Daily Archives: August 25, 2013

(Daily Beast) Finding God Behind Bars: A Look at Religion in American Prisons

That Joshua Dubler made it out alive is perhaps the most telling thing about his book. Down in the Chapel is a fascinating look inside an American prison””a fact alone that’s dangerous enough. But Dubler is a Princeton-educated religion scholar, and his focus of study is the prison chapel of Graterford Maximum Security Prison outside of Philadelphia. He surrounds himself with murderers, and then proceeds to poke and prod them on the topics of politics and religion. It’s hard to think of a more combustible arrangement.

But Dubler survives””and there’s a reason why. The men he profiles in Down in the Chapel have, in many cases, been convicted of grievous wrongs””men like Baraka, Sayyid, Teddy and Al, four prisoners from South Philly around whom the book is primarily based, two Muslims and two Christians respectively, all locked up for life. But between the Catholic office and the chapel, the Imam’s office and the annex, we learn that these guys are not simply forgettable convicts, easily warehoused away and forgotten. Instead they are men, real men, with philosophies, dreams, humor, and deep sadness. By the end of the book, we wonder less why they spared this agitating author””of course they would””than whether we should have done a better job at sparing a few of them.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture

(CNN Belief Blog) Jon Acuff–Should Christianity be so boring?

No one has ever accused us Christians of being fun.

No one has ever said we are a laugh-filled group.

No atheist has ever said, “I might not love Jesus, but his followers sure know how to party!”

And yet, in my favorite story in the Bible we actually see Jesus paint the opposite picture.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, celebrates its centennial

This year, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Steamboat Springs celebrates its centennial, but as far back as 1889, a group of Episcopalians would meet in Steamboat Springs for services whenever a bishop happened to be in town. The group met in whatever space was available, and as was true of most gatherings among the earliest settlers, the ladies always brought food to share and provided a warm bed for the traveling clergy, who braved the weather to visit their far-flung flocks.

#At the turn of the century, the population of Episcopalians in the western U.S. was so sparse that Utah, Nevada and western Colorado were administered by one bishop, the Right Rev. Abiel Leonard. In 1897, he provided funds to the Steamboat congregation for two building lots at Ninth and Oak streets in hopes of establishing a mission there….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

After veteran Daniel Somers’s suicide, his family has a new mission: Improve VA services

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Defense, National Security, Military, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Suicide, Young Adults

Diarmaid MacCulloch reviews Darryl Hart's new book "Calvinism: a history"

Why should Catholics read a book about Calvinists? One good reason: Catholics probably invented the name. During the aggro of the Reformation, a useful rhetorical strategy for papal loyalists was to tag the various reform movements in the Western Church with the names of leading personalities within them: the implication being that these groups were no better than fads, personality cults. That gave us such loaded terms as Zwinglian, Lutheran, Calvinist. It worked both ways, of course, so among several variants on “pope-lover” thought up then, “papist” has survived into our own age, complete with its original sneery edge which, on the whole, the word “Calvinist” has lost. Yet this name is still problematic. Perhaps “Calvinism” was a catchy title forced on Darryl Hart by his publishers: as a good historian, he is perfectly aware that it is an inadequate description for the family of Christian Churches now spread across the world. Calvin didn’t invent these Churches, and as late as the nineteenth century, they regarded him as just one leading theologian among several sixteenth-century Reformers. Their chosen self-description was simply “Reformed”.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Church History

(NY Times) Gretchen Morgenson–New Jobs! If Only It Were True

A current success story on the agency’s Web site is that of Carolina AAC, a company that received $10.4 million in late 2010 to build a concrete manufacturing plant in Bennettsville, S.C.

“This project will create approximately 197 new jobs in Marlboro County,” the Agriculture Department’s Web site says. Such a figure would make Carolina AAC the program’s third-largest borrower in terms of jobs created.

But Carolina AAC said in a January 2011 news release that only 36 jobs would be created at the project. And even that has not come to pass. Currently, 10 people work at the company, according to Charles Paterno, its managing member. Troubling for taxpayers is that the government backs 90 percent of the loans and they are in liquidation.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

(Reuters) John Lloyd–What’s next for the Muslim Brotherhood?

The Muslim Brotherhood is on the run.

Its leaders, including its Supreme Guide, Mohamed Badie, are in prison. Badie’s only son, Ammar, was killed during the military’s clearing of protests last week. Badie’s deputy, Mahmout Ezzat replaced him, and is apparently free for now, but others are imprisoned or sought for arrest. Its protestors have been scattered by police and the army, losing hundreds of lives in the process. The cancellation of its legal status is now being discussed by the military-backed government. Former President Hosni Mubarak’s release on Thursday, from jail to house arrest, is salt in a wound. As they fall from the heights of leadership, so the old and reviled leader climbs, if shakily, out of the pit.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Anglican Ink) Trademark violation lawsuit against Mark Lawrence dismissed

In a statement released after the decision was handed down, Bishop vonRosenberg said he was “disappointed at the recent legal developments,” but added “we recognized that our journey involves many, many more steps than only this one.”

“We are involved for the long haul,” he said, noting the mission of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina “most definitely will not be defined by court decisions and legal processes but, rather, by the call and direction of our Lord”.

Bishop Mark Lawrence’s team said they were pleased by the ruling and the consolidation of the dispute between the national church and the diocese into a single forum.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

(AP) Singapore church told to pay over adultery firing

Singapore’s government has ordered a prominent church to pay compensation to a former employee who was fired for alleged adultery, officials said last week.

The Faith Community Baptist Church has reportedly said it will abide by the order and pay the woman about $5,500 in salary and maternity benefits, but it insisted it was correct to dismiss her.

The woman, who handled administrative responsibilities for the church, filed a complaint to Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower after she was fired last September.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Singapore, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord God, when thou givest to thy servants to endeavour any great matter, grant us also to know that it is not the beginning, but the continuing of the same, until it be thoroughly finished, which yieldeth the true glory; through him who for the finishing of thy work laid down his life for us, our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have being.

–Psalm 146:1-2

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Jerusalem Post) The nurse practitioner is in

For centuries ”“ from Florence Nightingale to ER ”“ the medical professionals who treated patients have been nurses and physicians.

Yet in a world with a dearth of such trained individuals, new professions in the healthcare system have emerged to attempt to fill the void. While the expansion of health professions in the US and other Western countries has been rapid, recognizing and welcoming nurse practitioners (NPs), physicians’ assistants (PAs) and nurse anesthetists (NAs) has been a very slow process, especially in a country like Israel whose union-oriented conservative medical establishment is not enamored of change.

The NP is Israel’s first new medical profession to be recognized by the Health Ministry, which organized a first, year-long course that turned 19 veteran nurses from around the country into recognized NPs.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Globalization, Health & Medicine, History, Israel, Middle East

August letter from Archbishop Wabukala, Chairman of the GAFCON Primates’ Council

Archbishop Stanley rightly speaks of a spiritual cancer in the Communion, but we need to see that the overthrow by some Churches of the creation order of male and female is just one symptom of the disease. The cause is spiritual, the overthrow of God’s Word as revealed and authoritative truth. So it is very appropriate that Archbishop Stanley also speaks of the need for confessing Anglicans to see themselves as a movement of revival, taking inspiration from the East African Revival. We need to learn from our history. Divisions about the Bible had spread to some missionary organisations in East Africa after the First World War, but the leaders of the East African Revival knew that there could be no true evangelism and no true revival unless the Scriptures are allowed to speak as what they really are, the inspired Word of God.

So we can see why our affirmation in 2008 of the Jerusalem Declaration was so very important. We described it as ”˜a contemporary rule”¦ to guide the movement for the future’. Anything less would have ”˜healed the wound of my people lightly’ (Jeremiah 8:11) given the widespread confusion about the gospel and Christian discipleship which we sought to address. Let me remind you of the commitment we made in the Jerusalem Statement to restore Scripture to its rightful place in the life of the Communion:

”˜We, together with many other faithful Anglicans throughout the world, believe the doctrinal foundation of Anglicanism, which defines our core identity as Anglicans, is expressed in these words: The doctrine of the Church is grounded in the Holy Scriptures and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular, such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal.’

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Provinces, GAFCON I 2008, Global South Churches & Primates, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(RNS) Jonathan Merritt–Christians and the myth of the “hookup culture”

For years, conservative Christians have decried the “hookup culture” among young people that they believe is eroding the foundation of our nation. America’s youth, they claim, is having sex more frequently and with more partners. But according to new data, these Christians are wrong.

A sweeping new study conducted by sociologist Martin A. Monto of the University of Portland demonstrates that today’s young people are having no more sex than did their parents and they aren’t having sex with more partners, either. In a paper presented at the American Sociological Association, Monto stated there is “no evidence of substantial changes in sexual behavior that would support the proposition that there is a new or pervasive ”˜hookup culture’ among contemporary college students.”

How did so many Christians get this one so wrong? The answer seems to be a little thing called confirmation bias, which is the tendency of people to favor information that confirms their preconceived notions or beliefs.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Media, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sociology, Theology, Young Adults

Pew Research–Martin Luther King’s Dream Remains Elusive; Many Americans See Racial Disparities

Five decades after Martin Luther King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C., a new survey by the Pew Research Center finds that fewer than half (45%) of all Americans say the country has made substantial progress toward racial equality and about the same share (49%) say that “a lot more” remains to be done.

Blacks are much more downbeat than whites about the pace of progress toward a color-blind society. They are also more likely to say that blacks are treated less fairly than whites by police, the courts, public schools and other key community institutions.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture