Daily Archives: June 12, 2014

(RNS) Turkey’s ”˜Rockin’ Imam’ gets green light from religious authorities

Turkey’s religious authorities have given the go-ahead for the country’s controversial “Rockin’ Imam” to keep on rocking.

Ahmet Muhsin Tuzer, a Muslim prayer leader from the coastal town of Kas, raised eyebrows last year after he formed the band FiRock and performed as its frontman.

His case ”” as far as anyone can tell ”” is unprecedented. There have not been any ”” to date ”” public cases of Turkish imams forming rock bands.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Turkey

(Barna Group) Millennials: Big Career Goals, Limited Job Prospects

When it comes to work and career, more than anything this generation wants to be inspired. Finding a job they are passionate about is the career priority Millennials ranked highest (42%). They don’t want a job merely for the sake of a paycheck, and they are willing to wait to find the right job. Some may interpret this willingness to wait as a sign of courage, while others may view it as colossal irresponsibility. Having grown up in an era where parents and teachers were constantly telling them they could “be whatever you want to be,” many Millennials see this decision as their prerogative, even if it means having to live off unemployment benefits or parental assistance.

Because job satisfaction and fulfillment are so important to this generation, Millennials refuse to compromise on what they want out of work, which is a lot: They cite working for themselves, a job adaptable to their strengths, having a lot of variety, and the freedom to take risks as essential career priorities, in addition to being able to fund their personal interests. Working in a positive work environment where their input is valued is extremely important to them, suggesting Millennials prefer to work in organizations where the structure is “flatter” and less hierarchical.³ Millennials want regular feedback and expect to be praised when they do a good job. They also want to work in a stimulating atmosphere, where they can release their creative passions. For many who are older, these characteristics and expectations make the Millennials a challenge to work with.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology, Young Adults

Important History Reminder from the Economist–50 Years Ago Nelson Mandela is imprisoned for life

Read it all and you can link to the 1964 article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, History, Prison/Prison Ministry, South Africa

(Telegraph) Will New Church of England schools adopt an 'enitrely open admissions' policy?

Under Government rules, new faith-based schools opened as part of the free schools or academies programmes can only allocate half of places along religious lines.

But…[the Rev Nigel Genders] suggested many would go further by declaring that no Anglicans would be given priority in the admissions process.

“In practice, most of the new schools that the Church of England has provided over recent years have all been entirely open admissions policies so that they would serve their local community,” he said. “They have been built for that particular purpose.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Education, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Daniel Henninger–The fall of Mosul is as big as Russia's seizure of Crimea

Mosul’s fall matters for what it reveals about a terrorism whose threat Mr. Obama claims he has minimized. For starters, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) isn’t a bunch of bug-eyed “Mad Max” guys running around firing Kalashnikovs. ISIS is now a trained and organized army.

The seizures of Mosul and Tikrit this week revealed high-level operational skills. ISIS is using vehicles and equipment seized from Iraqi military bases. Normally an army on the move would slow down to establish protective garrisons in towns it takes, but ISIS is doing the opposite, by replenishing itself with fighters from liberated prisons.

An astonishing read about this group is on the website of the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War. It is an analysis of a 400-page report, “al-Naba,” published by ISIS in March. This is literally a terrorist organization’s annual report for 2013. It even includes “metrics,” detailed graphs of its operations in Iraq as well as in Syria.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iraq, Middle East, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Telegraph) Repent or die: ISIS forces announce rules for Iraqi territory they now control

The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham has set out a list of rules for residents of Mosul as it seeks to impose its Islamist rules on Iraq’s second city.

Refering to the area by its ancient name, Nineveh, the group says it has a clear set of instructions for the remaining occupants of the city and surrounding area.

Firstly it tells “anyone who is asking,” who its members are and what it is about: “We are soldiers of Islam and we’ve taken on our responsibility to bring back glory of the Islamic Caliphate.”

All Muslims in the city have bee instructed to attend mosque for the five daily prayers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Terrorism, Violence

(World) Christians flee Mosul’s terrorist takeover

“Ninety-nine percent of the Christians have left Mosul,” pastor Haitham Jazrawi said today following the takeover of Iraq’s second largest city””and its ancient Christian homeland””by al-Qaeda-linked jihadist militants.

A mass exodus of Christians and Muslims is underway from the city of 1.8 million after hundreds of gunmen with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) overran the city and forced out the Iraqi army and the police. Reports indicate Iraqi army units abandoned their posts, in the process giving up U.S.-provided weapons and vehicles, including Humvees, in what was a key base of operations for U.S. military forces throughout the Iraq war. Long a city of diverse religious and ethnic makeup””with Arabs and Kurds, and a large population of Assyrian Christians””Mosul was a flashpoint during the eight-year conflict.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Facebook and Twitter Launch World Cup Hubs

Days before the opening of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Facebook and Twitter have launched tournament coverage areas. Both social networks figure to have a big presence in the way people watch and follow the action and they are understandably trying to capitalize on that with some custom features.

Facebook, the world’s largest social network, has launched a page that aggregates popular public posts about the World Cup and features a match tracker. Also unveiled was a fan map, which shows a geographic breakdown of the fans of 10 prominent player Facebook pages. For example, it shows that Cristiano Ronaldo, the world’s most followed player on Facebook, has 84 million fans. What might surprise is that by Facebook’s data, he’s huge in Sri Lanka, where his popularity is 20.5% “above average.”

Twitter is using the World Cup as a chance to sign up new users, enticing people to join by giving new accounts the opportunity to declare allegiance to a country and select a pre-made image as a new avatar. Twitter has also created a custom World Cup hub for the tournament and for individual matches. You can also now tweet to include a country’s flag, a feature called “hashflags” that was in use during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Pop star Shakira showed the feature off in what appears to be a coordinated launch for the product. Twitter will use these mentions in its “World Cup of Tweets,” which will go live on Thursday.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Brazil, Globalization, Media, Men, South America, Sports

Archbishop Justin Welby's speech to the Credit Union Foundation Yesterday

From a Christian point of view, within the context of the church, this drive that we feel to engage 16,000 parish churches and 8,500 full-time stipendiary clergy in this springs from our sense of our faith. There’s a story that Jesus tells of two debtors, one who owes a huge sum of money, one who owes a little. The one who owes a huge sum of money is summoned by his creditor, who says, ‘You’re going to pay or you’re going to prison.’ The guy begs for forgiveness and gets it, and goes away and beats up the guy who owes him a little sum of money in order to get repaid, and Jesus points out the injustice of that.

There are a lot of meanings to that parable, but one of them is that debt is a form of slavery – and debt to a bad lender is a particularly unendurable form of slavery. The credit unions are trying to be the merciful lender, the one who has a clear system of values and ethics, and builds what they do around a value of the common good.

We’ve seen a huge increase in people’s knowledge about the existence of credit unions. In the past there have been three significant areas of challenge. First of all, as you know the regulatory system was virtually impossible for a credit union to make any money in in other words to pay its cost of capital and therefore to survive. They all needed subsidy ”“ that can’t work, it’s not sustainable. Secondly, credit unions needed a lot of help and support in some of their systems and the way they worked. And thirdly, they weren’t known.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(BBC) #BBCtrending: #BritishValues… according to Twitter

What are British values? The Twittersphere has its own answers.

England’s Education Secretary Michael Gove has announced plans to promote “British values” in schools – including democracy, mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths. The proposal comes after the “Trojan Horse” scandal, in which a group of fundamentalist Muslims were alleged to be plotting to “takeover” some schools in Birmingham.

But many on Twitter have been joking about exactly what British values are – using the hashtag #BritishValues. There have been more than 25,000 tweets since Monday.

One of the most retweeted came from the @SoVeryBritish account which wrote: “Waiting for permission to leave after paying for something with the exact change #BritishValues.” British Brand Marmite seized on the opportunity, and shared a photo of a jar of Marmite, with the simple words “Me”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, England / UK, Media

(First Things) N. T. Wright on Same Sex Marriage

Now, the word “marriage,” for thousands of years and cross-culturally has meant man and woman. Sometimes it’s been one man and more than one woman. Occasionally it’s been one woman and more than one man. There is polyandry as well as polygamy in some societies in some parts of history, but it’s always been male plus female. Simply to say that you can have a woman-plus-woman marriage or a man-plus-man marriage is radically to change that because of the givenness of maleness and femaleness. I would say that without any particular Christian presuppositions at all, just cross-culturally, that’s so.

With Christian or Jewish presuppositions, or indeed Muslim, then if you believe in what it says in Genesis 1 about God making heaven and earth””and the binaries in Genesis are so important””that heaven and earth, and sea and dry land, and so on and so on, and you end up with male and female. It’s all about God making complementary pairs which are meant to work together. The last scene in the Bible is the new heaven and the new earth, and the symbol for that is the marriage of Christ and his church. It’s not just one or two verses here and there which say this or that. It’s an entire narrative which works with this complementarity so that a male-plus-female marriage is a signpost or a signal about the goodness of the original creation and God’s intention for the eventual new heavens and new earth.

If you say that marriage now means something which would allow other such configurations, what you’re saying is actually that when we marry a man and a woman we’re not actually doing any of that stuff. This is just a convenient social arrangement and sexual arrangement and there it is . . . get on with it. It isn’t that that is the downgrading of marriage, it’s something that clearly has gone on for some time which is now poking it’s head above the parapet. If that’s what you thought marriage meant, then clearly we haven’t done a very good job in society as a whole and in the church in particular in teaching about just what a wonderful mystery marriage is supposed to be. Simply at that level, I think it’s a nonsense. It’s like a government voting that black should be white. Sorry, you can vote that if you like, you can pass it by a total majority, but it isn’t actually going to change the reality.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Men, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Women

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who hast made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on the face of the earth, and didst send thy blessed Son Jesus Christ to preach peace to them that are afar off, and to them that are nigh: Grant that all the peoples of the world may feel after thee and find thee; and hasten, O Lord, the fulfillment of thy promise to pour out thy Spirit upon all flesh; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–G. E. L. Cotton

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Cast your bread upon the waters,
for you will find it after many days.
Give a portion to seven, or even to eight,
for you know not what evil may happen on earth.
If the clouds are full of rain,
they empty themselves on the earth;
and if a tree falls to the south or to the north,
in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie.
He who observes the wind will not sow;
and he who regards the clouds will not reap.
As you do not know how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.

In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.

Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to behold the sun.

For if a man lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity.

–Ecclesiastes 11:1-8

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

([London] Times) Hopes rise for Meriam Ibrahim as Sudan takes heed of global outcry

A Christian woman condemned to be hanged for apostasy in Sudan is being kept in comfortable conditions in prison and will have her appeal verdict next month, according to her lawyers, amid indications that the international campaign to free her is having an effect.

Meriam Ibrahim gave birth in chains, in Omdurman women’s prison, after she had been sentenced to 100 lashes and condemned to death last month for renouncing Islam. She was jailed after a judge ruled that she was a Muslim because of her absentee father’s religion. Her marriage to Daniel Wani, an American-Sudanese Christian, was annulled by the court.

After an international outcry, there are indications that the Sudanese government of President al-Bashir is beginning to take heed of her case.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --South Sudan, Africa, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sudan, Theology

John Blandenburg, System Analyst at the Medical University of South Carolina, RIP

I am sure you have all had this experience at one time or other, but this friend and parish member died suddenly and I received the news early this morning. He was 69 and looked fine when I saw him on Sunday. One never knows what any day will bring.

It is still a shock to the system. Please Keep Marsha Blandenburg and this family in your prayers.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Science & Technology

(AIP) Joe Carter–Unemployment is a Spiritual Problem

A 2011 study of the long-term unemployed published by the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University also found that half of participants experienced shame and embarrassment that led them to isolate themselves from friends and associates. Among the long-term unemployed, 31.1 percent reported spending two hours or less with family or friends the previous day, versus 21.5 percent among short-term unemployed adults.

Long-term unemployment is not just a mental health crisis; it’s also a spiritual crisis. And the church is the only institution in American that can adequately respond. “Fortunately, the church is in a unique place to explain Christ’s restoration of work,” says Michael Jahr, “the meaning of suffering, and the hope and peace that result from putting our trust in him.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

(CT) Is Same Sex Marriage Destroying the United Methodist Church?

At the grassroots, schism is unpopular. A June poll, commissioned by a UMC agency, indicates that rank and file UMC members are opposed to a church schism over homosexuality. “We found that regardless of a person’s position on homosexuality, members felt strongly that the church could offer a positive and different voice to the broader conversation occurring in society today,” said John Deuterman, president of Corporate Research, which conducted the survey for the UMC Communications agency.

“They overwhelmingly reject the idea that the disagreements over this issue were justification for splitting the church.”

Nothing definitive is likely to occur before 2016. That’s the year the UMC will convene in Portland, Oregon, its next General Convention””the legislative body of the global church with authority to speak for the entire denomination.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Other Churches, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture