Daily Archives: April 25, 2014

(NPR) The Jewish Kid From New Jersey Who Became A Radical Islamist

Yousef al-Khattab helped change the way young Muslims were radicalized by spewing extreme Islamist propaganda on a YouTube channel.

Now al-Khattab, who was born Joseph Leonard Cohen and was brought up in New Jersey and in Brooklyn in a Jewish home, tells NPR he made a big mistake and describes himself as a “failure.” He’s scheduled to appear in a federal court in Alexandria, Va., on Friday to be sentenced on terrorism charges.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

(WSJ Front Page) Demand for Home Loans Plunges to 14 year low

Mortgage lending declined to the lowest level in 14 years in the first quarter as homeowners pulled back sharply from refinancing and house hunters showed little appetite for new loans, the latest sign of how rising interest rates have dented the housing recovery.

Lenders originated $235 billion in mortgage loans during the January-March quarter, down 58% from the same period a year ago and down 23% from the fourth quarter of 2013, according to industry newsletter Inside Mortgage Finance.

The decline shows how the mortgage market is experiencing its largest shift in more than a decade as an era of generally falling interest rates that began in 2000 appears to have run its course.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

Mollie Hemingay on the new Movie "To Heaven and Back"

While “‘Heaven Is for Real” lacks the rich descriptions and striking imagery of many previous accounts of the afterlife, it provides an excellent example of a favorite modern view. Where Christians once longed for complete communion with God, many now think of the great hereafter as the best family reunion imaginable, where God is relegated to the role of guest star.

Journalist and author Maria Shriver says heaven “is a place that you go to and once again become reunited with those you have loved and lost. That vision is what keeps me from falling apart. . . . That’s what I have faith in.”

Surrounded by religious pluralism, scientific materialism and universalism, many evangelical Christians feel the church’s teachings on eternal life are under attack. Into that milieu, “Heaven Is Real” provides proof of the transcendental in the form of eyewitness testimony. That the eyewitness is a guileless preschooler only adds to the appeal.

Not everyone agrees, of course.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Eschatology, Movies & Television, Theology

(NPR) With Medical Debt Rising, Some Doctors Push For Payment Upfront

The recent economic downturn and the increasing use of high-deductible insurance plans “has driven patients to want to put off paying their bills,” Michael explains. Whether it’s for a hip replacement or a broken bone, he frequently sees patients on the hook for a $3,000 to $5,000 deductible.

“We have to be able to be the creditor,” says Michael. “We’re essentially a bank at that point.”

Between 2008 and 2012, multi-specialty practices saw their bad debt go up 14 percent, according to a survey by the , a trade organization for doctor practices. That’s money that practices were owed but couldn’t collect. Some of them have begun to change their billing strategies to combat those debts, says , a principal consultant with the MGMA Health Care Consulting Group.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Health & Medicine, Personal Finance

(RNS) 3 reasons we’re afraid to talk about hell

Have you seen that new movie “Hell Is for Real?” Of course, you haven’t. Because it doesn’t exist. It’s heavenly counterpart, however, earned $21.5 million in ticket sales in its opening weekend.

Sixty-four percent of Americans believe in the survival of the soul after death, and a majority believes in both heaven and hell, according to a Harris Poll released in December 2013. But while most are comfortable discussing the afterlife and heaven, talk of hell can scatter the masses.

So why are Americans afraid to talk about hell?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Eschatology, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Cautious support for David Cameron’s Christian country

On Good Friday, the Labour MP David Lammy told Radio 4’s Any Questions?: “I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt, actually, and assume he did it for noble reasons. I am a Christian. I read his article in the Church Times, and have to say I agreed with every single word of it. . . My faith has always meant a lot to me, and I think we should be able to talk about it in our public life.”

He cautioned, however, that Mr Cameron’s comments would lead to renewed scrutiny of his actions: “Some of what I see: asking landlords to check on immigrants, describing those who are most impoverished as scroungers, some of the changes in the way that we deal with benefits, bedroom tax, the list goes on, doesn’t feel to me to be particularly Christian, and that is why the leaders of our Christian community have been so categorically condemning much that we have seen.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(PR Facttank) Cameron’s ”˜Christian country’: What the numbers say about religion in the UK

[David Cameron’s]…statement has since drawn strong opposition, including a letter to a British newspaper from a group of more than 50 scientists, writers and others. Cameron’s comments “foster alienation and division,” the letter says, asserting that they are also not true. “Surveys, polls and studies show that most of us as individuals are not Christian in our beliefs or our religious identities.”

Both may be correct, depending on the data source. By one definition, England, at least, is a Christian nation: The Church of England is the official state church of England. Looking at the religious affiliation of the population, however, a more complex picture emerges.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Religion & Culture

John Sentamu: The Archbishop of York’s 2014 Easter message

The Christian truth that the crucifixion reveals the heart of God is a scandal to those who imagine God as an aloof and implacable Creator, who lacks compassion for our frailty and is hostile towards our disobedience ”“ instead of being merciful.

As for those whose god is an impersonal intelligence, the cross is meaningless ”“ if not absurd.

Terry Eagleton’s book Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate is a penetrating critique of the reasoning of Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens. In passing he considers the incongruity of a Saviour who is crucified: “Messiahs are not born in stables. They are high-born, heroic warriors who will lead the nation in battle against its enemies. They do not reject weapons of destruction, enter the national capital riding on donkeys, or get themselves strung up.”

Thankfully Terry Eagleton offers reasons why believing in a Christlike God is not a delusion ”“ unlike some commentators who have heaped personal insults on Richard Dawkins and demonised him.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Eschatology, Theology

Coptic Pope opens art exhibition in Egypt's Anglican Cathedral

At the invitation of The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis of the Episcopal / Anglican Church in Egypt, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark inaugurated an art exhibition “The Way of Salvation” curated by Dr. Farid Fadel at the All Saints Cathedral Hall in Zamalek.

“The visit is historical,” Bishop Mouneer said, “because it comes three days before we celebrate the Feast of St. Mark on which All Saints Cathedral was consecrated.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Coptic Church, Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Mark

Almighty God, who by the hand of Mark the evangelist hast given to thy Church the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God: We thank thee for this witness, and pray that we may be firmly grounded in its truth; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who for our redemption didst give thine only begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection hast delivered us from the power of the enemy: Grant us to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Gregorian Sacramentary

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is thy victory?
O death, where is thy sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

–1 Corinthians 15:51-58

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Phil Ashey–GAFCON and the Road Ahead for Conciliar Governance

Declaring GAFCON an “Instrument of Unity” is a critique of the failure of the existing Instruments of Unity” to hold the Communion together in the face of unilateral revisions of faith and practice by Anglican churches in the west (by this I mean the failure in the last ten years of the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lambeth Conference of Bishops, and Primates gatherings and the Anglican Consultative Council). This is not news. Even Archbishop Justin Welby acknowledged from the pulpit at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi, the day before GAFCON 2013 began, that the Instruments of unity had failed.

But the declaration that GAFCON is now an Instrument of Unity also stands for a very positive affirmation and recovery of something lost to Anglicanism. It is the assertion that Anglicans need not wallow in the “deficit of authority” that has paralayzed the current Anglican leadership in the face of un-Biblical teaching and moral practices. It is the assertion”“ and the beginning of the manifestation”“ of a recovery of genuine conciliar governance that we find as far back as Acts 15 and the earliest ecumenical councils of the undivided church.

What do I mean by “conciliar governance”? Quite simply, it is the way of governing the church that we find in Acts 15, where leaders from every quarter and every order of the church met to worship, pray, address serious theological and missiological issues (must gentiles be circumcised in order to become followers of Jesus Christ), and reach a consensus on the basis of Scripture, apostolic witness and the Holy Spirit.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, - Anglican: Commentary, GAFCON I 2008, GAFCON II 2013, Global South Churches & Primates, Theology

(Dio of FW) Fort Worth court denies TEC motion to stay proceedings

In compliance with the mandate issued by the Texas Supreme Court on March 21st, today the 141st District Court in Fort Worth agreed to move forward with a new trial in the property suit brought five years ago by The Episcopal Church against the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. It is anticipated that the next major event in the proceedings will be a hearing on motion for summary judgment sometime this fall, when neutral principles of law concerning trusts and property ownership in the State of Texas will be applied in the dispute.
On Thursday morning Judge John Chupp heard discussion on both sides, then ruled on two motions. He denied a motion by TEC to stay the resumption of proceedings in his court, which would have postponed the case further while TEC considers an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court; and he ordered the return of the $100,000 cash bond posted by the Diocese in October 2011 in connection with our appeal to the state Supreme Court. His order also terminates other conditions of the supersedeas bond.

Commenting on the result, diocesan attorney Scott Brister noted, “The judge ruled with us. It’s time to move forward and finish this suit.”

“We are grateful to be relieved of the obligations of the supersedeas order,” added diocesan chancellor David Weaver. “We appreciate the continued prayers of our congregations as we navigate our way through the civil justice system.”

In the near future our attorneys will present the trial court with a proposed scheduling order to move the case forward in compliance with the Texas Supreme Court’s opinion of August 30, 2013.

The Diocese is delighted to be on a path toward the conclusion of a lengthy and costly legal process. Bishop Iker said, “This is a great encouragement to us, and we look forward to the day when all these legal proceedings are behind us and we can get on with the mission of the Church without the distraction of litigation.”

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, Theology

(CBS Chicago) Bulletproof Subways A Sign Of Violent Times?

While out on an unrelated assignment, CBS 2 investigative reporter Dave Savini decided to stop by a South Side Subway sandwich shop for a meal.

Savini was struck by the fact that the counter of the store at 116th Street and South Halsted was encased in bullet-proof glass.

Such a sight would be common at crime magnets like gas stations or currency exchanges, but a Subway?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Travel, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence