Daily Archives: December 1, 2014

(AP) Supreme Court considers Facebook threats case

The Supreme Court struggled Monday over where to draw the line between free speech and illegal threats in the digital age.

The justices considered the case of a Pennsylvania man convicted of making violent threats after he posted Facebook rants about killing his estranged wife, harming law enforcement officials and shooting up a school.

Lawyers for Anthony Elonis say he didn’t mean to threaten anyone. They contend his posts in the form of rap lyrics under the pseudonym ”˜”˜Tone Dougie’’ were simply a way for him to vent his frustration over splitting up with his wife.

The government argues the real test is whether his words would make a reasonable person feel threatened. In one post about his wife, Elonis said, ”˜”˜There’s one way to love you but a thousand ways to kill you. I’m not going to rest until your body is a mess, soaked in blood and dying from all the little cuts.’’

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Theology

Sir Fred Catherwood (1925”“2014) RIP

You can find a bit in Wikipedia here and a J.I. Packer article on Sir Fred Catherwood+Britain’s Evangelical Alliance in 1994 there.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Evangelicals, History, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Independent) Wanted: A coronation ceremony relevant to a modern Britain

The debate about the monarchy will spring back to life when Her Majesty the Queen dies, as sadly we all must, but the next coronation will still be a huge state occasion, a moment that redefines the nation. That is why, for the first time, people of other faiths will be invited to take part.

That’s a fact, in my understanding, although the Church of England will not yet admit it. The Archbishop of Canterbury and other church leaders who will devise and put on the service refuse to talk about a future coronation publicly, saying that to do so while the Queen is still alive would be “very improper”. But privately, in conversations over the past 18 months, they have told me they accept the need to be “hospitable” to other faiths.

So Muslims, Hindus, Jews and others can expect an invitation to play some part in this grand occasion, which has been explicitly and exclusively Christian for a thousand years.

This dramatic shift will dismay traditionalists, as did Lord Harries on Friday.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(AI) Peter Berger–Is Atheism a Specifically Western Phenomenon?

Adam Garfinkle, the editor of The American Interest, asked me this question. He told me that he had met a Saudi who claimed to be an atheist: What does this mean? We know atheism in its Jewish or Christian context, as a rejection of the Biblical God. What would atheism mean in a Muslim, or Hindu, or Buddhist context?

My short answer is: Yes, Atheism, as we know it, came out of a Judaeo-Christian context. But I would slightly re-phrase Garfinkle’s question. The dichotomy is not western/non-Western. It is Abrahamic/non-Abrahamic. It is a rebellion against the monotheistic faiths that originated in the Middle East”“Judaism, Christianity, Islam. It makes much less sense in a non-monotheistic environment.

The rebellion is triggered by an agonizing problem: How can God, believed to be both all-powerful and morally perfect, permit the suffering and the evil afflicting humanity? This is the problem called theodicy, which literally means the “justice of God”; in the spirit of the rebellion it is also a demand that God has to justify himself. The most eloquent expression of this atheist rebellion in literature is by Dostoyevsky’s Ivan Karamazov rejecting God, because he allowed the cruel murder of one child.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Church History, History, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology

(ARDA) David Briggs–Why hundreds of congregations made the final break with mainline denominations

It was not as if these congregations chose the most theologically conservative new homes.

The great majority of congregations leaving the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) chose to join the Evangelical Presbyterian Church or the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. Few chose to join the larger Presbyterian Church in America, which does not permit women clergy.

Similarly, congregations leaving the ELCA overwhelmingly bypassed the more conservative Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod denominations for the new Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ and the North American Lutheran Church.
Still, the future does not look bright for reconciliation, analysts noted.

“There is an exhaustion factor of having fought for decades,” Thompson said.

Among some denominational leaders, he said, there is a sense, “The bad guys have left.”

And leaders of congregations departing their former mainline Protestant denominations told Carthage researchers they were happy to be in a new place.

When the church leaders were asked if they had any regrets about their decision to leave, “The only thing they’d ever say is we should have left sooner.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Other Churches, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Sociology, TEC Conflicts, TEC Departing Parishes, Theology, United Church of Christ

(BBC) Exeter Cathedral appoints first female canon in 900 years

A woman has been appointed as a canon chancellor at Exeter Cathedral for the first time in its 900-year history.

Canon Anna Norman-Walker, a former nurse, told BBC News the Church of England was “on the move” over its position on female clergy.

In November, following intense debate, the church formally adopted legislation to allow female bishops by 2015.

Jonathan Draper, Dean of Exeter Cathedral, said the new canon brought “great gifts and energy”.

Read it all.

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

World faith leaders to declare their commitment towards the eradication of modern slavery by 2020

On 2 December 2014 the Global Freedom Network (GFN) will bring together faith leaders forming a historic initiative to eradicate modern slavery by 2020 throughout our world and for all time.

They will sign the Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders against Modern Slavery to underline that modern slavery, in terms of human trafficking, forced labour and prostitution, organ trafficking, and any relationship that fails to respect the fundamental conviction that all people are equal and have the same freedom and dignity, is a crime against humanity, and must be recognised as such by everyone and by all nations. They affirm their common commitment to inspiring spiritual and practical action by all faiths and people of goodwill everywhere to eradicate modern slavery. The signatories will be…

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Inter-Faith Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(EN) Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch sign Christian unity declaration

Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of the Orthodox world, have signed a Joint Declaration reaffirming their desire to overcome the obstacles dividing their two churches.

The Catholic and Orthodox church leaders also deplored the dire situation facing Christians and all those suffering in the Middle East.

They called for an appropriate international community response, the Vatican news service said on November 30 on the third day of Pope Francis’s visit to Turkey, where around 98 percent of the people are Muslims.

“We express our sincere and firm resolution, in obedience to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, to intensify our efforts to promote the full unity of all Christians, and above all between Catholics and Orthodox,” the declaration said.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Europe, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Turkey

A Former Soldier Embraces Role as Moscow Anglican Priest

When Clive Fairclough is asked whether he had any connection with the Slavic world before he arrived in Moscow earlier this year as the most senior Anglican cleric in Russia, he pauses for several seconds.

“The opposite way around, actually, because I spent 20 years of my life in NATO,” he answers eventually.

It is an unlikely transformation ”” from British army officer in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization devising military strategies to checkmate the Soviet Union, to Anglican chaplain in Moscow. But Fairclough, who is taking courses about the Orthodox Church and planning to learn Russian, drew out a common thread.

“In my entire career I have been a peacemaker,” he said in a recent interview in the parsonage next to St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in downtown Moscow.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Russia

(NPR) Syrian Refugees Find Little Comfort In Greece

The sea is a dangerous way to enter Europe. Nearly 3,000 people have died crossing the Mediterranean this year. Those rescued by the Chios Coast Guard arrive to a bare-bones shelter with no toilet, shower or running water. There, I visit Joud al-Bakri, an 18-year-old aspiring pilot from Aleppo. She sits on the floor of a wooden shack the size of a bedroom.

How many people are in this little house here?

JOUD AL-BAKRI: I guess 20.


AL-BAKRI: Maybe, yeah.

KAKISSIS: Is it comfortable?

AL-BAKRI: No, it’s not. Actually, when you’re sleeping, you just can’t move.

KAKISSIS: The shack is crowded. Everyone sleeps on the floor.

AL-BAKRI: It’s really hard even to sleep here without anything. And some people are sleeping outside, which is freezing.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Children, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Greece, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Middle East, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Syria, Theology, Violence

Allan Bevere–The Eclipsing of the Death of C.S. Lewis

Perhaps the significance of Kennedy is ultimately found in his tragic and untimely death and that is why November 22 has been singled out in his memory, eclipsing Lewis’ death. But it seems to me that Lewis’ significance is found in his life and work. JFK’s importance is found in what could have been had he lived (and perhaps a little too romanticized in the process), as well as the continued controversy generated by conspiracy theorists as to how many assassins were involved that day. But I think Lewis’ importance is found in not what might have been, but in what he contributed prior to his death, challenging us to rethink our view of the world and the significance of a “mere Christianity” in which an orthodox understanding of Jesus was essential, while poking at that mere Jesus with some new and different questions.

November 22 seems to have been dedicated to JFK by default because of his untimely death. Lewis continues to be read and discussed and pondered in an ever-continuing stream of new books, in coffee shops and pubs and taverns and at conferences. The significance of Lewis’ contribution cannot be limited to one day a year….

Lewis’ death may get no attention, but his life and work cannot be eclipsed.

Read it all (from 2013 but still worthwhile).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Apologetics, Books, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Andrew

Almighty God, who didst give such grace to thine apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of thy Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him: Give unto us, who are called by thy Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence; 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

Almighty and everlasting God, who orderest all things in heaven and on earth: We give thee thanks and praise that thou didst make all ages a preparation for the coming of thy Son, our blessed Redeemer. Prepare us for the coming of him whom thou dost send, and grant that of his fullness we may all receive; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Paul, Silva”²nus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalo”²nians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

Grace to you and peace.

We give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brethren beloved by God, that he has chosen you; for our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit; so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedo”²nia and in Acha”²ia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedo”²nia and Acha”²ia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us what a welcome we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Fast Company) Millennials Will Become The Majority In The Workforce In 2015; are we ready?

Next year, people born between 1981 and 1996 are poised to become the new workforce majority and will eventually remake the workplace in their own image. That means office culture is in for big changes. As a new survey shows, this generation is already chafing at today’s traditional company structures.

Freelancer platform Elance-oDesk and Millennial Branding, a research consultancy, interviewed more than a thousand working millennials and 200 older hiring managers to arrive at what they call the “disjoints” in thinking between these two generations. The two groups often had different perspectives on what’s important.

Roughly two-thirds of hiring managers agree that millennials have more equal attitudes toward genders in the workplace. But the report suggests that gender-based discrimination””whether it comes to salary or assignments””is still rife. More than 20% of millennial women say that when they arrive at their new jobs, they feel like work is worse than they expected. Only 12% of millennial men feel similarly.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Young Adults

The Splendor of a Tricolored Heron

Posted in * General Interest, * South Carolina, Animals, Photos/Photography

Anglican Minister Engin Yildirim of Church of the Resurrection, Istanbul, Meets the Pope Yday

Rev Engin Yildirim, from the Church of the Resurrection (a Turkish language parish in Istanbul) has sent details of a privileged meeting when he and other Christian clergy greeted Pope Francis on Saturday 30 November 2014 during his official visit to the country.

Read it all and make sure not to miss the picture. For those interested in the background of the parish you may read more here and the parish website is there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Europe, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Photos/Photography, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Turkey

Engaging the Advent Conspiracy for 2014–Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love All

The Christmas story is a story of love, hope, redemption and relationship.

So, what happened? How did it turn into stuff, stress and debt?

Somehow, we’ve traded the best story in the world for the story of what’s on sale.

Enter Advent Conspiracy!

In 2006, several pastors got together to make Christmas a revolutionary event by encouraging their faith communities to Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love All. This year, Christ-St. Paul’s joins forces with many churches who are doing just that: Engaging in authentic worship and giving.

Read it all and follow the links.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Advent, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Eschatology, Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Scripture

C Michael Patton–on When the Sadness Doesn’t Leave+Needing to Hope Again

Sometime in 2010, I became flaccid in my soul. What I mean is that I began to think I had some entitlements before God. I told God, “Hey, I am so tired. Can I take a break? I am not going to do anything very wrong, I just think that I deserve to have the opportunity to back off.” Progressively, I became spiritually lazy. Then I broke into a sudden depression that made me understand what Angie went though before the bullet went through her. I thought that the depression would leave, and I would learn my lesson. You know, so I could relate to others. Well, the depression has never really left. I know better how to deal with it, but it is still there. More and more, I backed out of things. You know . . . the entitlements I had. But these entitlements were slowly turning me into someone else.

I love God. However, He and I have a complicated relationship. My greatest prayer is that He shapes me into someone who glorifies Him and I continue to have hope for this from time to time. But, as I backed out of involvement in church (entitlement), became lazy (entitlement), quit working on my marriage (entitlement), picked up the smoking habit again (entitlement), and stopped investing so much in my kids life (entitlement), these actions only served to hurt my soul more deeply, and placed hope further and further out of reach. It was as if there is/was a part of my mind that needed to rebel and give God the middle finger for putting me through so much. “You are going to do this to me, huh? Well, how about I do this to You?”

Who I am today is someone who needs to hope again. I realized this as I was, of all things, watching the latest X-Men. You know, when Professor Xavier goes back in time and talks to his younger disenchanted self? He says, “We need you to hope again.” It struck me at that moment that this was me. I needed to hope again.

Read it all (also used in today’s Sunday school class).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Christology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Suicide, Theology

CS Lewis on Hope for Advent 2014

Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ”˜thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.

–C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (San Francisco: Harper, 2001), p. 134; used by yours truly in this morning’s adult Sunday School class.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Eschatology, Theology