Daily Archives: March 21, 2015

([London] Times) Gavin Ashenden–Muslims need to face up to the violence of the Koran

On New Year’s Day, President al-Sisi of Egypt made a remarkable speech. How, he asked, could belief in Islam make Muslim nations a “source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction”?

“Is it possible”, he added, “that 1.6 billion people should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants ”” that is seven billion ”” so that they themselves may live?” He was asking where the mechanism of restraining Islamic violence lay.

But this heroic intervention has not sparked a worldwide theological debate among Muslims. The only perceivable response was the slaughter of 21 Egyptian Copts by Isis in Libya.

To understand the lack of protest by moderate Muslims, we need to look at Islam on its own terms and not try to see it through “Christianised” spectacles….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

(Christian Today) Ruth Gledhill–Do UK Christians have to keep faith hidden?

When she repeated this belief at school, the teacher ridiculed her in front of the class and said only “religious nutters” held such beliefs.

This is just one of the stories of discrimination against Christians in the workplace uncovered in a new consultation, which also found evidence that atheists were being discriminated against by some Christians.

Employees feel under increasing pressure to keep their religion hidden at work and they also feel discriminated against when it comes to wearing religious symbols or expressing their beliefs, the consultation found.

Christians in particular feel discriminated against.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(CC) Samuel Wells–Dementia and resurrection

I think luo has something important to teach us in the face of dementia. In the face of deficit, decline, and death we try hard to cling on. But the lesson of the little word luo is that maybe the path of resurrection lies in letting go. If death is starting now, maybe resurrection can start now too.

Perhaps it’s only when we let go of who and what our loved one was that we can receive who they are now. Perhaps only when we find ways to enjoy who they are now can we reverse the deficit and the decline, because we stop assuming they’re moving away from something good and start appreciating that they’re moving into something new.

Dementia is not a living death. It’s an invitation to see how we can remain the same person yet take on new and rather different characteristics. In that sense it’s a training in resurrection, in which we shall be changed but still recognizably ourselves. Like resurrection, we can’t experience it unless we find ways to let go, to let loose, to be released and forgiven. God welcomes us into eternal life not by keeping a tight hold on us but by letting us go. The challenge for us in dementia is to find ways that we can do the same.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(FT) Church of England accused of asset raid to pay for recruitment

A £100m recruitment plan for the Church of England has been criticised as a raid on church assets that has not been properly thought out and amounts to “spending the family silver”.

The proposals, submitted last month, are intended to address what Andreas Whittam Smith, head of the Church Commissioners, calls a “relentless decline in membership”. Mr Whittam Smith has previously said this has resulted in the average age of Anglican congregations approaching 70.

The commissioners manage the Church’s historic and investment assets, worth slightly more than £6bn at the end of 2013. Mr Whittam Smith wants to use about £100m of that to boost the number of ordained priests by 50 per cent.

This is in addition to the £2m already approved to train senior clergy and potential leaders in a “talent management” programme, a controversial proposal made in a report chaired by Stephen Green, the former chairman of HSBC and an ordained minister in the Church.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology

(BBC) Can religion and science bury the hatchet?

A new project bringing together science and religion is unlikely to end the long and sometimes bitter debate over the relationship between the two.

However, it will offer trainee priests and Christians who are scientists the chance to engage with contemporary science.

The project – backed by the Church of England – is to receive more than £700,000 to promote greater engagement between science and Christians, as part of a three-year Durham University programme.

Trainee priests and others will be offered access to resources on contemporary science, and the scheme will research attitudes towards science among Church leaders.

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

Terry Mattingly–The unique life, tragic death and legacy of Father Matthew Baker

“Matthew was crazy about theology, a total idealist about studying theology. ”¦ But he wanted to learn history and philosophy and art and everything else,” said Pentiuc. “I don’t know anyone else who read so much and absorbed so much, so soon. It was going to take him 10 or 15 years to fully synthesize what he knew and to find his mature voice.”

Friends joked that they could say “Go!” and challenge Baker to connect random subjects ”“ such as “Duran Duran,” a rock band, “GMOs,” a genetics term, and “Apollinarianism,” a 4th Century heresy ”“ and “he would come up with authentically deep links between them,” said Damick.

It’s easy to imagine three or more books emerging from existing lectures, papers and research by Baker, noted Damick. But all the books and academic tributes in the world cannot answer the ultimate questions being asked by loved ones and friends mourning this loss.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Robert Wright on Thomas Cranmer Day–The First Prayer Book of 1549

The most important prelude to the appearance in 1549 of the first Book of Common Prayer, in addition to the repudiation of papal jurisdiction and the establishment of royal supremacy, was the appearance of the Bible in the English vernacular tongue which had clearly matured by the early decades of the sixteenth century….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, --Book of Common Prayer, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

Bruce Hindmarsh on Thomas Cranmer Day–Reflections on Praying with Thomas Cranmer

From Saint John’s, Vancouver, Bruce Hindmarsh, the James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College, speaks on the Book of Common Prayer which he first encountered as a teenager at a bookstall in a mall in Winnipeg. Listen to it all–wonderfully nurturing and encouraging stuff.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, --Book of Common Prayer, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Spirituality/Prayer

Ashley Null on Thomas Cranmer Day–Conversion to Communion: Cranmer on a Favourite Puritan Theme

In the end, repentance, not love, has come to symbolise Cranmer himself, his life’s work being interpreted by his last days. In the eyes of his critics, Cranmer’s recantations prove that at best he was weak and vacillating. In the hearts of his admirers, however, Cranmer’s last-minute renunciation of his recantations proved his true commitment to the Protestant faith. But what of Cranmer himself, how did he interpret his last days and the meaning they gave to his life? According to a contemporary account, having previously been distraught, Cranmer came to the stake with a cheerful countenance and willing mind.

Fire being now put to him, he stretched out his right Hand, and thrust it into the Flame, and held it there a good space, before the Fire came to any other Part of his Body; where his Hand was seen of every Man sensibly burning, crying with a loud Voice, This Hand hath offended. As soon as the Fire got up, he was very soon Dead, never stirring or crying all the while.

His Catholic executioners surely thought Cranmer was making satisfaction to his Protestant God. Yet his doctrine of repentance would have taught him otherwise, for the God he served saved the unworthy.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Christology, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Soteriology, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Thomas Cranmer

Merciful God, who through the work of Thomas Cranmer didst renew the worship of thy Church by restoring the language of the people, and through whose death didst reveal thy power in human weakness: Grant that by thy grace we may always worship thee in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ, our only Mediator and Advocate, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Coptic Liturgy of Saint Cyril

O God of love, who hast given us a new commandment through thine only begotten Son, that we should love one another even as thou didst love us, the unworthy and the wandering, and gavest him for our life and salvation: We pray thee to give to us thy servants, in all time of our life on earth, a mind forgetful of past ill-will, a pure conscience, and a heart to love our brethren; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground, a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the wickedness of its inhabitants. He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in; they sow fields, and plant vineyards, and get a fruitful yield. By his blessing they multiply greatly; and he does not let their cattle decrease. When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, trouble, and sorrow, he pours contempt upon princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes; but he raises up the needy out of affliction, and makes their families like flocks. The upright see it and are glad; and all wickedness stops its mouth. Whoever is wise, let him give heed to these things; let men consider the steadfast love of the LORD.

–Psalm 107:33-43

Posted in Uncategorized

Doctors worry how organ donations will be affected by Canada Sup Court ruling on assisted suicide

As the nation awaits legalized doctor-assisted death, the transplant community is grappling with a potential new source of life-saving organs ”” offered by patients who have chosen to die.

Some surgeons say every effort should be made to respect the dying wishes of people seeking assisted death, once the Supreme Court of Canada ruling comes into effect next year, including the desire to donate their organs.

But the prospect of combining two separate requests ”” doctor-assisted suicide and organ donation ”” is creating profound unease for others. Some worry those contemplating assisted suicide might feel a societal pressure to carry through with the act so that others might live, or that it could undermine struggling efforts to increase Canada’s mediocre donor rate.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Canada, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Washington Post) David Petraeus: ISIS isn’t the biggest problem in Iraq

The proximate cause of Iraq’s unraveling was the increasing authoritarian, sectarian and corrupt conduct of the Iraqi government and its leader after the departure of the last U.S. combat forces in 2011. The actions of the Iraqi prime minister undid the major accomplishment of the Surge. [They] alienated the Iraqi Sunnis and once again created in the Sunni areas fertile fields for the planting of the seeds of extremism, essentially opening the door to the takeover of the Islamic State. Some may contend that all of this was inevitable. Iraq was bound to fail, they will argue, because of the inherently sectarian character of the Iraqi people. I don’t agree with that assessment.

The tragedy is that political leaders failed so badly at delivering what Iraqis clearly wanted ”” and for that, a great deal of responsibility lies with Prime Minister Maliki.

As for the U.S. role, could all of this have been averted if we had kept 10,000 troops here? I honestly don’t know. I certainly wish we could have tested the proposition and kept a substantial force on the ground.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Iraq, Iraq War, Middle East, Politics in General, Theology, War in Afghanistan

(Patheos) John Shuck I’m a Presbyterian Minister Who Doesn’t Believe in God

For example, I believe that:

Religion is a human construct
The symbols of faith are products of human cultural evolution
Jesus may have been an historical figure, but most of what we know about him is in the form of legend
God is a symbol of myth-making and not credible as a supernatural being or force
The Bible is a human product as opposed to special revelation from a divine being
Human consciousness is the result of natural selection, so there’s no afterlife

In short, I regard the symbols of Christianity from a non-supernatural point of view.

And yet, even though I hold those beliefs, I am still a proud minister. But I don’t appreciate being told that I’m not truly a Christian.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Theology