Daily Archives: March 10, 2015

(CT) Andy Crouch: The Return of Shame

Of the many new words that bubbled up from our technological culture in 2014, perhaps the most unsettling is doxxing.

Typically carried out by anonymous online users with axes to grind and little to lose, doxxing involves making someone’s private information public. That includes home addresses, phone numbers, financial histories, medical records””anything that can be found in the endless databases available to canny hackers.

Doxxing can be a drive-by prank on most anyone who draws attention. But more often its targets are singled out for humiliation. In a series of events last year that came to be called GamerGate, certain active video gamers targeted journalists, mostly women, who had criticized the outright misogyny found in many popular video games. The backlash began with the bilious insults that have become astonishingly common online. But it quickly escalated to “revenge blogs” purporting to reveal those journalists’ past indiscretions, and doxxing attacks.

Doxxing is extreme and rare. But it marks the limit of a trend that affects every one of us: aspects of our lives that were once private and fleeting can now be publicly, and permanently, exposed.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Psychology, Theology

Rio Grande Episcopal diocese sees ”˜change of identity'

At the time of her 2008 visit to Albuquerque, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

headed a congregation torn, both in New Mexico and nationally, over the role of gays and lesbians in the church.

The Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande was preparing to select a new bishop to replace former Bishop Jeffrey N. Steenson, who resigned in 2007 to join the Roman Catholic Church over the issue.

Several New Mexico congregations had split from the diocese and others were discussing similar moves….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Rio Grande, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Slate) How Sex Trafficking Became a Christian Cause Célèbre

Every January, tens of thousands of Christian college students from all over the world attend the conference Passion, where they sing, pray, and hear from a variety of pastors, authors, and activists about issues resonating within evangelical culture. For the last several years, conference founder Louie Giglio has made the issue of human trafficking an increasingly central part of these activities. In 2013, 60,000 students gathered at Passion in Atlanta for a late-night candlelight vigil dedicated to celebrating “Jesus, the ultimate abolitionist, the original abolitionist,” Giglio told CNN. The organization’s anti-trafficking project designated Feb. 27 as “Shine a Light on Slavery Day,” encouraging young people to raise awareness by taking selfies with red X’s drawn on their hands.

Human trafficking””and sex trafficking in particular””has become something of a Christian cause célèbre. There are prayer weekends, movies, magazine covers, Sunday school curricula, and countless church-based ministries. More unusual efforts include lipstick sold to help “kiss slavery goodbye” and tattoo alteration services for victims who say they have been “branded” by their captors. An extraordinarily complex global issue has somehow become one of the most energetic Christian missions of the 21st century.

Many of the new anti-trafficking advocates compare their work to the 19th-century abolitionist movement against chattel slavery””with some leaders in the movement referring to themselves (and, apparently, Jesus) as “abolitionists.” But, according to Gretchen Soderlund, author of the 2013 book Sex Trafficking, Scandal, and the Transformation of Journalism, 1885”“1917, the better comparison may be to the “white slavery” panic of the late 19th century.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(Bloomberg) Boko Haram’s ISIS Pledge Seen as Sign of Weakness

The Nigerian militant group Boko Haram’s vow of allegiance to Islamic State shows it’s being weakened by a military offensive by government forces and neighboring countries, according to analysts including Martin Roberts at IHS Country Risk.

Boko Haram made the pledge of unity with Islamic State as forces from neighboring Chad and Niger joined Nigerian soldiers in strikes against the group. In fighting over the weekend, the armies took control of Damasak, about 700 kilometers (435 miles) north of the capital, Abuja, from rebels who had held the territory for five months. Nigerian soldiers on Monday killed “a number” of insurgents in northeastern Adamawa state and seized anti-aircraft guns and ammunition, military spokesman Colonel Sani Usman said in an e-mail on Tuesday.

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

(CC) Philip Jenkins– Notes from the Global Church: The spirit of Dreamtime

Through most of their history, Christian churches de­manded that converts forsake traditional religious ideas and “pagan practices,” and modern-day Pentecostals are especially strict in these matters. In recent times, though, Christian thinkers have struggled to rethink the relationship between the new faith and its ancient counterpart, seeking to root Christianity in the land and the Dreaming. The most quoted such work is Rainbow Spirit Theology, produced in 1997 by a multidenominational group of Aboriginal Christians from Queensland. The whole text is a heroic attempt to reconcile the Euro-American North with the Aboriginal South.

Aboriginal thinkers present their traditional faiths as a kind of Old Testament precursor to the Christian message, one of the many and various ways in which God spoke to our ancestors. The name “Rainbow Spirit” refers to the common myth of the serpent that acted as a creative force in the Dreamtime. Christians generally dismissed this story as a crude Creator myth, with uncomfortably satanic connotations. Actually, these traditional peoples respond, the Rain­bow Serpent is a critical symbol of life and fertility, more comparable to the Holy Spirit, whose actions transcend time. Moreover, indigenous peoples acknowledge Christ as one who takes their own form.

In 2020 Australia will celebrate a quarter millennium of European contact. That commemoration provides a wonderful opportunity for churches to proclaim a wholly transformed attitude to­ward indi­genous traditions. Call it a dream.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Church History, Missions, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology

(NYT) In France, an Extramarital Dating Site Unsettles the Land of Discreet Affairs

In a country recently transfixed by the trial of a famous politician that revealed details of his orgy escapades, and where the president was found to be cheating on his live-in partner, an ad promoting extramarital affairs might not seem like such a big deal.

But even in famously libertine France, the latest advertising campaign ”” evoking the temptations of Eve with a partly eaten apple ”” for a dating website geared to married women looking for affairs has spawned a backlash and a national debate.

The ads for the dating website Gleeden, which bills itself as “the premier site for extramarital affairs designed by women,” were recently splashed on the backs of buses in several French cities. Seven cities decided to withdraw the ads, and opponents have mobilized against them on social media, providing the latest example of a prominent cultural divide in France about the lines between public morality, private sexual conduct and the country’s vaunted freedom of expression.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, France, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology

(BBC) 'World's largest tapestry' restoration at Coventry Cathedral begins

The restoration of what is claimed to be the “world’s largest tapestry” has got under way in Coventry.

The tapestry of Christ in Glory, by Graham Sutherland, has hung in Coventry’s cathedral since the building was consecrated in 1962.

The £100,000 restoration is likely to take about a month, cathedral staff have said.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Art, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Stewardship

(Guardian) David Cameron announces 49 new free schools

Faith schools, specialist provision for children with autism and a “dementia-friendly” primary in Devon are among the latest wave of free schools to be announced by David Cameron. More than 400 free schools have now been approved since the policy was launched in 2010, creating more than 230,000 places across the country.

A diverse list of 49 further new free schools, which are mainly due to open in September 2016, includes:

All-through schools, which combine primary and secondary education in single institutions, where a pupil can be enrolled at three or four ”“ or even younger ”“ and can stay on until 19.

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

Julian Savulescu+Ingmar Persson–Is Humanity Fit for the Future? The Case for Moral Bioenhancement

Modern technology provides us with many means to cause our downfall, and our natural moral psychology does not provide us with the means to prevent it. The moral enhancement of humankind is necessary for there to be a way out of this predicament.

If we are to avoid catastrophe by misguided employment of our power, we need to be morally motivated to a higher degree (as well as adequately informed about relevant facts). A stronger focus on moral education could go some way to achieving this, but as already remarked, this method has had only modest success during the last couple of millennia. Our growing knowledge of biology, especially genetics and neurobiology, could deliver additional moral enhancement, such as drugs or genetic modifications, or devices to augment moral education.

The development and application of such techniques is risky – it is after all humans in their current morally-inept state who must apply them – but we think that our present situation is so desperate that this course of action must be investigated. We have radically transformed our social and natural environments by technology, while our moral dispositions have remained virtually unchanged. We must now consider applying technology to our own nature, supporting our efforts to cope with the external environment that we have created.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

(Huff Po) 9 Facts On The Shifting American Religious Landscape

The United States has long been a majority-Christian country, but it is by no means religiously static. In 2007, Pew Research found the religiously unaffiliated to be the second-largest religious group in the country, at 16 percent of the population.

As of 2014, the religiously unaffiliated now make up 22 percent of the American population, according to the new American Values Atlas from Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI).

“The U.S. religious landscape is undergoing a dramatic transformation that is fundamentally reshaping American politics and culture,” PRRI researcher Dan Cox told The Huffington Post.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Frank Colquhoun

Lord Christ, almighty Saviour, we cry to thee for aid against our strong enemy. O thou who art the Stronger than the strong, deliver us, we pray thee, from the evil one, and take sole possession of our hearts and minds; that filled with thy Spirit we may henceforth devote our lives to thy service, and therein find our perfect freedom; for the honour of thy great name.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old,

things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.

We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders which he has wrought.

He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children;

that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children,

so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments….

–Psalm 78:2-7

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Barna) Cyber Church: Pastors and the Internet

Much has changed in the world since 2000, and few can deny that many of those changes have been facilitated by technology.

The Internet, in particular””both how much we use it and what we use it for””has dramatically altered the way people live their lives, do their work and engage in their relationships. Pastors are no exception: In the past 15 years, church leaders have significantly increased their use of the Internet and have, by and large, come to accept it as an essential tool for ministry in the 21st century.

In a recent study of U.S. Protestant church leaders, Barna Group looked at pastors’ use of the Internet and their attitudes toward it today compared to 15 years ago, at the turn of the century.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

Bp Mike Hill’s Synod address–reengaging with a culture that is increasingly secular and post Xn

In the economy of great achievement, two things stand out in my own mind:
Ӣ A compelling vision, usually involving a big idea;
Ӣ A plan that addresses the primary challenge that stands in the way of the realization of that big idea.

It would be very easy for us to imagine that the primary challenge was one of our own internal challenges around finance or church buildings. These are things that we can’t ignore, but surely the big challenge is something more like this:

How does the Church of England re-engage with a culture that is increasingly secular and post Christian?

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Apologetics, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(BBC) Balloons released in memory of murdered 16 year old Becky Watts

Hundreds of multi-coloured balloons have been released in memory of murdered Bristol teenager Becky Watts.

The 16-year-old was last seen on 19 February and was reported missing the following day.

Her body was found on Monday after an extensive search of various locations across the city.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Violence

A Ch of Ireland Gazette Editorial Remembering Nicholas Ferrar (1592-1637)

Nicholas Ferrar, like his great friend, George Herbert, was a courtier turned clergyman. Born in London, he was educated at a boarding school in Berkshire and at Clare College, Cambridge. He was appointed to the service of Princess Elizabeth, daughter of James I, who married the Elector Frederick V, and travelled to the continent. In the coming years, Ferrar travelled widely and, a brilliant scholar, learnt to speak Dutch, German, Italian and Spanish, as well as engaging in the study of medicine in Leipzig and Padua.

On his return to England in 1618, Ferrar was involved with the London Virginia Company, which was the family business, and he was also, for a time, a Member of Parliament. In 1626, following ordination as a deacon by the controversial Bishop (later Archbishop) William Laud, there was a major life-change when he and his extended family moved to the manor in Little Gidding in Huntingdonshire and restored St John’s church for their own use. There they lived a life of extreme simplicity, devotion and practical service.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Church History, England / UK, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture

(Spiked) Tom Slater–Kant, Peter Pan and why Generation Y won’t grow up

The crisis of adulthood, then, feeds off of the crisis of Enlightenment values. In an age in which freedom, human resilience and reason are seen as dangerous ideas, if not Eurocentric illusions, our ability to remake our world is diminished. All that’s left is fatalistic, pity-me politics, in which young people languish in a state of permanent imperilment.

But the desire to make your mark in the world is not only expressed politically. It is also a case of just getting on with things ”“ experiencing, experimenting and taking risks. In an age in which 40-year-olds out-drink their children, in which young people would rather stay at home than slum it, young people seem incapable of going out into the world ”“ let alone changing it.

Neiman posits these sorts of growing pains as age-old problems, but they are particularly acute today. For her, the rise of Islamist extremism ”“ and the allure it has to disaffected Western youth ”“ is a direct consequence of the crisis of the Enlightenment and adulthood. The West’s lack of moral purpose, its inability to find meaning in modern experience, leads some to submit to the deadest of dogmas. ”˜There is nothing grown-up about behaviour that’s dictated by religious authority. But what alternatives do we offer?’, she asks.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Teens / Youth, Theology, Young Adults