Daily Archives: July 6, 2014

New priest Damaskos 'fit right in' at Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity

When Father Aristotle Damaskos was growing up, he and his Catholic cousins would always “play mass.” “And I was always the priest,” Damaskos, a Greek Orthodox priest for 26 years, said with a smile.

But it wasn’t until a church camp trip to Greece at the age of 15 that Damaskos felt the call from God to become a priest. Originally, he had wanted to be a meteorologist, but he realized “it was too much math.” As Damaskos likes to say, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”

“God had other plans for me,” Damaskos said. Fifteen years later, he was ordained.

Read it all from the local paper.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Novak Djokovic wins Wimbledon title in 5 sets over Roger Federer

Novak Djokovic won his second Wimbledon title and denied Roger Federer his record eighth by outlasting the Swiss player in five sets Sunday.

Djokovic wasted a 5-2 lead, and a match point, in the fourth set but held on for a 6-7 (7), 6-4, 7-6 (4), 5-7, 6-4 Centre Court victory that returned the Serbian player to the No. 1 ranking.

It was Djokovic’s seventh Grand Slam title and broke a streak of three consecutive losses in major finals and in five of his past six.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

The PR from the new Episcopal Church Diocese in South Carolina about the Lawsuit

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

Prayer Vigil for the Trial (at Camp St. Christopher Prayer Center) Starting Monday, July 7th, 2014

From here:

During the duration of the legal proceedings involving the Diocese that begin on Monday, July 7th, The Prayer Center at St. Christopher in cooperation with the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul will coordinate a Prayer Vigil from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily on weekdays. Participants can commit to pray at The Prayer Center, the Cathedral, or in the privacy of their own church or home. Those that commit to pray at The Prayer Center can also book overnight accommodations (space permitting) at a reduced rate. To participate in this Vigil, please call Rhonda at St. Christopher at 843.768.0429 or Kelli at the Cathedral at 843.722.7345.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Spirituality/Prayer, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

Read it all and note especially the NEXT Mere Anglicanism conference in 2015–Salt and Light; The Christian Response to Secularism.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Media

Lights, Camera, Mortician! The Rise of 'Fun Funerals'

“Sometimes I’m asked to do both [magic and funerals] at once,” said Lee, 76, a licensed funeral director from White Plains, New York. “People have come to know both sides of me, so they ask. And I say, why not?”

Lee, who long ago claimed the moniker “mortgician” in his AOL email address, wouldn’t call himself a pioneer or part of any special movement in after-death care. But he’s among many who are turning the idea of the solemn, sedate funeral on its head.

Call it the rise of the personalized “fun funeral.”

The wide range of what’s considered “creative” or “unusual” when burying a loved one means there are little to no statistics on such practices, but industry experts say redesigning the standard funeral is increasingly popular.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Death / Burial / Funerals, Economy, Humor / Trivia, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Grant, O God, that we who have been signed with the sign of the Cross in our baptism, may never be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified, but may manfully fight under his banner against sin, the world, and the devil, and continue Christ’s faithful soldiers and servants unto our lives’ end.

–The Book of Common Prayer

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Bible Readings

And God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to pronounce the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, mastered all of them, and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks; and fear fell upon them all; and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Many also of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all; and they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew and prevailed mightily.

–Acts 19:11-20

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Argentina and the Netherlands Survive and Advance in the World Cup

Congratulations to both teams, and my hats off to Costa Rica who played their hearts out.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Globalization, Men, Sports

ESPN Magazine Profiles Calling for Christ, a ministry to major league and minor league umpires

Today, the abuse that umpires take is more subtle — but in a way just as sinister. Their mistakes are played back in slow motion by 24-hour sports networks, then piled on by talk-radio hosts and tweeting fans. Major league calls can now be challenged with instant replay, and strike zones get checked by a soul-crushing digital technology called Zone Evaluation. Death threats have been known to appear on their children’s Facebook pages. Understandably, some umpires have found they need someone to talk to. And so when Pastor Dean Esskew’s phone rings in the middle of the night, as it often does, he knows to pick it up and say “What’s wrong?” instead of “Hello.”

Pastor Dean, as folks around baseball know him, is the leader of Calling for Christ, a nonprofit ministry that for the past 11 years has tried to ease the anguish of major league and minor league umpires by keeping them close to God. Esskew is 48 and enormous, with a booming, smoky drawl and his own cologne-scented weather. He ministers exclusively to umps, piling through stadium crowds with an awkward, hammering limp acquired years ago when a horse bucked him on the farm in Oklahoma where he lives with his wife. (Debrah Esskew runs a parallel ministry for umpires’ wives and girlfriends.)

Before Calling for Christ, Pastor Dean spent 20 years leading small rural churches; his dream was to preach in front of a stained glass window someday, somewhere nice. Now he flies and drives between ballparks all summer to hold informal late-night Bible groups at sports bars after games. He spends about 20 weeks on the road every season, visiting four or five crews a week.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Sports

(WSJ Saturday Interview) China's New Freedom Fighters

Hong Kong has beautiful vistas, per capita income of $38,000 and partial autonomy from China that includes broad civil liberties, but on Tuesday it also had as many as 500,000 people in the streets in the largest public rally in a decade. Days before, 800,000 Hong Kongers””nearly a quarter of the electorate””ignored government warnings and voted in a mock referendum calling for democratic rights.

These developments in a vital economic hub have China displeased. The Beijing government tried to head them off last month by clarifying its Hong Kong policy in an official white paper, but the effect was to highlight Beijing’s heavy hand, stoking local anger. Soon cyberattacks targeted the online polling system of the pro-democracy referendum. And as Hong Kongers rallied on Tuesday, China’s mainland Web censors were in overdrive, erasing even more material than on the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre last month.

Beijing won’t find much relief ahead if Benny Tai has his way. Over the past year, the youthful 49-year-old law professor has gone from leading legal seminars for Hong Kong civil servants to being branded an “enemy of the state” by Beijing-backed media. His offense: founding a group called Occupy Central with Love and Peace, which threatens civil disobedience in Hong Kong’s main business district unless China delivers free elections for the local chief executive in 2017. Mr. Tai believes that if 10,000 people credibly threaten to paralyze the city’s commercial core, Beijing will sue for peace.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Asia, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, History, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Theology

(BBC Magazine) Does LGBTQQI Include Enough Letters or Does it Need expansion?

The term LGBT, representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, has been in widespread use since the early 1990s. Recent additions – queer, “questioning” and intersex – have seen the term expand to LGBTQQI in many places. But do lesbians and gay men, let alone the others on the list, share the same issues, values and goals?

Anthony Lorenzo, a young gay journalist, says the list has become so long, “We’ve had to start using Sanskrit because we’ve run out of letters.”

Bisexuals have argued that they are disliked and mistrusted by both straight and gay people. Trans people say they should be included because they experience hatred and discrimination, and thereby are campaigning along similar lines as the gay community for equality.

But what about those who wish to add asexual to the pot? Are asexual people facing the same category of discrimination. And “polyamorous”? Would it end at LGBTQQIAP?

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Psychology, Sexuality, Theology

(The Atlantic) After Karzai–a Profile of Afghanistan’s outgoing president

Even the future role of the country’s warlords is uncertain. Karzai has kept most of these men off balance and relatively weak during his tenure, and deserves credit for doing so. Yet these men are not gone from public life. They have continued to profit from contracts and investments largely tied to the presence of foreign militaries: vested economic interest is a major factor that keeps them loyal to the democratic system. Indeed, in the 12 and a half years of Karzai’s rule, many have sanitized their images””shorter beards, fancier suits, more politically correct language. For better or worse, their sons and daughters, who seem more attuned to democratic practices, are now beginning to step into their fathers’ shoes.

Spanta says he doubts anyone could have fared better than Karzai in such a fragmented society. And yet the next president of Afghanistan will inherit a broken chain of command, weak institutions, and a variety of local powers that may prove difficult to bring to heel””all the more so because he will lack the personal connections that Karzai worked so hard to cultivate. “The question of whether the forces from the past will succeed again” or whether modernizing forces will take the country forward””“this has not been finalized.” Almost none of the achievements made under Karzai appear irreversible, Spanta lamented. Instead, Afghanistan remains a place stuck between modernity and its own splintered history. Which way it will move next is anyone’s guess.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General, Theology

FT Magazine Interviews Actress Juliet Stevenson

If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

Roll up my sleeves and see it as an opportunity.

Do you believe in assisted suicide?

Very strongly. I have joined Dignity in Dying.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

No. I wish I did but I can’t.

If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?

Around eight.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Movies & Television, Theology, Women

(Philip Jensen) Pastoral Ministry and Changes

Just as Christians can never retire from serving the Lord Jesus Christ, so also we can never retire from serving other people. The work of prayerfully proclaiming Christ, his cross and resurrection is a way of life more than an occupation.

One form of this service is that of a pastor: that is a shepherd or under-shepherd of the Great Shepherd. Being a pastor involves caring for and leading a flock. We misuse the word ”˜pastor’ when we confine it to ”˜counselling’, especially counselling an individual. Pastoral work is different to the work of the modern counsellor and a pastor does more than care for an individual sheep; he leads a flock.

A shepherd whose flock consists of one sheep is not a very profitable shepherd. He is a hobby farmer with a pet, and the emphasis is on hobby rather than farmer and pet rather than sheep. A pastor may leave the ninety-nine to search for the one lost sheep, but his aim is to bring it back to the flock, not spend all his time caring for the one that was lost. The nature of the gospel is to bring people into fellowship with each other and the pastor is to draw them together. While the good shepherd of Ezekiel 34 and John 10 will lay down his life for the sheep, the work of the pastor in these passages is more specific than simply self-sacrifice. It involves gathering the scattered sheep into a flock, leading them to rich pasture and judging between them so that the fat sheep do not trample the lean.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology