Daily Archives: July 7, 2014

(RNS) Stanley Hauerwas reflects on end times, end of his life

RNS: The “Left Behind” books series has sold more than 60 million copies. What do you think when you hear that so many have been influenced by that brand of eschatological thought?

SH: My reaction to the “Left Behind” series is one of amusement and pathos. Pathos because so many people have misunderstood Christian eschatological convictions and turned them into speculative accounts of the so-called “rapture.” I take it to be a judgment against the church that that kind of speculation has gained a foothold.

RNS: You argue that “we may be living during a time when we are watching Protestantism coming to an end.” Some people may look at the hundreds of millions of Protestants in the world and call you crazy. Explain.

SH: My suggestion is meant to be a reminder that Protestantism is a reformed movement. When it becomes an end in itself it becomes unintelligible to itself. Protestants who don’t long for Christian unity are not Protestant. There is also the ongoing problem that Catholics have responded to the Protestant critique in a way that the Protestant critique no longer makes much sense. Accordingly, the question is: why do we continue to be kept apart?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, Eschatology, Theology

Pittsburgh TEC Bishop Reflects on Changes to Pennsylvania Marriage Laws

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), State Government, Theology, Theology: Scripture

For Those of you who are Twitterites, the Diocese of South Carolina is now on twitter

Check it out.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Media

[Lent and Beyond] Prayer for South Carolina Sunday July 6th

On Tuesday July 8, the “Episcopal Church in South Carolina” rump group and the Diocese of South Carolina will go to trial before Circuit Judge the Honorable Diane S. Goodstein. The day before will be spent in depositions.

Psalm 107:39-40 (ESV)
When they are diminished and brought low
through oppression, evil, and sorrow,
he pours contempt on princes
and makes them wander in trackless wastes;

O give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His steadfast love endures forever. His steadfast loves endures in South Carolina.

Our Father in heaven,
You have taught us that unless You build the house, they labour in vain that build it. Unless You keep the city, the watchman wakes but in vain. We humbly lift up this trial to You.
If any demonic princes are involved in this litigation, pour Your contempt upon them and make them wander in trackless wastes. Stretch out Your hand against the wrath of Your enemies.
May Your steadfast love, O Lord, and Your wisdom be made manifest in this trial. We entrust You to build the legal legacy of this trial and to watch and keep the legal proceedings. Your right hand is mighty to save. Amen.

O give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His steadfast love endures forever. His steadfast loves endures in South Carolina.
Psalm 127:1, 138:7, 107:1

Previous collection of general prayers for the Diocese of South Carolina.

Read it all and Lent and Beyond have an index of all prayers for South Carolina here

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

A.S. Haley–The Two-Faced Episcopal Church

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, TEC Bishops, Theology

(W Post) In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are

Ordinary Internet users, American and non-American alike, far outnumber legally targeted foreigners in the communications intercepted by the National Security Agency from U.S. digital networks, according to a four-month investigation by The Washington Post.

Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.

Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or “minimized,” more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans’ privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S.residents.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Science & Technology, The U.S. Government, Theology

(Bloomberg View) The Chestnut–The Tree That Made America

If the greatest living American were a tree, it would probably be the chestnut. Nat King Cole sang about it. Abraham Lincoln probably built his log cabin from it. The telegraph era, which required tall poles of strong wood, was enabled by it.

In the first half of the 20th century, however, the American chestnut fell victim to a fungus unintentionally imported from China, and the tree that once dominated the forest canopy of the eastern U.S. all but disappeared. Now it is on the cusp of a comeback, a testament to America’s scientific ingenuity.

For years, scientists tried without success to develop a strain of chestnut tree that was immune, using traditional hybridization methods to instill resistance from Chinese chestnut trees into the American variety. Now plant scientists have found a way to develop a chestnut tree that fights off the fungus.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Theology

(WSJ) As Food Prices Rise, The Federal Reserve Keeps a Watchful Eye

U.S. food prices are on the rise, raising a sensitive question: When the cost of a hamburger patty soars, does it count as inflation?

It does to everyone who eats and especially poorer Americans, whose food costs absorb a larger portion of their income. But central bankers take a more nuanced view. They sometimes look past food-price increases that appear temporary or isolated while trying to control broad and long-term inflation trends, not blips that might soon reverse.

The Federal Reserve faces an especially important challenge now as it mulls the long-standing dilemma of what to make of the price of a pork chop.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Federal Reserve, Globalization, Personal Finance, The U.S. Government

A Pastoral Letter on the Assisted Dying Bill from the Bishop of Shrewsbury (Mark Davies)

I don’t need to remind you of the widespread concern about the ill-treatment of the aged and those at the end of life in some of our care homes and hospitals – and this in spite of the many dedicated people working in these fields of care. It seems all the more incomprehensible, then, that we would be considering a change in the law to diminish the protection given to those most vulnerable.

Next month a Bill to legalize “assisted suicide” for those at the end of life will begin its passage through Parliament. This legislation will be presented as a “compassionate” measure, whose sole aim is to relieve the suffering of the sick and the aged. Yet, it is far from compassionate to remove the legal protections provided for some of the most vulnerable members of society. The proposed change to our laws will license doctors to supply lethal drugs to assist the deaths of those expected to live for six months or less. If Parliament allows exceptions to the laws which protect the very sanctity of human life, it would be impossible to predict where this will end. In 1967, the politicians who legalised the killing of unborn children in limited and exceptional circumstances did not foresee how violating the sanctity of human life would lead to the wanton destruction of millions of lives. It is not surprising that many vulnerable people, including those with disabilities, are today worried by Lord Falconer’s “assisted dying” Bill. It might sound reasonable to speak of “choicesat the end of life” – as the campaigners for euthanasia do – but what choice will be left for many?

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

Archbishop Justin Welby visits the Province of the Indian Ocean

On the final leg of his visit to Primates in Southern and Central Africa, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and his wife, Caroline, travelled from South Africa to Mauritius.

[The] Bishop of Mauritius is the Most Revd Ian Ernest, Archbishop and Primate of the Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean.

The Province, covering Madagascar, Mauritius, and Seychelles, was founded in 1973. It comprises the dioceses of Antananarivo, Antsiranana, Fianarantsoa, Mahajanga, Mauritius, Seychelles, Toamasina and Toliara.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Anglican Province of the Indian Ocean, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury

(C of E) Malcolm Brown on Assisted Suicide–Is the choice to be killed the same as choosing a car ?

Of course choice is good. I aspire to more of it and so do people who have enjoyed much less of it than I have. Offer me more choice, at least in theory, and I’ll say Yes. I’ll answer your loaded opinion poll and tell you I am in favour of this choice and that choice because who, in this culture, can be against more choice without being a heretic? But talk about choice on that day in the future when I am wholly dependent on the people around me, when my life is almost over and I have far more chance of pleasing others by getting out of their way quietly than of making much difference to my own situation, and my choice won’t be about me, it will be about them. And those last days of life, surely, are precisely the moment when choices ought to be about the one approaching the end – and no one else.

How many Parliamentarians who will shortly debate the Falconer Bill on assisted suicide are people with wide enough life experience to empathise with those who see more choice as a threat and not a blessing? How many subscribers to the BMJ put themselves, day by day, into the shoes of people for whom consumer choice is someone else’s luxury, even if their editor chooses to use his journalistic position to make a ruling on behalf of ethicists everywhere?
Some of them, to be sure – maybe many of them. Will they encourage the rest to dig deep into their imaginations, to empathise with people who are not articulate, who are used to being done unto, and who have lived on the receiving end of other’s choices all their lives?

They are in Parliament to govern on behalf of all citizens. The weak. The poor. The vulnerable. The dying. The ones who don’t want to be a nuisance. The ones who do not regard choice as an unalloyed good, as well as the people who are used to choosing. And the medical profession too – despite the sweeping assertions of the BMJ about the nature of ethics, are also in business for those people.

Will the Parliamentarians and the medics empathise beyond their own kind? I hope so. I do hope so.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(The State) In South Carolina, Seeking to Break a cycle of recidivism in young prisoners

A statewide program aimed at curbing recidivism rates among youthful offenders has been producing dividends in its early years, South Carolina Department of Corrections officials report.

The department incorporated the Intensive Supervision Services as a part of the Division of Young Offender Parole and Reentry Services in 2011. The program sought to reduce the rate that youthful offenders 17 to 25 years old return to jail. That rate historically has exceeded 50 percent, marking what the SCDC considered the least successful rate of any age group under parole supervision.

So far, the program has served 1,240 youthful offenders, and of that number, 57 violated terms of their parole ”“ and went back to jail ”“ while 140 others have graduated from the program and reentered their communities. A parole violation, like the failure of a drug test, doesn’t always result in a return to jail but can result in a graduated response such as additional rehabilitation or tracking bracelets.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Prison/Prison Ministry, Theology

(Bible Gateway Blog) How to Care for Your Soul: An Interview with John Ortberg

How does “hurry” impede the healthy development of the soul?

Pastor Ortberg: Hurry blocks the development and health of the soul because the soul requires being rooted in the presence of God. And, hurry by its nature makes me unable to be fully present before God or fully present before other people. Hurry causes me to be conflicted and divided in my desires, and it causes my thoughts to jump around as Henri Nouwen used to say, “like a monkey in a banana tree.” There’s nothing that I can do that’s rooted in the kingdom when my soul is hurried.

What do you mean, “The soul is a ship that needs an anchor”?

Pastor Ortberg: The soul has to stay rooted. Our souls, because they mostly lie beyond our conscious control, can easily drift and slide along. We see this with many people and often with ourselves. We go from moment to moment, day to day without being clear about our deepest values, without being truly grateful for this day that we have received without being rooted in God. And the soul that is anchored in God is the only soul that can find peace.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Books, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

Working Around God: Technology, the Pace of Life, and the Shabbos Elevator

Today is Saturday. This is evident on the face of my sleep-deprived neighbor, here in the fluorescent hallway, shifting her whining toddler impatiently from one hip to the other, scowling at the elevator doors which refuse to open. It is also evident in my own frustration at being obliged to wait several minutes before embarking on errands””jingling the keys in my pocket and watching the painfully slow sequence of floor numbers on the elevator panel. I am caught in the human traffic jam that visits my 20-story building every weekend.

Why the hold up? I live in a historically Jewish building in New York City. On most days, its two elevators service each section of this rather monolithic structure””just enough to keep up with the flow of residents going up and down. But come Friday evening, one of the cars is switched into Shabbos mode, meaning that it stops at every single floor automatically, backing the tenants up like resentful clogs in beige-yellow arteries. It does so for religious reasons, since many observant Jews avoid pressing electric buttons on Shabbat.

Read it all from the Atlantic.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NPR) Baroness Sayeeda Warsi–Religious Difference Is A Strength For The Country

WARSI: It had. And therefore, we needed to respond. And we’ve responded in a number of ways, both proactively and reactively respond to challenges that may arise. And the backlash towards the British Muslim community after the tragic murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, the murder that you mentioned on the streets of London, was exactly one of those cases. And what we found, interestingly, after that tragic murder was that we found a unified British Muslim community who was unequivocal in its condemnation of this attack.

MARTIN: But what about the people who do feel that their country is changing in ways that they don’t like? I mean, for example, the whole question of full-face coverings, veils. I know you’ve spoken about that issue. I know that, you know, France has taken the position that these kind of full-face coverings should just not be permitted in the public sphere, particularly in public places. You’ve taken a different perspective. But what about people who say, look, I don’t want to deal with a bank teller whose face is covered? I don’t to deal with a school bus driver whose face is covered? I don’t want to deal with a teacher in my children’s elementary school whose face is covered? I don’t want that.

WARSI: Well, first of all, Britain isn’t France. And I think that’s a good thing.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord Jesus Christ, thou good shepherd of the sheep, who didst come to seek and to save that which was lost: Inspire us and thy whole Church, we beseech thee, with thine own compassion for those who have wandered from thy fold and are lost; help us to be witnesses to them of thy love; and teach us what thou wouldest have us to do towards leading them home to thee; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water,
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

–Psalm 1

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Frank Bruni–Is Joe Riley of Charleston, South Carolina the Most Loved Politician in America?

Politicians around the country speak of him reverently, casting him as the sagacious Obi-Wan Kenobi (or maybe Yoda) of local government and noting that no current mayor of a well-known city has lasted so long.

“To maintain enormous popularity in your city and equal reservoirs of respect professionally among your peers ”” I don’t think there’s anyone who’s been able to do that like he has,” Stephen Goldsmith, the former mayor of Indianapolis, told me.

I had to visit him. I was exhausted with all the cynicism, including my own, about politics and politicians, and I craved something and someone sunnier. I was curious about the perspective of a leader who had clearly gotten a whole lot right.

What makes for good governance? Riley’s observations warranted attention.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(USA Today) Rise in part-time workers worries some experts

The high number of involuntary part-time workers is consistent with an average workweek that was unchanged at 34.5 hours for the fourth straight month in June, says Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist of The Economic Outlook Group.

“It stands to reason that if the economy is improving, we would see employees put in more time on the job,” Baumohl says. “This is usually a leading indicator of both future hiring and pay increases.”

Instead, he notes, the economy has been running in place this year. Second-quarter growth will likely offset a 2.9% first-quarter contraction caused partly by bad weather.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

(The Millions) Mystery and Manners: On Teaching Flannery O’Connor

[Bryan Giemza] recommends her recently released Prayer Journal and “A Good Man is Hard to Find” as good starting points for students. Her journal allows him to “point out the various prayer traditions she canvasses and how she shared in the aspirations and worries of someone their age, albeit someone with an incredible depth of field, spiritually speaking. She commands respect that way.” I like Giemza’s method in teaching her popular story. He tells students “things tend towards their ends, that we are creatures of habit, and that virtue has to be practiced. I give them a series of statements to respond to, like ”˜I’m basically a good person.’ A majority of my students agree with that position, and aren’t aware that it flies in the face of orthodoxy, and certainly goes against Flannery O’Connor’s belief. They’re usually stunned to learn that no less an authority than Christ said that no man is good. And those who condemn the grandmother have to be shown their own warts, just like those who despise the mother in ”˜Everything That Rises Must Converge,’ (pdf) with her patronizing coin, need to be reminded of the story of the widow’s mite.”

O’Connor is one of the best at peeling back our public covers and showing those warts. Like so many writers chided for their disturbing content, criticisms of her work are often less about the texts themselves, and more about our refusals as readers, students, and teachers to examine our own lives. Perhaps even more than her odd characters, it is the “stark racism” of O’Connor’s world that pushes away some of Giemza’s students. But Giemza doesn’t want them to blink; “the danger . . . is that students who (think they) live in a post-racial age must still contend with the sins of the fathers, and I am surprised by how many can blithely accept that those sins have been expiated. Perhaps they don’t see its urgency, but here in the region that helped the nation understand its first fall (i.e. the legacies of our foundation in slavery), we have a duty to try to come to grips with it. It remains the essence of the fallen-ness in her work, and its insistence that God is no respecter of persons or the hierarchies of the temporal order, which can be inverted at a stroke.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Christology, Education, History, Other Churches, Poetry & Literature, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Soteriology, Teens / Youth, Theology, Women, Young Adults

(NPR) Faith Strengthens Aging Parents As They Care For Their Son

Justin, who has cerebral palsy and was born missing parts of his brain, also has a seizure disorder, which has gotten worse lately. He’s often silent during his seizures, which means he has to sleep with his parents so they can tell when he needs help. Judy says caring for Justin is a lot like taking care of a newborn….Except Justin is not a baby. He just turned 16 and weighs 100 pounds. He can’t talk, he can’t walk and he’ll always require around-the-clock care. Like the estimated 17 million people in the U.S. taking care of their special-needs kids, Judy’s days largely consist of making sure Justin’s needs are met….

The faith community is a major source of support for James and Judy Lee. Every Sunday the family attends Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Sacramento. James welcomes people’s empathy, but he rejects their pity. He recalled a man at a support group once asking him if he hated God because of Justin’s disability.

“I said, ‘No, I’m actually thankful that He chose us to take care of Justin,’ ” he says.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

A Pastoral Letter from Bishop Mark Lawrence Regarding the Upcoming Trial

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Grace and Peace to you from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 1:3

I write on the eve of the upcoming trial between the Diocese of South Carolina and The Episcopal Church scheduled, God-willing, to take place in St. George, SC from July 8””18, 2014 and under the jurisdiction of the Honorable Diane S. Goodstein. Much work by our legal team under the leadership of Mr. Alan Runyan has already been done. The staff and members from many of our parishes, as well as the diocesan staff, have logged countless hours in the detail work of discovery. Much prayer has been invested by our clergy, vestries, intercessors, and the rank and file members of our congregations. For all of this I am profoundly grateful.

The path that has brought us as a diocese to this hour has been long and winding. Yet through it all we have been guided by a desire to be faithful to the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as we have received it ever striving to be mindful that we have been entrusted with this Truth, this Good News and rich heritage, in order to share it with those who have yet to come into the reach of Christ’s saving embrace….

Read it all.

Posted in * Admin, * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Featured (Sticky), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology