followers after decades during which it failed to capitalise on its centrality to national life.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector

(Reuters) Special Report: How the Muslim Brotherhood lost Egypt

The stunning fall from power of President Mohamed Mursi, and the Muslim Brotherhood which backed him, has upended politics in the volatile Middle East for a second time after the Arab Spring uprisings toppled veteran autocrats.

Some of the principal causes were highlighted a month before the army intervened to remove Mursi, when two of Egypt’s most senior power brokers met for a private dinner at the home of liberal politician Ayman Nour on the island of Zamalek, a lush bourgeois oasis in the midst of Cairo’s seething megalopolis. It was seen by some as a last attempt to avert a showdown.

The two power brokers were Amr Moussa, 76, a long-time foreign minister under Mubarak and now a secular nationalist politician, and Khairat El-Shater, 63, the Brotherhood’s deputy leader and most influential strategist and financier. Moussa suggested that to avoid confrontation, Mursi should heed opposition demands, including a change of government.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Egypt, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(AP) France Struggles to Separate Islam and the State

Riots broke out over a full-face Islamic veil. A woman may have lost her unborn baby in another confrontation over her face covering. Tensions flared over a supermarket chain’s ad for the end-of-day feast for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

France’s enforcement of its prized secularism is inscribed in law, most recently in a ban on wearing full-face veils in public. Meant to ensure that all faiths live in harmony, the policy instead may be fueling a rising tide of Islamophobia and driving a wedge between some Muslims and the rest of the population.

Yet ardent defenders of secularism, the product of France’s separation of church and state, say the country hasn’t gone far enough. They want more teeth to further the cause that Voltaire helped inspire and Victor Hugo championed, this time with a law targeting headscarves in the work place.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Do Not Take Yourself too Seriously Dept.–A Church Karaoke Gone Wrong

Oh my–watch it (suffer through it?) all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry

(Her.meneutics) Sarah Bessey–Are Older Women Being Sidelined in the Church?

…one theme emerged that I hadn’t expected: women in the middle of their lives who felt invisible and ignored by the church, the same way they feel invisible or ignored in our culture.

These are women of my mother’s generation, maybe 10 or even 20 years on either side. I heard their hurt, sorrow, and stoicism about life within the church. In a sea of artful hipsters and energetic young people with self-promotion apparently engrained into their DNA, they feel invisible and overlooked.

One woman told me about how she had led worship at her church for years. But when a new young pastor was hired, he wanted a cooler band to get more young people in the door. First thing to go? Older women. “No one wanted to see middle-aged women on stage,” she wrote candidly, and so she was replaced with young women in their late teens and early twenties.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Parish Ministry, Women

(Deseret News) A pedestal too high: Is marriage too good for people?

Ciara Vesey is an enthusiastic and newly minted lawyer in Iowa who has no plans on getting married anytime soon, thank you very much.

“It just comes down to time,” she says. “I don’t have the time to get to know someone for a year. Then get engaged. It’s a 3-year process. I have to build my career.”
Vesey, 26, comes from a large family. Her parents have been married for more than 30 years. Ditto her grandparents. Her dad is even a pastor, and preaches the importance of marriage from the pulpit. Her three older brothers (ages 37, 36 and 35) all went to college and got married right after graduation.

But she and her four younger siblings are different. While they also went to college, none of them are married. “Obviously some kind of shift is going on here,” Vesey said.

Read it all.

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

Mike Kruger's Food for Thought–10 Basic Facts About the NT Canon that Every Christian Should Know

Read it all. I have issue with one of them but it is a good list against which to think–KSH.

Posted in Apologetics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The TEC Bishop of North Dakota Writes a letter on Same Sex Marriage Confusion

While all people are welcome in our fellowship and some of our dioceses provide for the blessing of same-sex unions, Christian marriage is reserved for a man and woman in the Episcopal Church.

Thank you for correcting this error.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Gen. Con. 2012, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Marriage & Family, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A WSJ Front Page article (on the Ipad Edition) on the Pope and The Church's Sexual Standards

Pope Francis “is showing a deep respect for the human condition as it is, instead of approaching things in a doctrinal way,” said Alberto Melloni, a church historian.

“This isn’t a change in the church’s teaching,” said Rev. James Bretzke, a theology professor at Boston College. “What’s important is the change in style and emphasis.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York echoed the pope on Monday, saying a priest’s homosexuality “wouldn’t matter to me as long as one is leading a virtuous and chaste life.” But, he added, “My worry is that we’re buying into the vocabulary that one’s person is one’s sexual identity and I don’t buy that and neither does the church.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Woman arrested in paint vandalism at Washington National cathedral

Washington police arrested a 58-year-old woman after two chapels in the Washington National Cathedral were defaced with green paint Monday afternoon.

The arrest follows similar vandalism Friday to the Lincoln Memorial and a statue near the Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall. Police are testing paint samples to determine whether the three incidents are connected.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, TEC Parishes, Urban/City Life and Issues

(dotCommonweal Blog) David Cloutier–Five (More) Lessons from Francis

“I’ll tell you something about the Charismatic Movement … at the end of the ’70s and in the ’80s, I wasn’t a big fan. I used to say they confused the holy liturgy with a school of samba. I was converted when I got to know them better and saw the good they do. In this moment of the life of the church, the movements are necessary.” Two insights packed into the same quote. First, notice the pope’s willingness to change his mind by becoming acquainted with practices that at first he sees as questionable. This is not a blithe acceptance of everything, but rather a humility that refuses to stop at initial impressions. Second, it suggests a liturgical flexibility that does not dismiss the importance of “reverence” and holiness and tradition, but rather refuses to make them ultimate. There are limits to liturgical flexibility (or else we would cease to be Catholic), but they have significant elasticity, and one should look at the fruits.

Read it all.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Most merciful Lord, who hast taught us that the pure in heart shall see God: Cleanse our hearts from all impurity; give us such hatred of all that is evil, and such love of all that is beautiful and good, that we may be delivered from temptation, and become a strength to others who are tempted; for the glory of thy name.

–Student Prayer; A Book of Prayers for Students; A Devotional Diary

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Now at Lystra there was a man sitting, who could not use his feet; he was a cripple from birth, who had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking; and Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and walked.

–Acts 14:8-10

Posted in Uncategorized

(RNS) Did Pope Francis change church teaching on homosexuality?

When asked by reporters about rumors of a “gay lobby” of clergy in the Vatican who were exposing the Holy See to blackmail schemes and scandal, Francis at first joked that while there’s a lot of talk about such a lobby, “I have yet to find on a Vatican identity card the word ”˜gay.’ ”

Then, in a more serious vein, he added:

“I think that when we encounter a gay person, we must make the distinction between the fact of a person being gay and the fact of a lobby, because lobbies are not good. ”¦ If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge that person?”

Francis also cited church teaching to argue that gays should never be marginalized: “The problem is not that one has this tendency (to homosexuality); no, we must be brothers. This is the first matter.”

Read it all.

Update: John Allen’s story mentioned in the second blog comment may be found here.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture