Daily Archives: March 16, 2015

C of E urges schools to Focus on quality of provision not admissions

The Church of England’s Chief Education Officer Nigel Genders has contributed to a book by education experts and commentators on selection in secondary schools which explores the complexity of the present system. He concludes that the solution to the extremely complex arrangements caused by parental choice in school admissions and the oversubscription criteria that schools use, is to not focus on admissions but rather on quality of provision.

Published today The Ins and Outs of Selective Secondary Education: A Debate, edited by Anastasia de Waal of Civitas is a wide-ranging collection of essays showing how the old divide between comprehensive and grammar schools has been supplanted by a range of much broader selection processes, across school types.

In his chapter Nigel Genders states: “In those early years (when the CofE was the first body to provide education for all), being able to access any education at all was the pressing concern, not the choice of school. The issue of admissions, as we define it today, was non-existent. It was only as universal provision was achieved that the question of which school a parent should choose for their children became such a significant matter. Schools operated with a catchment area, but the resulting rise in house prices around good schools meant that parental choice was more limited for those who could not afford to live there. However, the freeing up of the system and a greater expectation regarding parental choice of school has meant that the landscape has become increasingly difficult for many to navigate.”

Read it all.

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

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby's sermon at the Afghanistan service this past Friday

As our nation honours at this service all of you who served in Afghanistan ”“ forces personnel and many others, alongside so many of other nations ”“ I ask you to hear those same words today, reverberating around our land: great is your faithfulness. You know about faithfulness.

Today is a moment for us to say thank you: thank you to all who served, whatever your role.

We thank you for your faithfulness: you who left family behind, you who trained hard, you who did not turn from danger, you who suffered injury and you who risked yourselves to care for the injured. I’m told that each wounded person was supported by up to 80 others by the time they got home. Great is your faithfulness.

We also thank those of you who stayed behind, who let your loved ones go

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Archbishop of Canterbury, Children, Defense, National Security, Military, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, War in Afghanistan

JI Packer on the 8 essential characteristics of what it means to be an Anglican

I identify myself as a heritage Anglican, or a main stream Anglican, on the basis of that view of things. I adapt to state my Anglican identity, words from the great Pastor Duncan of the Free Church of Scotland, who something like 150 years ago, said in answer to a question about his identity as a minister of the church, “I’m first a Christian, second a Protestant, third a Calvinist, fourth a Paedo-baptist, and fifth a Presbyterian”. Well, I go with the first four; and then “fifth I’m an Anglican”. And if I’m asked to explain further what is the Anglicanism that I stand for, I reel off eight defining characteristics of my Anglicanism like this.

Anglicanism is first biblical and protestant in its stance, and second, evangelical and reformed in its doctrine. That’s a particular nuance within the Protestant constituency to which the Anglican church is committed – the 39 Articles show that. Ten, thirdly, Anglicanism is liturgical and traditional in its worship.

I go on to say, fourthly, Anglicanism is a form of Christianity that is pastoral and evangelistic in its style. I quote the ordinal for that and I point out that ever since the ordinal and the prayer book required the clergy to catechize the children, Anglicanism has been evangelistic, though the form of the evangelism has not been that of the travelling big tent – the form of the evangelism has been rather institutional and settled; the evangelism was part of the regular work of the parish clergyman and the community around him. But let nobody say that institutional parochial Anglicanism is not evangelistic and, today, I know the wisest folk here in England are recovering parochial evangelism in a significant way. Thank God they are.

And then I say, fifthly, that Anglicanism is a form of Christianity that is episcopal and parochial in its organization and, sixthly, it is rational and reflective in its temper.

Guess the year and then go and read it all (also used by yours truly in the presentation to Diocesan Convention).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Other Churches, Theology

Ronald Knox Caricatures Anglicanism in Essays in Satire–"Reunion all Around"

Being a Plea for the Inclusion within the Church of England of all Mahometans, Jews, Buddhists, Brahmins, Papists and Atheists, submitted to the consideration of the British Public

It is now generally conceded, that those differences, which were once held to divide the Christian sects from one another, (as whether or not Confirmation were a necessary ordinance of the Church), can no longer be thought to place any obstacle against unity and charity between Christians; rather, the more of them we find to exist, the more laudable a thing it is that Christian men should stomach, now and again, these uneasy scruples, and worship together for all the world as if they had never existed. There is no progress in Humanity, without the surmounting of obstacles; thus, we are all now agreed that Satan, far from meaning any harm to our Race when he brought sin into the world, was most excellently disposed towards us, and desired nothing better than that we, having some good stout sins to overcome, should attain an eventful and exciting sort of virtue, instead of languishing for ever in that state of respectable innocence, which is so little creditable to the angels, who alone practice it. In like manner, all heresies and schisms are the very condition of Christian unity, and were doubtless designed to supply a kind of zest to the tedious business of Church-going, on the same principle that the digestion of poultry is improved, if they be allowed to have a little grit or gravel in their crops to assist them. So that there can be no more edifying spectacle, to the rightly-constituted mind, than that of two fellow-worshippers, one of whom is saying in his heart, great is Diana of the Ephesians and the other, O Baal, hear us, both which inward intentions they express by a common formula, when they profess openly with their lips, that honesty is the best policy.


Further, it has come to be seen that Bishops and Archbishops are not, as was commonly supposed hitherto, the vehicles of any extraordinary grace, which they passed on one to another, like a contagion, by the laying on of hands, but only another of these obstacles, which make the race of life so agreeable a pursuit. They exist to supervise our doctrines, and find them unscriptural, to control our religious practices, and forbid their continuance, thus enabling us to snatch a fearful joy while we are about them: in short to give the Christian profession that spice of martyrdom, which it has so sorely lacked since the abolition of the amphitheatre. However salutary this interference be, it is plain that it is of the nature of a luxury; and we shall, therefore, be content to forgo the enjoyment of it, if the non-conformists should demand the sacrifice as a condition of reunion with themselves


I conceive, then, that within a few years from the present date, the division of Christians into sects for purposes of worship will have utterly disappeared, and we shall find one great United Protestant Church existing throughout the civilized world. I would not deny but there might be some few difficulties of adjustment attending the venture; as, that the Fifth Monarchy men might withhold their assent from the scheme, unless we would all make it a matter of doctrine, that the Last Judgement is to be presently expected; which knowledge would cast an intolerable gloom over the more part of our pleasures, and create a lack of public confidence on the Exchange. But I cannot doubt, upon a little cool reflection, we should rid ourselves of these fanciful megrims of sectarian particularity; and there is gain to be shown on the other side; for example, it may be anticipated the Seventh Day Adventists will demand the observance of Saturday as well as Sunday as a feast of the Church; and we shall thus have two days instead of one in every seven on which we can lie abed till noon, over-eat ourselves, go out driving in the country, and dine away from home under colour of sparing trouble to our domestics.

Read it all (used by yours truly in the recent presentation to diocesan Convention).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Theology

(BNG) Many Americans find meaning in vampire, zombie tales, Baylor prof says

It’s a good thing so many films, books and television shows are fixated on life after death, Baylor University scholar Greg Garrett said. Because we need them.

“For many of us, if we don’t tell these stories about the afterlife then there’s a lot about this life that doesn’t make sense,” says Garrett, a professor of English who teaches courses in fiction and screenwriting at Baylor.

Garrett boasts a doctorate in English from Oklahoma State University, a master of divinity from the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas, numerous short stories and books ”” including critically acclaimed novels ”” and various scholarly articles.

But Garrett has been enjoying the limelight lately because he has combined all those skills and interests with another set of specialties: Christian spirituality, homiletics theology, film and popular culture.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

(CC) Diane Roth–Scene at the table: A disruption on Maundy Thursday

It was an incongruous scene: the camera, the altar, the holy night. I had a hard time reconciling it. It didn’t seem holy to take a picture; it made me uncomfortable. But when I asked myself why, my answers didn’t seem that compelling. I was also very aware of the fact that the choir was sitting directly behind me. I was ready for indignant comments from the congregation, though these never came.

Later, I noticed that the photo in question was posted on Face­book. This was unremarkable in itself. It was the caption that struck me, the description of those pictured. In the photo was one of the fifth graders, kneeling between his estranged parents. Both are smiling at their son. Despite their differences, they had come together that night for the sake of their beloved child.

The photographer was engaged to one of the parents. I don’t know why she snapped the picture. Perhaps in a mo­ment when everything seemed awkward, it was simply something concrete she could do. But what I imagine is that she saw something I did not see, noticed something I was not paying attention to. Somehow she saw the table of reconciliation, the promise of the one who feeds us at the table. She caught a glimpse of the new com­mand­­ment, the commandment to love one another as Jesus loves us.

We are reminded again and again how difficult this is. Every time Jesus breaks the bread, every time we break a promise, every time we break a heart, we are reminded of the impossibility of this commandment. But every time we break the bread, we are also reminded of the one who brings us together for the sake of his beloved child.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Theology

(BBC) Is The world is running out of burial space?

There is a looming problem in many parts of the world over what to do with dead bodies, as pressure on burial space intensifies.

The industrial revolution, in the 18th and 19th Centuries, saw a mass migration from small villages and towns to cities.

Previously, most people had lived in rural locations and would be buried in the local church’s graveyard.

But with a growing urban population, the authorities in Victorian Britain built large cemeteries, often on the outskirts of cities.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Death / Burial / Funerals, Energy, Natural Resources, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(FT) US admin. Tax inversion Crackdown has the opposite effect of its intent

A crackdown by the Obama administration on “tax inversion” deals, which allowed US companies to slash their tax bills, has had the perverse effect of prompting a sharp increase in foreign takeovers of American groups.

In September the US Treasury all but stamped out tax inversions, which enabled a US company to pay less tax by acquiring a rival from a jurisdiction with a lower corporate tax rate, such as Ireland or the UK, and moving the combined group’s domicile to that country.

The move was designed to staunch an exodus of US companies and an erosion in tax revenues, but it has left many US groups vulnerable to foreign takeovers. Once a cross-border deal is complete, the combined company can generate big savings by adopting the overseas acquirer’s lower tax rate.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Taxes, The U.S. Government, Theology

(WSJ) Remarriage on the Rise, Driven by Older Adults

More Americans are saying “I do” more than one time.

Nearly one in five U.S. adults””roughly 17%””has been married two or more times, according to a new analysis by the U.S. Census Bureau of its 2008-2012 American Community Survey. About 4% of U.S. residents age 15 or older have been married three or more times.

The findings””the first snapshot of remarriage trends by the census with levels of geographical detail””are the latest to suggest that, while marriage has declined in the U.S. since the 1960s, remarriage, especially among older Americans, is on the rise.

Read it all.

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

(Guardian) John Gray–What scares the new atheists

If religions are natural for humans and give value to their lives, why spend your life trying to persuade others to give them up?

The answer that will be given is that religion is implicated in many human evils. Of course this is true. Among other things, Christianity brought with it a type of sexual repression unknown in pagan times. Other religions have their own distinctive flaws. But the fault is not with religion, any more than science is to blame for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or medicine and psychology for the refinement of techniques of torture. The fault is in the intractable human animal. Like religion at its worst, contemporary atheism feeds the fantasy that human life can be remade by a conversion experience ”“ in this case, conversion to unbelief.

Evangelical atheists at the present time are missionaries for their own values. If an earlier generation promoted the racial prejudices of their time as scientific truths, ours aims to give the illusions of contemporary liberalism a similar basis in science. It’s possible to envision different varieties of atheism developing ”“ atheisms more like those of Freud, which didn’t replace God with a flattering image of humanity. But atheisms of this kind are unlikely to be popular. More than anything else, our unbelievers seek relief from the panic that grips them when they realise their values are rejected by much of humankind. What today’s freethinkers want is freedom from doubt, and the prevailing version of atheism is well suited to give it to them.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Apologetics, Atheism, History, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Mozarabic Sacramentary

Grant us, O Lord, to rejoice in beholding the bliss of the heavenly Jerusalem; that as she is the home and mother of the multitude of the saints, we also may be counted worthy to have our portion within her; through thine only begotten Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

I will sing of thy steadfast love, O LORD, for ever; with my mouth I will proclaim thy faithfulness to all generations. For thy steadfast love was established for ever, thy faithfulness is firm as the heavens.

–Psalm 89:1-2

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Rev. Canon Audrey Cady Scanlan Elected as TEC Bishop of Central Pennsylvania

The Rev. Canon Audrey Cady Scanlan was elected on March 14 as 11th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, pending the required consents from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction and standing committees of the Episcopal Church.

Scanlan, 56, Canon for Mission Collaboration and Congregational Life in the Diocese of Connecticut, was elected on the 2nd ballot out of a field of 3 nominees. She received 79 votes of 147 cast in the lay order and 50 of 79 cast in the clergy order. An election on that ballot required 74 in the lay order and 40 in the clergy order.

The election was held during the diocese’s Electing Convention for the 11th Bishop of Central Pennsylvania held at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Harrisburg, Pa.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

Episcopal Priest on Staff at Cathedral of Saint John the Divine charged with DWI

An assistant priest at Manhattan’s famed Cathedral of St. John the Divine was busted on drunk driving charges Friday evening as she emerged from the Holland Tunnel in Jersey City Friday night, according to Port Authority police.

In addition to being hit DWI, reckless driving, and disobeying traffic law charges, Diane Reiners, a 53-year-old Episcopalian minister from Brooklyn, was also charged with criminal possession of a controlled dangerous substance after police found in her vehicle 31 pills of an anti-anxiety drug that was prescribed to someone else and more than 200 pills of tramadol, a potent pain killer, authorities said.

Police responded to reports at 6 p.m. of a woman driving through the Holland tunnel from Manhattan to New Jersey in an “erratic manner,” a report said.

According to witnesses, Reiners’ 2004 Toyota swerved between lanes and struck the tunnel curb.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Alcohol/Drinking, Alcoholism, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, TEC Parishes, Theology, Travel

(RNS) God knows, evangelicals are more science-friendly than you think

That headline might sound familiar to readers at Faith & Reason. And it should. The sociologist I wrote about last winter when her research showed the majority of scientists identify with a religious tradition, not God-denying atheists, myth-busting again.

Now, the myth that bites the data dust, is one that proclaims evangelicals are a monolithic group of young-earth creationists opposed to theories of human evolution.

Actually, 70 percent of self-identified evangelicals “do not view religion and science as being in conflict,” said Elaine Howard Ecklund, a sociologist and director of Rice University’s Religion and Public Life Program.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Sociology

Unsurprisingly and depressingly, the NY Times come out on the wrong side on assisted suicide

Last year, the radio host Diane Rehm watched in agony as her husband, John, starved to death over the course of 10 days.

Severely crippled by Parkinson’s disease, his only option for ending the suffering was to stop eating and drinking. Physicians in most states, including Maryland, where he lived, are barred from helping terminally ill patients who want to die in a dignified way.

“He was a brilliant man, just brilliant,” Ms. Rehm said in an interview. “For him to go out that way, not being able to do anything for himself, was an insufferable indignity.”

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

(First Things) Matthew Schmitz–Despising Jean Danielou

Today, the same counterfeit ideas that Danielou identified are once again in circulation. Cultural change is cited as a reason to alter the Church’s teaching on communion for the divorced and remarried. Those who object are dismissed as ice-hearted “formalists.” What we need now is spontaneous faith rather than rulebook rigidity.

In his famous interview, Danielou warned against such arguments, saying that “with the pretext of reacting against formalism” there has arisen a “false conception of freedom that brings with it the devaluing of the constitutions and rules and exalts spontaneity and improvisation” and an “erroneous conception of the changing of man and of the Church.”

Danielou made these arguments even while living in great closeness to those who are usually held up as the beneficiaries of replacing formalism with freedom. Though his views made it difficult for him to live with his religious brothers, they did not prevent him from dying with those in need. If we hope to reprise Danielou’s arguments today, we would do well also to imitate his actions.Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic, Theology