Daily Archives: May 17, 2014

(BBC) Africa leaders declare 'war' on Nigeria Boko Haram

African leaders meeting in Paris have agreed to wage “war” on Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamic militants.

President Hollande of France, who hosted the summit, said regional powers had pledged to share intelligence and co-ordinate action against the group.

Last month it abducted 223 schoolgirls in north-eastern Nigeria, where it is based. Fresh attacks were reported in Nigeria and Cameroon overnight.

Read it all.

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

(Bloomberg) Narendra Modi Tells India’s Hindu Heartland He’s Doing God’s Work

Incoming Indian leader Narendra Modi told thousands of supporters in one of Hinduism’s holiest cities that he represented a break from past governments after winning the nation’s biggest electoral mandate in 30 years.

“There’s a lot of work that god has put me on this earth for,” Modi said yesterday on the banks of the Ganges River in Varanasi, his constituency, after attending a prayer service at a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction and transformation. “A lot of it is dirty work, but I am up to the task.”

Thousands of people threw rose petals at Modi’s convoy as it made its way through the streets of Varanasi, with onlookers and security officials taking pictures. Earlier, Modi greeted supporters in New Delhi, where his Bharatiya Janata Party said it would nominate him formally for prime minister this week.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Hinduism, India, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(NC Register) Tom Nash–Hell Is for Real, Too

Heaven Is for Real, the story of a young boy who reportedly had a real-life experience of heaven during emergency surgery, is currently playing in movie theaters. The film is not doing as comparatively well as the eponymous, bestselling book that inspired it ”” more than one million e-book copies alone of which have been sold ”” but it will likely inspire other Christian films, given that its gross receipts have exceeded its relatively modest budget more than sixfold thus far.

The book and the movie’s success have reminded me that people can also come to believe that God and heaven exist by realizing that the devil and, thus, hell are real, and sometimes through a shocking personal experience.

In his short pontificate, Pope Francis has spoken often of the reality of the devil, (read here too) and the accompanying existence of hell, which is definitely a place to be avoided.

Read it all and follow all the links.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Eschatology, History, Movies & Television, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(BBC) Women bishops: London diocese vote boosts latest proposal

The proposed law allowing women to be made bishops has received a boost with a vote in favour by the Church of England’s London diocese.

In the key House of Laity the diocesan synod backed the law by 43 votes to 17.

The vote does not directly affect the final decision on the proposal by the Church’s general synod in July.

Read it all and you can read a diocese of London article here as well.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Women

Greg Goebel–my experience in Anglican Church Planting

I don’t consider myself to be a “Church Planter” for two reasons. First, I was not the initial planting priest in either of the two church plants I’ve been a part of. At Church of the Apostles, Columbia, I was a seminarian, and then a staff member under Fr Chip Edgar during its planting phase. At Resurrection I became the first full-time Rector, as the church was still in a “plant” phase. Fr Victor Oliver had helped the initial core group get organized, and the church was already meeting on Sundays for worship with 40-50 people.

That said, I’ve had the great opportunity to see two churches grow from plant to fully established local church, and to be a part of leadership on teams that helped make that happen.

Second, I am not a big risk-taking, entrepreneurial, dynamic guy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(NPR) Doctors' Ignorance Stands In The Way Of Care For The Disabled

Though have physical or mental disabilities, studies show that of medical schools teach their students how to talk with disabled patients about their needs.

More than half of medical school deans that their students aren’t competent to treat people with disabilities, and a similar percentage of graduates agree. Accreditation and licensing boards don’t require clinicians to demonstrate knowledge or skills in treating patients with disabilities.

Numerous have found people with disabilities receive inferior health care, including less information about prevention and fewer screening tests.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Theology

(Michael Gerson) Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam Our disconnected working class

[Robert] Putnam has spent much of his academic life as America’s chief chronicler of declining social institutions ”” a dour task, cheerfully performed. In the 1990s, he began drawing together the disparate evidence of declining attendance at bowling leagues, church services and Moose lodges. His data points included the falloff in yearly picnic attendance and a rise in the incidence of drivers giving each other the finger.

It was the composite image of one of the most powerful forces of modernity: a rising individualism that “liberates” people from social commitments that make their lives orderly and pleasant.

Even worse, the extent of this trend is not distributed equally in society. Putnam’s recent work ”” to be summarized in a forthcoming book called “Our Kids” ”” focuses on how the consequences of institutional decline are felt disproportionately among the working class, leaving vast numbers of youths disconnected from the promise of American life.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology

(Books and Culture) David Martin reviews S. J. D. Green's The Passing of Protestant England

The decline of religion in sometime Protestant Britain is a matter of serious historical interest not because Britain is still a world power, but because it was the first country to enter modernity through the furnaces of the first industrial revolution and now lies with sometime Protestant Holland close to the epicenter of northwest European secularity. Interestingly the British pattern is reflected in Australasia, above all in New Zealand, which is England and Scotland geographically “upside down.” The other two closely affiliated societies, the U.S. and Canada, are sufficiently different in their religious patterns to continue to intrigue historians and sociologists working on comparative trajectories of secularization.

Nearly half a century has passed since I first raised questions about secularization as a universal trend and almost as long since I proposed a delimited theory of secularization pointing to sharply varied historical patterns even in its Western European epicenter. Since then the debate has shifted back and forth, with contributions in Britain by scholars like Grace Davie stressing mutation and the exceptional character of “secular Europe,” or Steve Bruce (like Simon Green in his new book, following Bryan Wilson) stressing irreversible and potentially universal decline and religious privatization, or analyses of contemporary spirituality by scholars like Linda Woodhead and Paul Heelas. Something depends on how broadly you define religion, and much depends on how wide you cast your net back in time and across cultures globally. However you look at it, Britain offers a major instance, either of the universal fate awaiting religion as a significant social force everywhere, or else of peculiar features shared with much of northwestern Europe. The debate could hardly be more fundamental.

Simon Green is a historian writing about the institutional death of Protestantism, particularly in its Puritan form as the most characteristic expression of English religion during the period between 1920 and 1960.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Books, Church History, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture

(NYT) For India’s Persecuted Muslim Minority, Caution Follows Hindu Party’s Victory

Like real estate agents the world over, Rahul Rewal asks his clients if they have children or pets, since both limit options. But there is another crucial but often unspoken question: Are they Muslim?

“I tailor the list of places that I show Muslims because many landlords, even in upper-class neighborhoods, will not rent to them,” Mr. Rewal said. “Most don’t even bother hiding their bigotry.”

Discrimination against Muslims in India is so rampant that many barely muster outrage when telling of the withdrawn apartment offers, rejected job applications and turned-down loans that are part of living in the country for them. As a group, Muslims have fallen badly behind Hindus in recent decades in education, employment and economic status, with persistent discrimination a key reason. Muslims are more likely to live in villages without schools or medical facilities and less likely to qualify for bank loans.

Now, after a landslide electoral triumph Friday by the Bharatiya Janata Party of Hindu nationalists, some Muslims here said they were worried that their place in India could become even more tenuous.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Hinduism, History, India, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Heavenly Father, by whose gracious will we have been born again by the Word of truth: Make us ever swift to hear that Word and responsive to its saving message, that henceforth we may live as those who are partakers of thy new creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Frank Colquhoun

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Finally, brethren, we beseech and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you learned from us how you ought to live and to please God, just as you are doing, you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from unchastity; that each one of you know how to take a wife for himself in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like heathen who do not know God; that no man transgress, and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we solemnly forewarned you. For God has not called us for uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
But concerning love of the brethren you have no need to have any one write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do love all the brethren throughout Macedo”²nia. But we exhort you, brethren, to do so more and more, to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we charged you; so that you may command the respect of outsiders, and be dependent on nobody.

–1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(THE) Rowan Williams–The academy’s greatest gift is in cultivating a critical citizenry

This means that we must be crystal-clear about the difference between training people to perform publicly useful tasks, and educating people who will ask constructively critical questions in public life, who will understand the forces that shape it and know how seriously (or not) to take the confused mass of propaganda and fashion that swirls around in the overpopulated information culture of our age. The most important bit of “impact” any university course can have is to help people to become intelligent citizens ”“ and that means helping them to see what a critical argument looks like, and to see what genuine thinking is. Part of the function of a university that works really well is to bring different kinds of thinking together, and bring them into conversation so that we learn to recognise the same rigour and high expectations in other fields of study and skill.

Learning to appreciate that good thinking is both diverse and convergent, and that it works in many different ways but is always characterised by rigorous self-awareness and self-challenge, is essential to a healthy public life. Citizens who have never thought about what good argument looks like, or who have never been challenged to recognise the solidity and quality of a different sort of skill from their own, are at the mercy of those who know how to press buttons for emotional responses, self-defensive responses, that just reinforce what makes us feel safer and better. All good education should be teaching us how to be free from that kind of slavery.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

Statement from the Ang. Church in New Zealand on the Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to Death

Following the sentencing to death of a pregnant Sudanese woman for refusing to abandon her Christian faith, the Anglican Archbishops of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia are calling on all people of good-will to raise their voices in protest.

Archbishops Brown Turei, Philip Richardson, and Winston Halapua, say it is hard to find words to describe the plight of the woman. The Archbishops believe people across all faiths, who seek charity, love, and justice, will find the court’s decision hateful and heartless

Meriam Ibrahim and her Christian husband were married in 2011. They have an 18-month-old son. A court, in the Sudan capital of Khartoum, has sentenced Meriam to flogging for marrying a non-Muslim and to death for abandoning the Muslim faith for Christianity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --South Sudan, Africa, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sudan, Theology, Women