Daily Archives: November 20, 2014

(RNS) Austrian bill would ban foreign funding for mosques, imams

Austria’s Muslim community is incensed over the government’s plans to amend the country’s century-old law on Islam.

The new bill, championed by Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration Sebastian Kurz, forbids foreign funding of mosque construction or of imams working in the country and requires a unified German-language translation of the Quran.
The government argues the legislation, which Parliament will vote on this month, will help combat Islamic radicalism. Muslim groups and civic activists say it flouts the principle of equality.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Austria, Europe, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

([London] Times) Christianity and Islam go head to head during Interfaith Week in Birmingham

“I’m Nur. I’m 19. I’m an Arab, I’m a Muslim,” says a young man in a hoodie and grey sweats. “I’m a good person living in a bad area,” he pauses and looks up from his script. “Can someone listen while I speak?” Nur asks.

This is a rehearsal for Conflict of Silence, a radio play to be performed ”” and recorded ”” in Birmingham on November 17. The three stars, all unemployed, are different ages and of different ethnic backgrounds. What they share is religious faith: Derek, who reads his script straight, then in West Indian patois, is Christian. Nur and Hanna, a tall, leggy girl in a magenta hijab, are Muslim. And they could not be more different. “What I’ve learnt is the strong effect that different cultures have on Islam,” says Derek. Hanna is of Somali origin, Nur’s family are from Yemen. “We had a bit of a disagreement about women staying at home,” says Hanna lightly.

And that is the point. This is a project for InterFaith Week (which runs from tomorrow until next Satuday), and the aim is to air differences and have open debate. The audience will be invited to respond afterwards, ask questions, share thoughts. “The play is a question mark rather than a full stop,” says Steve, the Christian co-ordinating the play for Soul City Arts. The hope is to spark dialogue between polarised faith communities. He explains: “Our [faith] communities aren’t talking because we are afraid to challenge each other.” People remain polite, he adds, but, often in Muslim majority areas, community relations are perceived “as a question of them and us”.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Theology

Illinois Postal workers stay alert, save a child and get thanks for thwarting a predator

Every day all over America, postal workers complete their appointed rounds without much notice. But in one Midwest town, they turned into heroes.

Christy Perfetti has been delivering mail in East Peoria, Ill., for 23 years. Almost a decade along this same route.

For the most part, she says every day is like every other. Except for one day last year.

Perfetti was pulling into the post office parking lot when she saw an older man taking a young boy behind a shed. She had a gut instinct something was wrong.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Children, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Sexuality, The U.S. Government, Theology

ACC Chair Says "We want your thoughts on the next Anglican Communion Secretary General"

Anglicans and Episcopalians from Communion provinces worldwide are being invited to share their thoughts on the ministry priorities and qualities of the next Secretary General of the Anglican Communion.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Consultative Council, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Der Spiegel) Hashtags and Holy War: ISIS Tweets Its Way to Success

SPIEGEL: Delivery is one thing. Why is Islamic State’s message finding so much traction with young people?

Soufan: There are different motives that drive people to join this kind of organization. Most of today’s IS followers were kids when 9/11 happened. You’re dealing with a new generation that has a totally different view of global jihad. To them, al-Qaida is an assembly of old guys. I mean, look at Osama bin Laden’s successor Ayman al-Zawahiri. He has no charisma. But IS now is new and modern, they succeeded in being the new guys — at least relatively speaking. Nevertheless, Osama bin Laden is still their hero. His photo can be found on the websites of numerous IS followers. The ideology is the same, the strategy is different.

SPIEGEL: Are there any means for putting a stop to Islamic State’s success?

Soufan: Our problem is that after 9/11 we never had a strategy that included fighting ideology, to counter their narrative. We had tactics designed to keep us safe, to disrupt their plans, to arrest and kill leaders, even to kill bin Laden. But there was no plan to counter their narratives. In 2004, bin Laden had around 400 fighters under oath. IS today has thousands fighters and followers in countries all over the world. This is an unfortunate failure.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(ABC Aus.) Stanley Hauerwas–After the Reformation: Does Protestant Christian Ethics have a Future?

We live “after the Reformation.” It remains unclear to me, however, if we know where we are or in what time we are living by that description. “After the Reformation” is a description that assumes our history remains the history of Christianity. That assumption reproduces a Constantinian presumption. But if we are in the final stages of Protestantism, it is not clear how we should tell the story of where we have been or what we think the future holds.

Accordingly, I do not think we know what it might mean to be a Protestant ethicist. In the meantime, however, I see no reason we should not make the most of what we have got – that is, we are finally free. It is not the task of the church to ensure a stable world. Our task is to be faithful to the Lord who has taught us to pray. To learn to pray, to learn the language of prayer, may make it possible for us to speak the truth to one another, for on that does the world’s salvation depend.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Philosophy, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(Time) An Infant’s Brain Maps Language From Birth, Study Says

A new study study reveals that an infant’s brain may remember a language, even if the child has no idea how to speak a word of it.

The finding comes from a new study performed by a team of researchers from McGill University’s Department of Psychology and Montreal’s Neurological Institute who are working to understand how the brain learns language.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Health & Medicine, Poetry & Literature, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

New Bishop of Saint Edmundsbury and Ipswich announced

He served his title at the parish of Bottesford with Ashby, Scunthorpe in Lincoln Diocese from 1978 to 1980. He then returned to New York City where he served as curate at the Church of the Epiphany and Assistant Director of Trinity Institute, Trinity Wall Street, from 1980 to 1985. From 1985 to 1990 he was Executive Director of the Thompson Center, an ecumenical lay and clergy education programme in St Louis, Missouri.

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

Kendall Harmon's Sunday Sermon–Money Talks, what does our use of God's money say?

You can listen directly there and and download the mp3 there. Please note the sermon starts 12:00 minutes in after a laywoman’s personal testimony. There is also a video which is used appearing at 31:40, and it can be viewed there.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Stewardship, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Good local article on One80 Place that trains homeless residents for restaurant work

One80 Place’s program isn’t unique: There are dozens of similar kitchen-based initiatives across the country, ranging from modest Culinary 101-type classes to full-fledged restaurants serving the public. But it’s especially appropriate for Charleston, where severe understaffing threatens to upend the local food-and-beverage economy.

The lurking downer is that the efficacy of such programs remains remarkably unclear. Scholars have scrutinized the causes of homelessness and the demographics of the U.S. homeless population, but whether job training leads to long-term employment remains largely unexplored. Even Catalyst Kitchens, a national network of organizations that “transform lives through foodservice job training and social enterprise,” couldn’t muster any evidence showing kitchen-centered training results in better outcomes than other interventions.

“We’re all sort of finding our way,” says Angela DuPree, One80 Place’s director of operations.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Poverty

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Edmund of East Anglia

O God of ineffable mercy, who didst give grace and fortitude to blessed Edmund the king to triumph over the enemy of his people by nobly dying for thy Name: Bestow on us thy servants, we beseech thee, the shield of faith, wherewith we may withstand the assaults of our ancient enemy; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Martin Luther

I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of all his wonderful works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his presence continually!

–Psalm 105:1-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

BBC audio piece on the British nurse, Will Pooley, who has returned to Sierra Leone to treat Ebola

The British nurse who has returned to Sierra Leone after recovering from Ebola has told the BBC he’s “frustrated” by the “woefully slow” international response to the outbreak. Will Pooley is back at the heart of the crisis, treating patients at the Connaught Hospital in the capital Freetown. He’s been speaking to our global health correspondent Tulip Mazumdar.

Listen to it all (starts at 1:52 in using the link at the top of the page).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Sierra Leone

(CT's Her.meneutics) Christine Caine: Would God Give Me Ministry and Marriage?

Nick wanted me to keep running the race. He did not want me to stop or slow down. He simply wanted us to run together. I was too stunned for words and overcome with the gift God had given me in this man ”” a man who would join me in ministry. He was so secure in himself and his relationship with God that having a wife in a leadership role in a national ministry was not a threat to him but an honor. He was okay with me, a woman on the stage, and he backstage, a spiritual warrior in our ministry. How could it be that this man, so passionate for the cause of Christ, was also passionately in love with me?

I thought, Lord, I can marry that kind of man.

And so I did. That is the power of passion!

Passion enlarged my heart. Not only was I still passionate for the cause of Christ and pursuing my purpose, but now I was also passionate about this amazing man of God. My goal did not change. Together, we would run toward the finish line. It was Jesus and always would be. God did not give me the baton of marriage to drop the baton of ministry; he gave me Nick to help carry the baton of ministry.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry

WHO says Ebola death toll rises to 5,420

World Health Organization said Wednesday that 5,420 people had so far died of Ebola across eight countries, out of a total 15,145 cases of infection, since late December 2013.

On Friday, the UN health agency had reported 5,177 deaths and 14,413 cases.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Globalization, Health & Medicine

(CBC) In Ontario, Anglican parishioners consider new options after church Buildings close

Anglican worshippers are saying good-bye to their churches in the Sudbury area.

Long-time St.James parishioner Lori Cameron says the congregation has dwindled to 25 and can’t afford to maintain the Paris Street building.

The last service will be held Dec. 7. After that, they have tentative plans to rent a storefront in a mall.

Another church, St. Mark’s in Garson, was just put on the market and the worshippers are now populating other congregations.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canada, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(BNG) Jeff Brumley–You’ve met the ”˜nones.’ Now meet the ”˜dones.’

It figures.

Just as churches, seminaries and congregational consultants were wrapping their heads around the concept of “the nones” in religious life, yet another term emerges for yet another category of Americans abandoning the church: “the dones.”

The first group denotes the growing number of Americans with no religion affiliation. “Nones,” which may represent as much as 38 percent of the U.S. population, also are known for generally having had no or very little in the way of religious upbringing.

But sociologists, church historians and congregational coaches have realized for a while that another subset of Americans are answering “none” on surveys about religious affiliations: Those who have grown up in the church and remained active in adulthood ”” at least until getting tired of church life.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Mosaic) Jonathan Sarna–Is America in Religious Recession?

In brief, what students of contemporary Jewry view in narrowly Jewish terms are problems confronting contemporary American religion, period. Recognizing this fact””namely, that America society is mired in a religious recession””points, in turn, to a somewhat different conclusion from the one offered by Wertheimer and Cohen. Theirs is a linear analysis (“if current trends continue . . . ”); but the history of American religion has been decidedly cyclical. Time and again, prophets-of-doom have railed at the disappearance of cherished beliefs and practices, and, time and again, religious revivals have arisen “miraculously” to give the lie to those warnings. Thus, religious decline in the aftermath of the American Revolution was followed by the Second Great Awakening, and the great “religious depression” of the 1920s and 30s was succeeded by the postwar revival of the 1950s.

American Judaism has experienced similar cycles. Young people abandoned Jewish institutions in the 1870s but returned and transformed them a few years later in an “American Jewish Awakening.” In the 1930s, the majority of American Jews received no Jewish education whatsoever, the community was aging, and the birthrate was in free fall. In 1935, the noted sociologist Uriah Zevi Engelman darkly predicted “the total eclipse of the Jewish church in America.” Instead, much to everybody’s surprise, postwar Jews staged a wondrous suburban comeback. By the early 1960s, the American Jewish Year Book was reporting on the “flourishing state of the American Jewish community’s religious bodies,” with “increased congregational memberships,” many “newly established congregations,” “higher enrollments in . . . religious schools,” and a “growing number of adult study groups and student programs.”

There is, of course, no guarantee that history will repeat itself in our day. Wertheimer and Cohen rightly remind us that American Jewry faces urgent challenges, and rightly call for these challenges to be addressed. Still, the rising tide of Orthodoxy, the fact that the malaise of non-Orthodox Judaism is shared by other religions, and generations of experience with the ebbs and flows of religious life should serve to qualify, and to mitigate, their prophecy of gloom. American Jewry remains a great community, and its best years may still lie ahead.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(RNS) Sexual revolution is destroying families, Russell Moore tells Vatican conference

Prominent U.S. evangelicals Russell Moore and Rick Warren blasted the sexual revolution at a Vatican conference Tuesday (Nov. 18) and said it is destroying the institution of marriage.

Moore, the public face of the Southern Baptist Convention, said sexual liberation had created “a culture obsessed with sex” that had simply led to a “boredom of sex shorn of mystery.”

“Western culture now celebrates casual sexuality, cohabitation, no-fault divorce, family redefinition and abortion right as part of a sexual revolution that can tear down old patriarchal systems,” Moore told a global gathering of leaders from Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and other faiths as part of the “Complementarity of Man and Woman” conference convened by Pope Francis.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Men, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Women