Daily Archives: March 22, 2014

(Telegraph) Justin Welby makes great strides, but his greatest challenge is yet to come

It could have been like one of those moments in a country parish where a trendy new vicar rolls up with plans to rip out the Victorian pews to make way for a drum-kit and an overhead projector. The arrival of Justin Welby, a former businessman whose brand of Christianity is marked with the zeal of the convert, as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury had the potential to ruffle more than a few feathers in the established Church.

Within months of his enthronement, a year ago today, he seemed on course to do just that. He had overhauled his staff, with a series of new appointments. He had persuaded rival factions to take part in something akin to drama therapy sessions to confront their differences over women bishops, and he had delivered a blistering address to the General Synod on how it needed to face up to a sexual “revolution”.

But a year into the job ”“ which combines the work of a medieval prelate, a FTSE chief executive and a world-weary inner-city rector ”“ he has scored a series of successes that would have seemed unthinkable in the past. After decades of argument and years of tortuous legislative twists and turns, the Church of England is on the brink of finally approving the admission of women into the episcopate.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

(NYT) Is there a limit on how much info Silcon Vally will share? On a New Social App called "Secret"

From Facebook to Twitter to Instagram and Google, many big Internet successes depend on coaxing people into sharing every last bit of information about themselves and their lives.

But a five-week old social app, Secret, is testing the limits of just how much sharing Silicon Valley thinks is a good thing. That’s because the sharing is done anonymously. And, as it turns out, much of the chatter is about Silicon Valley itself ”” offering a rare, unvarnished look at the ambitions, disappointments, rivalries, jealousies and obsessions of the engineers and entrepreneurs who live and work there.

Secret, like a number of other recent apps, connects people anonymously through their address books. Messages appear only as from “friend” or “friend of friend.” Juicy posts that receive a lot of likes or comments also appear occasionally, identified simply by the city or state where they originated.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

Bishop John Pritchard of Oxford's Presidential address to Synod

…there are a couple of underlying realities we have to acknowledge. First, as I wrote in my letter to clergy, I hope it’s common ground that we’re part of a Church that’s called to real repentance for the lack of welcome and acceptance extended to gay and lesbian people as children of God. We haven’t listened well to the quiet, hurting voices, nor to those called to celibacy, nor to clergy who have lovingly and sensitively ministered to gay couples through the years.

The second thing we need to acknowledge is that we’re part of a culture that’s chaotically confused about sex. Sex has been outrageously commodified, pornography is ordinary viewing for teenagers and an addiction for very many adults, trafficking is a global business, prostitution is commonplace, sexually explicit films and TV are far beyond anything Mary Whitehouse could have imagined in her wildest nightmare. Multiple sexual partners are wreaking havoc on relational stability, sexual infections are massively increasing, hardly anyone is a virgin on their wedding night, and so on. And in the middle of all that we’re trying steadily to work out a theologically coherent approach to same sex marriage.

But I think in a sense, we’re doing this on behalf of the nation. We’re trying to be responsible. We’re trying to grapple with a serious moral issue in a way that models openness and respect. OK, we’re messing up ”“ badly. But we’re trying to discover how much we can agree on, and to learn how to ”˜disagree well’ on what we can’t agree on. And then to decide how we can, or can’t, live with that spectrum of honest belief. The rest of society doesn’t do its moral reasoning like that. It prefers soundbites, three minutes of furious argument, and a YouGov poll.

Read it all and you may read a bit about Bishop Pritchard there.

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

A Daily Mail article–Just 800,000 worshippers attend a C of E service on an average Sunday

The Church of England attracts fewer than 800,000 worshippers to its churches on a typical Sunday, according to new estimates yesterday.

Numbers in the pews have fallen to less than half the levels of the 1960s, the count showed.

The signs of continuing decline in support for the CofE follow census evidence of a widespread fall in allegiance to Christianity, with numbers calling themselves Christian dropping by more than four million in a decade.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Chelsea thrash 10-man Arsenal

Oscar scored twice as 10-man Arsenal were demolished in a one-sided and somewhat bizarre derby at Stamford Bridge.

There were also goals for Samuel Eto’o, Andre Schurrle, Eden Hazard and Mohamed Salah as Premier League leaders Chelsea ran riot against Arsene Wenger’s side, who had Kieran Gibbs sent off in an apparent case of mistaken identity.

Eto’o scored after five minutes and Schurrle doubled the Blues’ lead two minutes later, before Hazard netted with a penalty after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had dived to push away a goal-bound shot with his hand.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Men, Sports

Kendall Harmon–The Curious Incident of the Bible and the new Anglican Communion Facebook Page

Longtime blog readers know well that one of my favorite examples of the importance of listening to the screaming silence of something missing comes from the Sherlock Holmes saga entitled “Silver Blaze.” In one of the most famous sections in all of Arthur Conan Doyle’s writing in this saga we find the follow exchange:

Inspector Gregory [of Scotland Yard]: “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
Sherlock Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
Inspector Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
Sherlock Holmes: “That was the curious incident

I mention this because recently the Anglican Communion Office launched an Anglican Communion Facebook page. You may find the page here. Being preoccupied recently with the diocese of South Carolina convention and other matters, I only recently checked out the page.

Imagine my surprise when on the front of the page I read the following:

A page to see posts shared by members of the Anglican Communion – 85 million Christians who share faith, tradition, history & ways of worshipping.

Now 85 million people is a lot the last time I checked–but I would have thought the Bible had something to do with it.

The silence is screaming and it is oh-so-significant–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Anglican Provinces, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Globalization, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

An RNS article–C of E Sunday attendance continues downward slide

England (RNS) Attendance figures released by the Church of England show that Sunday worship attendance continues its downward slide and now stands at about half of what it was 45 years ago.

The report from the Archbishops’ Council Research and Statistics Department, released Friday (March 21), shows that on average in 2012, 800,000 adults, or about 2 percent of the adult population, attended church on Sunday. That’s down from 1.6 million Sunday worshippers in 1968.

Read it all.

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

The C of E Full Document on its 2012 Statistics (65 Page pdf)

Check it out.

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

Church of England PR on its annual statistics for 2012

The Church of England…[Friday] released its annual statistics for 2012.

Overall in 2012, on average 1.05m people attended Church of England churches each week showing no significant change over the past decade. Figures for all age average weekly attendance show around 1 in 5 churches growing, and just over this number declining with 57% remaining stable.

In 2012 the Church of England conducted over 356,000 services of baptism, wedding and funerals at an average of about 6,700 each week – almost 1,000 per day – marking the rites of passage in people’s lives in communities across the country. Last year the Church of England baptised almost 140,000 people (2,700 per week), performing around 56,000 marriages in (1000 per week) and conducted 160,000 funerals (3,000 per week).

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

James DeKoven on his Feast Day–A Sermon on Christian Hope (1864)

“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the vail; whither the Forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus.”””HEB. vi. 19, and part of v. 20.

Life is full of changes and chances. It sounds commonplace to say so, and yet more and more one learns to realize that the commonplaces of life are the things we most frequently dwell on, and the things we most often need comfort about. Poverty and riches, sickness and health, prosperity and adversity, joy and sorrow, succeed one another in our lives in a way that men call chance, and Christians know to be the will of God. All external circumstances change and alter; friends fail us or are taken away; death breaks up family circles; we move away from the scenes of youth and dwell in other places; cities and towns lose their familiar appearance; nay, in this our day things that should be most stable shake and totter, and government and order seem about to fail, and the very Church itself partakes of the universal disquiet; and only the eye of faith can discern the sure and immovable foundations against which the gates of hell shall never prevail.

But, even if there were no external changes, the changes within us are still harder to bear. We are not what we were. Time more surely alters our inner selves than even it does what is without us. We do not love what we loved, we do not seek what we sought, we do not fear what we feared, we do not hate what we hated. We are not true to ourselves. However brave a front we may present to the world, we are compelled to acknowledge to ourselves our own inconsistencies. There is often a broad chasm even between the intellectual convictions of one period of life and of another; and our very religious convictions, except they are built on the unchanging rule of the catholic faith, contradict each other; and the weary heart, uncertainly reaching forth in the darkness, longs with an ever deeper longing for that immutable One “with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

Blessed, then, is it to hear of an anchor of the soul. The imagery is simple enough. The ship, beaten by waves, tossed by tempests, driven by winds, takes refuge in the harbor. The anchor is cast from the stern. The ship rides securely; the danger is over.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of James Dekoven

Almighty and everlasting God, the source and perfection of all virtues, who didst inspire thy servant James de Koven to do what is right and to preach what is true: Grant that all ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may afford to thy faithful people, by word and example, the knowledge of thy grace; 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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Thou, from whom to be turned is to fall, to whom to be turned is to rise, and in whom to stand is to abide for ever: Grant us in all our duties thy help, in all our perplexities thy guidance, in all our dangers thy protection, and in all our sorrows thy peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Saint Augustine

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

The herdsmen fled, and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened. And they came to Jesus, and saw the demoniac sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the man who had had the legion; and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told what had happened to the demoniac and to the swine. And they began to beg Jesus to depart from their neighborhood.

–Mark 5:14-17

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A.S Haley on the Texas Supreme Court Decision

Today the Texas Supreme Court denied the losing parties’ petitions for rehearing in the two ECUSA cases pending before it: No. 11-0265, Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, et al. v. The Episcopal Church, et al.; and No. 11-0332, Masterson v. Diocese of Northwest Texas. The Court had delivered its opinions in the two cases last August 30. In the first case, the Court had sided with Bishop Iker’s Diocese by a closely split vote of 5-4, reversed the summary judgment of Circuit Judge John Chupp which had awarded all of the property and assets of Bishop Iker’s Diocese to the Episcopal Church and its rump diocese, and sent the case back to the trial court. The majority held that the trial court had improperly failed to apply a “neutral principles of law” analysis to the issues. The four dissenters did not disagree with that result, but instead believed that the Court lacked jurisdiction to hear a direct appeal from the trial court’s judgment in the case.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Analysis, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

(Dio. of FW) TEC loses again in Texas; Supreme Court denies motion for rehearing

The Episcopal Church and its local supporters in Fort Worth have suffered a second defeat from the Texas Supreme Court. On August 30, 2013, the high court reversed a lower-court decision that favored TEC’s claim to all church property in the Diocese of Fort Worth, which left the denomination in 2008. Today the Court denied TEC’s subsequent motion to rehear the case which now returns to the lower court for a new hearing and summary judgment based on neutral principles of law, not deference to a hierarchical church. We praise God for this very good news.

Some speculate that TEC will now seek a review of the ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court as a further delaying tactic, but given past decisions on cases similar to this, it is highly unlikely that such a request would be granted. In recent appeals, the SCOTUS has left church property disputes to each state Supreme Court to decide. Moreover, the Texas Supreme Court will issue its mandate referring the case to the trial court, regardless of any such filing.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

(JE) Virginia Episcopalians Delve into Gnostic Gospel, Historical Jesus

[Elaine] Pagels contended that the gospel of Thomas was intended for those already familiar with a public account of Jesus’ life. Paired with John’s gospel, which the Princeton academic asserted was written in the same tradition, Thomas was written so that readers would have a “new, deeper meaning” “to be read complementarily” with John’s message of salvation.

Pagels speculated that Jesus was “probably illiterate” but memorized scripture the way Jewish boys memorize the Torah. It was “very likely” he quoted them all the time….

Pagels noted that Gnostics typically considered a “gloomy view of the world” and adhered to a “bizarre mythology,” but Thomas, in contrast, “is a simple list.”

“Whoever put John and Thomas together shared the same teaching tradition,” Pagels concluded.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Friday Afternoon Must Not Miss–Moving and Majestic Migratory Birds Trumpet Spring's Arrival

Nebraska is truly a flyover state for millions of snow geese, sandhill cranes and other migratory birds traveling north from south of the border during early spring. The area has become world famous for bird watchers who themselves migrate to the Audubon’s Rowe Sanctuary along Nebraska’s Platte River to see and hear the birds up close.

Watch the whole thrilling video (under three minutes) and please enjoy this one also.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Animals, Energy, Natural Resources, Weather

Notable and Quotable–John Buchanan on how the parish minister must order his/her time

Many of us love the busyness, energy, and creative dynamism of a robust church. Many of us love the program direction and even the management. And yet all of us pastors must summon an uncommon discipline if we are to reflect the priority and importance of preaching.

It can be done. [Joseph] Sittler [wrote in his essay “The Maceration of the Minister”]:

It [the congregation] is likely to accept, support and be deeply molded by the understanding of Office and calling which is projected by its minister’s actual behavior. It will come to assess as central what he, in his actual performance of ministry and use of his time, makes central.

The preacher, Sittler concluded, must order her or his time around study, reflection, and sermon preparation.

Christian Century, March 19, 2014 edition, page 3

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture