Daily Archives: November 26, 2014

(RNS) To fight Ebola, African religious leaders draw safe practices road map

African church leaders, theologians and health professionals have drawn up a road map they hope might help ease stigma and educate faith communities in the fight against Ebola.

The virus has killed more than 5,000 so far and has been declared a global security threat by the U.N.

The road map, drawn at a three-day conference that ended Wednesday (Nov. 26) in Nairobi and was attended by 70 religious and health care leaders, highlights the role faith groups can play as part of the global response, according to church leaders.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(GC) Trevin Wax–Why Christian Pastors Are Divided On “The Marriage Pledge”

In Romania, the civil and religious ceremonies of marriage are not the same, due primarily to the fact that evangelical ministers do not have the authority to act as ministers of the state. (And I don’t think my Baptist friends there would accept the authority if it were offered to them.)

Our December 6 journey to the Courthouse with friends, family, and witnesses was a hoop to jump through. We’ve never considered the 6th to be our anniversary because the civil ceremony was simply a precursor to the real moment of marriage, which took place in Corina’s church.

I’m not saying that now is the time for a divorce between civil and Christian marriage. I haven’t signed the pledge. (I’m with Tolkien, not Lewis on this issue.) But I do think we can learn something from brothers and sisters in other parts of the world who have never had nor sought the ministerial privileges of authorizing civil marriage.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Church/State Matters, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(PS) Education in the Second Machine Age

Artificial intelligence, once confined to the realm of science fiction, is changing our lives. Cars are driving themselves. Drones are being programmed to deliver packages. Computers are learning to diagnose diseases. In a recent book, the economists Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee describe these recent advances as examples of the beginning of what they call “the second machine age.”

The very name ”“ the first machine age was the Industrial Revolution ”“ suggests an epochal shift. And, indeed, if the predictions are to be believed, these technological advances could have profound implications for the way we live.

One common forecast is that as ever-more advanced robots substitute workers, the cost of labor will become less important, and manufacturing will move back to rich countries. Another is that increasingly intelligent machines will reduce the demand for advanced skills, and that the economic advantage of having these skills will decline as a result.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Theology

A Classic typo from Isaiah 41 in Morning Prayer courtesy of Liverpool Cathedral

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * General Interest, Humor / Trivia, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(F Things) Russell Moore on the Marriage Pledge Debate–Rend Marriage? Not Yet

We are witnessing that the state has no business in recreating marriage, but the state does have a responsibility to safeguard children, by holding mothers and fathers to their vows to each other and to the next generation.

In this sense, we are acting much as Jesus did when he was asked about the payment of the temple tax. Jesus believed himself and his disciples to be heirs of the kingdom and thus free from this obligation. Nonetheless, he paid the half-shekel “so as not to give offense to them” (Matt. 17:27).

If the state ever attempts to force us to call marriage that which is not marriage in our churches and ceremonies, let’s obey God, even if that means we sing our wedding hymns in the prison block. But, for now, by registering Gospel-qualified unions as civil marriages and not officiating at unions that are not Gospel-qualified, we call the government to its responsibility even as we call attention to its limits.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Diocese of Portsmouth–'100 Ways To Get Your Church Noticed' today

Watch it all (only 5 1/4 minutes) and see what you make of it.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Anglican Provinces, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Media, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(ABC Aus.) Religion and Ethics Report –The grand design of Africa's militant Islamists

Islamist suicide bombers have killed an estimated 60 people in a crowded market in Nigeria. The attack comes just days after the Islamist group Al Shabab hijacked a bus in Kenya and murdered 28 non-Muslim passengers.

Could Africa go down the path of Iraq and Syria? Dr Leah Farrall, research associate at the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney and a former terrorism analyst for the Australian Federal Police, explains.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

World Council of Churches Executive Committee Statement on Ferguson

The WCC Executive Committee welcomes and supports the statement of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCCCUSA) and together with them reiterates a call in this time of serious tension for the city of Ferguson that its citizens, law enforcement officials, justice-seekers, and others respond in a non-violent manner. We also join the NCCCUSA in expressing appreciation to the churches and faith communities in St Louis, Missouri who have declared themselves to be “sanctuary churches” and “sacred spaces.”

The WCC Executive Committee believes that the current situation in Missouri underlines the deep-rooted problems of race relations and racial profiling in the United States of America. We stress that the human dignity of everyone must be respected regardless of race, ethnicity, or culture, and the critical importance of justice being seen to be done.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

Saint Louis Area's Metropolitan Congregations United–Sanctuary and Witness in the Streets

The decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson will further divide our communities and saddens us as leaders of nearly three dozen of our region’s congregations, faith and ethical communities.

Frustrated youth and law enforcement officials worship together within our doors. Our Clergy Caucus is called to consecrate the streets of St. Louis as safe places for all our citizens, and in particular our black and brown children and brothers and sisters. We are called to discern and name all systems, institutions, and processes that dehumanize black and brown people and that distort the purposes of justice, peace, and equality that we believe God intends for this region.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Saint Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson Calls for Peace after the Ferguson Decision

I implore each of you: Choose peace! Reject any false and empty hope that violence will solve problems. Violence only creates more violence. Let’s work for a better, stronger, more holy community”” one founded upon respect for each other, respect for life, and our shared responsibility for the common good.

In 1979, Saint John Paul II visited the war-torn and weary nation of Ireland to decry years of violence. “Violence is evil”¦” the pope said. “Violence is unacceptable as a solution to problems.” How true this saint’s words are. He didn’t merely condemn violence; he also aptly described the depravity of violent behavior by saying:

“Violence is unworthy of man. Violence is a lie, for it goes against the truth of our faith, the truth of our humanity. Violence destroys what it claims to defend: the dignity, the life, the freedom of human beings. Violence is a crime against humanity, for it destroys the very fabric of society.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology, Violence

(BBCWS) Sally Marlow–Is easy access to powerful painkillers Creating a large Addiction Problem?

“I’d buy paracetamol rather than food” says 16-year-old Alice, addicted to painkillers, who can purchase an amazing quantity thereof on her way to school.

Listen to it all (26 1/2 minutes) and you can read a bit about Sally Marlow there.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Drugs/Drug Addiction, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Teens / Youth, Young Adults

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Isaac Watts

God of truth and grace, who didst give Isaac Watts singular gifts to present thy praise in verse, that he might write psalms, hymns and spiritual songs for thy Church: Give us grace joyfully to sing thy praises now and in the life to come; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Frank Colquhoun

Grant us, O Lord our God, ever to find in thee a very present help in trouble.

When we are in the darkness of doubt or perplexity, shed thy light upon our way.

When we are burdened with the affairs of our daily life, lift us to the calm of thy presence.

When we are battling with temptation and the flesh is weak, by the might of thy Spirit make us strong to overcome.

We ask these things through him in whom we are more than conquerors, thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

He entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchae”²us; he was a chief tax collector, and rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchae”²us, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it they all murmured, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchae”²us stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost.”

–Luke 19:1-10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

MaryAnn McKibben Dana–Why do we frame this as a problem with the millenials and not with ourselves?

…I think Christian community provides something distinctive that you don’t get other places. (Other religious communities provide their own distinctives.)

But I can’t exactly fault young people for not being jazzed about deciding there are better uses of their time than choosing between Corporate Candidate Chet and SuperPAC Steve at the ballot box. And let’s not dump on them for not jumping on board with church, when what “church” often means is “the way we’ve always done it . . . until you’re around long enough for us to trust you to suggest ways we can change.”

The whole Diane Rehm discussion””and the discussion so many churches have””is backward. The question isn’t how to convince young people to show up and vote, or to go to church. The question is, what is it about the “product” that they find utterly un-worth their time?

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology, Young Adults

Ed Stetzer–A Decision in Ferguson: How Should Evangelicals Respond?

In light of the grand jury decision handed down tonight in the wake of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, MO, I think it is of utmost importance that all Christians, but specifically white evangelicals, talk a little less and listen a little more.

Or, put another way, maybe some need to spend less time insisting that African Americans shouldn’t be upset and spend more time asking why some are. Yes, this case reminds us again that the racial divide is clear, as a just released CNN poll demostrated.

I wasn’t in the grand jury room, and I don’t know the evidence, but many godly African American leaders are hurting and they are explaining why.

I think we should listen to them.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

George Carey–What is our Debt to William Tyndale?

I hold in my hands my iphone. Perhaps you have one too. The Apple industry of computers and phones has changed our world out of all recognition. What does this small gadget have in common with the book in my right hand- which is a Bible? There is a direct connection; they are both things that have changed the world. The legendary tale is told of Steve Jobs saying to John Sculley who was at Pepsi Cola and, as you may know, Jobs wanted Sculley to join his firm: “Do you want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life? Or do you want to come with me and change the world?” Sayings rarely get better than that!

Apple and Microsoft combined have done exactly that ”“ but William Tyndale, whom we celebrate today, eclipses both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Church History, History, Poetry & Literature, Theology

(NYT) David Carr–Calling Out Bill Cosby's Media Enablers, Including Myself

With public revulsion rising in response to snowballing accusations that Bill Cosby victimized women in serial fashion throughout his trailblazing career, the response from those in the know has been: What took so long?

What took so long is that those in the know kept it mostly to themselves. No one wanted to disturb the Natural Order of Things, which was that Mr. Cosby was beloved; that he was as generous and paternal as his public image; and that his approach to life and work represented a bracing corrective to the coarse, self-defeating urban black ethos.

Only the first of those things was actually true….

We all have our excuses, but in ignoring these claims, we let down the women who were brave enough to speak out publicly against a powerful entertainer.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Media, Men, Movies & Television, Psychology, Theology, Violence, Women

[ACI] Mark McCall: Christian Marriage and Civil Marriage: A Legal Perspective on the Marriage Pledge

See also The Marriage Pledge to which this refers
My ACI colleagues Ephraim Radner and Christopher Seitz have recently published a “Marriage Pledge” in the journal First Things in which they undertake to refrain from serving as agents of the state in marriage by, e.g., signing government-provided marriage certificates. Couples will be asked to contract civil marriage separately from “weddings that seek to establish a Christian marriage in accord with the principles articulated and lived out from the beginning of the Church’s life.” Their reasoning is that as civil marriage has been progressively redefined it no longer coincides with the Christian understanding of marriage: “to continue with church practices that intertwine government marriage with Christian marriage will implicate the Church in a false definition of marriage.”

…Many of the responses to the Marriage Pledge from both sides of the divide on same sex marriage have reflected substantial confusion over the distinction between Christian and civil marriage and what the role of the clergy is in the marriage ceremony. My purpose here is to clarify that distinction and then to evaluate criticisms of the Pledge in light of this discussion.
…The differences between Christian and civil marriage in New York (and note once again that the nature and terms of civil marriage vary from state to state) could hardly be more stark. Christian marriage is a lifelong union created by God between a man and a woman; New York civil marriage is a terminable contract between any two eligible people””no bigamy or incest””with terms specified and amended from time to time by the legislature and courts of the state of New York.

Practical Implementation of the Marriage Pledge

The purpose of the Marriage Pledge is to keep these radically different concepts of marriage distinct so that no one, whether inside or outside the Church, thinks they are the same. How might the Pledge work in practice?……

Given these considerations, any of the following options would be available to the couple and priest subscribing to the Marriage Pledge:

1.The couple first contracts a civil marriage either by a written contract or oral recitations at the courthouse followed at a convenient time by entering into a Christian marriage using any of the three matrimonial rites specified in the Book of Common Prayer: “The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage”; “The Blessing of a Civil Marriage”; or “An Order of Marriage.” All are consistent with the prior creation of a civil marriage contract.

2.The couple first enters into Christian marriage by means of either the first or third of the matrimonial rites followed in due course by contracting a civil marriage at the courthouse. The rite for “Blessing of a Civil Marriage” would not be appropriate for obvious reasons, but neither of the other two prohibits a subsequent civil contract. The rubrics for both require compliance with the civil law, but the civil law does not require a simultaneous””or even any””religious ceremony.

3.The couple could enter into a Christian marriage without entering into a civil contract at all. As noted earlier, one interpretation of the rubric and canonical requirement of compliance with civil law is that a civil contract is necessary, but civil law does not require that all religious marriages also be civil ones. Thus, the most likely effect of this provision is to prohibit bigamous and incestuous marriages.
Objections to the Marriage Pledge

It is in light of the above what to make of the objections made thus far to the Pledge?

What would we be doing in the rite of matrimony if not solemnizing civil marriage? Something new?

Not at all. The couples married in a Christian marriage would be doing what they have always been doing since the earliest days of the church””and doing in the Episcopal Church since the publication of the 1789 Book of Common Prayer: entering into the “holy estate” of matrimony, the physical and spiritual union created by God upon the making of a public covenant by the bride and groom through their vows. In contrast, as the Ponorovskaya court noted, marriage licenses are “a relatively recent innovation, with statewide registration of marriages not having begun until 1881 at the earliest.”

Clergy taking the Marriage Pledge are leaving the distasteful actions to the couple rather than doing that work themselves and getting their hands dirty.

Hardly. Nothing in either the Pledge or the light of reason suggests there is anything “dirty” about civil marriage. It provides tax benefits to many couples and opens up useful strategies for maximizing Social Security benefits. It is often necessary in private commerce for securing benefits such as health insurance. The fact that non-believers, adherents of other religions and those not eligible for Christian marriage enter these civil contracts as well has no moral significance. They also obtain passports and drivers’ licenses, both of which can be useful to Christians as well. Civil marriage is not distasteful; it can be good. But it is not Christian marriage””although many (including some of the objectors) confuse the two. Hence the need for the Pledge.

This means abandoning the fight for traditional civil marriage in the public square.

Not at all. The fight for traditional civil marriage is based on natural law and the protection and flourishing of society. It cannot be based on an identification or conflation of Christian and civil marriage for they are not and never have been the same thing. The fight to preserve civil marriage, however, is not the same as the fight to protect and strengthen Christian marriage. As public surveys, divorce rates and even the responses to the Marriage Pledge demonstrate, too many people both inside and outside the church equate Christian marriage with whatever the state authorities determine civil marriage to be at any given time. The Marriage Pledge is one effort to change that misconception.

Read it all and there is a shortened version without the BCP, canonical and legal references on First Things

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Marriage & Family