Monthly Archives: March 2015

Mary Eberstadt-“Intolerance in the name of ”˜tolerance’ must be named…and..condemned"

We are not speaking here of the believers across the planet who suffer grievous harm for the sake of faith. We’re talking instead about something else: the slow-motion marginalizing and penalizing of believers on the very doorsteps of the churches of North America, Europe, and elsewhere, in societies that are the very historical strongholds of political and religious liberty.

Men and women of faith in these societies are well-off, compared to many others. At the same time, though, their world is unmistakably darker and more punitive than it used to be. Let us show empathy and solidarity with all people who need it. Repeating the cardinal’s watchword, mercy, we hope that moral and political and intellectual leaders of all persuasions hear it too.

For there is no mercy in putting butchers and bakers and candlestick makers in the legal dock for refusing to renounce their religious beliefs””but that’s what the new intolerance does. There is no mercy in stalking and threatening Christian pastors for being Christian pastors, or in casting out social scientists who turn up unwanted facts, or in telling a flight attendant she can’t wear a crucifix, or in persecuting organizations that do charitable work””but the new intolerance does these things, too. There’s no mercy in yelling slurs at anyone who points out that the sexual revolution has been flooding the public square with problems for a long time now and that, in fact, some people out there are drowning””but slurs are the new intolerance’s stock in trade. Above all, there is no mercy in slandering people by saying that religious believers “hate” certain people when in fact they do not; or that they are “phobes” of one stripe or another when in fact they are not. This, too, happens all over public space these days, with practically no pushback from anyone. This, too, is the new intolerance at work.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

T19 Login problems solved

Good news! For those who have been having problems logging in to T19, the login problem is now fixed. (The login had to be temporarily disabled because of serious spam attacks against the site.) The login link in the upper right hand corner of the home page should now work fine. (You may need to refresh the page in your browser). In case of continued problems, try this link:

We thank our readers for your patience in recent weeks while this problem was being solved.

Posted in * Admin, Blog Tips & Features, Featured (Sticky)

The TEC Presiding Bishop’s sermon from the recent Executive Council Meeting's Closing Eucharist

Every religious tradition has its skeletons and its saints, and sometimes they are the same people. Paul is warning his hearers not to count themselves better than their ancestors, for they all depend on the same rootstock ”“ a root that nourishes the olive tree or the grape vine we cling to as intimate connection to God as Creator of all. That root is why we are here, and it is also why the LDS church is here.

When General Convention shows up here just over 3 months from now, many of the volunteers and dispensers of hospitality will be our sisters and brothers from that tradition. Will we recognize their welcome as a product of the same root, or will we assume that they come from a different and unrecognizable species?

Complexity defines human beings and their relationships, which just might convince us of the otherness of God. Difference is part of God’s creativity, from the riotous diversity of the species of creation to the inner chaos of most human beings. Paul names it when he says he wants to do the right thing, but he does something else instead.[8] Nevertheless, when people stay connected to that one rootstock, God can usually be found to bring something new and holy out of the mess.

Branches that seem radically different grow on the same tree and the same vine, even though we love to hate the ones who are not like us. We often in the church focus our attention on differences in reproductive customs and norms ”“ yet both the grape vine and the olive tree has multiple ways to be generative. Flowers can be fertilized by pollen from the same plant or another one. The fruit and seeds that result are eaten by birds and animals and left to grow far from the original plant, yet they are still related. The vine also generates new branches from its rootstock or from distant parts of its branches. But all those kinds of vines and branches are related, however they come about.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Mormons, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Theology

(USA Today) Stephen Prothero–Indiana needs to Find the Right balance

After the Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that the RFRA applied only to the federal government, states responded with mini-RFRAs requiring this “compelling government interest” test in their religious liberty cases. Of these, Indiana’s RFRA is the 20th.

There is no excuse for refusing to serve a lesbian couple at a restaurant and to my knowledge no state RFRA has ever been used to justify such discrimination. But if we favor liberty for all Americans (and not just for those who agree with us), we should be wary of using the coercive powers of government to compel our fellow citizens to participate in rites that violate their religious beliefs. We would not force a Jewish baker to make sacramental bread for a Catholic Mass. Why would we force a fundamentalist baker to make a cake for a gay wedding?

For as long as I can remember, the culture wars have been poisoning our politics, turning Democrats and Republicans into mortal enemies and transforming arenas that used to be blithely bipartisan into battlegrounds between good and evil. Now our battles over “family values” are threatening to kill religious liberty. And liberals do not much seem to care.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, State Government, Theology

Bp Baines–Holy Week is "a recognition of what every human being knows: we fail and we fall"

If the font leaks, then so do we. Something we can’t hide from this week ”“ Holy Week ”“ as Christians walk with Jesus and his friends from Jerusalem towards a place of execution called Calvary.

This journey has not been comfortable for anyone. The friends of Jesus protest undying allegiance one minute, then run away the next. They want some of what they think will be the glory, only to melt when the heat is turned up. In other words, they turn out not to be as big or strong as they had thought themselves to be. Peter, the man who would deny even knowing Jesus when confronted by a young girl in the garden, takes his name from Petros ”“ the rock ”“ yet he turns out to be more porous limestone than impenetrable granite.

Now, for Christians this is no big deal. Almost every service in an Anglican Church begins with us all putting our hands up and admitting ”“ publicly and corporately ”“ that we have messed up. Yet, this isn’t some group therapy session ”“ nor is it any sort of bah humbug nonsense. Rather, it’s a recognition of what every human being knows: we fail and we fall. And there’s no point pretending otherwise. It isn’t about being maudlin; it’s about facing the truth about ourselves as people, then moving on with resolve, but without illusion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Holy Week, Pastoral Theology, Soteriology, Theology

(C of E) [House of Bishops] Pastoral Letter for the General Election: study guide issued

A study guide designed to promote discussion about the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Letter for the General Election has been issued by the Church of England.

The online document, aimed at individual and group study, includes a short summary of each section of the Pastoral Letter and offers questions for consideration and conversation.

Read it all and follow the link to the guide.

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

(CS Monitor) Forbearance and religious liberty

Freedom and duty often go hand in hand, as Indiana legislators quickly learned last week. After the state approved a law reinforcing religious liberty, a national protest claimed the measure could be used by religious owners of small firms to refuse business to gays and lesbians. In fast retreat, top lawmakers said the new act would soon be amended to prevent such discrimination.

This national upheaval, coming after clashes over similar measures in other states, seems to pit civil rights against religious freedom. In recent years, nearly half the states have followed a federal law in setting strong protections for religious practices. The measures insist that courts find a compelling government interest before imposing a burdensome rule on a person in the exercise of his or her faith.

Whether religious-liberty laws end up violating other rights and interests largely remains to be seen. In at least two cases so far, state courts have ruled they cannot trump anti-discrimination regulations. Yet the rhetoric on both sides about potential harm can often be overhyped and overgeneralized. Each case must be judged on its merits with a calm eye for accommodation and context.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Media, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(Independent) The cost of binge drinking: in numbers

Harmful alcohol use has been identified as one of the leading preventable causes of death and a key risk factor for chronic diseases (such as cancer) and injuries worldwide. Specifically, alcohol use is responsible for 5.9% ”“ about 3.3m ”“ of deaths across the globe every year. While there is an existing body of research on the economic impacts of sustained heavy drinking, however, less is known about the economic cost of binge drinking and the size of its impact on road traffic accidents and arrests.

Binge drinking is characterised by periods of heavy drinking followed by abstinence. It generally results in short-term acute impairment and is believed to contribute to a substantial proportion of alcohol-related deaths and injuries. Overall, ONS statistics would suggest a falling trend in the number of people who binge drink but it is still a sizeable problem ”“ with four in ten young adults consuming up to eight units on at least one day in the week before being interviewed by the ONS.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Alcohol/Drinking, Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Theology

(Ghanaweb) Christians in Oguaa commemorate Palm Sunday

In a sermon at the Christ Church Anglican Cathedral, Very Reverend Emmanuel Entsi- Williams, the Dean of the Cathedral, urged Ghanaians to eschew pride, to pardon each other’s wrong doing, and learn to speak and accept the truth at all times.

These, he said, would help resolve the current challenges the country was facing and clear the path for its development.

At the Ebenezer Methodist Church, Siwdo, the celebration coincided with the launch of the Church’s annual Harvest.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Province of West Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ghana, Holy Week, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Religion & Culture

Get Religion provides some Much needed Historical Perspective on the Indiana flap Coverage

Once again, it is crucial to note that we are talking about legislation, then and now, built on the same template as that used by a bipartisan coalition that including a stunningly wide range of secular and religious groups.

Thus, the Times of 1993 noted:

President Clinton hailed the new law at the signing ceremony, saying that it held government “to a very high level of proof before it interferes with someone’s free exercise of religion.”

J. Brent Walker, general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs called the new law “the most significant piece of legislation dealing with our religious liberty in a generation.”

His sentiments were echoed by many other members of an unusual coalition of liberal, conservative and religious groups that had pressed for the new law. The coalition included the National Association of Evangelicals, the Southern Baptist Convention, the National Council of Churches, the American Jewish Congress, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Mormon Church, the Traditional Values Coalition and the American Civil Liberties Union.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Media, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Caring for Alzheimer’s: How Three Couples Cope

After dinner, Mr. Iero washes Mr. Myers’s face and hands with a hot washcloth in his room and trims his mustache and eyebrows. As Mr. Iero leads Mr. Myers down the hallway to the lobby for dessert, a female resident grabs Mr. Myers’s hand. The trio slowly shuffles along.

“Do we know who she is?” Mr. Myers mumbles.

“Yeah, we know who she is, Paul,” Mr. Iero says reassuringly.

His days are long. Prepping food in the morning for Mr. Myers. Grocery shopping after work. The 30-minute drive home in the dark.

“It’s just a horrible, horrible disease,” Mr. Iero says. When someone dies, “you lose that someone but then you go on. You have some closure. With Alzheimer’s it’s just an ongoing reminder of what you lost.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the American Book of Common Prayer

Lord God, whose blessed Son, our Saviour, gave his back to the smiters, and hid not his face from shame: Grant us grace to take joyfully the sufferings of the present time, in full assurance of the glory that shall be revealed; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Let those of us who are mature be thus minded; and if in anything you are otherwise minded, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

Brethren, join in imitating me, and mark those who so live as you have an example in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself.

–Philippians 3:15-21

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A S Haley–The Episcopal Church's Finances (I): Not as Rosy as Claimed

But now add in the EMM figures (bottom of the third page):

(D) 2014 EMM reimbursements received were $ 13,322,419; while

(E) 2014 EMM expenditures amounted to $ 16,811,183; for a net

(F) Annual EMM operating deficit of $ 3,488,763, which more than wipes out (C) above, and leaves

(G) A net operating loss for 2014 of $ 1,092,161 !!

In other words, the Episcopal Church is in the hole to the tune of over a million dollars for calendar 2014.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Analysis, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, Theology

(BBC) The Bishop of Sheffield prepares for the Queen's visit this Maundy Thursday

Bishop of Sheffield Dr Steven Croft says preparations are under way for the Queen’s visit to the city’s cathedral for her Maundy Thursday service.

The Queen will hand out Maundy money to 89 men and 89 women, the first time the service has been held in Sheffield.

Maundy Thursday recognises the service of elderly people to their community and their church.

Dr Croft said it had been a “huge amount of work for several months – in secret”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, CoE Bishops, England / UK, Holy Week, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Archbp of York John Sentamu for Palm Sunday—'we are enlisted for God’s agenda…'

”˜Hosanna’ was also a cry of release from the heavy yoke, burdens and hardships long-endured by the Jewish people because of the Roman occupation. They were longing for the Messiah to set them free. ”˜Save us now’ had long been their prayer of hope. The same prayer that echoes round the world today. But this is a prayer with a health warning. It is costly.

Religious people have often assumed that God could be enlisted to the service of their particular cause, project, nation, or culture. But as Abraham Lincoln once said, ”˜My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side.’

The followers of the one who rode into Jerusalem that day are called to a grander allegiance than that of tribe or nation ”“ we must seek the ”˜Kingdom of God and his righteousness.’ Transcending loyalties of blood and statehood, we are enlisted for God’s agenda of justice, peace, and the common life of friendship. This is the way of love. In the face of this we must, as another book title once put it, ”˜Give up our small ambitions.’

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Holy Week, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Guardian) Anglican church must divest fossil fuels to cope with climate crisis, bishops say

An influential group of bishops have called on Anglican churches to remove their investments from the fossil fuel companies that are driving climate change.

In a declaration and set of requests aimed at focusing the church’s attention on the “unprecedented climate crisis”, the 17 bishops and archbishops said investments in fossil fuel companies were incompatible with a just and sustainable future.

“We call for a review of our churches’ investment practices with a view to supporting environmental sustainability and justice by divesting from industries involved primarily in the extraction or distribution of fossil fuels,” they said.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

The Bishop of Salisbury joins 17 bishops worldwide to set new Anglican agenda on the climate crisis

Bishop Nicholas has is one of 17 Anglican bishops from all continents who have produced a Declaration calling for urgent prayer and action to tackle what they call an “unprecedented climate crisis”. Their declaration The World Is Our Host: A Call to Urgent Action for Climate Justice, released on Monday in Holy Week, sets a new agenda on climate change.

Bishop Nicholas was the Church of England’s representative on the group that produced the Declaration. Speaking after its launch, he said, “We accept the scientific evidence that human activity is more than 95% likely to be the main cause of global warming. This century began with fourteen of the fifteen hottest years ever.

“That our Declaration is issued in Holy Week and addressed to the Church on Good Friday is a mark of the seriousness with which we view the crisis of climate change.

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

(Boston Globe) Britt Peterson–Scientology’s enturbulating lingo

Scientology’s power over its followers is coming under new scrutiny because of the HBO documentary “Going Clear,” which premieres March 29 and is based on Lawrence Wright’s 2013 book of the same name. As Wright reported, Scientology has long relied on an arcane lingo that helps induct adherents into founder L. Ron Hubbard’s complex mythology while also isolating them from the outside world. “I’ve had a lot of former Scientologists tell me,” Wright said to me, “that it took quite a while for them to sort out what was a real word and what was a Scientology term.”

Hubbard began his superlatively prolific writing career in the 1930s as a sci-fi author for pulp magazines like Astounding Science-Fiction. At the time he started work on “Dianetics,” the ur-text of Scientology, he was corresponding with a group of prominent sci-fi writers who were all influenced by the ideas of Polish-American philosopher Alfred Korzybski. Korzybski believed that semantic training ”” correcting the flaws in abstract language that block one’s understanding of concrete things ”” could help cure various emotional and physical disorders. In part inspired by Korzybski, “Dianetics,” published in 1950, introduced a wide array of neologisms, jargon, and acronyms designed specifically for Hubbard’s new program.

Hubbard liked putting quirky twists on existing words: “Enturbulate,” using the Latin root from “disturb,” means “to upset”; to “hat,” as a verb, is to train for something; “havingness,” “beingness,” and “as-ising” (making something vanish) also pop up frequently. Many of his terms describe the central practice of Scientology: the “audit,” a space-age twist on Freudian psychoanalytic therapy. An “auditor” questions the subject, called the “preclear” ”” who is held back from spiritual progress by the “engrams,” or recordings of traumatic memories, in his “reactive mind,” a negative unconscious contrasted with the “analytic mind.” The goal is to discover the “basic-basic,” the subject’s original harmful memory, which sometimes dates back to before birth.

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

Pope Francis' Palm Sunday Homily for 2015

At the heart of this celebration, which seems so festive, are the words we heard in the hymn of the Letter to the Philippians: “He humbled himself” (2:8). Jesus’ humiliation.

These words show us God’s way and the way of Christians: it is humility. A way which constantly amazes and disturbs us: we will never get used to a humble God!

Humility is above all God’s way: God humbles himself to walk with his people, to put up with their infidelity. This is clear when we read the Book of Exodus. How humiliating for the Lord to hear all that grumbling, all those complaints against Moses, but ultimately against him, their Father, who brought them out of slavery and was leading them on the journey through the desert to the land of freedom.

This week, Holy Week, which leads us to Easter, we will take this path of Jesus’ own humiliation. Only in this way will this week be “holy” for us too!

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Theology

(LA Times) Rising healthcare costs are pressuring patients

A recent survey by private health insurance exchange EHealth highlights the pressure Americans are feeling. It found that more than 6 in 10 people say they’re more worried about the financial effect of expensive medical emergencies and paying for healthcare than about funding retirement or covering their kids’ education.

People who get health insurance through work and on their own have seen their costs rise dramatically over the last decade.

According to the Commonwealth Fund, a New York think tank, annual increases in work-based health plan premiums rose three times faster than wages from 2003 to 2013. Out-of-pocket costs have also been climbing.

“More people have deductibles than ever before,” says Sara Collins, a Commonwealth Fund vice president. From 2003 to 2013, the size of deductibles has grown nearly 150%.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Theology

(Atlantic) How Sufjan Stevens Subverts the Stigma of Christian Music

Stevens, both a Christian and musician, nevertheless stands in stark contrast to those in this category. Representing a different camp of “Christian art,” with completely different motives and characteristics, he’s distinct among other artists of faith, who tend to produce bad, kitschy work””whether heavy-handed films like Facing the Giants and Fireproof, or the musical travesties on the Wow compilation albums. Instead of dealing directly with religious or biblical matters, Stevens’ music embodies what theologian Francis Schaeffer called the “totality of life,” as opposed some sort of “self-conscious evangelism”””an approach that turns the whole Christian-music stigma on its head.

Music created by Christians””and other forms of art for that matter””hasn’t always been met with sighs and sneers. In the bigger scheme of history, today’s disdain is a fairly recent phenomenon””an anomaly, even. For centuries, Christians dominated the arts and shaped culture, from Michelangelo and Van Gogh to Bach and Beethoven to Tolkien and Eliot. It wasn’t until the 20th century that a shift took place, specifically in the area of music.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music, Religion & Culture

(Wired) Google Takes on the Challenge of Making Robot Surgery Safer

Google is no stranger to robotics or healthcare technology. The tech giant owns several robotics companies, including Boston Dynamics and its arsenal of robo-dogs and nimble-but-drunk bipedal bots. And the Google X Life Sciences division has created everything from contact lenses that measure blood-sugar levels to tremor-proof spoons for Parkinson’s patients.

Now, the search giant is teaming up with Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon subsidiary to build what the two hope are the ultimate platform for robotic surgery.

Robot-assisted surgeries aren’t a new thing; in fact, they’ve been around in one form or another since 1985.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology, Theology

Property of St. Martin’s Anglican Church in Fort Saint John sold

We have confirmation that Fort St. John is losing another landmark main street building.

The Reverend Enid Pow is the Rector of St. Martin’s Anglican Church, located on 100th Street, and she’s confirming the building has already been sold, and is also scheduled for demolition.

“We’ve come to a position where we’ve needed to sell the building because it required far too many repairs for us to be able to afford,” says Rector Pow. “So we’re looking for somewhere else in Fort St. John.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canada, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

Birmingham News talks to New Testament Scholar Wesley Hill– "Celibate gay theologian speaks out"

What are the reasons you have chosen to be open about a homosexual orientation?

Gay and lesbian people don’t just exist “out there,” far removed from our churches. Rather, many of us are Christians–we are already “insiders,” members of various churches and Christian communities. I felt that it was really important for more Christians, especially conservative evangelicals, to start acknowledging that fact. Staying in the closet can be a bad thing for one’s spiritual life. It can intensify shame and guilt. On the other hand, coming out can be a way of experiencing God’s love.

Why have you chosen to be celibate?

Because of what I described above. I believe that the Bible and the Christian tradition don’t endorse same-sex sexual activity. So, I am seeking a life of hospitable community, deep friendship, and genuine love in and through my celibacy.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Seminary / Theological Education, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Anxious Bench) Philip Jenkins–The Deist Revolution

A few years later, Thomas Jefferson resolved these difficulties quite simply in his “harmonized” account of the life of Jesus. The Jefferson Bible ends with the crucifixion and burial: “There laid they Jesus: and rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.” The End. No Resurrection.

So, yes, Jefferson stood exactly in that century-old Deist tradition.

And you will see why I am very skeptical when I read that nineteenth or early twentieth century critics were so daring in their criticism of Biblical orthodoxy ”“ for example, in the US during the years of the Briggs controversy of the 1890s and the rise of Fundamentalism. Those ideas were already very familiar indeed before Jefferson was born in 1743.

Here’s a thought. Maybe the most important theme to highlight in any history of Biblical criticism is that of serial amnesia.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Apologetics, Books, History, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AFP) Thousands call for vote re-run in Nigeria's Rivers state

Thousands of supporters of Nigeria’s main opposition party on Sunday demonstrated in the oil-rich state of Rivers, calling for the cancellation of elections locally because of alleged irregularities.

The demonstrators from the All Progressives Congress (APC) converged on the local offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the state capital, Port Harcourt.

“We are here to register our protest that there was no election in Rivers state yesterday (Saturday),” Rivers state governorship candidate Dakuku Peterside told the crowd.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

A Prayer to Begin the Day from James Todd

O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst cleanse the temple courts, and didst teach, saying, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations: Cleanse thy Church, we beseech thee, of all evil, and so sanctify it by thy saving grace, that in all the world thy people may offer unto thee true and acceptable worship; for thy name’s sake.

–James Todd

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Righteous art thou, O Lord,
when I complain to thee;
yet I would plead my case before thee.
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why do all who are treacherous thrive?
Thou plantest them, and they take root;
they grow and bring forth fruit;
thou art near in their mouth
and far from their heart.
But thou, O Lord, knowest me;
thou seest me, and triest my mind toward thee.
Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter,
and set them apart for the day of slaughter.
How long will the land mourn,
and the grass of every field wither?
For the wickedness of those who dwell in it
the beasts and the birds are swept away,
because men said, “He will not see our latter end.”
“If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you,
how will you compete with horses?
And if in a safe land you fall down,
how will you do in the jungle of the Jordan?
For even your brothers and the house of your father,
even they have dealt treacherously with you;
they are in full cry after you;
believe them not,
though they speak fair words to you.”

“I have forsaken my house,
I have abandoned my heritage;
I have given the beloved of my soul
into the hands of her enemies.
My heritage has become to me
like a lion in the forest,
she has lifted up her voice against me;
therefore I hate her.
Is my heritage to me like a speckled bird of prey?
Are the birds of prey against her round about?
Go, assemble all the wild beasts;
bring them to devour.
Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard,
they have trampled down my portion,
they have made my pleasant portion
a desolate wilderness.
They have made it a desolation;
desolate, it mourns to me.
The whole land is made desolate,
but no man lays it to heart.
Upon all the bare heights in the desert
destroyers have come;
for the sword of the Lord devours
from one end of the land to the other;
no flesh has peace.
They have sown wheat and have reaped thorns,
they have tired themselves out but profit nothing.
They shall be ashamed of their[a] harvests
because of the fierce anger of the Lord.”
Thus says the Lord concerning all my evil neighbors who touch the heritage which I have given my people Israel to inherit: “Behold, I will pluck them up from their land, and I will pluck up the house of Judah from among them. And after I have plucked them up, I will again have compassion on them, and I will bring them again each to his heritage and each to his land. And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, ”˜As the Lord lives,’ even as they taught my people to swear by Ba”²al, then they shall be built up in the midst of my people.

–Jeremiah 12:1-16

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Ken Burns talks to Fortune about his latest project: a history of cancer

The acclaimed filmmaker discusses his new PBS documentary ”˜Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies,’ and his personal connection to the disease.

Cancer is the fastest growing disease on Earth. It plagues nearly 1.7 million Americans each year, and over the next two years it’s expected that more people will die from the disease than were killed in combat in all the wars the U.S. has fought ”” combined.

These facts set the stage for the six-hour documentary “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies,” which was executive produced by acclaimed documentarian Ken Burns and directed by Barak Goodman, and premieres on PBS Monday evening. The three-part series chronicles the comprehensive story of cancer, from its earliest description in an Egyptian scroll to the latest advancements in immunotherapy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Health & Medicine, History, Movies & Television, Theology