Daily Archives: November 8, 2014

(Her.meneutics) Marilynne Robinson–The Calvinist on the Bestseller List

The three most recent, interrelated novels””Gilead, Home, and Lila, which was released last month””are exquisitely imagined human stories that work out many of the theological themes to which Robinson’s writing returns again and again. It is not quite accurate to describe them as “engag[ing] deeply with the thornier aspects of Calvinist theology,” given that Robinson’s characters””themselves devout Calvinists””rue the “crude” use to which certain doctrines (e.g. predestination) have been put. It would be truer to say that Robinson’s novels engage deeply with a theology of amazing grace.

Lila is the story of Reverend Ames’s wife, whose presence in Home and Gilead is shy and mysterious. Until now, readers have only known that she is uneducated, much younger than Rev. Ames, and that she has had a hard life. If Gilead is an old preacher’s letter to his son, explicating the Ten Commandments, and Home is a meditation on the resonance of the story of the prodigal son (and these are reductionistic descriptions, to be sure), Lila is the strange parable in Ezekiel, of God seeing Israel as an orphaned baby, “weltering” in blood, and taking it up, and loving it into life.

“I believe in the grace of God,” Reverend Ames tells Lila, his wife, who, though settled in Gilead, struggles to feel at home, and worries what will become of the people who raised her; the people she loved, none of whom gave much thought to their immortal souls. “For me, that is where all questions end.”

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

Latvian Church's new Pastor is a Woman Bishop

When the congregation of St Saviour’s in the Latvian capital of Riga welcomed a new Priest in Charge they made a little bit of church history. While the Church of England has just accepted the principle of women bishops, the Rt Rev JÄ“ruma-GrÄ«nberga has held the title as a bishop in the Lutheran church in Britain before returning to her family homeland.

Five years ago, at a ceremony in central London, Jāna, who was born in Britain and whose parents were Lutheran refugees, was consecrated as head of the Lutheran Church in Great Britain.

She takes over the church in Riga which itself has a young, revitalised history. After Latvia regained its independence in 1991 the English-speaking congregation was re-formed and has had a formal pastor since 1995.

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

In Move that Surprised Many, the Supreme Court Takes On the Fate Of Obamacare (The ACA) Again

The Supreme Court announced Friday that it will hear the most serious challenge to the Affordable Care Act since the justices found it constitutional more than two years ago: a lawsuit targeting the federal subsidies that help millions of Americans buy health insurance.

More than 4 million people receive the subsidies, which the Obama administration contends are essential to the act by making insurance more affordable for low- and middle-income families.

But challengers say the administration is violating the plain language of the law. They are represented by the same conservative legal strategists who fell one vote short of convincing the court that the law was unconstitutional the last time around.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, Senate, The U.S. Government, Theology

(NPR) Transgender Men Who Become Pregnant Face Social, Health Challenges

“Pregnancy and childbirth were very male experiences for me,” said a 29-year-old respondent in a study reported Friday in Obstetrics and Gynecology. “When I birthed my children, I was born into fatherhood.”

If this statement at first seems perplexing, it’s less so when you realize the person talking is a transgender man ”“ someone who has transitioned from a female identity to a male or masculine identity.

He is one of 41 participants in a study of how it feels to be male and pregnant, a study the authors think may be the first of its kind.

Pregnancy as a transgender man is unlike any other kind. No one expects a man to be pregnant, and the study participants said they were often greeted with double-takes, suspicion and even hostility from strangers and health care providers. “Child Protective Services was alerted to the fact that a ‘tranny’ had a baby,” one participant reported.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Men, Psychology, Sexuality, Theology, Women

(PR FactTank) Looking Carefully at the Different stories from Yesterday's jobs Report

if we look at just the 25-to-54 age group, which strips out most students and retirees, the employment-to-population ratio has been slowly improving since it bottomed out at 74.6% (not seasonally adjusted) in February 2011. Last month, 77.3% of all 25-to-54-year-olds were employed, which is well below the indicator’s pre-recession high in October 2006, when 80.7% of people in this age group were employed.

Then again, not all employment is created equal, either. During the Great Recession, the ranks of people working part-time either because they couldn’t find full-time work or because their hours were cut back because of slack demand soared from around 3% of all employed people pre-recession to 6.6% in March 2010. There are fewer such involuntary part-timers now, but last month they still accounted for 4.8% of all employed people (and 2.7% of the entire adult civilian non-institutional population).

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The U.S. Government, Theology

(NYT) World Magazine–w/ investigative reporting–Creates a Stir Among Evangelical Christians

[Mark] Driscoll cannot take all the credit for his own downfall. For one thing, any faithful Christian would give Satan his due, for leading Mr. Driscoll astray. Then there is the role played by World, an evangelical Christian newsmagazine that broke one of the most damaging stories about Mr. Driscoll. In March, World reported that $210,000 in Mars Hill church funds had gone to a marketing firm that promised to get “Real Marriage,” a book written by Mr. Driscoll and his wife, on best-seller lists.

World was not the only outlet to take on Mr. Driscoll. The blogger Warren Throckmorton, in particular, persistently chronicled concerns about Mars Hill for the website Patheos. But the story about best-seller lists was also not the first scoop for World, and Mr. Driscoll was not the first conservative Christian leader that the magazine had taken on.

In October 2012, a World reporter, Warren Cole Smith, revealed that Dinesh D’Souza, the conservative author, filmmaker and activist, had attended a Christian conference with a woman not his wife ”” a woman he was introducing as his fiancée. Soon after, Mr. D’Souza resigned as president of King’s College in New York City.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Media, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Economist) Almost half of American states have taken steps to legalise Marijuana

Besides choosing lawmakers, on November 4th voters in three American states and the District of Columbia considered measures to liberalise the cannabis trade. Alaska and Oregon, where it is legal to provide “medical marijuana” to registered patients, voted to go further and let the drug be sold and taken for recreational purposes, as Colorado and Washington state already allow. In DC, a measure to legalise the possession of small amounts for personal use was passed. A majority of voters in Florida opted to join the lengthening list of places where people can seek a doctor’s note that lets them take the drug. However, the measure fell just short of the 60% needed to change the state constitution. Even so, that such a big state in the conservative South came so close to liberalising shows how America’s attitude to criminalising pot has changed.

After this week’s votes only 27 states outlaw all sale or possession of marijuana. In the rest, a thriving “canna-business” is emerging…: trade in the drug is escaping the grasp of organised crime and becoming normal, just as alcohol did after the end of Prohibition. But even as moves to legalise and regularise the business continue at state level, the federal government and Congress remain dead set against the drug. A panoply of federal laws to curb the marijuana trade remain in place; and in recent months the Drug Enforcement Administration has raided cannabis dispensaries in California that are operating under state licences.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, State Government, Taxes, Theology

Recognize our Veterans, Active Military and their Families on Sunday, November 9

[The Diocese of South Carolina]…is blessed with many military families, and countless retirees and veterans and their families. On Nov 9, the Sunday before Veteran’s Day, we ask that you remember and say a prayer of thanksgiving and for God’s safety for all those who have served our nation, all those still serving, and especially for their families.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Media, Parish Ministry

A Prayer at the Start of the Day from B. F. Westcott

Almighty God, who hast sent the Spirit of truth unto us to guide us into all truth: We beseech thee so to rule our lives by thy power that we may be truthful in word and deed and thought. Keep us, most merciful Father, with thy gracious protection, that no fear or hope may ever make us false in act or speech. Cast out from us whatsoever loveth or maketh a lie, and bring us all into the perfect freedom of thy truth; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

At the set time which I appoint I will judge with equity. When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars….

For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up; but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.

–Psalm 75: 2-3; 6-7

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CBC) 'Sock man’ saves the feet of thousands of homeless in Edmonton

Gordon Smith doesn’t leave the house without at least a couple of pairs of socks. The memory of seeing what he calls “hideous” feet ”” toes eaten by frostbite, or reddened and peeling from trench foot ”” reminds him that the gift of a warm pair of clean socks can go a long way on the streets of Edmonton.

“It is such a minuscule gift that I can give them,” Smith said during a Friday morning breakfast at the All Saints Cathedral Anglican Church organized for homeless people in the city.

“They need more, they have nothing and when you give them something that they personally have and own and it’s brand new, it’s their own.”

Smith has been giving out socks for a decade in Edmonton and figures he’s amassed 70,000 pairs of socks, enough to fill an average-sized bedroom, and enough to crown him with the title “sock man,” among some who know him.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Poverty, Urban/City Life and Issues

(WSJ) Mira Sethi–A ”˜Blasphemy’ Blight in Pakistan

A Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up last week on the outskirts of Lahore, killing more than 60 people. A few days later, 32 miles away, a violent mob incinerated a Christian couple accused of blasphemy.

The two incidents seem unrelated””one an atrocity committed in the service of global terrorism, the other an eruption of local violence. But taken together, the incidents tell the story of Pakistan today: A country and people opposed to the Taliban’s extremist version of Islam, but unconsciously affirming it in small but significant ways.

The suicide bombing by the Taliban at the Wagah crossing on the India-Pakistan border targeted families who had come to watch the daily flag-lowering ceremony. Condemnations and angst poured in from every corner””from Pakistani media, politicians and the military. The city of Lahore resolved, with considerable fanfare, to defy the Taliban by going ahead with the flag-raising ceremony the day after the bombing, an event that drew a large crowd.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Law & Legal Issues, Pakistan, Religion & Culture, Violence