Daily Archives: April 23, 2015

(B+C) Alissa Wilkinson–"Everybody Worships:" On David Foster Wallace

That need to connect””to bridge the divide between reader and writer, between me and you, between me and everyone””is there from the first. In Wallace’s first novel, The Broom of the System (which also started life as an undergraduate thesis: he was double major, in philosophy and English), one man is so scared of loneliness that he intends to eat until his body fills the entire world, so he won’t be alone anymore. The novel betrays a clever author very pleased with his own cleverness, but you can forgive a 21-year-old the narcissism when you realize the question at the book’s core””can we ever really connect with other people?””was an obsession for Wallace, even as his style matured from a theory-based sophomoric snickering to an empathetic, impassioned searching.

“In dark times,” Wallace told McCaffrey, “the definition of good art would seem to be art that locates and applies CPR to those elements of what’s human and magical that still live and glow despite the times’ darkness. Really good fiction could have as dark a worldview as it wished, but it’d find a way both to depict this world and to illuminate the possibilities for being alive and human in it.”

I guess you can’t properly call David Foster Wallace a religious writer, at least not with the definitions of religion we usually employ. Then again, when I first read him, I sensed a presence beyond the words on the page, a writer who was desperate to connect with the reader but also said what needed to be said. His questions are what I struggle with, too. Who am I? How do I connect with other people? What or who are we headed for, together? How do we get there? What is the best life?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Books, History, Poetry & Literature, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(RNS) World Bank launches interfaith push to eliminate extreme poverty

The World Bank is teaming up with global religious leaders in a 15-year effort to end extreme poverty by 2030.

About 35 religious groups worldwide, including Bread for the World, Islamic Relief International, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and Sojourners, endorsed the call to action. Supporters include Christians, Jews, Muslims, Baha’is and others.

“Our approach to this staggering need must be holistic, rooted in the spiritual visions of our respective faiths, and built on a shared recognition of the intrinsic dignity and value of every life on Earth,” the call said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Poverty, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

(AM) James Paice–Anglican unity and diversity: centrifugal or centripetal?

On Sunday evening…[Foley Beach] asked me to organize a time for him to meet with some clergy and so I organized a dinner that we might have an opportunity to talk to him about our concerns about how things are in England, and hear about how things are developing in the Anglican Church in North America.

Since that time, I have been reflecting on the difference between what is appening in ACNA, and what we are experiencing in our Diocese, and in the Church of England nationally. And what has come to me is this:

what is happening in ACNA is centripetal;

what the CofE is doing is centrifugal.

Let me explain what I mean.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Theology

Anglican Unscripted Episode 173 – GAFCON in the News

With thanks to Kevin Kallsen and George Conger at Anglican TV and see also ATV Interviews Archbishop Jensen

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, GAFCON II 2013, Global South Churches & Primates

Rod Dreher–The Apocalyptic Dante

…the Paradiso is very, very deep, so deep that I know I will struggle for the rest of my life to fully comprehend it. Dante knows this, and warns the reader in Canto II, at the outset of the journey across the ocean of Being toward full unity with God, thus:

Turn back if you would see your shores again.
Do not set forth upon the deep,
for, losing sight of me, you would be lost.

To experience God as Dante is about to, and as he is about to reveal to his readers, is to be forever changed. Be warned.

Though the lower parts of the journey through the Comedy are chiefly concerned with moral improvement, it would be a gross misreading of the text to construe it as a manual for How To Be Good. If you think that life in Christ is only about believing the right things and behaving in the correct way, you have a very shallow grasp of reality. This is why you can’t really understand the Inferno and the Purgatorio without seeing them through the lens of the Paradiso. (For that matter, the Comedy is Trinitarian: you can’t understand any one book without reference to the other two).

But to enter the text of Paradiso is to plunge into the mystic depths. The best guide I’ve found so far is one that is fairly difficult itself, but one that I also find indispensable: The Metaphysics of Dante’s Comedy, by Christian Moevs (pron. “mayvs”), a Notre Dame scholar who said incredibly nice things about my Dante book yesterday.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Church History, Eschatology, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture, Theology

Archbishop of Canterbury preaches at Anglican cathedral in Cairo

Welby’s visit was to offer condolences for Egypt’s most recent witnesses, the twenty Coptic Christians and one Ghanaian martyred in Libya in February. The word ”˜martyr’ is derived from a Greek word meaning ”˜witness.’

Symbolically, Welby delivered to Pope Tawadros twenty-one letters written by grieving British families. One is believed to have been related to David Haines, the aid worker captured in Syria and beheaded last year.

“Why have the martyrs of Libya spoken so powerfully to the world?” Welby asked. “The way these brothers lived and died communicated that their testimony is trustworthy.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Egypt, Ethiopia, Middle East, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Theology, Violence

Congratulations to Sumter High educator Suzanne Koty, named S.C. teacher of the year

Suzanne Koty, a Sumter High School English teacher, was named the 2016 South Carolina Teacher of the Year Wednesday night following a celebratory gala that served as a tribute to the teaching profession, the five finalists and all the district Teachers of the Year.

Koty, who teaches English and the International Baccalaureate course called Theory of Knowledge, was introduced by state Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman after a red carpet build-up that included a welcome band, evocative videos and stirring speeches.

“I celebrate this with all of the finalists and all of the teachers of the year,” Koty said, noting that for once in her life she was speechless.

Koty initially worked as a medical assistant but found her career passion when she served as a substitute teacher in the Sumter School District. She won a grand prize of $25,000 and a new BMW to drive for a year. The four finalists each received a check for $10,000.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Education

(Faithstreet) Sam Seefeld–When Worship Worlds Collide

If you’re like me, you know that being at the intersection of historical and modern music can stir strong emotions (and for good reason). Many young and creative church members are eager to bring new musical style into worship. Likewise, many church leaders and elders were raised on traditional hymns, some that their parents and grandparents sang in church.

When these worlds collide, a tension ”” not a problem ”” can emerge within the church, and there are ways that we can both honor church history and foster creativity. It is possible to exist together: without angst and with a spirit of unity in mind.

Let’s at least try by starting with an overarching truth: you are not saved by the style of worship music you enjoy or participate in. You are saved by grace through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Period.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Theology

(FT) John Kay–'Truthiness': How beliefs became truths for the political establishment

In his fine book Enlightenment 2.0, philosopher Joseph Heath notes an effusion from former (and prospective) presidential candidate Rick Santorum. The Republican described how in the Netherlands elderly patients are “euthanised involuntarily” and its fearful residents seek medical treatment abroad. Mr Heath observes that Mr Santorum “seemed not to realise that the Netherlands was a real place, where people might hear what he said, and hope to set the record straight”. But Mr Santorum was unmoved; a spokesperson explained to a Dutch reporter, without retraction or apology, that the former senator “says what’s in his heart”.

Truthiness is not confined to the right of the political spectrum. An article in the magazine Rolling Stone provided a graphic description of a horrific gang-rape of “Jackie”, a student at the University of Virginia. Jackie allowed two years to elapse before telling the story to a visiting reporter. After the account was published, the Washington Post sent its own reporter, who established, as did the police, that few of the reported “facts” of the incident checked out. Rolling Stone later withdrew the piece.

But for Jessica Valenti, a columnist at the Guardian, “it doesn’t matter. Jackie is now another woman who is not believed.” Ms Valenti is rightly indignant that so many women in America suffer assaults like the one Jackie alleged, and that true stories of such attacks are often disbelieved. And one can see how that indignation expresses itself in her vow of truthiness: “I choose to believe Jackie. I lose nothing by doing so, even if I’m later proven wrong.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Media, Politics in General, Theology

(Telegraph) Eleanor Doughty–'Technology increases anxiety; it also tackles it'

When my mother tells me ”“ as she is wont to, at every available juncture ”“ that ”˜nothing has changed since I was your age’ she is half right. In a way, it hasn’t ”“ the base level stuff, the mechanics of life. But the culture has.

Partly, this is prompted by Apple, Samsung and Google. Look around a tube carriage at rush hour (as I did when I was writing this), and people are engrossed in technology. Life is as technology centred for teens as it is for adults.

That culture feeds into anxiety and pressure for teenagers in 2015.

Now, if they like, teenagers can date on their phones, talk on their phones, and arrange to sneak out of the house on their phones. They can do their homework using their phones; indeed, some schools are increasingly making use of them as teaching tools.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology, Teens / Youth, Theology

St George's Day: As Google Doodle marks England's patron saint, here are some suprising facts

What we do know is that Saint George was born to an upper-class Christian family, before he become a Roman soldier. When his father died, he and his mother returned to Palestine, and he decided to join the retinue of Diocletian, the Roman Emperor at the time.

He earned his reputation as a protector of Christianity after he refused orders from Diocletian to persecute followers of the religion at the start of the 4th century. He then resigned.

And despite being cruelly tortured at the order of the emperor, Saint George refused to denounce his faith. His actions saw him dragged through the streets of Diospolis (now Lydda) in Palestine and beheaded.

Read it all from the Independent.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint George

Almighty God, who didst commission thy holy martyr George to bear before the rulers of this world the banner of the cross: Strengthen us in our battles against the great serpent of sin and evil, that we too may attain the crown of eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Church History, England / UK, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Saint Augustine

Almighty God, in whom we live and move and have our being, who hast made us for thyself, so that our hearts are restless till they rest in thee: Grant us purity of heart and strength of purpose, that no selfish passion may hinder us from knowing thy will, no weakness from doing it; but that in thy light we may see light clearly, and in thy service find our perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

While the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennes”²aret. And he saw two boats by the lake; but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, they beckoned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zeb”²edee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

–Luke 5:1-11

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Telegraph) Ambrose Evans-Pritchard–Oil slump may deepen as US shale fights Opec to a standstill

The US shale industry has failed to crack as expected. North Sea oil drillers and high-cost producers off the coast of Africa are in dire straits, but America’s “flexi-frackers” remain largely unruffled.

One starts to glimpse the extraordinary possibility that the US oil industry could be the last one standing in a long and bitter price war for global market share, or may at least emerge as an energy superpower with greater political staying-power than Opec.

It is 10 months since the global crude market buckled, turning into a full-blown rout in November when Saudi Arabia abandoned its role as the oil world’s “Federal Reserve” and opted instead to drive out competitors.

If the purpose was to choke the US “tight oil” industry before it becomes an existential threat – and to choke solar power in the process – it risks going badly awry, though perhaps they had no choice. “There was a strong expectation that the US system would crash. It hasn’t,” said Atul Arya, from IHS.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Politics in General, Saudi Arabia, South America, Theology, Venezuela