Daily Archives: December 16, 2013

(RNS) Laura Turner–Peter O’Toole: ”˜No one can take Jesus away from me.’

In a 2007 interview with The New York Times, O’Toole described himself as a “retired Christian.” He played, among others, the pope (twice”“onstage early in his career and in “The Tudors”), a Catholic priest (“Fore Greater Glory“), and a British lord who thought he was Jesus (“The Ruling Class”).

O’Toole left his Catholic faith behind in his childhood, but often had high praise for the figure behind Christianity. Speaking of his admiration of the Sermon on the Mount, O’Toole said, “No one can take Jesus away from me”¦there’s no doubt there was a historical figure of tremendous importance, with enormous notions. Such as peace.” He didn’t have much use for the institution of the Catholic church, but he held Jesus in reverence.
– See more at: http://lauraturner.religionnews.com/2013/12/15/peter-otoole-no-one-can-take-jesus-away-from-me/#sthash.2UVvUEvq.dpuf

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

(AP) Methodist pastor in Pa. won't surrender credentials over son's same-sex wedding; defies order

A United Methodist minister in Pennsylvania plans to defy a church order to surrender his credentials for performing a same-sex wedding.

The Rev. Frank Schaefer says he cannot uphold the church’s Book of Discipline because he finds it discriminatory. The Methodist church accepts gay and lesbian members but rejects the practice of homosexuality as “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

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

(SMH) Bettina Arndt–The unspoken truth about marriage and kids

Contrary to expectations, it has turned out that children don’t provide the glue to keep cohabiting parents together. Marriage – often dismissed as just a piece of paper – does make a difference.

This year, the ”Knot Yet” report on changing marriage patterns, by the Washington-based Brookings Institution, examined why this was so and suggested the answer may lie in the decision-making process.

Most people marry after a process of discovering mutual commitment to long-term goals. That’s often lacking in cohabiting relationships where couples move in together sometimes because a lease runs out, or they are seeking cheaper rent, or it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Families that evolve from these non-decisions are, unsurprisingly, far less stable.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Theology

(Anto Akkara) Persecuted Indian Christians Evangelize”¦by Forgiving

Some more active persecutors tell similar stories. “We harassed them and destroyed their houses. But they have no hatred or anger against us,” said Junos Digal, a member of the mob that attacked Christian targets. Squatting on a mat, with a Bible in front of him, he continued: “They are still suffering. But they have no complaints and they are living happily. There is certainly something special about how their faith enables them to overcome difficulties. This has brought me here. If Jesus could influence people’s lives to such an extent, I would prefer to be a part of that faith,” Digal said.

Asked whether he was worried that other Hindu fundamentalists would not turn their ire toward him for betraying their cause, Digal gave an interesting reply: “Many of us were misled. Now they will accept the reality. I am not worried about that.” Junos’s wife, Sailama, embraced Christian faith before he did. She said simply: “My conscience made me take this decision.” She too is unworried about a possible angry reaction from militant Hindus. “ God will protect us,” she says. “If we live, we live for Christ and if we die, we die for Christ.”

The entry of more than a dozen such new converts to their congregation brought joy and comfort to the Christians who had held to their faith amid persecution. “In our suffering, our faith has been strengthened,” said Jayanti Digal. “Even when we were suffering, our faith kept us going. Now we are glad that even those who attacked us have started embracing our faith,” she said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Foreign Relations, Hinduism, India, Inter-Faith Relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

A WSJ Portrait of McAfee's Chief–Fighting Cybercrime Isn't Just Business

Cybercriminals generally fall into one of three categories, he says. First there are the “Anonymouses of the world” or the hacktivists””people who expose information about a company or government they morally oppose. Second is organized crime. “They’re realizing there’s far more money in cybercrime than prostitution,” Mr. DeCesare says. “You can buy somebody’s I.D. for less than $10 online.” Third are activities funded by states and other political groups. “Every government has a cyber division,” he says, including the U.S. But cyber dangers now stretch beyond state lines to groups such as al Qaeda. “Cybercrime is a lot like that””[the country is] almost not relevant anymore,” making it difficult to hold governments accountable.

From a consumer standpoint, Mr. DeCesare knows from personal experience how easy it is to be fooled online. One of his three children once clicked on a site that turned out to be pornographic. “A Selena Gomez site was not what it was advertised to be,” he remembers. Mr. DeCesare now cautions his children against going to celebrity-related websites, which are common points of attack. The “bad guys,” he says, often build their own sites around popular stars.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

(SL Tribune) Laws against Mormon polygamists lead to win for plural marriage

“The state has got to feel a little foolish enforcing these old statutes that are particular to Utah history,” says Kathleen Flake, chair of Mormon studies at the University of Virginia. “We no longer criminalize adultery or fornication. Any college dormitory could run afoul of these laws.”

Americans today recognize “a zone of privacy around sexual activity,” says Flake, who is working on a book about Mormon polygamy. “Why isn’t that granted to people who believe themselves to be married to multiple partners as opposed to those who simply have multiple partners?”

Now it is, at least to one judge.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Mormons, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(BBC) South Sudan quashes coup attempt, says President Kiir

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir says an attempted coup by soldiers loyal to his sacked former deputy Riek Machar has been put down.

It comes after heavy gunfire overnight in the capital, Juba.

Mr Kiir told reporters in the capital that the government was in full control and the culprits being pursued, and announced a night-time curfew.

Several people are reported wounded and hundreds of civilians have sought refuge at the UN mission in Juba.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --South Sudan, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Sudan, Theology, Violence

(Gallup) Honesty and Ethics Rating of Clergy Slides to New Low

Americans’ rating of the honesty and ethics of the clergy has fallen to 47%, the first time this rating has dropped below 50% since Gallup first asked about the clergy in 1977. Clergy have historically ranked near the top among professions on this measure, hitting a high rating of 67% in 1985.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology

(CNN Belief Blog) Russell Moore–Why Christians need Flannery O'Connor

The prayers are jarring because they are so personal and raw, clearly not written to “edify the saints” in a published manuscript. They are, well, just prayers.

Part of the rawness and authenticity of the prayers come with the way O’Connor refuses to sentimentalize her personal relationship with Jesus (thought it’s clear she has one). She is here constantly aware of her own fallenness and of the seeming silence of the God to whom she pours out these little notes.

O’Connor notes that her attention is “fugitive” in prayer. She confesses that hell seems more “feasible” in her mind than heaven because, “I can fancy the tortures of the damned but I cannot imagine the disembodied souls hanging in a crystal for all eternity praising God.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Christology, History, Other Churches, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Soteriology, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

(First Things On the Square) William Simon–The Rise of Roman Catholic Megachurches

This means that the U.S. Catholic population, which is projected to grow to nearly 80,000,000 by 2038, will be served by only 25,000 priests. Over a fifty year period, the American Catholic Church will see a 50 percent increase in members and a 60 percent decline in the number of priests to serve them.

As the Church’s demographics have changed and vocations have declined, some parishes have become larger and more complex. One third of American parishes have grown in size to what would be considered a “mega-church”””in the Protestant Evangelical community, a mega-church is one with more than 2,000 members. A few American Catholic churches have as many as 20,000 parishioners. As parishes continue to expand, creative pastors and staff are launching dozens of new ministries and activities for people of all ages.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic

Archbishop Welby meets the Hindu Christian Forum this past Friday

The Archbishop of Canterbury met with members of the Hindu Christian Forum at Lambeth Palace last Friday.

Archbishop Justin heard about the history of the Forum and its current work, including the innovative ”˜Comparing Notes’ dialogue series, and contributions to this year’s Inter Faith Week.

The conversation also covered a number of issues including understandings of conversion, the place of faith in society, and the recent inclusion of caste as a category within equalities legislation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Inter-Faith Relations, Religion & Culture

Bishop Olaoye alleges Military, police thwarting Govt efforts to Combat Bokom Haram

THE Bishop of Osun North Diocese of the Anglican Communion, Right Reverend A.T Olaoye, at Okuku, has called on the Federal Government to be wary of the military and the police, saying that some of the security agents were thwarting government’s efforts in the fight against insurgency in the country, just as he cautioned the Osun State governor, Rauf Aregbesola, to exercise caution in the implementation of the new education policy for the state.

Olaoye lamented that “it is worrisome to note that we are still battling with the terrorists’ attacks till now”, accusing some officers in the military and the police for allegedly leaking intelligence reports to members of the Islamic group, thereby thwarting the efforts of the federal government in restoring peace in some troubled states in the North.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Law & Legal Issues, Military / Armed Forces, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Terrorism, Violence

Francis Chan's (graduate and undergraduate) Commencement Address at Wheaton College in 2013

“If the Lord told me I could redo two years of my life–if I could take a mulligan–I would choose the two years after Bible College. Hands down. I joke about it, but it really was the worst time. There was so much pride in my life….”

Go here, then to the table of contents, then to page 58 to read the rest.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Education, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Young Adults

Diocese of British Columbia Elects its 13th Bishop

The Very Reverend Dr. Logan McMenamie, Dean of Columbia and rector of Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria, was elected to become the 13th Bishop of the Diocese of British Columbia, which is made up members of the Anglican Church of Canada on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.

On December 7th members of the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia, gathered to choose the 13th Bishop at an Electoral Synod held at Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria, BC. A body of delegates comprising 61 clergy (priests and deacons) and 110 lay members of synod participated in voting. McMenamie was chosen on the third ballot.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord our God, in whose hands is the issue of all things, and who requirest from thy stewards not success but faithfulness: Give us such faith in thee and in thy sure purposes, that we measure not our lives by what we have done or failed to do, but by our obedience to thy holy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one shall shut, who shuts and no one opens.”‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut; I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie–behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word of patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial which is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell upon the earth. I am coming soon; hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. He who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God; never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

–Revelation 3:7-13

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Helena Catholic, Episcopal dioceses hold joint service, pledge cooperation

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Roman Catholic, TEC Bishops

(BGEA) Jack Munday–Remember the Newtown Tragedy–A Year Later

With news bulletins popping up on my phone and airport TV monitors reporting the breaking news, I called my office and we decided to send a Rapid Response Team of crisis-trained chaplains who had years of fire, police and emergency management experience to assess the need for emotional and spiritual care.

As God would have it, these specially-trained chaplains were already in the New Jersey and New York region as part of our response to Hurricane Sandy.

As the chaplains arrived just a few hours later at a police checkpoint near the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, the police immediately invited the chaplains in and directed them to the Incident Command Center to offer support to the first responders who were first on the scene at the school.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Education, Parish Ministry, Rural/Town Life, Violence

(The State) Cindi Scoppe–The war on Advent continues

I’d be more sympathetic to complaints about the war on Christmas if they weren’t coming from the very people who have waged a largely successful war on Advent. Because, let’s face it, the idea that Christmas should be celebrated in early December, or even mid-December, is not a Christian concept; Christmas celebrations historically were confined to ”¦ Christmas. They were even banned in several of the Protestant colonies, and once the bans were lifted, Christmas remained unrecognizably low-key by today’s standards. The monthlong Christmas celebration is a secular invention, promoted and pushed a little harder each year by a retail industry bent on doing what it does best: convince us to buy more and more things we don’t need.

And the complaint about a societal war on Christmas is not a religious complaint; it’s a political complaint, which politicians have used quite effectively to make too many people believe that Christians have been marginalized by the larger society ”” as if we weren’t ourselves the larger society.

Adding insult to spiritual injury, the assault on Advent crowds out the real observation of Christmas ”” the one that starts on the evening of Dec. 24 and runs through Epiphany, 12 days later. Try to find a Christmas carol then or, after the new year, anyone who even says “happy holidays,” much less “merry Christmas.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Advent, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Eschatology, Media, Religion & Culture, Theology

Economist–Religious pluralism: Satan threatens the heartland

IN 2009 Oklahoma’s legislature passed a bill ordering that a monumental version of the Ten Commandments””which it cited as “an important component of the moral foundation of the laws and legal system of the United States of America and of the state of Oklahoma”””should be placed in the grounds of its state capitol building. The bill specified that Oklahoma would not pay for the monument; Mike Ritze, the bill’s sponsor, and his family donated it to the state. It was erected on the capitol’s north side in November 2012, and there it still stands.

The text is (not surprisingly) identical to that on a Ten Commandments monument in the grounds of the Texas capitol in Austin, which, Mr Ritze’s bill slyly notes, the “Supreme Court ruled constitutional” in 2005. In that case, Van Orden v Perry, the court held that the Ten Commandments “have an undeniable historical meaning” as well as a religious one. It also found that a message does not violate the First Amendment’s prohibition of “an establishment of religion” simply because it has some religious content….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Wicca / paganism

(AP) Egypt: 3 Christians Sentenced for Killing a Muslim

An Egyptian criminal court convicted three Christians Saturday of killing a Muslim man, a judicial official and the state news agency said, in a dispute that that left nine people dead in some of this year’s worst sectarian violence.

Six Christians died in the clashes, which took place in a small town just outside Cairo in April, but no one was arrested or convicted for their killings, lawyers said.

In its ruling, the criminal court of Qalubiya province sentenced one Christian man, Hani Farouk Awad, to life imprisonment and two others to 15 years for the killing of a Muslim resident of Khosoos, where the violence took place. Nine Muslims were sentenced to up to five years for vandalizing Christian properties while 32 were acquitted, the official said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Egypt, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

PBS ' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Mormon Missionary Expansion

LUCKY SEVERSON, correspondent: Off they go, two-by-two, in search of converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints””the Mormons. You know some of them. Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman was a missionary in Taiwan. Mitt Romney served a mission in France. Since the time of its first modern-day prophet Joseph Smith about 180 years ago, Mormons have sent over a million missionaries throughout the world.

STEVEN ALLEN: It is an international church.

SEVERSON: In fact, you have more members outside of the country than inside?


Read or watch and listen to it all.

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

A Federal Judge overturns part of Utah's law against polygamy

The full court document is there. One of the most important sections is this one:

Plaintiffs provide the “careful description” of the asserted fundamental right the required first step of the analysis in the Tenth Circuit, see Seegmiller, 528 F.3d at 769 as follows: “a fundamental liberty interest in choosing to cohabit and maintain romantic and spiritual relationships, even if those relationships are termed ”˜plural marriage’.” (Pls.’ Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 11 [Dkt. No. 50].) Plaintiffs truncate the Glucksberg analysis by reference to Lawrence , which they argue establishes “a fundamental liberty interest in intimate sexual conduct” (Pls.’s Opp. Def.’s Mot. Summ.J. 19 n.16 [Dkt. No. 72]), thus prohibiting the state “from imposing criminal sanctions for intimate sexual conduct in the home.” (Pls.’ Mem. Supp.Mot. Summ. J. 9 [Dkt. No. 50].)”

Lawrence was the latest iteration in a long series of constitutional decisions amplifying a core principle: the Due Process Clause circumscribes and in some cases virtually forbids state intervention in private relationships and conduct.”
(Pls.’s Opp. Def.’s Mot. Summ. J. 22 [Dkt. No. 72].) (pp.35-36).

You may find a Deseret News story there as well as a New York Times article here. Take the time to sort through it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Mormons, Other Faiths, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(Guardian) Peter O'Toole, star of Lawrence of Arabia, dies aged 81

The actor Peter O’Toole who found stardom in David Lean’s masterpiece Lawrence of Arabia, has died aged 81, his family has annouced.

The acclaimed leading man who overcame stomach cancer in the 1970s passed away at the Wellington hospital in London following a long illness.

His daughter Kate O’Toole said: “His family are very appreciative and completely overwhelmed by the outpouring of real love and affection being expressed towards him, and to us, during this unhappy time. Thank you all, from the bottom of our hearts.”

Read it all.

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

Through faith, Summerville, S.C. mother donates kidney to save life of West Ashley mom

At 45, [Dana] Rothschild faced a terrifying new reality: She was suffering end-stage kidney failure and would need a transplant to save her life.

The normal wait? Seven to 10 years, depending on various factors. And given her medical history, finding a suitable match would take nothing short of finding the old needle in a haystack.

To find that needle, Rothschild traversed an agonizing maze of blocked passageways and frightening unknowns ahead. Her faith dwindled with despair.Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture