Daily Archives: March 1, 2014

(Anglican Journal) Making space to engage deeply this Lent

For Anglicans considering how to observe Lent this year, the Anglican Church of Canada is offering two online resources””one, a study of the Gospel of John and the other, a study of baptismal identity.

Love life: Living the gospel of love is a Lenten video series produced by the brothers of the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE) for the Anglican Church of Canada. Those who subscribe will begin receiving daily emails starting on Ash Wednesday, March 5, which will include short videos and a thought-provoking question to ponder during the day.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(C of E) Bishops respond to Government Child Poverty strategy

The Bishop of Leicester, Rt. Revd. Tim Stevens and the Bishop of Birmingham, Rt. Revd. David Urquhart, have released a joint statement today in response to the draft child poverty strategy issued by the government.

The Bishops said: “We welcome the Government’s firm commitment to ending child poverty by 2020. The measures announced in this paper are a step in the right direction, though much more will need to be done to enable us to come close to achieving this very ambitious target. As the economy recovers we encourage the Government to pursue policies to ensure that the proceeds of growth will be shared by low income families with children, and by other groups that have been most adversely affected by the recession.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Her.meneutics) Bronwyn Lea–What God Teaches Us About Broken Marriage Vows

Divorce is not God’s will or desire for us. Even where divorce is allowed, it is not commanded, and then it is still a tragedy. Divorce leaves behind devastation and victims in its wake.

That God himself is a divorcee, despite his faultless covenant faithfulness, calls us to a more nuanced understanding of marriage and divorce. In our own marriages, God calls us to follow his example of covenant faithfulness, and has demonstrated how much grace and forgiveness is needed to maintain a relationship in the face of human sinfulness. God’s example give us a framework to talk meaningfully about commitment and grace, and yet also to say that in situations of hard-hearted and deliberate covenant violation, divorce was allowed as God’s way of officially declaring a broken covenant “broken.”

We find wisdom when we view hot topics within the larger framework of Scripture. A discussion on purity should not just be about whether a person is a virgin when they marry (even if they’ve done “everything but”), but about how they steward their sexuality throughout their lives. Similarly, the litmus test for covenant faithfulness in marriage should not just be about whether or not someone got divorced (even if they did “everything but”), but about how we steward our marriages and make daily attempts to model God’s faithfulness to our spouses.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Globe and Mail) ”˜Marriage gap’ exists between rich and poor Canadians, new study shows

Canadians are “split into haves and have-nots by marriage lines,” the report concludes. “The big story is that Canadian are divided along marriage lines by income, and that share of marriage has remained remarkably stable among high income earners,” says co-author Peter Jon Mitchell, a senior researcher.

Among its recommendations: The government should “consider tax initiatives and youth education campaigns that promote marriage,” better work-life balance in workplace practices, and even support for marriage counselling, an approach adopted recently in Australia. Certainly, there’s an economic and social value in helping families stay together, especially when kids are involved.

But are Canadians split along marriage lines, or is income influence how they approach marriage? The Institute study argues “there is evidence for both.” But if it’s the latter, then encouraging the swapping of vows is not a particularly useful poverty measure on its own, as researchers in the United States have observed.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Canada, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Sociology, Theology

Owen Strachan–If we Watch Sexual Mores, we see American Culture Sliding into Neoaganism

I do not come to bury our culture (for it may well bury itself). Rather, I write to understand it. And there are few topics that we need to understand more than how our culture is viewing sex. Some of what I say may be familiar. I’m not striving to be creative, really, so much as I am seeking to speak a true word so as to be able to engage folks around me.

Nowhere are modern sexual mores more evident than in pop music. Pop music today is not singularly occupied by sex, but nearly so. And not just sex generally, but increasingly sexual acts. I think it’s important for Christians who want to engage the culture well to know that this development is not merely owing to an aberrant way of life, but to a different worldview. I commend Peter Jones’s The God of Sex, a prescient and underappreciated work from a few years back. Jones helped me to see that many people today have, wittingly or unwittingly, adopted a pagan outlook on life. In our modern neo-pagan world, the body is paramount, sex is cathartic and even gives meaning to life, and there is no telos or purpose for sex and relationships.

I cannot help but think of these matters when I listen, as I infrequently do, to secular rap and R&B.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Men, Movies & Television, Music, Other Faiths, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Wicca / paganism, Women

(LC) Washington Cathedral Dean Gary Hall: Sometimes we break the law For a Higher Law

Episcopalians are obliged to violate earthly laws in order to advance the higher law established by God, the dean of Washington National Cathedral said on February 24. During a panel on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” the Very Rev. Gary R. Hall cited the actions of Episcopalians in the 1960s to desegregate the racially divided church.

Hall said every faith community has to decide whether it is prepared to engage in “disturbing the peace.” Otherwise, he asked, “Are we protectors of the status quo?”

“The church sometimes has to break the law,” he said, “in the service of a higher law.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, TEC Parishes, Theology

(Gallup Chairman's Blog) Jim Clifton–On The U.S. Economy, let's Stop Kidding Ourselves

Americans aren’t looking for part-time, crappy jobs, and they aren’t looking for more free time to paint or read. They want the respect and dignity of a full-time, good job. The problem is, U.S. adults with full-time jobs as a percentage of the U.S. adult population right now is 42% — the lowest monthly average since Gallup started our Payroll to Population (P2P) metric in March of 2011.

GDP growth continues to fail expectations. Many economists, both left- and right-leaning, predicted U.S. GDP would grow 3% last year. It only grew 1.9%, which was even worse than the 2.8% growth in 2012 — so the pie shrunk. Now we’re seeing predictions of 3% growth this year. Here is the big question: Based on what?

Seriously, what is driving the upbeat predictions this time? A technology boom we haven’t yet heard about? Automobile exports? Fracking? The return of manufacturing jobs? Millions of “shovel-ready” government projects?
Reality check: The three most important indicators to watch in gauging whether or not America will ever recover from the 2008 financial crash are: if business births begin to outnumber business deaths again, the steady growth of full-time jobs as a percent of the population (P2P), and significant GDP growth.

On all three indicators, America is failing this morning.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy

U.S. Growth at End of 2013 Is Revised Downward

The economy finished 2013 on a weaker footing than first thought, the government said on Friday, heightening concern that the United States is in the midst of another of the periodic slow patches that have dogged the recovery over the last five years.

The Commerce Department now estimates the economy grew at an annual pace of 2.4 percent in October, November and December, down from an initial estimate of 3.2 percent. The revised figure also represents a substantial slowing from the pace of growth in the third quarter, which totaled 4.1 percent. The department is scheduled to provide one more estimate of growth during the fourth quarter on March 27.

The downward revision comes after new data showing lackluster retail sales, inventory adjustments and a slightly less impressive trade balance late last year. Disappointing reports on job creation in December and January have also prompted fear of continued weakness into the spring of 2014.

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

(Time) Al-Qaeda Rebels in Syria Tell Christians to Pay Up or Die

Radical Islamist rebels running the northern Syrian city of Raqqa have made the Christians living in the area an offer they can’t refuse: pay for protection, convert to Islam, or “face the sword.”

In a statement posted to Jihadi websites and signed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-designated emir of the future Islamic caliphate of Raqqa, as well as the founder of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS] rebel brigade, Christians are urged to pay a tax in order to continue living under ISIS’s protection. The terms are simple: twice a year wealthy Christians must pay the equivalent of half an ounce of gold ”” about $664 by today’s market value. Middle-class Christians have to come up with half that sum, and poor Christians can get away with paying a quarter, or about $166.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Personal Finance, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Syria, Violence

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint David of Wales

Almighty God, who didst call thy servant David to be a faithful and wise steward of thy mysteries for the people of Wales: Mercifully grant that, following his purity of life and zeal for the gospel of Christ, we may with him receive the crown of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of Wales, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who art peace everlasting, whose chosen reward is the gift of peace, and who hast taught us that the peacemakers are thy children: Pour thy peace into our hearts, that everything discordant may utterly vanish, and all that makes for peace be loved and sought by us always; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Mozarabic Sacramentary

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lo’is and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you. Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.

–2 Timothy 1:5-7

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Ancient Evangelical Futures Conference

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(WSJ) States Look to Curb Standardized Testing

A long-simmering movement to scale back the use of standardized tests in K-12 education is beginning to see results, with policy makers and politicians in several states limiting””or trying to limit””the time used for assessments, or delaying the consequences tied to them.

In recent months, officials in Missouri have cut back on allocated testing time while New York capped it. Connecticut agreed to let districts delay, for a year, linking teacher evaluations to state test scores. Tennessee officials rescinded a plan to deny teacher licenses based, in part, on their students’ growth on state tests.

Meanwhile, 179 bills related to K-12 testing””a number of them seeking to curb it””have been introduced in statehouses nationwide this legislative session, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which hadn’t tracked such bills so comprehensively until this year.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, State Government, Theology

(FT) Leaks show GCHQ captured ordinary internet users’ webcam images

GCHQ, Britain’s electronic spying agency, intercepted and stored images of 1.8m Yahoo users taken from their personal webcams even though most of them were not suspected of wrongdoing, documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden show.

A secret programme called “Optic Nerve”, run in conjunction with the US National Security Agency, recorded millions of webcam images from ordinary internet users ”“ as many as one in 10 of them sexually explicit ”“ “in bulk”, the UK’s Guardian newspaper reported on Thursday.

“Optic Nerve” tapped into Yahoo users’ accounts and took still images from their computer webcams every five minutes.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Theology