Daily Archives: March 25, 2015

(WSJ) Oil Stance Helps Church of England Beat Benchmarks

One of the U.K.’s most visible ethical investors ”“ the Church of England ”“ outperformed its investing benchmarks last year thanks in part to its significant underweight position in energy stocks, a trade that benefited from the precipitous fall in oil prices.

Its fund, the CCLA, with around £5.6 billion ($8.34 billion) under management as of Feb. 2015, runs assets on behalf of the Church of England, as well as charities and local government authorities. The firm has long taken an ethical and activist stance, recently encouraging Royal Dutch Shell PLC, for example, to put forward a shareholder resolution on Climate Change at its 2015 Annual General Meeting.

Thanks to its ethical bearings, the CCLA allocated 50% less to oil and gas stocks than its benchmarks across its equity funds over 2014, and has avoided exposure to pure play coal and tar sands stocks, according to Michael Quicke, chief executive of the CCLA.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, Stock Market, Theology

Unsurprisingly and depressingly, the new TEC Diocese in South Carolina files an appeal

Read it all.

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

(BBC) Cheshire West and Chester Council to discuss large funeral plans after traveller row

Councillors are to discuss how best to manage large-scale funerals after one for a traveller from Cheshire attracted hundreds of mourners.

Holy Trinity Church in Blacon and Chester Crematorium were packed for the service marking 54-year-old Elton man “Pudgie” Evans’s life on 30 January.

Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cheshire Constabulary worked together to manage the funeral.

Local residents were advised beforehand and roads shut for the funeral cortege….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CT) Alissa Wilkinson–Why Popular Culutre is Hooked on Heaven and Hell

So what does our fascination with tales of the afterlife tell us? A few things, but the most important recurring theme in Entertaining Judgment is that we partake in narratives that ease anxiety about our lives. In other words, stories about the hereafter make us feel better about the here.

Tales of ghosts, for instance, “beckon us forward toward our future . . . to become the people we are called to become.” Stories from people who returned from the dead might “shine a light into the unknown and tell us something that might assuage our anxieties”; they tell us that human beings can change and grow. Vampire stories satisfy “our desire for an eternal life in which we will be perfected” and “tap into our spiritual and emotional desires to have that which is good now . . . and could only be better when we are perfected spiritual beings.”

Demons and devils may be symptoms of our failure to “take ourselves and our own evil seriously.” Angels teach us that “we are endowed with choice . . . that it is really up to us.” Tales of a heavenly realm have “helped to dry the tears of the suffering and offered the possibility of some greater meaning in our earthly lives.” Hell, too, can assuage doubts about the world’s goodness: For “every real-life spectacle that appalls or irritates””racial cleansing, chemical warfare, children kidnapped and held as sexual slaves, stop-and-go traffic””hell offers itself as a partial explanation, and as a powerful [image] that helps to explain, at least to some extent, the existence of such cruelty and suffering.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Art, Books, Eschatology, Movies & Television, Music, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Barna) The 2015 State of Atheism in America report

For reporting purposes at Barna, we often combine atheists and agnostics into one group, which we call skeptics….

[There]..are five demographic shifts among skeptics in the past two decades.

They are younger. Skeptics today are, on average, younger than in the past. Twenty years ago, 18 percent of skeptics were under 30 years old. Today that proportion has nearly doubled to 34 percent””nearly one-quarter of the total U.S. population (23%, compared to 17% in 1991). By the same token, the proportion of skeptics who are 65 or older has been cut in half, down to just 7 percent of the segment.

They are more educated. Today’s skeptics tend to be better educated than in the past. Two decades ago, one-third of skeptics were college graduates, but today half of the group has a college degree.

More of them are women….

Read it all.

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

A.S. Haley on TEC Bishops redefining Marriage–Tyranny in Vestments

look at the “amici” who actually filed the briefs. The ones that argue against redefining marriage can be counted on the fingers of one hand. More than ninety percent of the “friendly” briefs are from people and groups who want the laws against same-sex marriages struck down.

The latter include this particular amicus brief, filed by the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of ECUSA’s House of Deputies, and joined by Bishops White and Hahn of Kentucky; Bishops Gibbs, Houghland, Ray and Ousley from Michigan; Bishops Hollingsworth, Bowman, Persell, Williams, Breidenthal, Price and Rivera from Ohio; and Bishops Johnson and Young of Tennessee, along with other denominations, groups and committees. Moreover, there is a list in Appendix A to the brief of nearly 2,000 priests, many of them Episcopal, who have joined in filing the brief as well. All say that they “support equal treatment for same-sex couples with respect to civil marriage” (Brief, p. 1; emphasis added.)
Now these I have mentioned are all bishops and clergy in the Episcopal Church. What business do they have touting their religious affiliation in endorsing the redefinition of civil marriage? Moreover, look at how — from they very first page — they disavow and undermine the very authority of any church to define what marriage is (emphasis again added):

While Amici come from faiths that have approached issues affecting lesbian and gay people and their families in different ways over the years, they are united in the belief that, in our vastly diverse and pluralistic society, particular religious views or definitions of marriage should not be permitted to influence which couples’ marriages the state recognizes or permits.

It is not enough for ECUSA’s bishops and clergy to say that the Church’s traditional definition of marriage is inadequate for “our vastly diverse and pluralistic society.” Not only is that definition no longer serviceable to society at large, but also it should not even be “permitted to influence” what society thinks marriage is!

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, TEC Bishops, Theology

Daniel Davies–global econ. growth has slowed quite dramatically–why? Exploring Secular stagnation

With a few short-lived and unsustainable exceptions, the story of the last 30 years appears to be one of constantly falling interest rates and disappointing growth. Central banks try to keep stimulating the economy, but investment demand never really seems to gather pace in response to their efforts. Instead, investment seems stagnant and unresponsive to policy during normal periods, but shoots up during events like the dotcom and real estate bubbles, which then burst and leave everyone worse off.

People have been puzzling over this pattern for decades, but it took a speech by Larry Summers to the IMF in 2013 to really crystallise the whole picture, and bring it into the public eye. Ever since, it’s been known by the term he gave the phenomenon: ”˜secular stagnation’. But he didn’t invent it. It was first coined by Alvin Hansen in the post-Depression 30s, when technological progress seemed to have ground to a halt.

The revival of the term could be misleading on a number of levels.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, European Central Bank, Federal Reserve, Globalization, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Psychology, Science & Technology, The U.S. Government, Theology

(C of E) Canon Alison White to be next Bishop of Hull

Her Majesty the Queen has appointed the Revd Canon Alison White, priest-in-charge of Riding Mill in the Diocese of Newcastle and Diocesan Adviser for Spirituality and Spiritual Direction, as the Bishop Suffragan of the See of Hull.

As Bishop of Hull, Alison will also have diocesan-wide responsibilities both as Ambassador for Prayer, Spiritual & Numerical Growth and Ambassador for Urban Life & Faith.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu said: “This is a joyous day! I am delighted to be welcoming Alison as the next Bishop of Hull. Whilst she will be working with others across the Diocese of York encouraging faith in urban life, she will have particular responsibilities for the vibrant city of Hull and the glorious coastline and countryside of the East Riding. Alison is a person of real godliness and wisdom ”“ it is fantastic that she has accepted God’s call to make Christ visible together with all of us in this Diocese of York.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(C of E) Report praises distinctive identity of St Stephen's House, Oxford

The Ministry Division of the Church of England has expressed confidence in St Stephen’s House, Oxford, in an inspection report which praised the college for its “clear and distinctive identity which informs all aspects of its life”.

The report published today spoke of “a community at ease and comfortable with embracing a variety of perspectives and traditions on numerous issues whilst situated clearly within a distinct theological and spiritual tradition.”

St Stephen’s House received 12 out of a possible 16 ‘confidence’ outcomes, covering a range of criteria including practical and pastoral theology, teaching, and ministerial, personal and spiritual formation. The report also made 20 recommendations, noting that “the majority of these are for making good practice better rather than highlighting substantive problems.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Elves and tech folks are looking in to log in problems

It’s become evident in recent days that a significant number of readers are having problems logging in to T19 (unable to login). The problem has even affected the elves (though we have a super-secret emergency login process which we can use as a work-around. Sadly, this emergency log in process is not available to mere mortals) 😉

Research and attempts to solve the problems on the part of the elves have failed. (Sob.) So, we’ve notified our Tech friends. Hopefully the problem can be solved soon.

Our sincerest apologies to all who have been inconvenienced by this problem and for the length of time it took us to realize the extent of the problem.

Posted in * Admin

(Brisbane Times) Robots to replace almost half of jobs over next 20 years: expert

Robots and computer programs could almost wipe out human workers in jobs from cooks to truck drivers, a visiting researcher has warned.

Driverless cars and even burger-flipping robots are among the technological advancements gunning for low-skilled jobs across dozens of industries.

University of Oxford Associate Professor in machine learning Michael Osborne has examined the characteristics of 702 occupations in the US, predicting 47 per cent will be overtaken by computers in the next decade or two.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, History, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast of the Annunciation

We beseech thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts; that we who have known the incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought unto the glory of his resurrection; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Gelasian Sacramentary

O thou who hast taught us that we are most truly free when we lose our wills in thine: Help us to attain to this liberty by continual surrender unto thee; that walking in the way which thou hast prepared for us, we may find our life in doing thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ. But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have; for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” Again I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, “I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry.” Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, “I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.” But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”

–Romans 10:14-21

Posted in Uncategorized

The Choir of King's College, Cambridge – Miserere Mei – Allegri

From Psalm 51

To raise the quality of playback – use the cogwheel at lower right of video

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Liturgy, Music, Worship

(WSJ) U.S. Auto Boom? Not for Workers

U.S. auto production is nearing all-time highs on the back of strong domestic demand and steady export increases. But American-made cars and trucks are increasingly loaded with parts imported from Mexico, China and other nations.

The U.S. imported a record $138 billion in car parts last year, equivalent to $12,135 of content in every American light vehicle built. That is up from $89 billion, or $10,536 per vehicle, in 2008””the first of two disastrous years for the car business. In 1990, only $31.7 billion in parts were imported.

The trend casts a cloud over the celebrated comeback of one of the nation’s bedrock industries. As the inflow of low-cost foreign parts accelerates, wages at the entry level are drifting away from the generous compensation packages that made car-factory jobs the prize of American manufacturing.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Science & Technology, Theology, Travel

(NBC) Veterans Remember the Battle of Iwo Jima 70 Years Later

U.S. veterans gather on the Japanese island of Iwo Jima to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the one the most iconic battles of World War II.

Watch it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, History, Japan, Parish Ministry

(Independent) Michael Hare Duke RIP: Admired Episcopal bishop unafraid of controversy

Michael Geoffrey Hare Duke was born in Calcutta; his father was a Scots/Irish civil engineer who helped build the Indian railway system. He would become well-known in Lancashire for the welcome he afforded members of the Indian and Pakistani communities in the cotton towns when he was Vicar of St Mark’s, Bury, from 1956-62. He would also recall the kindnesses of the Indian women who had administered to his every need as a child.

Sent home to Bradfield at the age of 12, he was much influenced by the robust Christian views of his headmaster, TD Hills, who had been a House Master at Eton. Duke recalled to me with embarrassed pleasure how he had thrilled both Hills and himself by beating his Etonian opponent in the Quadrangular boxing competition, and going on to a points victory against an even tougher opponent from Haileybury and Imperial Services College.

From Bradfield Hare Duke became a sub-lieutenant in the Navy towards the end of the Second World War. “When as a 19-year-old you have gone to your bunk every night wondering whether a U-Boat would strike your ship, you become a bit cautious of sending a huge armada to the South Atlantic.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, History, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Scotland, Scottish Episcopal Church, Theology

(Guardian) Climate Change denial is immoral, says head of US Episcopal church

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(NPR) How 2 Children With Leukemia Helped Transform Its Treatment

[James] Eversull’s parents were determined to help him. The family drove almost 400 miles from their home in Louisiana to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

St. Jude was named after the patron saint of lost causes for a reason.

“These children were often turned away,” said Dr. Donald Pinkel about his years as a young doctor in the 1950s. He went on to become the first medical director at St. Jude. “A lot of physicians just didn’t want to handle this situation ”” it was so sad.”

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Science & Technology, Theology

(CC) Holy Terror–Philip Jenkins reviews Karen Armstrong's new book 'Fields of Blood'

To visualize the antireligion argument, we might think of a video showing the World Trade Center in flames to the accompaniment of John Lennon’s song “Imagine”: “Imagine no religion. . . . Nothing to kill or die for.” Movements like the one behind the so-called Islamic State demonstrate to many people that a world without God would be more peaceful, as it would be a world with fewer reasons to hate. If you are fighting for God against the devil, the argument goes, then there can be no peace short of annihilating the enemy.

Armstrong flatly rejects such easy equations. She admits that wars have often been framed in terms of faith and that none of the world’s religions can boast of clean hands in this regard. But she places the primary blame for violence on changing social and economic circumstances, which create larger and more aggressive political entities, commonly headed by warrior elites and dynasties. Armstrong sees a Darwinian pattern: lands with less determined and less confident elites are rapidly swallowed up by their harder-edged neighbors. For multiple reasons, ancient and medieval states sponsored and supported official faiths, which channeled and consecrated warrior ideals. All religions do this to varying degrees.

To oversimplify Armstrong’s argument: states happen, wars happen, and religion blesses them. Religion thus provides a rhetorical framework for warfare””but not, she argues, the motivation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence