Daily Archives: December 22, 2014

(TLC) John Martin–Surprised by Libby Lane

Vicki Wells, churchwarden at St Peter’s, Hale, where Lane has served for the past seven years, said: “Our congregation has increased threefold since she came here. It speaks for itself.”

Amid what is seen as a happy pre-Christmas tonic for the C of E, which took lots of public criticism as the bishop debate dragged on, Reform, the conservative evangelical network, was a lone contrarian voice. “Though it grieves us it comes as no surprise,” said Prebendary Rod Thomas, Reform’s chair.

Behind the scenes, Archbishop Welby has lobbied and worked with great energy to win the case for women as bishops. His right-hand agent was Canon David Porter, a seasoned negotiator whose work in Northern Ireland crafted a peace formula there. Porter needed to overcome misgivings of conservative evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics. He did so by gathering key players in one room to hammer out a compact their constituents could support, having blocked earlier legislation in the synod in November 2012. Welby has said that he hopes the House of Bishops will have a 50/50 male-female balance within 15 years.

Read it all.

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

(BBC) The Anglican Archbishop of Jerusalem reflects on 2014

In recent months, Church leaders have expressed concern about the departure of a rising number of Christians from the Middle East.

The civil war in Syria and the advance of so-called Islamic State militants in Iraq have led to appeals for greater support for some of the world’s oldest Christian communities.

Read and listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, England / UK, Israel, Middle East, Religion & Culture, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

Canon J.John–Just say NO to Ouija

Who, in the age of the internet, online gaming, Facebook and 3D televisions would want to move a pointer around on a board in the hope of getting a message from the spirit world?

The astonishing answer is, quite a lot of people! The story turns out to be true. Promoted by an apparently dreadful film (sponsored by Hasbro, the toy firm that holds the rights to Ouija boards), sales of the £20+ boards have gone through the roof. And it’s not just me who is mystified. As Simon Osborne wrote in The Independent: ‘What better time to talk to dead people for fun than the festival to celebrate the birth of Jesus?’

Hunger for the supernatural

This is yet another phenomenon reminding us that, for all the bold claims of new atheism that the world is moving into an age of rational thought in which every form of the supernatural is rejected, the ‘on the ground’ reality is very different. The hunger for the supernatural, the paranormal and the mystical remains intense and almost universal. Indeed, it seems that the more a ‘universe without God’ is talked up, the more people flock to the supernatural. If atheism is true, it’s very odd that no one seems to be following it.

A Ouija board is not, in any way, a game….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(AP) Pope in blistering critique of Vatican bureaucrats

Pope Francis issued a blistering critique Monday of the Vatican bureaucracy that serves him, denouncing how some people lust for power at all costs, live hypocritical double lives and suffer from “spiritual Alzheimer’s” that has made them forget they’re supposed to be joyful men of God.

Francis’ Christmas greeting to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See was no joyful exchange of holiday good wishes. Rather, it was a sobering catalog of 15 sins of the Curia that Francis said he hoped would be atoned for and cured in the New Year.

He had some zingers: How the “terrorism of gossip” can “kill the reputation of our colleagues and brothers in cold blood.” How cliques can “enslave their members and become a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body” and eventually kill it by “friendly fire.” About how those living hypocritical double lives are “typical of mediocre and progressive spiritual emptiness that no academic degree can fill.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Pope Francis, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(CT) What Forgotten Christmas Tradition Should Churches Revive?

In truth, we Christians have been losing our traditions for centuries. Misplaced, misappropriated, misapplied””we have pulled the rich timbre from original intent, given ourselves over to cheap plastic toys and premade wassail. We have hurried the season because to us, Christmas is a day and not a season at all.

For our Orthodox brothers and sisters, though, the feasts during the days after Christmas not only mark time but also insert intentional delay in a world gone mad for Christmas kitsch. History aside, we have for centuries chosen to celebrate his coming on December 25. It has become a placeholder of a day when some of us remember that Jesus is the reason for the season. But then we go to bed, full of Christmas spirit, and wake up to traffic and spilled lattes and kids who want to spend their gift cards today. Where are the good feelings now?

For the early church, the purpose for 12 days of feasting following Christmas Day was to bring them to the edge of Epiphany. If, for various reasons, we do not entertain the liturgy of the days, can we at least entertain the purposes?

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Express) The New Bishop of Liverpool–Christmas is a time to make room for all

At the first Christmas Jesus did not have it so easy.

He too came as a stranger, in his mother’s womb, but his was a humble birth in a poor stable; there was only just enough room for him.

The ox and ass made for a smelly and unhygienic maternity ward.

His first guests were a bunch of shepherds, in those days society’s outcasts; the last people you or I would probably invite to our celebration of a new birth.

All this, however, was God’s deliberate choice.

God wanted to be with those on the edge who did not have much room.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Christmas, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, CoE Bishops, Theology

(CC) Matt Fitzgerald on the Holy Family–God among the imperfect

I don’t know what a perfect first-century family looked like, but I’m certain that Joseph and Mary didn’t fit the ideal. Joseph had no money. He had no safe place for his wife to give birth and no plausible explanation for her pregnancy. How scared they must have been. Their family was turned upside down before it even began.

I know about unusual families. I come from one. There is a picture in one of my mother’s photo albums of the day she and my stepfather were married. They are holding hands and looking pleased but also totally overwhelmed. Each had lost a spouse to cancer only 18 months before. Their kids are on either side of them””six teenagers with mouths stuffed full of braces, heads full of regrettable ’80s hair, each one of them with a dead look in his or her eyes. When I look at that picture and see my biological sister, my adopted sister, three step-siblings whom I didn’t know, my stepfather, my mother and me, I don’t see an ideal family. I see something quite unusual.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Advent, Anthropology, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AM) CEEC Chair suggests “gracious division”

What can we expect of the Shared Conversations?

By Stephen Hofmeyr QC, Acting Chairman of the Church of England Evangelical Council, writing in the Church of England Newspaper.

The Church of England is embarking on a process of “shared conversations” which has two objectives. The first objective is ”˜to clarify how we can most effectively be a missionary church in a culture which has changed its view on human sexuality’. Amen! The revealed truth of the gospel is God’s truth for all people, everywhere, in every age. Therefore, the issue about being an effective missionary church is not about whether we are free to change what God has taught, but how to communicate God’s truth in a culture that has changed its view. In areas of human sexuality, that will require a communication of the Bible’s teaching about the body and sexuality which a generation ago would have gone without saying. So long as the scope of this first objective is correctly understood, it presents a wonderful opportunity. The second objective is ”˜to clarify the implications of what it means for the Church of England to live with ”¦ “good disagreement” on these issues’. What are the possible outcomes of these shared conversations?

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Uganda Daily Monitor Profile of Bishop Samuel Gidudu–He ditched the bottle to answer god's call

The 46-year-old Bishop Samuel Gidudu of North Mbale Diocese was consecrated on November 16, 2014 at St Matthew’s Cathedral, Buhugu in Sironko District. The father of three, who is married to Ms Esther Gidudu, spoke about growing up amid wealth and then getting lost in a vice which nearly cost him his calling.

QN: Bishop Gidudu, how did you feel when you heard you were the bishop-elect of North Mbale Diocese?
A: (Laughs). At first, I thought the person who called to give the information was fooling me but I later asked myself, “Why should I be a doubting Thomas?” I composed myself and prayed about it and from then on, I started receiving calls from all over the country congratulating me upon the election.

I was actually humbled by the election. I believe that it is the amazing love and grace of God that I was appointed to be the next shepherd of the Christians of North Mbale Diocese.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Alcoholism, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Religion & Culture, Uganda

(Bloomberg) North Korea Threatens Greater Pain If Punished Over Sony Hacking

North Korea warned that any U.S. punishment over the hacking attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment would lead to damage “thousands of times greater,” with targets including the White House and Pentagon.

Hackers including the “”˜Guardians of Peace’’ group that forced Sony to pull a comedy about the assassination of Kim Jong Un ”˜”˜are sharpening bayonets not only in the U.S. mainland but in all other parts of the world,’’ the Kim-led National Defense Commission said in a statement published yesterday by the official Korean Central News Agency. Even so, North Korea doesn’t know who the Guardians are, the commission said.

North Korea has called on the U.S. to hold a joint investigation into the incident, after rejecting the conclusion by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that it was behind the attack. President Barack Obama said last week that Sony had ”˜”˜suffered significant damage,’’ and vowed to respond to North Korea ”˜”˜in a place and time and manner that we choose.’’

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Asia, Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Movies & Television, North Korea, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Thomas

Almighty and everliving God, who didst strengthen thine apostle Thomas with sure and certain faith in thy Son’s resurrection: Grant us so perfectly and without doubt to believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, that our faith may never be found wanting in thy sight; through him 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

Lord God Almighty, King of glory and love eternal, worthy art thou at all times to receive adoration, praise, and blessing; but especially at this time do we praise thee for the sending of thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, for whom our hearts do wait, and to whom, with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, be honour and dominion, now and for ever.

–Prayers for the Christian Year (SCM, 1964)

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to thee, when my heart is faint. Lead thou me to the rock that is higher than I; for thou art my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in thy tent for ever! Oh to be safe under the shelter of thy wings!

–Psalm 61:1-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Music for Sunday Evening: Bogoroditse Devo – Rachmaninoff

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

PBS ' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Syrian Refugees in Turkey

KIM LAWTON, correspondent: Southeastern Turkey shares a 500-mile-long border with Syria. On this day, the view into Syria looks quiet, peaceful even. But just a few miles from here, Syrian government forces, rebel groups and ISIS are waging a brutal battle for control. So far, nearly 1.6 million Syrians have sought safety in Turkey, and more are coming every day.

SAVAS METIN, Kimse Yok Mu: They escaped from this conflict with their own clothes. They couldn’t bring any kind of stuff, their belongings, together with them. They just escaped. They left everything behind.

LAWTON: Since the beginning of Syria’s civil war in March 2011, nearly 11 million people have been forced to flee from their homes. Almost eight million are displaced inside Syria, while three and a quarter million have ended up in neighboring countries. Daryl Grisgraber focuses on the Middle East for the advocacy group Refugees International.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Inter-Faith Relations, Middle East, Religion & Culture, Syria, Theology, Turkey, Violence

(Economist) Massacre in Pakistan–The blood of innocents

It takes something unusually vile for the world to pay much attention to a terrorist outrage in Pakistan. Since 2007 the annual toll of murders by jihadists has never dropped below 2,000 and in 2012 and 2013 it was not far off 4,000. This year has actually seen the mayhem decline by a third. But the horror of the attack by the Pakistani Taliban, an umbrella organisation of militant groups officially known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), on an army-run school in Peshawar stands out for the scale and nature of its brutality.

At about 10am on December 16th, seven heavily armed Taliban gunmen scaled an outer wall of the school and began shooting indiscriminately. By the time army commandos regained control of the compound 141 people, most of them teenagers and younger children, had been killed. Given the seriousness of the wounds that the injured have suffered, the number of deaths will almost certainly rise (see article). This is the deadliest terrorist attack in Pakistan’s history.

The army, and previous governments, must take much of the responsibility for the violence the country has suffered in recent years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Children, Defense, National Security, Military, Pakistan, Politics in General, Violence

Baylor University to create religious freedom chair with $2 million gift from Dallas couple

A $2 million gift from a Dallas couple will be used to establish a new endowed professor chair in religious freedom at Baylor University.

Jerry and Susie Wilson’s gift will benefit Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion and support the university’s efforts to rally support for the preservation, protection and defense of religious freedom in Congress, according a press release.

“The Wilsons are faithful supporters of local, national and international ministries, and their overarching passion is to follow Christ, to help grow God’s kingdom on Earth and to serve the local church,” Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr said in the release.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Education, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(NYT) Rise of Robot Work Force Stokes Human Fears

(Alert readers are asked to note that the title above is the one used in the paper’s National edition in print this past week–KSH.

A machine that administers sedatives recently began treating patients at a Seattle hospital. At a Silicon Valley hotel, a bellhop robot delivers items to people’s rooms. Last spring, a software algorithm wrote a breaking news article about an earthquake that The Los Angeles Times published.

Although fears that technology will displace jobs are at least as old as the Luddites, there are signs that this time may really be different. The technological breakthroughs of recent years ”” allowing machines to mimic the human mind ”” are enabling machines to do knowledge jobs and service jobs, in addition to factory and clerical work.

And over the same 15-year period that digital technology has inserted itself into nearly every aspect of life, the job market has fallen into a long malaise. Even with the economy’s recent improvement, the share of working-age adults who are working is substantially lower than a decade ago ”” and lower than any point in the 1990s.

Read it all.

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