Daily Archives: March 6, 2015

(BBC) South Sudan government and rebels miss peace deal deadline

Peace talks aimed at ending the South Sudan conflict have been extended indefinitely after the government and rebels missed the deadline for a deal.

The talks in Ethiopia are being mediated by the East African regional bloc, Igad, which had given both sides until Thursday to reach agreement.

The UN imposed limited sanctions this week and the US warned both sides of further steps if no deal was reached.

The 14-month conflict has displaced 1.5 million people and killed thousands.

Read it all.

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

(RNS) The road from Selma was paved with the blood of four unsung martyrs

They were just four of the thousands of Americans who came to Selma 50 years ago, heeding the call of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. for people of conscience to join in protesting the plight of African-Americans in Alabama at the height of the civil rights movement.

The four marytrs ”” a Baptist deacon, a minister, a Unitarian laywoman and an Episcopal seminarian ”” are largely unknown, but they’re being remembered for sacrificing their lives for the rights of others.

The names of all four are etched in the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Ala., along with 36 others ”” starting with Mississippi minister George Lee, who died in 1955, and ending with King, who was assassinated in 1968.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

Friday Music for the Soul–The Wailin' Jennys sing Arlington

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Music

(WSJ) Ryan Anderson+ Leslie Ford–A Fight to Keep Catholic Schools Catholic

In January, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the euphemistically titled “Human Rights Amendment Act.” The bill would compel Washington’s private religious schools to violate their beliefs about human sexuality by recognizing LGBT student groups or hosting a “gay pride” day on campus. The bill is currently under congressional review.

Provided private schools meet basic standards of safety and education, the government shouldn’t be in the business of coercing them to conform to someone else’s moral beliefs. After all, many families send their children to private schools precisely to escape government moral indoctrination. It is because of these schools’ distinctive creeds that families sacrifice to afford sending their children to private religious schools. Government officials should respect the ability of such schools to witness to their faith.

This is why public policy should protect Archbishop Cordileone’s decision to ensure that Catholic high schools retain an authentic Catholic identity. The revisions to the school handbook foster an equilibrium between institutional integrity and personal liberties. This freedom is exactly what allows all Americans””in whichever school they choose to attend””to live in a diverse and civil public sphere.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Education, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(CSM Editorial) Why tolerance of religion is not enough

Tolerance is a worthy value. But as Stanford law professor Michael McConnell explained in a Yale Law Journal article, government’s role is to protect the “full and free” exercise of religion while not making theological judgments. “Toleration presupposes a ”˜dominant group’ with a particular opinion about religion (that it is ”˜false,’ or at least ”˜unwarranted’), who decide not to ”˜eradicate’ beliefs they regard as ”˜wrong, mistaken, or undesirable.’ ”

Like courts in most free countries, the US Supreme Court has been careful not to pass judgment on any religion. And in each case, it tries to carefully navigate boundaries between religious expression and public needs. Such cool and calm consideration is a badly needed balm for the kind of fiery violence over religion in much of the world.

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

Food for Thought–The Diocese of London on Church Planting

…A healthy church

A healthy church is one which:

Is growing spiritually, numerically and financially.
Owns a vision.
Encourages all its members to play their part and use their gifts.
Enjoys worship and prayerfully seeks God’s purpose and direction.
Is willing to take risks.
Has different opportunities to share faith and study together.
Has effective and respected leadership.
Is engaged with the society it serves.
Is involved in the life of the deanery and wider Church.

Read it all and see what you think.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(FP) Boko Haram Turns Robin Hood’s Strategy on Its Head

As a convoy of trucks carrying smoked fish cruised along the border of Niger and Nigeria last week, a Nigerien Air Force plane swooped low and opened fire, destroying the trucks and forcing the drivers to flee into Nigeria on foot.

The ill-fated fishmongers, Nigerien officials said, were collaborating with Boko Haram to sell their goods in Nigeria, despite Niger’s recent ban on cross-border fish trades. (Residents of Niger are called Nigerien; those from Nigeria are known as Nigerian). According to the Nigerien government, Boko Haram taxes goods transported through the territory the group controls to add to its cash reserves and finance terrorism, and the recent ban is intended to choke the Islamist group’s resources.

This alleged collaboration between rural fish traders and members of Boko Haram sheds some light on the group’s murky funding tactics, which differ sharply from those of other terrorist groups. In Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State has profited from illicit oil sales and bank lootings. Al Qaeda weaved an intricate financial web of sympathetic mosques, fake charities, and drug sales. In Afghanistan, the Taliban taxes opium and raisins. But in the largely impoverished Lake Chad basin, Boko Haram is now raising money by ignoring the rich and targeting the poor, an unusually cruel tactic that takes struggling innocents and pushes them over the financial cliff.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Other Faiths, Theology

(New Statesman) Theo Hobson–The problem with church schools? They run counter to Christian values

Would you pretend to be Jewish to secure some sort of advantage for yourself? Would you go even further, attending synagogue once a week for a full year, mouthing the ancient prayers, in order to get what you want?

You might think that such behaviour would be an insult to real Jews in the community.

This prompts the question: why is it socially acceptable for atheists and agnostics to feign their commitment to the Anglican faith to get their kids into a good state school? The answer is that the Church encourages them to do so. This kind of strategic middle-class church attendance produces high-achieving schools and swells congregations in many parishes. It suits the Church and it suits the sharp-elbowed ”“ a formidable alliance. The practice seems particularly widespread in London, where it is standard behaviour among well-heeled, well-informed parents. It’s an unwritten rule of middle-class family life.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Children, Church of England (CoE), Education, England / UK, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Bishop of London Richard Chartres sets out plan for ”˜Bishop for church-plants’

A new “bishop for church-plants” has been proposed by the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres. The aim is to support the burgeoning movement as it spreads across the country.

The plan, which involves reviving the see of Islington, vacant since 1923, will be given final consideration by the Dioceses Commission later this month.

In a report presented to the London diocesan Bishop’s Council last Wednesday, Bishop Chartres argues that there is an “urgent” need for church-planters to be given “knowledgeable support and mentoring in the early years”. The Bishop of Islington’s ministry would be “inherently episcopal but not territorial; thoroughly collegial but with an independent sphere of responsibility”.

He or she would “open up new possibilities; provide reinforcement for the oversight which already exists for pioneer ministries; and disseminate the learning gained from new ventures”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

Revolutionary love: Archbishop Justin Welby's lecture on evangelism

As a Christian it is my deepest conviction that in Jesus Christ, God comes to call every one He has made. Everyone has been summoned in Jesus Christ. For in Jesus Christ, God has poured out his love and his grace, his forgiveness and his mercy, his faithfulness. God would not be doing this without you or I.

Evangelism is then a joyful proclamation of what has happened. It’s the news of Jesus Christ. His life as the light breaking into this dark world for us. His death as the fount of our redemption. His resurrection as the hope of all. This news must be told, or how will people know?

We live in a world where hope is in increasingly short supply. Cynicism about politics is the opposite of hope. Fear is the opposite of hope. Where there is no hope we turn on each other to give ourselves security ”“ temporarily, briefly. When we’re filled with hope, all things become manageable, even the greatest fears. Who can keep quiet about such a fact?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Theology

([London] Times) C of E has launched a campaign to attract young vicars to the North

When Penny King told her university friends in Canterbury that she was moving to Manchester, they were horrified. “They said ”˜you’ll get shot! You’ll get mugged! It’s depressing. It’s all grey and the weather’s awful’. ”

The perception that life is “grim up north” has greatly damaged the Church of England’s attempts to fill posts in the north, where some jobs for vicars, in both inner cities and rural outposts, have remained unfilled for some time.

King, a 28-year-old Church of England curate at St Elisabeth’s, Reddish, Machester, has become one of the poster girls for a CoE campaign to attract a young generation of male and female vicars to fill posts in deprived areas where Christian pastoral work is often most needed. She has no regrets about her move: “Manchester is no more dangerous than anywhere else,” she says. “I feel safer here living on my own as my neighbours look out for me. I’ve been welcomed with open arms.”

Her story appears on the website for Clergy North West, a campaign aimed at combating a hidden crisis in the Church of England.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Media, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology, Young Adults

Friday Mental Health Break–A Retired Arkansas Nurse who Uses Her Pension to Feed 1000s

Charolotte Tidwell, 69, works six days a week to feed thousands of hungry in Arkansas using her own pension money to foot much of the bill.

Watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Poverty

A Prayer for the Feast Day of William Mayo, Charles Menninger and Their Sons

Divine Physician, your Name is blessed for the work and witness of the Mayos and the Menningers, and the revolutionary developments that they brought to the practice of medicine. As Jesus went about healing the sick as a sign of the reign of God come near, bless and guide all those inspired to the work of healing by thy Holy Spirit, that they may follow his example for the sake of thy kingdom and the health of thy people; through the same Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Saint Benedict

O gracious and holy Father, give us wisdom to perceive thee, diligence to seek thee, patience to wait for thee, eyes to behold thee, a heart to meditate upon thee, and a life to proclaim thee; through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Declare this in the house of Jacob,
proclaim it in Judah:
“Hear this, O foolish and senseless people,
who have eyes, but see not,
who have ears, but hear not.
Do you not fear me? says the Lord;
Do you not tremble before me?
I placed the sand as the bound for the sea,
a perpetual barrier which it cannot pass;
though the waves toss, they cannot prevail,
though they roar, they cannot pass over it.
But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart;
they have turned aside and gone away.
They do not say in their hearts,
”˜Let us fear the Lord our God,
who gives the rain in its season,
the autumn rain and the spring rain,
and keeps for us
the weeks appointed for the harvest.’
Your iniquities have turned these away,
and your sins have kept good from you.
For wicked men are found among my people;
they lurk like fowlers lying in wait.
They set a trap;
they catch men.
Like a basket full of birds,
their houses are full of treachery;
therefore they have become great and rich,
they have grown fat and sleek.
They know no bounds in deeds of wickedness;
they judge not with justice
the cause of the fatherless, to make it prosper,
and they do not defend the rights of the needy.
Shall I not punish them for these things?
says the Lord,
and shall I not avenge myself
on a nation such as this?”

An appalling and horrible thing
has happened in the land:
the prophets prophesy falsely,
and the priests rule at their direction;
my people love to have it so,
but what will you do when the end comes?

–Jeremiah 5:20-31

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NBC) In a Troubling Report, CDC finds more teens committing suicide by suffocation or strangling

It’s a troubling trend and it’s not clear what’s driving it, the team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

“The data don’t allow us to determine why,” said the CDC’s Thomas Simon, a suicide expert who helped lead the study. “Is it social media? Is it conventional media? Is it access to other methods?”

What CDC is very worried about is giving troubled a teens a “how-to” guide for how to commit suicide, but the agency also wants parents, teachers, friends and others to be aware of the risks. When media report on certain suicide methods, often officials see a rise in suicides afterwards, using the method described.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Suicide, Teens / Youth, Theology

(Jewish Daily Forward) Avi Shafran–Why Purim Is a Holiday of Ironies

Purim approaches. Its narrative concerns an ancient Jew-hater, the Haman whose name we traditionally make noise at when the Megilla, or Book of Esther, is read in synagogue.

The narrative is a virtual parade of ironies: Haman turns up at just the wrong place at just the wrong time, and ends up being tasked with arranging honors for his nemesis Mordechai. All his careful planning ends up upended, and the gallows he prepared for Mordechai become his hanging-place. In the words of the Megilla, v’nahafoch hu, “and it was turned inside out.”

Such “chance” happenings are the hallmark of the defeat of Amalek, the irredeemable and sworn enemy of the Jews and Haman’s ancestor. Amalek, the Torah recounts, “chanced” upon the Jews (“karcha baderech,” literally, “happened upon you on the road”), a phrase that has been stressed in Jewish texts as reflecting that enemy nation’s belief that all is mere chance, and nothing is meaningful. That “chance-iness” is reflected as well in Haman’s “casting of lots,” or purim, from which the holiday takes its name. But chance, the message of Purim teaches, is an illusion; God is in charge. Amalek may fight with iron, but he is defeated with irony.

Read it all.

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

(WSJ) How two brothers, raised Baptist, found their way to two different faiths

Many people change faiths, but not like Brad and Chad Jones.

Identical twins, the brothers grew up in Elkin, N.C., a small town in the Bible Belt, the only children of devout Baptists. As boys, they attended the First Baptist Church of Elkin, studied Scripture, went to vacation Bible school and sang in the choir, as did many of their cousins, classmates and neighbors.

Today, Brad, 43, is a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Charlotte, and Chad is an Anglican bishop in Atlanta. Their parents, Jo Anne and Robert, remain faithful members of their Baptist congregation. When their sons visit, each celebrates mass according to his own rite in the dining room or living room of what has become a very ecumenical Jones household.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Children, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(Economist) Islam and extremism: Looking within

Western leaders have long urged Muslims to do more to counter jihadist ideology. This month Barack Obama said moderate Muslims, including scholars and clerics, had a responsibility to reject “twisted interpretations of Islam” and the lie “that America and the West are somehow at war with Islam”. On February 23rd Tony Abbott, Australia’s prime minister, urged Muslim leaders to say that Islam is a religion of peace””“and mean it”.

Muslims have not taken kindly to such hectoring. Yet they are starting to debate the role that Islamist ideology plays in extremism. On February 22nd Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar mosque, part of a university that is the Sunni world’s oldest seat of learning, declared that extremism was caused by “bad interpretations of the Koran and the Sunna [the doings of the Prophet Muhammad]”, and that what was taught in Islamic schools and universities needed to change.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Globalization, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

(Project Syndicate) Are We Recognizing just how Dynamic the economic+global landscape is?

The real point is that the economic landscape in which we are operating is not only competitive; it is changing constantly. This year, our industry reached an important milestone. For the first time, people are spending more time on mobile devices than on their desktop computers. Time spent on desktops has now fallen to just 40%. And people use mobile devices very differently from the way they use desktops. Seven out of every eight minutes spent on a mobile phone is spent within an app, and the most popular app in the world is Facebook.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Theology