Daily Archives: October 2, 2013

(NPR) Questions Remain In Aftermath Of Kenya Mall Attack

Days after the attack, a man who manages a clothing store in the Westgate Mall sorts through damaged shoes, shirts and ties. He’s visibly shaken from his trip back into the place he escaped under gunfire. Much of the damaged clothing is from bullet holes.

“These are all waste now,” he says. “Even it if it is small hole, it is waste.” He says there’s no insurance for a terrorist attack, and some of the most expensive suits and shoes are missing.

Other shop owners reported Rolex watches, diamond jewelry and mobile phones looted, allegedly by Kenyan soldiers during the fight against the terrorists. The allegations have shaken people in Nairobi, who just a week ago were hailing the soldiers as heroes.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Ethics / Moral Theology, Kenya, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Archbishop Justin calls for world to wake up to ”˜modern day slavery’

The Archbishop of Canterbury has sent a message of support to an anti-human trafficking conference organised by the Christian organisation Hope for Justice.

In a message sent to the Hope Conference 2013, which took place last Friday and Saturday in Leicester, Archbishop Justin said that trafficking was ‘one of the greatest scandals and tragedies of our age’. He prayed that the conference ‘might help to transform awareness, as the world urgently needs to wake up to the scale of human trafficking that is modern day slavery’.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

United Church of Canada Moderator–A Pastoral Letter on the Charter of Quebec Values

I write to you at a time when the question of the values that underpin society are under active discussion in Quebec in response to the proposed Charter of Quebec Values. The churches of Synode Montréal & Ottawa Conference are in my prayers, as are all the people in Quebec in all their diversity.

The debate about the charter offers our church the opportunity to clearly express its values and beliefs””to state publicly our commitment to creating inclusive and respectful communities with our neighbours of all faiths and of no faith. Therefore, I am grateful to Synode Montréal &Ottawa Conference for its open letter to Quebec Premier Pauline Marois and to Montreal Presbytery for its news release on the matter. I am aware that Quebec-Sherbrooke Presbytery and the Consistoire Laurentien are also discussing responses.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Canada, History, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

(RNS) Excerpts from Billy Graham's new book on sin, salvation and ”˜trendy religion’

Here is a sampling of the thoughts of the 94-year-old evangelist in his newest book:


“The truth is that every last one of us is born in sin, and while some may not think of themselves as sinners, God does. He hears every word we utter and knows the deepest secrets we lock away in the vaults of our hearts.”

”˜Trendy religion’

“Many churches of all persuasions are hiring research agencies to poll neighborhoods, asking what kind of church they prefer; then the local churches design themselves to fit the desires of the people. True faith in God that demands selflessness is being replaced by trendy religion that serves the selfish.”

Read it all.

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

Charley Honey: Western Michigan's new Episcopal bishop takes a shine to Grand Rapids

….before taking part in the elaborate liturgy, Hougland and Jefferts Schori took a tour Friday of Grand Rapids landmarks: historic St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Heartside Ministry and a luncheon at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. They also got an up-close glimpse of ArtPrize in the full glory of a classic Michigan autumn.

All of it assured Hougland he made the right choice in choosing Grand Rapids as his home along with his wife, Dana, an educator and autism specialist.

“This is a beautiful part of the world,” Hougland said in an interview at St. Andrew’s. “I had no idea how wonderful western Michigan is.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops

(Wash. Post) Pope Francis stirs debate yet again with interview with an atheist Italian journalist

Pope Francis cranked up his charm offensive on the world outside the Vatican on Tuesday, saying in the second widely shared media interview in two weeks that each person “must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them” and calling efforts to convert people to Christianity “solemn nonsense….”

Some conservative Catholics were also taken aback by the interview.

“My e-mail is filled with notes from people who need to be talked off the ledge,” wrote the Rev. John Zuhlsdorf, author of one of the more popular blogs for Catholic conservatives.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Globalization, Italy, Media, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

Pope Francis' interview with La Repubblica's editor Eugenio Scalfari

Pope Francis told me: “The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old. The old need care and companionship; the young need work and hope but have neither one nor the other, and the problem is they don’t even look for them any more. They have been crushed by the present. You tell me: can you live crushed under the weight of the present? Without a memory of the past and without the desire to look ahead to the future by building something, a future, a family? Can you go on like this? This, to me, is the most urgent problem that the Church is facing.”

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Globalization, Italy, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Discipleship course launched with blessing from Archbishop Justin Welby

A new Christian discipleship course for church congregations and groups of all traditions was launched yesterday at Lambeth Palace.

”˜Pilgrim: A course for the Christian journey’ is part of the Church of England’s focus on spiritual and numerical growth. It is the first national discipleship course to be commissioned by the House of Bishops.
The programme ”“ which promises ”˜participation, not persuasion’ ”“ seeks to reach parishes that have never run courses of this kind, as well as to offer additional approaches to churches to already running programmes such as Alpha.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Adult Education, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

NY Times–(Previously Profiled) Minister Teresa MacBain Admits Overstating Her Credentials

(Please note that this is a follow up to this article posted on the blog September 22–KSH).

A Methodist minister who resigned her pulpit last year after deciding that she was no longer a believer, and who was recently hired by a humanist group based at Harvard to help build congregations of nonbelievers throughout the country, has acknowledged fabricating aspects of her educational background.

The former minister, Teresa MacBain, whose crisis of faith was described in the On Religion column last Saturday, claimed she had earned a master of divinity degree from Duke University.

She had also listed that degree in the résumé she submitted to the Humanist Community at Harvard in the course of being hired as director of its Humanist Community Project. In addition, she had made references to the degree in previous public statements, some of which were reported online.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(CSM) A global campaign to hit terrorists ”“ in their message

Ever since 9/11, the struggle against terrorists has focused too much on killing them rather than their message. That may change with a new public-private effort to counter the appeal of jihadists with a grass-roots campaign aimed at young and vulnerable Muslims….

[Last] Friday, Turkey and the United States announced plans to raise more than $200 million for a global fund to counter the “local drivers of radicalization to violence.” Much like campaigns against illiteracy or the child sex trade, this one has dozens of countries behind it. A coalition called the Global Counterterrorism Forum will build on the expertise of countries such as Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Indonesia that have successfully “deradicalized” captured terrorists.

Lessons from those rehab programs can be applied by civic groups and governments to prevent radicalization of Muslims. At the heart of these efforts will be moderate Muslims, such as Islamic scholars or former terrorists, who can effectively deliver the message that Islam does not justify the purposeful killing of innocents.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Islam, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Turkey, Young Adults

(LA Times) In Egypt the social and cultural mix is highly complex, but God is everywhere

More than two months after the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood was driven from power and the country’s army chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah Sisi, surged to the fore, Egypt remains deeply divided about the role of religion in public life. Whether in fiery mosque sermons, slow-moving constitutional deliberations or triumphal military statements, the banner of heaven is being waved by all sides.

“Religion is being more or less used the same way by the military as it was by the Brotherhood,” said Ahmad El Azabawy, a former political science professor who is now an independent analyst. “Just with more subtlety, because now, of course, people are just coming out of a bitter experience with an Islamic regime.”

Religious minorities make up about 15% of the population, and Islam is the state religion. It pervades daily existence in Egypt as surely as the muezzin’s call echoing through dusty streets.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(First Things On the Square) James Rogers–Credit the Calvinists

….it’s this point that I think provokes most of the reaction to Calvinism in the popular mind today (and to Augustinianism and Lutheranism to the extent that they are identified with the teaching as well): Modern man does not want to be transparent before God, or before anyone else. We deem it an invasion of our privacy and of our autonomy. We want our hearts to be the one place in creation so sacred that even God dare not tread there.

For whatever reason, Calvinism is the school that gets most of the attention to taking on this preference. For better or for worse, it’s the Calvinists who are taken to be “in your face” in asserting a Christian anthropology in direct opposition to the spirit of the age. While I don’t count myself among their number, they should be credited more broadly by Christians for taking so much heat on their view of the will.

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

Home Parish Sermon Series on the Church (III)–Kendall Harmon on the Church as the Army of God

Listen to it all if you so desire.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Ecclesiology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Michiko Kakutani reviews David Finkel's new book ”˜Thank You for Your Service’

Some of [“The Good Soldiers,” Mr. Finkel’s previous] book’s most powerful passages dealt with the war after the war ”” the efforts of the soldiers to come to terms with their injuries and ineradicable memories, and to try to readjust to ordinary life back home in the States. Mr. Finkel’s new book, “Thank You for Your Service,” amplifies that story, tracking the lives of some of the same soldiers after their deployments have ended. They and their families attempt to recover some facsimile of normalcy or, in the words of one veteran’s wife, “come up with reasonable expectations of what can be,” given their lingering physical and psychological wounds.

This is a heartbreaking book powered by the candor with which these veterans and their families have told their stories, the intimate access they have given Mr. Finkel (an editor and writer for The Washington Post) into their daily lives, and their own eloquence in speaking about their experiences. The book leaves the reader wondering why the Veterans Affairs Department cannot provide better, more accessible care for wounded warriors. And why soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder ”” which Mr. Finkel says studies show afflicts 20 to 30 percent of the two million Americans who have served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ”” must often wade through so much paperwork and bureaucracy to obtain meaningful treatment.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Books, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

When many are coming and going and there is little leisure, give us grace, O heavenly Father, to follow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, who knew neither impatience of spirit nor confusion of work, but in the midst of all his labours held communion with thee, and even upon earth was still in heaven; where now he reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit world without end.

—-The Pastor’s Prayerbook

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Only take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if any one sees you, a man of knowledge, at table in an idol’s temple, might he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak man is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of my brother’s falling, I will never eat meat, lest I cause my brother to fall.

–1 Corinthians 8:9-13

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Gafcon Chairman's September Pastoral Letter

My dear brothers and sisters,

Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!

Today we are just three weeks away from the first day of GAFCON 2013 and I am eagerly looking forward to welcoming many of you from around the world to Nairobi and All Saints Cathedral. Last week our General Secretary, Archbishop Peter Jensen and our Executive Director, Bishop Martyn Minns, were with me here in Nairobi on a planned visit to review our preparation and we are so thankful to God for his blessing and provision.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Primary Source, Africa, GAFCON II 2013, Global South Churches & Primates, Globalization, Kenya, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

(Chicago Tribune) Computer glitches, overloads hit health care exchanges on Day of ACA Rollout

Consumers seeking more information on their new options under the Affordable Care Act were met with long delays, error messages and a largely non-working federal insurance exchange and call center Tuesday morning.

Heavy Internet traffic and system problems plagued the launch of the health insurance exchanges, a key pillar of President Barack Obama’s health care law. Some of the issues appeared to subside just after 12 p.m. Central time, with some users reporting success in viewing new insurance products offered in Illinois as part of the law.

But others continued to have problems into Tuesday afternoon. For most of Tuesday, attempts to log on to the system were met with error messages: “We have a lot of visitors on our site right now, and we’re working to make your experience here better. Please wait here until we send you to the log-in page. Thank you for your patience.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Personal Finance, Science & Technology, The U.S. Government, Theology

(Touchstone) Hunter Baker–Christian Schools and Racial Realities

Ben Phillips explained to me that when he became the principal of a strong Christian school following his years in Memphis public schools, “I wanted more minority students. I think a big part of the problem is that they were closed out by price.” So far, the response of conservative Christians has been to advocate for taxpayer-funded tuition vouchers. That project, however, has been fraught with difficulty both because of perceived church-state issues (a modest legal problem) and the resistance of public school supporters””worried about budgets already””to allow any resources to go to the private school system, which they perceive, correctly, to stand in judgment of their own efforts (a much bigger political problem).

Assuming a continuing deadlock over the issue of school choice, the best answer may be for conservative Christians to find other ways to create greater access to their institutions for those from whom they are suspected of fleeing. It is a burden of history not easily shrugged off, even by generations who did not make the world in which they live. We inherit debts other than the kind governments incur on their balance sheets. But the racial unification of the American church might best begin in the Christian schoolhouse before it takes hold in the Sunday services. It is a home mission (as the Baptists might call it) awaiting a champion and a movement. ”ƒ

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

(Anglican Ink) Archbishop Justin Welby not going to Gafcon II, will send video greetings

A spokesman from the Lambeth Press Office said the Archbishop had been invited to address the 21-26 October 2013 meeting of centrist and conservative Anglican leaders set for All Saints’ Cathedral in Nairobi. However, he “is unable to attend because of a long-standing commitment on the same date. He will be sending a pre-recorded video greeting,” the spokesman said. – See more at: http://anglicanink.com/article/justin-welby-not-going-gafcon-ii#sthash.onkEpX4M.dpuf

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Africa, Archbishop of Canterbury, Global South Churches & Primates, Kenya