Daily Archives: April 10, 2015

(BBC Magazine) Lee Elder, the man who defied death threats to play at the Masters

Forty years ago, Lee Elder became the first black golfer to play in the US Masters – but when he qualified for the tournament, he received death threats and wondered whether taking part might cost him his life.

The crowds gathered at the opening hole of the Masters in 1975 were used to watching a black man stride on to the first tee. But Lee Elder was not there to carry the clubs of a white competitor – he was there to play.

It was one of the last colour barriers in US sport.

“When I arrived at the front gate and drove down Magnolia Lane that’s when the shakes began. It was so nerve wracking. I said a prayer and asked for help to get me through the day,” says Elder.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Race/Race Relations, Sports

Presbyterian Ch. USA Stalling Korean Church's Effort to Leave Denomination?

A Presbyterian Church (USA) regional body located in California has been accused of putting a Korean congregation’s effort to leave the mainline denomination to a standstill.

Last year, Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church of Rowland Heights voted overwhelmingly to seek dismissal from PCUSA over the denomination’s growing acceptance of homosexuality.

Out of 817 votes casted in the March 2014 vote, 738 voted to leave, 74 voted to stay, and 5 votes were dismissed.

Despite that, the PCUSA Presbytery of San Gabriel has not apparently finalized the dismissal as of this month, according to the Korean-American Christian publication Christianity Daily.

Read it all from the Christian Post.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology

Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner's Easter Sermon 2015

Jesus sends Mary Magdalen to find the disciples because together they can create the interaction that is needed for making the music of Christian faith. Worship, singing the Easter alleluia, praising God, demands the formation of a community. Ultimately of its very nature, demands the inclusion of others. As a faith statement in sound it expresses what we do in holy communion, sharing in the one bread and the common cup, tasting the food of heaven in a context that is never private, though always personal, for it unites us with all other participants on earth.

As long ago as the 4th century St Gregory Nazianzus observed that “God has made humanity the singer of his radiance” ”“ that’s an amazing claim about the capacity to convey the glory of God through music ”“ ”˜singers of his radiance’. And although worship will always be the context in which this capacity becomes most fully evidence, as it gives praise to God ”“ the very meaning of Alleluia ”“ let’s not limit the outpouring of humanity’s potential. The Orthodox writer Paul Evdokimov outlines the greater scope of bringing all our gifts, knowledge and imagination into the activity of worship:

“In the eternal liturgy of the future age, human beings will sing the glory of the Lord through all the cultural elements that have passed through the fire of the final purifications. But already here and now, people in community, scientists, artists, etc,…celebrate their own liturgy where Christ’s presence is manifested”¦Like talented iconographers they sketch a completely new reality by using the material of this world”¦and in this new reality the mysterious face of the Kingdom [of God] slowly begins to shine through.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, CoE Bishops, Easter, Eschatology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT Op-ed) Ross Douthat–An Interview with a semi-reasonable Christian

Well, that discomfort may seem religious, but segregationists felt justified by scripture too. They got over it; their churches got over it; so will yours.

It’s not that simple. The debate about race was very specific to America, modernity, the South. (Bans on interracial marriage were generally a white supremacist innovation, not an inheritance from Christendom or common law.) The slave owners and segregationists had scriptural arguments, certainly. But they were also up against one of the Bible’s major meta-narratives ”” from the Israelites in Egypt to Saint Paul’s “neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free.”

That’s not the case with sex and marriage. The only clear biblical meta-narrative is about male and female. Sex is an area of Jewish law that Jesus explicitly makes stricter. What we now call the “traditional” view of sexuality was a then-radical idea separating the early church from Roman culture, and it’s remained basic in every branch of Christianity until very recently. Jettisoning it requires repudiating scripture, history and tradition in a way the end of Jim Crow did not.

Except we know now, in a way people writing the Bible couldn’t, that being gay isn’t a choice.

I take a different view of what they could have known. But yes, the evidence that homosexuality isn’t chosen ”” along with basic humanity ”” should inspire repentance for cruelties visited on gay people by their churches.

But at Christianity’s bedrock is the idea that we are all in the grip of an unchosen condition, an “original” problem that our wills alone cannot overcome. So homosexuality’s deep origin is not a trump card against Christian teaching.

I know smart Christians who disagree with you.

So do I. I just think their views ultimately point in a post-biblical, post-Christian direction.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(CEN) Book Reviews: 2 works that seek an Understanding of the place of other religions

A Trinitarian Theology of Religions Gerald R McDermott and Harold Netland OUP, pb…

Vatican II: Catholic Doctrines on Jews and Muslims Gavin D’Costa OUP

Alan Race once suggested that Christian approaches to other religions fall into three categories that he labelled as pluralism, exclusivism and inclusivism. Race’s typology was widely adopted but has come under strain as theological debate has progressed. It is difficult to fit either of these books into Race’s categories. Both works, one evangelical, the other Roman Catholic, are conservative but while not inclusivist they cannot be labelled exclusivist in any straightforward way. McDermott and Netland advance what they term an ”˜evangelical proposal’ but their informed and clearly argued book deserves to be read by a wide audience. One of their starting points is that evangelicals have neglected the doctrine of the Trinity but, following Veli-Matti Karkkainen (who together with Lamin Sanneh, Vinoth Ramachandra and Christine Shirrmacher comments on the book’s proposals), they are sceptical of those theologians who have attempted to isolate the work of the persons of the Trinity and see the Spirit active in other religions. “Other religions,” they write of the Trinity, “may have some connection with God but it is always with that tri-personal God and no other.” D’Costa is quoted arguing that the presence of the Spirit outside the church is always to be seen as Trinitarian and ecclesial, drawing people towards Christ and towards incorporation in his body, the church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Christology, Evangelicals, Globalization, Inter-Faith Relations, Multiculturalism, pluralism, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

Friday food for the Soul–G.K. Chesterton's Parable of the Gas Lamp

From here:

Suppose that a great commotion arises in the street about something, let us say a lamp-post, which many influential persons desire to pull down. A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached upon the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, “Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good – ” At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down. All the people make a rush for the lamp-post, the lamp-post is knocked down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their unmediaeval practicality. But as things go on they do not work out so easily. Some people have pulled the lamp-post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil. Some thought it not enough of a lamp-post, some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted to smash something. And there is war in the night, no man knowing whom he strikes. So, gradually and inevitably, to-day, to-morrow, or the next day, there comes back the conviction that the monk was right after all, and that all depends on what is the philosophy of Light. Only what we might have discussed under the gas-lamp, we now must discuss in the dark.

Let the reader understand.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Apologetics, Church History, England / UK, History, Other Churches, Philosophy, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(Touchstone) Michael Avramovich–The Presidents' recent Easter Greetings, Pluralism and Faith

For at least two or three generations of Americans, we have been taught in our government schools and through the institutions of influence in our society that all moral categories are nothing more than personal (or societal) preferences where every moral value claim is simply one’s opinion, all of which are equal (well, except for Christian traditionalists). Further, as we see in Mr. Obama’s perception of the Christian faith, religion is no longer a proper basis for morality. As has been observed by many, the Holy Bible, even more than Enlightenment thinking, directed the values of the Founders and the views of generations of Americans. However, for the past several generations, Americans are taught to rely upon their “feelings” to determine how to behave. It is a truism that all of us have a theology; the only question is whether it’s true or false. Ultimately and fundamentally, if we get it wrong about the Lord Jesus, it doesn’t matter what else we get right. As Randy Alcorn once powerfully observed, “Americans embrace democratic ideals. This gives us the illusion that we should have a voice when it comes to truth. But the universe isn’t a democracy. Truth isn’t a ballot measure.” Yes, it would be quite arrogant if Christians were the ones who came up with the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ on one’s life. But we didn’t; we are simply repeating what the Lord Jesus said. If it were merely our thinking, wouldn’t we come up with something far more popular?

Read it all and the transcript of the full 2004 interview referenced is there.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Eschatology, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Local Paper) To North Charleston police critics, dash video strikes at heart of problem

To people who have long lamented aggressive policing tactics in North Charleston, a video showing a police officer stopping Walter L. Scott’s car strikes at the heart of their plight.

Two brake lights on the Mercedes-Benz were working when Patrolman 1st Class Michael T. Slager pulled it over, according the dashboard camera footage released Thursday.

Police officials have said that Slager made the stop because one of Scott’s brake lights was out.

It was a third brake light behind the back window of the 1990 Mercedes 300E that wasn’t working, the video showed.

Ed Bryant, president of the North Charleston chapter of the NAACP, recalled a police forum a few years ago when officers explained that they can, by law, pull over a car with a bad third light.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, State Government, Theology, Travel, Urban/City Life and Issues

(WSJ) [Egypt's] Grand Mufti Shawki Allam–Terrorists and Their Quranic Delusions

…it is delusional for these terrorists to think that those who were killed in the line of “duty” are considered martyrs and will be rewarded with paradise. The terrorists who are killed aren’t considered martyrs according to Islamic law, even if they considered their act to be a form of jihad, had sincere intentions and were acting out of ignorance. Good intentions don’t justify illegal acts””and it is totally prohibited by Islam to kill innocent people. Thus terrorist acts like 9/11 in the U.S., 7/7 in London or any other similar horrendous attacks are sheer murder and have nothing to do with jihad.

In sum, the noble form of physical jihad””which is waged by legitimate state authorities to fend off aggression and establish justice””has nothing to do with the supposed jihad of these terrorists, who practice nothing more than the ruthless mass murder of innocents. Jihad is a war fought with honor and guided with moral codes of conduct.

Since terrorist groups have the audacity to interpret from the Quran selectively to suit their own agendas, their deviant ideology must be debunked by intellectual responses. The fight will be stronger with the help of the international media and academia in publishing and broadcasting the voices of authentic Muslim scholars who can counter the extremists’ false claims and their warped interpretation of the Quran.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Syria, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Church Times) Britain ”˜has become less Christian’

Three in four people believe that the UK has become less of a Christian country over the past five years, a new poll has suggested.

Seventy-three per cent of those questioned said that they agreed that Britain had lost some part of its Christian heritage and culture since 2010. Just 15 per cent disagreed.

The poll was commissioned by Christian Concern at the end of March. It found that people were more split on whether Britain’s Christian heritage still mattered.

Forty-seven per cent said that it continued to bring benefits to the country; 32 per cent (including one fifth of those who identified as Christians) said that the UK’s Christian heritage was “largely outdated”.

Read it all.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Frank Colquhoun

O Lord God of our fathers, who didst of old deliver thy people from the prison-house of Egypt through the paschal sacrifice: Mercifully grant that we thy new Israel, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, may be set free from the bondage of evil and serve thee henceforth in the joy and power of the resurrection; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ, who ever liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Lo! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this mortal nature must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is thy victory?
O death, where is thy sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

–1 Corinthians 15:51-58

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(F Things) Robert George–Princeton and the University of Chicago Vote for Academic Freedom

At campuses across the country, traditional ideals of freedom of expression and the right to dissent have been deeply compromised or even abandoned as college and university faculties and administrators have capitulated to demands for language and even thought policing. Academic freedom, once understood to be vitally necessary to the truth-seeking mission of institutions of higher learning, has been pushed to the back of the bus in an age of “trigger warnings,” “micro-aggressions,” mandatory sensitivity training, and grievance politics. It was therefore refreshing to see the University of Chicago, one of the academic world’s most eminent and highly respected institutions, issue a report ringingly reaffirming the most robust conception of academic freedom. The question was whether other institutions would follow suit.

Yesterday, the Princeton faculty, led by the distinguished mathematician Sergiu Klainerman, who grew up under communist oppression in Romania and knows a thing or two about the importance of freedom of expression, formally adopted the principles of the University of Chicago report. They are now the official policy of Princeton University. I am immensely grateful to Professor Klainerman for his leadership, and I am proud of my colleagues, the vast majority of whom voted in support of his motion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Young Adults

Jim Trainor on Easter–I believe the story and that is why I know that I will see my mother again

I believe the story. With my head, looking at the evidence and thinking logically as a person who was a research physicist for twenty-five years, I believe it. And after listening to the testimony of people ”“ from beggars to kings — through all the ages who had concluded that the story is true, I believe it. And at the innermost levels of my heart, where the deepest truths reside but are not easily put into words, I believe it is true.

And that is why I know that I will see my mother again someday. It’s not just wishful thinking, some little tale I’ve fooled myself with because I can’t face the cold hard facts of life. Yes, I will see Della Mae, and I am convinced that it will be a day of great victory and joy. St. Paul says that it will be like putting on a crown, and St. John says that it will be a time when every tear will be wiped away from my eyes. That’s what will happen someday to me. But what Jesus did affects me right here today also — I know that this Jesus who overcame death and the grave has promised not to leave me here twisting in the wind. He is with me every day, through his Spirit, to guide me, comfort me, embolden me, and use me for his glory and to serve his people, right here, right now.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Children, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Ecclesiology, Eschatology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Martin Luther for Easter 2015–A Sermon on the Fruit and Power of Christ’s Resurrection

Christ himself pointed out the benefit of his sufferings and resurrection when he said to the women in Mt 28, 10 – “Fear not: go tell my brethren that they depart into Galilee, and there shall they see me.” These are the very first words they heard from Christ after his resurrection from the dead, by which he confirmed all the former utterances and loving deeds he showed them, namely, that his resurrection avails in our behalf who believe, so that he therefore anticipates and calls Christians his brethren, who believe it, and yet they do not, like the apostles, witness his resurrection.

The risen Christ waits not until we ask or call on him to become his brethren. Do we here speak of merit, by which we deserve anything? What did the apostles merit? Peter denied his Lord three times; the other disciples all fled from him; they tarried with him like a rabbit does with its young. He should have called them deserters, yea, betrayers, reprobates, anything but brethren. Therefore this word is sent to them through the women out of pure grace and mercy, as the apostles at the time keenly experienced, and we experience also, when we are mired fast in our sins, temptations and condemnation.

These are words full of all comfort that Christ receives desperate villains as you and I are and calls us his brethren. Is Christ really our brother, then I would like to know what we can be in need of? Just as it is among natural brothers, so is it also here. Brothers according to the flesh enjoy the same possessions, have the same father, the one inheritance, otherwise they would not be brothers: so we enjoy with Christ the same possessions, and have in common with him one Father and one inheritance, which never decreases by being distributed, as other inheritances do; but it ever grows larger and larger; for it is a spiritual inheritance. But an earthly inheritance decreases when distributed among many persons. He who has a part of this spiritual inheritance, has it all.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Church History, Eschatology, Lutheran, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bishop Stephen Cottrell–Re-setting the compass of the heart

“He became what we are so that we can be what he is.”
St Athanasius (296-373 AD)

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
2 Corinthians 5. 21

Two images dominate western art. You can see them in every art gallery in Europe and in the stained glass windows of every church. One depicts a child in his mother’s arms. The other shows a young man dying on a cross.

The Christian faith says this child and this man are the same person. They say that he is God come down to earth.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, CoE Bishops, Easter, Theology

Shooting death of Walter Scott deals blow to North Charleston, South Carolina

State Rep. David Mack, a North Charleston Democrat who is black, was a speaker a few years ago in classes on cultural sensitivity that were mandated for all new officers. It was a program designed to help them better understand policing from the perspective of those they serve. Mack thought the classes made a difference, but a video of Scott’s shooting that emerged Tuesday shows that the Police Department still has its issues, he said.

“It’s an ongoing battle,” he said. “I think we have made progress, but this incident … wounded the community tremendously.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, City Government, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence