Daily Archives: November 22, 2013

(WSJ) Meir Soloveichik: God Delivered the Pilgrims””and My People

The once-in-a-lifetime convergence of Thanksgiving Day with the first day of Hanukkah has inspired culinary fusions like deep-fried turkey, song parodies and clever T-shirts. One enterprising lad has even invented the “Menurkey”: a menorah (candelabrum) in the shape of a turkey. Humor aside, one group of American Jews””the members of New York’s Congregation Shearith Israel ””have reason to find in this year’s calendrical happenstance a source both of institutional memory and of profound pride. Of all American synagogues, Shearith Israel has been celebrating both Hanukkah and Thanksgiving from the very beginning.

As with the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock, the origins of Shearith Israel trace back to a small group of religious freedom-seekers and a treacherous ocean passage to the New World. In September 1654, 23 Jews set sail from Recife, Brazil, where the Portuguese Inquisition had made practicing Judaism impossible. Intending to return to Europe but captured by pirates mid-voyage, they gave themselves up for lost””until, as a congregational history puts it, “God caused a savior to arise unto them, the captain of a French ship arrayed for battle, and he rescued them out of the hands of the outlaws . . . and conducted them until they reached the end of the inhabited earth called New Holland.”

Once arrived safely in New Holland, better known as New Amsterdam, the refugees formed the first Jewish community in North America.

Read it all.

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

Yale police issue warning about 'Knockout Game' after more knockouts incidents

“The ‘Knockout Game’ appears to be a national trend,” said Yale University police Chief Ronnell A. Higgins in a statement Thursday.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Violence

James McAuley on Dallas and JFK's Demise–The City With a Death Wish in Its Eye

For 50 years, Dallas has done its best to avoid coming to terms with the one event that made it famous: the assassination of John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. That’s because, for the self-styled “Big D,” grappling with the assassination means reckoning with its own legacy as the “city of hate,” the city that willed the death of the president.

It will miss yet another opportunity this year. On Nov. 22 the city, anticipating an international spotlight, will host an official commemoration ceremony. Dallas being Dallas, it will be quite the show: a jet flyover, a performance from the Naval Academy Men’s Glee Club and remarks from the historian David McCullough on Kennedy’s legacy.

But once again, spectacle is likely to trump substance: not one word will be said at this event about what exactly the city was in 1963, when the president arrived in what he called, just moments before his death, “nut country.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Office of the President, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(NY Times) In Kennedy’s Death, a Turning Point for a Nation Already Torn

Fifty years after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the nation seems to be experiencing a kind of fairy tale about itself, alternately bright and dark.

It is inspiring, but also deflating, to see and hear again (and again) the handsome, vigorous president, the youngest ever elected to the office, as he beckons the country forth to the future, to the “New Frontier,” and its promise of conquest: putting a man on the moon, defeating sharply defined evils ”” totalitarianism, poverty, racial injustice.

This, we have been reminded, was the dream Kennedy nourished, and much of it died with him, when the sharp cracks of rifle fire broke out as his motorcade rolled through the sunstruck streets of Dallas. With this horrific, irrational deed, a curse was laid upon the land, and the people fell from grace.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Office of the President, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Violence

(Anglican Ink) George Conger–Carey-bashers miss story of Anglican renewal and reform

However, it was his comments about youth work that caught the imagination of the British press.

“As I look at the church today the most urgent and worrying gap is in young peoples work. So many churches have no ministry to young people and that means they have no interest in the future. As I have repeated many times in the past ”˜we are one generation away from extinction’. We have to give cogent reasons to young people why the Christian faith is relevant to them,” the archbishop said.

Ignoring Lord Carey’s principle points The Times, Daily Mirror, Independent, Daily Telegraph, Daily Express, and Daily Mail focused on his assertion that “[t]he Church of England could be one generation away from extinction.” Just about all of the press reports and commentary misconstrued what Lord Carey was trying to say. Renewal, growth, evangelism — even optimism — was at the heart of the archbishop’s Shropshire speech, not doom and gloom.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture

(Times of Israel) Israel’s envoy to UK leads study at General Synod

Faith should be seen as an integral part of peace-making in the Middle East, said Israel’s ambassador to the United Kingdom in a unique presentation at the annual meeting of the Church of England’s highest legislative body.

“I no longer think the standard negotiator’s toolbox is wide, deep or rich enough to solve the most difficult disputes,” said Ambassador Daniel Taub on Wednesday afternoon, who offered his reflections on negotiating in the Middle East, and spoke about his emerging conviction about the role of faith in reconciliation.

“Faith and our faith texts offer untapped tools for transforming our dialogue.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Foreign Relations, Inter-Faith Relations, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Other Faiths, Politics in General

(Church Times) General Synod endorses new women-bishops package

Almost exactly a year after the fall of the draft Measure to enable women to become bishops, described at the time as a “train crash”, the General Synod has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new package to put the legislation “back on track”. It includes a brief Measure, and a House of Bishops declaration.

After a debate on Wednesday morning, only eight members voted against a motion to welcome the proposals, and 25 recorded abstentions; 378 voted in favour.

Speaking at a press conference after the vote, the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James Langstaff, who chaired the steering committee that produced the new package, said: “The train is on the track and moving forward, and we know there are some stations to pass through along the way, but we can see the end of this particular journey.”Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Women

If there were ever a Day to Learn that Truth is Stranger than Fiction, Today is that Day

50 years ago today, John F. Kennedy, C.S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley all died. Simply remarkable–KSH.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Parish Ministry

CS Lewis on CS Lewis Day (II)–His description of his own Conversion

You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words “compelle intrare,” compel them to come in, have been so abused be wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.

–C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy (Harcourt Brace, 1956), p.228

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Church History, Soteriology, Theology

CS Lewis on CS Lewis Day (I)–on Love, Hell and Vulnerability

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is hell.

–C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1960), pp. 138-139

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of C S Lewis

O God of searing truth and surpassing beauty, we give thee thanks for Clive Staples Lewis whose sanctified imagination lighteth fires of faith in young and old alike; Surprise us also with thy joy and draw us into that new and abundant life which is ours in Christ Jesus, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Apologetics, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry, Poetry & Literature, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Gracious God, whose blessed Son set forth thy love towards mankind, in his miracles of healing and mercy, making both the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak: Grant that our ears may be opened to thy Word, and our tongues loosed to proclaim it to others, and to further the spreading of thy gospel among all nations; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Euchologium Anglicanum

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

(CSM) John Campbell–Yes, Boko Haram killings and kidnappings continue to rise in Nigeria

Despite this relative calm in urban areas, Boko Haram killings and kidnappings have not diminished. Recent analysis of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Nigeria Security Tracker indicates that they have in fact increased.

Fighting has instead shifted to rural areas. The media reports Boko Haram efforts to cut off access on the road between Kano and Maiduguri by targeting truck drivers, whom they behead using chain saws.

There are also media reports of Boko Haram carrying out forced conversions to Islam in rural areas, with the alternative being death.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Military / Armed Forces, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Police/Fire, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Anthony Esolen–The Great Epics Are Theological & Mark the Hard Path to Beatitude

Some years ago I got into a rather tense conversation with a couple of students in the office of the English department. We were talking about The Lord of the Rings, and I remarked that nothing like it could be written now, because our culture””for want of a better word, I must use the word “culture” to describe our mass habits, after the reality of culture has withered away””no longer possesses a vision of the world and of man that would sustain such a work. Tolkien himself could write his trilogy only because he was something of an anachronism, as he was steeped in the medieval epics””the sagas of Snorri Sturluson, the Finnish Kalevala, the Nibelungenlied, Beowulf, and so forth””and was a devout Catholic, seeing all things by the light of revelation and three thousand years of meditation upon the ways of God to man.

The students resisted. No youngster likes to hear that he lives in an age of decline and decrepitude. But over the years I’ve grown more convinced that my hunch was correct. Not only about the decrepitude””the palsy of the soul that mistakes cynicism for sophistication, and cold-hearted lust for love. Consider the ringing verse from Isaiah: “For my ways are not your ways, nor are my thoughts your thoughts, saith the Lord. For as high as the heavens are above the sea, so far are my ways from your ways, and my thoughts from your thoughts.”

That’s a verse that would set Homer himself to thinking. It expresses the vast distance between the divine and the human. But it is also addressed to man: it is a clarion call for man to set out on a journey to cross that distance, even as God reaches out to man in the events of human life. The sentiment on the part of the prophet is not despair but fear and wonder, and the appeal of an adventure in being itself.

Read it all.

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

(SMH) In Australia, the Case to raise the pension age to 70: report

The pension age could be pushed back to 70, and older Australians forced to use growing equity in their homes to help pay for government services under proposals designed to help Australia cope with an ageing population.

In a paper titled ”An Ageing Australia: Preparing for the Future”, the Productivity Commission projects Australia’s population will grow from about 23 million in 2012 to about 38 million by 2060, with a substantial increase in the number of retirees as people live longer.

That will mean lower overall participation in the workforce, and more pressures on governments to pay for higher health, aged care and pension costs.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Australia / NZ, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pensions, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Theology

(Psych. Today) Sarah Gervais–Speak Up or Stay Silent? 5 Reasons to Confront Prejudice

Research shows that most people believe they will stand up to prejudice””questioning the perpetrator, noting the problematic nature of the act, or exclaiming surprise. However, less than half confront when faced with an actual instance of prejudice (Swim & Hyers, 1999). Early research in this area suggested that there is good reason for the discrepancy between what people say they’ll do and what they actually do. It turns out that there are some costs to confronting. Most of them are interpersonal””confronters are not always viewed particularly positively. They are sometimes likened to complainers or trouble-makers and often regarded as mean, impolite, or aggressive (Kaiser & Miller, 2001; Swim & Hyers, 1999; Dodd, Giuliano, Boutell, & Moran, 2001).

Yet, recent research reveals 5 surprising outcomes of confronting, suggesting that you are still better off doing something rather than nothing when it comes to prejudice.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Psychology, Theology

Alarming Trend Dept.–Potentially Fatal ”˜Knockout’ Game Targeting Strangers May Be Spreading

A terrifying new ”˜game’ that’s already caused deaths in Syracuse, St. Louis and New Jersey is sweeping the nation, and it preys upon unsuspecting people walking the streets, anywhere.

A recent report from New York-based CBS 2 shed light on the growing trend, displaying unsettling footage of teens participating in this game ”“ which goes by the name ”˜Knockout’ ”“ and involves randomly targeting passersby, with the ultimate goal being to knock them out with one punch as they walk by.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Violence