Daily Archives: October 12, 2014

(Local paper) 2 international companies step up their presence in the South Carolina Lowcountry

Two major international companies put a huge stamp on the Lowcountry’s economy last week.

French high-voltage cablemaker Nexans officially opened an $85 million facility on the Cooper River in Berkeley County in Bushy Park Industrial Complex on Wednesday, while Japan-based Showa Denko Carbon on Friday celebrated a $300 million expansion of its 31-year-old factory near Ridgeville in Dorchester County.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Globalization, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(CNN) ISIS states its justification for the enslavement of women

In a new publication, ISIS justifies its kidnapping of women as sex slaves citing Islamic theology, an interpretation that is rejected by the Muslim world at large as a perversion of Islam.

“One should remember that enslaving the families of the kuffar — the infidels — and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shariah, or Islamic law,” the group says in an online magazine published Sunday.

The title of the article sums up the ISIS point of view: “The revival (of) slavery before the Hour,” referring to Judgment Day.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence, Women

Sunday Sermon: Christopher Seitz: The Wedding Banquet

Sermon given at St Matthews, Riverdale, Toronto on Sunday October 12th, Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend

Matthew 22: 1-14
As the rector reminded us last week, we are at that place in Matthew’s Gospel, and in our lectionary readings, where a series of parables come one after the other, repeat themes, and reinforce one another. Jesus has now arrived in Jerusalem before his passion. He has spoken openly to his disciples about his pending death, and the violence that will precede it.

“The Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified.”

Now he has arrived at the fateful moment and he begins to address them in parables. One thing is striking. The theme of violence is unmistakable. A prominent householder builds a fine vineyard with all the bells and whistles. He lets it out to tenants who not only produce nothing worth mentioning but beat and kill his servants when they arrive to inspect. He sends in reinforcements and they get the same terrible treatment. At last he sends his own son, thinking this will bring them to their senses. Instead they devise to kill him, so the vineyard will be theirs.

At this point Jesus turns to the religious leaders and asks what ought to be done? Their verdict is swift: put the wretches to a miserable death and let the vineyard out to those who will produce fruit.

This morning we get a similar story in three rounds. Now we have a king who puts on a lavish banquet, in honor of his son. Save the date notices have gone out, and servants are dispatched when the great day arrives. But the invited guests refuse to show up…
He sends out servants to clarify what a grand affair it is; and the food is piping hot! For their effort they are ignored, or indeed, beaten and killed. This time the king’s response matches the verdict given earlier by the religious leaders. Incensed, the king sends out troops who destroy the murderers and burn down their city.

Before we turn to the parable’s conclusion, notable surely is the almost irrational violence displayed, first to servants and the son of the vineyard owner. And then to the servants of the King…by guests invited to a lavish banquet! This is not only refusing to attend Mom’s thanksgiving dinner, but going on a senseless rampage when she says to turn off the TV and blowing up the car in the driveway.

The violence within these parables in Jerusalem only makes sense against the backdrop of Jesus’ last days. Accurately, if tragically, they anticipate the treatment Jesus will receive from his own people, as well as the gentile rulers. The vineyard owner’s son has come! The messianic banquet is ready! But Jesus knows what is in store for him. And he is right.

Now at one level the parables are fairly straightforward. God expected a responsive vineyard and joy at a banquet he had labored to prepare. But rather than seeing Jesus as its true fulfillment, the very son of God, the invited guests reject and kill him.

So what does he do? He goes out into the streets and invites others to come. Good and bad, you and me.

But as with last week, the parable is not so straightforward as it first seems. Someone is there at the banquet and notable for not bothering with a wedding garment, appropriate to the occasion and available for free at the door. Unlike the others, he is at the buffet table in a trench coat with deep pockets, piling in the chess pie and turkey with dressing. For this, we should note, his treatment is every bit as severe as that of the ingrates who killed the King’s servants. “Bind him hand and foot and cast him into outer darkness.”

Surely at this point the parable turns on its searchlight and scans for you and me. Am I wearing a wedding garment? What does that mean? One answer for sure is: to be a joyous participant at God’s banquet is more than just shuttling in with someone else’s battered and unused invitation, left behind after the city of invited guests was razed.

Last week it was the stone that caused stumbling. This week the wedding garment. To remind us surely that God’s final work in Jesus, for you and for me, is much, much more than getting to sit in seats vacated by those who refused to come before us, who indeed refused violently, who had high-grade stock invitations and clothes fit for the occasion.

Brother Jim was bad and had to go to his room, so I got to eat his turkey with stuffing.

I have found it difficult for my mind not to go to the movie that captures something of the deep truth of Jesus parable today, Babette’s Feast. If you don’t know the story please bear with me.

The pious daughters of a stern but holy minister have now reached ripe old age. Though the catch of the small Danish town where they grew up, they never married. Instead they lived lives of religious simplicity and sanctity, and did good deeds. Fleeing persecution in France, the mysterious Babette one day appears and places herself at their service. As the days go forward, Babette discovers that an old lottery ticket she has kept is in fact a winner. She proposes to the elderly daughters a banquet to honor the 100th anniversary of their pious father. They do not know the vastness of the sums she has won, and that she in turn spends, to prepare this lavish banquet for them, having all the exotic herbs, and vegetables, meat and poultry and fish, cases of wines for each course, all brought over from France.

Now as the feast approaches they grow restive and worried. The rich and foreign food frightens them, and they fear the sensual pleasure will dishonor their father. Who knows all the reasons for their anxiety? The strangeness of the food, patterns and habits they have grown used to, which are now threatened, the things done and left undone in the way their lives and ours unfold.

But in the end they agree. Fortunately one of the old suitors, who has lived a rich and worldly life, returns and is a guest alongside them. Twelve in number. He savors each dish. He eases them into the enjoyment of this unbelievable banquet Babette has so lovingly prepared. He declares only once in his life ever to have eaten such a meal, long ago, at a restaurant in Paris.

Now it is in the midst of the banquet, lost a bit in the food and wine, that their minds return to the past, the years now gone, and their stern but loving father. Old scenes are played out, wounds and petty skirmishing amongst them re-lived, and forgivenesses exchanged and received. Life brought back over so many years past, and redeemed in the presence of the banquet and of one another and of their loving hostess.

For the people of God, the messianic banquet was one in which the faithful in Israel moved from this life to the life to come. In the fullness of time Jesus comes personally to set the table for the banquet. But it frightens his own to the point of death itself. The reasons are not fully clear or stated, though the reaction is deeply wounding. And for those of us who have been invited to take their places, or sit alongside those who did come, we cannot enjoy all that Christ comes to give us without a wedding garment. So where do we get that?

Jesus says the one without the garment is cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. And that is of course the place he has himself come to occupy amongst us, without a garment of his own, except one parted and for which soldiers cast lots. So that, in him, fresh garments might be made for all. The first and the last.

The parable does not stay at the level of ”˜they are out, so you are in’ but probes more deeply. The ladies in Babette’s feast never wore wedding garments of their own, and in their duty and in their ordered lives must have missed out on much. Things that over time seemed lost for good, or upon their approach, scared them. So a man sat at table with them and helped them view the broad landscape of their lives without fear, and where regret and wounds arose, to heal and to bind them up. Clothing them in the love the banquet released then and now.

In the end they anticipate that, with the banquet now completed, their beloved Babette will leave and return home to France, not knowing that she has spent every single penny she has on them.

It is of course to this kind of banquet we have been invited, every day of our life. Our wedding garments have been woven by the one who spent all he had that we might be rich in his poverty and in his love. The outer darkness has been laid claim to, so that the save the date time is always there for our Yes and our decision to join in the feast. Will we join in? Will we put on the lovely garment he has made just for us and in our size? It sounds too good to be true because in Christ it is.

As for the Israel that refused, or that ignored or went away on business: Isaiah speaks from deep within their own number and proclaims the promise we hear this morning. So let’s end with that. It was directed from afar to us, who were not of the household of Israel and had no wedding garment. But now it speaks to them and bids, them and us both, come.

On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine””
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
he will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove his people’s disgrace
from all the earth.
The LORD has spoken.

In that day they will say,

“Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the LORD, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
[Isaiah 25:6-9]

The Reverend Professor Christopher Seitz is Senior Research Professor at Wycliffe College, Toronto and has recently published a Commentary on Colossians. He also serves as Canon Theologian in the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Biblical Commentary & Reflection

(PAW) Lawrence Graham on how We still have a problem with Prejudice in America

It was a Tuesday afternoon when my 15-year-old son called from his academic summer program at a leafy New England boarding school and told me that as he was walking across campus, a gray Acura with a broken rear taillight pulled up beside him. He continued along the sidewalk, and two men leaned out of the car and glared at him.

“Are you the only nigger at Mellon Academy*?” one shouted.

Certain that he had not heard them correctly, my son moved closer to the curb, and asked politely, “I’m sorry; I didn’t hear you … ”

But he had heard correctly. And this time the man spoke more clearly. “Only … nigger,” he said with added emphasis.

My son froze. He dropped his backpack in alarm and stepped back from the idling car. Within seconds, the men floored the sedan’s accelerator, honked the horn loudly, and drove off, their laughter echoing behind them….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Race/Race Relations, Theology

(RNS) Interview: Marilynne Robinson on the language of faith in writing

What are you afraid of? That’s what Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson asks writers who shy away from writing about faith.

The beloved author has won accolades after writing so openly about belief, but it remains a subject few other writers take on.

“It’s courageous of Robinson to write about faith at a time when associations with religion are so often negative and violent,” Diane Johnson wrote in her New York Times review of Robinson’s latest book, “Lila,” which was released Tuesday (Oct. 7).

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Religion & Culture

(BBC) Poland Stun Germany, beating them 2-0 in a Euro 2016 qualifying Match

World champions Germany lost for the first time in 19 competitive matches as Poland beat them to move top of their Euro 2016 qualifying group.

Arkadiusz Milik’s 51st-minute header was added to late on by Sebastian Mila’s sweeping finish.

Poland had never before beaten Germany, who had also not lost in 33 previous qualifiers, a run dating back to 2007.

The Poles move above Republic of Ireland on goal difference and next host Scotland on Tuesday.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Germany, Men, Poland, Sports

(Crux) Does synod's focus on divorce risk overshadowing preventing marriages from breaking down?

Is another way of putting it that the focus on divorced and remarried Catholics and on annulments risks overshadowing the bigger question, which is how to prevent marriages from breaking down in the first place?

Absolutely. The preventative approach is important. Of course, we never should be making a choice between helping people who are suffering and trying to prevent them from getting hurt in the first place. We have to do both.

What would be most useful to you as an American bishop out of this synod?

I think the most useful result would be a confirmation of the beauty of the Church’s teaching and a resolve on the part of the Church at all levels, not just the bishops, to support marriage and family.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture

President of Anbar's provincial council pleads for US troops as ISIS advances in Iraq

An Iraqi provincial leader has issued a plea for US ground forces to head off total collapse in the country’s largest province, a swathe of territory that could serve as a springboard for an assault on Baghdad by forces of the so-called Islamic State.

The call by Sabah al-Karhout, the president of Anbar’s provincial council, will test the nerve of officials in the Iraqi and American capitals. It comes as a rash of suicide bombings in Baghdad late on Saturday killed more than 50 people and wounded nearly 100, mostly in Shiite districts of the city.

Set beside the ongoing failure of US-led airstrikes to turn the tide in the battle for Kobane, a small Kurdish community in the north of neighbouring Syria, and desperate fighting in the oil refinery town of Baiji, north of Baghdad, Mr Karhout’s appeal will leave many in the region and beyond wondering how the US and its allies intend to save an entire country, when seemingly they can’t save a single town.

Read it all from the SMH.

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

(Westminster Faith Debates) C of E Clergy United on Parish System

When asked how important it is to maintain the parish system 83% say it is important, 12% not important, and 5% have no strong feelings either way. There is no other topic in the survey (which asked 29 questions in total) on which there is such uniformity of opinion ”“ except the belief that there is a ”˜personal God’ (83%)….

One reason for the high level of support for the parish system may be clergy’s belief that the CofE exists to serve the whole nation. When asked who the Church should prioritise 2/3 say ”˜England as a whole’ and only 5% say regular churchgoers.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sociology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst pray for thy disciples that they might be one, even as thou art one with the Father: Draw us to thyself, that in common love and obedience to thee we may be united to one another, in the fellowship of the one Spirit, that the world may believe that thou art Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

–William Temple

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are ill-clad and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become, and are now, as the refuse of the world, the offscouring of all things.

I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me.

1 Corinthians 4:9-16

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(SHNS) Terry Mattingly: Vicar of Baghdad visits the Holocaust Museum

There are at least three levels of violence. The first demonstrates mere power and greed, with mobs and soldiers driving people out of their homes and businesses and into the streams of refugees. According to United Nations estimates, at least 1 million Iraqis have been displaced during the past four months.

The second level of everyday violence, she said bluntly, is “just shooting people.”

On the third level, people move beyond deadly violence into unbelievable acts of terror. A Muslim who fled the fighting, said Ahmed, told her one story about what happened to some Iraqi men who could not flee fast enough. The Islamic State soldiers “lay them on the ground, after shooting them,” and then rolled over the bodies with a tractor in “front of their families, just to devastate them.”

[Andrew] White said those who survive are left haunted by what they have seen and, in some cases, what they themselves have done.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Inter-Faith Relations, Iraq, Judaism, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(Ham. Chronicle) Packed Winchester Cathedral for Requiem Eucharist for Bp Michael Scott-Joynt

The flag fluttered at half-mast over Winchester, the bells pealed and the people of Hampshire gathered to say goodbye to a long-serving former bishop.

The Right Rev Michael Scott-Joynt died on September 27, aged 71, three years after his retirement as Bishop, a position he held for 16 years.

Around 800 people gathered at the cathedral yesterday to pay their final respects at the two-hour ceremony.

Guests included Dame Mary Fagan, who recently retired as Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, Mayor of Winchester, Eileen Berry, and city council leader Rob Humby.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry