Daily Archives: January 23, 2014

(RNS) Books project helps atheists make the case for unbelief behind bars

Leslie Zukor was a 19-year-old student at Reed College studying prison rehabilitation programs when something jumped out at her.

While there were programs tackling drug abuse, physical and sexual abuse, technical training and more, all of them were offered by faith-based organizations. Where were the options for those behind bars who are atheists, like her?

“Not all prisoners are religious, and I wanted them to know that to turn your life around and be a good and productive member of society does not require a belief in God,” she said. “I just thought, wow, it is time to see about getting other perspectives in there.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Books, Other Faiths, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture

Archbishop Wabukala: Statement on the late Archbishop Solomon Tilewa Johnson

It was with shock and great sadness that we heard about the sudden death of our brother Primate, Solomon Tilewa Johnson, earlier this week.

In October last year we shared fellowship at GAFCON 2013 here in Nairobi and we thank God for his commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ whom he served with a robust faith and cheerful energy throughout his ministry. He was a man of global vision and his death, so untimely from our human perspective, has deprived not only the Church of the Province of West Africa, but the whole Anglican Communion of a talented leader.

We assure Mama Priscilla, his family and the Church he served of our prayers in their loss, that they may know the presence of the Prince of Peace who has conquered death and from whose love nothing can separate us.

Read it all and there is a report here

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Province of West Africa, Anglican Provinces

Overdose deaths from prescription drug abuse skyrocketing in southwestern Pennsylvania

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Personal Finance, Poverty, Rural/Town Life

Time Magazine–10 Questions with Jane Pauley

Did you coin the phrase bad hair day?

Prove me wrong. Bryant Gumbel and I were talking about my bad hair days on the Today show in the early ’80s. If I had two good hair days out of five it was great. Garry put the phrase bad hair day in Doonesbury. He got it from his wife.

So your career is not a total loss.

I do have a claim to immortality.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Media, Movies & Television, Women

(Living Church) Robert Jenson–Ecumenism’s Strange Future

Not only were the mainline denominations beset by divisive internal controversy; they were simultaneously smitten by a wasting disease, whose agent is variously identified but whose presence is plain. Their theological, demographic, and financial declines are related and continue unchecked. They are already too internally riven to pay much attention to division from others.

The ecumenical movement centered on “the dialogues” was carried by these now distracted and enfeebled bodies and the Roman Catholic Church. And there is no one to pick up the burden on the Protestant side. Evangelicals are rarely bothered by questions of eucharistic fellowship ”” or by sacramental matters generally ”” and when they do think about such fellowship they assume that they are all in it anyway. In the dialogue days, when a meeting included evangelicals they would regularly demand moving from worries about sacramental fellowship to more interesting matters.

So what do we do now? I think the first thing is to remember that we pray for something we will not do: “thy Kingdom come.” God will take care of that, and when he does he will sort out his Church in ways that will surely surprise us. It may happen any minute, so let us keep on praying for the unity of the Church.

If there is to be a long meantime, perhaps we may suppose that God will be up to something in it.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Church History, Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Other Churches, Theology

(NY Times) Same-Sex Marriages Confront Roman Catholic School Rules

Eastside Catholic prides itself on teaching acceptance. At the end of Crusader Way, by the school’s entrance, banners hang celebrating “relationships” and exhorting passers-by to “remember to take care of each other.” Students use a sign-language gesture to remind one another of the school’s emphasis on unconditional love.

But now the school is unexpectedly grappling with how it defines both love and acceptance. Last month, a well-regarded vice principal was forced to leave his job as soon as administrators became aware that he had married a man; in the weeks since, the suburban Seattle school has been roiled, first by protests in support of the vice principal, and then by the resignations of those who sought his departure. The chairman of the school’s board resigned last month, and on Tuesday, Eastside, a middle and high school with about 900 students, announced the resignation of its president.

The ouster of Mr. Z, as the former vice principal, Mark Zmuda, is known, comes amid a wave of firings and forced resignations of gay men and lesbians from Roman Catholic institutions across the country, in most cases prompted not directly by the employees’ sexuality, but by their decisions to marry as same-sex marriage becomes legal in an increasing number of states.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, State Government, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Local Paper) South Carolina Legislature urged to focus on early childhood education

Early childhood education advocates called out state lawmakers Wednesday to put aside their differences and reach a bipartisan compromise that invests in pre-kindergarten programs for at-risk children.

The call was made in the lobby of the Statehouse, where the heads of three organizations met to urge lawmakers to implement a statewide policy to measure the progress of children participating in early childhood education programs. More than a dozen organizations, including the United Way and Institute for Child Success, joined the effort dubbed South Carolina’s Early Childhood Common Agenda.

“We’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars in this state on early childhood education, and we haven’t been able to prove that the way we’re doing is effective in every case,” said Tim Ervolina, president of the United Way, during the conference. “We’re just asking the people upstairs spend the money smartly.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, State Government, Theology

CT Interviews Mark Amstutz–The Foreign Policy Mission of American Evangelicals

What have you discovered about evangelical global engagement?

Churches, nongovernmental organizations, lay leaders, and missionaries have played an important part in the United States’ role in the world. Beyond preaching the Good News, missionaries built schools, established clinics, and learned about the world. They were really the first internationalists for the United States. Diplomats like Benjamin Franklin and John Adams went abroad, but it was really evangelicals””orthodox missionaries””who started it.

In the post”“World War II era, we’ve seen a significant rise in missions-related organizations, groups like World Vision or, in the field of microenterprise, Opportunity International. Humanitarianism has been a very important component of evangelical action in foreign lands.

What this shows is that evangelism abroad hasn’t always been propositional. Evangelical diplomats, businessmen, and physicians want to share the Good
News in places where missionaries aren’t allowed, but the sharing of that Good News takes subtle forms.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(NY Times) Treasury Secretary Sends Warning on Debt Limit

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew warned Congress on Wednesday that the government would most likely exhaust its ability to borrow in late February, setting up yet another fiscal showdown with Republicans, and this time earlier than congressional leaders had anticipated.

In a letter to Speaker John A. Boehner and the other top three congressional leaders, Mr. Lew said a surge of February spending, mainly tax refunds for 2013, would leave the Treasury with little room to maneuver after the official debt limit is reached on Feb. 7.

The letter amounts to an early alarm bell, coming just weeks after Congress passed its first bipartisan budget and comprehensive spending bill in years. Those bills were supposed to serve as a cease-fire in the budget wars that have rattled the country and the economy since Republicans took control of the House in 2011.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Budget, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, Globalization, History, House of Representatives, Medicaid, Medicare, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Social Security, Taxes, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc), Theology

(Spectator) is the C of E in an Endless panic over Same Sex Unions and the Piling Report?

Four bishops and a retired civil servant shut away in a palace, talking about human sexuality ”” it sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. But the resulting Pilling Report is, in spite of 200 pages’ worth of double entendres, neither funny nor enlightening.

It has been clear ever since the Lambeth conference in 1998, which contained the ponderous resolution that ”˜we commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons’, that the Anglican church’s position has been to agree not to agree on the issue. From the Jeffrey John affair to the debate over gay marriage, the church has handled the question like a whoopee cushion at a vicar’s tea party ”” with a mixture of bemusement and embarrassment.

Having spent many months interviewing everyone from the Society of Ordained Scientists to the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, Sir Joseph Pilling’s report comes up with the less than profound conclusion that the issue requires the church to have a ”˜facilitated conversation’.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Phillips Brooks on Phillips Brooks Feast Day

Courage…is the indispensable requisite of any true ministry…. If you are afraid of men and a slave to their opinion, go and do something else. Go make shoes to fit them. Go even and paint pictures you know are bad but will suit their bad taste. But do not keep on all of your life preaching sermons which shall not say what God sent you to declare, but what they hire you to say. Be courageous. Be independent.

—-Phillips Brooks, Lectures on Preaching, the 1877 Yale Lectures (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), p. 59

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Seminary / Theological Education, TEC Bishops, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Phillips Brooks

O everlasting God, who didst reveal truth to thy servant Phillips Brooks, and didst so form and mold his mind and heart that he was able to mediate that truth with grace and power: Grant, we pray, that all whom thou dost call to preach the Gospel may steep themselves in thy word, and conform their lives to thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who knowest that we are not sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but that all our sufficiency is of thee: Assist us with thy grace in all the work which we are to undertake this day. Direct us in it by thy wisdom, support us by thy power; that doing our duty diligently, we may bring it to a good end, so that it may tend to the greater glory of thy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Bible Readings

Now the whole earth had one language and few words. And as men migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Ba’bel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

–Genesis 11:1-9

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) Ukraine protests: Two protesters killed in Kiev clashes

Two protesters have been killed in clashes with police in the Ukrainian capital Kiev.

Prosecutors confirmed they had died from bullet wounds. They are the first fatalities since anti-government protests began in November.

Wednesday’s clashes began after police moved in to dismantle a protest camp.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Ukraine, Violence

(Demos) David Goodhart–A Postliberal Future for Britain?

As John Milbank has pointed out, classical political liberalism in the shape of John Locke and David Hume has a pessimistic view of humans as self-interested, fearful and greedy, while the romantic liberalism of Rousseau takes the opposite view, seeing people as free and innocent but society as corrupting. British (and American) liberalism premised on Lockean pessimism is concerned with the balancing and checking of power, the Rousseau-an approach abolishes the problem of power by assuming, in the general will, that everyone has the same interests….

It is sometimes said that the story of politics since the fall of Margaret Thatcher is that the right won the economic argument and the left won the social argument. But in more recent times both of those victories seem tainted; reflecting the limits of the two liberalisms.

[In fact, most people]… are certainly not the free-floating individuals of liberal ideology. Rather they are rooted in communities and families, often experience change as loss and have a hierarchy of moral obligations. Too often the language of liberalism that dominates public debate ignores the real affinities of place and people. Those affinities are not obstacles to be overcome on the road to the good society; they are one of its foundation stones. People will always favour their own families and communities; it is the task of a realistic liberalism, a postliberal politics, to strive for a description of nation and community that is open enough to include people from many different backgrounds, without being so open as to become meaningless…

Read it all (Hat tip: The Browser)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Philosophy, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Anglican Ink) The Bishop Winchester's pastoral letter on Jersey

I wanted to contact you all following Lambeth Palace’s announcement today that the Bishop of Dover is to take temporary responsibility for episcopal oversight of the Channel Islands. This follows a proposal I took to the Archbishop of Canterbury last year, which has now been supported and implemented by Archbishop Justin and his colleagues and which also has the backing of representatives from the Islands.

It will be evident to a number of you that, what began as an important and ongoing safeguarding matter in Jersey last year has steadily become complicated by a range of political and legal issues. The safeguarding investigations will, of course, continue and I hope in time we will benefit from improvements to our policies to help vulnerable people in the Islands and across the Diocese. Nevertheless, I am all too conscious of the additional, fundamental issues that have been raised and I believe they also warrant urgent and full attention. Equally I believe that the best way of achieving the reconciliation that we all want is for me to step back for now from the tensions that have arisen and allow for fresh, external input. I am very grateful therefore that Bishop Trevor is able to devote the time to take on this role, on a temporary basis, bringing with him knowledge of the Channel Islands as a former Bishop of Basingstoke.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Gallup) In U.S., 65% Dissatisfied With How Gov't System Works

Sixty-five percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the nation’s system of government and how well it works, the highest percentage in Gallup’s trend since 2001. Dissatisfaction is up five points since last year, and has edged above the previous high from 2012 (64%).

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, History, Politics in General, Psychology, The U.S. Government