Daily Archives: December 3, 2014

(RNS) Evangelicals add support for EPA plan to cut coal pollution

Evangelicals are teaming up with environmentalists to support the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan to substantially reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants.

The Rev. Mitchell Hescox, president and CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network, submitted comments from more than 100,000 “pro-life Christians” who he said are concerned about children’s health problems that are linked to unclean air and water.

“From acid rain to mercury to carbon, the coal utility industry has never acted as a good neighbor and cleaned up their mess on their own,” Hescox told reporters on Monday (Dec. 1). “Instead of acting for the benefit of our children’s lives, they’ve internalized their profits while our kids (have) borne the cost in their brains, lungs and lives.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Christianity Today) Sarah Zylstra–Are some United Methodists Quitting While Ahead?

Ritter points to a maxim popular among Methodists: “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity.”

“I don’t know of anyone who feels that homosexuality is a central issue in the Christian faith, but behind it lies the larger issue of biblical authority,” he said. “It is difficult to see how a house divided on such a foundational issue could stand”” unless perhaps it is a duplex.”

Unity is itself an essential, said Methodist pastor Jason Byassee. “Every pastor has counseled married couples who say, ‘It’s hard to be together,'” said the Duke Divinity School fellow. “We say, ‘I know. It’s called cross-bearing. Figure this thing out.'”

“Staying together or separating is less important than our being a people of grace and truth,” said Renfroe. “That’s when God will bless our witness to the world.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Archbishop of Canterbury joins world faith leaders in pledge to end slavery

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, joined Pope Francis and other world Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish leaders in Rome today to sign a historic declaration to end modern slavery.

The ground-breaking Global Freedom Network ”“ which launched with backing from Archbishop Justin and Pope Francis in March 2014 [link] ”“ brings together faith leaders in a commitment to eradicate modern slavery by 2020 throughout our world and for all time.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Inter-Faith Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence, Women

(Breakpoint) Eric Metaxas–The Paradox of Generosity

We’re all familiar with our Lord’s words that it’s “more blessed to give than to receive.” As it turns out, this maxim is not only true as a matter of faith, it’s empirically true, as well.

This is the subject of a new book, “The Paradox of Generosity: Giving We Receive, Grasping We Lose,” by BreakPoint favorite and Notre Dame Professor Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson, a doctoral student at Notre Dame.

The book is based on research from Notre Dame’s “Science of Generosity” initiative. As Smith and Davidson write in the introduction, “By grasping onto what we currently have . . . we lose out on better goods that we might have gained . . .”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Books, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) Fight against ISIS 'could take years' says John Kerry

Air strikes carried out by the US-led coalition on Islamic State (IS) have inflicted “significant” damage on the group’s capabilities, US Secretary of State John Kerry says.

Mr Kerry said the campaign against the militant group could take years, but that the coalition would remain engaged “as long as it takes”.

The US said earlier that Iran, not a coalition member, had carried out air strikes against IS in Iraq.

However, Iran has denied this.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, History, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Politics in General, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Local Paper front page–Tim Scott takes historic oath, puts limit on serving in U.S. Senate

Tim Scott’s oath of office Tuesday on the floor of the U.S. Senate took on a historic significance – the swearing in of the first black senator from the South since Reconstruction.

That was followed later by Scott’s revelation that he didn’t plan to make the Senate a lifelong career.

Scott, R-S.C., who was elected in November to finish out the final two years of former Sen. Jim DeMint’s term, told reporters from his home state during a conference call that he hopes to be re-elected to two, full six-year terms and then plans to leave Washington.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, History, Politics in General, Senate

(WSJ) Basic Costs Squeeze Families–Health Care, Cellphones Eat Up Income

The American middle class has absorbed a steep increase in the cost of health care and other necessities as incomes have stagnated over the past half decade, a squeeze that has forced families to cut back spending on everything from clothing to restaurants.

Health-care spending by middle-income Americans rose 24% between 2007 and 2013, driven by an even larger rise in the cost of buying health insurance, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of detailed consumer-spending data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That hit has been accompanied by increases in spending on other necessities, including food eaten at home, rent and education, as well as the soaring cost of staying connected digitally via cellphones and home Internet service.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Theology

What the rector of Saint Michael's, Charleston, SC, is currently reading

Is there anything more wonderful than sitting in your favorite place immersed in a great book? The rhythm of my reading begins in the morning as I anchor the first part of my day in Scripture. I then use the evening for Christian literature. That book-ends my day but keeps my morning focused on Scripture, the most wonderful love letter ever written.

No matter what I’m reading, I find that God reveals more of Himself to me when there is plenty of white space. So, on a recent Saturday afternoon, I took out my portable hammock and set it up at White Point Gardens at the Battery and was transfixed for hours. Let me share with you the books I am currently reading. The Rev. Mark Batterson (Pastor of National Community Church in Washington DC) wrote a book last year called: All In….You are One Decision Away from a Totally Different Life. I am just beginning this book and look forward to reporting on it. A more practical day to day book written by Michael White and Tom Corcoran is called: Tools For Rebuilding, a thoughtful book on best practices for the local church. I’m also re-reading two books by John Eldredge called: Wild at Heart, Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul…and Beautiful Outlaw, Experiencing thePlayful, Disruptive, Extravagant Personality of Jesus. John Eldredge has become a national leader on ministry to men, through his many books as well as his ministry based in Colorado. In fact, in earlyNovember, a small team of St. Michaelites and I will venture to Colorado to be part of one of his boot camps for men! Happy reading everyone!

–From the Rev. Al Zadig and found there (page 6).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Books, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

Advent and Christmas Offerings Around the Diocese of South Carolina 2014

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Advent, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry

Ben Witherington–Two Jurisdictions in One United Methodist Church?

Whatever we may think about any or all of these points, and even if I am wrong about a good deal of this, I don’t need to be right about all of it for the following to be inevitable””- just as in the case of the Episcopal Church, and in some Christian Churches, and some Lutheran Churches, and some Presbyterian Churches, and some Baptist Churches this whole move will result in loss of membership. It will not stop the current bleeding, it will accelerate it. Just take a look at the before and after stats for these other mainline churches.

If we want to further diminish the integrity and influence of our church in our American society, then this is a good way to assure that will happen. The old saying ”˜in essentials unity, in non-essentials diversity’ is a good dictum, as long as we agree on what the essentials are when it comes to something as fundamental as ordination or the nature Christian marriage which is supposed to be holy matrimony. But alas we don’t agree on these vital things. We cannot have a ”˜United Methodist Church’ if we don’t at least agree on the most basic theological and ethical essentials which are currently enshrined in our Discipline”” both the doctrines enshrined in our Discipline and the ethics as well. Short of that, we should quietly agree to become two different Methodist Churches.

Of course any such major change as a reorganization into two jurisdictions requires a two thirds vote at the General Conference. I can’t see such a two jurisdiction solution getting to that number of votes. Quo Vadis then UMC? My suggestion is that those who cannot in good conscience abide by the Discipline as we have it, and John Wesley’s teachings on celibacy as we have it, and the Bible’s teachings on sexual ethics and marriage (see Mt. 19 where the latter is defined quite clearly as heterosexual monogamy) should be brave and start a new venture, the Progressive Methodist Church. Those prepared to continue to abide by our doctrines and disciplines should simply stay and go forward.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Francis Xavier

Loving God, who didst call Francis Xavier to lead many in India and Japan to know Jesus Christ as their Redeemer: Bring us to the new life of glory promised to all who follow in the Way; through the same Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Thou who with thine own mouth hast avouched that at midnight, at an hour when we are not aware, the Bridegroom shall come: Grant that the cry, The Bridegroom cometh, may sound evermore in our ears, that so we be never unprepared to meet him, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

–Lancelot Andrewes

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

The word which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

–Isaiah 2:1-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Advent Carol Service from Trinity College, Cambridge

Listen here if you wish

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

(Time) Watch the Robots Shipping Your Amazon Order This Holiday

Across the country, laborers are hard at work lifting 700-pound shelves full of multivolume encyclopedias, propane grills or garden gnomes and dragging them across vast warehouse floors. Carefully trained not to bump into one another, the squat workers are 320 pounds and a mere 16 inches tall.

No, they’re not Christmas elves””they’re some of the most advanced robots that e-commerce giant Amazon now uses to ship its goods. In an exclusive video for TIME, photographer and videographer Stephen Wilkes captured these Amazon robots in action at the company’s Tracy, Calif., warehouse.

Read it all+watch the video.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Science & Technology

(Economist) Kenya is battling an ever more sophisticated jihadist foe

In the small hours of December 2nd gunmen snuck up on a group of sleeping quarry workers in Mandera country, close to Kenya’s border with Somalia. They were rounded up and made to lie face-down on the ground. Thirty-four of the men, who make a pitiful living mining and breaking stones, were executed with a bullet to the head; two were beheaded; all were non-Muslims.

Ten days earlier in the same remote part of Kenya gunmen flagged down an early-morning bus. Each passenger was asked to recite a verse from the Koran and to respond to a Muslim greeting. Those who failed were shot in the head. Twenty-eight people, many of them teachers going home for the Christmas holidays, were killed.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Kenya, Religion & Culture, Somalia, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Episcopal Center chaplain at Duke to depart in January

“I’m most excited about working to make the [Episcopal] Church something that is important in people’s lives,” Chittenden said. “It’s a complex time in the history of the Church””society’s attitude toward the Church is changing, which presents a challenge, but it’s an exciting challenge.”

[Nils] Chittenden””who came to Duke following eight years of work at the University of Durham, England””said it took some time to understand the philosophy and functioning of an American university. However, he quickly grew to love his work and the people he met at Duke, forming strong relationships across the University.

Part of Chittenden’s job involved providing spiritual counseling to anyone who sought it.

“My goal was not to be a chaplain only for Episcopalian students, but a chaplain who could provide an Episcopalian perspective for any students seeking that,” Chittenden said.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Education, England / UK, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Young Adults