Daily Archives: November 20, 2013

(RNS) Survey: Same-sex couples create own rules in wedding planning

a new survey has found that same-sex weddings differ in distinct ways from heterosexual nuptials, and that gay and lesbian couples also vary significantly from each other.

The survey, produced by Community Marketing & Insights, a gay research company, and The Gay Wedding Institute, questioned 916 same-sex couples in the United States who are married (57 percent), in a domestic partnership (19 percent), engaged (18 percent) or in a civil union (5 percent).

The survey found religious leaders officiated at just one in four same-sex marriages, and that only 12 percent of ceremonies were held in religious spaces.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

Andrew Symes: Blessings of same sex partnerships

The Rev Andrew Symes is Executive Secretary of Anglican Mainstream
…the Bishop of Guildford has published guidelines on “Requests for Prayer” from same sex couples

After a long preamble covering all the legal bases, the Bishop [of Guildford] opines that

it would be appropriate for clergy who conscientiously judge a same sex Civil Marriage to be an authentic Christian relationship to similarly pray with, and for, such a couple. Because the teaching of the Church remains that this is not marriage, the texts of the Marriage Services should not be used.

This is already creating a lot of comment. I want to focus on just four issues:

1.The content. Here a Church of England Bishop is saying, in black and white, that its possible for a same sex marriage to be “an authentic Christian relationship”, which should be supported in prayer and by implication blessed by the church, as long as marriage rites are not used!

2.The method. The official church teaching still says that homosexual relationships are sinful. The Pilling Report has not yet been released and the Bishops have not discussed or endorsed it. Even if it does tentatively recommend private blessings of gay marriages, or perhaps as many are now suggesting sets up an “indaba” at parish and Diocesan level before a Synod vote in say 2016, Guildford with his “guidance” has gone ahead and changed the doctrine of the church and pre-empted Pilling and the Bishops’ discussion at a stroke! Andrew Goddard asks:
Might the guidance itself be a sign of what may be delivered by the Pilling Report or an attempt to force the hands of the House and College when they discuss the Report?

3.The timing (1) This has come out just before General Synod, and just after (or perhaps even during) a visit from the Primate of Nigeria to Guildford. I’m sure that the English Bishop did not wish to insult his Nigerian guest but there is no doubt it will have been seen this way. Was the timing of the Bishop’s guidelines an unfortunate mistake, or was it done as a deliberate challenge to GAFCON’s clear position on maintaining the traditional line on sexuality?

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

(CT) Kate Tracy–Reality TV show lands serpent-handling millennial pastor in court

The choice to become a reality TV star took an unfortunate turn for Andrew Hamblin after Tennessee wildlife officials confiscated more than 50 venomous snakes from the young pastor’s Pentecostal church.

On Friday, the 22-year-old star of Snake Salvation and pastor of Tabernacle Church of God in Lafollete pled not guilty to a wildife possession charge””and then continued to handle snakes at his church.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

(NPR) In Nigeria's Bloody Fight, Who's Gaining The Upper Hand?

In Maiduguri, the prisoner tells journalists that foreign fighters from three neighboring countries were among the insurgents in the Islamist rebellion, fueling widespread fears of the violence spreading beyond Nigeria.

“We do have members of the group from Chad, Cameroon and Niger who actively participate in most of our attacks,” he says.

Boko Haram boasts of links to al-Qaida and other terrorist groups, adding to the fears of a nation already prone to deadly explosions of tribal and sectarian violence.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Military / Armed Forces, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Perks Ease Way in Health Plans for Lawmakers

While millions of Americans have been left to fend for themselves and go through the frustrating experience of trying to navigate the federal exchange, members of Congress and their aides have all sorts of assistance to help them sort through their options and enroll.

Lawmakers and the employees who work in their “official offices” will receive coverage next year through the small-business marketplace of the local insurance exchange, known as D.C. Health Link, which has staff members close at hand for guidance.

“D.C. Health Link set up shop right here in Congress,” said Eleanor Holmes Norton, the delegate to the House from the nation’s capital.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, Senate, Theology

The Phil. Inquirer art. on Frank Schaefer being suspended 30 days for performing a same-sex wedding

Schaefer, a Methodist pastor put on trial for presiding over his son’s same-sex wedding, said he expected to be defrocked at the end of that period.

If asked, he said, he would officiate over another gay marriage during his 30-day suspension.

“I am no longer willing to accept the church’s hate speeches, the church’s treatment of some people like they are second-grade Christians. We must stop harming beloved children of God in the name of Christ,” said Schaefer, pastor of Zion United Methodist Church of Iona in Lebanon County, Pa.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Other Churches, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(UMNS) Frank Schaefer suspended 30 days for performing same-sex wedding

The Rev. Frank Schaefer has been given a 30-day suspension by the jury in his church trial and told that if he can’t uphold the Book of Discipline in its entirety he must surrender his credentials.

Schaefer was found guilty Nov. 18 of violating the church’s law against pastors performing same-sex unions and of disobedience to the order and discipline of The United Methodist Church. He acknowledged having performed the same-sex wedding of his son, Tim, in 2007.

The 30 day-suspension will cover both convictions, the jury said in a decision announced about 9 p.m. Eastern time. Schaefer also is to be monitored by his district superintendent in the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference and must meet with the conference’s Board of Ordained Ministry during the suspension period.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Other Churches, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Cristina Odone –Despite our secularist enemies, we are on the brink of a Christian Spring

George Carey claims that Christianity is one generation away from extinction….[and he] has a point. The forces of atheism are ranged against us and, as he points out, too many Christian clergy cannot stand up to the challenge. They are too ready to dilute their ethos ”“ look at what has been happening with faith schools, both Anglican and Catholic.

But before we give up on the faith of our forefathers, let’s consider three new factors. Pope Francis, Justin Welby and the backlash effect. The extraordinary impact of Francis has been felt not only among his immediate audience ”“ Italians, who are now retuning to Mass ”“ but, incredibly, among the intelligentsia that is traditionally so sceptical of Christian values. Jonathan Freedland, who is neither a Christian nor a conservative, went so far as to predict that in college dorms around the globe, students will replace their posters of Che Guevara with ones of Francis. Justin Welby’s impact has been more subtle, but he too has shown Christianity in a new light: inclusive, compassionate, and above all truthful. No wasting time and effort on false gods like money, celebrity, status.

Both men have struck a chord. Christians ”“ and many non-Christians ”“ have grown weary of the relentless pursuit of shallow goals. We have grown weary of being mocked for holding dear our heritage and its immortal values: charity, honesty, humility, and love. “Backlash” sounds too violent for a Christian response, but that is what I believe is taking root. I see it in the effort to block porn on the internet, the generous reaction to the Philippines’ disaster, the distaste for bloated bankers and for OTT, twerking celebrities.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Globalization, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

Paul Krugman–Is the Economy in a Permanent Slump?

…what if the world we’ve been living in for the past five years is the new normal? What if depression-like conditions are on track to persist, not for another year or two, but for decades?

You might imagine that speculations along these lines are the province of a radical fringe. And they are indeed radical; but fringe, not so much. A number of economists have been flirting with such thoughts for a while. And now they’ve moved into the mainstream. In fact, the case for “secular stagnation” ”” a persistent state in which a depressed economy is the norm, with episodes of full employment few and far between ”” was made forcefully recently at the most ultrarespectable of venues, the I.M.F.’s big annual research conference. And the person making that case was none other than Larry Summers. Yes, that Larry Summers.

And if Mr. Summers is right, everything respectable people have been saying about economic policy is wrong, and will keep being wrong for a long time.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Edmund of East Anglia

O God of ineffable mercy, who didst give grace and fortitude to blessed Edmund the king to triumph over the enemy of his people by nobly dying for thy Name: Bestow on us thy servants, we beseech thee, the shield of faith, wherewith we may withstand the assaults of our ancient enemy; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who didst wonderfully deliver thy people out of Egypt and didst bring them into their own land: Deliver us, we beseech thee, from the tyranny of sin, and bring us into that land where the Prince of Peace reigneth, and the lives of men proclaim thy righteousness; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–L. E. H. Stephens-Hodge

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues, and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And in the Spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed; on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

–Revelation 21:9-14

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(New Republic) Peter Gordon–When Religion Had a Mind: The history of philosophical religion

But there is a deeper reason for its decline. At least in Western Europe and North America, most of us now tend to conceive of reason and religion as belonging to distinct and even incompatible domains. Modern believers, irrespective of confession, pattern themselves after the Protestant model: religion has withdrawn into a space of privacy and irrationality where its truth must be accepted not on the basis of philosophical argument but on faith alone. Atheists and theists, even if they disagree about everything else, agree that God and Reason belong in different houses; their quarrel is about the legitimacy of each domain and their possible relations, not the separation between them. In the concluding pages of his book, [Carlos] Fraenkel offers the exceedingly curious suggestion that modern theorists of liberalism such as John Rawls still cleave to the interpretative principle of philosophical religion: Rawls held that religious citizens should be permitted to participate in liberal deliberation, provided that they translate their claims into the neutral language of public reason. Here Fraenkel pushes too far, since the translation proviso is meant to expose a non-religious rationality behind religions rather than a common religious core.

This breakup of the old philosophical union between God and Reason is another name for the great disentanglement in the history of ideas that some theorists still call secularization. The breakup may strike us as irrevocable. But if Fraenkel is right, then the story of philosophical religion reveals a painful irony: the democratic sentiments that now inhibit us from distinguishing between non-philosophers and philosophers have also made it increasingly difficult for us to look past the literal contents of various religious traditions to a shared philosophical commitment within. Our own egalitarianism, in other words, is an obstruction to the kind of contextualist pluralism once upheld by the most subtle thinkers of the Abrahamic religions. The most zealous advocates for religion today are populists and literalists, and they have abandoned the principles of interpretation that made philosophical religion a possibility. Nathan’s is a lonely voice in the midst of war.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Philosophy, Religion & Culture

Economist–A government-guaranteed basic income program?

WHAT if America were to scrap all its anti-poverty programmes””welfare, food stamps, unemployment benefits, the works””and replace them with an unconditional basic income (UBI) for everybody? Even in a Congress beset by less extraordinary levels of dysfunction, the idea would have little chance of becoming law. It’s fun to theorise, though. And if Switzerland approves a referendum to send all of its citizens $2,800 a month, the debate will have a fascinating new reference point.

Annie Lowrey’s article in the New York Times Magazine explains that both the left and the right have reason to favour a basic income. Liberals support the idea because it would elevate 50m Americans above the poverty line overnight. Some on the right, like Charles Murray, are keen to eliminate rent-seeking””and much of the federal bureaucracy””with a UBI that gives everyone the same government benefit. “A single father with two jobs and two children would no longer have to worry about the hassle of visiting a bunch of offices to receive benefits,” Ms Lowrey writes. “And giving him a single lump sum might help him use his federal dollars better. Housing vouchers have to be spent on housing, food stamps on food. Those dollars would be more valuable””both to the recipient and the economy at large””if they were fungible.”

The economic effects of a basic income are debatable. Some economists think a UBI would disincentivise work; others argue that it would enhance entrepreneurialism by easing the path to start a small business or switch careers.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Poverty, The U.S. Government, Theology

(America) Kevin Spinale–Eugene O'Neill's Dark Passage

To some extent, Elizabeth Jordan’s depiction of Eugene O’Neill’s world as sunless and sinister was quite accurate. He suffered and saw the sins and suffering of others. Dorothy Day recounts the day when she and O’Neill witnessed O’Neill’s friend Louis Holliday inject enough heroin to kill himself in a Greenwich Village bar in 1918. The incident affected both Day and O’Neill deeply. Soon after Holliday’s death, Day left the Village and became a nursing student, and Eugene left for Provincetown. The death haunted O’Neill all his life.

Because of his illness, O’Neill was unable to grip a pen and write anything during the last seven years of his life. Having moved to Marblehead, Mass., he became isolated. He did not want to see others, nor did anyone wish to see him. In 1950, O’Neill’s son, Eugene Jr., committed suicide. The event was especially gruesome; some time after his son had slashed his wrists and one of his ankles in a bathtub, he tried to save himself and died on the floor of his house near the front door. O’Neill did not attend his son’s funeral. He was also estranged from his daughter, Oona, after she married Charlie Chaplin. Another son, Shane, was a heroin addict also disowned by his father. Shane O’Neill committed suicide in 1977. In the last years of his life, O’Neill made his third wife sole executor of his estate and made no mention of his children.

This was a dark world that was saturated with death and desire for death. But it is not, as Elizabeth Jordan pointed out in 1928, a world confined to Eugene O’Neill.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Theatre/Drama/Plays