Daily Archives: April 29, 2014

(CNN Belief blog) New evidence casts doubt on 'Gospel of Jesus' Wife'

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.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(ABP) D.C.’s Amy Butler is selected for senior minister at Riverside Church in New York

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.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Church History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(London) Times–We’re out of touch on same-sex marriage, says senior woman cleric

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).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Martin Marty) Sunday’s canonizations show sainthood now has few critics

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.)

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

Still Joyful after 27 years of Marriage

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.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Harmon Family, Marriage & Family, Photos/Photography

Post-Modern Miasma, Example 2–A Globe and Mail Portrait of life and Death of Catharina MacMillan

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).

Posted in Uncategorized

Post Modern Miasma, Example 1–Stars of "Southern Charm" reality show are parents of baby girl

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).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Movies & Television, Theology

(BBC) In Scotland, Church concerned at evidence of rising funeral costs

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.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Death / Burial / Funerals, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Scotland, Theology

(Globe and Mail) Ritch Eich–The ruin of too many leaders: Failure to execute

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.

Read it all.

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

Holden Firth–Rev’s Christian critics miss the point: we like our religion vague

“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.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, Theology

Archbishop Justin Welby's message for Christian Aid Week 2014

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.

Watch it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Religion & Culture

(CSM) Danny Heitman–How I fought the American addiction to 'more stuff'

…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.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

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

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Bible Readings

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

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CSM) Islam, scripted: Egypt reins in Friday sermons at mosque

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.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Middle East, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Theology

(WSJ) Google Says Its Self-Driving Cars Can Tackle City Streets Now

Google said Monday that its self-driving cars are now capable of maneuvering through city streets, a more complex challenge than the highway driving the project initially focused on.

The project, launched in 2009 as one of Google’s first long-term “moonshot” research initiatives, has logged about 700,000 autonomous driving miles using roughly 24 sensor-loaded Lexus RX450h vehicles. That is up from more than 300,000 miles in August 2012, the last time Google issued an update. Google said it has caused no accidents so far when its vehicles are in self-driving mode.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Science & Technology, Travel

Rise in cremations changing future of monument industry

“While the economy is recovering and families are beginning to have more financial flexibility, they are still very cautious when making major purchases. If they can spend less, but still get something very tasteful and befitting their loved one, a family may choose that option,” says Jessica Koth, spokeswoman for the National Funeral Directors Association.

And if any movement is changing the monument business most, it is the huge rise in cremations.

Today, about 43 percent of people are cremated. Compare that to 2000 when only one in four people were cremated. In 1970, fewer than 5 percent of people were cremated.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Economy, Eschatology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Theology