Daily Archives: April 24, 2014

(RNS) Clergy who no longer believe gather online

Catherine Dunphy came to seminary in her mid-20s, full of passion to work in the service of the Catholic Church. By the time she left, for many reasons, she had lost her faith.

“I had this struggle where I thought, ”˜I don’t believe this anymore,’” said Dunphy, now 40 and living in Toronto. “I felt I had no space to move or breathe. I felt like an outcast.”

Now, 10 years later, she is part of a new online project aimed at helping others like herself who are isolated by doubt in a sea of believers. Called Rational Doubt: The Clergy Project Blog, it debuts this week on Patheos, an online host of religion and spirituality blogs.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Atheism, Blogging & the Internet, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Theology

(Spectator) Ed West–The Mozilla controversy suggests that the sexual revolution is getting ugly

I find…[Mozilla’s executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker’s] words chilling. [Brendan] Eich did not, as far as I can find and I’m willing to be proved wrong, say anything inflammatory or hateful, he merely disagreed with some people on an issue, one that did not even exist as an idea before the millennium. It was ”˜controversial’ only in the sense that the media-Left use the word, to mean ”˜ideas we disagree with and therefore deem beyond the pale’ (likewise ”˜divisive’, another weasel word employed to dull the mind into submission).

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

Archbishop Justin Welby–A Christian country?

Judging by the reaction, anyone would think that the people concerned had at the same time suggested the return of the Inquisition (complete with comfy chairs for Monty Python fans), compulsory church going and universal tithes. More than 50 leading atheists wrote to the Telegraph in protest.

It’s all quite baffling and at the same time quite encouraging. Christian faith is much more vulnerable to comfortable indifference than to hatred and opposition. It’s also a variation on the normal “Sword and Grail discovered” stuff that seems to be a feature of Easter week news.

Yet the Prime Minister and other members of the Government have not said anything very controversial. It is a historical fact (perhaps unwelcome to some, but true) that our main systems of ethics, the way we do law and justice, the values of society, how we decide what is fair, the protection of the poor, and most of the way we look at society . . . All have been shaped by and founded on Christianity. Add to that the foundation of many hospitals, the system of universal schooling, the presence of chaplains in prisons, and one could go on a long time. Then there is the literature, visual art, music and culture that have formed our understandings of beauty and worth since Anglo Saxon days.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

The Presidential Address 2014 of the Archbishop to the Governing Body of the Church in Wales

t can be said that the Bible is very clear in its directives on same-sex relationships and by even discussing them the church is giving in to the culture of the age. The church’s relation to its culture is of course an important one and Richard Niebuhr, an American scholar, wrote a very important book entitled “Christ and Culture” in 1951. He outlined five possible Christian attitudes to the question of Christ’s relationship to culture. By culture, we mean the accepted beliefs and values of our age. Is Christ against culture, calling Christians to reject the world entirely? Or is Christ allied with culture as the perfector of all that is good in society? Or is Christ above culture, drawing us out to become what God means us to become as human beings? Or are Christ and culture totally separate, and set apart, until God’s Kingdom arrives? Or is Christ the transformer of culture, rejecting the bad aspects and enabling us to bring all that is good into God’s redemptive love? As the Gospel of John puts it ”˜being in but not of the world’.

The trouble is you can find all these different attitudes to culture in the Bible if you look hard enough. The Bible, for example, sees the created world as God’s handiwork and so is to be cherished, valued and affirmed. When, however, Israel wants to have a king rather than a prophet as its leader, she does so initially because she wants to conform to the pattern and culture of neighbouring nations and against the advice of the prophet Samuel. In spite of that, the institution of kingship was introduced and came to be venerated but individual kings were castigated for their idolatry and mistreatment of the poor and “doing that which was evil in the sight of the Lord”. In other words, the culture of surrounding nations changed Israel’s own culture ”“ a culture that was sometimes endorsed and sometimes criticised by the prophets.

In the New Testament, Paul in 2 Corinthians 6, seems to ask Christians to separate themselves from non-believers “Come out from among them and be separated” ”“ do not be infected by the world about you”. Yet he was the apostle, along with Peter, who in the end advocated that Gentiles did not have to become Jews first in order to become Christians, so that purity laws concerning food and circumcision did not have to be observed. That was an affirmation of the culture of the Gentiles ”“ a culture that was alien to Judaism ”“ a view that was eventually ratified by the Council of Jerusalem. St. Paul also urges disciples of Jesus to follow whatever is noble, just and true in the culture around them. The issue of faith and culture is not, therefore, as straightforward as it seems.
What then of our use of the Bible? The few texts we have in the Bible about same-sex relationships are very negative. Yet, it can be argued that homosexual relationships as we understand them in terms of committed, faithful, monogamous, long lasting relationships, were unknown in biblical times and what the texts rail against is sexual promiscuity and experimentation. In 1972 the American Institute of Psychiatrists believed that homosexuality was a mental illness. We no longer believe that to be the case yet, that view was widespread just 40 years ago.

Holy Scripture itself is far more nuanced, subtle and complex than we often realise.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of Wales, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Wales

All Soul's Langham Place's Rico Tice's 2014 Easter Sermon

The text for the sermon is “He has risen! He is not here” (Mark 16:6). The sermon begins with an introduction of Rico Tice by Richard Meryon at about 50:50 of the video, after which Rico Tice prays and the sermon proper begins at about 53:00–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Apologetics, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(World) Baptists talk sex and culture at summit

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) today wrapped up its Leadership Summit about human sexuality. The atmosphere at the summit was frank and unsettling at times, occasionally punctuated with slightly nervous laughter.

Summit attendees heard sermons, panel discussions, speeches, and academic presentations, including a data-driven talk Tuesday by Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas. Regnerus reported younger Americans at large have rejected biblical sexual ethics, but all is not lost.

“Among the 18- to 39-year-old pack, you thought you were losing them all on the culture-wars issues,” Regnerus said. “I don’t think you really are.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Baptists, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Young Adults

(Local Paper) Robots could protect schools one day if Clemson research works out

Maybe RoboCop is closer to becoming a reality than you think.

Engineers at Clemson University are trying to get research moving to create a robot capable of responding to a violent attack at a school, such as what happened at Sandy Hook or Columbine.

“This will save lives,” said Dr. Juan Gilbert, presidential endowed professor and chairman of the Human-Centered Computing Division at Clemson.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Theology, Violence

(W Post) Catherine Rampell–”˜Marriage penalty’ takes a bite out of working families

The people who really suffer from the marriage penalty are lower-income families with young children ”” you know, those people constantly scolded by the Family Values Police for eschewing the bonds of holy matrimony or for being too lazy to work.

Consider a family in which the husband earns $25,000 and the wife stays home to care for their children. (Women are more often the more marginal earners, both because they earn lower wages and because they are more likely to be primary caregivers.) This family would face a series of painful “marriage penalties” if the mother decides to join the paid labor force.

If she takes on a $25,000 job, the family would lose the entirety of their earned-income tax credit ”” about $5,000 ”” and pay an additional $6,000 in payroll and federal income taxes, according to calculations from a recent report by the Hamilton Project, a nonpartisan think tank. This family would also lose access to about $2,600 worth of food stamp benefits, as well as other means-tested benefits, such as Medicaid. (The exact amount of lost benefits depends on which state they live in.)

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Taxes, Theology

(Deseret News) State of affairs: Why Americans hate adultery

Experts say it’s hard to tell whether more people are cheating than in the past because of differences in definition and because more people are forming very personal, marriage-like relationships without actually marrying. Is it adultery if there’s no spouse?

“I believe that women are catching up because they have greater exposure to other men in the workplace, the gym, on social media, etc.,” Doares said. “There is also a diminishing emphasis on marriage itself. This is driven by an increased focus on self and personal happiness, as well as a lack of support for the institution in society at large.”

People have more opportunity than ever before to have an affair, too. Hodson said she sees more women engage in affairs because it’s much easier than in the past to connect with ex-boyfriends, meet new people and get one’s personal needs met beyond a marital relationship. The same is true for men: “I mean, we live in a time where you can be cheating on your spouse while sleeping right next to him,” Hodson said

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Men, Psychology, Sexuality, Theology, Women

Boko Haram Threatens to Kill Abducted Schoolgirls If Search Is Not Stopped

Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, yesterday, called on the Federal Government to ensure the release of 230 students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, who were abducted by members of the Islamic sect, Boko Haram.

Professor Soyinka made the call on a day a coalition of women’s rights in Borno expressed their readiness to mobilise thousands of women to embark on a voluntary search and rescue mission into the notorious Sambisa forest, to ensure the release of the abducted students.

Senate President, David Mark, on his part described the abduction of the girls as sacrilegious.

Meanwhile, members of the Islamist sect, Boko Haram, have threatened to kill the abducted students, should the search to recover them continue.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Teens / Youth, Terrorism, Violence, Women

A Terrific Nightline Profile of a pastor and his wife rescuing young prostitutes in India

(The title of the video by ABC is “Miracle in Hell”–KSH).

A New Zealand pastor and his wife have made it their mission to take on India’s billion-dollar sex industry by rescuing young prostitutes from one of the largest “red light” districts on Earth.

The streets of Sonagacchi in Kolkata, India, are home to more than 10,000 prostitutes, many of whom are teenage girls. Most are sold into the sex trade by their families.

Pastor Kerry Hilton and his wife, Annie, who have lived in Sonagacchi for about 15 years, said they were shocked when they first moved to India and stumbled upon them. They had no idea their apartment overlooked the largest sex bazaar in India — until the sun went down.

“We felt that these women straight away were our neighbors,” Kerry Hilton said.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Australia / NZ, India, Ministry of the Ordained, Missions, Parish Ministry, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Urban/City Life and Issues, Young Adults

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty God, whose blessed Son did as on this day rise again for us, victorious over sin and the grave: Grant that we, being risen with him, may set our affection on things above, not on things on the earth; that when he who is our life shall appear, we may also appear with him in glory; through the same our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

–1 Corinthians 15:41-50

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Jimmy Gallant and St. Andrew's Honored by Sheriff's Office for helping a homeless family

The Rev. Jimmy Gallant, Vicar of St. Andrew’s Mission Church in Charleston, and the members of St. Andrew’s were honored on April 22, 2014 during the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office Awards Presentation. Gallant and members of his parish were recognized for the actions they took in caring for a homeless family this past January.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Children, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Poverty

(Nightline) Creative Exec Behind 'Frozen,' 'Toy Story' Reveals Secrets for Inspiration

The highest-grossing animated film of all time is Disney’s “Frozen.” The second highest is Pixar’s “Toy Story 3.”

One common denominator between them: The same man is in charge of both companies.

Ed Catmull may not be a household name, but you’ve seen his movies — and his imagination. He helped create the entire field of computer animation.

“As a child, my heroes were Walt Disney and Albert Einstein,” Catmull said. “So I basically wanted to be an animator, but when I left high school, I didn’t know how to proceed. There were no schools for it.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Movies & Television, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

([London] Times) Signs of hope as church swells with new recruits

The Church, crucified by so many on the altar of modern secularism, is in danger of undergoing a bodily resurrection.

A new church named after one of the Church of England’s oldest martyrs tells the tale. Just outside the M25 between Oxford and London, a handful of people who started in a rented house in Beaconsfield found and acquired a derelict farm nearby. They repaired the barns. Named after Hugh Latimer, who was burnt at the stake in Oxford in 1555 for his Protestant preaching, Latimer Minster fits a model common in Britain before the parish system.

The model comes from the earliest missionary communities in the British Isles, organised to teach and evangelise and often including farming, crafts and hospitality. It is “a form of outward-focused monasticism”, says Frog Orr-Ewing, the rector. Young ordinands in the Church of England are queuing up to serve there. Latimer’s is an example of how “fresh expressions” phenomena are calling a halt on the long-term decline in church attendance, and, in some places, actually setting it on an upward trend. In two years, numbers have grown to between 150 and 200 attending during the week and on Sunday are bursting out of the barn. Latimer’s ordered a big top, due to be delivered next month. Many are meeting weekly in smaller groups around Buckinghamshire in what are being termed small “pastorates”, functioning groups of Christians living in community who know each other well.

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