Daily Archives: December 24, 2013

Statement by Forward in Faith North America on the Pilling Report

We recognize that the recommendations of the Pilling Report are primarily for reflection and discussion by the Church of England’s House of Bishops.

Nonetheless, under the authority of holy scripture and tradition of the church, we affirm that sexual activity can only properly take place within the context of holy matrimony between a man and woman.

We affirm that any other type of sexual relationship is sinful regardless of context or degree of fidelity, and that the church cannot bless any type of sexual relationship outside of holy matrimony between a man and woman.

We affirm Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference as the standard for Christian sexual behavior.

Read it all

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

Local Feel Good Story–Special Ops duty Offcr in Afghanistan is Home for Christmas in S.C.

Uniform by uniform, teary eye by teary eye, soldiers are turning up at the airports to hugs, home for Christmas from war-torn Afghanistan. Each reunion is a heartwringer.

Not every military member over there is a soldier, though, and not every job is fighting. Somebody, after all, has to pay for it.

So among the soldiers who landed in Charleston last week was Siamak “Mak” Araghi, a civilian Army Corps of Engineers finance officer, who volunteered for months of duty at an occasionally bombed headquarters near Kabul. His Summerville family waited at the gate, his 8-year-old daughter Salma as close as she could get.

Sam Araghi, Mak’s 13-year-old son, said his dad getting home before Christmas was the best gift he could get this year.

Read it all and you have to love the picture.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Children, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Marriage & Family, War in Afghanistan

As Lutherans Exit Pews in Brooklyn Church, Arab Christians Move In

Hymns echoed down the stairwell on a cold December morning. But they were not in English, or in the Norwegian of the Knudsens, Pedersens and other long-dead Scandinavians who are commemorated on the faded stained-glass windows.

Downstairs the descendants of the Norwegians continued to worship as they have done for decades at Our Saviour’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge neighborhood.

But the Arabic prayers and responses heard upstairs were from a newer congregation that shares the building. The Salam Arabic Lutheran Church has become a home for Arab Christians, many of whom fled the Middle East. Some escaped violence in Syria and Iraq. Others say life was made difficult by armed gangs, kidnappers and extortionists, jihadi extremists or Israeli soldiers and settlers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Foreign Relations, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Lutheran, Middle East, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(BBC) New Evidence Shows South Sudan is seeing 'mass ethnic killings'

New evidence is emerging of alleged ethnic killings committed during more than a week of fighting in South Sudan.

The violence follows a power struggle between President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, and his Nuer ex-deputy Riek Machar.

A reporter in the capital, Juba, quoted witnesses as saying more than 200 people, mostly from the Nuer ethnic group, were shot by security forces.

Another man in Juba said gunmen from the majority Dinka ethnic group were shooting people in Nuer areas.

Read it all.

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

([London] Times) Egyptian Christians living in fear of kidnap and torture

A masked armed man blocked the road ahead before five more emerged from hiding and dragged Mamdouh Eskander Farid from his car.

“They tied my hands and gagged me to stop my screams. Then one hit me on the back of my head with the butt of his rifle and I lost consciousness,” said the 58-year-old Christian worker at a health clinic in Minya province, Upper Egypt. When he came to, he did not know where he was, but Mr Farid’s ordeal had just begun. His captors wanted £180,000 ”” an inordinate ransom for a man who supports a family of nine on just £120 a month.

Like many other Christians in Egypt, Mr Farid will be spending the festive season in fear ”” terrified of a spate of kidnappings that poses a new threat to their beleaguered minority, which makes up about 10 per cent of Egypt’s majority Muslim population. Dozens have been abducted and some tortured by armed gangs who have demanded ransoms of between £4,000 and £30,000.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Coptic Church, Defense, National Security, Military, Egypt, History, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Other Churches, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Telegraph) George Carey: Christians, stand up for your beliefs

The Prince of Wales’s powerful intervention last week on the persecution of Christians is a reminder that ancient Christian communities, pre-dating Islam, are on the verge of disappearing from their homelands in the Middle East.

After years of bringing together Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders in dialogue, Prince Charles admitted that in spite of many such efforts, “fundamentalist Islamist militants” were “deliberately” targeting Christians.

This is something that Western governments have been strangely and inexplicably reluctant to confront. In a recent House of Commons debate on the issue, the Government response was full of denial that this was a problem uniquely affecting Christian communities. But, then, successive governments have done little to speak up for Christians facing human rights abuses in Africa and the Middle East.

Read it all.

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

(NYT) Elaine and Kerrin Sheldon–A Short Film Celebrating the life and work of Seamus Heaney

When we started production on this Op-Doc video, we never imagined the impact one person could have on his homeland, or the extent to which we would witness that impact and legacy.

People from all areas of Ireland and all walks of life would offer to help with our filmmaking in any way they could. “For Seamus,” they’d say, “I’d do anything.”

Read it all and watch the whole short op-doc, as it is killed.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, History, Ireland, Parish Ministry, Poetry & Literature

(Pew Research) The World’s Christian population–take the Quiz

Many people may not know that less than 1% of the world’s Christians live in the place where Christianity began ”” the Middle East-North Africa region. With only about 4% of its residents identifying as Christian, the region’s share of Christians is the smallest in the world, according to a 2011 Pew Research report. There are more Christians living in Indonesia (24 million) than in the region where Jesus of Nazareth was born (13 million as of 2010).

Although all Christians in the Middle East live as a minority, roughly nine-in-ten Christians worldwide live in countries where they are in the majority. Of the 232 countries and territories included in our 2012 Global Religious Landscape survey, roughly two-thirds have Christian majorities.

How much do you know about the world’s Christian population?

Read it all and take the quiz.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God our heavenly Father, who by the birth of thy Son Jesus Christ has visited us with thy salvation: Grant that as we welcome our Redeemer his presence may be shed abroad in our hearts and homes with the light of heavenly joy and peace; and in all our preparations for this holy season help us to think more of others than of ourselves, and to show forth our gratitude to thee for thine unspeakable gift, even the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

And his father Zechari’ah was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant, the oath which he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, when the day shall dawn upon us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to Israel.

–Luke 1:67-80

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

BBC Year in pictures 2013

Check out all 24 pictures and note the slideshow option.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Globalization, History, Photos/Photography

(CT Gleanings) Four States Still Don't Have Megachurches

Ah-ah-ah. You need to guess which four and then go read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(NY Times On Religion) Finding God in a Storefront at the Mall

Several days into the Christmas shopping season at the Northgate Mall here, the Rev. Dan Anderson stood improbably in a storefront between Sci-Fi City and the Loveable You Portrait Studio. An older couple, strolling past, slowed down to regard him.

Father Anderson, 66, wore the brown habit of the Franciscan friar, its plain humility broken only by a name tag affably identifying him as Dan. The former shoe store that he occupied contained holiday decorations, a brimming coffeepot and a life-size statue of the order’s founder, St. Francis of Assisi. On one table rested a glass fishbowl for prayer requests.

The couple asked Father Anderson if they could confess, and he guided them to a quiet corner. They spoke, he listened, and as the minutes passed, 15 or more, they gathered the courage to ask their question of both the friar and the universe: A relative of theirs had committed suicide. Was he in heaven?

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Spirituality/Prayer

Andrew Walker–Duck Dyn. Flap is part of a larger cultural chafing against a sexual metanarrative

Whatever one thinks of Duck Commander Phil Robertson’s recent remarks (and let’s be honest, his references to human anatomy could have used some nuance and his comments on race were rashly insensitive), there’s at least one element in this hubbub that’s going underemphasized, but that should be appreciated: Morality. Merely defending the right of Robertson to make these comments without defending the underlying rightness of his comments (leaving aside the comments on race) is to deny the full monty of this story.

A lot of the defenses of Robertson’s comments omit any discussion of the merit of Robertson’s views on human sexuality. Most applaud Robertson from the virtue of viewpoint diversity, pluralism, and free speech. In essence, commenters seem to either intentionally or unintentionally bracket the moral reasoning or merit of Robertson’s comments, implicitly cowing to today’s sexual relativism.

Morality matters.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology