Daily Archives: March 26, 2015

(Research on Religion Podcast) Jim Papandrea on Christianity's 7 Revolutions

What difference does a religious tradition make? If it is Christianity, Prof. Jim Papandrea of the Garrett-Evangelical Seminary at Northwestern University says it matters a great deal. Jim returns to our show for the third time (hat trick) and discusses his new book Seven Revolutions: How Christianity Changed the World and Can Change It Again, coauthored with Mike Aquilina. The general thrust of the book is that Christian theology introduced to the world (at least) seven new ways to envision human society, starting with the individual person and proceeding up through the state….

Our conversation ends with some reflection on Christianity in the “post-Christian era.” Jim qualifies that term by noting that there have been moments in history that have looked dire for the demise of the Christian faith, but he raises concern about a secular ethos that may be returning our culture towards the mindset of the pre-Christian era. We ruminate about the role that violent sport and reality TV (a form of entertainment that relishes in humiliation) and what role Christianity can play in addressing the contemporary culture. Jim ends on an optimistic note by asserting that Christianity is always primed for a revival and that by joining together across denominational lines, Christianity can remain highly relevant in the world.

Read and listen to it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Religion & Culture, Theology

(BBC) Nigeria election: Kano's Christian exodus

An exodus from the mainly Christian quarter of Kano, the commercial centre of northern Nigeria, is taking place ahead of elections this weekend, because of fears of violence.

The main bus station in the Sabon Gari suburb is chaotic as thousands of people cram onto coaches heading to the east or west of the country.

“Kano is now closing for business because of the fear of the unknown,” says the chairman of the bus station.

They are anxious to avoid a repeat of the communal violence that followed the vote in 2011 when those from different ethnic or religious groups were singled out for attack.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Nigeria, Politics in General, Terrorism

(Economist) The pushback against ISIS

Anti-IS Sunnis think they should be armed again, as they were when the Americans fought al-Qaeda in Iraq, IS’s predecessor. But nobody is willing to give them weapons. “We wanted a national army,” says Ghazi Faisal al-Kuaud, a tribesman fighting alongside the government in Ramadi. “Instead they formed the Shia equivalent of IS.”

And Shia distrust of the Sunnis grows at a pace that matches that of the losses from its militias. Overlooking Najaf’s sprawling tombs, gravediggers talk of the brisk business they are doing burying militiamen. “I’ve never had it so busy,” says one. “Not even after 2003 or 2006 [the height of Iraq’s civil war].” The Sunnis “never accepted losing power from the time of Imam Ali, so why would they now?” asks Haider, a Shia shop owner. “Wherever you find Sunnis and you give them weapons, you will find IS,” says Bashar, a militiaman. Many Shias feel that the fight against IS justifies them in excluding Sunnis from government and the security apparatus.

The state that IS wanted to build looks more unlikely than ever to become a lasting reality, and that is good. The ruined territory on which it hoped to build, though, may end up even more damaged than it was at the outset.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Christian Today) New Bishop of Gloucester Rachel Treweek: 'The Church is in a very exciting time'

Archdeacon Treweek said: “Lots of people have spoken about it as if it is about saving the Church of England.”

But it is not about this, she insists.

“It is about us gaining more confidence with what God is doing in growing His kingdom. I do not start from a place of a failing institution. For me it is not about starting from a place of fear and anxiety, but starting in a place of hope and confidence. I do feel hugely excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. The Church is in a very exciting time.”

Passionate about faith and about the message Jesus had for society at large, she is not frightened either to discuss politics from an overtly-Christian, though not party political view. She will be the first woman bishop to sit with the 26 diocesans in the House of Lords, giving her voice additional significance and making her a woman to watch as well as listen to on the part of both secular and religious leaders.

Read it all and the official announcement is there.

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

(Bloomberg) Boko Haram Kills at Least 1,000 in 2015, Human Rights Watch Says

“Each week that passes we learn of more brutal Boko Haram abuses against civilians,” Mausi Segun, Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in the statement. “The Nigerian government needs to make protecting civilians a priority in military operations against Boko Haram.”

Read it all.

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

(NYT) Farhad Manjoo–Debunking the Latest Predictions of Facebook’s Demise

The notion that Facebook and other social networks will suffer most deeply when the bubble bursts sounds plausible because it rehashes the last tech boom and bust, when advertising revenue run-ups at huge web portals (remember those?) turned out to be funded mainly by venture capital investments. In 2001, revenue at Yahoo ”” the largest portal, and something like the Facebook of its time ”” plummeted by almost $400 million when start-ups stopped spending during the bust. Yahoo has never recovered its former glory. Could Facebook face the same fate?

Probably not ”” or not yet, at least. On closer inspection, the theory that Facebook’s growth depends on unsustainable venture capital is mostly overblown, another strain of Facebook Second Guessing Syndrome. It’s a story that misses important facts about Facebook’s advertising business. For one thing, as Facebook’s executives have repeatedly pointed out, ads from app companies make up a small percentage of the company’s overall business. Most of the social network’s revenue comes from video ads and ads for large brands.
Continue reading the main story

The theory also misses two other points. Not all these ads are coming from unproved start-ups. And the ads are set to be adopted more widely because they actually work.

According to several app makers and observers of the industry, the ads are tremendously effective at leading paying customers to new apps. It’s the effort to reach these paying customers ”” and not venture funding ”” that is often the reason for all the money pouring into ads for apps.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Science & Technology, Theology

Episcopal Church Takes Fight With Historic Diocese Over $500M Property to SC Supreme Court

The Episcopal Church and its allies in South Carolina have filed an appeal with the state’s highest court in its legal battle over a breakaway diocese’s $500 million property.

After being denied a motion to rehear by a lower court, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina announced Tuesday that they are filing an appeal against the Diocese of South Carolina….

“Their policy of using legal action to drain the finances of dissident congregations is not working,” stated [Canon] Lewis.

“It only deflects denomination resources from projects to promote the faith and speeds the downward spiral of The Episcopal Church.”

Read it all from the Christian Post.

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

(Reuters) Vatican to give homeless private VIP tour of Sistine Chapel

In Pope Francis’s latest gesture towards Rome’s homeless, the Vatican said on Tuesday homeless people will get a special private tour of its museums and the Sistine Chapel.

About 150 homeless people who frequent the Vatican area – where Pope Francis has already set up facilities for them to have showers – will make the visit on Thursday afternoon, the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Italy, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Pope Francis, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

More Food for Thought from (one time rector of Calvary, Pittsburgh) Samuel Shoemaker

We have no respect for a surgeon who goes in but does not cut deeply enough to cure nor a patient who backs out of an operation because it may hurt; yet people can go through their whole lives attending church, listening to searching exposures of human sin, without ever taking it to themselves, or meeting anyone with skill and concern enough to lay the challenge right in their own laps.

Experiment of Faith (New York: Harper&Row, 1957), p.22 (emphasis mine)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Time) Ian Bremmer–the 7 Challenges of Globalization

What happens as the world becomes even more interconnected”¦and even more leaderless?

Some argue that globalization is grinding to a screeching halt. In a world of increased conflict and turmoil, where major powers jockey for influence, financial sanctions have become a go-to weapon and even the Internet threatens to splinter, then surely the cross-border flow of money, ideas, information, goods and services will begin to slow””or even reverse.

Others argue that globalization is really just Americanization by other means. After all, the United States still dominates the international financial system. Information hurtling through cyberspace promotes the democratization of information, because it creates demand for still more information and forces autocrats to care more about public opinion. As developing countries develop, aren’t they becoming more like America?

Not anymore.

Read it all and note the link to the full report provided.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, History, Politics in General, Theology

Matthew Kirkpatrick–What does the C of E have to offer the next generation?

It is doubtless crucial for the Church of England to reconsider its form and presentation, but it cannot do this until it has established what its essential core actually is, and made every effort to communicate and inspire the next generation to its identity. Unfortunately, many of the panellists remained so unified on their desire for radical change, that the real debate about what this core might actually be rarely reared its head. So is there something about the church’s liturgy and worship, its structure and communion, its history and heritage that remains important? If so, is the radical task not to discard these in the name of modernisation, but to excite those to whom they appear foreign? Several times during the proceedings, the discrepancy between the beliefs and opinions of the clergy and those of the laity were noted””evidence again of a church that is lost to its academics and fatally disjointed from its people. But is the radical task, therefore, to give the church up to the people, or to inspire those same people about the riches, dynamism, and truthfulness of the doctrines and Scriptures that lie behind it?

As the church considers its future, one thing is certain: it must not fight for its own survival. Perhaps it will have the strength to realise that there is, actually, nothing distinctive about it that truly needs preserving amongst the denominations, and will show the greatest sacrifice for others by facilitating its own demise. Or, perhaps, it will understand that there is something about the Church of England as the Church of England that is important””something that is not worth fighting for in itself, but which is so crucial to its illuminating truth, so essential to its gospel message, and so intuitive to its mission, that it becomes the foundation of its fighting “for others.” But have we given up on this task? Doubtless reform is needed. But what is the core on which it must be founded? Are we so clear on our own ideas of what needs changing that we can no longer see what doesn’t? Perhaps we still need to ask: What does the Church of England offer the next generation?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Young Adults

(RNS) Church of England adds a second woman bishop in space of three months

The Church of England appointed its second woman bishop on Wednesday (March 25), only two months after it consecrated its first.

Alison White, 58, will become the next suffragan bishop of Hull, following closely on the heels of Bishop Libby Lane, who was consecrated in January as a suffragan bishop in the Diocese of Chester. A suffragan bishop is a bishop subordinate to a metropolitan or diocesan bishop.

White is married to the assistant bishop of Newcastle, Frank White.

Read it all.

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

(Wash Post) FBI adapts to face terrorism threats but still faces challenges, report finds

The FBI improved its ability to fight terrorism in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but a new report says the bureau still faces significant challenges as it strengthens its intelligence capabilities to deal with nimble enemies.

The finding was part of an exhaustive review requested by Congress to evaluate the FBI’s response to the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations in 2004 and determine if the domestic law enforcement agency was moving quickly enough to deal with fast-moving threats.

The lengthy report, “The FBI: Protecting the Homeland in the 21st Century,” is perhaps the most detailed, public examination of the FBI’s post-9/11 capabilities, highlighting the successes and limitations of the traditional crime-fighting bureau.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Terrorism, The U.S. Government, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Roman Breviary

O God, who by the lowliness of thy Son hast raised a fallen world: Grant to thy faithful people perpetual gladness; and as thou hast delivered them from eternal death, so do thou make them partakers of everlasting joys; 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

A Song of Ascents. Of David. O LORD, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and for evermore.

–Psalm 131

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Germanwings Pilot Was Locked Out of Cockpit Before Crash in France

A senior military official involved in the investigation described “very smooth, very cool” conversation between the pilots during the early part of the flight from Barcelona to Düsseldorf. Then the audio indicated that one of the pilots left the cockpit and could not re-enter.

“The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door and there is no answer,” the investigator said. “And then he hits the door stronger and no answer. There is never an answer.”

He said, “You can hear he is trying to smash the door down.”

While the audio seemed to give some insight into the circumstances leading up to the Germanwings crash, it also left many questions unanswered.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, Europe, Parish Ministry, Science & Technology, Travel

Exploring the Thought of Gifted Writer Anthony Doerr

AW: So much has been written about World War II and the Holocaust, yet you’ve come up with something entirely fresh and different. Take us through how and why you decided to focus on two adolescents, Marie-Laure and Werner, each saddled with their own hardships, coming of age in France and Germany during that time.

AD: Someone told me once that if you took all the pages of all the books written about WWII and dropped them on Germany, it’d cover the whole country! Who knows if that’s actually true, but I was acutely aware that there was a lot of writing about WWII already out there ”” much of it breathtakingly good, and written by people for whom the war was memory, not history. So for most of the 10 years I worked on All the Light, I was terrified that I’d settle into a pattern of narrative that had lost some of its power because it had been already done.

One strategy I tried was to mimic the language of fairy tale and allegory: the boy, the girl, the ogre, the cursed gemstone, the imaginary citadel. And another was to try balance that sense of otherworldliness against a hyper-realism; to detail everything as carefully as I could. I thought maybe the juxtaposition of those two techniques might help the novel feel different, in the way a Borges or a Calvino story always feels different, even when they’re describing our world.

Eventually I had to keep telling myself the old humanist dictum: the path to the universal runs through the individual.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, History, Teens / Youth, Theology

Is there a Future for Confessional Anglicanism? Conference audio from Sydney, Australia

On Saturday 21st March 2015, the Anglican Church League held the “Is there a Future for Confessional Anglicanism?” conference in the Chapter House of St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney.

Those present considered our Anglican inheritance, our current challenges and our potential future under God.

Glenn Davies, Archbishop of Sydney; Ashley Null, authority on Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation; and Mark Thompson, Principal of Moore Theological College, were the speakers.

Read it all and listen to each talk.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Theology