Daily Archives: May 12, 2014

([London] Times) Nigeria rejects deal as Boko Haram parades ”˜converted’ kidnap girls in video

Nigeria has immediately rejected a proposed deal to free the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls after the captives were paraded on a video released by the terror group Boko Haram.

Abubakar Shekau, the group’s leader, claimed in a 17-minute tirade that the girls have converted to Islam and said that they will not be released until all Boko Haram prisoners have been freed from Nigerian jails.

But President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria swiftly ruled out the possibility of a prisoner swap or of paying a ransom.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Nigeria, Politics in General, Teens / Youth, Terrorism, Violence, Women

(RNS) Holy Land churches mount awareness campaign in wake of hate graffiti

Ahead of Pope Francis’ Holy Land visit, the heads of Christian churches in the region plan to launch an international awareness campaign following a series of anti-Christian vandalism believed to have been carried out by Jewish extremists.

News of the campaign, which was announced on the website of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem Wednesday (May 7), comes weeks before the pope’s May 25-26 visit to Israel and the West Bank.

The announcement was spurred by what the patriarchate called a “wave of fanaticism and intimidation” against local Christians and institutions.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Middle East, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Violence

Archbishop Welby Launches New Guidance for Tackling Homophobic Bullying in Church of England Schools

The Archbishop of Canterbury has today launched a report from the Education Division of the Church of England “Valuing All God’s Children: Guidance for Church of England Schools on Challenging Homophobic Bullying.”

The guidance, which is being sent to all Church of England schools, provides 10 key recommendations which should be adopted by schools in combating homophobic bullying as well as sample policies for primary and secondary Church schools. Published by the Church Of England Archbishop’s Council Education Division, the guidance involved consultation and involvement with a number of Church of England schools with existing good practice.

Speaking at a Church of England Secondary School, at Trinity Lewisham, The Right Reverend Justin Welby said that the publication of the guidance fulfilled a pledge he made last July when addressing the Church of England’s General Synod.

“Less than a year ago I set out my concerns about the terrible impact of homophobic bullying on the lives of young people and I made a public commitment to support our schools in eradicating homophobic stereotyping and bullying….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Children, Education

'Peacemaking is a gospel imperative' – an interview with Tory Baucum [transcript]

What is the relationship between peacemaking and reconciliation?

TB: “I do believe that peacemaking is a precursor to reconciliation. It takes two to reconcile. And that doesn’t always happen, but that’s not a reason not to pursue the things that make for peace; as Jesus says as he approaches Jerusalem he realizes they haven’t done that and therefore desolation is coming to their house ”“ and that’s the whole travel narrative in Luke, it’s built around the things that make for peace. And what I like to say, because I believe it, is that peacemaking is a gospel imperative. We’ve been made ambassadors of reconciliation. I actually say that peacemaking is not adiaphra (”˜indifferent things’, non-essentials) and we can just agree to disagree about”¦ to treat peacemaking as adiaphra is in fact itself a false teaching, and creates over time a fictitious gospel. So I feel quite strongly that this is matter of faithfulness to Jesus Christ, and to dismiss it or kind of make it a luxury item, is to fundamentally misunderstand what the gospel is about.”

Are there limits to reconciliation?

TB: “I think it takes two to reconcile. I think it takes one to forgive. So the limits of reconciliation are the limits that the two parties put upon themselves. I don’t think you can reconcile unilaterally. I think you can forgive unilaterally. I think in some ways you can do peacemaking almost unilaterally. But until the other side, estranged party, wants to reciprocate, you’re not going to get real far down the road. And I think that’s been the real story of my story with Shannon is that I did reach out in a peacemaking gesture, and he did reciprocate, and that’s why we are walking together in peace at some level.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia, Theology

Philip Kern reviews Paul Barnett's Paul in Syria: The Background to Galatians

Paul Barnett, a leading historian of early Christianity, investigates the period sometimes labelled the “unknown years” of Paul’s ministry (i.e. the 14 years between his Damascus Road experience and first missionary journey), in order to provide a foundation for interpreting Galatians. He convincingly accounts for Paul’s activities during that span, and offers a compelling interpretation of sections of Galatians based on his reconstruction.

Barnett refutes the assumption that Paul spent those years in Antioch and was formed by his experiences there. Where many assert that Paul’s view of the Christ was shaped by his interaction with pagans in Antioch (and so distorts a simpler, early Jewish faith), Barnett argues that Paul worked for eight of the 14 years in Tarsus, with hardly more than 12 months in Antioch. And during his extended time in Tarsus and Cilicia, preceding both Antioch and the first missionary journey, Paul was already preaching to Gentiles.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Books, Theology, Theology: Scripture

An Article from the State Newspaper about Dean Timothy Jones' letter

Jones has been dean of the historic downtown cathedral since July 2012. Trinity is the oldest Episcopal congregation in Columbia and the only cathedral in the diocese. As dean, Jones holds one of the most influential positions in the diocese.

Jones was among 11 clergy and lay people who served on the bishop’s task force, which was established by Waldo to address the blessing resolution passed by the 2012 General Convention of the U.S. Episcopal Church.

Jones’ decision on the matter was swift but not unexpected. The task force included conservatives and liberals and those in the middle, and after many months of dialogue, “I don’t think anyone’s opinion changed,” Waldo said in an interview Wednesday.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Parishes, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Columbia SC) Trinity Cathdrl's Dean says he will Not Bless Same Sex couples in Letter to his Parish

As to my own prayerful reflection on this important issue, I do not believe that Scripture, Christian tradition, nor the Book of Common Prayer authorize me to bless same-sex relationships. I know well, from years of conversation and study, the arguments brought forward by those who advocate such a blessing, but I have not been persuaded. I am committed, as always, to the full welcome in our parish of all, regardless of sexual orientation. The church has, to my sadness, failed too often to do so.

While I will not authorize same-sex blessings at Trinity, I am committed to our having respectful conversations. Such discussion may not be always comfortable. It often requires sacrificial love. We will offer opportunities for
such conversation, using the curriculum developed by the task force for groups that will meet for six to eight weeks. That resource affirms that Scripture is our ultimate authority, and asks how we are to understand and apply
it in dialogue with tradition and with one another.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Parishes, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) Kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls: Boko Haram releases new video

New video claiming to show a number of the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls has been released by the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram.

Watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Media, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Teens / Youth, Terrorism, Theology, Violence, Women

Anthony Hoekema: not just believing something about Christ…but also…about ourselves

The Christian life involves not just believing something about Christ, but also believing something about ourselves. The something we are to believe about ourselves is that we are now in Christ, part of his new Creation and in a very real sense new creatures….Our faith in Christ must include believing that we are exactly what the Bible says we are.

The Christian Looks at Himself (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973) , pp. 55-56

Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Theology

(AFP) Anglican leader Justin Welby warns of 'merciless' Boko Haram

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby warned on Sunday of the difficulties of negotiating with an “utterly merciless” group like Boko Haram, but called for active contact with the Nigerian Islamists over their abduction of scores of schoolgirls.

Welby has experience of negotiating with violent groups in the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria, and with a predecessor to Boko Haram around Maiduguri, the capital of northeastern Borno state where the group started out.

In an interview with BBC radio about the fate of more than 200 schoolgirls seized by the Islamist group last month, the archbishop said the girls faced a “colossal” risk.

“They’re in the hands of a very disparate group which is extremely irrational and difficult to deal with and utterly merciless in the example it’s shown in the past, and it must be a huge concern,” he said.

Read it all. The [London] Times also has Archbishop calls for talks with Boko Haram for those who have subscriber access.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Foreign Relations, Nigeria, Politics in General, Teens / Youth, Violence, Women

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord Jesus Christ, who hast promised in thy holy gospel that thy disciples shall know the truth, and the truth shall make them free: Give us, we pray thee, the Spirit of truth, sent by thee and leading to thee, that we may find the truth in finding thee, who art the Way, the Truth, and the Life, for ever and ever.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

–Matthew 5:1-10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Modi seeks personal triumph in final round of Indian election

India’s general election reaches a climax on Monday as opposition challenger Narendra Modi seeks a personal mandate in Varanasi, the holy city on the river Ganges, to govern by his modernized brand of Hindu nationalism.

Modi is the first prime ministerial candidate to stand in the 3,000-year-old city where several religions mingle. Varanasi is an ancient centre of Buddhism but one in six voters is Muslim; Hindus believe that to die here brings salvation by escaping the cycle of reincarnation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, History, India, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Spain's La Liga Football goes down to the final game of the season for the title

Atletico Madrid and Barcelona will play a La Liga title decider at the Nou Camp stadium next weekend after the front runners drew on Sunday to set up one of the most dramatic finishes in Spain’s top flight for more than 60 years.

On a day of nerve-jangling tension, when leaders Atletico came desperately close to a late goal that would have clinched the championship, the Madrid club had to come from behind to rescue a 1-1 draw at home to Malaga while second-placed Barca were held to a 0-0 stalemate at Elche.

Real Madrid dropped out of the title race when they suffered a surprise 2-0 loss at Celta Vigo that left them five points behind their city rivals with one game remaining.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Men, Spain, Sports

Manchester City Win Premier League Title for the 2nd time in the last 3 years

Manchester City have won the Premier League title with a 2-0 win against West Ham United.

Goals either side of half-time from Samir Nasri and Vincent Kompany saw City capture the title with an easy victory.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side led second-place Liverpool by only two points heading into the match.

Read it all.

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

(RNS) Atheists lose fight over ”˜under God’ at Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

The highest court in Massachusetts upheld the legality of the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance on Friday (May 9), dealing a blow to atheist groups who challenged the pledge on anti-discrimination grounds.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court said the daily, teacher-led recitation of the pledge in state public schools does not violate the state’s equal rights amendment and is not discriminatory against the children of atheists, humanists and other nontheists.

“Participation is entirely voluntary,” the court wrote as a whole in the decision of Doe v. Acton-Boxborough Regional School District, brought by an anonymous humanist family. “(A)ll students are presented with the same options; and one student’s choice not to participate because of a religiously held belief is, as both a practical and a legal matter, indistinguishable from another’s choice to abstain for a wholly different, more mundane, and constitutionally insignificant reason.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Atheism, Buddhism, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

(Christian Century) What One Book Do Pastors Need to Read?

“If you had to choose one book to help a person embarking on pastoral ministry, what would it be?” We posed that question to some pastors and professors. Here are their choices:

See what you make of the choices and tell us what choice you would make.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology