Daily Archives: February 12, 2015

(Gallup) U.S. Satisfaction With Religion Settling at Lower Levels

A slight majority of Americans, 53%, are satisfied with the influence of organized religion in the U.S. This level of satisfaction has changed little over the past three years, but remains down from what Gallup has measured previously — including higher levels measured in 2001 to 2004 — suggesting that Americans’ satisfaction with organized religion has settled in at a new baseline.

The latest measurement comes from Gallup’s annual Mood of the Nation survey, conducted Jan. 5-8. Satisfaction with the influence of religion comes in sixth on the list of 27 aspects of American life that Gallup measures in the survey.

Nearly two in three Americans (64%) were satisfied with the influence of religion when they were first asked this question in this format in January 2001, exactly eight months before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Satisfaction rose to its high point of 69% a year later, then dropped below 60% in the years thereafter. Although Americans’ satisfaction has fluctuated some from year to year, the basic pattern has been generally stable since 2005, with slightly lower levels of satisfaction recorded over the past three years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Sociology

TEC Presiding Bishop Reportedly Disinvited by Burundi HOB

Read it here and see also The GAFCON Chairman’s January 2015 Pastoral Letter

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, GAFCON II 2013, Global South Churches & Primates

(Chrn Today) Suicides can receive Anglican funerals, says General Synod

The Church of England is to change its laws to allow people who commit suicide, whatever the circumstances, to be buried or cremated according to its funeral rites.

Currently, Church of England clergy are not allowed to conduct the funeral of a person who takes their own life while deemed to be “of sound mind”.

Canon Michael Parsons of the Gloucester diocese told the General Synod meeting in Church House, Westminster: “This is widely disregarded by most clergy and even more widely unknown.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Suicide, Theology

Lent and Beyond: Further Prayer for the Church of England General Synod on its Final Day

The General Synod concludes today.
Isaiah 6:1-4 (ESV) Isaiah’s Vision of the Lord
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.

Eternal God,
You are sovereign, majestic, high and lifted up. You are the God of the angel armies. You are the One who sent His Son Jesus, whose name is above all names. Your Word goes forth and does not return to You empty. Your presence is manifest in the General Synod today.
Woe are we! We are lost and a people of unclean lips.
Uproot that which the enemy has rooted in the General Synod and Church of England. Plow a new field, and sow seeds of righteousness, truth, and love. Sow seeds that will bring life in the future.
Yes to Your promise for this church! Would that the train of Your robe would fill the Church of England. Amen.

Please pray it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

([London] Times) Atheists and proud of it … young Britons lose faith in God

Almost one in five Britons is now an atheist as a generational shift away from religion gathers force, a poll for The Times has found.

Experts said that the country was becoming more comfortable with atheism than with faith after the data revealed that public figures win approval for questioning the existence of God, while Christians are more than twice as likely as atheists to say that they struggle to speak openly about their beliefs.

A marked divide has opened up between young and old. Almost one in three under-24s declare themselves to be atheists, compared with one in ten over-60s.

The YouGov survey of 1,550 adults is one of the first studies to give a clear impression of the extent of atheism in modern Britain.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, England / UK, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Sociology, Theology

Lent and Beyond: Prayer for the Church of England General Synod on its Final Day

The General Synod concludes today.
Psalm 24:7-10 (NIV)
Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle.

Adonai is our miracle in the Church of England. O King of glory, the gates of Hades will not overcome Your church.
Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is he, this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty””
he is the King of glory.

Adonai is our miracle in the Church of England. O King of glory, the gates of Hades will not overcome Your church.

Matthew 16:18

Please pray it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

CofE: Booklets for Welby's Facilitated Conversations on Sexual Immorality Published

Read the introduction to the release of the 2 booklets

Booklet 1: Essays for Participants from Phil Groves [Continuing Indaba], Loveday Alexander [Liberal], Ian Paul [Open Evangelical], and a further one used by the Church of Scotland when deciding to permit clergy living in sexually immorality to be ordained [more about the resulting splits here and here].

Booklet 2: ‘The thinking behind the conversations, the process and their place in the life of the church’

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

A.S. Haley–The Episcopal Church as a model for How to Make the Church Even Less Relevant

General Convention 2009 began to undermine the authority of the BCP when it authorized its Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to develop “theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships” (Res. 2009C056; emphasis added)””all the while pretending that no changes were being made to traditional marriage as celebrated in the BCP. In response to its work, General Convention 2012 commended . . . for study and use in congregations and dioceses” certain rites for the “Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant in a same-sex relationship” (Res. 2012A049; emphasis added).

Do you see the subtle word games going on to this point? God forfend that General Convention should be doing anything to alter marriage as such; all it is purporting to do is to develop some experimental liturgical rites to celebrate “same-sex relationships”.

But now look at what has happened. The General Convention’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage has proposed to revise Canon I.18 (“On Marriage”). I’m not going to reproduce all of the proposed changes here; you can see them for yourself, at pp. 4-6 of the document at the link just given. Just notice, if you will, that as the title goes, so goes the Canon””the title is changed from “Of the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony” to “Of the Celebration and Blessing of Marriage.” The words “Holy Matrimony” are removed from Sections 1, 2 and 3, so that the Canon (if amended) will speak only to “marriage” as such; and no longer to what is defined by the Book of Common Prayer as “the union of a man and a woman.”

And what is the significance of that change? Seemingly it is rather subtle on the surface, but beneath the surface it runs very deep, into the heart of the Church….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Commentary, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Charisma) Deborah Pegues–5 Ways That Words Can Ruin a Life

One of my spiritual mentors, Marlene Talley, held the secret. More than 25 years ago when she observed my tendency to speak without much forethought, she cautioned, “Stop, think and pray before you speak.”

When we stop, think and pray before we speak, we find ourselves blessing rather than blasting others, exhibiting patience rather than pushiness, sharing good rather than gossip and choosing caring rather than cutting words.

Otherwise, we find our tongue in drive while our brain is in neutral. It is then that our words become verbal shrapnel that lodges in another person’s emotions with disastrous results.

Here’s what I have concluded. Words are verbalized thoughts that emanate from our hearts. If we turn to Scripture and use Philippians 4:8 as our thought sifter, our communication will always go from negative to positive….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) Wesley Hill–The Gay Catholic Writer Who Changed My Life

At its heart this book, Gay and Catholic: Accepting My Sexuality, Finding Community, Living My Faith, is an extended effort to assure gay and lesbian people that entering the church will not mean the suppression of their longings and loves. It will, Tushnet promises, mean that those loves will be changed, reshaped, or reconfigured. But it won’t mean that they’ll simply be erased. Borrowing the historic language of vocations, she speaks of “figuring out how God is calling me to love and then pouring myself out into that love.” If gay people fear that becoming a Christian equals a one-way ticket to lifelong loneliness, Tushnet’s book is one long argument to the contrary.

The book has an uncluttered structure. Following several chapters that narrate her upbringing, including her coming out at age 13, her days as a student activist, and her eventual conversion to Catholicism while an undergraduate at Yale, Tushnet simply examines several possible ways that gay Catholics may give and receive love while remaining faithful to traditional Christian sexual ethics. There’s a chapter on friendship””not the anemic variety we now associate with Facebook verbs (“friending” and “unfriending”), but the vowed, lifelong kind associated with the church fathers and saints like Francis of Assisi and Clare, his spiritual sister. There are chapters on intentional community and parish life. There are explorations of service (Tushnet herself volunteers at a crisis pregnancy center, where she speaks of how her “connection to other women does have an adoring and erotic component, and [how she] wanted to find a way to express that connection through works of mercy”). And there are discussions of possible roadblocks gay Catholics may encounter in their search for loving community.

This book articulates, better than anything I’ve been able to find, the real yearnings, fears, and questions of gay Catholics (and other traditionalist Christians). But more than that, it also portrays, in vivid and personal terms, the hope of the church””the hope of the gospel that speaks to those desires and fears and beckons us on, to a brighter future in the household of God. I recommend it wholeheartedly, without reservation, as the best book of its kind.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

View from the top: Canterbury Cathedral as you've never seen it

The doors to the Nave of Canterbury Cathedral are quite big, but you would be forgiven for thinking you would never see anything as big as a crane inside the home of the Anglican Faith.

But, for today and tomorrow, that is the case, as cathedral staff prepare for necessary improvements to the building’s roof.

Read it all and check out the cool pictures.

Posted in Uncategorized

(ENS) A Look Back to the Episcopal Church in 1994–Sexuality Issues Continue to Provoke Debate

After 10 days of heated debate about human sexuality, fueled by small group discussions, private conversations and caucuses, the 71st General Convention of the Episcopal Church adjourned having decided the dialogue must continue throughout the wider church. That ongoing conversation will be aided by a new pastoral study document from the House of Bishops, and other materials on sexuality that will be developed for parents and teenagers.

Developed in private meetings over three years and numerous drafts, the pastoral became the focus of both hope and anxiety in the days leading up to the convention. The secrecy of the bishops in preparing the document added to the drama, feeding speculation about its contents. Weeks before the bishops’ hoped-for release date on the first day of convention, the conservative group Episcopalians United had leaked the final two drafts, further heightening the tension and earning them a sharp reprimand from Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning.

Called “Continuing the Dialogue: A Pastoral Study Document of the House of Bishops to the Church as the Church Considers Issues of Human Sexuality,” or just “the pastoral” for short, the bishops’ document served as a touchstone for all other discussions on sexuality. In a surprisingly congenial debate in the convention’s opening day, the bishops agreed to commend the document to the wider church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Praise to Begin the Day

O Thou in whom all things live, who commandest us to seek thee, and art ever ready to be found: To know thee is life, to serve thee is freedom, to praise thee is our souls’ joy. We bless thee and adore thee, we worship thee and magnify thee, we give thanks to thee for thy great glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Saint Augustine

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have being. Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no help.

–Psalm 146:1-3

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

[ACI] Dr Ephraim Radner: The Marriage Taskforce and the Balkan Solution

Let us be clear what the Taskforce’s approach entails in political terms: it is (d.), the Balkan Solution. The erasure of alternative views, and the proposal for a canonical change that will demand church-wide acceptance in dioceses, is one of enforced unity.

To be sure, the Taskforce does not speak explicitly to any of this. But the change of canon ”“ the only concrete element in the Report ”“ seeks to define (rather arbitrarily and counter-intuitively, in my view) the meaning of specific words in the Book of Common Prayer (and hence of Scripture itself, which the Prayer Book cites). The words “man and woman” and “husband and wife”, which will remain in both Scripture and Prayer Book, will now signify to Episcopalians “two people” or “two persons”.

First, this represents an imposition of linguistic transformation by fiat, demanding that very particular words that mean one thing in customary usage and traditional interpretive habit, will now mean another. (The change is very different, in this regard, from the understanding of “man” as including “male and female”, something that biblical usage itself engages, let alone normal English usage.) Second, this change deliberately opens the door to church-wide same-sex marriage rites; that is the stated purpose of the canonical change. Third, the change will as well open the door to the potential for attempts at nullifying diocesan and episcopal jurisdiction on the matter, and will significantly alter traditional notions of episcopal authority. Fourth, given that one conscience clause allowing priests to refuse to marry a couple on the basis of their individual views of the matter is left in “tension” with another existing canon that forbids discrimination on the basis of sexuality, the canonical change also opens the door to disciplinary and perhaps legal challenge to individual clergy who maintain classical views about Christian marriage. Finally, the proposal dispenses with the notions of consultation or mutual decision-making, especially at the Communion level: the proposal has not been shared systematically with Anglican bishops around the world, or with other representatives from international Anglican or ecumenical partners, and the few months that remain before GC cannot come close to providing an adequate time for response to the Report now released. Whatever “Christian communion” might have meant in the past, the Taskforce has made a decision about TEC autonomy that is decisive: we will simply go forward in the face of Anglican and ecumenical opposition elsewhere.

I believe that we need to be clear about the trajectory of this approach to divided views. Within the church, the Balkan solution has consequences that are analogous to those experienced by political societies where it has been adopted: conflict, litigation, disciplinary disputes, and exit. This is not idle speculation. In fact, each of these elements is already well-established in TEC’s profile over the past 15 years, a period in which litigation, disputed discipline, significant exit of membership, estrangement of relations with many other Anglican churches, and finally a general contraction of resources has piled up. In this respect, the Taskforce is expressing an established habit of thinking and acting, rather than pondering it critically. It is reflecting the past, not the future. And its Balkan solution must be seen as potentially another push in the direction of our church’s conflicted dissolution.

Read it all

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

Warm Swiss Welcome Despite Temperature Change for Bishop Robert Innes

In the Diocese in Europe we pride ourselves on offering residents and visitors a warm welcome to our congregations but as Bishop Robert discovered during a pastoral visit to Berne and the Swiss Archdeaconry Synod he needs a good supply of warm clothing and the ability to adapt quickly to temperature changes.

Read it all and see what you make of the Bishop’s sermon.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Europe, Parish Ministry, Switzerland

Rod Dreher–Go to Europe in search of truth, not illusions of tradition

Thoughtful U.S. travelers approach Europe with a sense of pietas. Europe is no Disneyland but the home of our fathers.

That’s the attitude I take, anyway, and never did I feel more pious, in the classical sense, than on this recent trip to Florence. Within the previous year, discovering the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri had changed my life””saved it, I would say, because it drew me out of a dark spiritual wood.

I wanted to go to Italy to see the city that nurtured the poet who had been the spiritual father of my new life, the same city that threw him out in disgrace and in so doing seeded the creation of an immortal work of literature. For me, the trip to Florence was very much a pilgrimage, as much a spiritual journey as an intellectual and cultural one.

But then, they all are. For well over half my life, I have been going to Europe at every opportunity, drawn mostly by its art, its architecture, and its culture. (And, well, its food.) It was in Europe””inside the Chartres cathedral, to be precise””that I rediscovered the Christian faith that I, as a know-it-all teenager, had rashly discarded as an ideology of either bourgeois dullards or televangelistic vulgarians.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Architecture, Art, Books, Church History, Europe, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Theology

CEEC: Martin Davie on 'Living Reconciliation'

A review by Dr Martin Davie of ‘Living Reconciliation ”“ Phil Groves and Angharad Parry Jones’.
Dr Martin Davie is tutor in doctrine at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford and served at Theological Consultant to the House of Bishops
The reason that Living Reconciliation nevertheless holds that the Anglican diversity needs to include both the liberal theology prevalent in the Episcopal Church and same-sex sexual activity is because of a belief that the alternative to such inclusion would be to exclude people from the Church and that such exclusion is wrong in all circumstances. This point is made by Archbishop Justin in his foreword:

Through all our differences we belong to one another: not through our choice, but God’s. Those who follow Christ are relatives ”“ we are related through our Shepherd. You may choose your friends, but you are stuck with your relatives.
So we do not have the option, if we love one another in the way that Jesus instructs us, simply to ditch those with whom we disagree. You do not chuck out members of the family: you love them and seek their well-being, even when you argue. (p.xiii)

The Bible (see Matthew 18:15-18, 1 Corinthians 5:1-5, 1 Timothy 1:19-20) and the Christian tradition would both disagree with the Archbishop’s argument. They would hold that it is legitimate to exercise the disciplinary power (the ”˜power of the keys’) granted by Christ to his Church (Matthew 16:19, 18:18, John 20:23) by excluding people from the Christian community.

The theological rationale for the exercise of discipline by the Church in New Testament times and subsequently is helpfully explained by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in The Cost of Discipleship. In his chapter on the Church as the community on the saints Bonhoeffer writes that the Church:

”¦is a community of men and women who have genuinely encountered the grace of God, and who walk worthily of the gospel by not casting that grace recklessly away.

In his chapter on ”˜The visible community’ Bonhoeffer also makes clear that such discipline must extend not only to sinful behaviour, but also to heretical teaching:

It is not always easy to see where a legitimate school of thought ends and heresy begins. That is why a doctrine may be tolerated in one Church and proscribed as heresy in another (Revelation 2:6, 15ff). But once a heresy has become an open scandal it must of necessity be proscribed. The heretical teacher must be excommunicated and all personal intercourse with him avoided (Galatians 1:8, 1 Corinthians 16:22, Titus 3:10, 2 John 10ff). The word of pure proclamation must visibly bind and loose. The space which the Church claims for its proclamation and order is thus made clear as an ordinance of divine appointment.

In summary therefore, although Living Reconciliation provides us with a useful reminder of a number of things that all Christians need to bear in mind, it does not provide us with a useful blueprint for the future of the Anglican Communion. This is because its account of what reconciliation involves does not do justice to what the New Testament teaches about reconciliation and because its emphasis on living with difference and celebrating diversity fails to do justice to the need to reject forms of theology and practice that are contrary to the message of reconciliation given to the Apostles. A blanket affirmation of difference and diversity simply will not do.

Read it all
Posted 2:13 am 01.10.15

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury