Daily Archives: October 5, 2014

(USA Today) David De Gea saves Manchester United against Everton

Manchester United moved to fourth place in the Premier League Saturday with a nerve-wracking, heart-stopping 2-1 win over Everton, and it required goalkeeper David De Gea’s best performance in a Manchester United shirt to hold on to all three points.

De Gea was immense in goal, robbing Everton of goals on three separate occasions. Ángel Di María gave United a 1-0 lead in the first half, curling a brilliant shot past Tim Howard from the top of the box, but Leighton Baines had a chance to equalize the game just before halftime. Luke Shaw conceded a penalty in stoppage time, but De Gea saved Baines’ low drive from the spot.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Men, Sports

(Telegraph) Christopher Howse–Sacred mysteries: Framing a door into heaven

Most reproductions of Whistler’s Nocturne Blue and Gold ”“ Old Battersea Bridge (1877) show it without the frame. On the gilt wood frame that the painter had designed he put the stylised butterfly sigil that served for the signature that he had not put on the canvas. I was glad to see the whole thing reproduced as a frontispiece to the book Whistler and the Thames that went with the exhibition at Dulwich last year.

The same habit of leaving out frames in reproductions is even more of a loss with The Scapegoat, by Holman Hunt, dating from 20 years earlier. When he exhibited it at the Royal Academy in 1856, instead of a stock commercial Salon frame, he supplied a solid, slightly convex bar of gold, into which symbolic motifs had been carved in shallow relief.

As the historian of picture frames, Lynn Roberts, points out, the motifs he used “are designed to support the Old Testament subject of the painting, but interestingly they also work to expand upon the image itself by alluding to events in the New Testament”. Thus, below the canvas is a seven-branched candlestick, but next to it a cross. One each side of the canvas are reliefs of a dove with a sprig of olive and a heartsease in a cruciform array of leaves.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Art

([London] Times) The Right Rev Donald Arden RIP

When Nyasaland became independent in 1964, Arden became Bishop of Malawi. He worked hard to encourage an indigenous ministry, consecrating the first Malawian suffragan bishop and increasing the number of ordained clergy from 23 to 100. He was keen on training the laity: “If the clergy are the lungs breathing in the fresh air of the Spirit, you laymen and laywomen are the hands and the feet and the mouth of the body of Christ,” he wrote. He was also instrumental in persuading the different Christian churches to establish a health association ”” it still provides 45 per cent of healthcare in Malawi.

Arden was particularly concerned about polio; at many confirmation services, polio sufferers would crawl to the front of the church or were carried there. He organised a survey of the area, discovering 500 cases. As a result he convinced a leading government surgeon to help to procure funds for a vaccination programme. Within a few years Malawi was the first developing country to be declared free of polio.

On the theological front, meanwhile, attempts were being made to revise the Book of Common Prayer, and Arden was a key figure in producing a new, 380-page prayer/hymnbook in Chichewa, the national language of Malawi.

He became Archbishop of Central Africa in 1971, and it was a matter of pride that he was the last white Archbishop of Central Africa.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of Central Africa, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Malawi, Ministry of the Ordained, Missions, Parish Ministry

(NPR) Vatican Synod Tests The Pope's Vision Of A More Merciful Church

Pope Francis has summoned bishops from all over the world to Rome to discuss issues concerning families ”“ including hot-button issues like artificial contraception and gay civil unions.

The meeting, called a synod, opened on Sunday and is seen as a test of Francis’ vision of a more merciful Church.

Not since the landmark Second Vatican Council half a century ago has a church meeting raised so much hope among progressive Catholics ”” and so much apprehension among conservatives.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, History, Italy, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(NYT) Coalition Leader Warns of Long Fight Against ISIS in Iraq

The American official coordinating the international coalition fighting the Islamic State said on Friday that the Iraqi military would not be ready for a campaign to retake Mosul, the largest Iraqi city under insurgent control, for as much as a year.

Mosul has become a symbol of the strength of the Islamist insurgency, which has made the city its stronghold, and of the failure of the Iraqi security forces, which wilted in June as militants swept across the Syrian border and overran the city as they pushed toward Baghdad.

The broad timeline given by the official, retired Gen. John R. Allen, seemed to reflect the immense challenges facing the Iraqi military command and its international partners, including about 1,600 American troops deployed by President Obama, as they seek to rebuild the Iraqi security forces.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Terrorism, Theology

(Commonweal) Andrew Bacevich reviews "A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer" by Charles Marsh

Arrest and imprisonment were only a matter of time. Bonhoeffer’s time came in April 1943 and landed him in Berlin’s Tegel prison. Astonishingly, with the German capital under regular Allied bombardment, Bonhoeffer continued even as a prisoner to enjoy a privileged existence. During his confinement in Tegel, according to Marsh, he received “extra portions of food, hot coffee, and cigarettes.” Visitors brought flowers and fresh fruit. An uncle stopped by to break open a bottle of champagne. Most importantly, Bonhoeffer had access to books, pen, and paper. During his confinement, he read and wrote ceaselessly.

All such niceties vanished in the crackdown that followed the failed July 1944 attempt to assassinate Hitler. Transferred to the custody of the SS, Bonhoeffer was moved to Buchenwald and then to Flossenbürg, where he was finally executed. Little reliable information about Bonhoeffer’s last days is available, and Marsh does not pretend otherwise. That the end was grim and brutal suffices.

In 1928, on the cusp of his journey of discovery, Bonhoeffer had observed that in modern life “religion plays the part of the parlor.” It had become a place “into which one doesn’t mind withdrawing for a couple of hours, but from which one then immediately returns to one’s business.” In our own day, faith remains in the parlor, the subject of polite and passing attention. The work that matters happens elsewhere. For Christians daring to rethink that proposition, Bonhoeffer’s life serves as an object lesson in what is to be gained””and lost.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Books, Church History, Europe, Germany, Religion & Culture

The Bishop of London celebrates the tercentenary at St Mary le Strand

St Mary le Strand, which is located in the middle of the Strand, has a long and interesting history. The original medieval church was pulled down in 1549 by Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, to make way for Somerset House. The current church was then rebuilt between 1714 and 1724, by the celebrated architect James Gibbs and St Mary le Strand has since been remembered as his Baroque Masterpiece.

The current St Mary le Strand was one of fifty new churches built in London under the Commission for Building Fifty New Churches, an Act of Parliament in England in 1710, with the purpose of building fifty new churches for the rapidly growing conurbation of London. Despite this ambitious plan, only twelve of these churches were ever built, with St Mary le Strand being the first.

Unlike many London churches, St Mary le Stand managed to escape severe damage during the Second World War, as the inspecting architect would sit in the church’s muniment room during the bombings, to push incendiary bombs off the roof.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(RNS) Evangelicals add one more guest to the wedding party: Jesus

When Brianna and Chris Lindsay married in June, they had the church, the minister, the bridesmaids ”¦ and a foot-washing ceremony for the bride and groom.

It was, they said, a sign of their mutual submission.

“First he took off both of my shoes and we had a water basin and pitcher,” said the bride, recalling the five-minute ceremony during which a friend read a poem about the couple. “In return, I got down in my dress, took off his socks. ”¦ It probably was a little awkward for us ”” maybe a little ”” but we felt like it was an important message to show people.”

In an age of big-ticket destination weddings and reality show “bridezillas,” some evangelical Christians are opting for what writer Catherine Strode Parks calls “ A Christ-Centered Wedding.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(CT) Brett McCracken–Why are movies about the last days still so popular?

Both Taylor’s loss of “higher times” and Rushkoff’s burden of the “infinite present” help us understand why we’re so compelled by things like the Rapture””or anything apocalyptic. Living in a flattened timescape, we long for moments to take us out of the profane and everyday. In the absence of “higher times,” global disasters and narratives of apocalypse stand in as sacred moments that rupture the monotony of secular time. “Where were you when . . . ?” is a question of almost spiritual gravitas for anyone alive on 9/11 or the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Especially since the advent of mass broadcasts of breaking news, we mark time by shared moments of global calamity and terror, existential pauses that give us transcendent perspective.

These are real if perverted expressions of our longing for the “higher” time we’ve lost, for pivot points in history, for an escape from the present. In a world where there’s “nothing new under the sun,” where generations come and go “but the earth remains forever” (Ecc. 1:4), we long to be part of an unexpected story, to witness something significant. But must that “something significant” be the earth’s fiery end?

Christians of all people need not buy into the prevailing culture’s preoccupation with doomsday. Let the world have its apocalyptic versions of the Rapture””Christians have something better. Surely there are movies to be made about not destruction, but resurrection.

Read it all.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named: Grant that, according to the riches of thy glory, we may be strengthened with power through thy Spirit in our inner being; that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith; that we, being rooted and grounded in thy love, may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is its length and breadth and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge; that we may be filled with all the fullness of God.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures for ever!

–Psalm 118:1

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Economist) A new type of software helps researchers decide what they should be looking for

Apples, mushrooms and pork sounds a promising recipe for a kebab, but the average barbecuer might balk at adding strawberries. According to John Gordon of IBM, however, the result is delicious. Dr Gordon is one of the leaders of that firm’s cognitive-computing team, responsible for a machine called Watson which is able to digest and analyse large amounts of English text and then draw inferences from it. When, in March, Watson was fed reams of recipes and texts about food, it reasoned that these four ingredients would complement each other, based on their sharing a number of flavoursome chemical compounds. And Dr Gordon, at least, thinks Watson’s suggestion is a winner.

Devising new recipes sounds a trivial use for a multimillion-dollar piece of kit. But Dr Gordon’s culinary experiment neatly demonstrates the idea of automated hypothesis generation””and the possible uses of that are certainly not trivial. More than 90 groups of scientists are now developing hypothesis-generation software. They hope to use it not on recipe books but on the vast corpus of scientific literature (by one tally at least 50m scientific papers) that has piled up in public databases.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology

(First Things) Ayman Ibrahim–Is the Open Letter to ISIS Really Enough?

The writing of this letter in itself, however, is not enough. The statement is ambiguous in crucial areas, which not only weaken its argument, but also question whether it is truly a rigorous and valid refutation of ISIS’s deeds and claims. In what follows, I will focus only on two of them: the concept of jihad and the restoration of the Muslim caliphate. While this letter claims to present the correct version of the Muslim teaching, its imprecise description of important areas makes it subject to different, and sometimes opposite, understandings, leaving the reader, especially the non-Muslim, puzzled regarding correct Islamic teaching.

First, concerning the concept of jihad, the letter reads: “The word ”˜jihad’ is an Islamic term that cannot be applied to armed conflict against any other Muslim.” Okay, but what about non-Muslims? Can jihad be applied against them? The letter, though recommending jihad as a form of self-piety or a way to strive against one’s ego, does not specify against whom armed jihad should be applied. This leaves the door open for interpretation.

Moreover, it states that “All Muslims see the great virtue in jihad,” and does not explain what “the jihad against the enemy” really means. In fact, the letter applauds and praises the “intentions” of the members of ISIS, noting, “it is clear that you [Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi] and your fighters are fearless and are ready to sacrifice in your intent for jihad.” The approval sends mixed signals….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Education, Islam, Media, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence