Daily Archives: October 4, 2013

(WSJ) Jamie Coots–The Constitution Protects My Snake-Handling

When riots broke out in France this summer over the country’s prohibition on Muslim veils, many Americans looked on in disbelief. Such a violation of religious liberty would never be tolerated in the United States, a nation founded as a place where victims of religious persecution could worship freely. I once thought the same thing.

That changed in 2008, when I was arrested for observing my faith. My crime? Possessing snakes.

As pastor at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name, a Pentecostal church in Middlesboro, Ky., I and my congregants regularly handle venomous snakes such as copperheads and rattlesnakes as part of our services. This might seem strange, but it’s no less worthy of legal protection than the more common traditions observed by Jews, Muslims and mainstream Christians. In fact, as members of a small and unpopular religious minority, congregants of serpent-handling churches are precisely the sort of worshipers that the Constitution was designed to protect.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Animals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

Faith Leaders (Including TEC P.B.) Denounce Brinkmanship As Budget, Debt Ceiling Deadlines Loom

On the eve of a possible shutdown of the U.S. government, religious leaders denounced the political brinkmanship prevailing in Congress today.

“Shutting down the government will do real damage,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, speaking at a press conference today. “Risking our nation’s creditworthiness will do even more damage. Most clearly, the disruption and uncertainty will put the brakes on our economy.”

Unless our nation’s leaders come to an agreement on appropriations for the coming months, the U.S. government will close on Oct. 1, the start of the 2014 fiscal year. If no agreement is reached by Oct. 17 on increasing the debt limit, the country’s creditworthiness will be compromised.

Read it all and follow the link at the bottom to the letter to see the actual signatories.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Budget, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Senate, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, Theology

The Internet of things: A $8.9 trillion market in 2020, consisting of 212 billion connected things

The Internet of things and the technology ecosystem surrounding it are expected to be a $8.9 trillion market in 2020, according to IDC.

In a nutshell, the Internet of things is the product of sensors, technology and networking all coming together to allow buildings, infrastructure and other resources to swap information. Today, the Internet of things and machine-to-machine data falls under the big data umbrella with projects just beginning.

IDC said the installed base of things connected will be 212 billion by the end of 2020, including 30.1 billion connected autonomous things. Intelligent systems will be installed and collecting data by this point.

Read it all from ZDnet.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Science & Technology, Theology

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

Read it all, noting especially the bishop’s first blog entry for those of you who may have missed it.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Blogging & the Internet, Evangelism and Church Growth, Media, Parish Ministry, Theology

Archbishop Justin Welby calls for ”˜culture’ change at financial institutions

The Archbishop of Canterbury called for a change in “culture” at financial institutions during a meeting in the House of Lords on Wednesday of last week.

Archbishop Justin gave the keynote address at a roundtable meeting organised by the Islamic Finance Council UK and supported by the Arab Finance Forum and the Cambridge Interfaith Programme.

Archbishop Justin said: ”˜The big area that has to change in our financial services structures is not around leverage and levels of debt in financial institutions ”“ although they are crucial and they must change ”“ but more fundamentally, even than that, is the issue of culture. Culture is an area that cannot be legislated, it can only be changed by a transformation in the spirit of society which leads to a sense of what is right and wrong.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

A Statement from the Synod of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa

On church affairs, the Bishops agreed to an assistant bishop in the Diocese of Niassa in northern Mozambique in response to strong church growth, and took decisions on problematic issues within the Dioceses of Pretoria and Umzimvubu.
Provisional accreditation of courses at the church’s seminary, the College of the Transfiguration in Grahamstown was welcomed.

They also warmly welcomed the announcement that the new Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, with his wife, will attend their second ”˜Anglicans Ablaze’ conference in July 2014.

Speaking after the meeting, the Archbishop of Cape Town, Dr Thabo Makgoba, said ”˜this was a very encouraging time. Within a deeply prayerful context, we tackled a very broad agenda, from church governance through to global faith and political issues. In a short time we made significant progress on a number of matters. God is God of the whole world ”“ and he will guide us in our calling to lead his people in every walk of life, and follow the example of all the saints who have gone before us.’

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Africa, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Religion & Culture, South Africa

(ABP) Baptist Youth minister Gavin Rogers visits Burned Egyptian Churches

By his own admission, San Antonio youth minister Gavin Rogers has a knack for making his parents worry.

In 2012, as minister to youth and families at Trinity Baptist Church, he observed Lent by living as a homeless person, dodging cops, sleeping under bridges and wrestling with hunger.

Rogers, 31, has pushed the envelope of parental stress again, this time by making a five-day visit to Egypt just a few weeks after violent, deadly riots swept over the nation.

“When I told my parents about the homeless journey, my mom was really worried,” Rogers said. “With this one, my dad wasn’t too happy.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Globalization, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Violence, Youth Ministry

(Church Times) Church of England Commissioners pursue reform by backing new bank

THE decision by the Church Commissioners to join a new banking consortium marks a new hands-on approach to investment, the Commissioners’ Secretary and chief executive, Andrew Brown, said this week.

Mr Brown spoke to the Church Times after the banking giant Royal Bank of Scotland…announced that a Commissioners’ backed consortium had been selected as the preferred bidder for 314 of its branches, which will be spun off from the bank to comply with European Union state-aid regulations. The plan is for a new ethical bank under the old Williams & Glyn’s brand.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Religion & Culture, The Banking System/Sector

Jennifer Wiseman–How You Can Help Young Christians in Science

Young Christians need encouragement to see their calling as scientists as a valuable Christian vocation. Though there are painful exceptions, the work environment for most Christian students in science today is not hostile. In fact, there are many young Christians in training in the sciences. Christian fellowship groups for graduate students are beginning to form and flourish on many campuses, and a large percentage of these Christian graduate students and postdocs are scientists.

It is during these formative years that young scientists are faced with some weighty decisions. For example: What kind of thesis research should I pursue? My advisor has asked me to do fetal tissue experiments; should I refuse and risk my position in graduate school? (This really happened to one student.) How do I explain my faith to my advisor and my fellow graduate students? Wouldn’t it be more valuable to God for me to join some of my Christian friends who are planning careers as evangelists or in direct ministry to the poor rather than to spend my life, for example, evaluating molecular spectra? Traditional Christian churches and circles do not always recognize the unique environment that the young Christian scientist faces. Science is sometimes viewed with misunderstanding and suspicion or ignored as unspiritual. These reactions are discouraging to young people who want to choose a career path that glorifies God. Hearing encouraging talks from older Christian scientists can be a great encouragement to younger people seeking guidance.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Education, Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology, Young Adults

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Francis of Assisi

Most high, omnipotent, good Lord, grant unto thy people grace to renounce gladly the vanities of this world; that, following the way of blessed Francis, we may for love of thee delight in thy whole creation with perfectness of joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who hast made the earth so fair, and written thy glory in the heavens: Help us inwardly to respond to all that is outwardly true and beautiful, so that as we pass through things temporal we may never lose the vision of the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Of old thou didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They will perish, but thou dost endure; they will all wear out like a garment. Thou changest them like raiment, and they pass away; but thou art the same, and thy years have no end.

–Psalm 102:25-27

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Diocese of South Carolina– The real story behind our withdrawal from The Episcopal Church

The little-reported fact is that TEC has filed more than 80 lawsuits seeking to seize the property of individual parishes and dioceses that left the denomination. TEC itself has admitted to spending more than $22 million on its legal action. These efforts have largely succeeded when TEC attempts to seize the property of individual parishes. Parishes across the country have been evicted from their churches.

TEC’s policy is simple and punitive: No one who leaves TEC may buy the seized church buildings. In several cases where TEC has succeeded in seizing a church, it has evicted the congregation and shuttered the building. In some cases, the church has been handed over to remnant groups that remained loyal to TEC. In other cases, the church has been sold to another religious group.

However, TEC has had less success with the lawsuits it has filed against dioceses. Recently, an Illinois Circuit Court judge decided that TEC had no grounds to seize the endowment funds of the Diocese of Quincy. The Texas Supreme Court overturned a lower court decision supporting TEC over the separated Diocese of Fort Worth. And in South Carolina, a federal district court judge decided that the Circuit Court of South Carolina is the proper court to decide the fate of our property, upsetting TEC’s efforts to get the case heard by the federal judiciary.

Read it all from the Charleston Mercury, or alternatively here if that link does not work for you.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NPR) Cord Jefferson reviews Richard Rodriguez's new book "Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography"

Richard Rodriguez begins his latest book, Darling, with an unfussy dedication to the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, a Catholic women’s group committed to helping the sick and destitute. This Baptism, if you will, is the first and surely the most straightforward indication within the book that Rodriguez intends to delve into his complex relationship with religion. Because though the path that lies beyond that dedication is weird and wonderful, readers will find that it’s far from a direct route.

Rodriguez says the impetus for Darling, a collection of 10 essays about spirituality, was the Sept. 11 attacks. While much of America turned into itself in the wake of the tragedy, searching for meaning and refuge in patriotism and familiarity, Rodriguez did the opposite. “It was in the weeks following the terrorist attacks of September 11 that I came to the realization that the God I worship is a desert God,” he writes in the first chapter. “It was to the same desert God the terrorists prayed.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality

Choral Evensong from Westminster Abbey

Listen here if you wish to this service recorded yesterday

Introit: Holy is the true light (Gabriel Jackson)
Responses: Leighton
Psalms: 19 (Hopkins)
First Lesson: Hosea 14
Canticles: The ‘Great’ Service (Parry)
Second Lesson: James 2 vv14-26
Anthem: Give unto the Lord (Elgar)
Hymn: Let all the world in every corner sing (Luckington)
Organ Voluntary: Fantasia Op.136 (Bowen)

Explore in 360 degrees here

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Judge Denies TEC Request to Expand South Carolina Lawsuit

South Carolina Circuit Judge Diane S. Goodstein released her decision yesterday that the Episcopal Church (TEC) and its local remnant, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina (ECSC) cannot expand their counterclaims against the Diocese of South Carolina to include almost two dozen parishioners who voluntarily serve as diocesan Trustees and members of the Diocese’s Standing Committee.

In her decision, Judge Goodstein wrote, “This court finds that the individual leaders whom Defendants seek to join as Counterclaim Plaintiffs are entitled to immunity” under state law. She also wrote that “adding the additional defendants would be futile.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology