Daily Archives: July 2, 2013

(BP) Loss of 19 firemen in Arizona prompts chaplains' deployment

Steve Bass, the North American Mission Board’s vice president for the West region, echoed Wilson’s concerns and promised the prayers of Southern Baptists.

“Many of these are younger men who represent families,” said Bass, who lives in Phoenix and served for 15 years as the executive director of the Arizona convention before coming to NAMB in 2011. “We lost 19 great people, but we have immediately impacted families as well. Those children are never going to get away from this. That’s when your heart goes out to them. Obviously our prayers are for them. I’m sure our churches in the area will be reaching out to those families the best they can.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Beth Felker Jones on FX’s The Americans–Fake marriage, real kids

As they enact a marriage for their kids and their neighbors, their “real” lives as spies sometimes require actions incompatible with their cover. They are meant to have an understanding, for instance, that each will use sex with other people as a tool for their missions, but this arrangement creates inevitable problems for their relationship. A hidden identity is a hard thing to nourish, and an identity embodied in habit and practice is a harder thing to disavow.

The storyline plays with the tensions created when there is a difference between identity and self-presentation, between hidden purpose and what one shows to the world. The house, the marriage and the kids may be meant as a cover, but it turns out that when you live with someone for years on end, when you care for children from diapers to braces, your daily life will threaten to become your real life.

Scripture speaks of the way domestic life shapes who we are and how we worship when the Lord commands Israel not to “enter into marriage” with those who “will surely incline your heart to follow their gods’” (1 Kings 11:2). When King Solomon flouts this command and clings to his foreign wives in love, his “heart is turned” and he is “not true to the Lord his God” (1 Kings 11:4)….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Marriage & Family, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

(CT) Craig Bubeck–The Whole Gospel in One Word–God's Love

The more I realize God’s love in thought and practice, the more I am transformed into his holiness, putting away childish rationalizations and hyperboles of justice, wrath, guilt, and fear. In our holy God’s economy, there is no counterpoint or equal to love. Everything that is truth comes down to love and is measured by it””everything! There is not a single piece of Scripture or theology that should be understood without the context of God’s love.
It should sadden us deeply that we Christians can be so prone to distrust love””to respond, “Well yes, love, but . . .”
If Christianity is not all about love, it is nothing but another impotent human religious construct: a loud and annoyingly cymbal. Because love is not rude, it cannot roll its eyes against the persistent pleas of a prodigal’s mother. Neither is it self-seeking, prioritizing the protection of those within from those without. And love keeps no record of wrongs, even of daughters who are unrepentantly living in God’s wrath.
For grown-up Christian thinking, there can be no alternative. There is no “but” to God’s love.

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Posted in Uncategorized

David Brooks on Gettysburg–Why They Fought

In our current era, as the saying goes, we take that which is lower to be more real. We generally believe that soldiers under the gritty harshness of war are not thinking about high ideals like gallantry. They are just trying to get through the day or protect their buddies. Since World War I, as Hemingway famously put it, abstract words like “honor” and “glory” and “courage” often seem obscene and pretentious. Studies of letters sent home by soldiers in World War II suggest that grand ideas were remote from their daily concerns.

But Civil War soldiers were different. In his 1997 book “For Cause and Comrades,” James M. McPherson looked at the private letters Civil War soldiers sent to their loved ones. As McPherson noted, they ring with “patriotism, ideology, concepts of duty, honor, manhood and community.”

The soldiers were intensely political. Newspapers were desperately sought after in camp. Between battles, several regiments held formal debates on subjects like the constitutional issues raised by the war. “Ideological motifs almost leap from many pages of these documents,” McPherson reports. “It is government against anarchy, law against disorder,” a Philadelphia printer wrote, explaining his desire to fight.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, History, Politics in General

(NY Times On Religion) A Celebrity Chef Appeals to a Legacy of Black Forgiveness

“The tradition of forgiving was central to the civil rights movement, and it’s grounded in two things,” said the Rev. Jonathan L. Walton, a professor of Christian morals at Harvard and minister of its Memorial Church. “One cannot be held accountable for how others treat us, but we can be held accountable by God for how we treat others. So forgiveness and reconciliation are central to us. Particularly for Martin Luther King, it was not about defeating an enemy but defeating injustice by bringing people from opposing sides into beloved community.”

Some of those moments of reconciliation have been soul-stirring in their force. One thinks of former Gov. George C. Wallace of Alabama rolling his wheelchair into a reunion of Selma marchers in 1995 to renounce the segregationist beliefs that had defined his political career. Yet even if the offender never apologizes at all, black Christianity has repeatedly offered God’s grace in the all-too-real world.

“Forgiveness is just expected,” said the Rev. Douglas A. Slaughter, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Aiken, S.C. “Even as a child, we were not allowed to hate the racist but to hate racism, and to fight against it. We were taught ways to understand that the racist is more in need of understanding than we were. It’s just how you were raised.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

Anglican giving breaks the £900m mark in England

Parish incomes continue to increase, passing £900 million for first time at £916 million, up £20 million on 2010, according to the latest parish finance statistics published by the Church of England.

Income from giving in 2011 increased by 1.3% to £546 million, with planned giving exceeding £10 per subscriber each week for the first time and tax-efficient giving reaching £10.70 a week. At £46.40 a month, this is more than double the average donation to the charitable sector of £17.00 a month.

Dr John Preston, National Stewardship Officer, said, “2011 saw another year of increased parish incomes and giving, in large part due to the faith and commitment of regular givers. Although overall growth in income was lower than inflation, it is encouraging to note that the average weekly gift from our planned givers has risen by a further 3%.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(BBC) Egypt President Morsi warns of army ultimatum 'confusion'

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi says he was not consulted by the army before it set a 48-hour ultimatum to resolve the country’s deadly crisis.

Mr Morsi said a part of the statement “may cause confusion in the complex national scene”. He vowed to stick to his “national reconciliation” plan.

The army has warned it will intervene if the government and its opponents fail to heed “the will of the people”.

However, it denies that the ultimatum amounts to a coup.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Egypt, Middle East, Politics in General

(WSJ) Health-Insurance Costs Set for a Jolt

Healthy consumers could see insurance rates double or even triple when they look for individual coverage under the federal health law later this year, while the premiums paid by sicker people are set to become more affordable, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of coverage to be sold on the law’s new exchanges.

The exchanges, the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s health-care law, look likely to offer few if any of the cut-rate policies that healthy people can now buy, according to the Journal’s analysis. At the same time, the top prices look to be within reach for many people who previously faced sky-high premiums because of chronic illnesses or who couldn’t buy insurance at all.

Read it all (another link may be found there).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Personal Finance, Theology

(Bloomberg) Cheating Wives Narrowed Infidelity Gap Over Two Decades

American women, who trail men when it comes to making money, leading companies and accumulating wealth, are closing the gap on at least one measure: cheating on their spouses.

The percentage of wives having affairs rose almost 40 percent during the last two decades to 14.7 percent in 2010, while the number of men admitting to extramarital affairs held constant at 21 percent, according to the latest data from the National Opinion Research Center’s General Social Survey.

The narrowing gap, reported by a sociologist at Auburn University at Montgomery, reflects multiple trends. Wives with their own jobs have less to lose economically from a divorce, and social media have made it easier to engage in affairs.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord, whose way is perfect: Help us, we pray thee, always to trust in thy goodness; that walking with thee in faith, and following thee in all simplicity, we may possess quiet and contented minds, and cast all our care on thee, because thou carest for us; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

A Song of Ascents. I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and for evermore.

–Psalm 121

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) UK government backs three-person IVF

The UK looks set to become the first country to allow the creation of babies using DNA from three people, after the government backed the IVF technique.

It will produce draft regulations later this year and the procedure could be offered within two years.

Experts say three-person IVF could eliminate debilitating and potentially fatal mitochondrial diseases that are passed on from mother to child.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Children, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology, Theology

(RNS) A New Gettysburg museum explores the role of faith in the Civil War

When Confederate soldiers bore down on Gettysburg, Pa., in 1863, a quiet seminary building atop a ridge was transformed ”” first into a Union lookout, then a field hospital for 600 wounded soldiers.

Now the structure that stood at the center of the Civil War’s bloodiest and most pivotal battle is being transformed once again.

On July 1, marking the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, Schmucker Hall, located on the campus of Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, will reopen as a museum reflecting on the epic battle, the costly war and the complex role of faith.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, History, Religion & Culture

(CSM) Is Egypt's military about to overthrow an elected president?

The 48-hour ultimatum issued today by Egypt’s unelected military brass comes amid a wave of protests that appear to dwarf the popular uprising that drove Egypt’s military-backed dictator Hosni Mubarak from power 27 months ago.

While what happens next is anyone’s guess, Egypt is undoubtedly in its most dangerous moment since former President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster in 2011. The military is front and center in Egypt’s politics once more; the Muslim Brotherhood feels cornered and threatened by what it deems to be counter-revolutionaries; and the crowds in Tahrir Square and elsewhere are demanding something different ”“ but what they want, exactly, is far from clear.

Today Egypt’s so-called democratic transition is a failure, with the strongest evidence of that the rapturous crowds chanting their love for the Army and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). In January and February 2011, a massive show of street power led SCAF to dump Mubarak overboard. Then came a period of ham-handed military rule, with show trials of activists, organized sexual assault on female protesters (what else to call the so-called “virginity tests” forced on them within weeks of the military takeover?) and the torture of democracy activists like Ramy Essam.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Egypt, History, Middle East, Politics in General