Daily Archives: May 11, 2014

(NYT Beliefs) At Evangelical Colleges, Leadership Is Often the Family Business

During the past school year, several leading American universities, including Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth and Carnegie-Mellon, welcomed new presidents. These men were leading scholars, and they were experienced administrators; in some cases, they held degrees from the universities they now lead. And none of them ”” not one ”” inherited the job from his father or mother.

That goes without saying, right? Nonprofit, tax-exempt universities are not typically family dynasties. People would think it queer if Drew Gilpin Faust’s daughter succeeded her mother as president of Harvard. But at evangelical Christian colleges, including some of the most prominent, there are different expectations.

Since 2007, the world’s largest Christian university, Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Va., has been led by Jerry Falwell Jr., the son of the famous founder. The presidency of Oral Roberts University, in Tulsa, Okla., passed from father to son (although it has since passed out of the family). Until Friday, when Stephen Jones stepped down as president of Bob Jones University, in Greenville, S.C., the college had been led only by Bob Jones and three generations of his direct descendants.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Theology, Young Adults

(JE) John Lomperis–United Methodist Bishops Meet amidst Denominational Storm

The most information the official press releases provided came in the final release sent right after the meeting closed yesterday:

“In further conversations about the adaptive challenges facing The United Methodist Church, the residential bishops noted that Christ calls them to be in union with him, with one another, and with the Church. They recognized that they are called to lead according to the example of Jesus Christ during a challenging time within the church. Disagreements about human sexuality threaten to divide the church; and while there will be differing understandings, the bishops are called to be bishops of the whole church and to lead the church through such challenges. The residential bishops had conversations about how they could carry out the Book of Discipline and lead during this time. The conversation involved listening and forthright discussion in a covenant of grace-filled hospitality and truth-telling. No decisions or agreements were reached during these conversations.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Little Noticed Alan Jacobs Post on where Faith and the Public Square may be Headed in America

I care very much about the future of religious liberty, and I don’t think, over the long run and in this country, there will be much of it…American liberalism more generally, is committed to the idea that freedom to worship is sufficient, and is trying, gradually but consistently, to discourage Christians and other religious believers from acting out their religious convictions anywhere outside the walls of the church ”” at least, in any ways that might interfere with the power of the State to arbitrate and dispense justice and charity.

It’s possible that in the coming years there will be at least a temporary slowing in the erosion of religious liberty, but I can’t see the long-term trends altering. All Americans, including those who call themselves conservatives, are gradually growing accustomed to the elimination of the “third sector” of civil society and will find it increasingly difficult to understand why either the free markets or the State should be restrained from exerting their powers to their fullest. I expect that quite soon most Christians will cease even to ask for anything more from the State than freedom to worship.

For those of us who believe that civil society should be stronger, not weaker, and especially if our primary concern is for the health of religious institutions as the most important mediating forces in society, this change will pose a wide range of problems. For instance, the removal of tax breaks for religious institutions will surely be complete within a generation, and a range of policies will discourage charitable giving, which will make generosity harder ”” but not impossible for most of us. That’ll be a way for us to discover what we are made of.

–from his Snakes and Ladders blog; I encourage you to read it all. This was quoted in the late sermon this morning by yours truly in worship–KSH.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Church/State Matters, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Taxes, Theology

North Charleston S.C. church offers free drive-through prayer Saturday

Crave a burger and fries? Rushing to fill a few prescriptions or grab some cash?

Need some prayer?

No problem, not these days. Just zip through a drive-through.

First Free Will Baptist Church in North Charleston is holding a free Drive Thru Prayer Event for the public from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. People don’t need to be Free Will Baptist church members, or members of a church anywhere, to stop by.

“We are a Bible-based church, rooted in Jesus Christ, and firmly believing in the power of prayer,” says member Christopher Jones. “As a growing church, we have a desire to serve and to be seeking opportunities for outreach. With that being said, we want to serve our community simply by affording ourselves to them for prayer.”

Read it all from the Faith and Values section of the local paper.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

Rod Whitacre on God's Glory being Revealed at the Wedding at Cana in Galilee

The glory is also evident in the graciousness of this event, as the prologue has prepared us to notice (1:14). In response to a humble request Jesus provides wine in abundance, over 100 gallons. Here is a free, full, extravagant outpouring, and it is precisely the Son of God’s gratuitous, gracious generosity that is the glory revealed in this sign. Throughout the Gospel the signs will provide windows into the ultimate realities at work in Jesus’ revelation of God’s glory, in deed as well as word….

In response to this sign it is said that his disciples put their faith in him (2:11). For John this means that they see what Jesus is doing and understand it, however dimly, in the context of God’s revelation of himself in the Old Testament. They see in Jesus the very acts of power and graciousness that are like his Father’s. Their understanding is very limited, but they see something of the Father in the Son and accept him as one come from God and align themselves with him. This effect of this sign on the disciples is in contrast to the experience of those who most directly reap the benefits””the master of the banquet and the bridegroom. Jesus keeps a very low profile throughout the story with the result that only the servants realize what has happened. How often something similar happens in our lives! God’s grace constantly surrounds us; his love is constantly active in our lives. Yet often we fail to discern his love, seeing only the hands of those who give us the wine and not realizing where it comes from and the grace it represents.

–From his IVP Commentary on John’s Gospel, quoted in this morning’s Adult Sunday School class

Posted in Christology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

*Must Not Miss***Peter Bach–A cancer doctor on losing his wife to cancer

It turns out that Hollywood has grief and loss all wrong. The waves and spikes don’t arrive predictably in time or severity. It’s not an anniversary that brings the loss to mind, or someone else’s reminiscences, nor being in a restaurant where you once were together. It’s in the grocery aisle passing the romaine lettuce and recalling how your spouse learned to make Caesar salad, with garlic-soaked croutons, because it was the only salad you’d agree to eat. Or when you glance at a rerun in an airport departure lounge and it’s one of the episodes that aired in the midst of a winter afternoon years earlier, an afternoon that you two had passed together. Or on the rise of a full moon, because your wife, from the day you met her, used to quote from The Sheltering Sky about how few you actually see in your entire life. It’s not sobbing, collapsing, moaning grief. It’s phantom-limb pain. It aches, it throbs, there’s nothing there, and yet you never want it to go away.

Read it all from New York Magazine.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(Yorkshire Post) Fears for Yorkshire’s oldest churches

Concern is growing for the future of Yorkshire’s oldest church buildings as traditional worship is adapted to cater for Christianity in the 21st-century and mounting maintenance costs force congregations to worship elsewhere.

Regional leaders of the Church of England have warned that they are increasingly being called upon to make ”˜weighty’ decisions on houses of worship across the region.

Recent years have witnessed a rise in parishes using schools, village halls and even the homes of vicars to host services as a cheaper alternative to the upkeep costs of crumbling historic buildings.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), History, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

(NYT) Hardship Makes a New Home in the Suburbs

The freeway exits around here are dotted with people asking for money, holding cardboard signs to tell their stories. The details vary only slightly and almost invariably include: Laid off. Need food. Young children.

Mary Carmen Acosta often passes the silent beggars as she enters parking lots to sell homemade ice pops, known as paletas, in an effort to make enough money to get food for her family of four. On a good day she can make $100, about double what she spends on ingredients. On a really good day, she pockets $120, the extra money offering some assurance that she will be able to pay the $800 monthly rent for her family’s three-bedroom apartment. Sometimes, usually on mornings too cold to sell icy treats, she imagines what it would be like to stand on an exit ramp herself.

“Everyone here knows they might have to be like that,” said Ms. Acosta, 40, neatly dressed in slacks and a chiffon blouse, as she waited for help from a local charity in this city an hour’s drive east of Los Angeles. Both she and her husband, Sebastian Plancarte, lost their jobs nearly three years ago. “Each time I see them I thank God for what we do have. We used to have a different kind of life, where we had nice things and did nice things. Now we just worry.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness, nor shadow of turning; who abidest steadfast as the stars of heaven: Give us grace to rest upon thy eternal changelessness, and in thy faithfulness find peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Because thy steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise thee. So I will bless thee as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on thy name. My soul is feasted as with marrow and fat, and my mouth praises thee with joyful lips, when I think of thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the watches of the night; for thou hast been my help, and in the shadow of thy wings I sing for joy.

–Psalm 63:3-7

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Daily Beast) Josh Rogin–In 2011 the State Department Refused to Brand Boko Haram as Terrorists

What [Hillary] Clinton didn’t mention [in her May 4 tweet earlier this month] was that her own State Department refused to place Boko Haram on the list of foreign terrorist organizations in 2011, after the group bombed the U.N. headquarters in Abuja. The refusal came despite the urging of the Justice Department, the FBI, the CIA, and over a dozen senators and congressmen.

“The one thing she could have done, the one tool she had at her disposal, she didn’t use. And nobody can say she wasn’t urged to do it. It’s gross hypocrisy,” said a former senior U.S. official who was involved in the debate. “The FBI, the CIA, and the Justice Department really wanted Boko Haram designated, they wanted the authorities that would provide to go after them, and they voiced that repeatedly to elected officials.”

In May 2012, then-Justice Department official Lisa Monaco (now at the White House) wrote to the State Department to urge Clinton to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist organization. The following month, Gen. Carter Ham, the chief of U.S. Africa Command, said that Boko Haram “are likely sharing funds, training, and explosive materials” with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. And yet, Hillary Clinton’s State Department still declined to place Boko Haram on its official terrorist roster.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, History, Nigeria, Politics in General, Terrorism, Theology

Kendall Harmon–The Boko Haram Mess is Yet another Reason why Blogs Matter

Everyone loves to whack away at blogs but they sift information through a personal grid which means you get information someone else sees that you do not.

Case in point, when was the first Boko Haram post on this blog? August 2009: Nigeria violence sparks new concerns.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Nigeria, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Reminder–CBN Interviews Archbp Ben Kwashi on Boko Haram and violence in Nigeria in 2012

Watch it all carefully and note especially the section beginning at 2:25 when he is asked about the American Government. “They’re not interested…”

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Dan Phillips–Of Leprechauns, mermaids, and "loving homosexual couples"

The whole stands or falls, of course, on the definition of “love.” If “love” means sexual arousal, well then, okey doke sport, I guess if you say so. Or if it means fondness, affection, attraction, or a hundred other emotional and even volitional states… well, how would we even have the discussion? If it’s all about emotion, the “discussion” is really beside the point, isn’t it? Feelings are thought…well, felt… to be self-validating. After all, you’ve got to follow your heart, right? And your heart is all about what you feel. Right?

Unless you start with the fear of God (Prov. 1:7) instead of the lordship of Ego. Then, everything changes.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Movies & Television, Psychology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) Ayaan Hirsi Ali–Boko Haram and the Kidnapped Schoolgirls

But little attention has been paid to the group’s formal Arabic name: Jam’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-da’wa wal-Jihad. That roughly translates as “The Fellowship of the People of the Tradition for Preaching and Holy War.” That’s a lot less catchy than Boko Haram but significantly more revealing about the group and its mission. Far from being an aberration among Islamist terror groups, as some observers suggest, Boko Haram in its goals and methods is in fact all too representative.

The kidnapping of the schoolgirls throws into bold relief a central part of what the jihadists are about: the oppression of women. Boko Haram sincerely believes that girls are better off enslaved than educated. The terrorists’ mission is no different from that of the Taliban assassin who shot and nearly killed 15-year-old Pakistani Malala Yousafzai””as she rode a school bus home in 2012””because she advocated girls’ education. As I know from experience, nothing is more anathema to the jihadists than equal and educated women.

How to explain this phenomenon to baffled Westerners, who these days seem more eager to smear the critics of jihadism as “Islamophobes” than to stand up for women’s most basic rights? Where are the Muslim college-student organizations denouncing Boko Haram? Where is the outrage during Friday prayers? These girls’ lives deserve more than a Twitter hashtag protest.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Teens / Youth, Terrorism, Theology, Violence, Women