Monthly Archives: July 2013

In Bakersfield, Episcopalians celebrate return to St. Paul's with message of inclusiveness

Standing at the entrance to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on 17th Street, the Rt. Rev. Chet Talton raised up the blunt end of a 6-foot-tall staff and pounded it against the door.

Again he pounded with his crosier, and again, each time the knock resounding through the 160-strong gathering. From inside, the church warden greeted him, and after a brief exchange, Talton entered.

So began a new era at St. Paul’s, itself the subject of a prolonged battle that, though settled at this congregation, continues to ripple through courtrooms across the country.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, Theology

And Why the Reference to Polyamory today?

Well, for one thing, did you know there is a show on television on this subject going into its second season? (I refuse to provide the link [but I bet you knew it was on cable]).

For another thing, guess what one of the current issue of the Washingtonian’s feature articles this month is?

“Married, but not Exclusive.
For some couples, one relationship is not enough. By Brooke Lea Foster….”

And it includes content such as the following:

Polyamorists don’t think monogamy is wrong; they simply believe it’s not for everyone. But hearing “poly” couples speak of monogamy is like listening to an ex-con reflect on his years in prison….

Aldous Huxley, call your office…KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Polyamory, Marriage & Family, Men, Psychology, Sexuality, Urban/City Life and Issues, Women

A Look back to 2009–Newsweek””Polyamory: The Next Sexual Revolution

Terisa, 41, is at the center of this particular polyamorous cluster. A filmmaker and actress, she is well-spoken, slender and attractive, with dark, shoulder-length hair, porcelain skin””and a powerful need for attention. Twelve years ago, she started dating Scott, a writer and classical-album merchant. A couple years later, Scott introduced her to Larry, a software developer at Microsoft, and the two quickly fell in love, with Scott’s assent. The three have been living together for a decade now, but continue to date others casually on the side. Recently, Terisa decided to add Matt, a London transplant to Seattle, to the mix. Matt’s wife, Vera, was OK with that; soon, she was dating Terisa’s husband, Larry. If Scott starts feeling neglected, he can call the woman he’s been dating casually on the side. Everyone in this group is heterosexual, and they insist they never sleep with more than one person at a time…..

Read it all and all the comments.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Polyamory, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Men, Psychology, Sexuality, Theology, Women

Rod Dreher–Anglican Nominalism As ”˜Anglican Comprehensiveness’

When I read the transgender Episcopal priest praising “Anglican comprehensiveness” because (in part) it allows for transgender priests, I think that whatever this is, it’s not Christian, except in name. I think Frederica was exactly right when she wrote those words back in the 1990s: “not a common faith, but common words about the faith ”” mere flimsy words.” Trust me when I say that I don’t mean this combatively, but I genuinely don’t understand how a church with such radically (= at the roots) contradictory ideas about God, sexuality, and the human person can hold together. I’m not trying to insult Anglicans, so please, readers, don’t take this either as an insult or as an invitation to do that. It’s just that reading a transgender priest praise “Anglican comprehensiveness” as license to “embody ambiguity” ”” well, it puts the theological chasm in sharp perspective.

I have dear friends who are faithful Anglican Christians, and who are surely better Christians than I am. I am not questioning the integrity of the faith of individual Anglicans. What I’m trying to express is my utter bafflement at how this works at the corporate level. It’s particularly on my mind this afternoon because for Orthodox Christians worshiping in the Slavic tradition, today was the Sunday of the Fathers Of The First Six Ecumenical Councils. We heard a great sermon this morning about why the concept of orthodoxy (right belief) is so important, and how very much depends on it. It’s not so much that I reject a church that can welcome transgender clergy (though I do), but that I do not understand how that can remotely be squared with Scripture and tradition ”” with, in a word, fundamental Christian orthodoxy. And more to the point of this post, I don’t understand how Anglicans who do profess fundamental creedal Christian orthodoxy remain in communion with the Episcopal Church. I mean, I know they do, because my friends are good and faithful people, and they do. Still, reading that interview just now was jarring, really jarring, and brought all this to mind. There really is no sexual innovation that the Episcopal Church will not embrace. The only orthodoxy, it appears to this outsider, is banning Christian orthodoxy on sexual matters.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(USA Today) Fate of Jerusalem looms over peace talks

As Israeli and Palestinian negotiators prepare for preliminary talks in Washington on Monday (July 29), the future of Jerusalem ”” holy to three faiths ”” looms as the thorniest and most difficult issue to resolve.

The State Department announced Sunday that the two sides had accepted invitations from Secretary of State John Kerry to come to Washington “to formally resume direct final status negotiations.” The department said two days of initial meetings will begin Monday evening.

The announcement came shortly after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Cabinet approved the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners, a key part of the Kerry-brokered deal.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Politics in General, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

Rhode Island Episcopal Bishop W. Nicholas Knisely bridges the religion-science divide

Well before he became Rhode Island’s Episcopal bishop, the Right Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely lived in two worlds. As a priest and rector of a church in Bethlehem, Pa., he looked after people’s spiritual needs. Then he’d hop in a car and travel across the river to nearby Lehigh University to teach physics and astronomy.

His double role came about in part because the school had learned that before he became a priest he had earned degrees in both astronomy and physics. In agreeing to the post, however, Knisely had one condition: that he’d be allowed to teach class wearing his clerical garb.

But as Bishop Knisely recounted to packed pews at a forum last week at St. Andrew’s-by-the-Sea, the priestly attire created quite a stir. Many were stunned to see a man of the cloth teaching science.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, TEC Bishops

(BBC) What do different religions teach about usury and money lending?

The morality of payday loan firms is under the spotlight. But what do faiths say about money lending and interest?

In general, usury defined as the lending of money at high interest rates, is frowned upon by religion. The three Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – take a very firm stance against it.

Several passages in the Old Testament condemn usury, in particular when lending to the poor and destitute. This led to lending money at interest being forbidden in the Jewish community, explains Dr Alastair McIntosh from the Centre for Human Ecology: “In Jewish tradition charging interest was forbidden within the community, but it was permitted to outsiders.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Judaism, Other Faiths, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(WSJ) Crackdown in Egypt Fans U.S. Fears

he Obama administration increasingly fears that Egypt’s military, ignoring American appeals, is deepening a crackdown that could spark a sustained period of instability and lead members of the country’s Muslim Brotherhood to take up arms.

In a series of private messages in recent days, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and other American officials warned Egyptian military leader Gen. Abdel Fattah Al Sisi that his clampdown on the Brotherhood risked driving the Islamist group back underground, say U.S. officials involved in the discussions.

Despite those exhortations, Gen. Sisi called for massive demonstrations on Friday, which precipitated the deadliest single incident in the more than two years since Egypt’s revolution. The U.S. also had sent messages urging calm to Brotherhood leaders, but officials said the group, like the military, showed little sign of backing down.

Read it all.

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

(Total Politics) Archbishop's Move: Can [Justin] Welby restore faith in the church?

So how will Justin Welby handle that tension? Rowan Williams’ decade in Lambeth Palace was occasionally difficult and often controversial, with the outgoing Archbishop wearily wishing his successor “the constitution of an ox and the skin of a rhinoceros.” Where Williams ”“ a Doctor of Philosophy ”“ began to irritate politicians and some parts of the press with his interventions, perhaps Welby’s background gives him a surer platform from which to speak?

“It gives me a public profile which is slightly different, but apart from that I have no more or less authority than Rowan Williams,” he insists. But there is, he admits, a clear difference. “I certainly have a less strong background in philosophy and ethics as a professional discipline”¦ certainly more experience of what happens in practice when you try and apply these things. And you need both.”

But how did that career in oil train him for the work he does today? Welby pauses. “I’m often asked that question. I never know the answer.” But the answer is this: Welby understands the world beyond the church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture

Unemployed and Older, and Facing a Jobless Future

For those over 50 and unemployed, the statistics are grim. While unemployment rates for Americans nearing retirement are lower than for young people who are recently out of school, once out of a job, older workers have a much harder time finding work. Over the last year, according to the Labor Department, the average duration of unemployment for older people was 53 weeks, compared with 19 weeks for teenagers.

There are numerous reasons ”” older workers have been hit both by the recession and globalization. They’re more likely to have been laid off from industries that are downsizing, and since their salaries tend to be higher than those of younger workers, they’re attractive targets if layoffs are needed.

Even as they do all the things they’re told to do ”” network, improve those computer skills, find a new passion and turn it into a job ”” many struggle with the question of whether their working life as they once knew it is essentially over.

Read it all.

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

([London] Times) The Church of England ”˜is investing in an imperfect world’

The Church of England’s ethical finance chief has defended its investment policy despite its stakes in businesses blamed for pollution, tax dodging, animal cruelty and child labour.

“Life is not perfectly good or perfectly bad,” Edward Mason said after it was revealed that the Church had been unwittingly bankrolling the payday lender Wonga. “Everything is a mess.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has ordered a review of the Church’s multibillion-pound investments to identify inconsistencies with its moral teachings.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stock Market, Theology

(Prospect) UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks–If I ruled the World

If I ruled the world I would resign immediately. It’s hard enough, individually and collectively, to rule ourselves, let alone others. But if offered an hour before I resigned I would enact one institution that has the power to transform the world. It’s called the Sabbath.

The idea of a weekly day of collective rest was unprecedented in the ancient world. Months and years are natural ways of structuring time, based respectively on the appearance of the moon and the sun. But the seven day week corresponds to nothing in nature; nor does a day of rest.

The Greeks and Romans could not understand the Sabbath at all. They wrote that the Jews kept it because they were lazy. The interesting fact is that within a relatively short space of time after making that judgement, Greece, and later Rome, declined and fell. Without institutionalized rest, civilizations, like individuals, eventually suffer from burnout.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Mary and Martha [and Lazarus] of Bethany

Generous God, whose Son Jesus Christ enjoyed the friendship and hospitality of Mary, Martha and Lazarus of Bethany: Open our hearts to love thee, our ears to hear thee, and our hands to welcome and serve thee in others, through Jesus Christ our risen Lord; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Grant us, O Lord, not to mind earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to cleave to those that shall abide; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

— Leonine Sacramentary

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

When I am afraid, I put my trust in thee. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust without a fear. What can flesh do to me?

–Psalm 56:3-4

Posted in Uncategorized

([London] Times) Community bank offers a lifeline in hard times

Nicola, a young woman with a daughter aged 3, was homeless, unemployed and “sofa surfing” when she sought the help of the community bank at Trinity Centre in Louth, Lincolnshire.

The centre is part of the local Church of England parish and for two hours every Wednesday morning, the bank ”” a credit union run entirely by volunteers ”” opens for business.

Nicola did not even have a bank account. The credit union waived its administrative costs to help her open an account. This meant that she was able to secure an affordable loan through the union that served as a deposit.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(Time) Monks in Egypt’s Lawless Sinai Hope to Preserve an Ancient Library

Just as they have done for 17 centuries, the Greek Orthodox monks of St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt’s Sinai desert and the local Jabaliya Bedouins worked together to protect the monastery when the 2011 revolution thrust Egypt into a period of uncertainty. “There was a period in the early days of the Arab Spring when we had no idea what was going to happen,” says Father Justin, a monk who has lived at St. Catherine’s since 1996. Afraid they could be attacked by Islamic extremists or bandits in the relatively lawless expanse of desert, the 25 monks put the monastery’s most valuable manuscripts in the building’s storage room. Their Bedouin friends, who live at the base of St. Catherine’s in a town of the same name, allegedly took up their weapons and guarded the perimeter.

The community’s fears of an attack were not realized, but the monks decided they needed a new way to protect their treasured library from any future threats.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Egypt, History, Middle East, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Science & Technology

Noteable and Quotable–a Parish Vision Statement worth Pondering

Our vision at St. Helena’s is to be like the Church at Antioch as described in the Book of Acts. The fellowship of believers at Antioch was where the disciples were first called Christians. Antioch was a culturally, ethnically, and socio-economically diverse church where all were welcome to seek the Lord. This church was also the first to be proactive in prayerfully sending out evangelists to proclaim the Gospel of the risen Christ. You will see our vision encapsulated on many of our publications by the words Proclaim, Equip, Pray, Send & Go.

–The vision statement for Saint Helena’s, Beaufort, S.C.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Theology

In the Beginning Was the Word; Now the Word Is on an App

Scott Thumma, a professor at the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, who studies large American churches, said YouVersion filled a longstanding vacuum for technological products aimed at a religious market. He called “the most innovative congregation in the country in developing and using technology.”

The app has gained appreciation in the tech world as well.

“This is a remarkable tech start-up by any measure,” said Chi-Hua Chien, a partner at the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins and a Christian who has offered informal advice to Mr. Gruenewald. He compared YouVersion with well-known ventures like Pinterest or Path.

Read it all from the front page of yesterday’s New York Times.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Local Paper) Korea 60 years later a Veteran tells his story

[Heyward] Tumbleston’s companion was shot dead by an enemy patrol when they entered a clearing they thought was isolated. Tumbleston was recaptured and taken back to Camp 5 where he was kept inside a tiny box. “I lived in that thing for two months,” he said. “Whenever I got out, I couldn’t walk.”

Today, the calendar marks the 60-year end of the Korean War when an armistice brought a close to hostilities but not a true peace. Some 483 servicemen from South Carolina were killed in the three years of fighting that claimed more than 54,000 American lives, including nearly 8,000 never accounted for.

Tumbleston, 82, of Mount Pleasant ”” “Gene” to his friends ”” doesn’t plan to do any form of celebrating, figuring the war is long over and barely remembered, except when there’s the occasional saber-rattling from the North. It’s a feeling veterans’ advocates say is common.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Defense, National Security, Military, History

(NC Register) Jimmy Akin–14 things you need to know about the new book Zealot

There’s a new best-seller out there which claims to give us “the real story” on Jesus.

It’s called Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, and it is one in a long line of books challenging the portrait of Jesus given in the gospels.

The author is giving interviews in the major media, promoting his book, and people are asking questions about it and how to respond.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

(NC Reporter) John Allen–Pope Francis wants church to master 'grammar of simplicity'

On papal trips, what one usually gets are pieces of a pope’s vision, meaning speeches targeted for special groups or occasions that beckon one emphasis or another. Every now and then, however, a pope has a chance to lay out his views in a programmatic fashion, and today brought one of those rare moments in a speech Francis delivered to Brazil’s bishops.

Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said today’s speech was the longest of Francis’ papacy so far and, if not its most important, certainly “very significant.”

Read it all.

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

David Short's Sermon on Titus 3:1-7 from Last Sunday

Listen to it all using the options avilable.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Economist) South Sudan Politics becomes more toxic as the president sacks friends and foes

In a statement read out on South Sudanese television on July 23rd, President Salva Kiir, a former guerrilla commander with a penchant for cowboy hats, dissolved his cabinet, fired his vice-president and deposed the chairman of the ruling party. This comes only a fortnight after the country’s second birthday, which was overshadowed by an open letter from Western backers bemoaning corruption and human-rights abuses and warning that the country is veering off course. Meanwhile, a row with Sudan has halted oil production, which funds most of Mr Kiir’s budget. The north accuses him of supporting rebels inside its territory, a charge he denies.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --South Sudan, Africa, Politics in General, Sudan

(Jenny McCarthy) Archbishop Justin Welby is on the money over Wonga

…for many people in Britain the brutal question of money is becoming impossible to ignore, particularly if you have run clean out of it. Yet only someone who is truly confident around cash flows and interest rates would dare to pledge, as the Archbishop did last week, that the Church of England will back a chain of non-profit credit unions that would one day “compete” payday lenders such as Wonga out of business.

No good intention goes unpunished: just a day after that splendidly hopeful promise came the revelation that the Church of England’s pension fund itself had invested in Accel Partners, one of Wonga’s key financial backers. This was, I think, supposed to be the point at which the Archbishop was caught pitching a large stone from the door of a glass cathedral, but it somehow didn’t turn out that way. On Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday morning he openly admitted that the revelation was “very embarrassing”, and indicated that he would re-examine the Church’s decisions about its investments.

At the same time, he explained how morally complicated such choices could sometimes be: should an investment in a hotel chain, for example, be wholly disallowed simply because, like most hotels, they offered pay-per-view pornography? By the end of the interview, there was the sense that the unruffled Archbishop had treated his audience like adults.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Theology

Laurette Glasgow, special advisor for government relations for the Ang. Ch. of Canada, profiled

In the Rev. Laurette Glasgow’s world things may always be changing, but the basic realities tend to stay the same. As special advisor for government relations for the Anglican Church of Canada since March 2012, Glasgow has seen her position evolve as both she and the church learned what it was to have an ”˜ambassador’ to the federal government.

“Sometimes it grows organically,” says Glasgow, “and that’s what we always thought… that two years down the road we’d look back and say ”˜it’s a bit different than what we thought it was.’ But the fundamental elements are the same, the fundamental elements of relationship building, of building bridges, or interpreting the church to power, and interpreting power to the church.”

Read it all.

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

(ABC Aus.) Luke Bretherton–We are all Wonga now: Joining Justin Welby's war on usury

…before we laugh at the foolishness of the Church, we should reflect on how we are all implicated in this hypocrisy. Many of our pensions schemes and banks are invested in this billion industry built on the backs of the poor.

Welby’s courageous leadership on the issue of usurious lending practices is in stark contrast to the supine political leaders of all parties who have consistently failed to address the problem of legalized loan sharks. And Lord Maurice Glasman is exactly right to point out the challenge Welby’s action poses to the Labour Party and the left more generally. Through the leadership of Compass, Stella Creasy MP, London Citizens and the indefatigable Damon Gibbons – who since 1999 has worked on this issue through the Debt on your Doorstep campaign – some are starting to wake up to the nightmare that the kind of exploitative financial practices Wonga represents.

The silence of many on the left should be a source of deep shame, as usury is a profound challenge to all those committed to strengthening democracy and challenging oppression. Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Stock Market, Theology

A Forthcoming book to Keep one's eye out for, Billy Graham and the Shaping of Modern America

Who is the publisher? Harvard Universty Press.

The author? Why that you will have to guess at before you go and look.

Posted in Uncategorized

(Vancouver Sun) Once talk of science fiction, robots will soon be found in every home, says expert

Frederic Boisdron and his wife run their home with the help of 12 robots.

The robots do everything from cutting the grass to washing the windows. They even keep the cat’s litter box clean.

What they won’t be doing is looking after the couple’s first child when the baby is born in October. But by the time the Boisdrons are grandparents, their children could be enlisting robots to help look after them.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology

[Bishop Rennis Ponniah] Samuel: The Server at the Tabernacle who loved God

Listen to this encouraging sermon from St Andrew’s Cathedral, Singapore if you wish here.

More Sunday Worship available here

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics