Daily Archives: January 6, 2014

Disabled Air Force veteran and family ring in the new year in donated house built for them

Just six months ago, 35-year-old Air Force veteran Robert Wright returned to the Charleston area with his wife and four children to face an uncertain future.

A large cyst on Wright’s brain had resulted in his medical retirement from the service he joined in 1997, serving multiple deployments overseas. With a stent in his brain and unable to work, Wright would be staying at home with wife Bethany, 33, who home-schools their four children, two of whom have medical issues as well.

They never expected that home would be a new 5-bedroom house, fully furnished and mortgage-free, in the emerging McKewn subdivision in North Charleston.

Read it all from the local paper.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Children, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Marriage & Family

(Telegraph) Nick Squires–The Rise of the exorcists in the Roman Catholic Church

Dioceses across Italy, as well as in countries such as Spain, are increasing the number of priests schooled in administering the rite of exorcism, fabled to rid people of possession by the Devil.

The rise in demonic cases is a result of more people dabbling in practices such as black magic, paganism, Satanic rites and Ouija boards, often exploring the dark arts with the help of information readily found on the internet, the Church said.

The increase in the number of priests being trained to tackle the phenomenon is also an effort by the Church to sideline unauthorised, self-proclaimed exorcists, and its tacit recognition that belief in Satan, once regarded by Catholic progressives as an embarrassment, is still very much alive.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Italy, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Spain, Theology

([London] Times) Clergy suffer hundreds of attacks in their churches

Priests and vicars have been subjected to hundreds of attacks over the past five years as they face assaults in their own churches and harassment from stalkers, research has shown.

Records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that in the past five years more than 200 incidents of violence against religious leaders have been recorded by 25 police forces across the UK. Low-level assault was the most common form of violence reported, but a number of clergy have been beaten, stalked by violent individuals or bitten by dogs and even humans.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Violence

(NYT) Sudan’s Lost Boys Are Drawn Into War at Home

The return of South Sudan’s Lost Boys for the birth of this new nation was perhaps the perfect symbol of its hope for a new beginning. Many are American citizens who came back to vote in the 2011 referendum that split off this country from Sudan, with which it fought for decades. Others returned to try to provide the next generation of South Sudanese children with a better country than the one they were born into.

Now, many of these Lost Boys, who had already escaped the violence in their homeland but found themselves inexorably drawn back, are trying to survive the crisis that is threatening to tear their new country apart. Lost, found and lost again, Mr. Atem says that many of his comrades are now trapped in a dangerous and shaky South Sudan.

Some have not made it out alive.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --South Sudan, Africa, Children, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General, Sudan

Still More Food for Thought for Epiphany–Susan Howatch on her Disturbing Conversion

‘God seized me by the scruff of the neck, slammed me against the nearest wall and shook me until my teeth rattled. I thought: ‘Okay, what does God actually require of me?’ ‘

–From an article in the Independent in 1993 (worth rereading in its entirety); also quoted by yours truly in yesterday’s sermon.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Books, Christology, Church History, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology

More Food for Thought for Epiphany–Chrysostom makes clear this was no ordinary star

…that this star was not of the common sort, or rather not a star at all, as it seems at least to me, but some invisible power transformed into this appearance, is in the first place evident from its very course. For there is not, there is not any star that moves by this way, but whether it be the sun you mention, or the moon, or all the other stars, we see them going from east to west; but this was wafted from north to south; for so is Palestine situated with respect to Persia.

In the second place, one may see this from the time also. For it appears not in the night, but in mid-day, while the sun is shining; and this is not within the power of a star, nay not of the moon; for the moon that so much surpasses all, when the beams of the sun appear, straightway hides herself, and vanishes away. But this by the excess of its own splendor overcame even the beams of the sun, appearing brighter than they, and in so much light shining out more illustriously.

…[Later in the narrative] it did not, remaining on high, point out the place; it not being possible for them so to ascertain it, but it came down and performed this office. For ye know that a spot of so small dimensions, being only as much as a shed would occupy, or rather as much as the body of a little infant would take up, could not possibly be marked out by a star. For by reason of its immense height, it could not sufficiently distinguish so confined a spot, and discover it to them that were desiring to see it. And this any one may see by the moon, which being so far superior to the stars, seems to all that dwell in the world, and are scattered over so great an extent of earth,””seems, I say, near to them every one. How then, tell me, did the star point out a spot so confined, just the space of a manger and shed, unless it left that height and came down, and stood over the very head of the young child? And at this the evangelist was hinting when he said, “Lo, the star went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.”

Read it all; this was paraphrased in yesterday’s sermon by yours truly.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Epiphany, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Kendall Harmon's Sermon for Epiphany 2014–The Disturbing Tale of the Wise Men's Journey (Matthew 2)

Listen to it all if you so desire.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Epiphany, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Organ Loft – Music for Epiphany

Check it out.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Epiphany, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Epiphany awakens the question in the hearts of all people–who is this Jesus?

Dear friends, this is the question that the Church wishes to awaken in the hearts of all men: who is Jesus? This is the spiritual longing that drives the mission of the Church: to make Jesus known, his Gospel, so that every man can discover in his human face the face of God, and be illumined by his mystery of love. Epiphany pre-announces the universal opening of the Church, her call to evangelize all peoples. But Epiphany also tells us in what way the Church carries out this mission: reflecting the light of Christ and proclaiming his Word. Christians are called to imitate the service that the star gave the Magi. We must shine as children of the light, to attract all to the beauty of the Kingdom of god. And to all those who seek truth, we must offer the Word of God, which leads to recognizing in Jesus “the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).

Benedict XVI.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Epiphany, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Preaching / Homiletics, Roman Catholic

A Prayer for Epiphany (II)

Almighty God, who hast manifested thy Son Jesus Christ to be a light to mankind: Grant that we thy people, being nourished by thy word and sacraments, may be strengthened to show forth to all men the unsearchable riches of Christ, so that he may be known, adored and obeyed, to the ends of the earth; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

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

A Prayer for Epiphany (I)

O God, who by the shining of a star didst guide the wise men to behold thy Son, our Lord: Show us thy heavenly light, and give us grace to follow until we find him, and, finding him, rejoice. And grant that as they presented gold, frankincense, and myrrh, we now may bring him the offering of a loving heart, an adoring spirit, and an obedient will; for his honour, and for thy glory, O God most high.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

–Psalm 46:1-3

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(WIS) Hooray for Quintin Eley! Rookie Sumter, S.C. police officer rescues man from Second Mill Pond

A Sumter police officer rescued a suspected DUI driver after he crashed into a pond Friday night.

Sumter police officer Quentin Eley noticed two cars stopped on Second Millpond Bridge with their hazard lights on. After asking a few questions, he learned there was a car in the water and a man still inside.

He knew he had to do something and fast….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Alcohol/Drinking, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire

(CSM) 'Knockout game' as hate crime? Second Brooklyn man charged.

For the second time in six weeks, New York City police have arrested a man in Brooklyn and charged him with assault as a hate crime in connection with the “knockout game.”

The arrest comes as a spate of attacks have focused national attention on the knockout game, in which an assailant tries to knock out an unsuspecting bystander with one punch. The attacks have stirred controversy over whether the game is part of a growing trend or whether national media coverage and social media have inflated isolated incidents.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Violence

Gerald Bray reviews Miles Hollingsworth's new book on Saint Augustine Of Hippo

Hollingworth’s basic thesis is that the child is father of the man. So he gives a great deal of space to Augustine’s formative years and tries to show how much they influenced him in later life. The main effect is to downplay the importance of his conversion, although Hollingworth, research fellow in the history of ideas at St. John’s College, Durham University (U.K.), makes no attempt to do that. He recognizes that everything Augustine tells us about himself is written in the light of his spiritual rebirth. But he points out that the bishop of Hippo’s concerns and general approach to intellectual matters remained the same as they had been before. Christianity is the answer to his searching, not a complete change of direction, and that made his works uniquely important. Augustine spoke not only for, but also to, a generation that was losing its bearings as the Roman Empire slowly collapsed. The old gods had failed, but in Christ, Augustine had found the key to understanding the ways of the universe. On that basis, he restructured his inherited culture and rewrote its history. The pagan idea that Rome represented the supreme triumph of reason and civilization gave way to the view that human life was an eternal struggle between good and evil, played out in the individual heart as much as on the world stage.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Church History, Theology

South Carolina Lowcountry Clergy offer their wishes for the new year

Here is one:

In the Gospel, Jesus said that he came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Perhaps it sounds trite, overused, naive or overly pious, but I want to understand more deeply what the love of God means in the gift of Jesus in 2014. This is not purely personal or devotional. Like a cup that runs over, perhaps understanding the good gift of God in Jesus will overflow in love and service of others. I will plan and pray toward that end in 2014.

The Rev. Rob Sturdy, Associate pastor, St. Andrew’s Church-Mount Pleasant

Read them all from the Faith and Values section of the local paper.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Religion & Culture

PBS ' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–A Look Ahead to the Major Stories Coming in 2014

PROFESSOR CANDIDA MOSS (Department of Theology, University of Notre Dame): I think that the most important religious and ethical questions of 2014 are going to be us trying to pull apart what church and state means. How do we negotiate different sets of religious freedoms?

RYAN ANDERSON (Heritage Foundation): How will we be treating the unborn in America, particularly with respect to government law that is coercing people into disrespecting the rights of the unborn? And so we see this in a religious liberty context with the HHS mandate cases that are going to go before the Supreme Court.

AMEY VICTORIA ADKINS (Duke Divinity School): I think the most important issues are really going to be surrounding questions of our educational system as well as our health care system. Questions of public access, particularly as historically minority communities have had a lot of trouble in terms of having equal and equitable access to health care and to education, things that really affect our communities.

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Media, Religion & Culture

Sunday Afternoon Music–Alison Krauss – Down in the River to Pray

Wonderful stuff–listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music, Religion & Culture

(SCMP) South Sudan government and rebels talk but fighting in Juba flares up

South Sudanese government officials and representatives of rebel groups agreed to face-to-face talks on a monitored ceasefire, with artillery fire in Juba’s government district underlining the risk of all-out civil war.

The warring parties assured mediators they will strive to reach a political solution to the conflict that began in mid-December, Ethiopian envoy Seyoum Mesfin told reporters in Addis Ababa on Saturday.

There have been continued clashes between President Salva Kiir’s SPLA government forces and rebels loyal to former vice president Riek Machar centred around the strategically located town of Bor. As delegates smiled in a luxury hotel in Ethiopia, heavy explosions from artillery fire were heard in a Juba district where most ministries, the presidential palace and the parliament are located.

Read it all.

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

(BBC) Church of England accused of 'dumbing down' baptism service

A Church of England spokesman said that the baptism service used would be decided by the priest, in consultation with the family.

He said the new wording was the third revision of the baptism service in 30 years.

He said the current service had been in use since Easter 1998 and the wording had been amended by general synod in 2000 and in 2005.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Baptism, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Bishop Nazir Ali–Why the CofE must abandon this dumbed-down christening

Since at least the 1970s there has been a fashion in the Church of England to minimise depth and mystery in its worship because of the alleged need to make its services ”˜accessible’.

The new alternative service for baptism, which has been sent for trial, continues this trend. Instead of explaining what baptism means and what the various parts of the service signify, its solution is to do away with key elements of the service altogether!

From ancient times, the structure of the service has included the renunciation of sin, the world and the devil and the turning to Christ as Lord and Saviour.

Read it all from the Mail on Sunday.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Baptism, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Sacramental Theology, Theology

The Bishop of Willesden in reponse–The experimental baptism rite – baptism lite

On the alternative so-called baptismal rite – the salient questions are:

1. Why is it so semi-Pelagian when it claims to be about grace? “Will you help them?” It’s wet… and not in the water sense!

2. Where is the sense of their own pilgrimage which was expressed in “walk with them in the way of Christ?”

3. Where is the truth that we are rebels against God expressed?

4. Where is repentance from sin?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Baptism, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Sacramental Theology, Theology