Daily Archives: March 26, 2014

Hobby Lobby Case perpectives (II): Gene Robinson

…the Supreme Court will hear arguments by Hobby Lobby, a nationwide chain of craft stores, asking the court for the right to discriminate against their employees who are entitled to reproductive health care under the Affordable Care Act. I know that Hobby Lobby’s owner family, the Greens, are deeply religious people, and I respect their beliefs. They object to certain forms of birth control, claiming they constitute abortion (a “fact” disputed by much of the medical community). The Greens claim that corporations, through their owners, have freedom of religion ”” a very slippery slope. But should the entire company and its 14,000 employees be held hostage by the beliefs of its owners?

We know that most American women, regardless of what religion they are, use contraception at some point in their lives. As a pastor, I have seen firsthand what a gift it is to be able to control when and whether one has a child. It offers women some measure of control over their lives.

Sometimes, even for a bishop, it’s embarrassing to be a Christian. Not that I’m embarrassed by Jesus, whose life was spent caring and advocating for the marginalized, and whom I believe to be the perfect revelation of God. I’m just sometimes embarrassed to be associated with others who claim to follow him.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

Hobby Lobby Case perpectives (I): Rich Lowry

Not too long ago, the Greens of Oklahoma City were law-abiding people running an arts-and-crafts chain called Hobby Lobby.

They weren’t disturbing the peace, or denying anyone his or her rights. They were minding their own business ”” quite successfully and in keeping with their Christian faith. The roughly 600 Hobby Lobby stores stock Christian products, close on Sundays, and play Christian music.

Then one day Uncle Sam showed up to make an offer that the Greens couldn’t refuse ”” literally. As part of Obamacare, federal law demands that the chain cover contraceptives that the Greens consider abortifacients. The family decided it couldn’t comply with the law in good conscience, and its case is now before the Supreme Court.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(RNS) African clergy join fight to save elephants and rhinos from poaching

The escalating slaughter of elephants and rhinos is drawing the anger of conservationist clerics, who have begun enlisting church members in the battle to save Africa’s wildlife.

The clerics are driven by a view that these animals are God’s gifts to nature and a critical part of Africa’s heritage.

In Kenya, their concerns heightened in mid-March after the conservation group Wildlife Direct said 16 rhinos had been gunned down in the first three months of the year. More than 30 elephants have also been slaughtered since January.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Animals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

Bishop Mouneer Anis celebrates newly refurbished Medical Clinic in Zamalek

On Monday 24th March, Refuge-Egypt were delighted to invite Bishop Mouneer Anis of the Egyptian Anglican Diocese to celebrate the opening of our newly refurbished Medical Clinic in Zamalek!

Zamalek is a tiny island in the middle of the Nile and has been the main hub of our offices for over 20 years. It is also the site of the Anglican Diocese in Egypt. The clinic here provides primary medical care to African and Syrian refugees. Through our medical staff here we are able to give group health education seminars, one-on-one help for expecting mothers, checks and screening for young children and support for those suffering from malnutrition. We also offer services and information on HIV/AIDs, family planning and TB.

Read it all and you have to love the picture.

Posted in Uncategorized

Failure of National Confab will have grave consequences–Nigerian Anglican Primate Okoh

The Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Nicholas Orogodo Okoh, believes strongly that the on-going National Conference must not fail, saying it is a great opportunity to resolve the challenges faced by Nigeria. He also speaks on the Boko Haram insurgency which has claimed many lives and affected the Church in the North-east and the controversial anti-gay law.

Excerpts from interview:
There are allegations lately that corruption has crept into Christianity with some men of God accused of sharp practices. How do you react to this?
I think you used an omnibus word ”˜sharp practices’. I don’t know what it means because it could mean so many things. Can you be more specific?
Corruption has one definition, unethical practice. That is exactly what I am talking about.

Read it all (from the long queue of should-have-already-been-posted material).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Terrorism, Theology

The AP Article on the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby Case

Seemingly divided, the Supreme Court struggled Tuesday with the question of whether companies have religious rights, a case challenging President Barack Obama’s health overhaul and its guarantee of birth control in employees’ preventive care plans.

Peppering attorneys with questions in a 90-minute argument, the justices weighed the rights of for-profit companies against the rights of female employees. The discussion ranged to abortion, too, and even whether a female worker could be forced to wear an all-covering burka.

The outcome could turn on the views of Justice Anthony Kennedy, often the decisive vote, as his colleagues appeared otherwise to divide along liberal and conservative lines.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(Guardian) Miranda Threlfall-Holmes–We don't read the Bible to learn more, but to be fed

…[George] Herbert emphasises that all knowledge, from any source, is good. “There is no knowledge, but, in a skilful hand, serves either positively as it is, or else to illustrate some other knowledge”. We have already seen, for example in the second of this series, that Herbert deployed imagery from every field of knowledge known in his day ”“ science, rhetoric, philosophy, economics and so on ”“ in his poetry. There is no hint in his work that there might be any kind of conflict between religious truth and other kinds of truth.

This is very important in my own understanding of my faith, and in how I read the Bible and everything else. God is truth. So any kind of truth cannot be something for Christians to be afraid of, whether it is the discovery of evolutionary processes, the detection of the Higgs boson, or archaeological investigations that show that a particular Old Testament story is an inaccurate portrayal of historical events. If these things are true, then God is in them, and we should be unafraid of correcting older perceptions of the truth.

Having said that parsons should esteem all knowledge, Herbert goes on to say that the Bible will, of course, be their most important source of wisdom. But the first thing he says is not that the Bible contains facts, but essential food: “There [the parson] sucks and lives.” There is an echo of his earlier poem here, with its reference to sucking honey, but the force of the image here is of breastfeeding. Herbert is imagining, as the medieval mystics did before him, that he and we are like children at the breast when it comes to reading the Bible.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Rowan Williams tells Univ. audience 'It's not just wicked Russia versus plucky Ukraine'

Responding to a public question following his talk at Anglia Ruskin’s Cambridge campus this week, Lord Williams said Russia had behaved “unlawfully” by moving troops into the region of Crimea, which is part of the sovereign state of Ukraine.

He said: “The annexation of Crimea is a legally pretty dubious venture. To have a plebiscite in a certain region of another sovereign state and declare that therefore you can annexe it seems to me a deeply worrying re-run of the 1930s.

“I’m wary of any military action to defend Ukraine against Russia. I’m looking hard to see what further diplomatic as well as sanction-based initiatives may follow because I don’t think it is simply a case of ”˜wicked aggressive Russia and plucky little Ukraine’.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Religion & Culture, Russia, Theology, Ukraine

BBC Magazine–The Main People and Arguments Arguing Against Same-Sex Marriage

“The main reason for the state to be involved with marriage is children,” says Prof David Paton, an industrial economics lecturer at the University of Nottingham and a supporter of the Coalition for Marriage, a group arguing that traditional marriage is beneficial to society and would be undermined by a definitional change. “It seems reasonable for the state to treat the one type of relationship from which children can directly result in a different way to others, and this is the basis for marriage laws,” says Paton.

Not all marriages will result in children, he concedes, and also suggests that issues such as pension rules or inheritance may require the state to recognise alternative relationships in different ways.

But the same-sex marriage law is not about this, he says. “It’s about changing the very definition of marriage to encompass other types of relationships that are inherently different. That is both unnecessary and carries the risk of weakening the legal structure designed to encourage the attachment of children to their natural mother and father.”

Read it all.

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

Notable and Quotable–Musician Beck Hansen in Time Magazine on the Cultural Ethos of our time

From here:

You’re both Scientologists. Does anything that has been written about Scientology shake your faith?

It’s like anything in our culture. There are so many opinions. Public opinion is breathing and growing and changing all the time. Your own experience is ultimately what’s going to tell you what you think


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Other Faiths, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(BBC) Channel Islands Church split to be dealt with by commission

A special commission will be set up as part of moves to repair relations between the Channel Islands and the Church of England.

The islands became the temporary responsibility of the Bishop of Dover in January after a dispute over how a complaint of abuse was handled.

The move has yet to be completed with finances still paid to the Diocese of Winchester.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Parish Ministry

Channel Island Deaneries: Interim Episcopal Oversight Interim Agreement Reached

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Eternal God, whose majesty is revealed in mercy: Grant that as we draw near to thee thy truth may set us free from the bondage of our own thoughts and desires, and that as we abide in thee our prayers may be an instrument of thy righteous will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Leslie Hunter

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Only take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if any one sees you, a man of knowledge, at table in an idol’s temple, might he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak man is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of my brother’s falling, I will never eat meat, lest I cause my brother to fall.

–1 Corinthians 8:9-13

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(FT) Dale Coulter–John Piper's new Calvinism

It is the revivalist style of at least some members of the New Calvinism punctuated by constant references to Jonathan Edwards and the rise of charismatic Calvinism that has many Old School Presbyterians concerned. Piper side-stepped the main issue between the two camps: from an Old-School perspective the New Calvinism smacks of the evangelical revivalism of a D. L. Moody, or, more to the point, the baseball-player-turned-evangelist Billy Sunday (insert Mark Driscoll reference here). Sunday once called the novelist Sinclair Lewis “Satan’s cohort” in response to Lewis’s 1927 satirical novel Elmer Gantry, whose main character””a hypocritical evangelist””was modeled on Sunday’s flamboyant style.

That older coalition of Congregationalists, Baptists, and New School Presbyterians combined dispensationalism, celebrity revivalism, and fundamentalism””the very traits that Old School Presbyterians disliked then and now. It is not without some irony that Piper acknowledged the important role of Westminster Seminary while not even mentioning that it was the epicenter of Old School Presbyterianism with its anti-revivalist and cessationist stance (at the end of his lecture Piper got a laugh when he said, “you don’t even want to know my eschatology.” Indeed!).

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Church History, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Reformed, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Washington Post) Supreme Court divided as it hears argument on contraceptive coverage

A divided Supreme Court seemed inclined to agree Tuesday that the religious beliefs of business owners may trump a requirement in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act that they provide their employees with insurance coverage for all types of contraceptives.

With both snow and demonstrators gathering on the sidewalk outside, it was difficult to predict a precise outcome from the spirited 90-minute argument.

But a majority of the justices seemed to agree that the family-owned businesses that objected to the requirement were covered by a federal statute that gives great protection to the exercise of religion. That would mean the government must show the requirement is not a substantial burden on their religious expression, and that there was no less intrusive way to provide contraceptive coverage to female workers.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

Augustine for a Tuesday Afternoon–"O, how wonderful is Thy goodness…"

O, how wonderful is Thy goodness, for it is unlike all other good things. I desire to come to Thee; and all that I have need of on the way I desire from Thee, and chiefly that without which I can not come to Thee. If Thou forsake me, I perish; yet I know that Thou wilt not forsake me unless I forsake Thee; nor will I forsake Thee, for Thou art the highest good. There is none who rightly seeketh Thee that doth not find Thee. He alone seeketh Thee aright whom Thou teachest aright to seek Thee, and how he should seek Thee. O, good Father, free me entirely from the error in which I have hitherto wandered, and yet wander; and teach me the way in which no foe can encounter me before I come to Thee. If I love naught above Thee, I beseech Thee that I may find Thee; and if I desire any thing beyond measure and wrongly, deliver me from it. Make me worthy to behold Thee.

–Saint Augustine’s Soliloquies, Book I

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

CSM–Flannery O'Connor: 10 quotes on her birthday

Here is one:

“All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.”

”• The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, History, Other Churches, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic