Daily Archives: July 30, 2014

Nigeria: Anglican Archbishop Okoh Urges Boko Haram to Embrace Dialogue

The Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Nigeria Most Reverend Nicholas D. Okoh has urged the Boko Haram insurgents to lay down their arms and embrace dialogue to stop the bloodletting that has pervaded the country.

Addressing newsmen at the sidelines of its second synod organised by the Diocese of Kubwa in Lugbe at the weekend, Rev Okoh said the best way to have a comprehensive end to the insecurity in the country was for the gunmen to come forward and “discuss issues as is done in civilized environment”.

He said the attempt on the life of former Head of State Retired General Muhammadu Buhari last Wednesday in Kaduna forebodes worse days ahead.

“It sends signal of insecurity. And again, its sends another signal that is let everybody, east, west, north, south, Christians, Muslims, African traditional religionists put hands together and stop this terrorism. Nobody is spared, nobody is free, and nobody is safe,” said the Anglican Primate.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Gallup) Religion Remains a Strong Marker of Political Identity in U.S.

Even as overall party identification trends in the U.S. have shifted over the past six and half years, the relationship between religion and party identification has remained consistent. Very religious Americans are more likely to identify with or lean toward the Republican Party and less frequently identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, compared with those who are moderately or nonreligious.

Gallup classifies Americans as “very religious” if they say religion is an important part of their daily lives and that they attend religious services every week or almost every week. That group constituted 41% of all U.S. adults in the first half of 2014. “Nonreligious” Americans (30% of Americans in 2014) are those who say religion is not an important part of their daily lives and that they seldom or never attend religious services. The remaining group, 29%, are classified as “moderately religious.” These people say religion is important in their lives but that they do not attend services regularly, or that religion is not important but that they still attend services.

From 2008 to June 2014, nonreligious Americans have been the most Democratic of the three religious groups, with a net Democratic value ranging between +38 and +19 over that period. Those who are moderately religious have also tilted Democratic, with net values ranging from +23 to +1. Those who are very religious are least Democratic, with net values in the negative range, meaning that on average, this group identifies with or leans toward the Republican Party more than the Democratic Party.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sociology

A Statement from Archbishop Justin Welby on the crisis in Gaza

“You can’t look at the pictures coming from Gaza and Israel without your heart breaking. We must cry to God and beat down the doors of heaven and pray for peace and justice and security. Only a costly and open-hearted seeking of peace between Israeli and Palestinian can protect innocent people, their children and grand children, from ever worse violence.

“My utmost admiration is for all those involved in the humanitarian efforts on the ground, not least the medical team and staff at Al Ahli Arab Hospital. Providing relief and shelter for those displaced is a tangible expression of our care and concern, and I encourage Church of England parishes and dioceses, as well as the wider Communion, to pray for them and support the Diocese of Jerusalem’s emergency appeal.

“While humanitarian relief for those civilians most affected is a priority, especially women and children, we must also recognise that this conflict underlines the importance of renewing a commitment to political dialogue in the wider search for peace and security for both Israeli and Palestinian. The destructive cycle of violence has caused untold suffering and threatens the security of all….”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Israel, Middle East, Religion & Culture, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle, Theology, Violence

(USA Today) Kirsten Powers: Iraqi Christians' Nightmare

Human rights lawyer Nina Shea described the horror in Mosul to me: “(ISIS) took the Christians’ houses, took the cars they were driving to leave. They took all their money. One old woman had her life savings of $40,000, and she said, ‘Can I please have 100 dollars?’, and they said no. They took wedding rings off fingers, chopping off fingers if they couldn’t get the ring off.”

“We now have 5,000 destitute, homeless people with no future,” Shea said. “This is a crime against humanity.”

For the first time in 2,000 years, Mosul is devoid of Christians. “This is ancient Nineveh we are talking about,” Shea explained. “They took down all the crosses. They blew up the tomb of the prophet Jonah. An orthodox Cathedral has been turned into a mosque. … They are uprooting every vestige of Christianity.” University of Mosul professor Mahmoud Al ‘Asali, a Muslim, bravely spoke out against ISIS’ purging of Christians and was executed.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

(Faithstreet) Bob Smietana–You Might Want to Fact-Check Your Pastor’s Sermon

[This illustration I heard is a…] great story about the power of a good deed. There’s just one problem: Almost nothing about this story is true. It’s one of the most popular myths about Churchill, according Snopes.com and the Downers Grove, Illinois-based Churchill Centre.

How do I know this?

During the sermon, I stopped listening to the pastor and instead turned my eyes on my cell phone. Something about the story just didn’t sit right ”” it was too good to be true. So whatever spiritual lesson I was supposed to learn in the sermon was soon overshadowed by the wisdom of a Google search.

Things get even worse when a pastor starts quoting statistics.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Sociology

Wednesday Morning Fun–Billy Joel and Jimmy Fallon Form 2-Man Doo-Wop Group

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Humor / Trivia, Movies & Television, Music

(Bloomberg) Russia Sanctions Spread Pain From Putin to Halliburton

U.S. and European Union sanctions against Russia’s Vladimir Putin threaten to shut off some of the world’s largest energy companies from one of the biggest untapped energy troves on the planet.

As violence escalates in eastern Ukraine between government and separatist forces, the EU yesterday sought to punish Russia for its involvement by restricting exports of deep-sea drilling and shale-fracturing technologies. The U.S. followed suit, with President Barack Obama announcing a block on specific goods and technologies exported to the Russian energy sector.

“Because we’re closely coordinating our actions with Europe, the sanctions we’re announcing today will have an even bigger bite,” Obama told reporters yesterday at the White House. “Russia’s energy, financial and defense sectors are feeling the pain.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Ukraine

(Vat. Radio) One Roman Catholic priest leads flock through the violence in Gaza

While more than 200 thousand Palestinians have fled Gaza since the war began, and more being added daily, some remain in resistance. Among them is Fr George Hernandez, pastor of the Catholics in Gaza, at Holy Family Church in Zeitun, where he stays to care for his flock while bombs continue to fly overhead and land too close to home.

Fr. Hernandez spoke to Vatican Radio where he described the situation on the ground and how the war has struck the Catholic community:

“Unfortunately, the resistance movement is situated near houses and in the streets. For us, this was a problem yesterday. At a certain point, we could not leave the house. Then the bombs fell. One house near the church was hit and there have been some major damage to our rectory and parish school”.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Israel, Middle East, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle, Theology, Violence

(Globe and Mail) Ubaka Ogbogu: Fertility doctors must not decide the cultural fate of the unborn

Should a fertility treatment clinic implement a policy requiring patients to use only ethnically or racially matched gamete donors? If the idea of such a policy already triggers some element of moral revulsion, you need not read further. But for argument’s sake, here’s why a controversial policy that was in effect until last year at Calgary’s only fertility clinic, and which requires patients to use racially matched sperm donors, is morally, ethically, and legally objectionable.

The policy suggests that a child is disadvantaged by not having an ethnically matched parent. This is a dangerous idea that stigmatizes children who are part of ethnically mixed families. Besides, there is not a shred of evidence that suggests the welfare of a child born (with or without donor gametes) to a person of different ethnicity or race is diminished by the mere fact of that difference.

Individuals who do not have fertility issues are free to seek out partners of any race, colour, ethnicity or creed for procreation purposes. Why then should those seeking fertility treatment be limited to ethnically matched donors? Such limitation stifles patient choice and makes a mess of the ethical and legal concept of autonomy, which is fundamental to medical decision-making in our society. Indeed, it violates professional practice guidelines issued by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, which stipulate that patients should “be provided with the opportunity to consider and evaluate treatment options in the context of their own life circumstances and culture.” Simply put, decisions regarding a future child’s ethnicity should be made by parents, not by doctors.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Canada, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology, Theology

Archbishop Justin Welby’s statement on the first UN anti-trafficking day

“I am very pleased that the United Kingdom Government is bringing forward legislation to combat a shameful and shadowy practice that deprives people of their freedom and their God-given dignity. I hope MPs and Peers will take this opportunity to agree to a series of robust measures, not least in the area of business supply chains, that set the standard for the rest of the world.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

A Prayer for the Feast Day of William Wilberforce and Anthony Ashley-Cooper

Just and eternal God, we offer thanks for the stalwart faith and persistence of thy servants William Wilberforce and Anthony Ashley-Cooper, who, undeterred by opposition and failure, held fast to a vision of justice in which no child of yours might suffer in enforced servitude and misery. Grant that we, drawn by that same Gospel vision, may persevere in serving the common good and caring for those who have been cast down, that they may be raised up through Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Church History, England / UK, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God who hast made us in thine image, and who, sustaineth us in our failures, preserve us, we be seech thee, from presumption and despair, and grant that we may serve thee with steadiness and patience; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–The Pastor’s Prayerbook

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name for ever; may his glory fill the whole earth! Amen and Amen!

–Psalm 72: 18,19

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Ransoming Citizens, Europe Becomes Al Qaeda’s Patron

Kidnapping Europeans for ransom has become a global business for Al Qaeda, bankrolling its operations across the globe.

While European governments deny paying ransoms, an investigation by The New York Times found that Al Qaeda and its direct affiliates have earned at least $125 million in revenue from kidnappings since 2008, of which $66 million was paid just in the past year.

In various news releases and statements, the United States Treasury Department has cited ransom amounts that, taken together, put the total at around $165 million over the same period.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Terrorism, Theology

(First Things) Maureen Mullarkey–eschatological Confusion

Every age selects its symbols, preferring some over others, to give expression to those unspoken inclinations of the collective soul. The signs and rituals that betoken traditional eschatology””Last Rites among them””are losing their resonance. We have given a quietus to the death knell, silenced the treble of the Sanctus bell. Altar rails, sturdy emblems of distinction between the sacred and profane, surrendered dominion to modernity’s self-confidence. The sovereignty of modern man spurns genuflection. Our clergy grow uneasy in clerical dress.

And those direful old frescoes of the damned? Their claim on art increases as their hold on lives diminishes. The damned exist for us now only in horror movies. We have lost sight of them among ourselves. Allegories of the weighing of souls ended with those generations who trembled to speak of God as a consuming fire. Now we speak only of love. Nothing hangs in the balance for us good folk. St. Michael has put down his scales and taken up guitar.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Eschatology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Gallup) Reports of Alcohol-Related Family Trouble Remain Up in U.S

More than one in three Americans (36%) say drinking alcohol has been a cause of problems in their family at some point, one of the highest figures Gallup has measured since the 1940s. Reports of alcohol-related family troubles have been much more common in recent decades than they were prior to 1990.

Gallup updated its longstanding trend on this question in its July 7-10 Consumption Habits poll. When first asked in 1947, 15% of Americans said alcohol had been a cause of family problems. The percentage remained low in the 1960s and 1970s, before it ticked up — to an average of 21% — during the 1980s.

Reports of family problems due to drinking increased further in the 1990s (27%) and 2000s (32%). The average has leveled off at 32% since 2010, although this year’s 36% exceeds the current decade’s average.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Alcohol/Drinking, Alcoholism, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Theology