Daily Archives: August 1, 2013

(NPR) Should Military Chaplains Have To Believe In God?

The United States military chaplaincy program has a proud heritage that stretches all the way back to the Continental Army during the American Revolution.

“They are rabbis, ministers, imams and priests who serve our nation’s heroes and their families as committed members of the U.S. Army,” according to one video produced by the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps.

But are they ready for an atheist chaplain?

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Ethics / Moral Theology, Military / Armed Forces, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

Nigerian Anglican Primate visits Borno, prays for return of peace

The Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Archbishop Nicholas Okoh has paid a solidarity visit to residents of Borno State.

He said the Anglican Church was worried over the inability to communicate with the people of the state, hence, it had to raise a team to visit the state.

The spiritual head of the Anglican Church, who was accompanied to the troubled state by 14 other Bishops, revealed during a courtesy call on Borno State Deputy Governor, Alhaji Zanna Umar Mustapha, on Monday, that they were in the state to sympathize and share difficulties with the people and pray for peace to return.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria

(Anglican Ink) Appeals Court returns Recife church property to diocese

The Pernambuco Court of Appeal (Tribunal de Justiça do Estado de Pernambuco) has stayed a lower court decision giving ownership of church properties in the state to the minority faction loyal to the national Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (IEAB). The effect of last week’s decision is to return custody of the church properties to the Diocese of Recife and its bishop, the Rt. Rev. Miguel Uchôa, while the court conducts a de novo review of the dispute.

On 31 July 2013 Bishop Uchôa told Anglican Ink the diocese was ready to turn over the properties to the IEAB but on “the 21st the state high court judged our appeal and gave us a positive answer. The state high court judges will now review the case. It means that they accepted [the case for study] and said ”˜no’ to the first judge who had given the [properties] to the IEAB.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Brazil, Law & Legal Issues, South America

(FT) Gillian Tett–Privacy fears threaten biomedicine revolution

So far, [the narrative is] so heartwarming; or so it might seem. After all, if scientists can understand the architecture of cancers, this should help them find better cures. No surprise, then, that investor interest in biomedicine is rising after several years of neglect. Indeed, the money raised through biomedical companies’ initial public offerings has jumped to $1.7bn this year, the highest level since 2000.

Sadly there is a catch; at least two challenges threaten to stop this new genomic revolution in its tracks. The first is an obvious one: as a fiscal squeeze bites in the western world, research budgets are being slashed for biomedicine and much else. This matters because even though the cost of sequencing the genome has plunged, the costs of other types of medical research remain high.

The second issue is more subtle: one consequence of the wave of recent cyber surveillance scandals is that voters are becoming more nervous about privacy. That is affecting not just online communication; it could also undermine scientists’ efforts to collect a big enough pool of genomic data to do their research.

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

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Science & Technology, Theology

(Scotsman) Queen Elizabeth's ”˜World War 3 speech’ revealed

They are chilling words. Queen Elizabeth II was to tell the nation that they were staring at nuclear conflict, urging the “brave country” to stand firm as it faced up to “the madness of war”.

The words were only written as part of an exercise scenario, but they give a stark insight into the British government’s mindset at a time of heightened tension with the Soviet Union.

Although it was only a simulation, the text of the fictitious Queen’s address ”“ supposedly broadcast at noon on Friday 4 March 1983 ”“ captures with chilling realism just how World War III may have begun. In sombre tones, it seeks to prepare the country for the unimaginable ordeal ahead. There are references to the Queen’s “beloved son Andrew”, serving with his unit as a Royal Navy helicopter pilot and the address by her father George VI on the outbreak of the Second World War ”“ famously dramatised in the film, The King’s Speech.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, History, Politics in General

(OUP Blog) The mysteries of Pope Francis

If you’ve visited Rome, you may have noticed that the Jesuit headquarters, right off St. Peter’s Square, overlooks ”” “looks down on” ”” the Vatican. Jesuits are fond of reminding visitors, with a smile, of this topographical curiosity and its symbolic freight.

Much Vaticanology depends on this sort of it-can’t be-just-an-accident logic. What is Pope Francis, the first Jesuit Pope, really up to?

It is hard to overestimate the importance of Francis’ Jesuit background in shaping his approach to the papacy. He is a rare bird. He is a Jesuit who has had a significant career within the Society of Jesus, as a provincial superior of the order in Argentina. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis became prominent as well as in the episcopal arena. He is about as cosmopolitan a pope as the church has seen since John XXIII, who was a professional diplomat.

Read it all.

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

(CSM) Anglican Church sets its sights on predatory lenders

It was not the ideal start to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s grand initiative to bring a new morality to Britain’s banking sector….

But despite the stumble out of the gate, Welby appears committed to taking on payday loans ”“ small, high-interest, short-term loans to those who can’t get credit elsewhere ”“ as a means of “speaking for the poor.” And his plan raises questions about just how much clout the Church of England wields through its portfolio of investments and through the influence the church has over its flock ”“ how it ought to wield it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(Pew Research) A Widening Regional Divide in America over Abortion Laws

While the balance of opinion toward abortion nationwide has remained largely steady over the past 20 years, there are widening disparities in public attitudes on the issue across different regions of the country.

Opposition to legal abortion is highest in parts of the South ”“ including Texas, which recently passed sweeping new abortion restrictions. The South Central region is the only one in which opposition to legal abortion has significantly increased since the mid-1990s. By contrast, support for legal abortion remains highest in New England ”“ and the gap between New England and South Central states has widened considerably over the past two decades.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Theology

C. Kavin Rowe–"Do You Understand What You Are Reading?": The Formation of a Scriptural Imagination

Our hope is that [in your theological education] Scripture becomes the keyboard of the imagination, the ordering structure of all the various notes we play in our lives. It is common to hear that order can only be imposed from without, that it is inherently oppressive to the originally free self, that true human freedom is to be unconstrained by order, and that the best ethic is one in which we refrain from claims to know the right or healing order of life. But order is in fact fundamental to Christian understanding. Chaos is neither the rule of God’s creation at its heart nor of new creation in Christ, as Christians ought to know from Genesis and the letters of Paul. No more could an entirely disordered keyboard yield beautiful music than chaos could lead to freedom and a well-lived life. The imagination that works freely and creatively is the one that has been ordered scripturally””a keyboard of virtually endless combinations and beautiful configurations that are the patterns of Christian life. Since speaking of a “scriptural imagination” is not necessarily a common way to talk, however, it makes good sense to explain what we mean.

By imagination we do not mean so much the capacity for certain kinds of play that we have in abundance as a child and often lose as we age, or a distinct area or activity of the brain that corresponds to creativity, fantasy, and the like. Imagination, rather, means more the way the total person is involved in interpreting and being in the world””the part we actively play in constructing a vision of life for ourselves and for others.

Imagination in this sense is thus not something that exists only in our heads or is used only for particular activities such as artistic depiction; it is also practically dense, or lived.

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Posted in Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Books and Culture) David O'Hara–In Awe of the Living God: Against reducing religion to belief

[Howard] Wettstein didn’t return to religion by believing but by coming to stand in awe of God. How important is it to know what God is like when you love God? Is it possible to stand in awe of God without believing in God? Wettstein believes that it is: “In prayer ”¦ I have the sense of the presence of the divine, of making contact. But ask me about the party on the other end of the line and one of two things will happen: either I will beg to be excused for not having much to say, or else we will have a very long talk about how difficult a matter it is that is in question.”

Over the course of the book it is plain that while Wettstein does not want to say much about God, he has a lot to say about this difficult matter of religion. And not being willing to say much about God is not the same as saying nothing about God. If anything, Wettstein’s reluctance to make positive claims about God helpfully refocuses our attention, diverting it from metaphysical proofs to the practices of awe and worship. Wettstein’s thinking is reminiscent of the spirit of historians and classicists who are haunted by the thought that we have not yet plumbed all the depths of the ancient world.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Philosophy, Religion & Culture, Theology

Alister McGrath–My Top 5 Books by C. S. Lewis

Think of what five you would pick and then read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Apologetics, Books, Religion & Culture, Theology

(RNS) Sarah Pulliam Bailey –Is Eric Metaxas the next Chuck Colson?

Before evangelical leader Chuck Colson fell ill at a conference last year, crumbling at the podium and later dying at the hospital, it was Eric Metaxas who introduced him.

At the time, Metaxas seemed primed and ready to become the next Colson ”” a key leader in the evangelical movement, known for his prison ministry, but also credited with keeping Christians engaged in politics and culture through books, radio and other outlets.

Metaxas took over some of Colson’s roles, including co-host of BreakPoint, a radio show Metaxas wrote for in the late ’90s. He took Colson’s place on the board of the Manhattan Declaration, a movement Colson helped found to focus Christians’ attention on life, marriage and religious freedom issues.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, Evangelicals, History, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Joseph of Arimathaea

Merciful God, whose servant Joseph of Arimathaea with reverence and godly fear did prepare the body of our Lord and Savior for burial, and did lay it in his own tomb: Grant, we beseech thee, to us thy faithful people grace and courage to love and serve Jesus with sincere devotion all the days of our life; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord God, keep ever in our remembrance the life and death of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Make the thought of his love powerful to win us from evil. As he toiled and sorrowed and suffered for us, in fighting against sin, so may we endure constantly and labour diligently, as his soldiers and servants, looking ever unto him and counting it all joy to be partakers with him in his conflict, his cross and his victory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–C. J. Vaughan

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and every one’s fetters were unfastened. When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out and said, “Men, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their wounds, and he was baptized at once, with all his family. Then he brought them up into his house, and set food before them; and he rejoiced with all his household that he had believed in God.

–Acts 16:25-34

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Vancouver Sun) Photos: Top images from around the globe

I really enjoyed this–see if you do as well.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Globalization

(Gallup Business Journal) Marco Nink– Where Disengagement at Work Is Worse Than Joblessness

even as unemployed workers in Germany lose income, energy, and vitality — not to mention social connections, emotional support, and hope — they’re actually better off than employed Germans who have bad managers. That’s right: In Germany, where 71% would keep working even if they didn’t have to, disengagement at work is worse than unemployment.

Only about 30% of actively disengaged employees and unemployed workers are thriving

In 2012, Gallup administered its Q12 employee engagement survey to employed workers in Germany and its wellbeing assessment to employed and unemployed workers. Gallup asked both groups to rate their current lives and predict their lives five years in the future, then categorized them as “thriving,” “struggling,” or “suffering” based on their responses.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Economy, Europe, Germany, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Psychology, Theology

Connor Wood–Why IS liberal Protestantism dying, anyway?

In the early 1990s, a political economist named Laurence Iannaccone claimed that seemingly arbitrary demands and restrictions, like going without electricity (the Amish) or abstaining from caffeine (Mormons), can actually make a group stronger. He was trying to explain religious affiliation from a rational-choice perspective: in a marketplace of religious options, why would some people choose religions that make serious demands on their members, when more easygoing, low-investment churches were ”“ literally ”“ right around the corner? Weren’t the warmer and fuzzier churches destined to win out in fair, free-market competition?

According to Iannaccone, no. He claimed that churches that demanded real sacrifice of their members were automatically stronger, since they had built-in tools to eliminate people with weaker commitments. Think about it: if your church says that you have to tithe 10% of your income, arrive on time each Sunday without fail, and agree to believe seemingly crazy things, you’re only going to stick around if you’re really sure you want to. Those who aren’t totally committed will sneak out the back door before the collection plate even gets passed around.

And when a community only retains the most committed followers, it has a much stronger core than a community with laxer membership requirements. Members receive more valuable benefits, in the form of social support and community, than members of other communities, because the social fabric is composed of people who have demonstrated that they’re totally committed to being there. This muscular social fabric, in turn, attracts more members, who are drawn to the benefits of a strong community ”“ leading to growth for groups with strict membership requirements.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Fulcrum) Andrew Goddard–Responding Reasonably and Faithfully to the Sexual Revolution

The challenge is that there is a diversity of views and disagreement about the truthfulness of the doctrine and the faithfulness, integrity and wisdom of the discipline. The key questions here were set out by Archbishop Rowan in 2005: “What is the nature of a holy and Christ-like life for someone who has consistent homosexual desires? And what is the appropriate discipline to be applied to the personal life of the pastor in the Church?”. Our diversity is about “what the Church requires in its ordained leaders and what patterns of relationship it will explicitly recognise as unquestionably revealing of God”. There is similarly diversity in response to civil partnerships (as General Synod noted in a Feb 2007 motion) and, to a lesser extent, in response to the new legal definition of marriage barely on the horizon when the Pilling Group started its work.

The problem is that this diversity increasingly risks pushing the church nationally and internationally into division or at least increased structural differentiation. Facing this, General Synod, in another Feb 2007 resolution, commended “continuing efforts to prevent the diversity of opinion about human sexuality creating further division and impaired fellowship within the Church of England and the Anglican Communion”.

We need a report which can help us reason together by defining and explaining the theo-logic of our church doctrine and discipline and relating these to our diversity and potential division.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Analysis, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Men, Psychology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Women