Daily Archives: March 9, 2015

(Touchstone) Russell Moore–Man, Woman & the Mystery of Christ

Jesus intentionally went to Samaria. His disciples James and John wanted, elsewhere in the Gospel of John, to vaporize the villages there with fire from heaven. But Jesus spoke of water, of living water that could quench thirst forever. Thirst is a type of desperation, the sort of language the Psalmist uses to express the longing for God, as for water in a desert land. We live in a culture obsessed with sex, sex abstracted from covenant, from fidelity, from transcendent moral norms, but beyond this obsession there seems to be a cry for something more.

In the search for sexual excitement, men and women are not really looking for biochemical sensations or the responses of nerve endings. They are searching desperately not merely for sex, but for that to which sex points””for something they know exists but just cannot identify. They are thirsting. As novelist Frederick Buechner put it, “Lust is the craving for salt of someone who is dying of thirst.”

The Sexual Revolution cannot keep its promises. People are looking for a cosmic mystery, for a love that is stronger than death. They cannot articulate it, and perhaps would be horrified to know it, but they are looking for God. The Sexual Revolution leads to the burned-over boredom of sex shorn of mystery, of relationship shorn of covenant. The question for us, as we pass through the Samaria of the Sexual Revolution, is whether we have water for Samaria, or if we only have fire. In the wake of the disappointment sexual libertarianism brings, there must be a new word about more permanent things, such as the joy of marriage as a permanent, conjugal, one-flesh reality between a man and a woman. We must keep lit the way to the old paths.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Men, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Women

Millennial Influx–Young, restless and Anglican

“I’m Kirkland An ”” I grew up in a nondenominational church, but now I attend an Evangelical Free church in Wheaton. How about you?”

Have you heard sentences like these injected into a dialogue before? I must have used them, 11, maybe 12 times. If you have too, you might ”” like me ”” go to school in Wheaton, Illinois, deemed the most “churched” town in the US.

Because of the high density of churches around my college campus, more often than not, the response I get is similar in form, and includes a denominational change. Sometimes it’s a very small shift.

“I went to a Presbyterian church and now my church is nondenominational.”

“I used to be Baptist, but I’d just call myself Calvinist now.”

But sometimes, it’s what some might call a big shift.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Young Adults

(RNS) Is being Jewish a political liability in America’s heartland?

Events surrounding the apparent suicide of Tom Schweich, Missouri’s Republican state auditor and a contender for the governor’s office, have left some grappling with the connection between anti-Semitism and state politics.

Kenneth Warren, a professor of political science at St. Louis University, said he has no doubt that Jewish candidates face greater obstacles when running for statewide office in Missouri.

“All other things being equal, if you’re running statewide it would be better to be non Jewish,” Warren said. “It’s certainly not going to be a help.”

Read it all.

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

(BBC) First female Church of England bishop installed

The first female bishop in the Church of England has been installed at Chester Cathedral.

The Rt Rev Libby Lane, 48, preached her first sermon in a service attended by hundreds of people.

She was consecrated as the eighth Bishop of Stockport at York Minster in January.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Archbishop Okoh calls for a united and detribalized Nigeria

The Bishop of Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) Diocese of Abuja, Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh has called for a united and detribalized Nigeria, in order for the country to grow and developed to its desired height in the face of the challenges confronting it.

Okoh who made this call at the official flag-off of the 25th Anniversary Celebration of the church said that the challenges affecting the nation, which is as well affecting the church is the issue of tribalism and the absence of unity.

According to the clergyman, the issue of unity in Nigeria is what the church has taken upon itself to teach the people during the anniversary celebration, adding that it wants to unite Nigerians and make the issue of tribalism less attractive.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria

Your Prayers requested for the Diocese of South Carolina Convention this week

The Diocese of South Carolina will hold its 224th Annual Convention in Charleston, March 13-14. Nearly 400 clergy and delegates representing 53 churches across the eastern and coastal part of South Carolina will participate.

“We have so much to celebrate as a diocese,” said the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence, 14th Bishop of the Diocese. “Coming together at the Convention gives time to express our gratefulness to God, celebrate the life and growth in our congregations and move forward in spreading the Gospel and shaping Anglicanism in the 21st century.”

You can find the workshops offered here and the convention schedule there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

How would you have done on Cornell’s 1891 entrance exam?

Read it all and see what you think.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Education, History, Young Adults

Gregory of Nyssa on his Feast Day–On the Holy Trinity

But our argument in reply to this is ready and clear. For any one who condemns those who say that the Godhead is one, must necessarily support either those who say that there are more than one, or those who say that there is none. But the inspired teaching does not allow us to say that there are more than one, since, whenever it uses the term, it makes mention of the Godhead in the singular; as”””In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead Colossians 2:9 “; and, elsewhere”””The invisible things of Him from the foundation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead Romans 1:20 .” If, then, to extend the number of the Godhead to a multitude belongs to those only who suffer from the plague of polytheistic error, and on the other hand utterly to deny the Godhead would be the doctrine of atheists, what doctrine is that which accuses us for saying that the Godhead is one? But they reveal more clearly the aim of their argument. As regards the Father, they admit the fact that He is God , and that the Son likewise is honoured with the attribute of Godhead; but the Spirit, Who is reckoned with the Father and the Son, they cannot include in their conception of Godhead, but hold that the power of the Godhead, issuing from the Father to the Son, and there halting, separates the nature of the Spirit from the Divine glory. And so, as far as we may in a short space, we have to answer this opinion also.

What, then, is our doctrine? The Lord, in delivering the saving Faith to those who become disciples of the word, joins with the Father and the Son the Holy Spirit also; and we affirm that the union of that which has once been joined is continual; for it is not joined in one thing, and separated in others. But the power of the Spirit, being included with the Father and the Son in the life-giving power, by which our nature is transferred from the corruptible life to immortality, and in many other cases also, as in the conception of “Good,” and “Holy,” and “Eternal,” “Wise,” “Righteous,” “Chief,” “Mighty,” and in fact everywhere, has an inseparable association with them in all the attributes ascribed in a sense of special excellence. And so we consider that it is right to think that that which is joined to the Father and the Son in such sublime and exalted conceptions is not separated from them in any.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Gregory of Nyssa

Almighty God, who hast revealed to thy Church thine eternal Being of glorious majesty and perfect love as one God in Trinity of Persons: Give us grace that, like thy bishop Gregory of Nyssa, we may continue steadfast in the confession of this faith, and constant in our worship of thee, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who livest and reignest now and for ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Henry Alford

O God, who through thy Son has taught us that a house divided against itself must fall: Save us, we beseech thee, from the danger of a divided allegiance; unite our hearts to fear thy name; and grant that in all our course of life our eye may be single and our purpose one; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou who leadest Joseph like a flock! Thou who art enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth before E’phraim and Benjamin and Manas’seh! Stir up thy might, and come to save us!

–Psalm 80:1-2

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NG) Portraits of Strength: Seven Extraordinary Women

What do photographs of women, taken by women, look like? In honor of International Women’s Day, March 8, I asked seven female National Geographic photographers to share an image they took that revealed a woman’s experience. In a world where gender equality is still elusive, these photographs tell stories of hope, bravery, hardship, and survival. I want to give my thanks to the incredible photographers for their vision and dedication to sharing stories of women’s experiences worldwide.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, History, Photos/Photography, Theology, Women

Greek Orthodox priest, Matthew Baker, age 37 and a father of 6, RIP

[Father Matthew] Baker received theological degrees from St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Seminary in Pennsylvania and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School in Massachusetts. He also pursued doctoral studies in systematic theology at Fordham University in New York.

Following his ordination, he began teaching duties at Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Mass., as an adjunct professor in theology.

He is survived by his wife and six children: Isaac, 12; Elias, 10, George, 8; Ellie, 6; Cyril, 4; and Matthew, 2.

You can read about it there and here. Also, there are many great links there.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Theology

Francis Fukuyama reviews ”˜Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis’, by Robert Putnam

Putnam then goes on to explain, through the lens of accumulated social-science research, how important parenting and family structure are to life outcomes for children. Early childhood stimulation, appropriate role models, stable expectations and family dinners are all part of the environment needed to produce upwardly mobile adults, and almost all are lacking today for Americans from less educated backgrounds. Many people overcome dysfunctional families, but it is far easier to do so with adequate resources. Economic inequality thus becomes self-reinforcing through the mechanism of absent families.
Putnam points out that while both gender and racial equality have greatly improved over this period, the gains have been completely offset by widening class differences. College-educated Americans have been pulling away from their high school-educated peers within subgroups such as African-Americans, Hispanics and women. There is today a substantial upwardly-mobile black middle class that, like its white counterpart, has moved to the suburbs and segregated itself from the poor.

Back in the 1980s, the debate over black poverty was polarised between liberals who blamed structural (ie economic) factors such as the decline in manufacturing jobs, and conservatives who denounced permissiveness and shifting cultural norms for the breakdown of families. Putnam makes very clear that both of these causes are at work in the present crisis. The huge erosion of middle-class jobs in countless manufacturing industries has led to a decline in real incomes of 22 per cent since 1980 for high-school dropouts, and 11 per cent for high-school graduates. But culture also matters: while rising joblessness produces social dysfunction in all societies, the stresses of the Great Depression did not lead to an explosion of single-parent families because of cultural norms then in place, such as the stigmatisation of unwed parenthood and shotgun weddings. Conservatives who see family breakdown as a simple matter of cultural decay, however, have to explain the emergence of “helicopter parents” and steadily strengthening family bonds among the college-educated.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Books, Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Poverty, Theology

(Aleteia) Matthew Becklo–Joel Osteen’s "Gospel of Me"

Live at your full potential. Become a better you. Be happier. It’s your time. Live an extraordinary life. Achieve your dreams. Go beyond your barriers. You can, you will.

This is the therapeutic message of Joel Osteen, lifted right from his dust jackets. In contrast with the more classical and philosophically grounded evangelicalism of a Billy Graham or a C.S. Lewis, Ross Douthat termed Osteen’s brand of TV preaching “the gospel of self-help.” But notice it’s not the self-help of the Gospel; self-help is the gospel. The Gospel is the cask to deliver it, shucked and cast out as soon as the intoxicating wine of self-improvement is imbibed.

Contrast this with Pope Francis who, quoting St. Basil of Caesarea of the fourth century, recently referred to money as the “devil’s dung.” We can follow this line of thinking right back to the New Testament. St. Paul used an even stronger word: skubula. Some translations of the Bible use “filth” or “refuse” in its place in the third chapter of the letter to the Philippians. But that’s not what he said. The nearest English equivalent of the vulgar Greek word is”¦well, you can Google it. Paul, I suspect, wanted to make an unambiguous point: all of his worldly respect, progress, and prosperity ”“ in short, all of his “self-help” ”“ was all skubala compared to the Cross and Resurrection.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(Local paper Editorial) A Straightforward solution for South Carolina road funding is needed

Mr. Cleary’s bill would put the cap at $1,400 and would have all of the sales taxes collected for motor vehicles applied to road and bridge improvements. The bill also seeks additional funding by closing other tax exemptions. And it would make long-term cost cuts possible by turning over local roads under state control to local jurisdictions, with funding assistance for their maintenance. Of the 41,000 miles of state roads, almost 45 percent are a mile or less in length.

Mr. Cleary estimates that his plan would raise $800 million a year, all of which would be directed to the specific purpose of improving the state road system. Indeed, the gas tax should be viewed as a user fee, by which motorists pay for the wear and tear on the state’s highways and bridges. It is evident that the gas tax hasn’t kept pace with the need, and that additional sources of revenue will have to be tapped.

Funding for a safe transportation system is a primary responsibility of the Legislature, and the evidence clearly available to the motoring public shows just how badly the Legislature has fallen down on the job. Lawmakers should take a simple, direct approach that will begin to address the specific problem of road needs, without getting sidetracked on issues of tax neutrality and agency restructuring. Keeping highways and bridges functional and safe shouldn’t be such a difficult problem for the Legislature to address.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Politics in General, State Government, Taxes, Theology, Travel