Daily Archives: April 2, 2014

(RNS) From Beacon Hill to ”˜Bishop Bling,’ clergy housing faces new scrutiny

Bye-bye, “Bishop Bling.” So long, “Pastor Perks.” The so-called “Francis effect” may be real, at least when it comes to clerical housing, and could be coming to a church near you.

Pope Francis famously eschewed the trappings of the papal office, including deluxe digs in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, and the pressure of his example seems to be making itself felt.

Last week, the pontiff accepted the resignation of the most ostentatious offender, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg in Germany, aka “Bishop Bling” who spent a cool $43 million on a swank new residence and office complex while cutting staff.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Archbishop Justin Welby Licenses new Fresh Expressions leader

Archbishop Justin licensed the Revd Canon Phil Potter as Archbishops’ Missioner and Team Leader of Fresh Expressions during a service at Lambeth Palace today.

Canon Potter, Director of Pioneer Ministry for the Diocese of Liverpool, succeeds Bishop Graham Gray, who has held the post since 2009.

Archbishop Justin said today that Bishop Cray would be “a really hard act to follow, and in Phil Potter I think Fresh Expressions have got one of the few people who can do it well. It’s all in God’s hands and I am confident that Fresh Expressions will continue to lead the reimagination of the ministry of the church in this country.”

Read it all.

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

China Considers More Electric-Car Incentives: Official

China may exempt electric-car buyers from paying purchase taxes as part of expanded state measures to bolster sales of such vehicles after past incentives failed to spur demand, Vice Premier Ma Kai said.

The government may cut or waive the 10 percent auto-purchase tax for new-energy vehicles — China’s term for electric cars, plug-in hybrids and fuel-cell vehicles — and slow down the reduction of government subsidies beyond 2015, according to comments from Vice Premier Ma Kai posted on the Chinaev.org website. Ma also urged local governments to help companies develop electric-car rental services.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Theology, Travel

Eric Menees reflects on the Collect for the Fourth Sunday in Lent

Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which giveth life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

This collect begins with the acknowledgement that God is our “Gracious Father.” He is the very essence of fatherhood – we only know a good father or a wanting father due to the fact that we have a good and gracious Father in heaven.

For many in other religions, this is a very offensive concept – that God could be referred to as our Father. Within Orthodox Judaism it is still considered near blasphemy to pronounce the name of God – God is known through His word and through His creation, but is not a personable being. Within Islam, God or Allah is impersonal and unknowable. Equally within eastern religions, God is a disembodied force that one seeks to align with but cannot be known nor know you.

For Christians the title of Father implies exactly what it means – that God desires both to be known and to know us as His adopted sons and daughters.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

(Barna) Americans Divided on the Importance of Church

What, if anything, helps Americans grow in their faith? When Barna Group asked, people offered a variety of answers””prayer, family or friends, reading the Bible, having children””but church did not even crack the top-10 list.

Although church involvement was once a cornerstone of American life, U.S. adults today are evenly divided on the importance of attending church. While half (49%) say it is “somewhat” or “very” important, the other 51% say it is “not too” or “not at all” important. The divide between the religiously active and those resistant to churchgoing impacts American culture, morality, politics and religion.

Looking to future generations does not paint an optimistic picture for the importance of churchgoing. Millennials (those 30 and under) stand out as least likely to value church attendance; only two in 10 believe it is important. And more than one-third of Millennial young adults (35%) take an anti-church stance. In contrast, Elders (those over 68) are the most likely (40%) to view church attendance as “very” important, compared to one-quarter (24%) who deem it “not at all” important. Boomers (ages 49””67) and Gen Xers (ages 30””48) fall in the middle of these polar opposites. While the debate rages about what will happen to Millennials as they get older””Will they return to church attendance later in life?””they are starting at a lower baseline for church participation and commitment than previous generations of young adults.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(LO) Vaughan Roberts on Singleness

About 35% of adult church members in Britain are single, so clearly the subject of singleness is of considerable personal interest to many people in our churches. Each single person will have a slightly different experience of singleness. There are age differences. Being single at 20 is very different from being single at 30, 40 or 70. There are circumstantial differences: some have never married, others are divorcees, widows or widowers. And there are experiential differences: some have chosen to be single and are basically content; others long to be married and feel frustrated. What does the Bible say to all these people?

So much in our society is structured around couples. It is often just assumed that adults will have a partner and that there is something rather odd about them if they do not for any period of time. Oscar Wilde summed up the view of many: “Celibacy is the only known sexual perversion.”

There is nothing new in this negative view of celibacy. In the first century, Rabbi Eleazar said: “Any man who has no wife is no proper man.” The Talmud went even further: “The man who is not married at twenty is living in sin.” Given that background, it is astonishing how positive the New Testament is about singleness. Paul speaks of it as a “gift” (1 Corinthians 7:7), and Jesus says that it is good “for those to whom it has been given” (Matthew 19:11).

A friend of mine once belonged to a church group for young adults, which had the name: “Pairs and Spares”! Single people can be made to feel like spare parts in their families, social groups and churches.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Young Adults

Gallup Business Journal–Easing the Global (and Costly) Problem of Workplace Stress

Gallup Business Journal: Why has psychological injury become such a concern in the workplace?

Damian Byers, Ph.D.: Health and safety in the workplace is often looked at from a cost point of view. Psychological injury has become a well-recognized category of injury, and the rate of increase is skyrocketing. So the people who are most vociferous about managing it tend to be the finance people. And because of the risk exposure associated with any kind of injury, there’s often interest from [corporate] boards as well. But they’re usually interested in aggregated macro lag indicators, such as lost-time injury frequency rate or other kinds of overall incident rate indicators, not individual cases.

The problem is that boards and finance people are a long way from the day-to-day work of a line manager. Line managers don’t see the cost of psychological injury, but they’re accountable for it because they’re accountable for team performance. And because the metrics of injury are macro lag indicators, they don’t guide decisions or change behaviors for anybody. Lagging indicators don’t tell people what they need to do.

What causes psychological injuries?

Dr. Byers: It’s almost always [the result of] a failure of management practice and process, particularly a breakdown in the management relationship. In most of the cases that I have analyzed in the organizations that I have worked in, we’re talking about bad manager-worker relationships and a well-established, unproductive, poisonous dynamic within a team. These dynamics are the result of poor people management practices and often poor people management tools and policies. The remedy there is well and truly in the hands of senior line managers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Psychology, Stress, Theology

Christ Church, London–Culture Making: Andy Crouch Answers Questions on Creativity

Andy Crouch is the Executive Editor of Christianity Together and author of Culture Making, a book that has been an enormous influence to us as we’ve thought about what it means to be a community of people who are committed to the social, spiritual and cultural renewal of our city. Andy is also a great friend of ChristChurch London, and if you haven’t already, you should really check out the talks from his visit to us in 2011.

For Love London Sunday in March 2014 we celebrated the theme of ”˜creativity’, and we could think of no-one better to pose our questions to. So we sent Andy a selection of questions about themes like creativity, discipline, inspiration and parenting (including, I suspect, the most dumb question he has ever been asked!!) and Andy was kind enough to record these responses for us. Check them out in the video at the bottom of this link.

You may also read more about Church Church London here.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

A NYT story about a Zoning matter in Charleston, S.C.–a Prison Camp Relic with Nazi Ties

A true story: This chimney, planted like a limbless live oak on a residential street, was built by imprisoned German soldiers during the final year of World War II.

City officials and preservationists want to protect the chimney as a piece of a forgotten America. But the property’s owners, members of a prominent Charleston family, see it as more than just an obstacle to their development plans.

They are Jewish, and they want it gone.

“Every time I see the structure, it makes me think about the ovens,” says Mary Ann Pearlstine Aberman, 79, who co-owns the land. “I don’t see any reason to make a shrine to Nazis.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, City Government, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Judaism, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Letter from James Lloyd Breck to his Sister, July 22nd, 1850

Expect only a short letter, for I have much to do. It is a stormy morning. Our tent, however, holds well. The trench dug round about it leads off all the water, and we are left within perfectly dry. Our little house was to have been finished,–I mean the shell up, ready for use,–by the 15th of this month; but it has been delayed many days longer; yet we hope to enter it by the middle of this week. Until three or four days since, we had no bedding or buffalo robes. We had two tents loaned to us, but we pitched only one, so we put the other at night on the ground, and slept on it. Tell our excellent neighbor, Mrs. Myers, that both the overcoat and gown, which she gave to me, have been of the greatest service to me at this time. The most of my clothing was boxed up at Nashotah, and sent by another route from that which we traveled, so that I could make no use of it at this time, when it would have been so serviceable; but the above coat was strapped to the top of one of my trunks, and the gown was in it, so I felt thankful to her for several nights of greater comfort than I should otherwise have had. For the bed was rather hard under the best of circumstances; but, after two or three nights, I could sleep as soundly as I have ever, done in the best of chambers, and now it is nothing. This is Monday morning. On Saturday Mr. Merrick accompanied me to Cottage Grove, a point that we had not yet visited. Our road lay through an uninhabited country, which yet is the condition of most of Minnesota. Only here and there is a settler, and occasionally a settlement. This, though harder for us, is better for the Church. I mean to say, dearest Kate, that the earlier the Church enters a new country, the better it will be for the Church, after a few years. But I purposed telling you about our visit to Cottage Grove. This is a settlement of about twenty farmers, within a circuit of about five miles. We had an introduction to one of the settlers, but could not learn from him that there was so much as a single Church family in the settlement. There was no school-house consequently, in the event of an appointment, we should be under the necessity of holding Divine Service in a private house, and this would be rather a favor to us than the contrary. Finding that some one of the denominations had made an appointment for the next day, we made ours by invitation for the Sunday after next at 3 P.M., intending in the morning of that day to celebrate service at Point Douglass, which is eight or ten miles to the south, at the junction of the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers. We hope, under GOD, to establish the Church at the Grove and other like places, although several years may elapse before we can see churches arise, and communicants surrounding their altars. There is not a church or the first sign of the Church at that point. What a triumph if the Church can be brought to thrive there! With GOD rests what shall be done, yet we must employ our unceasing efforts to bring down the blessing. We had now walked about twenty miles to the Grove. It was also nearly two o’clock. What should be done? The next day was Sunday. Finding that we could not accomplish anything more here at present, we made inquiries after an English family that we learned was somewhere hereabouts, and found them to be living within five miles, and accordingly at once directed our steps thitherwards. Our road now lay over a prairie. The sun was very warm and we were tired, but on we traveled, thirsty enough to drink up rivers, for since morning we had drunk nothing but warm brook water or rain water. At length we reached a house, and calling for water, the man brought us a nice beverage of molasses, ginger and water, excusing himself by saying that the well was out of water, and that which he and the family used was warm. We drank, you may be sure, freely and safely of this. We were now within half a mile of the Englishman’s house, about the only English family as yet in Minnesota. We now quickly found our way to the log-cabin of Mr. Jackson, and the result of our visit was, that we remained under his roof the rest of the day and night, and in the morning at 10:30 o’clock held Divine Service, and preached to his family only. No appointment was made for others. Here was 4 quiet missionary visit, a seeking out in the wilderness the lost sheep of CHRIST’S flock. This old man (sixty years of age) for three years–the period that had elapsed since he left England, –had not had the opportunity of the Church’s services. He was d communicant, also his wife and daughter (married). The son-in-law had only been baptized in the Church, appeared to be attached to the Church, and engaged in the services understandingly. There was also a son (eighteen years of age) and a grandchild in the house, making six members of CHRIST’S flock under this one roof.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Missions

A Prayer for the Feast Day of James Lloyd Breck

Teach thy Church, O Lord, we beseech thee, to value and support pioneering and courageous missionaries, whom thou callest, as thou didst thy servant James Lloyd Breck, to preach and teach, and plant thy Church in new regions; 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), Seminary / Theological Education, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to thee, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly thine, utterly dedicated unto thee; and then use us, we pray thee, as thou wilt, but always to thy glory and the welfare of thy people; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

–William Temple (1881-1944)

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were heathen, you were led astray to dumb idols, however you may have been moved. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

–1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(ABC Aus.) Antoine Arjakovsky–The Consolations of Crimea

On 19 March, the Patriarch of Moscow issued the justification in favour of peace among “the people of Holy Russia.” In its decoded form, the position of Patriarch Kirill is as follows: since the majority of the people of Crimea are Russian speaking, and since Crimea had been the cradle of the Rus of Kiev, it is thus natural that Crimea rejoin “the Russian world.” Patriarch Kirill’s right-hand man, Father Vsevolod Chaplin, went so far as to say that all of the Ukraine should be annexed by Russia.

It is at this point, however, that we should explain to our Russian friends they must not confuse nationality with citizenship. It is unimaginable that France would organize a referendum in Wallonia on the pretext that the majority of Belgians are French speaking. Moreover, it is not because Clovis was baptized by a bishop who was subject to the Bishop of Rome that Italy should become French today. It is well known that Russia has only existed as a state since the seventeenth century and only occupied Crimea in the year 1855. Thus it is today that we are witnessing the incapacity of the Russian state to disengage itself from its imperial and colonial mentality and the tragic amnesia of the Russian church, which has forgotten that phyletism or ecclesial nationalism is a heresy that has been condemned by the Orthodox Church.

Now let us turn to the justification offered by Vladimir Putin. On 18 March, the day of the annexation of Crimea, the Russian president made reference to the 2010 decision of the International Court of Justice, which authorized Kosovo to declare its independence. Angela Merkel judged that this comparison was quite simply “shameful.” In fact, as Paul Linden-Retek and Evan Brewer have shown, the cases of Kosovo and Crimea have absolutely nothing in common for three major reasons.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, History, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Russia, Theology, Ukraine

Tuesday Afternoon Diversion–In the Night from laity Lodge

In the Night | Andrew Peterson, Buddy Greene, Jeff Taylor, Andy Gullahorn from Laity Lodge on Vimeo.

Listen to it all–it is just wonderful.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Music