Daily Archives: June 10, 2014

(RNS) Rick Warren to pastors: ”˜There is no testimony without a test’

Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California, urged his fellow Southern Baptist pastors to draw close to others when they are suffering. He said a small group of men were on the scene within half an hour to comfort him when Matthew died. They were the same people he met with in their times of crises.

“The more intense the pain, the fewer words you should use,” he said. “You need to show up and shut up.”

As Warren closed his sermon, he knelt before the crowd and invited pastors to come forward for prayer if they were suffering with someone who is mentally ill or if they were facing other problems.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Children, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Stress, Suicide, Young Adults

(ACNS) African Bishops and Clergy Brainstorm On Church Financial Sustainability

Primate of the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) and Bishop of Northern Zambia, the Most Revd Albert Chama explained the purpose of the workshop during the opening ceremony held June 6 at the Chamba Valley Exotic Hotel in Lusaka.

He said: “One of the things which the church in Africa grapples with has to do with the financial sustainability of the church. However, this workshop is not about lecturing but learning from what has been done somewhere.”

Archbishop Chama challenged the participants to “open their hearts and minds” and learn from one another. He also emphasised that for the Church in Africa to be successful, there is need to learn from what other dioceses have successfully done and replicate it in their own areas.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance, Stewardship, Theology, Zambia

University of Chichester’s Andrew Chandler. to lecture on future of Church

A spokeswoman from the cathedral said:…“Patterns of ministry and worship have changed enormously and the Church of England is now trying to resolve disputes about women bishops and sexuality. Recently, a former Archbishop of Canterbury raised the possibility that the Church of England might be ”˜one generation away from extinction’. Nobody, or course, knows what future holds ”“ but in this lecture Dr Andrew Chandler will explore and discuss this period of ”˜decline’ and suggest ways in which the church at large might assess its prospects now.”

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

(ABC Aus.) Paul Tyson–The Metaphysics of Money: What the Medievals May Yet Teach Us

This artificial conception of money perhaps lies behind the pathological tendencies of high finance which are destructive of real wealth. Our governments and finance sectors are so often permitted to act in a criminal manner because we assume that money is amoral, disconnected from any right order, and thus open to manipulation by the masters of high finance. If we are to change this situation in a lasting way, we need to change the way we think about money, wealth and power.

We are not, of course, going to banish extortion or amoral instrumentalism just by having better metaphysics. Criminals, extortionist and abusers of power were as common and as powerful in the Middle Ages as they are today. Yet if we do not appreciate the relationship between the prevailing order of wealth and power and the metaphysical assumptions upon which they rest, we will be condemned to repeat the same cycle of inequity and instability.

The main game, indeed, is the struggle for our minds. Plato saw this most clearly. As long as we believe that illusions are reality, we are controlled by those who manipulate the collective illusions that structure the operational norms of the world as we know it.

How do we get money tied to the realities of real human life so that it becomes a fair function of the actual production and distribution of real wealth?

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Church History, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Theology

(Reuters) EU targets Western jihadists on radical websites

Nine European countries endorsed plans on Thursday [this past week] to step up intelligence-sharing and take down radical websites to try to stop European citizens going to fight in Syria and bringing violence back home with them.

The initiative by states that deem themselves most affected by jihadist violence was given new urgency by the killing of three people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels last month.

A 29-year-old Frenchman arrested on suspicion of the shooting is believed to have recently returned from fighting with Islamist rebels in Syria’s civil war, authorities said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

MUSC (Medical Univ. of SC) using genetic mapping for research and personalized treatment of cancer

Air Force veteran Charles Fitch is alive today, most likely because of “personalized” cancer treatment that used to be the stuff of science fiction, all thanks to cancer research and treatment based on genomics.

In regards to medicine, genomics basically refers to the analysis of a individual’s complete set of DNA, or genome, and how to treat diseases based on the mutations or other changes that have occurred to genes in the sequence.

Fitch, a 53-year-old grandfather who lives in Mount Pleasant, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in June 2011, a few weeks after he started having chest pains. Lab results showed that he had a low, and later plummeting, level of platelets in his blood.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology, Theology

Correspondence with Andrew Nunn, Archbishop of Canterbury's Correspondence Secretary

Mr Phelim McIntyre, who states he is ex gay, has published correspondence with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s office, raising concerns about the Archbishop’s policy of imposing Stonewall materials on children in Church of England schools and his subsequent concerns about gatekeeping and the policy of the Archbishop of Canterbury and his office at Lambeth Palace. It is important in itself, and we suggest stands on its own as a matter of concern without other issues raised in the article here

I have decided to post the original letter and the email correspondence between myself and the Correspondence Secretary Andrew Nunn …..

Your Grace

I am writing to you concerning your statement that the Church of England must “embrace” the revolution on human sexuality to express my concerns as to the inviting of Stonewall into Church of England schools to tackle homophobic bullying and to ask you to consider, what I believe to be, a much healthier anti-bullying program that is more in line both with the science and psychology around homosexuality as well as more in line with the position held by the Church of England.

As someone who has worked as a youth worker and a community worker with gay and lesbian special interest group and now amongst the ex-gay community, as well as from personal experience as an adolescent, I am aware of how damaging homophobic bullying is. While I commend the Church of England’s commitment to stamp out bullying I am concerned that by opening the door to Stonewall, the issue will not be tackled in either a healthy way or in line with the position of the Church of England on human sexuality. Stonewall, while not taking the view too publically, believes homosexuality to be biological in cause despite evidence to the contrary. Because of this by allowing Stonewall into Church of England schools they will be given to platform to proclaim the born gay myth. There is also the issue that they are militantly anti the ex-gay message, including giving an award to Patrick Strudwick for his “exposure” of this type of therapy which included the call to persecute those therapist who offer psychological therapy sexual orientation change and their nomination of Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joint, the former Bishop of Winchester, for the “bigot of the year award” for stating in the House of Lords that many people do not believe that science has proven homosexuality to be biological and that some people have successfully changed their orientation from gay to straight, during a debate in the House of Lords.

I also believe allowing Stonewall to bring their anti-bullying campaign into Church Schools because they are focussing on apparently homophobic behaviour at the expense of other acts of bullying. As a Cub Scout leader I know that children of primary school age use words without understanding their meaning. By allowing Stonewall or others to focus on homophobia we are allowing the children to be exposed to details that are not appropriate for that age, while at Secondary school age allowing the focus to be on anti-gay bullying creates an unhealthy hierarchy of bullying where all bullying is wrong.

Finally I also believe that the position Stonewall takes is unhealthy as it reinforces sexual confusion amongst adolescents encouraging them to take labels for sexual orientation. This then has the same result as homophobic bullying amongst the sexually confused, whose testimonies, from ex-gay leaders such as Andy Comiskey and Rev Mario Bergner through to the Stonewall young gay spokesperson , tell as how homophobic bullying reinforced their confusion and caused them to take the label of homosexual/lesbian.

I enclose an introduction to an alternative course from the USA entitled Acception. It is written by Christopher Doyle of International Healing Foundation as a more positive alternative to the pro-gay campaigns developed by Stonewall and their counterparts, and Mr Doyle has stated that this course could be reworked for the UK context. If you would like to discuss this or have any questions of my own esperience please do contact me.

Your faithful servant

(Phelim McIntyre)

Cc Rt Rev Tim Dankin, Bishop of Winchester
Thank you for your 19 July letter to which I have been asked to reply.
Though opposed to same sex marriage for the reasons he gave in his speech to the House of Lords at the Second Reading debate http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5069/archbishop-justins-speech-to-the-lords-on-the-governments-gay-marriage-bill the Archbishop recognises that through Parliament society has made its view very plain that there has been a sea-change in attitude toward homosexuality.
As you say, the Archbishop spoke about this in his Presidential Address to the General Synod http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/5098/there-is-a-revolution-archbishop-justins-address-to-synod and called for the Church to be more aware of the trends in society and more alert to how our words and actions can associate us in other people’s minds with the kind of homophobia that is totally inimical to the Christian Gospel.
Elsewhere, but not in his address, he has mentioned a number of charities and organisations that do excellent work in school tackling homophobia and bullying. Stonewall is one among several such though a widely respected leader in the field.
Yours sincerely

To: Lambeth Palace
Subject: Re: A reply to your letter (Our Ref: 6965)

Dear Mr Nunn

Thank you for your reply to my letter of 19th July. I am sorry to have to say that I am disappointed with it as it does nothing to tackle my concerns about Stonewall’s position on homosexuality that is contrary to the teaching of the Church of England, and their being asked to give advice on this subject when there are other resources available that are just as positive but not contrary to the Church’s teaching. I therefore need to ask for clarification on how the Church of England is going to handle the promotion of homosexuality as normal and unsinful by Stonewall in light of the document that came out under the Listening Process instigated by the previous Archbishop of Canterbury.

Yours sincerely

Phelim McIntyre
Subject: RE: A reply to your letter (Our Ref: 6965)
I think you’ve misunderstood Mr McIntyre. Stonewall is among a number of organisations that have been mentioned in connection with work in schools to tackle homophobic bullying. None of the organisations are being asked by the Church to talk about homosexuality. When it comes to bullying, who better to speak about it than someone who has been bullied for being gay?

Andrew Nunn
Correspondence Secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Palace, London, SE1 7JU,
Subject: Re: A reply to your letter (Our Ref: 6965)

Dear Mr Nunn, I think that you have misunderstood my concerns. As someone who was bullied for being gay and now receives weekly threats of violence (including death threats) because I am publicaly ex-gay I have a better understanding of what teenagers go through than many. I doubt that you have been to a Stonewall anti-bullying presentation or a Schools OUT presentation as within that they state that homophobic bullying is wrong because of the person’s sexuality and go further and state that people are born gay, despite there being no scientific evidence to support this position. This is part of their anti-bullying curriculum. The psychological evidence is that homophobic bullying reinforces sexual confusion, Stonewall ignores this to promote a “born gay” agenda.

As to listening to those who have been bullied for “being gay”, this is why I sent details of the Acception Course which includes testimonies of those who have been bullied for being gay but which does not reinforce the confusion teenagers feels.

I hope that this clarifies my concerns and why neither of your responses have been adequate.

Yours sincerely

Phelim McIntyre
Well Mr McIntyre, since we’re putting cards on the table, I am gay and I have no doubt whatsoever that I was born this way. You utterly contradict my experience and that of the vast majority of gay men and women by promoting a specious theory that people can change their sexuality. All research shows that they cannot. There are doubtless some people ”“ and you may be one of them ”“ who are genuinely bi-sexual and able to chose a heterosexual or homosexual focus to a sexual and emotional relationship, but most people aren’t and can’t. Please understand that your experience ”“ which I do not deny or disparage ”“ is not typical of that of the vast majority of LGBT people.
As you will know, in the USA, Exodus, the Christian ”˜reparative therapy’ group that ruined the lives of untold number of gay men and women has shut up shop and its former leaders have publicly apologised for the terrible harm their organisation did to a large number of homosexuals. And not before time.
In the area of homophobic bullying, the Church must stop telling people what the answer is and with humility listen to find out what the question is. As far as the majority of gay people in this country are concerned, the Church is the problem, not the answer. Archbishop Justin is understandably concerned about that and anxious to listen to their experience and to learn how to move forward with them.

Andrew Nunn
Correspondence Secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Palace, London, SE1 7JU
Subject: Re: A reply to your letter (Our Ref: 6965)

Dear Mr Nunn. As to laying “cards on the table”, nothing in my email was not in my original letter which raises the question as to whether you read it. In the letter I commend the Archbishop of wanting to tackle bullying but raise my serious, experience based, concerns as to the involvement of Stonewall.

Contrary to your claims of being born gay, please may I encourage you to bother to read the scientific evidence as to the biology of homosexuality. Professor Michael King, founder of the Gay and Lesbian Special Interest Group at the Royal College of Psychiatrists and a practicing homosexual stated during a debate at the Houses of Parliament earlier this year that there is no evidence that homosexuality is biological in causation. The American Psychological Association, in their statement against Reparative Therapies, states that there is no evidence for people being “born gay”, as does the Human Genome Project. Both Simon Le Vay, who did the research into the difference in the hypothalmus in gay and straight men, and Dean Hamer, who did the research into the gay gene, also state there is no evidence that people are born gay, infact Dr Hamer has been involved with research that has stated there is no evidence for a genetic component in homosexuality. I can provide details of all the relevant research if you wish. Also, using the Twin Registers in Australia, research has been done into the levels of when, in monozygotic twins where one is gay the other is also gay. The concordance (rate) is 13%, if we compare this to issues where we see evidence for a biological cause, such as breast cancer, we get a concordance of 80%. This raises serious doubts as to your claim of being “born gay”.

As to my testimony – I came out at the age of 13 at at the time had no sexual feelings for females. Under the various definitions I was homosexual. By the time I was in my twenties I was in a gay relationship. Now in my forties, I have not had a homosexual feeling for over 10 years. I am not bisexual by any form of definition as I have no sexual feelings for men. As supported by psychological research that has been presented to annual conference of the American Psychological Association, such as the paper by Jones and Yarhouse, all of which were read for the Anglican Listening Project which I had the privilege to be part of, I have changed my sexuality and I am disappointed that the gatekeeper to the Archbishop of Canterbury would be so discriminatory to dismiss the testimony of healing in such a naive way. You claim not to deny or disparage my experience yet claim that I am bisexual. This shows that your words are not supported by your email.

As to your statement about Exodus International, many groups within Exodus International disagreed with the statement that came from Alan Chambers and told him so, and I can provide links to these statements. These groups have since gone on to form Restored Hope Network and Hope for Wholeness – both of which have people with testimonies for change. It should also be pointed out that Mr Chambers never underwent any form of therapy to change his homosexual feelings so is not qualified to speak out in the way he did. Across the globe there are thousands of people who have been helped and healed by groups that came together under the Exodus umbrella and they are starting to rise up and speak out against the anti-ex-gay bigotry that they are experiencing. As to how harmful these things are, are you aware that the “research” that claims harm, from Dr King and from Schildo and Schroder, carry no psychologically recognised definition of harm and no recognised measurement of harm? That the research, such as Jones and Yarhouse, and Nicolosi et al, have included the issue of harm in the research and found this type of therapy to be no more harmful than any other psychological intervention. Would it shock you to know that the prefered type of therapy for unwanted homosexual feelings, as stated by the United Kingdom Council of Psychotherapy, British Psychological Society, British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, American Psychological Association and other “professional” groups – therapy to accept your sexuality – has no proper research into its safety and effectiveness? That the only papers published have been by the practitioners with no independently viable statistics? That in one case the “evidence” for the acceptance of the clients homosexuality include the person engaging in promiscuous, unprotected sex, the involvement with BDSM practices and the taking of party drugs? How about that the preferred psychological intervention with the National Institute for Clinical Excellence in Health (NICE) for Myalgic Encephalomylitis causes serious harm in over 25% of cases, and NICE’s preferred psychological intervention causes serious harm in nearly 20% of cases treated for anorexia? This compares to less than 10% for Sexual Orientation Change Efforts. Even past presidents of the American Psychological Association who practice therapy to help people accept their sexual orientation support sexual orientation change efforts http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/07/30/sexual-reorientation-therapy-not-unethical-column/2601159/

Please take the time to read the book that came out of the Listening Project of Human Sexuality “The Anglican Communion and Human Sexuality” (SPCK PUblishing ISBN 9780281059638) before commenting further.

In His service

Phelim McIntyre
(ex-gay and proud)
Subject: RE: A reply to your letter (Our Ref: 6965)
You write “I came out at the age of 13 at the time had no sexual feelings for females. Under the various definitions I was homosexual. By the time I was in my twenties I was in a gay relationship. Now in my forties, I have not had a homosexual feeling for over 10 years. I am not bisexual by any form of definition as I have no sexual feelings for men.” ”“ so do you have sexual feeling for women?

Andrew Nunn
Correspondence Secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth Palace, London, SE1 7JU,
Subject: Re: A reply to your letter (Our Ref: 6965)

Yes Andrew, I do have sexual feelings for women and none from men, unlike when I was in my teens when I only had sexual feelings for males and none for women. This reality is something that Peter Tatchell recognises as possible.

Subject: RE: A reply to your letter (Our Ref: 6965)
So you are heterosexual. Why define yourself by reference to something that you no longer are?

Subject: Re: A reply to your letter (Our Ref: 6965)

Because this is my testimony. I was gay and now I am not.

I also need to clarify my concern about Stonewall. I am a qualified youth and community worker and, as part of my job and because of my sexuality at the time, I ran gay/lesbian/bisexual youth clubs and also helped with gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender support groups. I had a number of young people who were sent to the youth group who had expressed a concern that they might be gay who were sent to the youth club because they must have been gay, in a number of cases it was because they were sexually abused by men. Taking the time to talk with them, they had strong sexual feelings towards females and little or none towards men, but when they were molested had had an erection. I have since then talked with guys who have been told they must be gay because of the slightest of things (one got a slight erection when he was tested for bowel cancer). While a lot of teenagers may be sure of their sexuality there are others who are genuinely not sure, and the position that many people take traps some of these in a sexuality that is not theirs. We need to find away to support those who are sure of their sexuality, while not entrapping those who are not yet sure. While Stonewall’s position supports the former it does not help the later.

Subject: RE: A reply to your letter (Our Ref: 6965)

Well let’s not get into a discussion about abuse. I spend a lot of time here dealing with people who have been abused by priests and so know more than you probably think about abuse survivors. And as for young people being ”˜trapped in a sexuality that isn’t theirs’ ”“ well I’ve met plenty of homosexuals who have been trapped in a straight sexuality because of social pressure but never a heterosexual who has been trapped in a homosexual one – perhaps until now.
If you were once attracted to men and now are attracted to women, that’s fine; no one has a problem with that. There are undoubtedly a lot of people who could say the same, or the opposite. One need only think of circumstantial sexual attraction ”“ same sex schools, prison, the armed forces. What very few do however is to self-identify by reference to that historic change, rather than their current sexual preference. It is an issue because the ”˜ex-gay’ movement is so widely discredited and plainly has an anti-gay agenda. You spoke about being threatened and even receiving death threats. It’s not because you don’t fancy men any more, it’s because you identify with an American anti-gay movement that has done terrible harm to people, and which seeks to undermine the credibility of peoples lives and relationships. It is widely regarded (though not formally designated) as what the Americans call a ”˜Hate Group’. And by associating yourself with it, inevitably people will hate you. Sorry.

Sorry Andrew, rather than being the “hate group” that you speak of ex-gays have legally protected status against discrimination. Would a former head of the American Psychological Association speak out in support of the ex-gay movement if it was as widely seen as a “hate group” as you think?

As to abuse, I was sexually assaulted by a woman at the age of 9 and raped by a man when I was 16. As a counsellor I regularly deal with male victims of sexual abuse.

The threats I get are generally worded that I am telling lies because I claim to have changed my sexuality, that I am still/was never was gay, and if I continue to help others then they will use any means to stop me. My testimony frightens people, but that won’t stop me sharing it.


Posted in Uncategorized

(BBC) More Nigerian women 'taken by militants' not far from where 200 were taken

Suspected Boko Haram militants have abducted at least 20 women close to where 200 schoolgirls were kidnapped in northern Nigeria, eyewitnesses say.

The women were loaded on to vans at gunpoint and driven away to an unknown location in Borno state, they add.

The army has not commented on the incident, which occurred on the nomadic Garkin Fulani settlement on Thursday.

Read it all.

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

(CNBC) German think tank ZEW — European Central Bank creating ”˜dangerous’ bubbles

Clemens Fuest, from the Mannheim-based organization best known for its widely-watched economic sentiment index – told German business daily Handelsblatt that the euro zone region could be at a “turning point.”

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this…I am concerned by the danger that the ECB is producing new bubbles with its policy of cheap money,” he told the newspaper.

“We have all the ingredients of a bubble: The prices of real estate and stock markets continue to rise, and on the bond markets, yields are falling despite high risks.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, European Central Bank, Globalization, Psychology, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(Coffeehouse Contemplative) Jeff Nelson–Three things that pastors are not

Last week, funeral director Caleb Wilde wrote a blog post about who to seek out when dealing with grief. His basic advice: find a therapist before you seek out your pastor. The reasoning goes that therapists, with their training in the psychological aspects that arise in times of grief, are better qualified than clergy to deal with things like depression.

I agree. In fact, this article caused me to think about a few roles that pastors are expected to take on to varying degrees, but ultimately are unqualified to fulfill. Beyond a few continuing education classes that help us better understand some of the issues that inevitably arise in ministry with individuals or organizations, to be a pastor is to be one thing and not another. A certain amount of dabbling is inevitable and a certain amount of understanding is necessary, but there come points when certain issues are best left to the experts.

So I present three things that pastors are not, even though at times maybe we or our parishioners think we are or want us to be. In the interest of balance, I’ll present a similar list of things that we are later this week.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Ephrem of Edessa

Pour out upon us, O Lord, that same Spirit by which thy deacon Ephrem rejoiced to proclaim in sacred song the mysteries of faith; and so gladden our hearts that we, like him, may be devoted to thee alone; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who didst graciously send on thy disciples the Holy Spirit in the burning fire of thy love: Grant to thy people to be fervent in the unity of faith; that abiding in thee evermore, they may be found steadfast in faith and active in service; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to thee, when my heart is faint. Lead thou me to the rock that is higher than I; for thou art my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in thy tent for ever! Oh to be safe under the shelter of thy wings!

–Psalm 61:1-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Prime Real Estate at the Cemetery Is a Plot Next to an Idol

For Mr. Goines and others with similar ideas about where they want to be when they die, it is a different kind of hero worship, and puts a new twist on the real estate cliché “location, location, location.” It could be the ultimate form of devotion, putting yourself closer to someone you admired than you ever were in life ”” especially if the only words you ever spoke to a favorite celebrity were “Can I have your autograph?” or “Can I take a selfie with you?” ”” or it could be the ultimate way to elevate oneself. You may not be famous, but proximity to someone who was could bestow some prestige.

For Mr. Goines and others with similar ideas about where they want to be when they die, it is a different kind of hero worship, and puts a new twist on the real estate cliché “location, location, location.” It could be the ultimate form of devotion, putting yourself closer to someone you admired than you ever were in life ”” especially if the only words you ever spoke to a favorite celebrity were “Can I have your autograph?” or “Can I take a selfie with you?” ”” or it could be the ultimate way to elevate oneself. You may not be famous, but proximity to someone who was could bestow some prestige.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, Music, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Secularism

(CT) Why Matthew Vines' new book Is Wrong About the Bible and Same-Sex Relationships

Throughout the book, Vines declares that he holds a “high view” of the Bible. From this perspective, he says, one can still affirm gay relationships. One of the main weaknesses of God and the Gay Christian is that Vines’s methodology of biblical interpretation clashes with the high view of the Bible he claims to hold. A high view of Scripture is more than just talking about Scripture. It is learning from Scripture. Vines certainly talks about Scripture, but he tends to emphasize his experience and tangential background information, downplaying Scripture and its relevant literary and historical context.

Experiences do inform our interpretation of Scripture. As a racial minority, biblical texts on sojourners and aliens mean more to me than to someone who is not a racial minority. However, experiences can also hinder the interpretation of Scripture. Although it is impossible to completely distance the interpretive process from one’s experiences, it is important to recognize our biases and do our best to minimize them. A high view of Scripture involves measuring our experience against the Bible, not the other way around.

It appears to me that Vines starts with the conclusion that God blesses same-sex relationships and then moves backwards to find evidence. This is not exegesis, but a classic example of eisegesis (reading our own biases into a text). Like Vines, I also came out as a gay man while I was a student. I was a graduate student pursuing a doctorate in dentistry. Unlike Vines, I was not raised in a Christian home. Interestingly, a chaplain gave me a book from a gay-affirming author, John Boswell, claiming that homosexuality is not a sin. Like Vines, I was looking for biblical justification and wanted to prove that the Bible blesses gay relationships. As I read Boswell’s book, the Bible was open next to it, and his assertions did not line up with Scripture. Eventually, I realized that I was wrong””that same-sex romantic relationships are a sin. My years of biblical language study in Bible college and seminary, and doctoral research in sexuality, only strengthened this conclusion. No matter how hard I tried to find biblical justification and no matter whether my same-sex temptations went away or not, God’s word did not change. Years later I found out that the gay-affirming chaplain also recognized his error.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture