Daily Archives: March 12, 2014

(RNS) As French cemeteries fill up, Jews seek burial plots in the Holy Land

Franck Darmon is only 35, but he already knows where his bones will lie. Not in his native France, but in Israel.

“When you compare a cemetery in Israel ”” with the blue sky, the sun and all the white tombstones ”” to a cemetery in France with the gray surroundings, it’s very distressing,” Darmon said. “The soul doesn’t have the same type of rest.”

Darmon is not the only French Jew reaching this conclusion, and not just because of the weather. France may have Europe’s largest Jewish population, but many don’t want to stay here for eternity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Europe, France, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Lost: The mysterious, baffling disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370

The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is the kind of mystery that’s not supposed to be possible anymore. The Information Age is also the age of surveillance, of interconnectedness, of cloud computing, of GPS satellites, of intelligence agencies that can monitor terrorists from space or call in a drone strike from a control console on the other side of the world.

But so far, all the technological eyes and ears of the world have failed to find the missing plane. The Boeing 777 jetliner, with 239 people aboard, silently vanished early Saturday morning on its way to China, disappearing from radar so suddenly and inexplicably that it might as well have flown into another dimension.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Globalization, Science & Technology, Travel

New Church of England Higher Education advisor appointed

[The] Revd Duncan Myers has been appointed as the Church of England’s Higher Education Advisor. His extensive and varied experience of university life includes serving as a Chaplain in four Higher Education institutions, most recently at London South Bank University. He has also held a number of management positions including International Student Co-ordinator at the University of Durham, Tutor for Postgraduate Students at Hatfield College, and Senior Pastoral Advisor at Nottingham Trent University.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Education, England / UK, Religion & Culture

(FT) Dennis Di Mauro reviews Gene Robinson's Case for Same Sex Marriage

Throughout the rest of the book, Robinson seeks to convince the reader of the need for legal gay marriage in all fifty states and at the federal level. Chapters with titles such as “Why Marriage Now?” “Don’t Children Need a Mother and a Father?” and “What Would Jesus Do?” attempt to counter commonly heard objections to homosexual unions. Robinson concludes the book with his final chapter, “God Believes in Love,” where he makes the case that God’s bountiful love puts no restrictions upon the gender of those expressing their love for one another.

God Believes in Love is a deeply personal story told with conviction, but it comes up short in a number of areas. The most glaring is the undercurrent of self-centeredness which arises from time to time in its narrative. As in all divorce stories told by the uninjured party, Robinson’s is one in which everyone concerned has benefitted greatly from the break up. His wife was freed from a relationship with a man who couldn’t love her in a truly marital way. His daughters benefitted from a happier father, and they built a new and wonderful relationship with their new stepdad, Mark. Above all, Robinson was able to be “true to himself,” the highest in our current table of virtues. But one wonders how his ex-wife and daughters remember those difficult years when Robinson decided to disassemble their family (the children were four and eight years old).

While Robinson served as a bishop in the Episcopal Church, he surprisingly uses far more secular arguments than theological ones.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Gallup) U.S. Economic Confidence Index Down to -20, lowest weekly score in 2014

Americans’ economic confidence continued to drop last week, with Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index edging down to -20, its lowest weekly score since mid-December.

Americans’ economic confidence had recently stabilized after monthly climbs as it recovered from the damaging effects of the federal government shutdown in October. Since the beginning of the year, confidence had remained roughly stable, hovering around -17 and fluctuating by only a point or two each week. The recent drop to -20, though a mere three-point fall, is the largest drop so far in 2014.

The Gallup Economic Confidence Index is the average of two components: Americans’ views on current economic conditions in the U.S. and their perceptions of whether the economy is getting better or worse.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Psychology

Adam Brereton–My local 'atheist church' is part of the long, inglorious march of gentrification

Punters who attended the Oxford Tavern before it was retrofitted told the Telegraph that the pub had a real “community spirit”. Tamara, one of the strippers, said “it’s like the loss of my second home”. Two demolition workers would come from across Sydney to have lunch there every Thursday. “There goes my social life,” a third bloke joked of the takeover. This was in some sense a religious place, and now it’s gone, without even having been paid the complement of a bit of violent iconoclasm. No, the sketchy places, the sacred places, are slowly being ground out of the world by a force that sees them as neither holy nor profane, but as novelties to spice up the next round of drinks or the next sing-along.

“I don’t expect much objection from religious communities. They are happy for us to use their church model”, Jones told Salon magazine in 2013. Only someone who already feels entitled to the Christian “model”, and who doesn’t understand why it might be a sacrilege to appropriate those forms and gestures, would assume as much. The churches should think very carefully about how they will relate to the growth of organised atheism. At the very least, they should not collaborate in their own desacralisation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Australia / NZ, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

Proposed Resolutions for the Diocese of South Carolina Convention upcoming this Fri/Sat

Take the time to read them all: see here and there.

Please pray for the Convention, about which you may find more information here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Organizations, GAFCON I 2008, Global South Churches & Primates, Theology

Peter Ould–an anonymous person "who has a firm founding in Ecclesiastical Law" on the HOB Statement

The Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 was designed to deal with a range of disciplinary issues concerning the clergy in the Church of England ”“ but to the exclusion of matters of doctrine or ritual.

The 1963 Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure (one of whose chief architects was the late +Eric Kemp) retained the jurisdiction inherited from the Victorian era, and ultimately from the middle ages, expressly as a criminal jurisdiction, modelled on the former Assize Courts.

This meant among other things that the procedures of the consistory court when sitting under the EJM were those of a criminal trial, that prosecutors had to achieve a criminal standard of proof ”“ beyond all reasonable doubt ”“ in persuading the court to convict ”“ and that the court’s sentences were effectively criminal convictions for what in some cases were relatively trivial offences. Its proceedings were open to the public and to the media.

The CDM was designed to be a civil tribunal and to operate without the full glare of publicity brought by EJM proceedings. The world’s press turned up for the trial of the Dean of Lincoln, Brandon Jackson, and the false evidence against him was published on the front pages of national newspapers. He was acquitted.

Read it all.

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

Andrew Symes–Same-sex marriage and the Church’s response

The focus on analysis has led to (or perhaps is because of?) paralysis among church leaders with traditional beliefs. Typically, there is no urgency. Marriage has been redefined with huge implications for the spiritual and moral health of the nation, and yet many otherwise biblically orthodox clergy are not sure there is a problem ”“ especially since the Bishops have at least for the moment appeared to hold the line. There is little prayer, because of the influence of secularism which teaches us to rely on our management techniques rather than on God, because of the upsetting nature of the topic, and because of a lack of understanding about spiritual realities. “Oh yes, I will pray in general for the nation”, I have been told, “but not specifically about gay marriage”. There is no courage. Clergy tell me privately that they believe in what the Bible says about sex, but their priority is for hassle-free pastoral care, for unity in the congregation, and ultimately for their own livelihood. As a result there is a lack of good teaching in the congregations on this topic, and no action at local or national levels or support for others taking such action.

Of course not all churches in England have capitulated. Many are wanting to stand firm ”“ and this brings division. The church is now irredeemably divided over homosexuality. The Gospel should be truth lived out in experience, but today ”˜my story’ is ranged against propositional truth and right principles. Churches which should be based on the Word and oriented towards their communities are now choosing ”˜community’ over against the Word. ”˜Witness’ seen as cutting the cost of discipleship to get people into church is increasingly opposed to bearing witness to Christ at any cost. Words such as sin, the need for repentance and transformation are now applied more to people who do not approve of same gender sexual relationships, than to people in those relationships.

Read it all.

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

A Gregory the Great Thought to Ponder in Lent

…often the wicked so devote themselves to the practice of sin that they succeed in doing more wickedness than they would have been able to learn from the bad example of reprobate sinners. For this reason the torment of greater punishment is inflicted on them, in that they, by their own initiative, sought out greater ways of sinning, for which they are to be punished. Consequently it is well said: “According to the multitude of his devices, so shall he suffer [a citation from Job 20:18]. For he would not find out new ways of sinning unless he sought them out, and he would not seek out such things unless he were anxious to do them deliberately. Therefore, in his punishment, this excess in devising wickedness is taken into account, and he receives proportionate punishment and retribution. And even though the suffering of the damned is infinite, nevertheless they receive greater punishments who, by their own desires, sought out many new ways of sinning.

–Gregory the Great (540-604), Book of Morals 15.18.22

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Eschatology, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Gregory the Great

Almighty and merciful God, who didst raise up Gregory of Rome to be a servant of the servants of God, and didst inspire him to send missionaries to preach the Gospel to the English people: Preserve in thy Church the catholic and apostolic faith they taught, that thy people, being fruitful in every good work, may receive the crown of glory that fadeth not away; 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

Almighty and merciful God, the fountain of all goodness, who knowest the thoughts of our hearts: We confess that we have sinned against thee, and done evil in thy sight. Wash us, we beseech thee, from the stains of our past sins, and give us grace and power to put away all hurtful things; that, being delivered from the bondage of sin, we may bring forth fruits worthy of repentance, and at last enter into thy promised joy; through the mercy of thy blessed Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Saint Alcuin

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed.

–Mark 1:35

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Andrew Symes: Gay marriage and the Church’s response

As the Archbishop of Canterbury has reminded us more than once, we are experiencing a cultural revolution in the area of public attitudes to sexual morality. The pace of change has been rapid. I am not yet 50 years old. When I was born, homosexual sex was illegal; now, in two weeks time, people of the same sex will marry, accompanied by celebrations all over the country here in the UK. The change has not evolved gradually, but has happened as part of a deliberate campaign. The change has been carefully controlled, by using media, the law and even science to promote the new ideas.

The changes have been rapidly accepted: importantly by people with power and influence, and then filtering down to the general population. The message has been imposed through a combination of relentless teaching and threats of punishment for resisting. And there is a real belief that the changes are wholly positive and part of the progress of civilisation.

In the face of this remarkably successful campaign, how has the church responded? By and large, we have seen targeting, analysis, paralysis, and division. After looking at each of these in turn, we’ll see if we can discern any signs of hope…

Read it all

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

(Andrew Goddard) CofE HOB’ Pastoral Guidance on Same-Sex Marriage Part II ”“ Qtns and Challenges

The sad reality is that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Although it is reported that only one bishop voted against the guidance, it is also being claimed that a significant number, even a majority, are not personally happy with it. The reactions to the guidance make clear just how extensive the divisions are in the wider church and thus how difficult the environment for the facilitated conversations is going to be. They also perhaps highlight two areas where the conversations need to focus their attention but which were largely unaddressed by the Pilling Report:

(1) What doctrine of marriage should the Church have and how should it then bear faithful witness to that in ordering its own life and in mission in a wider society which recognises same-sex marriage? and

(2) What is to be done, what new church structures may be needed, so that those who find themselves unable to accept the conclusions on the doctrine of marriage and its practical implications can faithfully bear witness to their understanding of marriage without undermining the mind of the majority or condemning the Church of England to continuing destructive conflict over this issue?

Read it all and Pt I is here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Analysis, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Church/State Matters, CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) The Airport Chaplain, seeking to offer Aid to the Disconnected

The young man, weighed down by luggage and despair, was a first-time flier on his way to a funeral in Detroit. His father’s.

He was unaware that most airlines no longer haul checked bags free, and he was short on money. So workers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport did what they often do when passengers encounter a problem: They sent him to the chapel.

The Interfaith Airport Chaplaincy, in the atrium next to a steak-and-brew restaurant, offers more than a two-item menu of spiritual guidance and comfort. It is the concierge for the disconnected. Maj. Larry Cowper of the Salvation Army and the Rev. Donna Mote of the Episcopal Church lent the traveler a sympathetic ear. Then Ms. Mote accompanied him back to the check-in, pulled out the chaplaincy credit card and covered the fee.

Read it all.

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

(BBC) The story behind Brazil’s statue of Christ, Cristo Redentor

The original idea for a monument to Christ came from a group of Brazilians who, in the wake of World War One, feared an advancing tide of godlessness. Church and state had been separated when Brazil became a republic at the end of the previous century, and they saw the statue as a way of reclaiming Rio ”“ then Brazil’s capital city ”“ for Christianity.

The first proposal was for a bronze statue of Christ on Sugar Loaf – the giant lump of rock with a smooth, curved summit that rises out of the ocean at the entrance to Guanabara Bay. But it was soon decided that Corcovado (“hunch back”) – a peak in the forested hills behind the city – was a better location.

Da Silva Costa, whose design was chosen in February 1922, imagined the statue facing the rising sun: “The statue of the divine saviour shall be the first image to emerge from the obscurity in which the earth is plunged and to receive the salute of the star of the day which, after surrounding it with its radiant luminosity, shall build at sunset around its head a halo fit for the Man-God,” he wrote….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Art, Brazil, Christology, Religion & Culture, South America, Theology

(CT) Angie Mabry-Nauta–Mourning the Death of a Church

I read that by some estimates, every day in the United States, nine churches shut their doors forever. On January 26, 2014, my church””the Reformed Church in Plano (RCP)””was one of them.

After hearing the news late last year, I cried during every worship service for six weeks straight. The music, a prayer, a line during the sermon, or a simple look around would trigger me, and the memories and tears would flow.

I wasn’t the only one. After-church hugs and chats lingered a bit longer each Sunday, as everyone comforted and supported one another.

“I still can’t believe this is happening,” someone would say. “Can’t we figure out a way to save our church?” said another. “I’m sorry, but I really think that (fill in person or circumstance here) is a lot to blame for this,” several people remarked. “What are we going to do? Where are we going to go?”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Wonkblog) Obamacare bummer ”” enrollment drops off in February

About 4.2 million people have signed up for health plans on Obamacare exchanges through the end of February, making it unlikely that the Obama administration will hit lowered enrollment estimates in the program’s first year.

Whatever momentum was building in January appeared to drop off in February, as the number of sign ups fell below the administration’s expectations. The numbers — which were released a day before Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies on the Hill — also show young people aren’t enrolling at rates officials had predicted. That group is key because they are generally presumed to be healthier and less costly.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The U.S. Government, Theology