Daily Archives: September 5, 2014

([London] Times) Former Israeli President Shimon Peres urges Pope to create religious UN

As Nato leaders met in Wales yesterday to discuss how the international community should respond to religiously motivated violence in the Middle East, Shimon Peres, the former Israeli President, visited Pope Francis in the Vatican to propose a “United Nations of Religions” to counter the rise of religious extremism.

“In the past, most wars were motivated by the idea of nationhood. Today, though, wars are launched using above all religion as an excuse,” Mr Peres told the Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana (Christian Family), before explaining his proposal at a meeting with the Pope.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who joined Palestinian President Abu Mazen and Pope Francis to pray for peace in the Vatican a month before the outbreak of war in Gaza, said the real United Nations was no longer up to the challenge, since it lacked the armies possessed by states and the conviction produced by religion.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Inter-Faith Relations, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(AP) Roger Federer thwarts Gael Monfils in 5 Sets at the US Open

Clearly frustrated by his play and opponent, Roger Federer whacked his racket on the top of the net after a missed volley. Moments later, he barked at the chair umpire: “What’s wrong with you, man?”

Not long after that, Federer found himself in the precarious position of twice being one point from defeat.

Steady as ever, even at 33, Federer held on. Coming all the way back from a two-set deficit, and saving two match points along the way, Federer edged 20th-seeded Gael Monfils of France 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 on Thursday night to reach the US Open semifinals for the first time since 2011.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Men, Sports

(Mil. JS) Milwaukee Episcopal bishop opens door to blessing same-sex unions

Two years after the Episcopal Church voted to allow the blessings of same-sex unions, Milwaukee’s bishop has opened the door for blessings to take place in his diocese.

But the new rite, created by Milwaukee Bishop Steven A. Miller, will be available only to those couples already married by civil authorities, and only in churches where the vestry, or parish council, signs off on its use.

The decision, outlined by Miller in a letter to clergy dated Aug. 29, appears to be a compromise between the personal convictions of the bishop, who has criticized the rite approved by the national church as deficient, and most of the clergy in the diocese, who had been pushing for him to allow its use locally.

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

(Telegraph) Archbishop of Canterbury offers monastic gap year at Lambeth Palace

It has become an essential rite of passage for many young people and a chance to “find themselves” while trekking in the Andes or joining a Buddhist retreat.

But now the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, is making a surprise move into the gap year market by starting a new monastic community in Lambeth Palace for young people to experience a life of prayer and meditation.

In a major break with tradition, the Archbishop is inviting 16 young people to move into the 800-year-old palace by Thames, opposite the Houses of Parliament, for a year.

Read it all and you can find more information there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Teens / Youth

(WSJ) Christopher White–Surrogacy Gives Birth to an Unusual Alliance

New York state, Minnesota and Washington, D.C., all have pending legislation that would legalize the practice of commercial surrogacy””paying someone to have a baby on your behalf. Reproductive technology has made surrogacy possible since the 1980s, but it remained relatively rare until recent years as the technology improved and the legalization of same-sex marriage increased the number of childless couples eager to have children.

The Catholic Church has long opposed surrogacy, whether paid or unpaid. Nowadays, with increasing pressure for the legalization of paid surrogacy, the church has found itself with an unfamiliar ally: feminists.

The Catholic Church and women’s rights groups are accustomed to clashing over policy matters involving contraception and abortion. But now the two camps can often be found working hand in hand when it comes to protecting both women and children from being exploited in the growing and largely unregulated fertility industry.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology, Theology

(Al Jazeera) With US youth losing religion, evangelicals struggle to spread ”˜good news’

“I have been given the task of sharing the gospel,” said Brandon McCauley, an 18-year-old who just finished his senior year at Lebanon High School in Ohio, where he ran a lunchtime Bible study program. “I am offering you the opportunity to experience Jesus Christ,” McCauley exhorted fellow students, as he debated whether to pursue the ministry instead of higher education.

“I like being different,” said McCauley, explaining his motivation to tell classmates that they will end up in hell if they aren’t saved. “If you sin, you deserve death,” McCauley yelled, before getting choked up and concluding, “I’m the reason that He had to die ”¦ I am accepting that You died on the cross for me.”

American adults under 30 increasingly identify with no religion whatsoever, but some teenagers on the edge of this demographic are enthusiastically embracing faith. As the fraction of unaffiliated, agnostic, and atheist surpasses one-third of young people, proselytizing denominations are trying to win over the so-called “nones.”

A landmark Pew Research from 2012 shows that attachment by young people to organized religious bodies is on the decline.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology, Young Adults

(CSM) Kids a major target as Boko Haram gains ground in Nigeria

When Janine Morna arrived in northern Nigeria in March to study child abductions by local militias, few outside the region had any idea of the scope of the problem.

That changed abruptly on the evening of April 14 – 15, when members of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram stormed a secondary school in the northeastern town of Chibok and captured some 300 teenage girls.

Suddenly, child kidnappings in northern Nigeria ”” which had concerned human rights researchers like Ms. Morna for years ”” were global front-page news. Around the world, nations pledged aid and counterterrorism assistance, while #BringBackOurGirls floated to the top of trending topics on Twitter. It gave many who live and work in the region hope that change was imminent.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Church Times) Half the Bishops in the C of E were educated privately

When the present Archbishop of Canterbury’s appointment was announced, commentators noted that he, the Prime Minister, and the Mayor of London made a trinity of Etonians at the top of the Establishment.

His response was that he was defined not by his education but “because I love and follow Jesus Christ” (News, 16 November, 2012).

Data collected by the Church Times shows that he is not alone in being educated privately. While he is the only Etonian, 48 (exactly 50 per cent) of the 96 serving bishops whose schooling could be determined were educated in the independent sector. Thirty-five (36 per cent) attended a grammar school; just 13 per cent attended a comprehensive school.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Education, England / UK, Religion & Culture

A Conversation With Dr Philip Turner

Interviewed by Fr Jonathan Mitchican who we thank for this

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, - Anglican: Analysis, Episcopal Church (TEC), Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(TECOPA) Taskforce for Reimagining TEC issues a letter to the Episcopal Church

As the Taskforce for Reimagining The Episcopal Church (TREC) has progressed in our work, we have come to see the raising and unbinding of Lazarus as a helpful way of understanding this moment in the life of The Episcopal Church. We believe Jesus is calling our church to new life and vitality, but the church is held back by its bindings””old ways of working that no longer serve us well.

We write this as we begin the final months of our work, to give you an update about our thinking and emerging recommendations for your prayerful consideration and feedback. We will publish our final report and specific legislative proposals in December 2014….

The Episcopal Church’s structures and governance processes reflect assumptions from previous eras that do not always fit with today’s contexts. They have not adapted to the rapidly changing cultural, political, and social environments in which we live. The churchwide structures and governance processes are too disconnected from local needs and too often play a “gating” or regulatory role to local innovation. They are often too slow and confusing to deal decisively with tough and urgent tradeoffs or to pursue bold directions that must be set at the churchwide level. Our study and observations would suggest, for example, that:

â–  General Convention has historically been most effective in deliberatively discerning and evolving the church’s position on large-scale issues (e.g., prayer book revision, reform of clergy formation and discipline canons, women’s ordination, same sex blessings). This should continue to be the primary role of General Convention….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Heavenly Father, the Father of all wisdom, understanding, and true strength: We beseech thee look mercifully upon thy servants, and send thy Holy Spirit into their hearts, that when they must join to fight in the field for the glory of thy holy name, then they, strengthened with the defence of thy right hand, may manfully stand in the confession of thy faith, and continue in the same unto their lives’ end; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Nicholas Ridley (c.1500-1555)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Now Paul and his company set sail from Paphos, and came to Perga in Pamphyl”²ia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem; but they passed on from Perga and came to Antioch of Pisid”²ia. And on the sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. After the reading of the law and the prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, “Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it.” So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said:

“Men of Israel, and you that fear God, listen. The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. And for about forty years he bore with them in the wilderness. And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance, for about four hundred and fifty years. And after that he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. Then they asked for a king; and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king; of whom he testified and said, ”˜I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ Of this man’s posterity God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. Before his coming John had preached a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John was finishing his course, he said, ”˜What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’

–Acts 13:13-25

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AP) US plans major border security program in Nigeria to thwart Boko Haram

The United States is preparing to launch a “major” border security program to help Nigeria and its neighbors combat the increasing number and scope of attacks by Islamic extremists, a senior U.S. official for Africa said Thursday.

Nigerian insurgents have begun attacking villages in neighboring Cameroon and have been seizing land in northeast Nigeria where they proclaimed an Islamic caliphate.

Assistant Secretary of State Linda Thomas-Greenfield told a meeting of U.S. and Nigerian officials in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, that “Despite our collective efforts, the situation on the ground is worsening.

“The frequency and scope of Boko Haram’s terror attacks have grown more acute and constitute a serious threat to this country’s overall security,” she said. “This is a sober reality check for all of us. We are past time for denial and pride.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Military / Armed Forces, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(ENI) Christian groups put their case strongly at UN Iraq hearing

Christian groups and other faith were out in force to support a U.N. Human Rights Council resolution to urgently explore abuses of international law in Iraq committed by the Islamic State and associated terrorist groups.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican representative to the United Nations in Geneva told Vatican Radio he believed the meeting came as direct consequence of Pope Francis’ letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The letter was regarding the need to take action to protect those persecuted by IS terrorists.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Iraq, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(WSJ) Federal Reserve: Gap Between Rich, Poor Americans Widened During Recovery

The gap between the richest and poorest Americans widened even as the U.S. economic recovery gained traction in the years after the recession, the Federal Reserve said.

Average, or mean, pretax income for the wealthiest 10% of U.S. families rose 10% in 2013 from 2010, but families in the bottom 40% saw their average inflation-adjusted income decline over that period, according to the Fed’s Survey of Consumer Finances, which is conducted every three years.

The report showed little change in average take-home pay for middle- and upper-middle-class families, who “failed to recover the losses experienced between 2007 and 2010,” it said.

Overall, average income rose 4% from the 2010 survey while median””the midpoint with half higher and half lower””income fell 5%, “consistent with increasing income concentration during this period,” the report said. Median income fell for every income bracket except the top 10%.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, History, Personal Finance, The U.S. Government, Theology

(NYT Sinosphere Blog) National Goals Still Murky After Zhejiang Church Razings

Crosses continue to be torn down, churches bulldozed and shrines of folk religions destroyed in a campaign that began last winter in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang, but the implications for national religious policy in China remain unclear, a leading Protestant expert on religion in China said.

At least 150 crosses had been removed by early July, and many churches and local shrines have been pulled down by the provincial authorities, said Philip Wickeri, the adviser to the Anglican archbishop of Hong Kong for theological and historical studies. The provincial Communist Party secretary overseeing the policy, Xia Baolong, is an ally of President Xi Jinping, but there has not been any sign yet of similar campaigns in other provinces, Mr. Wickeri said.

The provincial authorities have said that they are only trying to remove structures that do not comply with local land use regulations, and they have denied that they are engaged in a campaign against religious institutions. But Mr. Wickeri dismissed this explanation, saying that the organized removal of crosses and demolition of places of worship, including in cases where church leaders had previously received local and provincial authorities’ consent, could only be seen in a religious context.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Religion & Culture, Violence

A look at the rise in Ebola cases since June 2014

A T19 reader did some number crunching and kindly sent us the following chart showing the cumulative number of Ebola cases in each affected country since June 4, 2014. Data is compiled from the WHO disease outbreak reports. – the elves

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Guinea, Health & Medicine, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone