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Monthly Archives: April 2014
In an article written last Wednesday for Church Times, an Anglican newspaper, David Cameron claimed that Britain was a “Christian country”. In response fifty-five assorted public figures including academics, scientists and comedians wrote a letter to the Telegraph newspaper on Easter Sunday saying that it was no such thing and in fact: “repeated surveys, polls and studies show that most of us as individuals are not Christian in our beliefs or our religious identities.”
That depends on how the question is asked. The results of the 2011 census supports Cameron, with narrow majorities in England and Wales, and Scotland and an overwhelming majority in Northern Ireland identifying as Christian. Yet the 2012 British Social Attitudes Survey (BSAS) places Christians in the minority comprising only 46 per cent of the population.
The U.S. economy slowed in the first quarter to one of the weakest paces of the five-year recovery as the frigid winter appeared to have curtailed business investment and weakness overseas hurt exports.
Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, advanced at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.1% in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast growth at a 1.1% pace for the quarter.
The broad slowdown to start the year halted what had been improving economic momentum during much of 2013. In the second half of last year, the economy expanded at a 3.4% pace. The first quarter reading fell far below even the lackluster average annual gain of near 2% since the recession ended.
The General Synod stipulated that the preparation of this motion should include a process of broad consultation. To facilitate this, a Commission on the Marriage Canon was formed. An important part of its mandate includes inviting submissions on the proposed change to Canon XXI (“On Marriage in the Church”).
Input from members of the Anglican Church of Canada is vital as the church enters this time of discernment. Commission chair, Canon Robert Falby, encourages broad participation in this process. “Commission members are aware of the strong feelings that many Anglicans have on the issues which it is looking at and we hope that we will receive input which reflects that spectrum.”
Churches and pupils at church schools across the school are today planting poppy seeds in memory of those who fought and died in the First World War.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, took to Instagram earlier in the month to ask that people plant the seeds “to remember the terrible events of the First World War and as a sign of our hope in Jesus Christ for peace in the future”.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, is getting involved by planting seeds in the grounds of his official residence, Bishopthorpe Palace.
Demonstrators are to march through the Nigerian capital Abuja to press for the release of more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by militants two weeks ago.
They say they will march to the National Assembly and demand more action from the government, which has been criticised for not doing enough.
The Islamist group Boko Haram has been blamed for abducting the girls from their school in Chibok, Borno state.
Boko Haram has not yet made any response to the accusation.
It’s something you don’t think of together very often: beer and Bibles. A Shreveport group says the combination is breaking down traditional church walls, allowing their faith to become bar talk, with no judgments. After all, the Bible says Jesus turned water into wine.
“If we have a beer with someone, and you’re just going to be talking, the conversation happens to be about Jesus and God and how it applies to our lives in a very comfortable, casual setting,” explains Brooks Boylan with Shreveport’s St. Mark’s Cathedral.
Boylan says Ale and the Almighty is a new type of bible study in Shreveport, where the group pops open bottles of wine and beer before sitting down to discuss what theology is on tap. “I thought it was really appealing because it’s kind of not the stuffy church thing people think of sometimes,” says David Roberts, who has shown up to join in the conversation.
The nonpartisan interfaith ministry unites about two dozen diverse local faith-based entities to identify serious social justice problems and then develop and promote specific solutions.
At Tuesday’s rally, ministry members noted that despite local unemployment rates below the national average, and construction projects obvious around the area, young adults ages 16 to 24 here face far higher rates of unemployment.
They asked local municipalities for hiring policies that mandate 25 percent of all entry level jobs in publicly funded construction projects go to unemployed young adults who have undergone job training.
Read it all (on the front page of the paper edition).
Nearly a decade of research had brought them here: Doctors would, on this day last week, insert a chip into the brain of a man four days shy of his 23rd birthday. The chip would connect by wire to a port screwed into the man’s skull. A cable would link the port to a computer.
The computer was programmed to decode messages from the brain and beam their instructions to strips of electrodes strapped around the man’s forearm. The electrodes were designed to pulse and stimulate muscle fibers so that the muscles could pull on tendons in his hand.
If it all worked, a man who was paralyzed from the chest down would think about wiggling his finger, and in less than one-tenth of a second, his finger would move.
O Lord Jesus Christ, who art shepherd of thy people, so that they shall not want: We want thee to lead us peacefully to the green pastures and beside the still waters; to restore our souls when we wander from thee; and evermore to guide us in the paths of righteousness, for thy name’s sake.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
By kindergarten, girls are substantially more attentive, better behaved, more sensitive, more persistent, more flexible and more independent than boys, according to a new paper from Third Way, a Washington research group. The gap grows over the course of elementary school and feeds into academic gaps between the sexes. By eighth grade, 48 percent of girls receive a mix of A’s and B’s or better. Only 31 percent of boys do.
And in an economy that rewards knowledge, the academic struggles of boys turn into economic struggles. Men’s wages are stagnating. Men are much more likely to be idle ”” neither working, looking for work nor caring for family ”” than they once were and much more likely to be idle than women.
We reported last week that the United States had lost its once-enormous global lead in middle-class pay, based on international income surveys over the last three decades. After-tax median income in Canada appears to have been higher last year than the same measure in this country. The poor in Canada and much of western Europe earn more than the poor here.
These depressing trends have many causes, but the social struggles of men and boys are an important one.
Holy Trinity Cathedral is a monument to New Westminster’s past.
But to restore it to its former glory may require a modern solution.
The Anglican/Episcopalian church sits regally perched above Downtown at the top of Church Street.
It’s tucked away, surrounded by the police station, a nightclub, the Columbia SkyTrain station and high rises.
And now the congregation is hoping the city will be open to the idea of a plan that would put a residential tower on the site, and help them fix their church.
So what does it matter to the Jesus’ wife fragment that this scrap of John is forgery?
Well, it’s never a good sign for a text of doubtful authenticity to be found in the company of a sure forgery.
More directly: Multiple experts agree that the fragment of John and the Jesus’ wife papyrus are written in the same hand, using the same ink and even the same writing instrument.
Simply put: If one is a forgery, they’re both forgeries.Read it all.
Washington pastor Amy Butler is a search committee’s candidate to be the next senior minister at Riverside Church in New York City, one of the most prominent congregations in mainline Protestantism.
The search committee’s selection of Butler, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, was announced April 27. The first woman pastor in the church’s history, she will be formally introduced to the congregation May 4, with a vote expected June 8.
Since it opened its doors in 1930, Riverside has been a bastion of progressive Christianity. Officially affiliated with both the American Baptist Churches USA and the United Church of Christ, it describes itself as interdenominational. The church’s neo-gothic tower is a visible landmark in its Manhattan neighborhood which includes Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary. Its pastors ”” including Harry Emerson Fosdick, William Sloane Coffin and James Forbes Jr. ”” have been influential voices in American theological and political life.
The Dean of York, the Very Rev Vivienne Faull, said the Church had a habit of waiting until something was “blindingly obvious” to the rest of society before it changed its own mind.
“The blessing of a gay relationship is not theologically a problem for me personally, but I’m under the discipline of the Church and I keep the rules,” she told Radio Times. She has never formally blessed a gay partnership but has found ways of meeting the need for celebration within the Church’s rules.
“When people have come to me in the past and said, ”˜We’re looking for a way of celebrating our civil partnership, how shall we do it?’, we’ve found ways of doing it.
Read it all (subscription required).
What had to be striking to anyone who pays close attention to the media was the almost total absence of criticism of the idea of canonizing saints or of approaching the two new saints directly as “intercessors”””mediators between believers and God.
This silence or positive press about “double-new-saints” day may be taken for granted around much of the world today, but such responses contrast with attitudes from at least the time of the Council of Trent (1545-1563) when official Roman Catholicism fought back against the first Protestants, who engaged in heated polemics about most saints-talk.
Those of us with memories that go back to pre-Pope John XXIII or who consult church histories will find that the Protestant Reformers focused very much on what they saw as abuses in the practice of prayer invoking saints. (The Orthodox Christians looked on, devoted to saints but un-devoted to Roman Catholic canonization processes.)
We took this one just as we were leaving Camp St. Christopher after celebrating our 27th anniversary. What can I say? The children got their mother’s genes.
Catharina MacMillan lived a private life, raising her two children, volunteering at their schools, hiking, skiing and playing tennis with them, cheering them on at hockey and rowing, taking them home to Sweden for summers and supporting her husband’s business career as he rose through the Canadian banking echelons, beginning with Bank of Montreal and ending as president, chief executive officer and then chair of CIBC Mellon.
“She was heroic, but she didn’t make a big fuss about how brave she was,” said her sister-in-law, historian Margaret MacMillan, the author, most recently, of The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914. “None of us ever heard her complain” about a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis in her 20s, breast cancer in her 50s, or how the two diseases conspired to rampage through her body in her 60s….
Asked last fall if she had any regrets, Catharina said no, articulating a straightforward philosophy: “Try and do what is right, and even if it is not right for somebody else, as long as you are happy with your decision, it is probably right for you.”
Read it all (again my emphasis).
A pregnancy scare between the couple had been part of the early storyline in the “Southern Charm” show. It turned out to be negative.
Ravenel told The Post and Courier the couple soon began discussing having “a baby for real,” afterward. “We were both in agreement, so we got what we wanted.”
They are living at his Edisto Island plantation. The couple has no immediate plans to marry, he said.
“Right now we’re doing what works for us,” he said.
Read it all from the local paper (emphasis mine).
An increase in the cost of funerals has left many families under “huge strain” to pay for them, according to a report.
The Church of Scotland’s report showed that in some areas charges have increased by almost 300% in five years.
The average increase was found to be 62% from five years ago, with a 36% rise in the past three years.
A day seldom goes by when we don’t read about the ouster of a chief executive officer, owing to a failure to produce promised results, a merger that falls apart, a product launch that does not to live up to its hype or a technology meltdown.
Companies like Hewlett-Packard, J.C. Penney, United Airlines’ no-frills carrier Ted, Gap Inc., and many others come to mind. The single most common reason for being turfed? A failure to execute, of which there are several causes….
3. Unproductive meetings
Too often, meetings occur where attendees either discuss mundane, pointless subjects that don’t affect the overall success of the project and waste everyone’s time, or where consultant firms present findings yet participants leave the meeting without a precise commitment to implement the agreed-upon game plan. Meetings need to have an adhered-to agenda, as well as start and finish times with which everyone complies. If someone is late, shut him or her out, and it won’t likely happen again.
“Rev is an outsider’s imaginative construction,” argues James Mumford in The Guardian, “a secular take on the sacred”¦ In imposing its own outsider viewpoint, Rev defies the deepest ideal of a liberal, pluralistic society. In Rev the devout do not speak for themselves and therefore are not permitted to sit at the high table of our national media.”
He proposes a corrective plot line for a future episode. A woman would be hit by a car, sustaining spinal injuries. The reverend would then proceed to cure her through the power of prayer, and she would celebrate the miracle by running down the aisle of the church.
This proposal gets to the heart of the issue, though perhaps not the one the writer intends. His clumsy, didactic trick would turn away many viewers ”“ and not only the atheists and agnostics, but also many Christians or sort-of-Christians who nonetheless have doubts about the healing powers of vicars.
The Archbishop gives a special message for everyone taking part in Christian Aid Week – which this year focuses on tackling violence and building peace – and urges churches to “go for it” with volunteering efforts.
…there’s a difference between consumer-driven clutter and the hoarding of HGTV that stems from deep psychological trauma. But truth be told, as 2014 began, I’d begun to feel as if moss were gradually growing over my life, the rooms around me narrowed by the presence of things that burdened rather than blessed my existence.
As Easter approached, a pledge formed. I promised myself that day by day, I’d say goodbye to at least one book no longer read, or shirt no longer worn, or tool no longer used. My inspiration came from the writer Elizabeth Bishop, who famously urged her readers in a poem called “One Art” to “lose something every day.”
Bishop’s poem is about a great many things, including the maturity that comes from deep loss. But on one level, it can be read as a hymn to traveling light. What Bishop seems to say is that losing what we own can be a form of liberation, allowing us to move more freely toward fresh possibilities. It’s an idea as old as the Scriptures, at the heart of Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden,” and as topical as the latest blog post about simple living.
But like any ideal, household economy is easier embraced than achieved, as I quickly discovered during my 40-Days-to-a-Thinner-House Plan.
Lord Jesus, risen from the dead and alive for evermore: Stand in our midst this day as in the upper room; show us thy hands and thy side; speak thy peace to our hearts and minds; and send us forth into the world as thy witnesses; for the glory of thy name.
–John R. W. Stott
Therefore gird up your minds, be sober, set your hope fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you invoke as Father him who judges each one impartially according to his deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.
You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake. Through him you have confidence in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere love of the brethren, love one another earnestly from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers, and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord abides for ever.”
That word is the good news which was preached to you.
–1 Peter 1:13-25
Sheikh Khalef Massoud used to draw about 250 people when he first started preaching in the poor Cairo neighborhood of Imbaba in 2007.
Today his Friday sermons at Al Montazah Mosque attract more than 3,000 people, filling both floors of the mosque and spilling out into the alleys. His penchant for talking about the importance of democratic freedoms has drawn listeners from all over Cairo and beyond.
But in January the government decreed that all imams must follow state-sanctioned themes each week ”“ typically social issues like street children or drug addiction that steer well clear of politics. Authorities monitor Sheikh Massoud’s sermons and keep tabs on his Facebook page and any political comments he posts on websites for imams and sheikhs. Since the military ousted an Islamist government last summer, he has twice been suspended from preaching, and ordered to stop making appearances on TV.