Daily Archives: February 19, 2015

C of E Bishops Response to Pastoral Letter article in The (London) Times

The suggestion in your leader (“Bishops’ Blunder”, Feb 18) that the role of the church should be limited to “the soothing and saving of troubled souls” ignores the daily ministry of the Church of England across the country, often in partnership with local government, schools, universities, hospital trusts and other faiths. Research by the Church Urban Fund published last month found that 76 per cent of churches run activities in local schools, 66 per cent help to run food banks, 60 per cent offer parent and toddler groups and 53 per cent organise lunch clubs or drop-ins. A fifth of churches are also involved in helping credit unions in some way – a strong show of support for the Archbishop of Canterbury’s initiative.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(First Things) Matthew Milliner–50 Years from T. S. Eliot

That Eliot has been met with both palm branches and nails does not mean (as I’ve suggested elsewhere) we should campaign for his resurrection. “Last year’s words belong to last year’s language,” he wrote in Little Gidding, “And next year’s words await another voice.” His project, furthermore, is being pursued less by “the next Eliot” than by many religiously attuned stylists like him, such as (to name just a few) Scott Cairns, Christian Wiman, or Malcolm Guite. Nevertheless, the scorched earth of Eliot studies has given rise to surprising fecundity of late, and this is a good year to take notice. In a post-secular academic climate where there is much talk of the “religious turn,” Eliot’s career is being cast in a different, stained-glass light. Barry Spurr’s ”˜Anglo-Catholic in Religion’ T. S. Eliot and Christianity is typical of the change, showing Eliot’s Christianity to be more paramount than parenthetical. For Spurr, the proposition that Eliot could be understood apart from his faith is “like taking away the gods from the classical authors.” Spurr unveils how the Anglican liturgy is the inspiration behind so many lines once chalked up to Eliot’s isolated poetic genius.

Reading Spurr’s monograph a few years back has given me the freedom to approach Eliot’s poetry in a new, and frankly more straightforward way: as a prayer manual in poetic form, similar to the Philokalia, Walter Hilton’s Ladder of Perfection,or Ascent of Mount Carmel.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture

(CT) What To Give Up for Lent? Twitter Reveals Top 100 Ideas of 2015

Nearly one in five Americans observed Lent last year, and more than half a million tweeted about their fast.

Each year, Stephen Smith of OpenBible.info tracks hundreds of thousands of Lenten tweets during the week of Ash Wednesday. “As I write this post, with about 4,000 tweets analyzed, perennial favorites ”˜alcohol,’ ”˜chocolate,’ and ”˜social networking’ lead the list,” he wrote in his Monday debut of the 2015 list. “Given winter weather conditions in the eastern U.S., I expect that snow- and winter-related tweets will be popular this year.”
Food and technology were the most popular categories that roughly 646,000 tweeting Americans reported giving up in 2014. The top five choices: School, chocolate, Twitter, swearing, and alcohol””ideas consistently popular for Christians since Smith began using Twitter’s API to track Lent in 2009.

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

Bishop of Sherborne to take on new role as Anglican Communion Mission Theologian

The Bishop of Sherborne Dr Graham Kings is moving on after six years in the role.

Dr Kings will be taking up the mantle of Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion.

This is a new post created in partnership by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Durham University and the Church Mission Society (CMS).

His new role will see him based in London with frequent visits to Durham. Dr Kings will travel the Anglican Communion convening seminars for theologians, especially in Africa and Asia and Latin America.

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

(Gallup) Frequent Worship Service Attendance Highest in Utah (incl. Mormons), Lowest in Vermont

Slightly more than half of Utah residents say they attend religious services every week, more than any other state in the union. Residents in the four Southern states of Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas are the next most likely to be frequent church attendees, with 45% to 47% reporting weekly attendance. At the other end of the spectrum is Vermont, where 17% of residents say they attend religious services every week.

These results are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews throughout 2014 with 177,030 U.S. adults, and reflect those who say “at least once a week” when asked, “How often do you attend church, synagogue or mosque — at least once a week, almost every week, about once a month, seldom or never?” Church attendance self-reports are estimates, and may not reflect precise week in and week out attendance, but provide an important measure of the way in which Americans view their personal, underlying religiosity. In particular, the focus on the top category of “weekly” attendance yields a good indicator of the percentage of each state’s population that is highly religious, and for whom religion is likely to be a significant factor in their daily lives.

Ten of the 12 states with the highest self-reported religious service attendance are in the South, along with Utah and Oklahoma. The strong religious culture in the South reflects a variety of factors, including history, cultural norms and the fact that these states have high Protestant and black populations — both of which are above average in their self-reported religious service attendance. Utah’s No. 1 position on the list is a direct result of that state’s 59% Mormon population, as Mormons have the highest religious service attendance of any major religious group in the U.S.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Mormons, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sociology

The Bishop of Ramsbury gives up his car for Lent

Cycling Bishop Edward Condry has swapped four wheels for two again this Lent in a bid to raise awareness of climate change.

The 61-year-old Bishop of Ramsbury will continue to work full-time, travelling to churches in rural parts of Wiltshire.

This is the second time Rt Rev Condry, who lives in Warminster, has given up his car for Lent, saving more than 2,000 miles of driving last year by cycling and using public transport.

He said:”I was surprised how much of a spiritual experience it was to give up the car, in a way that struggling to give up chocolate had never achieved, for me.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, CoE Bishops, Lent, Travel

(NYT) As Rivals Falter, India’s Economy Is Surging Ahead

hina’s economy is slowing. Brazil is struggling as commodity prices plunge. Russia, facing Western sanctions and weak oil revenue, is headed into a recession.

As other big developing markets stumble, India is emerging as one of the few hopes for global growth.

The stock market and rupee are surging. Multinational companies are looking to expand their Indian operations or start new ones. The growth in India’s economy, long a laggard, just matched China’s pace in recent months.

India is riding high on the early success of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a raft of new business-friendly policies instituted in his first eight months.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Asia, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Housing/Real Estate Market, India, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Stock Market, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from William Knight

O Almighty God, from whom every good prayer cometh, and who pourest out on all who desire it the spirit of grace and supplication: Deliver us, when we draw near to thee, from coldness of heart and wanderings of mind; that with steadfast thoughts and kindled affection we may worship thee in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ”˜After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but for this I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness, “I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ”˜He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

–John 1:29-34

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Pope Francis' Ash Wednesday homily for 2015

The Ash Wednesday liturgy offers us, first of all, the passage from the prophet Joel, sent by God to call the people to repentance and conversion, due to a calamity (an invasion of locusts) that devastates Judea. Only the Lord can save from the scourge, and so there is need of supplication, with prayer and fasting, each confessing his sin.

The prophet insists on inner conversion: “Return to me with all your heart” (2:12). To return to the Lord “with all [one’s] heart,” means taking the path of a conversion that is neither superficial nor transient, but is a spiritual journey that reaches the deepest place of our self. The heart, in fact, is the seat of our sentiments, the center in which our decisions and our attitudes mature.

That, “Return to me with all your heart,” does not involve only individuals, but extends to the community, is a summons addressed to all: “Gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. (2:16)”

The prophet dwells particularly on the prayers of priests, noting that their prayer should be accompanied by tears. We will do well to ask, at the beginning of this Lent, for the gift of tears, so as to make our prayer and our journey of conversion ever more authentic and without hypocrisy.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Francis, Preaching / Homiletics, Roman Catholic

C H Spurgeon for Ash Wednesday 2015

Our subject this morning, then, will be, both in the condemnation and in the punishment of every sinner, God will be justified: and he will be made most openly clear, from the two facts of the sinner’s own confession, and God himself having been an eye-witness of the deed. And as for the severity of it, there shall be no doubt upon the mind of any man who shall receive it, for God shall prove to him in his own soul, that damnation is nothing more nor less than the legitimate reward of sin.

There are two kinds of condemnation: the one is the condemnation of the elect, which takes place in their hearts and consciences, when they have the sentence of death in themselves, that they should not trust in themselves””a condemnation which is invariably followed by peace with God, because after that there is no further condemnation, for they are then in Christ Jesus, and they walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. The second condemnation is that of the finally impenitent, who, when they die, are most righteously and justly condemned by God for the sins they have committed””a condemnation not followed by pardon, as in the present case, but followed by inevitable damnation from the presence of God. On both these condemnations we will discourse this morning. God is clear when he speaks, and he is just when he condemns, whether it be the condemnation which he passes on Christian hearts, or the condemnation which he pronounces from his throne, when the wicked are dragged before him to receive their final doom.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Christology, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Eschatology, Lent, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

(RNS) Some Background Explanation for Ash Wednesday

Q: I don’t remember reading about Ash Wednesday in the Bible. Where did the practice come from?

A: That’s true; there is no mention of Ash Wednesday in the Bible. But there is a tradition of donning ashes as a sign of penitence that predates Jesus. In the Old Testament, Job repents “in dust and ashes,” and there are other associations of ashes and repentance in Esther, Samuel, Isaiah and Jeremiah. By the 10th century, the monk Aelfric tied the practice, which dates to the eighth century, to the period before Easter, writing, “Now let us do this little at the beginning of our Lent that we strew ashes upon our heads to signify that we ought to repent of our sins during the Lenten fast.” By the 11th century, the practice was widespread throughout the church ”” until Martin Luther, the Protestant reformer, threw the practice out in the 16th century because it was not biblically based. There’s no Lent in the Bible, either, though many Christians see it as an imitation of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting and battling with Satan in the desert.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent