Daily Archives: December 23, 2014

(ABC Aus.) Stanley Hauerwas–Mary, the Mother of God: What it Means to Believe in the Virgin Birth

That Mary is the Mother of God means we do not begin with speculative accounts about God’s existence or nature. Our God is to be found in Mary’s womb. Because our God is to be found in Mary’s body we believe that same God desires to be taken in by us in this miraculous gift of the holy Eucharist, the body and blood of Christ. By partaking of this gift, a gift that if pondered leads us to ask with Mary, “How can this be?” But the gift makes the question possible, because through this gift we become participants in a time that is filled with God’s providential care of us. We are Christians. We live in Mary’s time.

Such a time is anything but empty. Rather, it is a time storied by people whose lives witness to the Lord of time, the Lord who encompasses all life and death. I suggested above that there was a politics often associated with the question, “Do you believe in the virgin birth?” There is also a politics that is entailed by our affirmation that Mary is the Mother of God. The politics of Mary is a politics of joy characteristic of a people who have no reason to be desperate. They have no reason to be desperate because they have faith in the Lord of time.

So, on this Sunday, a Sunday when Christmas seems so near, let us remember that because we are Mary’s people we are in no hurry. Let us wait in patience for the Christ-child whose own life depended on the lives of Mary and Joseph. The Word of God was made flesh. He came so that we might experience the fullness of time. Let us wait with Mary and Joseph for the child who will redeem all of time. Let us wait with patience and hope so that the world may discover that time is not empty; rather time remains pregnant with God’s promise found in Mary, the Mother of God.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Anglican Journal) Archbishop Hiltz and Welby discuss marriage canon, reconciliation

[Archbp Fred] Hiltz also met with Nigel Stock, the bishop at Lambeth, about when and what the next primates’ meeting would look like. Hiltz said that although Welby had invited all primates to indicate support for a meeting, it was unlikely that there would be one before the end of 2015. The primates last met in 2011.

Hiltz also expressed hope that the next primates’ meeting would not be dominated by a single issue. “If we’re going to have a primates’ meeting, we need not ignore the same-sex marriage stuff, but we ought not to allow it to dominate,” he said. “The Archbishop himself said he wants to focus on prayer, evangelism and reconciliation.”

Another significant point of conversation was around the possibility of an Anglican Congress. “I think an Anglican Congress would be a great thing,” said Hiltz. “A Congress that was focussed around the church in and for the world could make for some very interesting conversations.” Although such a Congress would take some time to plan, Hiltz was optimistic about the effects it could have. He noted that the Anglican Consultative Council would have to be the driving force behind it. “It would take a lot of careful planning,” he said, “but I think it is time.” The last Anglican Congress was held in Toronto in 1963.
– See more at: http://www.anglicanjournal.com/articles/hiltz-and-welby-discuss-marriage-canon-reconciliation#sthash.VXWT2mYW.dpuf
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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Justin Welby, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Canada, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(Reuters) Captive orangutan has human right to freedom, Argentine court rules

An orangutan held in an Argentine zoo can be freed and transferred to a sanctuary after a court recognized the ape as a “non-human person” unlawfully deprived of its freedom, local media reported on Sunday.

Animal rights campaigners filed a habeas corpus petition – a document more typically used to challenge the legality of a person’s detention or imprisonment – in November on behalf of Sandra, a 29-year-old Sumatran orangutan at the Buenos Aires zoo.

In a landmark ruling that could pave the way for more lawsuits, the Association of Officials and Lawyers for Animal Rights (AFADA) argued the ape had sufficient cognitive functions and should not be treated as an object.

The court agreed Sandra, born into captivity in Germany before being transferred to Argentina two decades ago, deserved the basic rights of a “non-human person.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, Animals, Anthropology, Argentina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, South America, Theology

John Polkinghorne answers the question what is God like and how do we know what God is like?

Watch it all (about 4 minutes).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Apologetics, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

Archbishop Justin Welby on God, Suffering, Ebola and Sierra Leone

Last week, I visited Sierra Leone very briefly, far too briefly in fact. The purpose of the visit was to meet and talk with faith leaders who have been among those leading the struggle against Ebola. What a difference! Living their lives at risk, passionately and deeply involved in the people around them, they demonstrated a love and a reaching out to the grieving, to the ill and to the frightened that was utterly inspiring. The orphans of Ebola are being cared for, not least due to the generosity from this country. All those I met spoke of that.

What made the difference? The war lords claimed to be Christians, but left no space for Jesus in their lives. On the first Christmas, the shepherds, kings, Mary and Joseph, took the decision to allow God to take the central space in their lives; God who gave them every choice and freedom by revealing Himself space for in the form of a helpless baby. We still remember them for their joy, their generosity, their sacrificial self-giving. King Herod refused space in life for anyone except himself and we remember him for his cruelty.

For me, in all the busyness of Christmas there is one essential: that I gaze again at the reality of Jesus, God himself, in human and helpless form, who comes to rule and reign in this world, not by force but by love, and that seeing Him, I give Him His rightful place in my life.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Africa, Archbishop of Canterbury, Christology, Health & Medicine, Sierra Leone, Theology

Vicar of Baghdad: The Love of the Refugee Child Jesus Is All That's Left for the Christians in Iraq

Although hundreds of thousands of refugees are displaced from their homes in Iraq and their futures remain uncertain due to the siege of the Islamic State, The Vicar of Baghdad wrote in an online Christmas statement that Christian refugees in Iraq have not been deterred from exhibiting joy in the only thing they have left: the unconditional of Jesus.

Writing from his new temporary home in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ, the Rev. Canon Andrew White, the only Anglican pastor in Iraq, said that even though ISIS has left these displaced Christian refugees with no homes, no clothes and, in some cases, no families, their faith remains strong in the “refugee child,” Jesus.

“All you have got left is the love of that refugee child. That to us in the Middle East is all that matters this Christmas,” White explained.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Ministry of the Ordained, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Anglican Archbishop calls for national unity among Ghanians

The Primate and Anglican Metropolitan Archbishop of the Internal Province of Ghana, the Most Reverend Professor Daniel Yinkah-Sarfo has asked Ghanaians to unite to fly high the flag of the nation.

He said Ghanaians should overcome partisan politics and ethnic divisions and find common ground to promote socio-economic development.

He made the request in a Christmas and New Year goodwill message he issued in Kumasi.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Province of West Africa, Anglican Provinces, Ghana

Staff cuts and shakeup in the Anglican Diocese of Bathhurst

The debt-ridden Anglican church in western New South Wales is facing staff cuts and a bishop who become a part-time priest.

The Anglican Diocese of Bathurst covers almost a third of NSW but it’s in dire straits.

Its development fund is facing debts of more than $39 million and Supreme Court action by one of the creditors, the Commonwealth Bank.

As well as asking parishes to contribute by possibly selling property, the Bishop’s registry will lose four staff.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces

Hippolytus of Rome on the Incarnation

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Lottie Moon

O God, who in Christ Jesus hast brought Good News to those who are far off and to those who are near: We praise thee for awakening in thy servant Lottie Moon a zeal for thy mission and for her faithful witness among the peoples of China. Stir up in us the same desire for thy work throughout the world, and give us the grace and means to accomplish it; through the same 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, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Church History, Missions, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Almighty Father, whose blessed Son at his coming amongst us brought redemption unto his people, and peace to men of goodwill: Grant that, when he shall come again in glory to judge the world and to make all things new, we may be found ready to receive him, and enter into his joy; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ.

–Frederick Macnutt

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip.

–Psalm 66: 8-9

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT Magazine) Reza Aslan–Praying for Common Ground at the Christmas-Dinner Table

My family is, in many ways, emblematic of America in the 21st century: multiethnic, multicultural, multireligious. I am a Muslim from Iran. My wife is a Christian from western Pennsylvania. That may seem an incongruous coupling. But when we first met, we realized almost immediately that we shared the same values and worldview, even though we expressed those things in a different spiritual language.

That’s all religion is, really: a language made up of symbols and metaphors that allow people to communicate, to themselves and to others, the ineffable experience of faith. I already spoke my wife’s spiritual language (Christianity); I taught her mine (Islam). And now we are a spiritually “bilingual” household. Actually, we are multilingual, considering we are committed to teaching our children all the spiritual languages of the world so that they can choose for themselves which ones, if any, they prefer in communicating their own individual faith experience.

But that is also the reason the prayer was tripping us up that first Christmas together. We were having a difficult time understanding one another’s spiritual languages, let alone coming to a consensus on which language to use.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Islam, Multiculturalism, pluralism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

(Economist Erasmus Blog) Atheism, belief and persecution–The cost of unbelief

Across the world, people who reject all religious belief or profess secular humanism are facing ever worse discrimination and persecution, but the existence and legitimacy of such ideas is becoming more widely known and accepted. That is the rather subtle conclusion of the latest report by the International Humanist and Ethical Union, an umbrella body for secularist groups in 40 countries, which in 2012 began making annual surveys of how freedom of thought and conscience are faring worldwide.

In common with lots of other reports on the subject, it noted that many countries still prescribe draconian penalties for religious dissent, through laws that bar blasphemy against the prevailing religions or “apostasy” from Islam. Some 19 countries punish their citizens for apostasy, and in 12 of those countries it is punishable by death. In Pakistan, the death sentence can be imposed for blasphemy, for which the threshold is very low. In all, 55 countries (including several Western ones) had laws against blasphemy; the perceived offence could lead to prison terms in 39 countries and execution in six.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Theology

(FT) Archbishop Justin Welby is an increasingly respected moral voice

In pursuing these goals, the Archbishop cuts a different figure from Rowan Williams, his predecessor. While Lord Williams was a cerebral theologian prone sometimes to obscurity and circumlocution, the current Primate is more of a practical doer, reflecting both his past in industry and his membership of the evangelising wing of the church. He has been a serious voice in the debate on banking ethics. He has also been pragmatic. He did not argue, for example, that the government should step in to quash payday lending. Instead he supported community-based credit unions, which can do a similar job to organisations such as Wonga, but not by charging eye-watering interest rates.

The challenges facing the Archbishop in the year ahead will only grow. Holding together the worldwide Anglican communion, which threatens to split over same sex relationships, will be perhaps his biggest test. At one end of the spectrum, the episcopal church in America has consecrated an openly lesbian bishop. At the other, African bishops have supported harsh anti”“gay laws. As the Archbishop recently conceded: “Without prayer and repentance, it is hard to see how we can avoid some serious fractures.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture, Theology