Daily Archives: November 24, 2013

(Spectator) Liza Filby–The death of Tory Anglicanism

While the Tory leadership may still sometime say that Britain is a Christian country and send out copies of the King James Bible to schools, there is little sense of a religious underpinning to current Tory thinking. If David Cameron has sought to hark back to a pre-Thatcherite tradition of Tory paternalism, he has done so without reference to its Anglican roots. Indeed, the confusion surrounding his ”˜Big Society’ agenda may in part be down to its secular articulation (especially odd given that faith groups are expected to do so much of the work).

Until recently, this secularisation had gone unnoticed, concealed under the broader process of Cameron’s modernisation of the party, but the pushing through of gay marriage has changed all that. If the debate reveals anything, it is that the tables have turned; the Conservative party appears to have out-liberalised the Church of England. Cameron’s argument that gay marriage is an inherently Conservative idea is a legitimate one (which certainly reflects popular opinion, including Christian) but he has found it difficult to sell to those ”˜swivel-eyed loons’, the Tory rank and file. They feel at odds with the party leadership in a way that many once felt at odds with the bishops. It is no wonder that many are now converting to Ukip.

Gay marriage may be seen by some as representative of the divorce of the Tory party from its Christian principles but, more importantly, it suggests that the gulf between its leadership and the grass roots may be religious as much as political.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Secularism

(AP) Pennsylvania Methodist pastor expects to be defrocked after suspension

Jon Boger, who filed the initialcomplaint against Schaefer, was outraged by Schaefer’s recalcitrance.

The career Naval officer grew up in Zion United Methodist Church of Iona, the church that Schaefer has led for 11 years.

“Frank Schaefer sat here and openly rebuked the United Methodist Church, its policies, standards and doctrines,” Bolger said when called as a rebuttal witness. “He should no longer be in service as a minister of the United Methodist Church, not at Iona, not anywhere else.”

Read it all.

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

Notable and Quotable (II)–Robert Frost on what Home Really Means

“Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in.”

The Death of the Hired Man, 121-122, quoted by yours truly in the morning sermon

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ecclesiology, Eschatology, History, Poetry & Literature, Theology

Notable and Quotable (I)–C.S. Lewis on the Need to Aim for Heaven now

Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who seton foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth “thrown in”: aim at earth and you will get neither.

–C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book III, Chapter 10, quoted by yours truly in the morning sermon

Posted in Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology

NY Times' Analysis–A Step, if Modest, Toward Slowing Iran’s Weapons Capability

The interim accord struck with Iran on Sunday interrupts the country’s nuclear progress for the first time in nearly a decade, but requires Iran to make only a modest down payment on the central problem.

The deal does not roll back the vast majority of the advances Iran has made in the past five years, which have drastically shortened what nuclear experts call its “dash time” to a bomb ”” the minimum time it would take to build a weapon if Iran’s supreme leader or military decided to pursue that path.

Lengthening that period, so that the United States and its allies would have time to react, is the ultimate goal of President Obama’s negotiating team. It is also a major source of friction between the White House and two allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, which have made no secret of their belief that they are being sold down the river.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East, Politics in General

(Washington Post) Iran, world powers reach historic nuclear deal

Iran and six major powers agreed early Sunday on a historic deal that freezes key parts of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for temporary relief on some economic sanctions.

The agreement, sealed at a 3 a.m. signing ceremony in Geneva’s Palace of Nations, requires Iran to halt or scale back parts of its nuclear infrastructure, the first such pause in more than a decade.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif hailed the deal, which was reached after four days of hard bargaining, including an eleventh-hour intervention by Secretary of State John F. Kerry and foreign ministers from Europe, Russia and China.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Iran, Middle East, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord Jesus, with whom we have passed another Christian year, following thee from thy birth in our flesh to thy sufferings and triumph, and listening to the utterances and counsels of thy Spirit: Even thus would we also end this year of grace, and stand complete in thee our Righteousness; humbly beseeching thee that we may evermore continue in thy faith and abide in thy love; who liveth and reigneth with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

–Henry Alford

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures for ever!

–Psalm 118:1

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(First Things On the Square) George Weigel–JFK After 50 Years

Fifty years after his death…I fear that much of the Kennedy mythos is an obstacle to the flowering of Catholic witness in America””and indeed to a proper understanding of modern American history.

The myth of Camelot, for example, misses the truth about the assassination: that John F. Kennedy was a casualty of the Cold War, murdered by a dedicated communist. “Camelot” also demeaned the liberal anti-communist internationalism that Kennedy embodied; that deprecation eventually led Kennedy’s party into the wilderness of neo-isolationist irresponsibility from which it has yet to emerge.

Then there is the mythology surrounding Kennedy’s 1960 speech on church-and-state, delivered to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association….

Finally, there is the phenomenon that might be called the Kennedy Catholic: a public official who wears his or her Catholicism as a kind of ethnic marker, an inherited trait, but whose thinking about public policy is rarely if ever shaped by Catholic social doctrine or settled Catholic moral conviction.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Office of the President, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Guardian) John Naughton–Aldous Huxley: the prophet of our brave new digital dystopia

Aldous Huxley never attracted [the] kind of attention [that C.S. Lewis did]. And yet there are good reasons for regarding him as the more visionary of the two. For one of the ironies of history is that visions of our networked future can be bracketed by the imaginative nightmares of Huxley and his fellow Etonian George Orwell. Orwell feared that we would be destroyed by the things we fear ”“ the state surveillance apparatus so vividly evoked in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Huxley’s nightmare, set out in Brave New World, his great dystopian novel, was that we would be undone by the things that delight us.

Huxley was a child of England’s intellectual aristocracy. His grandfather was Thomas Henry Huxley, the Victorian biologist who was the most effective evangelist for Darwin’s theory of evolution. (He was colloquially known as “Darwin’s Bulldog”.) His mother was Matthew Arnold’s niece. His brother, Julian and half-brother Andrew both became distinguished biologists. In the circumstances it’s not surprising that Aldous turned out to be a writer who ranged far beyond the usual preoccupations of literary folk ”“ into history, philosophy, science, politics, mysticism and psychic exploration. His biographer wrote: “He offered as his personal motto the legend hung around the neck of a ragged scarecrow of a man in a painting by Goya: Aún aprendo. I am still learning.” He was, in that sense, a modern Voltaire.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, History, Parish Ministry, Science & Technology

Todd Stepp–The Feast of Christ the King

This Sunday we will be celebrating Christ the King Sunday (or “The Reign of Christ the King”)! – It is the last Sunday after Pentecost and the last Sunday of the Christian year. It is also the Sunday just prior to our entering into the holy season of Advent.

The observance of Christ the King Sunday is really a relatively new celebration. It was originally instituted by Pius XI, Bishop of Rome, for celebration on the last Sunday of October. However, after Vatican II, it was moved to its current location on the Christian calendar.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Theology

Economist–Are children fair game for sophisticated and relentless marketing techniques?

While her husband’s health-care plans founder, Michelle Obama is pressing ahead with her own. Last month, joined by Rosita, a turquoise Latina muppet, and Elmo, a shaggy red one, she announced that Sesame Street’s puppets would promote fruit and vegetables rather than sugary and fatty fare; Cookie Monster may need to find himself a new job. Mrs Obama’s fight against childhood obesity has several fronts (she calls it “Let’s Move!”) but marketing is an important one. In September she convened the first White House meeting on marketing food to children. Their preferences “are being shaped by the marketing campaigns you all create”, she told the assembled executives. “And that’s where the problem comes in.”

To market anything that might appeal to young consumers is to risk a scolding. Advertising entices children to drink and smoke, makes them fat and sexualises them early, its critics allege. To tout even wholesome products to children, some claim, is to exploit their naivety and thus to deceive them. Crusaders like Mrs Obama have helped embarrass companies. Coca-Cola said in May that it would not advertise to children younger than 12 anywhere in the world. Last year Disney promised not to promote junk food on television programmes for children.

Such gestures make the best of an increasingly constraining climate….

Read it all.

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

(FT) Chris Cook–The young are doomed ”“ and only the old can save them

First, a lot is meant to happen before you are 35. It used to be that parents were a few years into their duties at least. No longer. Family formation is being delayed ”“ sadly, often for too long. High housing costs and weak wages mean young people may not feel able to have the family lives that they would want.

Second, a world of ever-escalating house prices will embed inequality….

These problems are too serious for (usually older) people to wave away. Nor are they easy to solve at a stroke. Part of the problem is that global competition and automation have removed a lot of decent starting jobs. But there are ways to help. We could subsidise employment and education for the young a bit more. Tax and planning law could be reformed to create incentives to build new housing. None of the obvious pro-young ideas is simple, but none is even on the agenda. Politics tends to pander to the old.

Read it all (if necessary, another link may be found there).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Theology, Young Adults

(Telegraph) Christopher Howse–CS Lewis memorial: A stone for a lover, not for a poet

At the dedication of a memorial [pictured in the link] to C”‰S Lewis in Poets’ Corner yesterday, the Westminster Abbey choir sang one of his poems, “Love’s as Warm as Tears” (to a setting by Paul Mealor, who wrote the music for Ubi Caritas at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011).

Lewis was not a great poet, if a more accomplished one than Adam Fox, whose memorial is visible across the south transept. Lewis had plotted to have Fox, a clerical fellow of Magdalen, elected Professor of Poetry in 1938, even though the candidate himself was well aware of his limitations as a poet or academic. (He admired Plato and wrote a long poem called Old King Coel, published by the Oxford University Press.)

The success of Lewis’s scheme probably lost him any professorship at Oxford, but he was turning in any case against academic politics (as reflected in his novel That Hideous Strength)….

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