Daily Archives: November 2, 2014
“..the Christian life is a team sport…” A timely reminder.
I wrote about poppies last year. You write about them at your peril….
This week I read a piece about an ITV newscaster who had opted not to wear a poppy on screen. It wasn’t that she was against it: she did wear one when not in front of the camera. Her argument was that ITV didn’t allow her to wear anything as a broadcaster that identified her as a supporter of other charities such as breast cancer awareness, mental health or child poverty (I’ve forgotten her actual examples). So why, she argued, should the poppy, paid for and worn in support of the Royal British Legion, be an exception to that rule?
I admire the logic and the ethics, but I’m afraid she is misreading the symbolism. She hasn’t quite cottoned on to what the public mostly think they are doing when they wear the poppy. In social sciences-speak, she has got the semiotics wrong.
The poppy is far more than the logo of a particular veterans’ charity. As the poppy field in the Tower of London moat demonstrates, it is not quite like most other symbols.
More than four in 10 Anglican clergy would support loosening ties between church and state or severing them altogether, a major new study on attitudes in the pulpit in the UK shows.
The research also found that a significant minority of serving clerics would support breaking up the 80 million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion and even the Church of England itself along doctrinal lines amid disputes over issues such as homosexuality and the interpretation of the Bible.
Polling by YouGov for the Religion and Society Programme, an academic unit based at Lancaster University, also found that just over half of serving Anglican clergy believe Christians in Britain are suffering discrimination from the Government through the application of equality laws.
The first time Nathan Whitmore zapped his brain, he had a college friend standing by, ready to pull the cord in case he had a seizure. That didn’t happen. Instead, Whitmore started experimenting with the surges of electricity, and he liked the effects. Since that first cautious attempt, he’s become a frequent user of, and advocate for, homemade brain stimulators.
Depending on where he puts the electrodes, Whitmore says, he has expanded his memory, improved his math skills and solved previously intractable problems. The 22-year-old, a researcher in a National Institute on Aging neuroscience lab in Baltimore, writes computer programs in his spare time. When he attaches an electrode to a spot on his forehead, his brain goes into a “flow state,” he says, where tricky coding solutions appear effortlessly. “It’s like the computer is programming itself.”
Whitmore no longer asks a friend to keep him company while he plugs in, but he is far from alone. The movement to use electricity to change the brain, while still relatively fringe, appears to be growing, as evidenced by a steady increase in active participants in an online brain-hacking message board that Whitmore moderates.
Even as Americans’ trust in government eroded in recent years, people kept faith in a handful of agencies and institutions admired for their steadiness in ensuring the country’s protection.
To safeguard the president, there was the solidity of the Secret Service. To stand vigil against distant enemies, the U.S. nuclear missile corps was assumed to be on the job. And to ward off threats to public health, the nation counted on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Now, in the space of just a few months, the reputations of all those agencies – as well as the Veterans Administration – have been tarred by scandal or tarnished by doubt. Maybe a public buffeted by partisan rhetoric and nonstop news should be used to this by now. But, with the CDC facing tough questions about its response to the Ebola outbreak, something feels different. Government is about doing collectively what citizens can’t do alone, but its effectiveness is premised on trust.
O Lord, who in every age dost reveal thyself to the childlike and lowly of heart, and from every race dost write names in thy book of life: Give us the simplicity and faith of thy saints, that loving thee above all things, we may be what thou wouldst have us be, and do what thou wouldst have us do. So may we be numbered with thy saints in glory everlasting; through Jesus Christ, our Saviour.
The earth is the LORD’s and the fulness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein; for he has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the rivers.
We thank thee, O God, for the saints of all ages; for those who in times of darkness kept the lamp of faith burning; for the great souls who saw visions of larger truths and dared to declare them; for the multitude of quiet and gracious souls whose presence has purified and sanctified the world; and for those known and loved by us, who have passed from this earthly fellowship into the fuller life with thee. Accept this our thanksgiving through Jesus Christ, our Mediator and Redeemer, to whom be praise and dominion for ever.
Churches have condemned the British Government as un-Christian over its rejection of rescue missions for refugees drowning in the Mediterranean.
Bishop Patrick Lynch, who speaks for the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales on migration, said the decision not to support rescues was “a misguided abdication of responsibility” to thousands of desperate people fleeing war and persecution in the Middle East and Africa.
He said that as Europe’s “leading naval power” the UK has a moral responsibility to step in to save those risking death in attempting to reach Europe.
The Anglican Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev Alan Smith, said the decision was one he would “lament”.
A brief look at the news suggests African countries aren’t stepping up their support to the affected countries. This view, however, ignores three important lessons from Africa’s response to the outbreak.
The first is the capacity of the state to act in a timely and aggressive manner. Recently, WHO Nigerian representative Rui Gama Vaz said: “The virus is gone for now. The outbreak in Nigeria has been defeated.
“This is a spectacular success story that shows to the world Ebola can be contained, but we must be clear that we have only won a battle. The war will only end when West Africa is declared free of Ebola.”
Behind this success story lies competent public leaders and institutions that pursued their mission with vigour. After the diagnosis was made, Nigeria implemented a co-ordinated approach that involved making 18,000 visits to about 898 people to check their temperatures. This was possible because Nigeria had the state capacity to undertake such a massive effort in a timely manner.
…the Christian message isn’t burdened down by the miraculous. It’s inextricably linked to it. A pregnant woman conceives. The lame walk. The blind see. A dead man is resurrected, ascends to heaven, and sends the Spirit. The universe’s ruler is on his way to judge the living and the dead. Those who do away with such things are left with what J. Gresham Machen rightly identified as a different religion, a religion as disconnected from global Christianity as the made-up religion of Wicca is from the actual Druids of old.
The same is true with a Christian sexual ethic. Sexual morality didn’t become difficult with the onset of the sexual revolution. It always has been. Walking away from our own lordship, or from the tyranny of our desires, has always been a narrow way. The rich young ruler wanted a religion that would promise him his best life now, extended out into eternity. But Jesus knew that such an existence isn’t life at all, just the zombie corpse of the way of the flesh. He came to give us something else, to join us to his own life.
If we withhold what our faith teaches about a theology of the body, of marriage, of what it means to be created male and female, we will breed nothing but cynicism from those who will rightly conclude that we see them not as sinners in need of good news but as a marketing niche to be exploited by telling them what they want to hear.
You can’t grow a Christian church by being sub-Christian. That’s why there are no booming Arian or Unitarian or Episcopal Church (USA) church-planting movements….