Daily Archives: May 10, 2014

(WSJ) Germany's Trade Ties to Russia Put the country in a deep Bind

State Infrastructure Minister Christian Pegel has traveled to Russia twice since the Ukraine crisis broke out, in part to drum up business for the Sassnitz ferry. “We are especially closely connected” to Russia, Mr. Pegel says of his region. “Perhaps also especially dependent.”

U.S. politicians have voiced frustrations in recent weeks about Germany’s reluctance to take a more confrontational stand against Russia. But for Germans, the risk in pursuing a hard line is unmistakable. Places like Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania””a region of 1.6 million with the country’s lowest average income””have much to lose.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Germany, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, Russia, Theology

A Major Call to Prayer for the nation from Nigerian Anglican Archbishop Okoh

Read it all and take up the challenge (w/thanks to Locusts and Wild Honey).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Pew Research) The Shifting Religious Identity of Latinos in the United States

Most Hispanics in the United States continue to belong to the Roman Catholic Church. But the Catholic share of the Hispanic population is declining, while rising numbers of Hispanics are Protestant or unaffiliated with any religion. Indeed, nearly one-in-four Hispanic adults (24%) are now former Catholics, according to a major, nationwide survey of more than 5,000 Hispanics by the Pew Research Center. Together, these trends suggest that some religious polarization is taking place in the Hispanic community, with the shrinking majority of Hispanic Catholics holding the middle ground between two growing groups (evangelical Protestants and the unaffiliated) that are at opposite ends of the U.S. religious spectrum.

The Pew Research Center’s 2013 National Survey of Latinos and Religion finds that a majority (55%) of the nation’s estimated 35.4 million Latino adults ”“ or about 19.6 million Latinos ”“ identify as Catholic today. 1 About 22% are Protestant (including 16% who describe themselves as born-again or evangelical) and 18% are religiously unaffiliated.

The share of Hispanics who are Catholic likely has been in decline for at least the last few decades.2 But as recently as 2010, Pew Research polling found that fully two-thirds of Hispanics (67%) were Catholic. That means the Catholic share has dropped by 12 percentage points in just the last four years, using Pew Research’s standard survey question about religious affiliation.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Sociology

(CT) Rachel Stone–Parenthood is hard, sacrficial work, why have we thought otherwise?

The idea that there ought to be “nothing but Beauty” is, I think, part of the modern myth of parenting. Our expectations for our kids and for ourselves get higher and higher. (Writer Micha Boyett recently said that if she hears about another toddler taking Mandarin lessons, she’ll heave.) We want our children to be perfect, and we want to be perfect parents. Yet we don’t even know what that means. In her recent book All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenting, Jennifer Senior notes that “happiness” is a vague concept, and perhaps the wrong goal for parenting.

The truth is that parenthood is not always fun. In the church, where we rightly acknowledge that children are gifts from God, perhaps we are especially afraid to say this. There’s so much pain and heartache. The way of the parent is often the way of the Cross: the glory and grace and joy in it come at significant cost. We relinquish our time, energy, money, and personal desires for our children.

English novelist John Lancaster recently called for “a revival of the concept of duty.” It’s the moral obligation to fulfill a responsibility to another, regardless of whether it makes us happy. By God’s grace, duty often yields not to happiness but to something better: joy. As the early church in Acts teaches us, joy can coincide with suffering and struggle.

“Gift love longs to serve or even to suffer” for the beloved, wrote C. S. Lewis.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

NSW Premier Mike Baird's dangerously virtuous education at Regent College, Vancouver B.C

In the front rows, the graduating class sat enthralled. At the back other students shifted excitedly in their seats, some whispering agreement as Provan’s language soared.

“I charge you, most seriously . . . [to] be dangerous to all who, in the pursuit of [false] gods, damage other people, and damage God’s good creation. Be dangerous to the powerful who want to use and oppress the weak, and to the rich who want to use and oppress the poor.

“Be dangerous to those who diminish the importance of the individual person, in the womb or in the twilight years, or in between ”“ to those who trample the individual soul, out of deference to the convenience of other family members, the health of the economy, the good of the state, or the well-being of the planet.” An Australian listening may be forgiven for thinking that Provan is calling for his young charges to oppose pretty well everything that marks business as usual on Macquarie Street. Normally it might not be fair to use a young man’s education as predictive of his future course, but Regent College is not a normal school. Unlike most seminaries, Regent was created not to prepare its graduates to become clergy, but to give them an evangelical Christian education with a view to returning them to the secular world to serve God in their chosen professions.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

In Nigeria, Parents Tormented by Stumbling Search for Girls Kidnapped by Boko Haram

The morning after Mkeki Ntakai learned of the mass kidnapping by Boko Haram, he fired up his rickety motor scooter and sped down a dirt road in northern Nigeria to find his 16-year-old daughter.

Mr. Ntakai was joined by more than 100 fathers, uncles and big brothers, all seeking several hundred girls taken by force from a boarding school in the remote hamlet of Chibok. The men followed a trail of hair ties and scraps of clothing the girls dropped to lead rescuers. One found his daughter’s flip-flop; another retrieved a remnant of a school uniform.

But the kidnappers had too big a head start. Three weeks later, the trail has gone cold for the 223 girls still missing. More than 50 managed to escape in the first few hours, jumping out of the beds of pickup trucks or slipping away while they were supposed to be washing dishes.

The rest are presumed held by the jihadi group, whose leader Abubakar Shekau said he would sell the girls as slaves.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Defense, National Security, Military, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Teens / Youth, Terrorism, Theology, Violence, Women

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Pastoral Theology, Theology

St. Paul's (Summerville, S.C.) rector Mike Lumpkin writes about his retirement plans

The time has come. On Sunday, May 4, I announced my retirement plans. In case you were not present at worship, this letter will provide the details. My last day to serve as Rector of St. Paul’s Summerville will be Friday, November 14, 2014. That date will mark my 19th anniversary among you and in the meantime provide a window to enjoy our remaining months among you.

I will always treasure these years”¦always. In vestry meetings for many years, I made this observation: ”˜St. Paul’s needs a long-term pastorate! It doesn’t have to be me, but it needs to be someone. I am willing to be that person, but it may not work out that way.’ I would offer that thought in light of the fact that since the retirement of Dr. Ambler in 1940 (He served as St. Paul’s Rector for 32 years.), the average tenure of a Rector has been 4 ½ years. That is not healthy for a parish since you never have time to establish traction and momentum under sustained leadership. It is not unlike the long coaching tenures which often complement the strongest programs in athletics, think Coach K at Duke or Dean Smith at Chapel Hill, etc.

So, it turned out to be me after all””a long-tenured priest for St. Paul’s. I step down grateful and excited for all we have done together. It has been so rich and fruitful! May the Lord and you continue to build on the foundation that has been laid. Don’t you just know, He will! And may St. Paul’s next Rector be enabled and empowered as well for a long pastorate.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Aging / the Elderly, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Same-sex blessings in S.C. Midlands and Upstate Episcopal congregations to be permitted

The leader of Midlands and Upstate Episcopalians told clergy Thursday he will permit congregations to perform blessings of same-sex couples, a decision reached after two years of intense theological discussions with pastors and parishioners.

The Rt. Rev. W. Andrew Waldo, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina, said no clergy would be required to perform the rite. He said he will support all 61 of his congregations whether they choose to carry out the blessing ritual or not.

Read it all from The State newspaper.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Chr History) Nikolaus von Zinzendorf–"There can be no Christianity without community"

Nearly two centuries after Luther posted his 95 Theses, Protestantism had lost some of its soul. Institutions and dogma had, in many people’s minds, choked the life out of the Reformation.

Lutheran minister P.J. Spener hoped to revive the church by promoting the “practice of piety,” emphasizing prayer and Bible reading over dogma. It worked. Pietism spread quickly, reinvigorating Protestants throughout Europe””including underground Protestants in Moravia and Bohemia (modern Czechoslovakia)

The Catholic church cracked down on the dissidents, and many were forced to flee to Protestant areas of neighboring Germany. One group of families fled north to Saxony, where they settled on the lands belonging to a rich young ruler, Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Nicolaus von Zinzendorf

God of life made new in Christ, who dost call thy Church to keep on rising from the dead: We remember before thee the bold witness of thy servant Nicolaus von Zinzendorf, through whom thy Spirit moved to draw many in Europe and the American colonies to faith and conversion of life; and we pray that we, like him, may rejoice to sing thy praise, live thy love and rest secure in the safekeeping of the Lord; who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord Jesus Christ, who on the evening of the first Easter Day didst appear to thy disciples when they were afraid and didst speak to them thy word of peace: Grant to us thy servants that same holy peace, that we may walk henceforth in the light of thy presence and know the power of thy risen life, until we come to the joy of thy everlasting kingdom.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;

To the end that [my] glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

–Psalm 30:11-12 (KJV)

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(JE) 41 American Anglican Bishops Stand in Solidarity with Persecuted Believers

Forty American Anglican (U.S.) bishops, as well as the Most Rev. Robert Duncan, the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, (ACNA) have signed on to a Pledge of Solidarity & Call to Action on behalf of Christians and Other Small Religious Communities in Egypt, Iraq, and Syria.

The pledge was released at a Capitol Hill press conference on Wednesday, May 7, 2014, and hosted by U.S. Representatives Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), strong advocates for the persecuted and the co-chairs of the bipartisan Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus, collaborating with Nina Shea, the director and senior scholar at the Hudson Institute Center for Religious Freedom. Wolf, a firm believer in the power of prayer, observes “there are more churches than there are chambers of commerce in America.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

Bp Andrew Waldo–A Pastoral and Theological Reflection on Same-Sex Blessings

In response to Resolution A049 from the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2012. I have decided that use of the provisional rite, “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” for the blessing of same-sex relationships approved in that resolution will be permitted in some congregations according to conditions provided in detail in the document “Process, Application and Policies” accompanying this reflection. Since that General Convention, I’ve openly discussed the outline of this decision in print and in congregational forums across the Diocese….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture