Daily Archives: September 22, 2013

(SHNS) Terry Mattingly: On God, worship, sex and babies

Early in the 20th century, it was easy to predict which flocks of believers would produce the most children ”” with Mormons reporting the highest numbers, followed by Catholics, then Protestants and so forth as fertility rates declined. But things changed as the century rolled on and America became more pluralistic and, in elite ZIP codes, secular.

After Woodstock and the sexual revolution, it was clear that “what really mattered wasn’t what religion you claimed to be practicing, but the degree to which you actually practiced it ”” especially whether or not you were in a pew week after week,” said journalist Jonathan A. Last, author of “What to Expect When No One’s Expecting….”

“When it comes to people having what people today consider large families ”” three or more children ”” there are two Americas out there,” he said, and the division is between those who actively practice a faith, especially a traditional form of faith, and those who do not.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Mormons, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Archbishop of York's BBC Radio 2 Pause for Thought from this past Friday

“Are you worried about the future?” So asked eight year old Nana, in a letter when she heard about my life-threatening illness.

What do you say when you have had two major operations and Salmonella poisoning?

Sentamu, are you worried about the future? No.

Concerned? Yes.

Shaken but not stirred.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture

(NY Times Op-ed) Kathryn Joyce–The Evangelical Orphan Boom

Evangelical adoptions picked up in earnest in the middle of the last decade, when a wave of prominent Christians, including the megachurch pastor Rick Warren and leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, began to promote adoption as a special imperative for believers. Adoption mirrored the Christian salvation experience, they argued, likening the adoption of orphans to Christ’s adoption of the faithful. Adoption also embodied a more holistic “pro-life” message ”” caring for children outside the womb as well as within ”” and an emphasis on good deeds, not just belief, that some evangelicals felt had been ceded to mainline Protestant denominations.

Believers rose to the challenge. The Christian Alliance for Orphans estimates that hundreds of thousands of people worldwide participate in its annual Orphan Sunday (this year’s is Nov. 3). Evangelicals from the Bible Belt to Southern California don wristbands or T-shirts reading “orphan addict” or “serial adopter.” Ministries have emerged to raise money and award grants to help Christians pay the fees (some $30,000 on average, plus travel) associated with transnational adoption.

However well intended, this enthusiasm has exacerbated what has become a boom-and-bust market for children that leaps from country to country. In many cases, the influx of money has created incentives to establish or expand orphanages ”” and identify children to fill them.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Globalization, Other Churches, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Theology

[Telegraph] Suicide bombers kill 60 Christians outside Pakistan church

A pair of suicide bombers blew themselves up outside a 130-year-old church in Pakistan after Sunday [Mass?], killing at least 60 people in the deadliest attack on Christians in recent history…

Two suicide bombers are believed to have entered the All Saints Church after shooting dead police guards, and detonated their explosive vests. Police said 350 members of the congregation were in the church when the bombers struck and that the death toll is expected to increase because many were being treated in hospital are in a critical condition.

Read it all. More on the attack from the Diocese of Peshawar and a message from Bishop Humphrey Peters here

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(RNS) England debates full-face veils in courtrooms

A senior judge, leading members of Parliament and human rights activists are calling for an urgent debate on the explosive issue of whether Muslim women should be allowed to wear veils when they testify in court.

The call for national debate follows Judge Peter Murphy’s Sept. 16 ruling that a 22-year-old Muslim woman standing trial on charges of intimidating a witness at a north London mosque must remove her facial veil, called a niqab, when testifying so the jury can better evaluate her facial expressions.

If she refuses, the woman ”“ known only as Defendant D ”“ could face a prison sentence for contempt of court.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(Economist) Growing apart–America’s income inequality has to be Dealt With

A barrage of new statistics on American living standards offers some grounds for optimism. A typical American household’s income has stopped falling for the first time in five years, and the poverty rate has stopped rising. At last, it seems, the expansion is strong enough at least to stabilise ordinary people’s incomes.

But the main message is a grim one. Most of the growth is going to an extraordinarily small share of the population: 95% of the gains from the recovery have gone to the richest 1% of people, whose share of overall income is once again close to its highest level in a century. The most unequal country in the rich world is thus becoming even more so.

You do not have to be an egalitarian to worry about this trend. Although some degree of inequality is good for an economy, creating incentives to work hard and take risks, the recent concentration of income gains among the most affluent is both politically dangerous and economically damaging.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Poverty, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

PBS ' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–A Same Sex Marriage Mess among Methodists

BETTY ROLLIN, correspondent: The Metropolitan United Methodist Church in Washington, DC recently had an unusual celebration. The event, called “Church Quake,” honored married couples of the same sex and the clergy who married them.

One of those colleagues, who is facing a potential church trial for performing a same-sex marriage, is 79 year old Rev. Tom Ogletree, the retired dean of Yale Divinity School.

The marriage that Rev. Ogletree performed was that of his own son, Thomas.

[THE] REV. TOM OGLETREE: I was thrilled that he asked me to play a role because I’ve known he was gay for a long time and we’ve been watching him, you know, adjust and adapt to the demands of the culture in creative ways.

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

(NY Times On Religion) After a Crisis of Faith, a Former Minister Finds a New, Secular Mission

“After I stepped away from my ministry, I literally stepped off the cliff,” Ms. [Teresa] MacBain, 45, recalled in a recent interview. “I didn’t know what life would be like without a church. I was depressed. I was out there in limbo all at once. There is no community. There is no social network. The majority of friendships are gone. There is no place I can go every week where I know people and they know me.”

Now, 18 months into a new life, Ms. MacBain is bringing much of her old one to the task of building congregations of nonbelievers. She has been hired as the director of the Humanist Community Project at Harvard with the mandate to travel the country helping atomized groups of atheists, agnostics, humanists and freethinkers replicate the communal structure and support that organized religion provides to its faithful.

This line of work draws directly on Ms. MacBain’s experience of seeing her father create and build congregations throughout the small-town South and of her own track record of ministering in churches, prisons, nursing homes and drug-rehab centers.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Grant, O Lord, that as there is one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one hope of our calling; so thy Church, being one body, may draw all nations to the one baptism, as children of the one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all, now and for evermore.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Anani’as. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Anani’as.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus named Saul; for behold, he is praying, and he has seen a man named Anani’as come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Anani’as answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to thy saints at Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon thy name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Anani’as departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized, and took food and was strengthened. For several days he was with the disciples at Damascus.

–Acts 9:10-19

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CSM) Episcopal priest, Malcolm Boyd, is the star of a new documentary

Los Angeles filmmaker Andrew Thomas has turned his attention from the secular to the religious by directing a feature-length documentary on the life and times of the Rev. Malcolm Boyd, an Episcopal priest who says the church needs to be more relevant to the everyday person and has worked to improve that issue.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

The Legacy of Hurrican Hugo, which Happened 24 years ago Today

Hugo smashed apart the Lowcountry on Sept. 21, 1989, 24 years ago today. Roll the numbers around in your head: 35 dead, more than 50,000 homeless, half the state without electrical power.

The $6.5 billion in damage the storm did then has been estimated to be more than $8 billion in damage today.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * South Carolina, History, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.

(Christian Today) CS Lewis celebrated 50 years after death

A festival in celebration of Christian apologist and Chronicles of Narnia author CS Lewis is underway in Oxford.

The CS Lewis Jubilee Festival is taking place over four days to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the writer’s death.

The festival has been organised by Holy Trinity Church, Headington Quarry, where Lewis worshipped for some 30 years and is buried.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Church History, England / UK, Religion & Culture