Daily Archives: April 17, 2014

Dabo Swinney, Clemson need to use common sense following religion-related complaint

You spend anytime around the 44-year-old [Clemson Coach] and you are going to hear about Jesus, Scripture, and the power of it all. It isn’t necessarily, or at least not always, done to proselytize. It’s part of how he talks, how he lives. Faith, Family, Football ”“ that’s about it with him.

There is no delineation.

For the people at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a non-profit out of Madison, Wis., there needs to be or he shouldn’t have his job.

In what is, if nothing else, an absolutely fascinating subject, the FFRF sent a letter of complaint to Clemson this week about “several serious constitutional concerns” over how “Christian worship seems interwoven into the Clemson football program.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Sports, Young Adults

(Time Cover Story) Barbara Brown Taylor Faces the Darkness

Few who have heard or read [Barbara Brown] Taylor are surprised that she is nudging people down a path toward endarkenment. For years, her sermons have been required reading at seminaries nationwide, and she often lectures at Princeton, Duke and the National Cathedral in Washington. She is the most requested Sunday speaker at New York’s Chautauqua Institution and draws both atheists and divinity students to her book signings. And 13 books on, she has chronicled her own fascinating and complex faith journey for hundreds of thousands of readers. Taylor, says Randall Balmer, chair of Dartmouth’s department of religion, “belongs in the pantheon of spiritual writers that includes such luminaries as the late Will Campbell, Anne Lamott and Frederick Buechner. She doesn’t shy away from big issues, and her honesty is disarming.”

Certainly, Taylor’s new memoir, Learning to Walk in the Dark”“on spirituality and self-help shelves in time for Good Friday”“challenges the broad theological belief that darkness is evil, scary and just plain bad. But she is also taking on the sometimes far-too-sunny fashion in which churches tell their most important stories. It is easy to forget, amid “the Easter lilies, the sound of trumpets and bright streaming light,” she notes, that the Resurrection happened in a dark cave. “God and darkness have been friends for a long time,” Taylor says. “It’s just one nighttime story after another”“amazing.”

Read it all and take a look at the Time Cover picture also.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Theodicy, Theology

The Archbishop of York for Maundy Thursday 2014–True Friends

You can tell a lot about someone from their friends. Jesus gathered an amazing mix of people around him, many of whom would never normally be seen anywhere near one another. There were fishermen, a tax collector, a political radical and even the person who was going to betray Jesus, namely Judas Iscariot. And yet, rather than keeping Judas at arm’s length, Jesus welcomes him and calls him ”˜friend’.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week

(Church Times) David Cameron–My faith in the Church of England

Some people feel that in this ever more secular age we shouldn’t talk about these things. I completely disagree. I believe we should be more confident about our status as a Christian country, more ambitious about expanding the role of faith-based organisations, and, frankly, more evangelical about a faith that compels us to get out there and make a difference to people’s lives.

First, being more confident about our status as a Christian country does not somehow involve doing down other faiths or passing judgement on those with no faith at all. Many people tell me it is easier to be Jewish or Muslim in Britain than in a secular country precisely because the tolerance that Christianity demands of our society provides greater space for other religious faiths, too.

Crucially, the Christian values of responsibility, hard work, charity, compassion, humility, and love are shared by people of every faith and none – and we should be confident in standing up to defend them.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

An Open letter to the leaders of the three main political parties about UK hunger

This Lent we, and thousands of others, made the rise of hunger in the UK the focus of our fasting. It has been a time of sorrowful and deep reflection on a rise we see every day in the numbers visiting food banks in towns and cities across the country.

The Trussell Trust figures, released today, only further illustrate this terrible rise, from 350,000 last year to over 900,000 this year. This figure, shocking as it is, is far from the total number of people going hungry in our country today ”“ from those too ashamed to visit their local food bank to those many families not in crisis but ever more worried about keeping the cupboards full. One in four is cutting portion sizes and half are cutting their household food budgets.

Lent has finally seen the beginning of a real national discussion on what this hunger means, what causes it and how we as a society can begin rising to the challenge of this national crisis.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Holy Week, Hunger/Malnutrition, Lent, Politics in General, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Theology

The Bishop of Sheffield's sermon at the 2014 Chrism Eucharist

Lift up your hearts
We lift them to the Lord

The focus of my sermon this evening is what it means to say those words and what it is to set those words at the heart of ministry.

Some of us have the immense privilege as priests of summoning a whole community to lift up their hearts in the Eucharist. But others are called no less to invite God’s people to lift up their hearts in different ways: in the ministry of the word and in the prayers, in pastoral care, in evangelism, as we lead worship or work with children or young people. This call and invitation goes right to the heart of our understanding of every kind of ministry. So what does it mean?

The words have a long and wide pedigree. They go back to the earliest descriptions of the Eucharist in the third century. They are present in the rites of the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches and all the churches of the Reformation as well as our own Church of England. What does it mean to say “Lift up your hearts”?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, CoE Bishops, Holy Week, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

(Vat. Radio) Pope Francis at Chrism Mass: the joy of being a priest

“The Lord anointed us in Christ with the oil of gladness, and this anointing invites us to accept and appreciate this great gift: the gladness, the joy of being a priest.”

At the Chrism Mass in Saint Peter’s, Pope Francis spoke about “priestly joy,” a joy, he said, “which anoints us,” an “imperishable joy,” a “missionary joy.”

The joy which anoints us, the Pope said, “has penetrated deep within our hearts, it has shaped them, and strengthened them sacramentally.” It is a joy that can never be taken away; although it “can lie dormant, or be clogged by sin or by life’s troubles ”¦ deep down it remains intact, like the embers of a burnt log beneath the ashes, and it can always be renewed.”

Read it all and you may find the full text of Pope Francis’ homily for Chrism Mass there.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Francis, Preaching / Homiletics, Roman Catholic

(NYT) In Palmyra, the Syrian War Takes Heavy Toll at a Crossroad of Cultures

“I feel as if I’m dead,” said Khalil al-Hariri, an archaeologist and the director of the Palmyra Museum, near the ruins. He spends his time waiting for government permission to resume his early-morning explorations, and worrying about the plundering, which he says is “destroying culture, destroying civilization.”

Officials at Unesco, the United Nations agency that works to protect historic places, have classified as endangered all six of Syria’s World Heritage sites, including Palmyra. But conflict keeps them from assessing the damage in person. In recent weeks, as the government consolidated control of the desert highway to Tadmur from the city of Homs, it allowed journalists to visit, among the first outsiders to arrive since armed revolt spread to the region in late 2011.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, History, Middle East, Syria, Violence

A Prayer for Maundy Thursday

Blessed Lord Jesus, who, when about to depart out of this world, having loved thine own, and loving them to the end, didst institute the holy sacrament of thy Body and Blood, the dying legacy of thy love: Vouchsafe, we earnestly pray thee, that we may never draw near thine altar, save with hearts enkindled by love for thee and for one another; for thy dear name’s sake.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Of old thou didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They will perish, but thou dost endure; they will all wear out like a garment. Thou changest them like raiment, and they pass away; but thou art the same, and thy years have no end.

–Psalm 102:25-27

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Evensong for Holy Week from Chichester Cathedral

Listen to it here if you wish

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week

A Prayer to End the Day

O God our heavenly Father, who to redeem the world didst deliver up thine only Son to be betrayed by one of his disciples and sold to his enemies: Take from us, we beseech thee, all covetousness and hypocrisy; and so strengthen us, that, loving thee above all things, we may remain steadfast in our faith unto the end; through him who gave his life for us, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

–the Rev. Lawrence Tuttiet (1825”“1897)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Spirituality/Prayer

(Telegraph) David Cameron puts God back into politics

Britain should be unashamedly “evangelical” about its Christian faith and actively hand churches and other faith groups a greater role in society, David Cameron has insisted.

In a declaration of his personal beliefs, he said he had experienced the “healing power” of religion in his own life and insisted that Christianity could transform the “spiritual, physical, and moral” state of Britain and even the world.

Writing in the Church Times, the Anglican newspaper, he heaped praise on the Church of England and described the UK as a “Christian country” despite saying we live in an increasingly “secular age”.

Read it all.

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

(NZH) George Armstrong: Why Christianity is its own worst enemy at Easter

Mahatma Gandhi was once asked what was the greatest obstacle to the extension of Christianity. He answered: “Christianity.”

Christianity faces the prospect of its own death through the death of its inadequately conceived Easter God. Christianity, as practised in New Zealand, is not credible and is dying.

If Christianity faces up to this full reality, it will survive to be a useful religious community. If it fails to shoulder the full weight of its own cross, it will not discover whether its Christian faith is really true.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Apologetics, Australia / NZ, Eschatology, Religion & Culture, Theology