Daily Archives: March 30, 2015

(Guardian) Anglican church must divest fossil fuels to cope with climate crisis, bishops say

An influential group of bishops have called on Anglican churches to remove their investments from the fossil fuel companies that are driving climate change.

In a declaration and set of requests aimed at focusing the church’s attention on the “unprecedented climate crisis”, the 17 bishops and archbishops said investments in fossil fuel companies were incompatible with a just and sustainable future.

“We call for a review of our churches’ investment practices with a view to supporting environmental sustainability and justice by divesting from industries involved primarily in the extraction or distribution of fossil fuels,” they said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

The Bishop of Salisbury joins 17 bishops worldwide to set new Anglican agenda on the climate crisis

Bishop Nicholas has is one of 17 Anglican bishops from all continents who have produced a Declaration calling for urgent prayer and action to tackle what they call an “unprecedented climate crisis”. Their declaration The World Is Our Host: A Call to Urgent Action for Climate Justice, released on Monday in Holy Week, sets a new agenda on climate change.

Bishop Nicholas was the Church of England’s representative on the group that produced the Declaration. Speaking after its launch, he said, “We accept the scientific evidence that human activity is more than 95% likely to be the main cause of global warming. This century began with fourteen of the fifteen hottest years ever.

“That our Declaration is issued in Holy Week and addressed to the Church on Good Friday is a mark of the seriousness with which we view the crisis of climate change.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Boston Globe) Britt Peterson–Scientology’s enturbulating lingo

Scientology’s power over its followers is coming under new scrutiny because of the HBO documentary “Going Clear,” which premieres March 29 and is based on Lawrence Wright’s 2013 book of the same name. As Wright reported, Scientology has long relied on an arcane lingo that helps induct adherents into founder L. Ron Hubbard’s complex mythology while also isolating them from the outside world. “I’ve had a lot of former Scientologists tell me,” Wright said to me, “that it took quite a while for them to sort out what was a real word and what was a Scientology term.”

Hubbard began his superlatively prolific writing career in the 1930s as a sci-fi author for pulp magazines like Astounding Science-Fiction. At the time he started work on “Dianetics,” the ur-text of Scientology, he was corresponding with a group of prominent sci-fi writers who were all influenced by the ideas of Polish-American philosopher Alfred Korzybski. Korzybski believed that semantic training ”” correcting the flaws in abstract language that block one’s understanding of concrete things ”” could help cure various emotional and physical disorders. In part inspired by Korzybski, “Dianetics,” published in 1950, introduced a wide array of neologisms, jargon, and acronyms designed specifically for Hubbard’s new program.

Hubbard liked putting quirky twists on existing words: “Enturbulate,” using the Latin root from “disturb,” means “to upset”; to “hat,” as a verb, is to train for something; “havingness,” “beingness,” and “as-ising” (making something vanish) also pop up frequently. Many of his terms describe the central practice of Scientology: the “audit,” a space-age twist on Freudian psychoanalytic therapy. An “auditor” questions the subject, called the “preclear” ”” who is held back from spiritual progress by the “engrams,” or recordings of traumatic memories, in his “reactive mind,” a negative unconscious contrasted with the “analytic mind.” The goal is to discover the “basic-basic,” the subject’s original harmful memory, which sometimes dates back to before birth.

Read it all.

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

Pope Francis' Palm Sunday Homily for 2015

At the heart of this celebration, which seems so festive, are the words we heard in the hymn of the Letter to the Philippians: “He humbled himself” (2:8). Jesus’ humiliation.

These words show us God’s way and the way of Christians: it is humility. A way which constantly amazes and disturbs us: we will never get used to a humble God!

Humility is above all God’s way: God humbles himself to walk with his people, to put up with their infidelity. This is clear when we read the Book of Exodus. How humiliating for the Lord to hear all that grumbling, all those complaints against Moses, but ultimately against him, their Father, who brought them out of slavery and was leading them on the journey through the desert to the land of freedom.

This week, Holy Week, which leads us to Easter, we will take this path of Jesus’ own humiliation. Only in this way will this week be “holy” for us too!

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Theology

(LA Times) Rising healthcare costs are pressuring patients

A recent survey by private health insurance exchange EHealth highlights the pressure Americans are feeling. It found that more than 6 in 10 people say they’re more worried about the financial effect of expensive medical emergencies and paying for healthcare than about funding retirement or covering their kids’ education.

People who get health insurance through work and on their own have seen their costs rise dramatically over the last decade.

According to the Commonwealth Fund, a New York think tank, annual increases in work-based health plan premiums rose three times faster than wages from 2003 to 2013. Out-of-pocket costs have also been climbing.

“More people have deductibles than ever before,” says Sara Collins, a Commonwealth Fund vice president. From 2003 to 2013, the size of deductibles has grown nearly 150%.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Theology

(Atlantic) How Sufjan Stevens Subverts the Stigma of Christian Music

Stevens, both a Christian and musician, nevertheless stands in stark contrast to those in this category. Representing a different camp of “Christian art,” with completely different motives and characteristics, he’s distinct among other artists of faith, who tend to produce bad, kitschy work””whether heavy-handed films like Facing the Giants and Fireproof, or the musical travesties on the Wow compilation albums. Instead of dealing directly with religious or biblical matters, Stevens’ music embodies what theologian Francis Schaeffer called the “totality of life,” as opposed some sort of “self-conscious evangelism”””an approach that turns the whole Christian-music stigma on its head.

Music created by Christians””and other forms of art for that matter””hasn’t always been met with sighs and sneers. In the bigger scheme of history, today’s disdain is a fairly recent phenomenon””an anomaly, even. For centuries, Christians dominated the arts and shaped culture, from Michelangelo and Van Gogh to Bach and Beethoven to Tolkien and Eliot. It wasn’t until the 20th century that a shift took place, specifically in the area of music.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music, Religion & Culture

(Wired) Google Takes on the Challenge of Making Robot Surgery Safer

Google is no stranger to robotics or healthcare technology. The tech giant owns several robotics companies, including Boston Dynamics and its arsenal of robo-dogs and nimble-but-drunk bipedal bots. And the Google X Life Sciences division has created everything from contact lenses that measure blood-sugar levels to tremor-proof spoons for Parkinson’s patients.

Now, the search giant is teaming up with Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon subsidiary to build what the two hope are the ultimate platform for robotic surgery.

Robot-assisted surgeries aren’t a new thing; in fact, they’ve been around in one form or another since 1985.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology, Theology

Property of St. Martin’s Anglican Church in Fort Saint John sold

We have confirmation that Fort St. John is losing another landmark main street building.

The Reverend Enid Pow is the Rector of St. Martin’s Anglican Church, located on 100th Street, and she’s confirming the building has already been sold, and is also scheduled for demolition.

“We’ve come to a position where we’ve needed to sell the building because it required far too many repairs for us to be able to afford,” says Rector Pow. “So we’re looking for somewhere else in Fort St. John.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canada, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

Birmingham News talks to New Testament Scholar Wesley Hill– "Celibate gay theologian speaks out"

What are the reasons you have chosen to be open about a homosexual orientation?

Gay and lesbian people don’t just exist “out there,” far removed from our churches. Rather, many of us are Christians–we are already “insiders,” members of various churches and Christian communities. I felt that it was really important for more Christians, especially conservative evangelicals, to start acknowledging that fact. Staying in the closet can be a bad thing for one’s spiritual life. It can intensify shame and guilt. On the other hand, coming out can be a way of experiencing God’s love.

Why have you chosen to be celibate?

Because of what I described above. I believe that the Bible and the Christian tradition don’t endorse same-sex sexual activity. So, I am seeking a life of hospitable community, deep friendship, and genuine love in and through my celibacy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Seminary / Theological Education, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Anxious Bench) Philip Jenkins–The Deist Revolution

A few years later, Thomas Jefferson resolved these difficulties quite simply in his “harmonized” account of the life of Jesus. The Jefferson Bible ends with the crucifixion and burial: “There laid they Jesus: and rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.” The End. No Resurrection.

So, yes, Jefferson stood exactly in that century-old Deist tradition.

And you will see why I am very skeptical when I read that nineteenth or early twentieth century critics were so daring in their criticism of Biblical orthodoxy ”“ for example, in the US during the years of the Briggs controversy of the 1890s and the rise of Fundamentalism. Those ideas were already very familiar indeed before Jefferson was born in 1743.

Here’s a thought. Maybe the most important theme to highlight in any history of Biblical criticism is that of serial amnesia.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Apologetics, Books, History, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AFP) Thousands call for vote re-run in Nigeria's Rivers state

Thousands of supporters of Nigeria’s main opposition party on Sunday demonstrated in the oil-rich state of Rivers, calling for the cancellation of elections locally because of alleged irregularities.

The demonstrators from the All Progressives Congress (APC) converged on the local offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the state capital, Port Harcourt.

“We are here to register our protest that there was no election in Rivers state yesterday (Saturday),” Rivers state governorship candidate Dakuku Peterside told the crowd.

Read it all.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from James Todd

O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst cleanse the temple courts, and didst teach, saying, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations: Cleanse thy Church, we beseech thee, of all evil, and so sanctify it by thy saving grace, that in all the world thy people may offer unto thee true and acceptable worship; for thy name’s sake.

–James Todd

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Righteous art thou, O Lord,
when I complain to thee;
yet I would plead my case before thee.
Why does the way of the wicked prosper?
Why do all who are treacherous thrive?
Thou plantest them, and they take root;
they grow and bring forth fruit;
thou art near in their mouth
and far from their heart.
But thou, O Lord, knowest me;
thou seest me, and triest my mind toward thee.
Pull them out like sheep for the slaughter,
and set them apart for the day of slaughter.
How long will the land mourn,
and the grass of every field wither?
For the wickedness of those who dwell in it
the beasts and the birds are swept away,
because men said, “He will not see our latter end.”
“If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you,
how will you compete with horses?
And if in a safe land you fall down,
how will you do in the jungle of the Jordan?
For even your brothers and the house of your father,
even they have dealt treacherously with you;
they are in full cry after you;
believe them not,
though they speak fair words to you.”

“I have forsaken my house,
I have abandoned my heritage;
I have given the beloved of my soul
into the hands of her enemies.
My heritage has become to me
like a lion in the forest,
she has lifted up her voice against me;
therefore I hate her.
Is my heritage to me like a speckled bird of prey?
Are the birds of prey against her round about?
Go, assemble all the wild beasts;
bring them to devour.
Many shepherds have destroyed my vineyard,
they have trampled down my portion,
they have made my pleasant portion
a desolate wilderness.
They have made it a desolation;
desolate, it mourns to me.
The whole land is made desolate,
but no man lays it to heart.
Upon all the bare heights in the desert
destroyers have come;
for the sword of the Lord devours
from one end of the land to the other;
no flesh has peace.
They have sown wheat and have reaped thorns,
they have tired themselves out but profit nothing.
They shall be ashamed of their[a] harvests
because of the fierce anger of the Lord.”
Thus says the Lord concerning all my evil neighbors who touch the heritage which I have given my people Israel to inherit: “Behold, I will pluck them up from their land, and I will pluck up the house of Judah from among them. And after I have plucked them up, I will again have compassion on them, and I will bring them again each to his heritage and each to his land. And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, ”˜As the Lord lives,’ even as they taught my people to swear by Ba”²al, then they shall be built up in the midst of my people.

–Jeremiah 12:1-16

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Ken Burns talks to Fortune about his latest project: a history of cancer

The acclaimed filmmaker discusses his new PBS documentary ”˜Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies,’ and his personal connection to the disease.

Cancer is the fastest growing disease on Earth. It plagues nearly 1.7 million Americans each year, and over the next two years it’s expected that more people will die from the disease than were killed in combat in all the wars the U.S. has fought ”” combined.

These facts set the stage for the six-hour documentary “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies,” which was executive produced by acclaimed documentarian Ken Burns and directed by Barak Goodman, and premieres on PBS Monday evening. The three-part series chronicles the comprehensive story of cancer, from its earliest description in an Egyptian scroll to the latest advancements in immunotherapy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Health & Medicine, History, Movies & Television, Theology

Anglican Diocese of Montreal launches new continuing education program

Expanding its efforts to create a culture of lifelong learning, the Diocese of Montreal has embarked upon a new three-year continuing education program.

The program, which began Jan. 1, 2015 and runs until Dec. 31, 2017, asks clergy to complete 60 hours of continuing education over a three-year period, as required by Bishop Barry Clarke for each licensed clergyperson in the diocese.

Using a list of competencies for ordination prepared in 2013 by the Primate’s Commission on Theological Education and Formation for Presbyteral Ministry, clergy members identify which competencies they want to work on, prepare supporting documentation and keep track of their self-registered courses in a log.

Read it all.

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