Daily Archives: March 11, 2015

The Episcopal Church refuses All Saints’ Fort Worth permission for Canon 32 process

In a letter dated March 9, attorneys for The Episcopal Church and the TEC-affiliated All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Fort Worth rejected the Diocese’s offer to resolve the property dispute between the parish and Diocese through the Canon 32 process.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, Theology

(Breakpoint) John Stonestreet–When the Good News Isn't Proclaimed

Here’s an uncomfortable question for all of us: When was the last time we shared the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ with anyone? The last time we told someone that Jesus died so that God could forgive their sins, and that we must receive that gift in trusting faith?

According to the Barna Group, although 100 percent of “evangelicals” believe they have a personal responsibility to evangelize, a full 31 percent admit to not having done so in the past 12 months.

Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, notes that his church””the Southern Baptist Convention””is reaching non-Christians only half as effectively as it did 50 years ago. Rainer calls the trend “disturbing.” And indeed it is. “By almost any metric,” he says, “the churches in our nation are much less evangelistic today than they were in the recent past.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Christology, Evangelism and Church Growth, History, Multiculturalism, pluralism, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology

(Local paper) Letter to the editor, The Sad cycle of veteran suicide

The suicide rate among today’s male military combat veterans is two and a half times that of any previous war and three times the rate of the male civilian population. That as many as 44 young veterans are killing themselves every day (more often than not by gunshot) is considered a crisis by those responsible for our veterans’ well-being.

Sixteen weeks of training, no matter how professional and intense, cannot prepare a young man for combat when he has been coddled all of his life by well-intentioned but ignorant parents ”” parents who honestly believe their children are in a constant state of jeopardy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Violent crime against children is down more than 20 percent since the 1950s.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Military / Armed Forces, Psychology, Suicide, Theology

(Globe and Mail) Margaret Wente–Denial won’t make the T-word (terrorism) go away

Some people are allergic to the T-word. After a lone gunman stormed Parliament Hill last fall, killing a soldier at the National War Memorial, they said it was not possible to conclude that this was terrorism. More likely, the guy just had mental problems. “I think that we’re not in the presence of a terrorist act in the sense that we would understand it,” said NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. “I don’t think we have enough evidence to use that word.”

In the Vancouver Sun, Ian Mulgrew argued that Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was no terrorist. He was a victim. “The vast amount of tax money devoted to his petty crimes would have been far better spent providing him with appropriate psychiatric and social care,” he wrote. As for the two people who plotted to bomb the B.C. Legislature, “They, too, seem more sad sack than Satanic.”

Now we know better. Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau’s self-made martyrdom video, released by the RCMP last week, is chillingly clear about his motives. “This is in retaliation for Afghanistan and because Harper wants to send his troops to Iraq,” he said. “We’ll not cease until you guys decide to be a peaceful country ”¦ and stop occupying and killing the righteous of us who are trying to bring back religious law in our countries.” (In a very Canadian touch, he signs off by saying “Thank you.”)

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Ian Paul–Is ”˜discipleship’ Anglican?

A few weeks ago, Linda Woodhead suggested in the Church Times that discipleship was a ”˜theologically peripheral concept’, and the following week Angela Tilby dismissed the ”˜d-word’ as ”˜sectarian vocabulary that”¦shows the influence of American-derived Evangelicalism on the Church’s current leadership.’ The short discussions in each place actually raise not one but three, inter-related, questions:

1. Is ”˜discipleship’ Anglican?

2. Is ”˜discipleship’ biblical?

3. Is the Church of England biblical?

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Adult Education, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Census Bureau–In 1990, 54 % of marriages were the first for both spouses and today it is 58%

“In 1990, 54 percent of marriages were the first for both spouses,” said Jamie Lewis, an analyst in the Census Bureau’s Fertility and Family Statistics Branch and one of the report’s authors. “Now, newlyweds are more likely to be walking down the aisle for the first time ”” 58 percent of recent marriages were a first for both. The stabilization or slight decrease in the divorce rate during this period may explain why more marriages today are first marriages.”

Below are a few highlights from the report:

About 13 percent of men age 15 and over have been married twice, compared with 14 percent of women.
Between 1996 and 2008-2012, the share of those who had married at least twice increased only for women age 50 and older and men 60 and older.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Census/Census Data, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sociology, The U.S. Government, Theology

(Reuters) Saudi Arabia rejects rights criticism after flogging of blogger

Saudi Arabia defended its human rights record on Saturday in its first public reaction to international criticism over last year’s sentencing of liberal Saudi blogger Raif Badawi to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for “insulting Islam”.

The first 50 of Badawi’s lashes were carried out in January, prompting strong criticism of the kingdom’s rights record in Western countries, including its laws on political and religious expression and the status of Saudi women.

“Saudi Arabia expresses its intense surprise and dismay at what is being reported by some media about the case of citizen Raif Badawi and his sentence,” said a statement carried on state media and attributed to an unnamed “foreign ministry official”.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Former Baltimore Ravens Linebacker) O.J. Brigance leads opposition to assisted-suicide bill

Although he is largely incapacitated and can’t speak without the aid of a computerized voice, O.J. Brigance believes his life has value.

It was a message of hope the former Baltimore Ravens linebacker hammered home when he came out strongly against the proposed legalization of physician-assisted suicide in Maryland.

“Every day, every hour, every minute, every second of life, is God-given and valuable,” Brigance told members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee during a March 10 hearing on the Death with Dignity Act. “To enact this legislation would devalue the lives and possible future contributions of Marylanders.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, State Government, Theology

(Navy Times) A former chaplain to elite Navy SEAL units may be discharged for being 'intolerant'

[Les] Modder’s 19 years of service includes many glowing fitness reports. He spent several years providing spiritual counsel to Navy SEALS, and in December received a letter of commendation from the head of the Navy Special Warfare Command, who called Modder the “best of the best” and a “talented and inspirational leader.”

Modder’s Liberty Institute attorney, Michael Berry, said the effort to fire him reflects a broader cultural change in the military.

“I think what we are seeing is a hostility to religious expression in the military now,” Berry said. “What we’re seeing is this new modern, pluralistic, Navy where service members are encouraged to be hypersensitive, especially about issues of faith, marriage and family.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(USA Today) 'I wish I could also have died': Boko Haram haunts kids

Memories of Boko Haram’s murderous spree in his Nigerian hometown haunt Tom Gowon, 9, as he sits on a patch of grass at a refugee camp, sipping steaming porridge from a plastic mug.

“I was lucky because I was not killed,” said Gowon, recalling the assault on Baga, Nigeria, in early January. “But they shot and killed my father. My mother was kidnapped by the militants.”

Children such as Gowon bear the brunt of Boko Haram’s rampage since its fighters kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls last year and conquered enough territory to declare a caliphate that covers one-fifth of Nigeria.

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

(NYT Op-ed) Ross Douthat–there is a case to be made for Old Ideas

What I find most provoking, though, is [Yuval Noah] Harari’s insistence that in dealing with these problems, “nothing that exists at present offers a solution,” and “old answers” are as “irrelevant” now as they were (allegedly) during the Industrial Revolution.

He means this as a critique of religious revivalists in particular: Not only the Islamic State’s seventh-century longings, but any movement that seeks answers to new challenges “in the Quran, in the Bible.” Such seeking, he argues, led to dead ends in the 19th century, when religious irruptions from the Middle East to China failed to “solve the problems of industrialization.” It was only when people “came up with new ideas, not from the Shariah, and not from the Bible, and not from some vision,” but from studying science and technology, that answers to the industrial age’s dislocations emerged.
This argument deserves highlighting because I think many smart people believe it. And if we’re going to confront even modest versions of the problems Harari sees looming, we need to recognize what his argument gets wrong.

New ideas, rooted in scientific understanding, did help bring societies through the turbulence of industrialization. But the reformers who made the biggest differences ”” the ones who worked in the slums and with the displaced, attacked cruelties and pushed for social reforms, rebuilt community after it melted into air ”” often blended innovations with very old moral and religious commitments.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Euchologium Anglicanum

O Eternal God, who through thy Son our Lord hast promised a blessing upon those who hear thy Word and faithfully keep it: Open our ears, we humbly beseech thee, to hear what thou sayest, and enlighten our minds, that what we hear we may understand, and understanding may carry into good effect by thy bounteous prompting; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we[d] rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.

While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man””though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received our reconciliation.

–Romans 5:1-11

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Telegraph) Manchester United cannot afford to stay out of the Champions League for much longer

…with 10 league games still to play, United sit in fourth position, two points clear of closest challengers Liverpool.

With sixth-placed Tottenham to visit Old Trafford on Sunday, ahead of a trip to Anfield to face Liverpool seven days later, the green shoots of recovery will be close to blossoming should Van Gaal mastermind two victories.

Two defeats, though, would leave United in danger of falling short and set the clock ticking on Van Gaal getting it right next season.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Men, Sports

(WSJ) Stephen Prothero–When Every Day Is a Religious Holiday

A few years ago, I received in the mail an interfaith calendar along with a letter from Boston-area chaplains urging professors to be sensitive to students who might miss class to observe a holy day. I like to think I am as sensitive as the next guy, but this calendar was so chock full of holidays””including three different Christmases””that it was nearly impossible to find an “unholy” day.

There were birthdays to celebrate””for atheist Bertrand Russell, for scientologist L. Ron Hubbard and for the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie revered by Rastafarians. There were also death days and new years days and days of feasting and fasting. Was I really supposed to excuse Mormon students on Pioneer Day? And Baha’i students on the day of the ascension of their founder, Baha’u’llah?

This hyper-inclusive calendar came to mind when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last week that the nation’s largest public-school system had decided to add two Islamic feast days, Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr, to its days off. Why stop there? Why not the winter solstice for Wiccans? Or Festivus for worshipers of Saint Seinfeld?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, City Government, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, State Government, Theology

(RNS) Rachel Held Evans Defends Leaving Evangelicals For Episcopalians

Q: You left evangelicalism for the Episcopal Church. Much of the Episcopal Church has failed to embrace the cosmetic changes you critique, and they practice the things you say will draw millennials back. Yet Episcopalians in America have been in steady decline and are rapidly aging. How do you reconcile this with your thesis?

A: Just about every denomination in the American church ”” including many evangelical denominations ”” is seeing a decline in numbers, so if it’s a competition, then we’re all losing, just at different rates. I felt drawn to the Episcopal Church because it offered some practices I felt were missing in my evangelical experience, like space for silence and reflection, a focus on Christ’s presence at the Communion table as the climax and center of every worship service, opportunities for women in leadership and the inclusion of LGBT people.

But I know plenty of folks who were raised as Episcopalians who have become evangelical, drawn by the exciting and energetic worship or the emphasis on personal testimony and connection to Scripture. It’s common in young adulthood, I think, to seek out faith traditions that complement the one in which you were raised. It’s not about rejecting your background, just about finding your own way. I don’t want to project my experience onto all millennials.

Q: Many evangelicals criticize the liberal theology of the Episcopal Church, even claiming that it is now outside of orthodox Christianity. What say you?

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Religion & Culture, Theology, Young Adults

(McClatchy) Marijuana legalization gets a boost on Capitol Hill

Marijuana legalization got a boost on Capitol Hill on Tuesday as a trio of rising stars in the Senate launched an effort to rewrite federal drug laws.

The push to decriminalize at least the medical use of marijuana came from Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Democratic Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

Their move comes as another sign of how rapidly the politics of marijuana are shifting on Capitol Hill. Long an issue avoided by lawmakers with big political ambitions, marijuana legalization now presents opportunities to make inroads with new voters.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Senate, Theology

(AP) Barcelona brothel workers get Spanish social welfare rights

In a landmark ruling, a Barcelona judge has decided three sex workers should have been hired full-time by a brothel owner and ordered her to pay contributions to the government so the prostitutes will be eligible for national health care, disability insurance, unemployment benefits and government pensions.

The ruling issued in February – and made public this week – can be appealed and does not create a precedent for Spain’s estimated hundreds of thousands of prostitutes, whose ranks are believed to have increased during the country’s crushing financial crisis that started in 2008 and lingers with unemployment at 24 percent.

But advocates for sex workers said Tuesday that Judge Juan Agusti Maragall’s decision is important because it recognizes the legal inability of some brothel workers to get benefits mandated for employees of companies.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Sexuality, Spain, Theology