Daily Archives: July 15, 2013

(SMH) George Williams–Australia's very foundation built on the right to choose your own god

The framers of Australia’s constitution were steeped in the Christian tradition, yet chose to create a nation that could accommodate religious diversity. This is reflected in one of the very few human rights protections in the document.

Section 116 prohibits Australia from having a state religion, including Christianity. It also guarantees the right of every person under federal law to exercise the religion of their choice, and says that a person’s religion cannot be used to determine their suitability for federal office. It provides the clearest illustration of why, as a matter of law, Husic was entitled to maintain his religion on taking his oath of office.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Religion & Culture

(Telegraph) The Archbishop of Canterbury must wean the Church off its benefit addiction

The trouble is, the Church may talk about transforming communities, but it often ignores some of the most serious social injustices in this country.

This failing was obvious in a briefing that was given on welfare reform and the Church for this week’s Synod meeting. Prepared by Philip Fletcher, chairman of mission and public affairs, it stated that the Church has “a prophetic duty to point out that God’s priority for the poor and vulnerable is not being adequately reflected in the life of the nation”. A fair enough observation, but Mr Fletcher only focused on benefit cuts in his paper, which described the “state’s withdrawal from its obligations to the poorest”. He didn’t point out that other government policies ”“ such as taxes and planning laws ”“ can have just as much of a crushing effect on the vulnerable.

Anglican bishops may have written angry letters about the benefit cuts. But they haven’t complained about the political laziness driving up the benefit bills ”“ the laziness of those politicians who are lacking the will or wit to build enough homes, thereby leaving poor families in dire straits as rents continue to rise. Government research has also revealed that carbon taxes and other well-meaning but damaging policies are adding £172 to average annual energy bills. Benefits are often a cover for political failure as they pay for higher bills caused by bad policy.

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

(Matthew Block) President Harrison, the LCMS, and Ecumenical Dialogue

….LCMS’ relationships with other churches have also been growing over the past few years as well. In particular, the LCMS, along with its sister church, Lutheran Church”“Canada (LCC), has developed good relations with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), publishing last year a joint statement rejoicing that they can “jointly affirm core teachings (articles) of the Christian faith shared by our church bodies.” Similarly good relations have been developed with the North American Lutheran Church (NALC), with whom the LCMS and LCC are in continuing talks. Representatives of these four church bodies (ACNA, NALC, LCC, and LCMS) recently met together for an ecumenical summit on marriage and sexuality, publishing a joint affirmation on marriage (signed by the heads of all four churches) shortly thereafter.

The LCMS’ growing interchurch relations are not restricted to North America either. While the LCMS has long been part of the International Lutheran Council, the church is more and more developing relationships with biblical Lutherans outside this group.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches

(Daily Mail) 'The sheer hope they bring': Archbishop Justin Welby on the royal baby

Babies make for drama. It really doesn’t make any difference where they are born or who are the parents: They always bring drama. When our first was born, she was so early we had not worked out where the hospital was. We drove around at six in the morning asking people and feeling rather stupid.

I doubt that will be the case for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. They are such an impressive couple. No doubt the plans and preparations will be perfect. Yet, there will still be drama.

Part of the drama is the sheer hope they bring. Babies cause us to look to the future hopefully. When this baby is old, it will be the 22nd Century. Yet he or she will be able to tell children about a great grandmother she knew ”“ who served in the Second World War.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Children, England / UK, History, Marriage & Family, Politics in General

Archbishop Hiltz says recent joint assembly ”˜Spirit-filled, spirit-led’ gathering

Archbishop Fred Hiltz described the recently concluded Joint Assembly as a “spirit-filled, spirit-led” gathering that can only strengthen the full communion relationship of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).

“The very fact that these two churches, who have all kinds of challenges in front of them, were prepared to make this step to meet is really quite incredible,” said Hiltz, primate of the Anglican church. “What I saw through the Joint Assembly was a very positive, upbeat spirit.” The assembly was held July 3 to 7, at the Ottawa Convention Centre.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Ecumenical Relations, Lutheran, Other Churches

(Bloomberg) The Future of U.S. Air Travel: Fewer Flights and Higher Fares?

“This is not your grandfather’s airline business,” says Ray Neidl, an aviation consultant for Nexa Capital and former American Airlines official, who notes that the lessening of cutthroat competition doesn’t mean consumers won’t see some benefit. For instance, the financial strength of the airlines will enable them to invest in new technology””including the latest fuel-efficient aircraft and a cutting-edge satellite navigation system to replace the country’s aging radar-based air-traffic control. “It took us 35 years to get there, but it’s almost a brand-new industry,” Neidl says. Indeed, United says that the economic benefits of its merger with Continental allowed it to make much-needed upgrades, such as modernizing airport baggage systems and replacing its aging 757 fleet with new jets with better bin space and in-flight entertainment.

…the airlines’ gain could be the passengers’ loss, as carriers raise prices and rein in spending””often by slashing staff. While fares have, on average, remained relatively stable, fees for add-ons have soared and decreased competition has resulted in steep price hikes in several markets.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Globalization, Science & Technology, Travel

(CEN) TEC support for Same Sex Marriage Ruling

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States has applauded last month’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal law withholding national government recognition of same-sex marriages.

On 26 June 2013 the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori stated the decision reflected “the unmistakable movement toward civil marriage equality in the states over the past decade reflects the will of the people in those states to grant equal rights and dignity under the law to all married couples and families, and today’s decision will appropriately allow those families to be recognized under federal law as well.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, TEC Bishops, Theology

Monday Mental Health break–The Amazing Jesus Christ Lizard that (really) Walks on Water

Wow (hat tip:SH).

Posted in * General Interest, Animals

Matt Smethurst–The King in His Beauty: Tom Schreiner on His New Biblical Theology

In the book you emphasize three interrelated themes: (1) God as Lord; (2) human beings as God’s image bearers; and (3) the place in which God’s rule is exercised. Could you elaborate on the meaning and significance of this third idea of “place”?

God didn’t create us as ethereal beings to float in some kind of spiritual netherworld. He created us as flesh-and-blood creatures to live in the world he formed and to rule that world for him. Adam and Eve as God’s vice-regents, dependent on him, were to rule the garden for his glory. They failed, of course, and the story of God reclaiming the world began (Gen. 3:15).

The story begins with baby steps and progresses at an incredibly slow pace. When God calls Abraham, he promises him universal blessing but begins by pledging the land of Canaan. But Abraham and his immediate heirs never possess the land. They live as exiles and sojourners in it (Heb. 11:13). Hundreds of years pass before Joshua conquers Canaan and the promise of the land is realized. Finally, Israel is poised to extend God’s kingdom to the world. I don’t have time to tell the whole story here, but Israel fails miserably and ends up going into exile. The promise is going backward!

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Eschatology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Tim Keller with more on Change and Grace–Why we are blind to our Deepest Inadequacies

So how can we be shaken out of our lethargy and awakened to our need to grow? Here are some principles that I have gleaned from Newton’s letters over the years.

1. Know that your worst character flaws are the ones you can see the least.
By definition the sins to which you are most blind, that you make the most excuses for, and that you usually minimize””are the ones that most have you in their grip. As we said before, one way we hide our blemishes is that we look at places that our natural temperament resembles spiritual fruit. For example, a natural aptitude for control and self-discipline can be read as ”˜faithfulness’, and a natural desire for personal approval could look like ”˜gentleness’ or ”˜love.’ Or we mistake a bubbly, sanguine temperament for joy, and a laid-back, phlegmatic temperament for peace. We give ourselves spiritual credit for these things, when actually we aren’t growing spiritually at all. The lack of other fruit shows that real supernatural character change is not happening.

2. Remember that you can’t learn about your biggest flaws just be being told””you must be shown.
There are two ways we come to see our sins and flaws more clearly. One way is that we are shown them by troubles and trials in life. Suffering is ”˜God’s gymnasium’””it reveals our spiritual weaknesses just as a workout reveals physical weaknesses.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who hast set before us the great hope that thy kingdom shall be established upon earth: So rule our lives by thy Spirit, that all our thoughts, desires, and acts being made obedient unto thee, thy power, thy glory, and the mightiness of thy kingdom may be made known unto men; grant this, O merciful Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake thy Son our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Make me to know thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me, for thou art the God of my salvation; for thee I wait all the day long.

–Psalm 25:4-5

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(FT) Snowden revelations stir up anti-US sentiment

When he first revealed his identity a month ago while in Hong Kong, Mr Snowden used selective disclosures about US global surveillance to rally public opinion in China and Russia. Since then, he has managed to create uproar in Europe with information about the bugging of EU offices and over the past week he has created a new international stir in Latin America.

According to reports this week in the Brazilian newspaper O Globo based on documents provided by the 30-year-old former NSA contractor, the US has been using telecoms infrastructure in Brazil to absorb huge volumes of communications and to spy on governments in the region.

With the US economy looking robust for the first time since the financial crisis, the US is again being seen as an over-weaning superpower that brushes aside smaller nations.

Read it all (another link in case needed is there).

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

(NC Reporter) Clergy fall in middle when it comes to societal contributions, study shows

Fewer than 40 percent of Americans see members of the clergy as major contributors to society, with Hispanic Catholics especially unimpressed, a recent Pew Research Center study shows.

The results put the clergy in the middle of 10 professions as far as perceived contributions go, and showed little change from a similar study done in 2009. Members of the military ranked first, with 78 percent saying they contribute “a lot” to the “well-being of society,” and lawyers came in last with 18 percent.

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life published the results Thursda

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture