Daily Archives: February 4, 2014

(HPost) Harvard online course on the Letters of Paul Draws at least 22k Students From 180 Countries

Harvard professor Laura Nasrallah’s edX online course “Early Christianity: The Letters of Paul,” has been called the largest and most concentrated scholarly discussion of Biblical studies in history, according to edX.

Nasrallah told The Huffington Post via email, “The day the course launched was astonishing””like drinking from a fire hose. The edX discussion threads couldn’t handle the amount of people who were commenting, and crashed and slowed down. More people participated on Poetry Genius that day than ever before””the apostle Paul beat out Beyonce!”

edX is a massive online open course (MOOC) platform founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2012. It’s a non-profit that delivers university-level course material to a global audience for free.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Education, Globalization, Science & Technology, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Dr Peter Saunders: The Archbishop of Uganda has clearly identified what Justin Welby must do

All sexual acts outside marriage (including all homosexual acts) are viewed very seriously indeed in Scripture but false teaching which leads people into sexual sin is viewed even more seriously (Luke 17:1-2) and warnings about the affirmation and endorsement of sexual immorality (2 Peter 2 and Jude are poignant examples) are particularly strong.

Those who lead ”˜little ones’ astray (Matthew 18:6), like those they mislead, are in great danger. This is why it is so important for us to exercise godly discipline with them (Matthew 18:15-20; Luke 17:3-4; Galatians 6:1; James 5:19, 20) for their own sakes, as well as for those who they might mislead or have already misled.

The Apostle Paul urged his co-workers to ”˜command certain men not to teach false doctrines’ (1 Timothy 1:3) and to ”˜gently instruct in the hope that God will grant repentance’ (2 Timothy 2:25). He added that false teachers ”˜must be silenced’ (Titus 1:11).

These biblical standards of leadership apply to all of us who exercise leadership within the Christian Church.

The real test of Justin Welby’s leadership of the Church of England will be whether or not he allows the current situation – whereby senior leaders in his church both in these islands and across the Atlantic are teaching that homosexual acts are sometimes acceptable – to smoulder and fester.

If he fails to grasp this nettle in the interests of ”˜unity’ he may find himself presiding over a greatly reduced Anglican communion. I believe he will also find himself on the wrong side of history. But to deal with it firmly and graciously will require not only the wisdom of Solomon, but also the courage of Daniel.

He needs our prayers. But he also needs other Christians within his own denomination to help him be faithful, in both word and deed, to the teaching of Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul on this matter.

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

Born with a rare congenital spinal disorder, now Charleston Southern's women's ministry director

As time passed, she underwent numerous surgeries. She wore diapers until she was 13. And she endured great pain – pain caused by her body and the pain of feeling different, abnormal, somehow wrong.

A word darkened over her life, forming a seemingly permanent label: disabled.

For so long, too long, she heard people’s comments. And she believed them.

However, she also grew up in the small town of Boone, N.C., with good friends and a loving family, including a fraternal twin sister. Together, they instilled a strong Christian faith in her.

Read it all from the local paper..

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Education, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Young Adults

TEC Bishop of West Texas Announces Leadership Transition Plan

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

An ACNS article on the New Anglican bishops course run by Canterbury Cathedral

The 26 bishops come from the following Member Churches: Australia; Canada; Central Africa; South India; England; Ireland; Kenya; Korea; Lusitanian Church; Melanesia; Myanmar; Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia; Nigeria; Scotland; Southern Cone/South America; Sudan; West Africa;and the West Indies.

Several of bishops spoke of the course as having a profound impact on them and their ministry. Bishop of Korea’s Busan Diocese Onesimus Park said that, while he knew intellectually that Korea was part of the worldwide Anglican community, the visit had made this knowledge real.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Archbishop Justin Welby in Democratic Republic of Congo: 'We pray for lasting peace'

Arriving in Goma, the Archbishop said: “I am delighted to be visiting Goma with my wife Caroline to show the love and solidarity of the wider Church amidst all you have been through. We pray for stability and a lasting peace for DRC.

“The Anglican Church in the Congo has shown remarkable initiative and resourcefulness in helping communities address the challenges affecting their life. I look forward to seeing some of those initiatives in action, both in the building of a sustainable peace, and the protection of women from gender-based violence and providing of much needed care.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Anglican Church in Congo/Province de L'Eglise Anglicane Du Congo, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury

(NYT) Ethics Questions Arise as Genetic Testing of Embryos Increases

Genetic testing of embryos has been around for more than a decade, but its use has soared in recent years as methods have improved and more disease-causing genes have been discovered. The in vitro fertilization and testing are expensive ”” typically about $20,000 ”” but they make it possible for couples to ensure that their children will not inherit a faulty gene and to avoid the difficult choice of whether to abort a pregnancy if testing of a fetus detects a genetic problem.

But the procedure also raises unsettling ethical questions that trouble advocates for the disabled and have left some doctors struggling with what they should tell their patients. When are prospective parents justified in discarding embryos? Is it acceptable, for example, for diseases like GSS, that develop in adulthood? What if a gene only increases the risk of a disease? And should people be able to use it to pick whether they have a boy or girl? A recent international survey found that 2 percent of more than 27,000 uses of preimplantation diagnosis were made to choose a child’s sex.

In the United States, there are no regulations that limit the method’s use. The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, whose members provide preimplantation diagnosis, says it is “ethically justified” to prevent serious adult diseases for which “no safe, effective interventions are available.” The method is “ethically allowed” for conditions “of lesser severity” or for which the gene increases risk but does not guarantee a disease.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology, Theology

Appointment of first Bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines, is announced

Read it all and there is much more there and here which on the bishop’s blog begins this way:

It was announced at 10am this morning by 10 Downing Street that I have been nominated to become the first (Anglican) Bishop of Leeds for the new diocese of West Yorkshire & the Dales. The Archbishop of York is to present me in Leeds before we then go on a tour of the cathedrals in Wakefield, Bradford and Ripon. Tomorrow I will visit the three diocesan offices before then, finally, starting my sabbatical proper by going away for a few days.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Latest Installment of Anglican Unscripted with Kevin Kallsen,George Conger et al

Among the topics covered are the Noodle Wars and Bishops of the Jersey Shore. Watch it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News

(USA Today) Philip Seymour Hoffman's death puts focus on heroin's comeback

While heroin use is still low compared to marijuana, law enforcement officials and drug treatment experts say heroin has made a comeback after a decade-long outbreak of narcotic painkiller abuse. The prescription pain pills, such as OxyContin, are opioids that produce a potent high similar to heroin if abused.

“We’re seeing a resurgence of heroin,” says Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. “It cuts across all demographic groups. We used to think of a heroin as an inner city problem, but it’s now a problem we’re seeing across the nation among all populations and all ages.”

As authorities crack down on clinics that prescribe pain pills by the thousands and pharmaceutical companies change their formulas so the pills are more difficult to abuse, opiate addicts are turning to cheaper and more-plentiful heroin. An 80 mg OxyContin pill can sell for up to $100, while a five-dose-a-day heroin habit costs less than $60, according to federal law enforcement officials.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Theology

([London] Times) The trend in funeral plans is changing toward the individuals tastes

From cowboys in the pew to a convoy of cranes accompanying the coffin, funerals are no longer necessarily the black-clad sombre affairs of the past.

People are becoming more creative with their final plans, according to the National Association of Funeral Directors, which reports a growing number of bizarre requests. Unusual planned ceremonies include Morris dancers, a Wild West themed funeral and a company director wanting to be buried next to his beloved golf course.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Secularism

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Anskar

Almighty and everlasting God, who didst send thy servant Anskar as an apostle to the people of Scandinavia, and dist enable him to lay a firm foundation for their conversion, though he did not see the results of his labors: Keep thy Church from discouragement in the day of small things, knowing that when thou hast begun a good work thou wilt bring it to a faithful conclusion; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God of love, who dost give to each of us our appointed work: Help us steadfastly, and as in thy sight, to fulfill the duties of our calling; so that when our Lord shall take account of us, we may be found his good and faithful servants and enter into his eternal joy; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Westminster Prayers

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to thee, when my heart is faint. Lead thou me to the rock that is higher than I; for thou art my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in thy tent for ever! Oh to be safe under the shelter of thy wings!

–Psalm 61:1-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Bloomberg) John Kerry Tells Senators That the Administreation's Syria Policy Is Collapsing

According to [Lindsey ] Graham, Kerry gave the clear impression that Syria is slipping out of control. He said Kerry told the delegation that, “the al-Qaeda threat is real, it is getting out of hand.” The secretary, he said, raised the threat of al-Qaeda unprompted. “He acknowledged that the chemical weapons [delivery] is being slow-rolled; the Russians continue to supply arms [and that] we are at a point now where we are going to have to change our strategy. He openly talked about supporting arming the rebels. He openly talked about forming a coalition against al-Qaeda because it’s a direct threat.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Politics in General, Syria, Terrorism, Violence

(CT) Who Owns the Pastor's Sermon? The Church or the pastor?

Read it all (an updated version of an earlier story).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology

(Anglican Journal) Technology subs for organs

Thank heaven for iTunes. And Bose audio. Without these technological tools the 11 congregations in the far-flung parish of southeast Labrador would have no organ, and some even no choral music at Sunday services.

“There are no longer any organs in the entire parish, although until recently we had a few pump organs,” says the Rev. Jeffrey Petten, one of the parish’s two priests serving such picturesquely named communities as Black Tickle (pop. 168). “A few churches have a capella choirs only, and some use guitarists as accompanists.”

An organist himself, Petten now uses a digital keyboard and hits the organ-mode button as needed. “But I really don’t like to preside and play at the same service because it becomes more work, hopping between the altar and the keys. You can’t properly prepare the altar for the eucharist with a hymn book in your hand,” he says.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Science & Technology

From the Do not Take Yourself too Seriously Department–Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

Watch and listen to it all. “Overcheering”–LOL.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Humor / Trivia, Movies & Television, Sports, Urban/City Life and Issues

(CC) Carol Zaleski on the Dante Masterpiece the Divine Comedy on its 700th anniversary

It was 700 years ago, many scholars believe””in the 12th year of Dante’s exile from Florence””that the Inferno first saw the light of day. Thirteen fourteen: the year has a sprightly sound, hinting at upcoming sequels, and the Italian l’anno mille trecento quattordici has just the right number of syllables (11) to form the first line of a Dantean tercet. I imagine a second year following and a third year rhyming until, year by year, carried along by Dante’s ingenious interlocking terza rima, we are brought to the present moment, duemila quattordici, still marveling at a poem that from link to link makes paradise rhyme with hell.

But does paradise rhyme with hell? Setting aside the cliché about the Inferno being more interesting than the Paradiso, any serious reader will find a deep unity of theme running throughout the hundred-canto trilogy, from Dante’s promise “to treat of the good that I found there” (Inferno 1:8) to the final canto, which T. S. Eliot deemed “the highest point that poetry has ever reached or ever can reach.” Eliot has yet to be proven wrong; the poem deserves its canonical status on a shelf below the Bible and above the ranks of merely literary classics. To borrow a word from Dante, the Divine Comedy, if we are willing to read it whole, imparadises the mind.

Though the poem has a deep unity, the tradition of its interpretation does not; and to read the Divine Comedy in English””ideally with the Italian close at hand””is to step into a stream roiled by rival literary and religious movements.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Books, Eschatology, Europe, History, Italy, Poetry & Literature, Theology