Daily Archives: January 2, 2015

Maryland Episcopal bishop in fatal crash had DUI history, and diocese knew

Leaders in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland who this spring made Heather Elizabeth Cook a bishop ”” the diocese’s first female bishop ”” knew the ugly details of her 2010 drunk-driving arrest but determined “that this one mistake should not bar her for consideration as a leader,” the diocese said in a statement Tuesday.

Now the diocese finds itself under fire after Cook’s acknowledgment that she was involved in a crash on Saturday that killed bicyclist Thomas Palermo, the father of two small children. Cook left the scene but returned later, Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton said in a statement Monday.

Baltimore police said they have questioned a woman about the crash, but they have not named Cook and no charges have been filed.

Cook’s attorney, David Irwin, declined to comment in detail but has confirmed she was involved in the crash.

Read it all and pray for all involved.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

(Church Times) South Sudanese in a ”˜tinderbox’ says UN official

As the dry season approaches, the people of South Sudan are in a “tinderbox”, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, has warned.

The country has suffered internal conflict since 15 December last year, when a political dispute escalated into violence that is now running along ethnic lines. Speaking on the anniversary of the outbreak, Prince Hussein said that a high level of mistrust, based on perceived support for either the government or the opposition, meant that violence was easily triggered. The end of the rainy season, which will facilitate the movement of troops, is expected to increase the risk of blood- shed.

In the past year, the UN estimates that at least 10,000 people have been killed. About 1.9 million have fled their homes. UNICEF reports that about 400,000 children are unable to attend school, and 12,000 have been recruited as child soldiers. It is expected that four million people – a third of the population – will be in receipt of humanitarian aid next year.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --South Sudan, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Poverty, Sudan, Violence

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–A Look Forward to possible 2015 stories

E.J. DIONNE: Well, the question is whether we can push back ISIS or whether we’re starting out trying to contain them and prevent them from taking more territory. I mean, at least in the initial phase, they were on a real roll taking over large amounts of territory, both in Iraq and in Syria. We seem to have stopped that advance. The question is whether we can push them back. The striking thing is ISIS has no friends in the Middle East. I believe it was The Economist had this great chart where they said, who’s friends and who’s enemies with whom? Every regime, regimes we like, regimes we don’t like, really does not want ISIS to take off in the Middle East. And so I think one of the issues will be, what will our””not only our allies, but what will our adversaries do? It’s odd we are on the same side as the Iranians, for example, in this fight. And we are each doing pieces of the military effort.

ABERNETHY: And can other Muslims in the Middle East prevail over this strange””

KEVIN ECKSTROM: That’s part of the problem with this whole ISIS story. This is as much an interreligious or intra=religious fight as it is a political one. These are Muslims who have no problem killing other Muslims because they’re deemed as heretics or not pure enough or whatever. And so in many ways, yes, this is a challenge for the international community to figure out what to do here and how to contain them. But it’s also a struggle for Islam. For Islam to find a way to say, you know, in whatever capacity it can, that this is not allowable Islamic behavior. What ISIS is doing is not sanctioned by this faith. The problem is that Islam doesn’t have a pope, it doesn’t have a council of imams or something that can issue a declarative ruling like that. So I don’t know what the answer is, but Islam itself needs to come to terms with what ISIS is and what it claims to be.

LAWTON: The other problem that we’re going to be facing this year is what to do with all the victims, the refugees, who have been pouring out of the places both in Syria and in Iraq where ISIS and the ongoing civil war in Syria are just killing their communities.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–A Look Back to the 2014 stories

Host Bob Abernethy leads a conversation with managing editor Kim Lawton, Religion News Service editor-in-chief Kevin Eckstrom, and Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, in our annual review of the top religion and ethics stories of 2014.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

(BBC) Nigeria's Goodluck Jonathan vows to defeat Boko Haram

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has vowed to defeat militant group Boko Haram, after a series of attacks blamed on the group in recent weeks.

Earlier on Thursday, at least 10 people were injured by a suicide bomber near a church in Gombe, north-east Nigeria.

On Wednesday, 11 people were killed when a bomb went off on a bus heading from Gombe to neighbouring Yobe state.

Mr Jonathan said the group had caused “agony” in the country. They killed at least 2,000 civilians in 2014.

Read it all.

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

(WSJ) Eric Metaxas–Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God

Fred Hoyle, the astronomer who coined the term “big bang,” said that his atheism was “greatly shaken” at these developments. He later wrote that “a common-sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology . . . . The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”

Theoretical physicist Paul Davies has said that “the appearance of design is overwhelming” and Oxford professor Dr. John Lennox has said “the more we get to know about our universe, the more the hypothesis that there is a Creator . . . gains in credibility as the best explanation of why we are here.”

The greatest miracle of all time, without any close seconds, is the universe. It is the miracle of all miracles, one that ineluctably points with the combined brightness of every star to something””or Someone””beyond itself.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Apologetics, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(National Geographic) Middle Eastern Christians Flee Violence for Ancient Homeland

On most afternoons, Mor Barsaumo, a honey-colored, fifth-century stone church nestled in a warren of slanted streets, draws a crowd. In the narrow courtyard, old men smoke cigarettes and drink coffee, while children kick a soccer ball across the stone floor. In a darkened classroom, empty except for a few desks, a teacher gives private lessons in Syriac, derived from Aramaic, the language of Christ.

And now, the refugees also come.

Advised by relatives or other refugees, newcomers to Midyat often make the steps of the church their first stop. Midyat and its environs””known in Syriac as Tur Abdin, “mountain of the servants of God”””are the historical heartland of the Middle East’s widely dispersed Syriac Orthodox Christian community. Now the region has become a haven as the fighting in Syria and Iraq has forced Christians to flee their homes.

“All Syriac Christians come here. Most of the aid is delivered from here,” says Ayhan Gürkan, a deacon at Mor Barsaumo and a member of the Tur Abdin Syriac Christians Committee, set up to look after Midyat’s Christian refugees.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Samuel Azariah

Emmanuel, God with us, who didst make thy home in every culture and community on earth: We offer thanks for the raising up of thy servant Samuel Azariah as the first indigenous bishop in India. Grant that we may be strengthened by his witness to thy love without concern for class or caste, and by his labors for the unity of the Church in India, that people of many languages and cultures might with one voice give thee glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Church History, India, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Heavenly Father, whose blessed Son, that he might keep the law which he came to fulfill, received in this seaon the outward circumcision: Cleanse our minds by the inward circumcision from all incentives to sin, that we may worship thee in spirit and glory in the same Christ Jesus, now and for evermore.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the LORD delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. Evil shall slay the wicked; and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

–Psalm 34:17-22

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Former) Archbishop Peter Jensen””The Christmas gift that breaks the curse

In CS Lewis’s story, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which..[was] on our movie screens…[in 2005] the land of Narnia is under a curse that means that it is always winter but never Christmas. Of course, it is never winter at Christmas time in Australia, but we can nevertheless understand what a terrible curse this is! Narnia is stuck in hard times, with no cause for celebration. Its creatures are suffering, with no highlight to look forward to.

Like the Narnians, many Australians will be doing it tough this Christmas. For some, it is a time when relationships are strained to the limit, when the cracks in our marriages, our families and our friendships seem to widen. For others, the strain is financial, as we see what the neighbours have and we don’t. Yet others find it difficult to join in the festivities because the world just doesn’t seem like somewhere worth celebrating. Wars, hurricanes and child poverty press in on our hearts and minds, refusing to be pushed aside, even for a day.

My challenge to you this Christmas is to lift your eyes from your daily struggles and see what lies around the corner. To the great surprise of the children in CS Lewis’s story, Father Christmas turns up in Narnia to hand out gifts. His appearance is a sign that the curse on the land is breaking, and a better world is on its way.

Of course, this is just a story, but it points to an event in history that we must understand in order to have any hope at Christmas time. The birth of Jesus around 2000 years ago was the beginning of a new hope for the people of the world. It was like the first spring flower pushing through the winter snow””the first sign that things were looking up.
Christians believe that Jesus was a gift to the world from God himself, to give us hope.
When Father Christmas handed out gifts in Narnia, he didn’t indulge the children with toys they didn’t need or appreciate. Rather, his gifts prepared them for the battle ahead with the dark forces they would confront.
In the same way, the Bible tells us that in Jesus God gave us a gift we desperately need. The Gospel of Luke records for us the words of one man called Simeon, who saw the young Jesus, took him in his arms and said “My eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people”.
Jesus was sent to rescue us from sin and judgement (that’s what salvation means), to make God known to us, and to assure us that God is not off in his heaven ignoring us, but is closely involved with our world and our troubles.
But the gift must be acknowledged””if you ignore God’s gift, you do so at your peril, for without Jesus there is no clear hope to see you through the wintry days.
Christmas should focus our thoughts on where we are headed. I urge you to take time this Christmas to acknowledge God’s gift of Jesus, to read about him in the New Testament, and to understand how he has broken the curse of sin and guaranteed those who trust him a better future.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Peter Moore–Did Jesus have to be born of a Virgin? Rethinking the Virgin Birth

Since God was in the business of re-starting creation in the sending of his Son, might we not expect him to create “out of nothing” the second time, just as he did the first? Karl Barth, the greatest theologian of the 20th Century, thought so. Just as the Spirit brooded over creation the first time, so again in the birth of Jesus the Spirit “brooded” over the virgin Mary. Also, just as creation was totally initiated by God the first time, so creation (the second time, in Jesus) gets to be totally initiated by God. The Virgin Birth tells us that Jesus was not born “of the will of man”, but wholly of the Father’s initiative. God chose to by-pass the normal male role in the work of redemption, in part, so the logic goes, to signal his own headship. “Man as a creating, controlling, self-assertive, self-glorifying being was set aside in favor of a woman who listened, received, and served.” (From, A Step Further, by the author)

We honor the Virgin Birth, of course, because Scripture teaches it. But we can also see the logic behind it. God’s sovereign action is a challenge to the human psychological need to contribute to our own salvation, to be co-creators with God. Mary is a witness against the drive, push, and self-assertion that men especially (though not exclusively) associate with a healthy self-image and by which men often mask their own impotence.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Albert Mohler: Must We Believe the Virgin Birth?

Carl F. H. Henry, the dean of evangelical theologians, argues that the Virgin Birth is the “essential, historical indication of the Incarnation, bearing not only an analogy to the divine and human natures of the Incarnate, but also bringing out the nature, purpose, and bearing of this work of God to salvation.” Well said, and well believed.

Nicholas Kristof and his secularist friends may find belief in the Virgin Birth to be evidence of intellectual backwardness among American Christians. But this is the faith of the Church, established in God’s perfect Word, and cherished by the true Church throughout the ages. Kristof’s grandfather, we are told, believed that the Virgin Birth is a “pious legend.” The fact that he could hold such beliefs and serve as an elder in his church is evidence of that church’s doctrinal and spiritual laxity ”” or worse. Those who deny the Virgin Birth affirm other doctrines only by force of whim, for they have already surrendered the authority of Scripture. They have undermined Christ’s nature and nullified the incarnation.

This much we know: All those who find salvation will be saved by the atoning work of Jesus the Christ ”” the virgin-born Savior. Anything less than this is just not Christianity, whatever it may call itself. A true Christian will not deny the Virgin Birth.

Read it all.

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

Rick Warren–What Do You Have To Lose This Christmas?

It’s easy to forget the purpose of Christmas. This time of year we have so many things that can get in the way: commercialism, traditions, even family and church commitments.

To find the real purpose of Christmas, you have to fast forward from the shepherds, the wise men, and the dirty stable. We have to go to a statement Jesus made during his adult years about why he came: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10 NIV).

The reason we celebrate Christmas is because Jesus came to Earth to seek and save the lost.

Jesus uses three stories in the gospel of Luke to demonstrate what it means to be lost: the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. They teach us that when we’re disconnected from God, we lose….

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Soteriology, Theology

Do Not Take Yourself too Seriously Dept–Silent Monks Singing the Hallelujah Chorus

Great fun–watch it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Humor / Trivia, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Teens / Youth

Plenty to Ponder here as 2015 begins–The Thread of Life

[1] The irresponsive silence of the land,
The irresponsive sounding of the sea,
Speak both one message of one sense to me: ””
Aloof, aloof, we stand aloof, so stand
Thou too aloof bound with the flawless band
Of inner solitude; we bind not thee;
But who from thy self””chain shall set thee free?
What heart shall touch thy heart? what hand thy hand?””
And I am sometimes proud and sometimes meek,
And sometimes I remember days of old
When fellowship seemed not so far to seek
And all the world and I seemed much less cold,
And at the rainbow’s foot lay surely gold,
And hope felt strong and life itself not weak.
[2] Thus am I mine own prison. Everything
Around me free and sunny and at ease:
Or if in shadow, in a shade of trees
Which the sun kisses, where the gay birds sing
And where all winds make various murmuring;
Where bees are found, with honey for the bees;
Where sounds are music, and where silences
Are music of an unlike fashioning.
Then gaze I at the merrymaking crew,
And smile a moment and a moment sigh
Thinking: Why can I not rejoice with you ?
But soon I put the foolish fancy by:
I am not what I have nor what I do;
But what I was I am, I am even I.

[3]Therefore myself is that one only thing
I hold to use or waste, to keep or give;
My sole possession every day I live,
And still mine own despite Time’s winnowing.
Ever mine own, while moons and seasons bring
From crudeness ripeness mellow and sanative;
Ever mine own, till Death shall ply his sieve;
And still mine own, when saints break grave and sing.
And this myself as king unto my King
I give, to Him Who gave Himself for me;
Who gives Himself to me, and bids me sing
A sweet new song of His redeemed set free;
He bids me sing: O death, where is thy sting?
And sing: O grave, where is thy victory?

–Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Poetry & Literature

More Music for Christmas–the Amazing William Dutton

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Mark Shea on Christmas–The Gospel According to Steve Martin

It’s Christmas, that joyous time of year when the Mainstream Media (MSM) goes in search of apostate scholars to re-assure them that the gospel is all a bunch of hooey. Here’s a recent piece that appeared on MSNBC.com called “What is the Real Christmas Story?” It’s a roundtable discussion featuring a number of biblical scholars that looks at the tale of the Nativity as told by Matthew and Luke….

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Media, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Tom Wright””Christmas from John’s Gospel

Out of the thousand things which follow directly from this reading of John, I choose three as particularly urgent.

First, John’s view of the incarnation, of the Word becoming flesh, strikes at the very root of that liberal denial which characterised mainstream theology thirty years ago and whose long-term effects are with us still. I grew up hearing lectures and sermons which declared that the idea of God becoming human was a category mistake. No human being could actually be divine; Jesus must therefore have been simply a human being, albeit no doubt (the wonderful patronizing pat on the head of the headmaster to the little boy) a very brilliant one. Phew; that’s all right then; he points to God but he isn’t actually God. And a generation later, but growing straight out of that school of thought, I have had a clergyman writing to me this week to say that the church doesn’t know anything for certain, so what’s all the fuss about? Remove the enfleshed and speaking Word from the centre of your theology, and gradually the whole thing will unravel until all you’re left with is the theological equivalent of the grin on the Cheshire Cat, a relativism whose only moral principle is that there are no moral principles; no words of judgment because nothing is really wrong except saying that things are wrong, no words of mercy because, if you’re all right as you are, you don’t need mercy, merely ”˜affirmation’….

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture