Daily Archives: August 23, 2013

(WSJ) Nicholas Hahn: Chicago's Archbishop at the Barricades

It’s been over a year since the Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Francis George, submitted his resignation letter””mandatory when princes of the Catholic Church turn 75””to then- Pope Benedict XVI. In a highly unusual turn of events, Benedict was the one who resigned. That left Cardinal George””whose intellectual vigor is matched by a forceful defense of the church””still on the job.

Some wish he weren’t. In late July, eight Illinois state lawmakers signed an open letter criticizing Cardinal George, among others, for threatening to end the church’s financial support for a rights group. The church had cited the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, because the group came out for the legalization of same-sex marriage in May. The politicians””all Catholic Democrats””said the threat of a funding withdrawal was “not worthy of the church we know, love and respect.” They said Cardinal George and others were using “immigrants and those who seek to help them as pawns in a political battle.”

But the decision had nothing to do with politics. The church doles out money to organizations on the assumption that they will not violate church teachings. If a church-funded environmental group announced its support for abortion, for instance, it could lose funding.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Urban/City Life and Issues

Jack Estes Continues the Bakersfield Californian TEC–Anglican Debate

It is not enough to claim “We say the Nicene Creed every Sunday” as evidence of Christian belief. One must ask the deeper question, “What exactly do you mean by the words you are reciting?” Episcopalians have embraced the postmodern spirit of the age in an attempt to be relevant to the culture. In doing so they have changed the core beliefs of Christian faith at the very roots. This revision then becomes a pseudo Christianity, which is radically opposed to the original. The two cannot be reconciled by simply saying, “Let’s all be friends.” We no longer worship the same God.

As Anglicans, we are unwilling to compromise the traditional expression of Christian faith. When we separated from the Episcopal Church, Bishop Schofield freely gave deeds to the properties of all churches which wished to remain Episcopal. Four months later those same churches joined together in a lawsuit to take all the Anglican properties as well. All attempts to find an amicable settlement have been rebuffed by the Episcopal Church.

What does it mean to be a Christian?

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Christology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

(CSM) Yahoo tips Google off Web traffic throne: How Marissa Mayer did it

July marks the first time Yahoo has led the ComScore ranking since May 2011. Yahoo’s victory is all the sweeter given that its tally doesn’t count traffic from Tumblr, a popular blog site that Yahoo now owns.

Last year, Yahoo’s traffic numbers were headed downward, as was its stock price, before Ms. Mayer came on board in mid-July.

What accounts for the turnaround, and how meaningful is it?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy

Albert Mohler–The Sheer Weightlessness of So Many Sermons””Why Expository Preaching Matters

If preaching is central to Christian worship, what kind of preaching are we talking about? The sheer weightlessness of much contemporary preaching is a severe indictment of our superficial Christianity. When the pulpit ministry lacks substance, the church is severed from the word of God, and its health and faithfulness are immediately diminished.

Many evangelicals are seduced by the proponents of topical and narrative preaching. The declarative force of Scripture is blunted by a demand for story, and the textual shape of the Bible is supplanted by topical considerations. In many pulpits, the Bible, if referenced at all, becomes merely a source for pithy aphorisms or convenient narratives.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(The Tablet) Caught in the crossfire–the Plight of the Copts

Islamist radicals accuse Christians of being behind the 3 July coup against the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood and the toppling and detention of its leader, President Mohamed Mursi. But Christians point out that although the Copts’ leader, Pope Tawadros II, was pictured on television alongside the coup’s protagonist, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, following the take-over, also present was Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Grand Shaikh of Al Azhar, the beating heart of Sunni Islam. Despite that, since the army carried out its mostly popular coup some 40 churches have been looted and torched, and 23 others heavily attacked.

This is a relatively new development as even hard-line Muslims, like all of Islam, recognise Jews and Christians as Ahl al-Kitab (“People of the Book”) or dhimmi, a status which affords rights of residence while requiring them to pay special taxes. While they stress their inferior status and see them constantly as potential converts to Islam, a more moderate attitude often prevails. For example, the Franciscan nuns at Bani Suef were initially paraded like prisoners of war but were quickly given refuge by kindly Muslim women, an indication that Egyptian innate kindliness survives.

Furthermore, just as Muslims and Christians protested together in Cairo’s Tahrir Square after the revolution against President Mubarak began on 25 January, 2011, so many Muslims have helped to protect churches from Islamist fanatics.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Coptic Church, Egypt, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Scotsman) One in ten kids given mobile phone before age five

Almost a tenth of children are given a mobile phone before age five, new research shows.

A uSwitch.com report found the average child gets their first mobile aged 11 years and eight months ”“ soon after starting secondary school. But more than a million received a phone before they started primary school.

Parents claim they need to give their child a phone as security in case of emergencies and to give themselves peace of mind. However a children’s organisation warned giving a child their own phone could encourage them to become sedentary, wasting time in front of screens browsing social networks, rather than being active at play.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Children, England / UK, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology, Scotland

(Christian Century) Martin Marty–From declinism to discovery

Finitude, contingency, transience. These three linked words signal basic elements of what it is to be a human””and especially to be a historian. David Tracy, noted theologian and next door study-neighbor, taught me this connection, and I’ve let it color my life and scholarly preoccupations. It will help us interpret the almost reflexive use of the rubric “decline” in relation to the western Christian presence. Specifically, do a search for “mainline Protestant” and “decline” and you will get the picture, millions of times over.

Everything and everyone dies, is subject to accidents and change, and all human endeavor will pass and be forgotten. What can a church historian do with this obvious insight at such a time as ours? Given my parallel calling as a peregrinating lecturer, I use the vantage acquired there to try to sense the comings and goings of topics for inquiry. One way to measure public curiosity is to listen to questions asked after a lecture.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), History, Lutheran, Methodist, Other Churches, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, United Church of Christ

(Daily Mail) Prime Minister David Cameron calls the Bible ”˜not a bad handbook for life’

[Speaking earlier this month David Cameron]… said: ”˜I’m a Christian and I’m an active member of the Church of England, and like all Christians I think I sometimes struggle with some of the sayings and some of the instructions.

”˜But what I think is so good about Jesus’s teachings is there are lots of things that he said that you can still apply very directly to daily life and to bringing up your children.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Fracking dispute lands Church in Hot Water

Fracking may not yet have tested the thickness of his rectory walls, as suggested by the “light-hearted” Energy Minister Michael Fallon, but it has already caused emotional tremors in the parish of the Priest-in-Charge of Balcombe, the Revd Desmond Burton.

On Monday, he described how the drilling of an oil exploration well in the West Sussex village had divided parishioners. Protesters, who have arrived in their hundreds, fear that the drilling by Cuadrilla, an oil and gas company, is the precursor to hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), whereby water mixed with sand and chemicals is injected at high pressure into rock deep beneath the earth’s surface, to release gas.

“People in the village who have been good friends, because of fracking issues have fallen out quite strongly,” Mr Burton said. ”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Theology

(Reuters) Thailand may legalise same sex marriage

On a sweltering Saturday night in Bangkok’s Patpong entertainment district, a group of men spill out of a neon-lit bar blasting dance music. Among them is Aashif Hassan and his long-term partner, both visitors from Malaysia.

“We’re celebrating tonight. Where we’re from, it’s illegal to be gay. Here we feel liberated,” said Hassan.

Known for its laissez-faire attitude, Thailand has positioned itself as a holiday destination for gay couples and could soon be cashing in on another niche market if a proposed law makes it the first Asian country to legalise gay marriage.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Sexuality, Thailand, Theology

New rector, music minister start at Midland, Texas' Christ Church Anglican

Christ Church Anglican, formerly Christ Church Midland, welcomed new leadership in August with a new rector and a new music minister.

The Rev. Henry Pendergrass conducted his first service Aug. 11. He came from Anglican Church of the Resurrection in Flower Mound and has been a priest for nearly 23 years.

His passion for priesthood was ignited at the tender age of 8, Pendergrass said. He observed his priest “standing at the altar representing Christ to the people” on Sunday morning and “filling the Coke machine and mopping the floor of the parish hall” Sunday evening.

“There was something that seemed so true about that ”” this idea of ”˜servant leadership,’” Pendergrass said. “It seemed to make more sense to me than anything.”

Read it all and the church website is there.

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

(LA Times) This man wants to be the Navy's first humanist chaplain

Jason Heap grew up in Texas among Baptists and Lutherans. He earned a master’s from Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University.

Now, at age 38, Heap wants to be a U.S. Navy chaplain. But Heap is a humanist who doesn’t believe in God, and the U.S. military has never sanctioned a humanist chaplain. Nor has the Navy acted on Heap’s application, filed last month, to become its first approved humanist chaplain.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Thou, from whom to be turned is to fall, to whom to be turned is to rise, and in whom to stand is to abide for ever: Grant us in all our duties thy help, in all our perplexities thy guidance, in all our dangers thy protection, and in all our sorrows thy peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Saint Augustine (354-430)

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ”˜Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ”˜You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that he is one, and there is no other but he; and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any question.

–Mark 12:28-34

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Michael Nazir-Ali–When Egypt emerges from its bloody chaos, it needs true democracy, not a dictator

Restraint on all sides is a necessary prelude to the beginning of political processes, which will have to include all sides and which must take place sooner or later. The future must lie in a peaceful and negotiated transition to an Egypt that is not simply “majoritarian”, but where democracy also means the rule of law and respect for fundamental freedoms, including those of expression, belief, and movement, regardless of gender or religion.

I have, for long, argued that if the gains of the authentic Nahda, or Renaissance, over a century ago, are not to be lost, Egypt needs a bill of rights. It is, perhaps, inevitable that, in a country like Egypt, Sharia will play a role in framing the law of the land, but how much of a role, and what understanding of Sharia, are the crucial questions here. There should be no compromise on the basic principle of one law for all, the equality of all before the law and respect for the common citizenship of all Egyptians.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

(Gallup) Americans Still Wary of, Not Too Familiar With, Health Law

Less than two months before the health insurance exchanges open nationwide, more Americans disapprove (49%) than approve (41%) of the Affordable Care Act. An additional 11% have no opinion. As this landmark legislation enters the next phase in its implementation process, it remains divisive. With the exception of a bounce likely caused by President Barack Obama’s re-election in November 2012, Americans have been more disapproving than approving of the healthcare law.

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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, Politics in General, The U.S. Government, Theology