Daily Archives: September 18, 2014

Lyle Dorsett's Story–A Sobering Mercy: From Alcoholic to Anglican minister in Birhimgham, Alabama

Mary continued to pray. And one of my favorite students spent money he couldn’t afford to buy me a copy of G. K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, then challenged to me read
C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity. Simul­taneously, my car radio malfunctioned and stuck on a gospel station. I kept the radio on because I needed noise. Gradually the programs began to warm my soul.

Still doubting, I received a year’s leave to write a book. When I finished it early, I rewarded myself with a binge. One evening when Mary implored me not to drink around the children, I stomped out, found a bar, and drank until closing time. I left armed with a six-pack, drove up a winding mountain road, stopped at an overlook, and blacked out. The next morning I found myself on a dirt road next to the old Pioneer Cemetery in Boulder with no memory of the drive down.

Despite the hangover, I realized I had experienced a miracle. In utter desperation I cried out, “Lord, if you are there, please help me.” That same Presence I had met years earlier in Birmingham blessed me again. I knew he was in the car and that he loved me despite my wretchedness. This liberating encounter with Jesus Christ eventually brought healing.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Alcoholism, Christology, Soteriology, Theology

Wired Magazine Talks to Mortician Caitlin Doughty–You Should Spend More Time With Corpses

Caitlin Doughty has been cutting pacemakers out of corpses, grinding human bones by hand, and loading bodies into cremation chambers for seven years. But the 30-year-old mortician doesn’t want to keep all the fun to herself: She thinks the rest of us should get to have a little more face time with the deceased. In her new book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (that’s a cremation joke), Doughty argues for more acceptance of death in our culture””and tries to spark a wave of amateur undertaking.

Are you really saying that people should handle their loved ones’ bodies? Can we do that?

Most people think dead bodies are dangerous or that they’re required to hire a funeral director to prepare a body. I’m a licensed mortician, but I want to teach people that they don’t need me.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Books, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(LA Times) Iraqi Christians displaced by Sunni militants seek to flee abroad

Many displaced Christians now see no future in Iraq, home to one of the most ancient Christian communities anywhere.

“Now we know there is no more security in this country,” said Father Bahnam Lalo, pastor of Bartella’s St. George Church, who, like most of his parishioners, fled to Irbil, capital of the relatively safe semiautonomous Kurdish region. “We love this land, we’re rooted to this land, but it’s hopeless.”

International attention last month focused on the plight of the Yazidis, another minority group, and their harrowing escape to Mt. Sinjar. But about 100,000 Christians also have fled the Sunni militants since June, church leaders say.

Multitudes of displaced Christians are now hoping to join relatives in Europe, the United States, Australia and elsewhere.

Read it all.

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

(Former Ch of Scotlnd Modrtr) Lorna Hood–A simple Qtn with enduring and far-reaching Consequences

I look no further than the disciples of Jesus; a group of disparate, argumentative and fickle individuals. We have Matthew a tax gatherer, who worked for the Roman army of occupation and alongside him Simon the Zealot sworn to obliterate them by whatever means possible. They were divided in their politics and divided on how Jesus could achieve his mission. Yet with God’s guidance and a common purpose they took his message of love to the ends of the earth.

May we also find a new common purpose beyond the vote.

Read (or listen to) it all (from BBC Thought for the Day).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Other Churches, Politics in General, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Scotland, Theology

(Telegraph) Archbishop of Canterbury: my doubts about existence of God

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, has disclosed that he questions whether God exists.

Britain’s most senior churchman, who is effectively the leader of almost 80 million Anglicans worldwide, admitted that there are moments when he asks himself “Is there a God?” and “Where is God?

He also said that Christians cannot explain why suffering exists in the world but that the answer was faith.

His remarks came in an interview conducted as part of a service at Bristol Cathedral, during a visit to the diocese.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Apologetics, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture, Theology

(C of E) The recent Church of England College of Bishops Meeting

The College of Bishops of the Church of England has met for three days. Two of the days were devoted to the first of a series of shared conversations in the Church of England on Sexuality, Scripture and Mission.

The context and process for the conversations were set out in a paper to General Synod by the Bishop of Sheffield on 26 June 2014 available here which also identified two outcomes for the process.

The first is to enable the Church of England to reflect, in light of scripture, on the implications of the immense cultural change that has been taking place in society on issues of sexuality. How can the Church “proclaim the gospel afresh in every generation” as a missionary church in a changing culture ?

The second objective is to create space and an environment for the Church of England to live together as a family who disagree with one another. Recognising that this was the experience of the first disciples and apostles who went on to proclaim the Gospel across the world, how can the Church ensure that those with differing views on sexuality continue to share together a place of common baptism and faith ?

Read it all and listen to the podcast linked at the bottom as well.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) The Federal Reserve Plots a Cautious Course on Interest Rate Rises

The Federal Reserve took two steps toward winding down the historic easy-money policies that have defined its response to the financial crisis, but stopped short of the move markets are awaiting most: signaling when interest rates will start to rise.

With the economy gradually improving, U.S. central-bank officials plan to end the bond-buying program known as quantitative easing after October, hoping to finally stop expanding a six-year experiment in monetary policy that has left the Fed holding more than $4 trillion of Treasury and mortgage bonds.

The Fed on Wednesday also detailed a new technical plan for how it will raise short-term interest rates, something most officials currently don’t intend to do until next year. The central bank has kept the federal-funds rate near zero since December 2008 and offered assurances along the way about rates remaining low, another part of its varied efforts to boost the post-financial-crisis economy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Federal Reserve, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, The Banking System/Sector, The U.S. Government, Theology

(AP) Islamic State Planned Killing In Australia, PM Says After Raids

Australia’s prime minister says intelligence that Islamic State supporters were planning to carry out a killing to demonstrate its abilities led to counterterrorism raids in Sydney.

Australian police detained 15 people Thursday in a major counterterrorism operation, saying intelligence indicated a random, violent attack was being planned on Australian soil.

About 800 federal and state police officers raided more than a dozen properties across Sydney as part of the operation ”” the largest in Australian history, Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Andrew Colvin said. Separate raids in the eastern cities of Brisbane and Logan were also conducted.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Christian Today) 'Euthanasia has become fashionable' in Belgium: Ethics expert on the right to die

“Sadly, Belgium has been at the forefront of making euthanasia available on demand. The door was first opened in 2003, and every year since then the demand for euthanasia and its practice has increased,” Paul Moynan, director of CARE for Europe, told Christian Today.

“Last year these deaths were up by 27 per cent on the previous year, with five people a day being euthanised,” he added.

Moynan blamed the Belgian health system for failing to address Van Den Bleeken’s needs sufficiently.

“With euthanasia being packaged as palliative care, our care homes are not safe. With its extension this year to all ages, our children are not safe. And now the mentally ill in prison are not safe,” he explained.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Belgium, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

[Archbishop Cranmer] Whom Do You Seek?

@His_Grace has undergone a transfiguration.

Check it out

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary

(Scotsman) Scottish independence: Our day of destiny

The people of Scotland will go to the polls in record numbers today when two and a half years of campaigning culminate in the most important vote in the country’s history.

The future of Scotland and that of the 307-year-old United Kingdom will be determined by an unprecedented turnout of voters from Shetland to the Borders.

With last night’s polls indicating that the result is too close to call, the fate of the nation lies in the hands of 4,285,323 people ”“ 97 per cent of the potential electorate ”“ who have registered to vote.

Voters can cast their ballot at 5,579 polling stations from 7am until the polls close at 10pm. The question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” requires a straight Yes or No answer.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General, Scotland, Theology

[Andrew Goddard] Life After The Referendum

…although there is at present agreement that there will not be another referendum on Scottish independence for many years, it is likely that, whatever the result, we in England will face a referendum on our relationship with the European Union in some form in the near future. After Thursday we need to reflect on what can be learned from the experience of this referendum to help us prepare for that one. There are clearly many parallels ”“ whether we need to separate from a more distant form of governance in order to have more power closer to the people, whether such separation will being economic benefits or problems, whether there are alternatives to removing ourselves from the union, whether the overall social and political vision of the larger body is pulling us in the opposite direction to what we would choose, how being British relates to being European. As in Scotland, that debate will doubtless lead to the articulation of strongly held and incompatible visions of the future and to claims and counter-claims about the consequences of different options which most of us feel incapable of adjudicating. If we do enter it as a United Kingdom it is quite possible it could re-ignite the independence debate were Scotland to vote to remain in the EU but the UK as a whole to vote to leave. It appears that it has only been in the last few months or even last few weeks that most people have begun to consider what is at stake this Thursday. One of the challenges over the next few years is for Christians to lead the way in considering seriously both what it is that is at stake in relation to our membership of the European Union and how we can debate that issue constructively should we have to decide in a referendum.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, England / UK

An EB Pusey Sermon on "Patience and Confidence the Strength of the Church" (1837)

The general conduct of our Church has been true to her first principles, to render to Caesar the things that were Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s; to do nothing against the command of God, but to suffer every thing which the Caesar may require. It was thus that the seven Bishops mainly checked James’s tyranny, refusing to do, but submitting to suffer, what was unlawful; it was thus that even in the Great Rebellion men cheerfully took the spoiling of their goods; it was thus that in events familiar to us, the members of this place, at different periods, suffered what was un lawful, rather than compromise their principles;–and we cherish their memories.

The two events, for which we keep this day as an annual thanksgiving to God, together, strikingly illustrate these principles. 1. That we may safely leave things to God. 2. That there is great risk, that man, by any impatience of his, will mar the blessing which God designs for His Church.

In the plot, from which this day is named, God had permitted things to come to the uttermost; every preparation was made, every scruple removed; a Roman priest had solemnly given the answer, that, for so great a benefit to the Church, their own people too might be sacrificed; the innocent might be slain, so that the guilty majority escaped not. The secret was entrusted to but few, was guarded by the most solemn oaths and by the participation of the Holy Eucharist, had been kept for a year and a half although all of the Roman Communion in England knew that some great plot was being carried on, and were praying for its success; inferior plots had been forbidden by Rome, lest they should mar this great one; no suspicion had been excited, and there was nothing left to excite suspicion, when God employed means, in man’s sight, the [28/29] most unlikely. He awoke, at the last, one lurking feeling of pity for one person in the breast of but one, so that a dark hint was given to that one: and He caused him who gave it, to miscalculate the character of his own brother-in-law, or entrust him with more than he was aware; then He placed fear in that other’s breast, so that, through another and distant fear, he shewed the letter which contained this dark hint; then, when the councillors despised the anonymous hint, as an idle tale, He enlightened the mind of the monarch, to discover the dark saying, which to us it seems strange that any beforehand should have unravelled; and when even then the councillors had surveyed the very spot, and discovered nothing, He caused the monarch to persevere, undeterred, until He had brought the whole to light. Yet to see more of this mystery of God’s Providence, and how He weaves together the intricate web of human affairs, and places long before the hidden springs of things, we must think also, how He ordered that one of these few conspirators should be intermarried with one of the few Roman peers, and so desired to save him; and by the conspiracy from which God had shielded the monarch’s early life, He quickened his sense of the present danger; so that while men were marrying, and giving in marriage, and strengthening themselves by alliances, God was preparing the means whereby this kingdom should be saved against the will of those so employed; and while men were plotting against a sacred life, God was laying up in the monarch’s soul the thought, which Himself should hereafter kindle to save it. Verily, “a man’s heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps.” “The ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He pondereth all his goings; own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins.” The words of the Psalmist, selected for this day’s service, find a striking completion in this history. “God hid him from the secret counsel of the wicked, from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity–they encourage themselves in an evil matter; they commune of laying snares privily; they say, Who shall see them? they search out iniquities; they accomplish a diligent search; the inward thought of every one of them, and the heart, is deep: but God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded; so they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves.”

But it yet more illustrates the teaching, and is an argument of encouragement to our Church, how God in two neighbouring countries permitted similar plots to be accomplished.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Edward Bouverie Pusey

Grant unto us, O God, that in all time of our testing we may know thy presence and obey thy will; that, following the example of thy servant Edward Bouverie Pusey, we may with integrity and courage accomplish what thou givest us to do, and endure what thou givest us to bear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us, that in thy light we may see light: the light of thy grace today, and the light of thy glory hereafter; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Lancelot Andrewes

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

For thou, O Lord, art my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. Upon thee I have leaned from my birth; thou art he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of thee.

–Psalm 71:5-6

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

[Phil Moore] 3 things to remember when praying for Scotland

The reason why Scotland and England united as one nation was in order to promote the Christian gospel. You won’t hear that spoken by the leaders of the yes campaign or the no campaign, but we must not be unaware of this as Christians. The Scottish King James VI became King James I of England in 1603 because he was a Protestant and because the two nations hoped that, by uniting two great Protestant kingdoms as one, they might be able to promote the cause of Christ far better in the world. This union of crowns became a union of parliaments in 1707, and the historian Linda Colley argues that “Protestantism was the foundation that made this invention of Great Britain possible.”

The Union succeeded in its goal. Great Britain went on to preach the gospel to more nations than any other nation in history ”“across Africa and Asia and America and Australia. This wave of British missionaries was led, not by an Englishman, but by a Scot. David Livingstone’s heroic example inspired a nation of imperialists to become a nation of missionaries. Niall Ferguson observes in his book Empire that: “There could not be a greater contrast between the missionaries’ motives and those of previous generations of empire-builders, the swashbucklers, the slavers and the settlers ”¦ Their readiness to sacrifice themselves not for gain but for God was what made the Victorian Empire different from all that had gone before.” I’ll be honest. I am as repulsed by much of the history of the British Empire as anyone, but I still feel challenged. What would it be like if the United Kingdom did more than survive next Thursday? What would it be like if the British renewed their commitment to promote the cause of Christ around the world?

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Scotland

[Telegraph] Scottish independence: How the world has reacted

As millions of Scots prepare to go to the polls on Thursday, the Telegraph looks back at how the world has responded to the potential dissolution of the UK’s 300-year-old union.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Scotland

(RNS) Yale chaplain’s resignation reflects larger mainline tensions over Israel

[Bruce] Shipman didn’t understand Jewish connections to Israel, argued religion writer Mark Oppenheimer in a column for Tablet. Oppenheimer said Shipman failed to understand the difference between Israel and the action of Jews and anti-Semitism.

“You don’t say to Muslims, ”˜If you have a problem with anti-Muslim bigotry, take it up with al-Qaida,’” Oppenheimer said in an interview. “That’s not the way American dialogue should proceed.”

However, Oppenheimer, who teaches a class at Yale, does not believe Shipman should have had to resign.

“I’m opposed to drumming people out of communities,” he said. “I don’t think the answer is to call for someone’s scalp.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Education, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Inter-Faith Relations, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle, Theology

(Ng Guardian) ”˜Nigeria’s challenges not beyond God’

Speaking on the theme of the Synod, “Thy Kingdom Come”, President Jonathan emphasized the need for Nigerians to shun vices that were evil, so as to attract mercies and kindness of God in their daily dealings.

In his opening address, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Most Revd. Nicholas Okoh, advised Nigerians to work hard to ensure that the prediction that the country would cease to exist in 2015 comes to nothing.

Okoh, who is the Bishop and Archbishop of Abuja, insisted that God has plans for Nigeria but warned that the people in collaboration with enemies from outside could destroy the country.

He said: “If the politicians allow righteousness to be the umpire; if the electorate allow righteousness to be the umpire; if the INEC allow righteousness to be the umpire; then the country will remain strong, solid and promising. But if for whatever reasons we dump righteousness and seek to manipulate people and figures, then sin will degrade our country.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Nigeria, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(NYT) ISIS Draws a Steady Stream of Recruits From Turkey

Having spent most of his youth as a drug addict in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Turkey’s capital, Can did not think he had much to lose when he was smuggled into Syria with 10 of his childhood friends to join the world’s most extreme jihadist group.

After 15 days at a training camp in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto headquarters of the group, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the 27-year-old Can was assigned to a fighting unit. He said he shot two men and participated in a public execution. It was only after he buried a man alive that he was told he had become a full ISIS fighter.

“When you fight over there, it’s like being in a trance,” said Can, who asked to be referred to only by his middle name for fear of reprisal. “Everyone shouts, ”˜God is the greatest,’ which gives you divine strength to kill the enemy without being fazed by blood or splattered guts,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Europe, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Turkey, Violence, Young Adults