Daily Archives: December 19, 2013

(RNS) Mark Driscoll apologizes for ”˜mistakes’ in plagiarism controversy

It’s unclear why Driscoll waited until now to publicly address the matter. The first accusations of plagiarism were made by syndicated radio host Janet Mefferd on a November 21 broadcast. She subsequently accused Driscoll of plagiarizing in two other books. Mefferd’s interview generated a firestorm, to which the radio host responded by producing evidence on her blog to support her accusations….

For three weeks, Pastor Driscoll remained mum. Repeated attempts by several journalists including myself to contact Mars Hill Communications Manager Justin Dean were ignored.

In the meantime, leaders within the evangelical movement began to openly criticize Driscoll. Baptist professor Collin Garbarino gave Driscoll a proverbial “F” and said, “I’ve failed students for less flagrant plagiarism.” Christian scholar Carl Trueman blamed the affair on “the celebrity culture which has so corrupted the young, restless and reformed movement.” Pastor Jared C. Wilson accused Driscoll of a “trajectory of pride.” And author Andy Crouch of “Christianity Today” said Driscoll’s real problem was not plagiarism, but rather idolatry.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Methodist pastor who officiated at same-sex wedding has been defrocked

The Rev. Frank Schaefer of Lebanon had already been suspended when he met with church officials to determine whether he would continue as a pastor.

Schaefer had been told to resign from the clergy by Thursday if he could not follow the denomination’s Book of Discipline. But Schaefer has said the book discriminates against gay people and vowed this week that he would not voluntarily surrender his credentials.

Church spokesman John Coleman said that officials decided to defrock him.

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

(WSJ) Federal Reserve Dials Back Bond Buying, Keeps a Wary Eye on Growth

Although the Fed expects to keep reducing the program “in measured steps” next year, the timing and the course isn’t preset. “Continued progress [in the economy] is by no means certain,” Mr. [Ben] Bernanke said. “The steps that we take will be data-dependent.”

If the Fed proceeds at the pace he set out, it would complete the bond-buying program toward the end of 2014 with holdings of nearly $4.5 trillion in bonds, loans and other assets, nearly six times as large as the Fed’s total holdings when the financial crisis started in 2008.

Still, officials””worried that investors would quake at the thought of less Fed support””went to lengths to demonstrate that they would keep interest rates low for years to come, even after the bond-buying program ends.
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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Budget, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, Theology

(Gallup) Record High in U.S. Say Big Government Greatest Threat in the future

Seventy-two percent of Americans say big government is a greater threat to the U.S. in the future than is big business or big labor, a record high in the nearly 50-year history of this question. The prior high for big government was 65% in 1999 and 2000. Big government has always topped big business and big labor, including in the initial asking in 1965, but just 35% named it at that time.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, History, Politics in General, Psychology, The U.S. Government

In Nigeria, the Army Promises To Think Faster in response to Boko Haram

Since the army went on the offensive in the north last May over 1,200 civilians have died in Boko Haram related violence up north. The number of Boko Haram attacks has diminished in the last few months but there is still violence, usually at least one major terrorist attack a week plus a lot of less spectacular violence. The Boko Haram sustain themselves by stealing from locals and because these border areas are so thinly populated there are not enough soldiers to guard all of it all the time.

The army is adapting more quickly to new Boko Haram tactics. For example, the army is now sending troops to guard border villages on those days when many local farmers bring in products for sale at the market place.

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

The US ambassador meets with South Sudan president over ongoing internal strife

The United States State Department announced that its ambassador in Juba met on Wednesday with South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir amid fears of an outbreak of civil war in the world’s newest nation.

“Today, Ambassador Page met with President Kiir in Juba to discuss our concern about the continued violence, increasing death toll, and growing humanitarian challenges,” US Deputy State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters today.

“She raised the arrests of several opposition members and called on the government to ensure their rights are protected in accordance with South Sudan’s constitution and international humanitarian and human rights laws and norms,” she added.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --South Sudan, Africa, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General, Sudan, Theology, Violence

Al Mohler–Moral Mayhem Multiplied””Now, It’s Polygamy’s Turn

In one sense, the decision was almost inevitable, given the trajectory of both the culture and the federal courts. On the other hand, the sheer shock of the decision serves as an alarm: marriage is being utterly redefined before our eyes, and in the span of a single generation.

Judge Waddoups ruled that Utah’s law against consensual adult cohabitation among multiple partners violated the Constitution’s free exercise clause, but a main point was that opposition to polygamy did not advance a compelling state interest. In the background to that judgment was the argument asserted by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy to the effect that the only real opposition to any form of consensual sexual arrangement among adults would be religiously based, and thus unconstitutional.

Kennedy made that assertion in his majority opinion in the 2003 case of Lawrence v. Texas that struck down all state laws criminalizing homosexual behavior””and the Lawrence decision looms large over Judge Waddoups’s entire decision.

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

A Speech by The Prince of Wales at an Advent reception for Christians from the Middle East

For myself, I have for some time now been deeply troubled by the growing difficulties faced by Christian communities in various parts of the Middle East. It seems to me that we cannot ignore the fact that Christians in the Middle East are, increasingly, being deliberately targeted by fundamentalist Islamist militants. Christianity was, literally, born in the Middle East and we must not forget our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters in Christ. Their church communities link us straight back to the early Church, as I was reminded by hearing Aramaic, Our Lord’s own language, spoken and sung a few hours ago.

Yet, today, the Middle East and North Africa has the lowest concentration of Christians in the world ”“ just four per cent of the population and it is clear that the Christian population of the Middle East has dropped dramatically over the last century and is falling still further.

This has an effect on all of us, although, of course, primarily on those Christians who can no longer continue to live in the Middle East: we all lose something immensely and irreplaceably precious when such a rich tradition dating back two thousand years begins to disappear. It is, therefore, especially delightful to see such a rich panoply of church life here to-day, including the Antiochian, Greek, Coptic, Syrian, and Armenian Orthodox Churches, the Melkite, Maronite, Syrian Catholic, Chaldean, and Roman Catholic Churches, as well as the Church of the East, and Churches established, dare I say it, somewhat more recently, including the Anglican Church!

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Foreign Relations, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

Mental Health Break–Mannequins and Music Teach us about Humanness

This is must–not–miss fantastic! Watch it all (Hat tip: AH)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Europe, Science & Technology, Theology

Did you know Hackers can hijack a five-year-old MacBook camera without triggering the warning light?

Most laptops with built-in cameras have an important privacy feature ”” a light that is supposed to turn on any time the camera is in use. But Wolf says she never saw the light on her laptop go on. As a result, she had no idea she was under surveillance.

That wasn’t supposed to be possible. While controlling a camera remotely has long been a source of concern to privacy advocates, conventional wisdom said there was at least no way to deactivate the warning light. New evidence indicates otherwise.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

Bishop Charles Grafton–Catholicity and the Vincentian Rule

This little treatise begins with giving an application of the Rule of St. Vincent to some theological questions concerning faith and practice. St. Vincent’s name is a household one in our Communion, especially since the Reformation. He was often quoted by the Reformers and Anglican divines in their controversy with Rome. In his disputation at Oxford, Ridley said, when doubts arose in the Church, “I use the wise counsel of Vincentius Lirinensis, whom I am sure you will allow; who, giving precepts how the Catholic Church may be, in all schisms and heresies, known, writeth on this manner: ‘When,’ saith he, ‘one part is corrupted with heresies then prefer the whole world before the one part: but if the greatest part be infected then prefer antiquity.”‘

On the southern coast of France, there is an island called St. Honorat. It had in Vincent’s time the name of Lerins. A quite famous monastery flourished there. Under the discipline of its holy religious rule and the Church’s sacramental system, St. Vincent’s mind and character were developed.

It was about the year 434 that his short treatise appeared. The controversies which had been raging in the Church led him to put forth his little book as a practical guide for a Churchman in times of trouble. He must, through Divine assistance, fortify his faith in a two-fold manner: by authority of the Divine Law, and by the tradition of the Church. “Catholics,” he said, “and true sons of the Church will make it their special care to interpret the Divine Canon by the tradition of the universal Church and according to the rules of Catholic theology. Wherein it is also necessary to follow the universality, antiquity, and consent of the Catholic and Apostolic Church.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord Jesus Christ, who at thy first coming didst warn us to prepare for the day when thou shalt come to be our judge: Mercifully grant that being awake from the sleep of sin, we may always be watching and intent upon the work thou hast given us to do; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end.

–W. E. Scudamore

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.
For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them;
but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.
As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
But at midnight there was a cry, `Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’
Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps.
And the foolish said to the wise, `Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise replied, `Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut.
Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, `Lord, lord, open to us.’
But he replied, `Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

–Matthew 25:1-13

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Marijuana use among American high school students is slowly rising

A new federal report shows that the percentage of American high school students who smoke marijuana is slowly rising, while the use of alcohol and almost every other drug is falling.

The report raises concerns that the relaxation of restrictions on marijuana, which can now be sold legally in 20 states and the District of Columbia, has been influencing use of the drug among teenagers. Health officials are concerned by the steady increase and point to what they say is a growing body of evidence that adolescent brains, which are still developing, are susceptible to subtle changes caused by marijuana.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Teens / Youth

(Reuters) Churches take to YouTube, Instagram to spread holiday gospel

The Christmas holiday brings peak attendance for most churches, and an increasing number of U.S. religious groups are using the boom time to wow parishioners with virtual choirs on YouTube and Instagram advent calendars.

More than 500 churches will stream Christmas sermons online this year, up from just a handful in 2007, said DJ Chuang, host of the Social Media Church, a podcast with church leaders about social media. Hundreds more started Instagram and Pinterest accounts this year to post photos of baptisms and quotes from the gospel, he said.

“Instagram is like the modern day stained glass window,” Chuang said. “They use it to tell the stories of the church.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Advent, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Media, Parish Ministry, Science & Technology, Theology

[Andrew Symes] Pilling: What are the Bishops thinking?

…we might be able to glean some clues as to what was agreed, and what is being planned, by looking at communications sent by Bishops in response to letters sent in by clergy and laity expressing concern about the Pilling Report. Here is an extract from one such letter, from a senior Bishop to one of his clergy:

We’re entering a period of discussion. It starts with the House of Bishops meeting this week and goes on to the College of Bishops in January. Each diocese will also be formulating its own way of pursuing the conversation. We can’t pretend there’s no conversation to have; the Church of England has many mansions and we need to step out of our own mansion and entrust our thinking to one other.

So here it is. We will be entering the period of “indaba” ”“ or “facilitated conversation” advocated by the Pilling Report, and it will be done Diocese by Diocese, much as the discussions on women Bishops took place (see below). The vital subject of Christian teaching about sex and relationships will be decided by focus groups….

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

[Anglican Ink] Lament from London: a dying church in England [Pilling]

Pageantmaster, a UK-based church commentator well known to Anglican Ink, has penned an evaluation of the situation within the inner councils of the Church of England ”“ and it is not a pretty sight.

Shortly before last week’s meeting of the House of Bishops of the Church of England, he wrote the fix was in:
…those persuaded that we are just having a ”˜conversation’ just need to note the way TEC was undermined using the same game plan. Justin under the guise of a sheep has got away with things Rowan never could have.

No that is the plan, and what unless the Evangelical Bishops are prepared to stand up and those others who are concerned, then that is what we are headed for – funded by TEC, organised with materials from US organisations used for the first Continuing Indaba – both in the CofE and the Communion.

It is a high risk policy. Certainly in the Global South the game has been rumbled, and it will break apart the Church of England.

How do I know it will break apart the Church of England? I have been watching it happen this week and reading peoples’ blogs as they explain what they are doing as they start to divide – including many who are in between. I grieve for that. It is heartbreaking.

Hubris, Disobedience, Deception – the Father of Lies is hard at work.

However, God is in charge, and I have seen Him move in power in answer to prayer in ways I could never have imagined, so please join me in prayer. Your will be done, O Lord.

2 John 1:1-11

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

(Atlantic) Aaron Hanbury–Why C.S. Lewis Never Goes Out of Style

Last month marked the 50th anniversary of a bizarre day in history. Three men of significant importance each died on November 22, 1963: President John F. Kennedy, author Aldous Huxley, and author and scholar C.S. Lewis.

On that day, the developed world (appropriately) halted at the news of the assassination of the United States’ 35th president. The front page of The New York Times on Saturday morning, the day after the tragic shooting, read, “Kennedy Is Killed by Sniper as he Rides in Car in Dallas; Johnson Sworn in on Plane,” and virtually every other news service around the world ran similar coverage and developed these stories for days and weeks following.

Huxley’s death, meanwhile, made the front page of The New York Times the day after Kennedy’s coverage began. The English-born writer spent his final hours in Los Angeles, high on LSD. His wife, Laura, administered the psychedelic drug during the writer’s final day battling cancer, honoring his wishes to prepare for death like the characters in his novels Eyeless in Gaza and Island. Huxley’s Brave New World depicts a haunting futuristic world where a sovereign, global government harvests its tightly controlled social order in glass jars; the Times obituary writer declared that Huxley’s well-known book “set a model for writers of his generation.”

The news of Lewis’s death, though, didn’t appear in print until Nov. 25, and it appeared in the normal obituary section of The New York Times weekday paper.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Apologetics, Books, Church History, Church of England (CoE), History, Religion & Culture, Theology