Daily Archives: May 14, 2014

(TLC) Karl Schaffenburg–Jesus Would Not Coexist

The ubiquitous blue COEXIST bumper sticker incorporates symbols of Islam, pacifism, male and female, Judaism, Wicca, Taoism, and Christianity. Piotr MÅ‚odozeniec, a Polish graphic artist, created the original COEXIST image. Various companies sell merchandise with some form of the image, and ”” o a note of inevitable conflict ”” some have threatened legal action to protect their control of profits. At it core the image represents a belief that spiritual harmony can be wished into existence.

What is not to admire in this goal? Why would a Christian hesitate to display this sticker during a daily commute? We may begin with how philosophy ”” that supposedly esoteric pursuit ”” matters in our everyday lives. A fundamental rule of logic is the “law of noncontradiction”: a statement cannot be both true and untrue.

Consider how the Abrahamic faiths understand Jesus Christ. At John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except by me.” Judaism considers Jesus a prophet but not the Messiah. In Islam, Isa (Jesus) is a messenger of God. Islam makes the specific claim that revelation did not end with “the people of the book” (the Jews) or with the prophet Isa, but with Muhammad.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Inter-Faith Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Christ+Pop C.) Marybeth Baggett: What Marilynne Robinson Could Learn From Herself

All of the considerable affection and admiration I feel for Robinson provides the backdrop for my dismay over her recent interview with Sarah Pulliam Bailey for Religion News Service. The thoughtfulness for which Robinson is known is largely absent as she couples promotion of politically liberal values with disdainful dismissal of conservative ones. She engages here in the very mean-spirited partisanship she critiques elsewhere. While acknowledging her difficulty in understanding the mentality of 2nd Amendment defenders, her characterization of their position is reductionist, evidencing little charity by the presumption to know the motivations of her political “others.” And even worse is what appears to be gloating over her superior insight about the issues she discusses.

Regarding gay marriage, for example, she foists an intended pejorative of biblical “literalist” on those who retain a traditional view of marriage, equating through juxtaposition that stance with the stoning of witches. The generous engagement with others that she champions in earlier essays and that reverberates throughout her fiction is scarce in her dismissal of pro-lifers as “attentive to babies that don’t exist yet” and “negligent of babies that need help” through social programs. In short, she does in this interview exactly what she warns against elsewhere: she obscures the individual conservative behind general political ideology. Doing so thwarts imaginative engagement….

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Religion & Culture, Theology

(WSJ) U.S. Household Debt Increases (and make sure not to miss the Picture on student loan debt)

Americans made more progress in repairing their postrecession finances and have increased their overall borrowing, yet they are also showing an aversion to credit cards and new mortgages that could hinder the economic recovery.

Household debt””including mortgages, credit cards, auto loans and student loans””rose $129 billion between January and March to $11.65 trillion, new figures from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York showed Tuesday. That was the third consecutive quarterly increase.

Behind the uptick: Mortgage balances””which make up the bulk of U.S. household debt””rose $116 billion to $8.2 trillion, thanks in part to fewer people going into foreclosure, which drags down mortgage debt. Auto-loan balances grew $12 billion to $875 billion. Student-loan balances increased $31 billion to $1.1 trillion, maintaining its place as the fastest-growing debt category.

Read it all and the picture of the incredible graph on student loan explosion is there.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Psychology, Stress, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

(AP) At Fort Bragg, N.C, a Therapy dog helps troops deal with postwar stress

After three deployments to Iraq and three to Afghanistan, Staff Sgt. Dennis Swols is agitated, prone to bouts of anger and unable to really talk about his time on the battlefield.

But as Swols sits in a small office in the Robinson Health Clinic at Fort Bragg, his hand drops to the furry head beside him and his mood brightens. Settled at his feet, Lexy, a 5-year-old German shepherd, gives Swols a few moments of distraction.

It’s her job. And, according to Swols, she’s good at it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, Animals, Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Stress, Theology

([London]) Times: Blessed are the poor? Clergy are the strongest in unfair societies

Across the world there is a precise fit between social unfairness and the power of the priesthood,” Steve Jones, professor of genetics at University College London, has said. “In countries whose governments are fair and effective the influence of the clergy fades.

“The most devout nations have more crime, more infant deaths, more mental illness and less social mobility. Chaos and credulity go together.” Professor Jones, who will speak on science in the Bible at The Times Cheltenham Science Festival next month, said that his intention was not to engage in an atheist attack on religion, but instead to discuss its origins ”” and what, if anything, that can tell us about why and how it developed.

“There is lots of consistency,” he said. “Look at hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists. Hunter gatherers often have a god, but generally it is god up there who makes rains come and plants grow. He is not an interfering god, he doesn’t deal with individuals and say, ”˜You’ve sinned, go to Hell’. As soon as you get farming, there is a complete swing. He becomes an interfering god, and says you must follow these rules and if not you are in trouble.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Economy, England / UK, History, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

A way forward – the full New Zealand Synod resolution text

1. This General Synod/Te Hīnota Whānui resolves to appoint a working group to bring and recommend to the 62nd General Synod/Te Hīnota Whānui:

(a) A process and structure by which those who believe the blessing of same-gender relationships is contrary to scripture, doctrine, tikanga or civil law, will not be required to perform any liturgy for the blessing of same-gender relationships, will continue to have integrity within the Church, and will remain compliant with the parliamentary legislation within any relevant jurisdiction;

(b) A process and structure by which those who believe the blessing of same-gender relationships is consonant with scripture, doctrine, tikanga and civil law may perform a yet to be developed liturgy for blessing same-gender relationships in a manner which maintains their integrity within the Church, is compliant with the parliamentary legislation within any relevant jurisdiction, and can remain in communion under scripture, doctrine and law; including

(i) A proposal for a new liturgy to bless right ordered same-gender relationships;

(ii) A process and legislation (whether church or parliamentary) by which a new liturgy to bless right ordered same-gender relationships may be adopted…

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(Anglican Taonga) Same-Gender Blessings–New Zealand Synod Sees a Way Forward

General Synod today passed a resolution that will create a pathway towards the blessing of same-gender relationships ”“ while upholding the traditional doctrine of marriage.

It will appoint a working group to report to the 2016 General Synod on “a process and structure” that would allow those clergy who wish to bless same-gender relationships ”“ using a yet-to-be developed liturgy ”“ to do so.

The working group will also be charged to develop “a process and structure” to ensure that clergy who believe that same sex blessings are contrary to “scripture, doctrine, tikanga or civil law” to remain fully free to dissent.

The “process and structure” in their case would mean these clergy would not only be exempt from performing these same-sex blessings ”“ but that their “integrity within the church” would be assured, and they would have full protection for their dissent in any relevant human rights legislation.

Synod has therefore upheld the traditional doctrine of marriage ”“ but also moved to find ways to respond to committed relationships between two people, regardless of gender.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Telegraph art. on latest Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby on same sex unions/marriage

The Church of England has been forced to reaffirm its opposition to same-sex marriage after the Archbishop of Canterbury appeared to suggest that he thinks it is “great”.

In his first interview with a gay publication, the Most Rev Justin Welby, told PinkNews that the Church had to accept that same-sex marriage is now the law in England and Wales after securing overwhelming support in Parliament.

He said it was “right and proper” that same-sex marriage has now come into force, adding: “And that’s great.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

Archbishop Justin Welby welcomes the Archbishop of Cyprus to Lambeth Palace

After a private meeting the Archbishops prayed together in the Crypt Chapel at Lambeth Palace.

In a greeting to Archbishop Chrysostomos, Archbishop Justin said: “Between our two churches there has always been more that unites us than that which divides us and so we can pray together and welcome all sincere efforts for peace in your country, in Europe and in the world. Certainly there is need for peacemakers today, and I pray that God’s love may move us beyond what we can hope for, that our endeavours in interfaith dialogues will create greater understanding for the world as one human family.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Relations, Orthodox Church, Other Churches

A Disorienting Robert Pittman Survey of Suburban Sprawl, from Dubai to L.A.

You may never find a better example of the sprawling sameness of suburbia than Southern California. From San Diego to Santa Clarita and beyond, middle class hamlets of homogeny epitomize the master-planned neighborhoods that first sprang up in the 1950s.

These suburbs, like others across the globe, impose their will on the natural environments. Endless stretches of green lawns and golf courses defy the area’s arid climate, and perfectly uniform rows of houses transform any hillside or empty canyon into a ready-made community.

Living in LA during the housing boom of the late ’90s, photographer Robert Harding Pittman was troubled by the loss of nature to these environments. An expanding creep of paved valleys, leveled hillsides, and cloned homes with thirsty lawns were a cookie-cutter contagion. He decided to document its spread on a global scale.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Housing/Real Estate Market, Psychology, Theology

Norwich vicar to lead multi-faith church in USA

Nicholas, with wife Heather and children Samuel (aged 10) and Jessica (8), is planning to make the move this summer after 13 years leading St Luke’s, St Augustine’s and launching the Norwich Christian Meditation Centre in the city.

Nicholas will take up the role as an Episcopal Chaplain and be licensed by the Episcopal Bishop of Colorado to the multi-faith Aspen Chapel, 7,000ft up in the mountainous area of Colorado well know for its skiing and outdoor pursuits. The Episcopal Church in the US branch of the Anglican Church.

The Aspen area is also the home of centering prayer author Cynthia Bourgeault’s Wisdom School, whom Nicholas has previously brought to Norwich, and the contemplative Fr Tom Keating at the Benedictine Snowmass Monastery.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Episcopal Church (TEC), Inter-Faith Relations, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O gracious Lord, Who as at this time, didst raise Thy Son Jesus Christ with power from the grave, raise us up, we beseech Thee, from the death of sin to the life of righteousness; Revive our faith, and make us followers of Him Who hath taken away the “sin of the world; Who by His death hath destroyed death, and by His rising to life again hath restored to us everlasting life.” Hear us, O merciful Father, we pray Thee, for the sake of our risen Saviour, to Whom, with Thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end.

–The Pastor’s Prayerbook

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

For you yourselves know, brethren, that our visit to you was not in vain; but though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the face of great opposition. For our appeal does not spring from error or uncleanness, nor is it made with guile; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never used either words of flattery, as you know, or a cloak for greed, as God is witness; nor did we seek glory from men, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse taking care of her children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
For you remember our labor and toil, brethren; we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you, while we preached to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our behavior to you believers; for you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

–1 Thessalonians 2:1-12

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

"Don't Negotiate With Boko Haram", Primate of Nigeria Sounds Note of Warning to FG

The Primate of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), the Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, has advised the Federal Government not to yield to the demands of Boko Haram for the release of the abducted schoolgirls.

Boko Haram is reportedly demanding the release of some of its captured members in exchange for the abducted schoolgirls.

Read it all.

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

(Bloomberg) Google Faces Demands as Court Backs Right to Be Forgotten

A European Union top court ruling that may require technology companies to delete personal information on request pits Europeans’ rights to privacy against the freedom to publish.

Google Inc. (GOOG) risks being ordered to remove search results where citizens’ fundamental rights are harmed by personal information posted online and where there is no public interest in publishing it, the EU Court of Justice said today.

The result could “open the floodgates for tens of thousands of requests to have legal, publicly available information about Europeans taken out of a search index or links removed from websites,” said James Waterworth, the head of the Brussels office of the Computer & Communications Industry Association.

Read it all. Astute blog readers will remember this phrase “right to be forgotten” because it has resonances with Jeffrey Rosen’s NY Times Magazine: The Web Means the End of Forgetting in 2010.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Law & Legal Issues, Theology

Archbishop Justin Welby speaks to Radio 4 about the situation in Nigeria

Archbishop Justin gave an interview to Radio 4’s The World This Weekend on Sunday about the kidnap of more than 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria.

Follow the link provided and listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Africa, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Nigeria, Politics in General, Teens / Youth, Terrorism, Theology, Violence, Women

New Book by Tim Keller–Prayer: The Essential Guide

Christians are taught in their churches and schools that prayer is the most powerful way to experience God. But aside from learning prayers by rote, few receive instruction or guidance in how to make the most of this essential Christian act””how to make prayer genuinely meaningful. In Prayer, renowned pastor Timothy Keller delves into the many facets of this everyday act.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Spirituality/Prayer