Daily Archives: September 6, 2014

(Time) How the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria recruits female converts, and why

Even as the world expressed its horror at the beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff by the radical militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), there were those who exulted on social media. Self-proclaimed Western jihadists and ISIS supporters in Syria, these people proclaimed victory and promised more killings to come. “I wish I did it,” noted one on a Tumblr blog. Another asked for links to any videos of Foley’s execution and cackled, in a slang-filled Twitter post, that the “UK must b shaking up ha ha.”

They were both women. The Twitter personality, Khadijah Dare, whose handle Muhajirah fi Sham means “female immigrant to Syria,” declared her desire to replicate the execution: “I wna b da 1st UK woman 2 kill a UK or US terorrist!” Her statement may be pure jingoism, but as ISIS attracts more female adherents, the likelihood of seeing a woman brandishing a knife in the terrorist group’s name only increases.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Globalization, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence, Women

(CEN) If Billy Graham could restart he would be an ”˜an evangelical Anglican’.

America’s Pastor, historian Grant Wacker’s assessment of the long career of Billy Graham, is to be published at the end of November by Harvard University Press. It is a highly readable study of how ”˜a lanky farm kid from North Carolina’ was to have such a major impact on American culture. More an academic interpretation of Graham’s life than a straightforward biography it does contain revelations that will shock some readers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Church History, Evangelicals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Theology

As Iraqi Christians in U.S. Watch ISIS Advance, They See ”˜Slow-Motion Genocide’

…when Bishop Francis Y. Kalabat walked quietly from a side door into Mother of God’s sanctuary, it was with a grim sense that maybe now, finally, he and his flock would no longer be howling into the abyss. As he had written last month in an open letter that was posted in the church’s lobby, “We wish to scream, but there are no ears that wish to hear.”

For the last decade, in fact, the Chaldean Catholics of Iraq ”” members of an Eastern Rite church that is affiliated with Roman Catholicism while retaining its own customs and rites ”” have been suffering at the hands of the same kind of terrorists who killed Mr. Sotloff and Mr. Foley. During that period, the total Christian population of Iraq, the largest share of which is composed of Chaldean Catholics, has dropped to about 400,000 while as many as a million, by some estimates, have fled.

Churches have been destroyed, monasteries attacked, entire cities purged. Congregations have been bombed during worship. The bishop of Mosul, Paulos Faraj Rahho, was abducted and executed by Al Qaeda in Iraq six years ago. So the recent atrocities visited upon Iraqi Christians by ISIS are nothing remotely new. All that is new is an awareness of them outside the Chaldean-American enclaves of San Diego and metropolitan Detroit.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iraq, Middle East, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Daily Mail) Amicable divorce 'is just as damaging for children'

Divorcing parents who try to maintain an amicable relationship for the sake of their children are doing nothing to help them, a major study suggests.

The impact of the split on youngsters is the same whether or not the mother and father keep cordial links, it found.

The findings undermine a Government-backed consensus that the harm caused to children by separating parents can be limited if the couple remain friends.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Theology

Wolfhart Pannenberg RIP

One of the really great theologians of the last century. He will be greatly missed. Read it all and there is more there (translation there).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Theology

(CT) InterVarsity Now "Derecognized" in California State Universities

Intervarsity Christian Fellowship has been, in modern campus terminology, “derecognized” by California State University schools.

It’s not just InterVarsity. Following the same logic being applied, any group that insists on requiring its leaders to follow an agreed upon set of guiding beliefs is no longer kosher (pun intended) at California’s state universities. Presumably, even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals would have to allow Oscar Meyer to lead their campus chapters.

Only in a modern American university would this make any sense.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Young Adults

(NYT) High Health Plan Deductibles Weigh Down More Employees

Next year, even more corporate workers are likely to be offered high-deductible plans ”” sometimes known more benignly as consumer-directed plans ”” and at a rising share of large companies, it will be the only option remaining.

Just as employers replaced pensions with retirement savings plans, more large companies appear to be in a similar cost-sharing shift with health plans. Besides making workers responsible for more of their care, employers hope these plans will motivate employees to comparison-shop for medical services ”” an admirable goal but one that some say is hard to achieve.

Several big companies started offering consumer-driven plans as their only option in the last couple of years, including JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, General Electric and Honeywell, among others; it is the only choice for Bank of America employees earning more than $100,000.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance

Bishop Mark Lawrence Calls for Fasting+Praying for the Persecuted Church September 14-15

Dear Friends in Christ,

Many of us have been following with alarm the persecution of Christians in various countries of the Middle East and Africa. Concern has been expressed within our diocese by priests and laity of the need for us to have a diocesan response to this current crisis.

At our Diocesan Council Meeting last week all concurred that as Bishop I would appoint an upcoming Sunday to be set aside for specific prayer and intercession for our brothers and sisters in Christ who are in the midst of this persecution as well as a day for fasting on their behalf. I have appointed September 14th as a Sunday for such diocesan wide intercession. It is the Sunday nearest to Holy Cross Day which is transferred this year to be observed on Monday, September 15th.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Terrorism, Violence

Food For Thought from C H Spurgeon–A Christian…should…shine in his life

In the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”””Philippians 2:15.

We use lights to make manifest. A Christian man should so shine in his life, that a person could not live with him a week without knowing the gospel. His conversation should be such that all who are about him should clearly perceive whose he is, and whom he serves; and should see the image of Jesus reflected in his daily actions….

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Lift up our souls, O Lord, to the pure, serene light of thy presence; that there we may breathe freely, there repose in thy love, there may be at rest from ourselves, and from thence return, arrayed in thy peace, to do and bear what shall please thee; for thy holy name’s sake.

–E. B. Pusey (1800-1882)

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

–John 10:9-11

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Canon Phil Ashey: How to Lead a Comeback Church

Martin Luther once wrote, “For where God built a church, there the Devil would also build a chapel.” Luther wrote this to emphasize the challenges and obstacles God’s people will face just because of who we are in Christ, and what we are trying to do”“ to advance God’s Kingdom at the expense of his adversary, Satan. It’s nothing less than the truth Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:12-13 that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities and spiritual wickedness in high places”¦.”

I find that Biblical perspective both illuminating and convicting when I think of the struggles and conflicts we face in the Anglican Communion, the Anglican realignment in North America, our dioceses and local churches”“ and in the cauldron of leading change in the local church. Wherever we are serving and whatever we are seeing, it is helpful to avoid personalizing the conflict. It is essential to recognize the spiritual dimension in change, challenge and conflict. It’s true that if the church is God’s ordained instrument to save the world, it must be the target of the adversary, the devil, at every level. With that recognition, we realize that we are not going to win this conflict alone by workshops, conferences, sharing best practices and strategic planning. These are helpful tools to be sure, and they put practical “feet” on the things we need to do to turn our churches around. But if the conflict is spiritual we need to use the spiritual means God has given us to overcome the wiles of the adversary (see 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5).

Prayer is at the top of that list…

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(NPR) Will Al-Qaida Find Followers In India?

After a year of silence, al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has exhorted his “Muslim brothers” to join a newly established South Asia faction that would “defend the vulnerable in the Indian subcontinent.”

He listed Burma and Bangladesh, and specifically named three states in India ”” Assam, Gujarat and Kashmir. In disputed Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state ”” which is claimed by both Pakistan and India ”” an insurgency agitates for independence. Assam has its own separatist movement and Gujarat was the site of religious riots in which 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in 2002.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was then Gujarat’s chief minister.

Friday’s headlines in Indian newspapers reflected the general worry: “Clear and Present Qaeda Danger,” said The Times of India. “India Now In Al Qaeda sights,” wrote The Hindu.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, India, Terrorism

Resources to Nourish the Mind–Michael Wesch (called "the explainer" by Wired Magazine)

You can find his brief bio there and he has a Youtube channel there and there is still more here. Why should you dig into this? Well, take a look at this 2007 video and see:

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Globalization, Science & Technology, Young Adults

Mike Shedlock on Today's Employment Report

The payroll survey shows a net gain of 162,000 jobs vs. an expectation of 230,000 jobs. This broke a six-month string of +200,000 jobs.

Digging into the details, things look far worse.

The household survey shows a gain in employment of only 16,000. This is the fourth month in the last five that the household survey was substantially weaker than the headline number.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(TGC) Scott Sauls–Shame, the Image of God, and Finding Freedom to Love

Before relocating to Nashville, I was ministering in an area of New York City with a high concentration of men and women who worked in finance. When the Great Recession hit in 2008, and as financial institutions crashed and careers were ruined, many people expressed a feeling that they’d not only lost money and a career, but also a sense of self. When you work on Wall Street, you begin to believe you are what you do, and you are what you make. “What is she worth?” is a question taken quite literally. The metrics of human value are measured in terms of salaries and bonuses. When the salary and bonus disappear, so does the person’s worth. This becomes true not only in your peers’ eyes but also in your own. One multibillionaire lost half his net worth in the crash. Though he was still a multibillionaire, and though nothing about his quality of life had changed, he committed suicide. The shame of losing rank in the pecking order of the financial world turned him completely inward and caused him to self-destruct.

Kelly Osbourne, the famous daughter of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, disappeared from the public eye for an extended season. In 2010 she reappeared during Fashion Week with a new look and a new body. She’d lost 42 pounds, causing her new and curvy figure to become a major headline. When a journalist asked what motivated her to lose so much weight, she said she hated what she saw whenever she looked into the mirror. Osbourne measured her own value in comparison to other women, and was undone by the comparisons. Why don’t I look like this girl or that girl? she’d ask herself. But her shame wasn’t only internal. It was also reinforced externally by a culture that says (absurdly) that thin has value and full-bodied is worthless. “I took more hell from people for being fat,” she remarked, “than I did for being an absolute raging drug addict.”

What if there were a way to divorce ourselves from cultural pressures to be rich and beautiful? What if we no longer felt a need to prove ourselves, to validate our own existence in the world’s eyes and in our own? What if we began actually believing God has not called us to be awesome but to be humble, receptive, faithful, and free? What if our secret battle with shame was neutered, freeing us to turn our attention away from ourselves and toward our neighbors?

This is my greatest joy as a Christian pastor.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology