Daily Archives: November 7, 2014

Myanmar Policy’s Message to Muslims: Get Out

The Myanmar government has given the estimated one million Rohingya people in this coastal region of the country a dispiriting choice: Prove your family has lived here for more than 60 years and qualify for second-class citizenship, or be placed in camps and face deportation.

The policy, accompanied by a wave of decrees and legislation, has made life for the Rohingya, a long-persecuted Muslim minority, ever more desperate, spurring the biggest flow of Rohingya refugees since a major exodus two years ago.

In the last three weeks alone, 14,500 Rohingya have sailed from the beaches of Rakhine State to Thailand, with the ultimate goal of reaching Malaysia, according to the Arakan Project, a group that monitors Rohingya refugees.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Foreign Relations, Islam, Myanmar/Burma, Other Faiths, Politics in General

[Spectator] Damian Thompson: Watch out Pope Francis: the Catholic civil war has begun

..now another voice is being heard. The last pope is neither dead nor senile nor as silent as we thought he was going to be. In the last month Benedict XVI has written to the ex-Anglicans of the Ordinariate expressing delight that they now worship in the former Bavarian chapel in Warwick Street, London; to Rome’s Pontifical Urban University about the dangers of relativism; and, most significantly, to supporters of the old liturgy. ”˜I am very glad that the usus antiquior [the traditional Latin Mass] now lives in full peace within the church, also among the young, supported and celebrated by great cardinals,’ he said. In fact, very few cardinals celebrate in the old rite. But one who does is Raymond Burke. ”˜Benedict is well aware of that,’ says a Ratzinger loyalist. ”˜He’s not under the illusion that he’s still pope, but he was appalled by the sight of Kasper trashing his legacy and he is making his displeasure clear.’

Where does this leave Francis? Looking a bit like ”˜the Hamlet Pope’, Paul VI, whom he has beatified. He supports some sort of reform, but uncertainty is breaking the church into factions reminiscent of the Anglican Communion. Old enemies of Benedict XVI reckon they can persuade Francis to stack the college of cardinals in their favour. Meanwhile, Burke has emerged as leader of the hardline traditionalists. ”˜He did not want this role but perhaps he sees himself as a St John Fisher figure,’ says one Vatican source, a comparison that casts the successor of Peter in the role of Henry VIII.

What should worry Francis is that moderate conservative Catholics are losing confidence in him…

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic

(Weekly Standard) Mark Tooley on evangelicals and the recent Election

Remarkably, the 26 percent of the 2014 electorate who were white evangelicals, according to exit polls, is higher than the 23 percent of 2004, when evangelicals were lionized as an imposing electoral force. Their key role in reelecting fellow evangelical George W. Bush provoked overwrought rhetoric by some on the left about the threat of impending theocracy. (Bush also won Hispanic evangelicals.)

Much of the public reaction to conservative Christian voting patterns, especially for evangelicals, is hyperbolic””both the warnings of impending theocracy and the claims of demographic collapse. But as religion reporter Mark Silk has noted: “Simply put, the more things changed, the more they stayed the same.” The 2014 exit polls show the “religious layout of the electorate looks almost identical to the last midterm election in 2010, and not much different from the 2012 presidential election.”

Wherever demographic trends lead in the future, conservative Christians were decisive in the 2014 election, and their percentage of the electorate has not declined.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks on The Binding of Isaac

Why then did God say to Abraham about Isaac: “Offer him up as a burnt offering”? So as to make clear to all future generations that the reason Jews condemn child sacrifice is not because they lack the courage to do so. Abraham is the proof that they do not lack the courage. The reason they do not do so is because God is the God of life, not death. In Judaism, as the laws of purity and the rite of the Red Heifer show, death is not sacred. Death defiles.

The Torah is revolutionary not only in relation to society but also in relation to the family. To be sure, the Torah’s revolution was not fully completed in the course of the biblical age. Slavery had not yet been abolished. The rights of women had not yet been fully actualised. But the birth of the individual ”“ the integrity of each of us as a moral agent in our own right ”“ was one of the great moral revolutions in history.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Judaism, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Charlotte Observer) Billy Graham to celebrate 96th birthday quietly at home

Billy Graham, born just days before the end of World War I, turns 96 on Friday.

This year, he’ll celebrate his birthday quietly with family at his mountaintop home in Montreat.

No big party is planned like last year’s, when 900 people ”“ including a score of celebrities ”“ gathered at Asheville’s Grove Park Inn.

But admirers of the Charlotte-born evangelist can listen to a new message from Graham in a 30-minute video called “Heaven” that was produced by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Evangelicals, Health & Medicine, Other Churches

The Reverend Philip John North announced as the new Suffragan Bishop of Burnley

He served his curacy at Sunderland Saint Mary and Saint Peter, in the Diocese of Durham from 1992 to 1996. Since 1997 he has been involved with the Company of Mission Priests. From 1996 to 2002 he was Vicar of Hartlepool Holy Trinity in Durham Diocese and from 2000 to 2002 he was Area Dean of Hartlepool. From 2002 to 2008 he was Priest Administrator at the Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham and from 2004 to 2007 he was also Priest-in-Charge of Hempton and Pudding Norton in the diocese of Norwich.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(Ministry Matters) Clifton Stringer–John Wesley: A ”˜man of one book’ and a thousand

John Wesley, like him or love him, could not be accused of neglecting the biblical idiom. His sermons glow, or sometimes sag, with Scripture’s peculiar phrasings. He famously called himself homo unius libri, “a man of one book.” You got it ”” he means the Bible. Yet, as Randy Maddox notes, Wesley owned over 1,000 books, ranging from Christian history to medicine, politics, poetry, and beyond. The elegant harmony Wesley (like Hamann) saw between the thousands of books and the One Book is already inscribed in his bold self-moniker ”” do not let the humor pass you by ”” Wesley announces that he is homo unius libri in Latin. He is an Oxford Bible Moth, to be sure.

In Wesley, Wesleyans, and Reading Bible as Scripture (Green and Watson, ed.s.), Maddox observes how John Wesley himself read the Bible, with an eye to hinting at how we might follow Wesley’s lead.

Wesley’s practices which Maddox unpacks in his chapter are:

1. Reading the One Book comparatively in its many different versions
2. Reading comparatively the many books in the One Book
3. Reading comparatively in light of God’s central purpose ”” our salvation
4. Reading the One Book in conference with the Holy Spirit
5. Reading the One Book in conference with other readers
6. Reading the One Book in conference with Christian tradition
7. Reading the One Book in conference with the Book of Nature

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Methodist, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Exeter Cathedral treasure found in Oxfam bookshop

An unusual email to library staff at Exeter Cathedral has led to the unearthing of a 16th-century copy of the New Testament in a Surrey charity shop.

The volume, Jesu Christi D.N. Nouum Testamentum, was edited by the Frenchman Theodore Beza, an important figure in the Reformation and a contemporary of John Calvin. It was published in 1574 by Thomas Vautrollier, a French Huguenot refugee who became a leading printer of religious books in England.

It was recognised by a browser in the Oxfam shop in Dorking, Surrey, who noticed that it contained a dedication to E. C. Harington, dated 1869. He was Edward Charles Harington, a former Canon Chancellor of Exeter Cathedral. On his death in 1881, his extensive collection of books was bequeathed to the Dean and Chapter.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Books, Church History, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Religion & Culture

(FT) The rise of Christianity in China

The demolition of this towering Protestant cathedral on the outskirts of the coastal Chinese city of Wenzhou on April 28 2014 marked the spectacular launch of a government campaign to curtail the fastest-growing religion in nominally atheist China. There are now about 100 million Christians in the world’s most populous nation, eclipsing the 86.7 million-strong membership of the ruling Communist party. According to western intellectual tradition, modernity is supposed to bring secularisation but in modern Communist China it has been accompanied by an extraordinary rise of religions formerly banned as “opiates of the masses”.

Perhaps most surprising, given its status as a “foreign” religion and its close association with an earlier era of gunboats and imperialism, Christianity (particularly the Protestant variety) has been the big winner in the competition for Chinese souls. If it continues to spread at its current pace, the country is very likely to be home to the world’s largest Christian population within the next 15 years. For China’s authoritarian leaders, who despise and fear any force not under their direct control, this seemingly unstoppable trend is very disturbing.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Evangelism and Church Growth, Globalization, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Jane's Terrorism & Insurgency Monitor) State of war: The Iraqi Sunni actors taking on ISIS

As illustrated, there are a number of substantial factors that impede a wider Sunni armed pushback against the Islamic State within Iraq, but this does not mean no local gains or progress is possible in the campaign against the group. After US airstrikes began targeting Islamic State positions in northern Iraq in early August, it was apparent that the concentration of air power in support of effective ground forces could be successful in forcing the group to withdraw from territory. This was apparent in Iraq most recently with the breaking of the Islamic State’s siege of Amerli by Shia militias and the group’s loss of the Rabia border crossing in Ninawa province to the Peshmerga (Kurdish security forces).

However, neither the Peshmerga nor Shia militias have either the means or legitimacy to assert authority over the substantial swaths of predominantly Sunni territory that the Islamic State currently controls in conjunction with local Sunni insurgents. What is required for external airstrikes to be effective in these areas is a Sunni force with local legitimacy to be able to restore the presence and authority of the government. However, with a current severe disconnect between the government and the Sunni population of western and northern Iraq, what is required is deep internal change from within on the part of the government, in addition to a sea change in attitude among Sunni insurgents and their local supporters; whether such change is possible in the foreseeable future is in doubt.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Terrorism, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Willibrord

O Lord our God, who dost call whom thou willest and send them whither thou choosest: We thank thee for sending thy servant Willibrord to be an apostle to the Low Countries, to turn them from the worship of idols to serve thee, the living God; and we entreat thee to preserve us from the temptation to exchange the perfect freedom of thy service for servitude to false gods and to idols of our own devising; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to start the Day from John Calvin

My God, my Father and Preserver, who of thy goodness hast watched over me during the past night, and brought me to this day, grant also that I may spend it wholly in the worship and service of thy most holy deity. Let me not think, or say, or do a single thing which tends not to thy service and submission to thy will, that thus all my actions may aim at thy glory and the salvation of my brethren, while they are taught by my example to serve thee. And as thou art giving light to this world for the purposes of external life by the rays of the sun, so enlighten my mind by the effulgence of thy Spirit, that he may guide me in the way of thy righteousness. To whatever purpose I apply my mind, may the end which I ever propose to myself be thy honour and service. May I expect all happiness from thy grace and goodness only. Let me not attempt any thing whatever that is not pleasing to thee.

Grant also, that while I labour for the maintenance of this life, and care for the things which pertain to food and raiment, I may raise my mind above them to the blessed and heavenly life which thou hast promised to thy children. Be pleased also, in manifesting thyself to me as the protector of my soul as well as my body, to strengthen and fortify me against all the assaults of the devil, and deliver me from all the dangers which continually beset us in this life. But seeing it is a small thing to have begun, unless I also persevere, I therefore entreat of thee, O Lord, not only to be my guide and director for this day, but to keep me under thy protection to the very end of life, that thus my whole course may be performed under thy superintendence. As I ought to make progress, do thou add daily more and more to the gifts of thy grace until I wholly adhere to thy Son Jesus Christ, whom we justly regard as the true Sun, shining constantly in our minds. In order to my obtaining of thee these great and manifold blessings, forget, and out of thy infinite mercy, forgive my offences, as thou hast promised that thou wilt do to those who call upon thee in sincerity.

(Ps. 143:8.) Grant that I may hear thy voice in the morning since I have hoped in thee. Show me the way in which I should walk, since I have lifted up my soul unto thee. Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord, I have fled unto thee. Teach me to do thy will, for thou art my God. Let thy good Spirit conduct me to the land of uprightness.

–John Calvin (1509-1564)

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

At that very hour some Pharisees came, and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ”˜Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course. Nevertheless I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ”˜Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

–Luke 13:31-35

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Bloomberg) Ukraine Lurches Back Toward Open War on East Fighting

Ukraine’s east lurched back toward open war as the government in Kiev and pro-Russian rebels accused each other of starting major offensives in the region.

The Ukrainian government said there were 26 outbreaks of fighting yesterday between its forces and separatists in the east, while the rebels said the Kiev government’s troops had gone on a large-scale military push there.

The standoff is coming to a head after Ukraine and its allies accused separatists of undermining peace efforts with Nov. 2 elections in Donetsk and Luhansk. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Nov. 5 that Ukraine’s “civil war” isn’t subsiding as cities continue to come under shelling and the civilian death toll rises.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Ukraine

(W Post) As Ebola infections drop, Liberian capital reawakens

On a dirt field between two tall plum trees, barefoot young women played a surprisingly ferocious game of kickball one evening this week. Sweating in the heat and humidity despite the approach of dusk, they battled with the pent-up energy of teens who have been stuck at home too long.

A crowd of 100, maybe more, gathered to watch. Huge speakers blared the Ghanain hip-hop of Sargo D, making conversation nearly impossible. The spectators stood closely together. Some danced, some moved more subtly to the music. Had there been food and drink, this gathering in Monrovia’s Capitol Hill neighborhood could have been a block party.

Barely six or seven weeks ago, it also would have been impossible.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anthropology, Children, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Liberia, Politics in General, Psychology, Teens / Youth, Theology