Daily Archives: March 31, 2015

Mary Eberstadt-“Intolerance in the name of ”˜tolerance’ must be named…and..condemned"

We are not speaking here of the believers across the planet who suffer grievous harm for the sake of faith. We’re talking instead about something else: the slow-motion marginalizing and penalizing of believers on the very doorsteps of the churches of North America, Europe, and elsewhere, in societies that are the very historical strongholds of political and religious liberty.

Men and women of faith in these societies are well-off, compared to many others. At the same time, though, their world is unmistakably darker and more punitive than it used to be. Let us show empathy and solidarity with all people who need it. Repeating the cardinal’s watchword, mercy, we hope that moral and political and intellectual leaders of all persuasions hear it too.

For there is no mercy in putting butchers and bakers and candlestick makers in the legal dock for refusing to renounce their religious beliefs””but that’s what the new intolerance does. There is no mercy in stalking and threatening Christian pastors for being Christian pastors, or in casting out social scientists who turn up unwanted facts, or in telling a flight attendant she can’t wear a crucifix, or in persecuting organizations that do charitable work””but the new intolerance does these things, too. There’s no mercy in yelling slurs at anyone who points out that the sexual revolution has been flooding the public square with problems for a long time now and that, in fact, some people out there are drowning””but slurs are the new intolerance’s stock in trade. Above all, there is no mercy in slandering people by saying that religious believers “hate” certain people when in fact they do not; or that they are “phobes” of one stripe or another when in fact they are not. This, too, happens all over public space these days, with practically no pushback from anyone. This, too, is the new intolerance at work.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

T19 Login problems solved

Good news! For those who have been having problems logging in to T19, the login problem is now fixed. (The login had to be temporarily disabled because of serious spam attacks against the site.) The login link in the upper right hand corner of the home page should now work fine. (You may need to refresh the page in your browser). In case of continued problems, try this link: http://new.kendallharmon.net/wp-content/uploads/index.php/t19_member/login/

We thank our readers for your patience in recent weeks while this problem was being solved.

Posted in * Admin, Blog Tips & Features, Featured (Sticky)

The TEC Presiding Bishop’s sermon from the recent Executive Council Meeting's Closing Eucharist

Every religious tradition has its skeletons and its saints, and sometimes they are the same people. Paul is warning his hearers not to count themselves better than their ancestors, for they all depend on the same rootstock ”“ a root that nourishes the olive tree or the grape vine we cling to as intimate connection to God as Creator of all. That root is why we are here, and it is also why the LDS church is here.

When General Convention shows up here just over 3 months from now, many of the volunteers and dispensers of hospitality will be our sisters and brothers from that tradition. Will we recognize their welcome as a product of the same root, or will we assume that they come from a different and unrecognizable species?

Complexity defines human beings and their relationships, which just might convince us of the otherness of God. Difference is part of God’s creativity, from the riotous diversity of the species of creation to the inner chaos of most human beings. Paul names it when he says he wants to do the right thing, but he does something else instead.[8] Nevertheless, when people stay connected to that one rootstock, God can usually be found to bring something new and holy out of the mess.

Branches that seem radically different grow on the same tree and the same vine, even though we love to hate the ones who are not like us. We often in the church focus our attention on differences in reproductive customs and norms ”“ yet both the grape vine and the olive tree has multiple ways to be generative. Flowers can be fertilized by pollen from the same plant or another one. The fruit and seeds that result are eaten by birds and animals and left to grow far from the original plant, yet they are still related. The vine also generates new branches from its rootstock or from distant parts of its branches. But all those kinds of vines and branches are related, however they come about.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Mormons, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Theology

(USA Today) Stephen Prothero–Indiana needs to Find the Right balance

After the Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that the RFRA applied only to the federal government, states responded with mini-RFRAs requiring this “compelling government interest” test in their religious liberty cases. Of these, Indiana’s RFRA is the 20th.

There is no excuse for refusing to serve a lesbian couple at a restaurant and to my knowledge no state RFRA has ever been used to justify such discrimination. But if we favor liberty for all Americans (and not just for those who agree with us), we should be wary of using the coercive powers of government to compel our fellow citizens to participate in rites that violate their religious beliefs. We would not force a Jewish baker to make sacramental bread for a Catholic Mass. Why would we force a fundamentalist baker to make a cake for a gay wedding?

For as long as I can remember, the culture wars have been poisoning our politics, turning Democrats and Republicans into mortal enemies and transforming arenas that used to be blithely bipartisan into battlegrounds between good and evil. Now our battles over “family values” are threatening to kill religious liberty. And liberals do not much seem to care.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, State Government, Theology

Bp Baines–Holy Week is "a recognition of what every human being knows: we fail and we fall"

If the font leaks, then so do we. Something we can’t hide from this week ”“ Holy Week ”“ as Christians walk with Jesus and his friends from Jerusalem towards a place of execution called Calvary.

This journey has not been comfortable for anyone. The friends of Jesus protest undying allegiance one minute, then run away the next. They want some of what they think will be the glory, only to melt when the heat is turned up. In other words, they turn out not to be as big or strong as they had thought themselves to be. Peter, the man who would deny even knowing Jesus when confronted by a young girl in the garden, takes his name from Petros ”“ the rock ”“ yet he turns out to be more porous limestone than impenetrable granite.

Now, for Christians this is no big deal. Almost every service in an Anglican Church begins with us all putting our hands up and admitting ”“ publicly and corporately ”“ that we have messed up. Yet, this isn’t some group therapy session ”“ nor is it any sort of bah humbug nonsense. Rather, it’s a recognition of what every human being knows: we fail and we fall. And there’s no point pretending otherwise. It isn’t about being maudlin; it’s about facing the truth about ourselves as people, then moving on with resolve, but without illusion.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Holy Week, Pastoral Theology, Soteriology, Theology

(C of E) [House of Bishops] Pastoral Letter for the General Election: study guide issued

A study guide designed to promote discussion about the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Letter for the General Election has been issued by the Church of England.

The online document, aimed at individual and group study, includes a short summary of each section of the Pastoral Letter and offers questions for consideration and conversation.

Read it all and follow the link to the guide.

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

(CS Monitor) Forbearance and religious liberty

Freedom and duty often go hand in hand, as Indiana legislators quickly learned last week. After the state approved a law reinforcing religious liberty, a national protest claimed the measure could be used by religious owners of small firms to refuse business to gays and lesbians. In fast retreat, top lawmakers said the new act would soon be amended to prevent such discrimination.

This national upheaval, coming after clashes over similar measures in other states, seems to pit civil rights against religious freedom. In recent years, nearly half the states have followed a federal law in setting strong protections for religious practices. The measures insist that courts find a compelling government interest before imposing a burdensome rule on a person in the exercise of his or her faith.

Whether religious-liberty laws end up violating other rights and interests largely remains to be seen. In at least two cases so far, state courts have ruled they cannot trump anti-discrimination regulations. Yet the rhetoric on both sides about potential harm can often be overhyped and overgeneralized. Each case must be judged on its merits with a calm eye for accommodation and context.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Media, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(Independent) The cost of binge drinking: in numbers

Harmful alcohol use has been identified as one of the leading preventable causes of death and a key risk factor for chronic diseases (such as cancer) and injuries worldwide. Specifically, alcohol use is responsible for 5.9% ”“ about 3.3m ”“ of deaths across the globe every year. While there is an existing body of research on the economic impacts of sustained heavy drinking, however, less is known about the economic cost of binge drinking and the size of its impact on road traffic accidents and arrests.

Binge drinking is characterised by periods of heavy drinking followed by abstinence. It generally results in short-term acute impairment and is believed to contribute to a substantial proportion of alcohol-related deaths and injuries. Overall, ONS statistics would suggest a falling trend in the number of people who binge drink but it is still a sizeable problem ”“ with four in ten young adults consuming up to eight units on at least one day in the week before being interviewed by the ONS.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Alcohol/Drinking, Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Theology

(Ghanaweb) Christians in Oguaa commemorate Palm Sunday

In a sermon at the Christ Church Anglican Cathedral, Very Reverend Emmanuel Entsi- Williams, the Dean of the Cathedral, urged Ghanaians to eschew pride, to pardon each other’s wrong doing, and learn to speak and accept the truth at all times.

These, he said, would help resolve the current challenges the country was facing and clear the path for its development.

At the Ebenezer Methodist Church, Siwdo, the celebration coincided with the launch of the Church’s annual Harvest.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Province of West Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ghana, Holy Week, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Religion & Culture

Get Religion provides some Much needed Historical Perspective on the Indiana flap Coverage

Once again, it is crucial to note that we are talking about legislation, then and now, built on the same template as that used by a bipartisan coalition that including a stunningly wide range of secular and religious groups.

Thus, the Times of 1993 noted:

President Clinton hailed the new law at the signing ceremony, saying that it held government “to a very high level of proof before it interferes with someone’s free exercise of religion.”

J. Brent Walker, general counsel of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs called the new law “the most significant piece of legislation dealing with our religious liberty in a generation.”

His sentiments were echoed by many other members of an unusual coalition of liberal, conservative and religious groups that had pressed for the new law. The coalition included the National Association of Evangelicals, the Southern Baptist Convention, the National Council of Churches, the American Jewish Congress, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Mormon Church, the Traditional Values Coalition and the American Civil Liberties Union.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Media, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Caring for Alzheimer’s: How Three Couples Cope

After dinner, Mr. Iero washes Mr. Myers’s face and hands with a hot washcloth in his room and trims his mustache and eyebrows. As Mr. Iero leads Mr. Myers down the hallway to the lobby for dessert, a female resident grabs Mr. Myers’s hand. The trio slowly shuffles along.

“Do we know who she is?” Mr. Myers mumbles.

“Yeah, we know who she is, Paul,” Mr. Iero says reassuringly.

His days are long. Prepping food in the morning for Mr. Myers. Grocery shopping after work. The 30-minute drive home in the dark.

“It’s just a horrible, horrible disease,” Mr. Iero says. When someone dies, “you lose that someone but then you go on. You have some closure. With Alzheimer’s it’s just an ongoing reminder of what you lost.”

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the American Book of Common Prayer

Lord God, whose blessed Son, our Saviour, gave his back to the smiters, and hid not his face from shame: Grant us grace to take joyfully the sufferings of the present time, in full assurance of the glory that shall be revealed; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Let those of us who are mature be thus minded; and if in anything you are otherwise minded, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

Brethren, join in imitating me, and mark those who so live as you have an example in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself.

–Philippians 3:15-21

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A S Haley–The Episcopal Church's Finances (I): Not as Rosy as Claimed

But now add in the EMM figures (bottom of the third page):

(D) 2014 EMM reimbursements received were $ 13,322,419; while

(E) 2014 EMM expenditures amounted to $ 16,811,183; for a net

(F) Annual EMM operating deficit of $ 3,488,763, which more than wipes out (C) above, and leaves

(G) A net operating loss for 2014 of $ 1,092,161 !!

In other words, the Episcopal Church is in the hole to the tune of over a million dollars for calendar 2014.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Analysis, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, Theology

(BBC) The Bishop of Sheffield prepares for the Queen's visit this Maundy Thursday

Bishop of Sheffield Dr Steven Croft says preparations are under way for the Queen’s visit to the city’s cathedral for her Maundy Thursday service.

The Queen will hand out Maundy money to 89 men and 89 women, the first time the service has been held in Sheffield.

Maundy Thursday recognises the service of elderly people to their community and their church.

Dr Croft said it had been a “huge amount of work for several months – in secret”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, CoE Bishops, England / UK, Holy Week, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Archbp of York John Sentamu for Palm Sunday—'we are enlisted for God’s agenda…'

”˜Hosanna’ was also a cry of release from the heavy yoke, burdens and hardships long-endured by the Jewish people because of the Roman occupation. They were longing for the Messiah to set them free. ”˜Save us now’ had long been their prayer of hope. The same prayer that echoes round the world today. But this is a prayer with a health warning. It is costly.

Religious people have often assumed that God could be enlisted to the service of their particular cause, project, nation, or culture. But as Abraham Lincoln once said, ”˜My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side.’

The followers of the one who rode into Jerusalem that day are called to a grander allegiance than that of tribe or nation ”“ we must seek the ”˜Kingdom of God and his righteousness.’ Transcending loyalties of blood and statehood, we are enlisted for God’s agenda of justice, peace, and the common life of friendship. This is the way of love. In the face of this we must, as another book title once put it, ”˜Give up our small ambitions.’

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Holy Week, Religion & Culture, Theology