Daily Archives: November 3, 2013

PBS ' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–An Extended Interview with Reza Aslan

REZA ASLAN (Author, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth): I think it’s incorrect to say that the followers of Jesus, and certainly the church fathers in the second and third centuries, changed Jesus’ message. I think that’s an incomplete statement. The fact of the matter is that Jesus’ message was in a constant state of change. Remember, none of these words were written down until, at the earliest, 70 A.D. That’s about 40 years after Jesus’ death when the first Gospel, the Gospel of Mark, was written. And the Gospel of Mark was not written until after the destruction of Jerusalem, the destruction of the temple, and the period in which Judaism itself had become a kind of pariah religion, an illegitimate cult, in the Roman Empire. So, the Gospel writers at that point began this process that was really, in many ways, already underway, which was to sort of transform and redefine, reapply Jesus’ message, particularly for a non-Jewish audience. And so that process really continued until the middle of the fourth century, when, as a result of Constantine’s conversion to Christianity, an attempt was made to actually create a sense of orthodoxy. But really, up until that point, you can’t say that there was any such thing as Christianity. What we really see is Christianities, in fact, many, many dozens of versions of it.

I’ve had a unique experience with Jesus, both as a worshipper and as a scholar studying him. I feel like it’s given me a different kind of perspective. On the one hand, knowing what it is to worship Jesus has given me a profound sense of respect for the faith of Christianity….

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Christology, Inter-Faith Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

(The Atlantic) Tara Burton–Study Theology, Even If You Don't Believe in God

When I first told my mother””a liberal, secular New Yorker””that I wanted to cross an ocean to study for a bachelor’s degree in theology, she was equal parts aghast and concerned. Was I going to become a nun, she asked in horror, or else one of “those” wingnuts who picketed outside abortion clinics? Was I going to spend hours in the Bodleian Library agonizing over the number of angels that could fit on the head of a pin? Theology, she insisted, was a subject by the devout, for the devout; it had no place in a typical liberal arts education.

Her view of the study of theology is far from uncommon. While elite universities like Harvard and Yale offer vocational courses at their divinity schools, and nearly all universities offer undergraduate majors in the comparative study of religions, few schools (with the exceptions of historically Catholic institutions like Georgetown and Boston College) offer theology as a major, let alone mandate courses in theology alongside other “core” liberal arts subjects like English or history. Indeed, the study of theology has often run afoul of the legal separation of church and state. Thirty-seven U.S. states have laws limiting the spending of public funds on religious training. In 2006, the Supreme Court case Locke v. Davey upheld the decision of a Washington State scholarship program to withhold promised funding from an otherwise qualified student after learning that he had decided to major in theology at a local Bible College.

Even in the United Kingdom, where secular bachelor’s programs in theology are more common, prominent New Atheists like Richard Dawkins have questioned their validity in the university sphere.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Education, History, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(Local Paper Faith and Values Section) Water Missions creates safe water program in Tanzania

Water Missions International is reaching communities in Tanzania with sustainable, comprehensive safe water solutions by establishing a new country program called Water Missions International ”” Tanzania.

The program, headquartered in Dar es Salaam, serves as the field office for all safe water projects within Tanzania and potential projects in surrounding nations. Tanzania is Water Missions’ 10th country program.

The Charleston-based nonprofit’s country programs function as field offices with nongovernmental organization status in selected countries where native, full-time Water Missions staff members facilitate projects. Staff often travel to neighboring nations to implement additional projects and disaster responses.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Africa, Missions, Science & Technology, Tanzania

(CC) Eliza Griswold–Words against fear

In both poetry and journalism, I’ve always been drawn to the edges of metaphysical and physical places. A poem is a prayer, and a risky one at that: reading or writing a poem requires that we step out of ourselves. We have to enter the world of the poem, and this can be dangerous. As a foreign correspondent, I do the same thing. I lean on certain basic tools, above all a willingness to slow down, step out of myself and listen to what’s happening around me. Both vocations require a love of looking and a tendency toward fierce self-appraisal in order to scour away as much of the muddy distortion that ego offers in a given moment. Both require a nose capable of sniffing out the closest thing to truth.

Growing up as the child of an Episcopal priest in suburban Philadelphia, I frequently felt out of sync with the comfortable, “ordinary” world that surrounded us. I felt that we lived at the portal to a sacred and dangerous world. I was painfully aware, as so many children are, that where our family lived was weird. Our flagstone and clapboard house might look like the others on the block, but it led away from the familiar land of school plays, ice skating and tennis lessons. We lived next to the church in the rectory, on semisanctified and consecrated ground. I had a profound sense that the home we lived in was borrowed. It didn’t belong to us. It was a sanctuary for those in need of pastoral counseling, which sometimes took unusual forms.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CSM) Pope Francis: Is the people's pontiff a revolutionary?

When Italian journalist Gianni Valente traveled to Argentina to cover the country’s economic collapse in 2002 for a Roman Catholic magazine, he came away not with just a story in his notebook but with the seeds of a friendship with a man who struck him as a singular priest ”“ a man with a broad-spectrum empathy, whom the journalist continues to this day to call “my priest.”

Mr. Valente says that Jorge Mario Bergoglio ”“ then-cardinal of Argentina ”“ seemed particularly close to the people; he didn’t just speak in political and social terms about the crisis that wiped out the savings of his nation’s middle class, but he actually spoke with a deep sense of humanity that set him apart from other church leaders of the time. “He talked about the suffering of parents, and how they would cry, but only at night so that their children wouldn’t see,” he recalls.

Cardinal Bergoglio’s ability to see “the heart of each individual,” says Valente, became clear in his own life, as a friendship formed between the two men, over the phone and through letters.

Read it all.

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

Anglican Unscripted Episode Episode 84

“This weeks show is everything you wanted to know about GAFCON I, II, and III but were afraid to ask.”

Thanks to Kevin Kallsen and George Conger+ at Anglican TV

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, GAFCON II 2013, Global South Churches & Primates

To Stave Off Decline, Churches Attract New Members With Beer

With mainline religious congregations dwindling across America, a scattering of churches is trying to attract new members by creating a different sort of Christian community. They are gathering around craft beer.

Some church groups are brewing it themselves, while others are bring the Holy Mysteries to a taproom. The result is not sloshed congregants; rather, it’s an exploratory approach to do church differently.

Leah Stanfield stands at a microphone across the room from the beer taps and reads this evening’s gospel message.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Alcohol/Drinking, Evangelism and Church Growth, Lutheran, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Young Adults

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Almighty God, who hast called us to faith in thee, and hast compassed us about with so great a cloud of witnesses: Grant that we, encouraged by the good examples of thy Saints, may persevere in running the race that is set before us, until at length through thy mercy we, with them, attain to thine eternal joy; through him who is the author and finisher of our faith, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

–American BCP

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

Sunday Worship on November 3rd

2013 Peacemaker Conference – Bishop Mouneer Anis – General Session from Peacemaker Ministries on Vimeo.
1. The bells of St Peter and Paul, Courteenhall in Northamptonshire – BBC Radio 4

2. Choral Evensong from Paisley Abbey – BBC Radio 3

3. Sunday Worship from from Bethany Baptist Church, Cardiff – BBC Radio 4

4. Holy Communion livestreamed from St Helena’s Church, Beaufort, South Carolina at 10:15 am Eastern Time, 3:15 pm London Time

5. Choral Services from the Chapels of King’s College, Cambridge
and Trinity College, Cambridge
and St John’s College, Cambridge
and New College, Oxford

6. Sunday Hour – BBC Radio 2

7. Alpha From HTB
Watch How Does God Guide Us? – Paul Cowley live on November 6th at 7:30pm GMT [2:30pm EST]
Last Week’s talk: How and Why do I Pray? – Alpha Video

8. Bishop Mouneer Anis – Peacemaker Conference Vimeo

9. The East African Revival – John Senyonyi – ATV

10. Paul and the Faithfulness of God – Bishop Tom Wright – Wycliffe Hall Video

11. Various sermons available
All Souls, Langham Place
their 4,000 sermon searchable archive
St James the Less, Pimlico
Cathedral Church of the Advent, Birmingham Alabama

Please join in the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church today Sunday 3rd November, and in particular for Syria, Egypt, Kenya, Eritrea and Iran; and for the Diocese of South Carolina.
12. Topical Prayers – Church of England

13. International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church November 3rd
14,000 martyred for their faith each year, says Gospel for Asia – Christian Today
Pastor Samuel and Pastor Ugyen’s Stories – GFA Video
Prayer for Persecuted Christians – Church of England
Kenya: Two pastors killed in Kenya – Christian Today
Eritrea: Christian woman dies in Eritrean jail, as prisoner of conscience – WWM
Iran: Iranian Christian flogged after drinking Communion wine
Iranians jailed for ”˜house church’ attendance – WWM

14. Sunday Program – current affairs with Edward Stourton – BBC Radio 4

15. Food for Thought
Fresh Focus for IDOP: Where the Most Christians Live as Minorities – Christianity Today
Can the Coptic Church survive? The Christian casualties of Egypt’s struggle with modernity – Paul Marshall – ABC Religion
An age when all faiths are equal – except Christianity – Lord Carey

16. Victoria: IDOP – VoM Video

17. Be Thou My Vision – St Peter’s Antigua

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is the King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory!

–Psalm 24:7-10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Archbishop Justin Welby's message for Diwali 2013

To friends and co-workers for peace in the Hindu communities,

On this, my first Diwali since becoming Archbishop of Canterbury, I wish you great peace and joy as you celebrate with your families and friends both here and across the world. Having moved back to London I am aware that every year the fireworks of ”˜Diwali on the Square’ draw great crowds from all over the capital.

My prayer for you is that in all the busyness of hospitality – of sharing food, flowers and gifts, you would find some moments of quietness and peace.

The lights of Diwali symbolise the renewal of life and hope in the midst of darkness so often prevalent in our world. The spiritual heart is found in the ancient prayer, ”˜lead me from darkness to light.’ This is something that as Christians we share with you, as we focus our faith on Jesus, the light of the world in the coming Advent and Christmas season.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Hinduism, Inter-Faith Relations, Other Faiths

(SCMP) Renewed call for Anglican church to curb priests plagiarising of sermons

The dean of St John’s Cathedral must curb plagiarism by its preachers by setting up strict guidelines and a committee to investigate the practice, a Baptist University academic says.

The call from Chan Sze-chi, a senior lecturer in the school’s religion and philosophy department, comes amid new evidence of plagiarism by several senior priests at the Anglican cathedral and its affiliate, Emmanuel Church, in Pok Fu Lam.

Reverend John Chynchen delivered a sermon at St John’s Cathedral in August that was written by an American pastor in 2004 and published on a website called Sermons That Work.

Read it all and for those interested the website for the Cathedral in Hong Kong is there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(FT) Company register in UK to remove ”˜cloak of secrecy’hiding corruption and tax evasion

Campaigners praised Mr [David] Cameron for taking a lead. Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury and chairman of Christian Aid, said it was a “brave decision” that involved facing down vested interests.

Global Witness, an anti-corruption group, said it was a “historic rollback of corporate secrecy”. Gavin Hayman, director, said: “Life is about to get much more difficult for corrupt politicians, arms traders, drug traffickers and tax evaders. Other countries, including the British tax havens, the EU and the US, now need to follow the UK’s leadership.”

ActionAid, a campaign group, said it would welcome a public registry but said other transparency measures were needed, including country-by-country reporting of tax payments. Read it all (if neceesary another link there.)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Taxes, Theology