Daily Archives: January 17, 2014

(WSJ) Francis X. Rocca: When Popes Become Peacemakers

This week at the Vatican, Syria was at the top of the agenda. The Pontifical Academy of Sciences convened a panel of experts, including former Egyptian Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei, to search for ways to end Syria’s nearly three-year civil war. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed the crisis with Vatican Secretary of State and Cardinal-designate Pietro Parolin. And Pope Francis himself, in a speech to diplomats, renewed the call for peace in Syria that he made in September at a special prayer vigil in St. Peter’s Square.

Few actions are more characteristic of the modern papacy than appeals for peace. Think of Pope Paul VI at the United Nations in 1965 calling for “No more war, war never again”; Pope John Paul II with leaders of other religions praying for peace at Assisi ; or popes giving annual Christmas and Easter addresses that highlight the most urgent crises around the world….

The pope as peacemaker is a role no more than a century old, and is the legacy of the man who held the office during World War I.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Middle East, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Syria, Theology, Violence

(Christian Today) Rowan Williams: Fairytale wedding pressures putting 'tragic' strain on marriages

Rowan Williams has spoken out against the trend of expensive “fantastical” weddings which he claims is threatening the future of marriages.

Speaking at a debate entitled “Marriage: Love or Law” in London, the former Archbishop of Canterbury said that the “marketisation of marriage” must be curtailed.

He labelled the idea of “the perfect relationship crystallised in the perfect wedding day” as a farce, suggesting that it was nothing more than the product of “immense economic advertising investment in this massively fantastical experience … after which, of course, nothing is ever quite so good again”.

“This is an aspect I think of the short-term, unimaginative, emotionally unintelligent climate that sometimes we seem forced to inhabit,” he said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Matthew Cochran–Parents spend time and money preparing children for college, Why not for marriage

It is therefore a stark contrast when we compare parents’ dedication to getting their children into a good college with their dedication to getting their children into a good marriage. One cannot help but suspect from the lackadaisical approach of middle class parents to their progeny, that they do not consider marriage very important at all. Of course, this attitude is expected for those who have unfortunately come to believe that marriage is an outdated and irrelevant custom. However, it is not at all reasonable for those social conservative parents who still find marriage important””those who (rightly) profess it to be the most fundamental building block of society and (rightly) wish to defend it against various contemporary perversions of the institution.

Even conservative defenders of marriage lack intentionality when it comes to the marital prospects of their own children. It’s not as though they’re ignorant of how to handle important things because they also deeply involve themselves in goals like securing a college education. It is simply that they do not treat marriage with their actions the way they treat it with their rhetoric. They complain about institutions when they redefine marriage. They complain about the media when they demean or devalue marriage in various ways. Nevertheless, when it comes to that segment of society in which they have the most influence””their own family””they often do not seem to make the “college” kind of effort to cultivate a desire for marriage, to prepare their sons to be good husbands, to prepare their daughters to be good wives, or to help them find a good spouse.

Consider, as one small example of this, the virtue of chastity””a disposition to prepare and direct our sexuality towards marriage””and contrast it with the far more popular term among social conservatives: “abstinence.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Young Adults

(Patheos) David Swartz–William Taylor, a Global Reflex, and the Challenge to Gilded Age Methodism

The story of William Taylor also points to a phenomenon that I term the “global reflex.” Missionaries not only shaped foreign contexts, but they themselves were shaped by their experiences abroad. In a Western context preoccupied with “civilizing” indigenous peoples, they saw examples of indigenous effectiveness and sought to emulate them. Missionaries not only adopted new methods, but also became convinced that ordinary, “uncivilized” Christians could build Methodism at home too.

This was an important point for Taylor as he bumped up against a modernizing United States and a gentrifying Methodism. He had little patience for a nation bent on bureaucratization, industrial growth, and technology. Even religious leaders in America, in Taylor’s estimation, had fallen prey to over-systematization. He resented bishops who tried to prescribe geographical boundaries for his evangelistic work and who tried to limit the use of laity in evangelism. He resented when they tried to control his activities through formal review processes. For much of his career, he tried to escape these systems, to work unencumbered by the bureaucracies of the Methodist Missionary Society and the Methodist Episcopal Church, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States. Increasing numbers of Methodists were drawn to this critique and to Taylor’s missionary exploits.

These American Methodists, who opposed modernist systematization and sought to depend more fully on the supernatural, formed the backbone of a burgeoning holiness movement. Its adherents opposed the proliferation of rational planning and “church machinery and ritualism,” as a 1881 writer for the Advocate of Christian Holiness put it. In 1882 Taylor himself declared, “I believe in creating missions in foreign lands by the power of God, but do not believe in a fictitious creation of foreign missions in New York by the policy of men.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Missions, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology

(FT) Minneapolis Fed Pres. Kocherlakota pleads for Federal Reserve to do more to stimulate Economy

The US Federal Reserve was being complacent by planning for years of below-target inflation, warned Minneapolis Fed President in a clarion call for more economic stimulus.
“We’re running the risk of being content with inflation running consistently below our target. That’s inappropriate,” said Narayana Kocherlakota, who votes on Fed monetary policy this year, in an interview with the Financial Times. “Right now we’re sitting with an outlook for inflation that even by 2016”‰.”‰.”‰.”‰is not getting back to 2 per cent.”

Mr Kocherlakota’s remarks illustrate the growing anxiety about low global inflation that led Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, to warn this week that “rising risks of deflation” could be disastrous for the world’s economic recovery ”“ calling it the “ogre that must be fought decisively”.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Theology

([London] Times) Pop-up churches ”˜can counter years of shrinking congregations’ in the C of E

The new “pop-up” churches opening in pubs, bars and on the streets can attract and keep young people and serve to counter generations of falling attendances, a Church of England conference was told yesterday.
The Archbishop of Canterbury warned of “significant decline” in the number of people attending church and called on clergy, bishops and laity to focus on growth.
The Most Rev Justin Welby said that there was “every reason” to be hopeful about the future of the Church of England.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Adult Education, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

Cathedrals, Fresh Expressions and Parishes across the Country provide Grounds for Growth of C of E

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said that “There is every reason to be hopeful about the future of the Church of England” as new research published today has found churches showing signs of growth across the country in a variety of areas of church life from newly established congregations and churches to ancient Cathedrals and parishes.

The Faith in Research Conference was held in London to publish and disseminate the executive summary of an 18 month systematic multi-method study into Church Growth in the Church of England.

The research is published against a backdrop of decline of 9% in church attendance over the last decade and identifies factors associated with growth as well as identifying factors in churches which are showing numerical decline.

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

(Church Times) C of E Growth possible ”˜if young can be wooed into staying’

The Church of England must stop losing teenagers and those in their early twenties, if it is to reverse the decline that threatens its existence.

This warning was delivered by one of the authors of a new report on church growth, based on research commissioned by the Archbishops and published yesterday. The three teams behind the research, based at the University of Essex; Cranmer Hall, Durham; and Ripon College, Cuddesdon, were asked to investigate the factors that might deliver church growth, in the light of a nine-per-cent decline in church attendance over the past decade.

On Wednesday, Dr David Voas, Professor of Population Studies at the University of Essex, who carried out some of the research, said: “A lot of people think of decline in terms of people stopping attending. The major factor underlying numerical change is that people never start attending in the first place.Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Young Adults

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Antony

O God, who by thy Holy Spirit didst enable thy servant Antony to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil: Give us grace, with pure hearts and minds, to follow thee, the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Into thy hands, O Lord, we commend ourselves this day. Let thy presence be with us to its close. Strengthen us to remember that in whatsoever good work we do we are serving thee. Give us a diligent and watchful spirit, that we may seek in all things to know thy will, and knowing it, gladly to perform it, to the honour and glory of thy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Now six stone jars were standing there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, “Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast.” So they took it. When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.”

–John 2:6-10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AP) Beijing air pollution was at dangerously high levels (Again) Today

Beijing’s skyscrapers receded into a dense gray smog Thursday as the capital saw the season’s first wave of extremely dangerous pollution, with the concentration of toxic small particles registering more than two dozen times the level considered safe.

The air took on an acrid odor, and many of the city’s commuters wore industrial strength face masks as they hurried to work.

“I couldn’t see the tall buildings across the street this morning,” said a traffic coordinator at a busy Beijing intersection who gave only his surname, Zhang. “The smog has gotten worse in the last two to three years. I often cough, and my nose is always irritated. But what can you do? I drink more water to help my body discharge the toxins.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Theology, Travel, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NBC) U.S. Biathlete Gives Up Olympic Spot To Her Twin Sister

After working four long years to earn a spot on the Olympic team, U.S. biathlete Tracy Barnes decided to give it all up for a teammate she felt deserved to go to Sochi even more: her twin sister.

Tracy Barnes, 31, who just missed qualifying for the 2010 Olympics, gave her spot to her sister, Lanny, who finished just behind Tracy in sixth place during qualifying. Lanny had missed three of the final four qualifying races in Ridnaun, Italy, due to illness and appeared to be out of the running for one of the five spots on the team in Sochi before her sister’s selfless act.

The sisters appeared live on TODAY Thursday to talk about Tracy’s surprising decision, which will send Lanny to the third Olympics of her career.

Read it all (Video highly recommended).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Marriage & Family, Sports, Theology, Women, Young Adults

(FT) John Gapper–Bankers and lawyers are on an unhealthy treadmill

There is no simple fix for an entrenched culture of overwork at professional services firms. The fact that an entry-level analyst at a Wall Street bank is required to sacrifice his or her personal life to the job ”“ sitting at a desk until dawn, eating order-in food and correcting invisible errors in spreadsheets ”“ has been built into the system.

“They know they have signed up for long hours but, until they get there, they don’t realise how disruptive it is. Your friendships deteriorate and your boyfriend or girlfriend is angry because they have not had a meal with you for a month. You lose touch with your family. It’s miserable,” says Kevin Roose, the author of Young Money , a forthcoming book on Wall Street’s first- and second-year recruits.

It is, of course, an elite problem. Despite everything, thousands compete for such jobs, hoping the Faustian pact will pay off. Goldman Sachs, which has tried to reform how it treats junior employees, received 17,000 applications for its 2014 intake of analysts and recruited 330.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Stock Market, Theology