Daily Archives: March 11, 2014

Survey: Christians are more likely to give up using Twitter or Facebook during Lent than cigarettes

Every year, beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter Sunday, millions of people celebrate the 40 days of Lent by giving up””fasting from””certain foods or activities. It’s a practice with a rich history among many Christian traditions. But how likely are believers today to participate in Lenten disciplines””and, if they do choose to fast, what are they fasting from?

The majority of adults (72%) are aware of the Christian tradition of giving something up for Lent. Even among non-Christians, awareness of Lent is at about the same level (70%). Yet in spite of this widespread awareness of the season, only 17% of all adults””roughly one-fifth of those who know about the season””have practiced Lenten fasting in the last three years. The same number (17%) plan to give something up for Lent again this year.

Read it all and take all this in as well.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

(Guardian) Giles Fraser–Clergy Same Sex marriages: final chapter of the Anglican Communion fiction

Well, you could knock me down with a feather duster. The Pope is looking into the subject of gay marriage. According to Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Holy Father said to him that “rather than quickly condemn them, let’s just ask the questions as to why that has appealed to certain people”. OK, it’s hardly a new Vatican policy. But language matters. And in the week of the first anniversary of Francis’s appointment as pope, it is worth recognising how far the language has come.

But things are going to change even faster for the Church of England over the next few weeks. With gay marriage becoming a legal reality on 29 March, it is certain that a number of clergy will be looking to get hitched, in direct defiance of the wishes of their bishops who have vaguely warned of disciplinary action if they do. But the truth is that the bishops can actually do very little about it. The following is slightly nerdish stuff, but for the likes of north London vicar Reverend Andrew Cain, now preparing for his nuptials, it is crucial. Writing on my Facebook page last night, the Bishop of Buckingham explained the clergy discipline measure:

“Its Section 7 lays down that matters of doctrine and worship are not justiciable under the measure, but must be tried under the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 1963. Insomniacs may remember that around 10 years ago there was a proposal to have a Clergy Discipline Measure type measure for doctrine and worship cases but it failed. The legal trail leads from here to section 39 of the EJM63. The maximum penalty it lays down for a first offence is a rude letter telling you not to do it again ”“ which hopefully people getting married won’t.”

Of course, the bishops could pretend that clergy getting married is not a matter of doctrine, but this would be a bit of a problem given that they have been going round telling everyone that it is.

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

(Scotsman) Humanity says happy 25th birthday to world wide web this week

The 25th anniversary of the world wide web will be celebrated around the globe this week.

The milestone will be marked on Wednesday, a quarter of a century since it was first proposed by British computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

For anybody under the age of 20 it is hard to imagine what life would be like without the web, which is not to be confused with the internet ”“ a massive chain of networks which the web uses.

But when Sir Tim first submitted his idea while working at Swiss physics laboratory, Cern, the response from his boss was the brief: “Vague, but exciting.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, History, Science & Technology, Theology

Jennifer Dukes Lee–The Gift of Unanswered Questions about the Bible

My oldest daughter asks her hardest questions at bedtime, when we flop open the pages of Scripture atop her flowered quilt.

We flip through pages of her Bible, rustling like onion skins between our fingers. We land on the story of David and Goliath, and I read aloud the story of a heroic boy who felled a giant with one smooth stone.

In the bluish light of her bedside lamp, I can see on her face what’s coming next. She wears the hard questions in her knitted brow and tilted head.

“Mom?” she asks. “Why would God think it’s OK to kill Goliath? Isn’t all murder wrong?”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Children, Marriage & Family, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CNN) Future cancer patients may struggle for quality care

Jeffery Ward’s story illustrates a growing problem for cancer care in the United States, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s inaugural report, “The State of Cancer Care in America,” which was released Tuesday.

Nearly two-thirds of the small oncology practices surveyed said they were likely to merge, sell or close in the upcoming year. And as community practices disappear, patients are paying more and traveling farther for quality care, an issue compounded by physician shortages and a rapidly aging population.

“If you can’t get care, you can’t get good care,” said American Society of Clinical Oncology President Dr. Clifford Hudis, chief of Breast Cancer Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and a professor at Weill Cornell Medical College.

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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, Health & Medicine, Personal Finance, Theology

(ABC Aus.) Miroslav Volf–Exclusion or Saturation? Rethinking the Place of Religion in Public Life

Debates are raging today about the role of religions in public life, and it is not difficult to see why.

To begin with, religions – Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and so on – are growing numerically, and their members worldwide are increasingly unwilling to keep their convictions and practices limited to the private sphere of family or religious community. Instead, they want these convictions and practices to shape public life. They may engage in electoral politics and seek to influence legislative processes (as the Religious Right has done in the United States ever since the Reagan presidency), or they may concentrate on transforming the moral fabric of society through religious awakening (as the Religious Right seems to be doing during the Obama presidency). Either way, many religious people aim to shape public life according to their own vision of the good life.

Moreover, in today’s globalized world, religions cannot be neatly sequestered into separate geographic areas. As the world shrinks and the interdependence of people increases, ardent proponents of different religions come to inhabit the same space. But how do such people live together, especially when all of them want to shape the public realm according to the dictates of their own sacred texts and traditions?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Independent) ”˜Iran ordered Lockerbie bombing’, claims ex-Iranian intelligence officer

Iran ordered the Lockerbie bombing in revenge for the accidental shooting down of an Iranian passenger jet by a US navy ship, according to a former Iranian intelligence officer who defected to Germany.

An al-Jazeera documentary, Lockerbie: What Really Happened?, claims the attack was carried out on Tehran’s behalf by the Syrian-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.

It also says that the bomb was planted on Pan Am flight 103 at Heathrow Airport, not at Malta as suggested during the trial that convicted Libyan intelligence officer Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Iran, Middle East, Terrorism, Travel

(AP) It Utah, A Polygamous Family says Going on TV has been Liberating

The newest Utah polygamous family featured in a reality TV show says sharing their story with a wide audience has been liberating.

Brady Williams and his five wives were a bit apprehensive ahead of the airing of a pilot episode in September, but they said this week an interview with The Associated Press that it felt liberating to be open about who they are and what they believe.

“It really is like coming out of the closet,” said Brady Williams, 43. “It’s very liberating.”

His wives feel the same way, including his second, Robyn Williams, 40, who said: “I feel more free to just be who I am and not be so afraid.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Movies & Television, Psychology, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Into thy hands, O Lord, we commend ourselves and all who are dear to us this day. Be with us in our going out and in our coming in. Strengthen us for the work which thou hast given us to do. And grant that, filled with thy Holy Spirit, we may walk worthy of our high calling, and cheerfully accomplish those things that thou wouldest have done; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–F. T. Woods

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

And the whole city was gathered together about the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed.

–Mark 1:33-35

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Andrew Goddard: The HOB Pastoral Guidance on SS Marriage Part I – Engaging with the Critics

The divisions within the Church of England and the multiple challenges it faces in the light of the advent of same-sex marriage have become even clearer and more serious in the weeks since the House of Bishops Pastoral Guidance. In what follows I explore three areas where the bishops have been criticised and offer a defence of their stance. A subsequent article notes three areas where questions remain and concludes by describing the serious challenge now facing the Church of England in the light of the guidance and reactions to it…

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

George Osborne under attack from bishops again for discriminating against 'one-earner families'

A Church of England bishop has accused the Government of penalising stay-at-home mothers and carers by discriminating against families in the tax and benefits system.

The criticism came after an inquiry by a Christian charity to be launched on Tuesday found that that married couples with only one earner keep less of every extra pound they earn in the UK than in any other country in the developed world.

Last month, church leaders including 27 Anglican bishops condemned the Coalition’s welfare policies for causing hardship and hunger, and Cardinal Vincent Nichols, leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, said its benefit cuts were “a disgrace”. Now the Government is under attack for being “anti-family” in a study carried out by the charity Christian Action Research and Education (CARE).

Read it all from the Independent.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Economy, England / UK, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Taxes

(Time Magazine) 10 Questions with NCAA basketball phenom Jibari Parker

Growing up, was it harder to be really tall or to be a practicing Mormon?

I think just tall, because in Chicago, people really don’t know what Mormons are. And being a basketball player, I didn’t really have to face a lot of struggles, because a lot of people around me respected me. I really didn’t get heckled or looked down upon. But being tall was a mixed blessing. Off the court, I felt kind of shy because I wasn’t average. I wasn’t able to be a part of being normal in my classroom.

What music do you listen to before games? Would hip-hop be too explicit for Mormons?

I’m a really big fan of hip-hop, and I can listen to it before the game, but I’m not that into a lot of profane music. Sometimes you can’t get the clean things, so I just make sure that it’s as conservative as possible and make sure the message is there if profanity is present.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Mormons, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Sports, Urban/City Life and Issues, Young Adults

(Charisma) Swedish Megachurch Pastor Ulf Ekman Converts to Roman Catholicism

During his Sunday morning service, Ulf Ekman announced the he and his wife, Birgitta, are converting to Roman Catholicism.

Ekman is the founder of Word of Life, a megachurch in Uppsala, Sweden. News reports and blogs coming out of the nation reveal the congregation was “partially stunned” after hearing what was packaged as a “special announcement.” The theme was “Follow the Lamb Wherever He Goes.”

“For Birgitta and me, this has been a slow process were we have gone from discovering new things, to appreciating what we have discovered, to approach and even learn from our fellow Christians,” Ekman says on his ministry website.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic, Sweden

Did you Know Louis Berkhof's Systematic Theology is Available online?

Check it out.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Other Churches, Reformed, Theology

(WSJ) The share of new homes being built as rentals is at its highest level in 40 years

The share of new homes being built as rental apartments is at the highest level in at least four decades, as an improving jobs picture spurs younger Americans to form their own households but tighter lending standards make it more difficult to buy.

Residential construction””a pillar of the economy and employment””is starting to ramp up again overall, but in previous years the growth was driven by single-family homes. Last year, according to census data, construction was started on a little less than one million new residential units, and about one in three of those was a rental in a multifamily building, the highest share since data began in the mid-1970s. Single-family homes accounted for about two-thirds of housing starts last year, down from their peak of 87% in 1993 and about 80% in the years leading up to the recession, the census data showed.

The move toward apartment construction reflects the convergence of several trends. Mortgage credit is still tight. Also, Americans have seen muted wage gains, and others have high student-debt loads, forcing people who otherwise would have bought homes to rent instead.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--