Daily Archives: May 13, 2015

(Belfast Telegraph) Church of Ireland faces shrinking congregations crisis

The leader of the Church of Ireland has said “we may as well close the doors now” if it cannot solve the problem of falling attendances.

Archbishop Richard Clarke made the comments after it was revealed in a survey that only 15% of Irish Anglicans attend services on Sundays.

This represents just 58,000 out of a total of 378,000 who claim affiliation to the church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of Ireland, England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ireland, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Bishop Robert Innes writes from Armenian remembrance event

“Why”, asked our Eastern brothers and sisters, “are the Western churches not doing more to prevent the ongoing persecution and killing of Christians even today in the Middle East?” It is a difficult question to answer. The plain fact is that we lack the international institutions necessary to secure and enforce world peace. The genocidal tendency lurks within the human spirit ”“ that fear of the other which, in its most malevolent form, treats the other not as a person but as an object that may be annihilated or ”˜cleansed’. The events in which I participated in Yerevan certainly caused me to grieve for the wrongs done to the Armenian people and to lament the slowness of the world in properly recognising these wrongs. But beyond that, I wondered what it would take for world leaders to develop the structures and institutions and the sheer political will to make sure that the wholesale persecution and killing of people because of their creed, race or ethnic background is properly punished and prevented.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Armenia, Europe

(LA Times) Why has Bangladesh become a killing ground for bloggers?

Machete-wielding assailants followed Ananta Bijoy Das on Tuesday morning when he left his house in the northeastern city of Sylhet and hacked him to death, police and friends said.

Das wrote for Mukto-Mona, the blog founded by Avijit Roy, a U.S. citizen who was killed in a similar attack outside a book fair in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, in February. Another writer who protested Roy’s killing on social media, Washiqur Rahman, was struck down on a Dhaka street in March.

Activists lay blame for the killings on ultraconservative Islamists who have gained prominence recently in the overwhelmingly Muslim country. They have complained about the slow pace of investigations and have accused authorities of allowing a culture of impunity to take hold.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Bangladesh, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

Bishop Michael Lewis on Christ Church, Aden in Yemen

As of today the situation in Aden is that all the windows of Christ Church, its associated clinic, and the guesthouse have been blown out as a result of blast waves from sustained shelling on the mountain that dominates our compound in Tawahi. But we are told that all our staff are safe so far, and for that we thank God. The general state of Aden is terrible: lack of fuel means lack of electricity, and telecommunications and even basic movement around the large city have become hugely difficult. Food is limited, and money to buy it even more so.

Read it all and there is more about Christ Church and its currently suspended ministry here

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

Burundi: General Declares Coup Against Nkurunziza

The Burundian army has declared it is taking control of Burundi in a radio announcement, according to International Business Times in the UK.

Read it all and join me in prayer for Burundi and the church there.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Burundi, Defense, National Security, Military, Politics in General

(BBC) Embryo engineering a moral duty, says top scientist

It would be unethical and a “sin of omission” to prevent the genetic engineering of embryos, a leading scientist has argued.

Cloning pioneer Dr Tony Perry told the BBC that advances in genetics posed a “wonderful opportunity” for eliminating diseases such as cystic fibrosis.

Last month, a group in China announced it was the first to successfully edit the genome of a human embryo.

Other scientists say it is unnecessary and a line that should not be crossed.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Science & Technology, Theology

Food for Thought from Jane Austen to brighten your day

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Poetry & Literature, Theology

Depression is like an attacker in my head, says Archbp Welby’s daughter Katharine Welby-Roberts

So I am going to talk about what I know ”“ depression and anxiety. I find it hard to fully describe what happens in my brain because honestly, I don’t know what is normal and what is not, but I will give it a go.

Getting up in the morning is the hardest part of any day, not because I am lazy, but because waking up hurts. I am so tired every minute of every day, that there is always a need for more sleep, but, I have to get up so I do. This is the first battle I face each day.

Then all I need to do is survive the day. From the moment I am up, I battle negative thoughts. For my whole adult life, I have been unable to look myself in the mirror as me. I always pretend to be someone else, it’s been easier that way. However, recently I have started to be me and it is very hard not to look at myself and hate what I see. This is not about my image so much as just seeing the face of someone you really don’t like so close. Learning to look myself in the eye and seek out something about myself that I actually like takes enormous energy and effort. This is the next big battle of my day.

You can read the rest of her blog post here and an article about it there.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology, Young Adults

(WSJ) U.S. Military Proposes Challenge to China Sea Claims

The U.S. military is considering using aircraft and Navy ships to directly contest Chinese territorial claims to a chain of rapidly expanding artificial islands, U.S. officials said, in a move that would raise the stakes in a regional showdown over who controls disputed waters in the South China Sea.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter has asked his staff to look at options that include flying Navy surveillance aircraft over the islands and sending U.S. naval ships to within 12 nautical miles of reefs that have been built up and claimed by the Chinese in an area known as the Spratly Islands.

Such moves, if approved by the White House, would be designed to send a message to Beijing that the U.S. won’t accede to Chinese territorial claims to the man-made islands in what the U.S. considers to be international waters and airspace.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Defense, National Security, Military

Presiding Bishop Tito Zavala Visiting the Diocese of South Carolina Next week

As one of 40 primates of the 80 million member worldwide Anglican Communion, Bishop Zavala will be in South Carolina specifically to encourage and support fellow Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, and the clergy and lay people of the Diocese of South Carolina.

“We’re grateful for the strong support we’ve received from Anglicans around the world and are especially thankful for this time we’ll have with Bishop Zavala,” said the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, XIV Bishop of South Carolina. “The Global South Primates have assured us of their prayers and their stand with us.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone], South America

Archbishop Welby welcomes training for churches to help people in debt

Archbishop Justin Welby said: “Helping people to get out of debt, and freeing them from the anxiety and exploitation that often goes with being in debt, is part of the Church’s commitment to human flourishing.

“I welcome this new training resource to help local churches play a vital role in encouraging people to seek assistance earlier and to make use of the many free debt advice services that are available.”

Read it all and take a look at the video.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Media

A Prayer of Thomas Merton to Begin the Day

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

–Thomas Merton (1915-1968)

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. Eli”²jah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit.

–James 5:13-18

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Crux) Dwight Longnecker–Is ecumenism between Romans Catholics and Anglicans over?

Cynics would argue that the ecumenical blabfest is mere window dressing. One critic likened it to those endless rounds of détente during the Soviet era in which both sides shook hands and smiled for the cameras, but were really waiting to see which side would cave first.

Pope Francis thinks otherwise. While recognizing the “grave obstacles to unity” erected by the Anglicans, in his opening remarks he told the delegates not to give up hope.

“The cause of unity is not an optional undertaking and the differences which divide us must not be seen as inevitable ”¦. Despite difficulties, we must not lose heart, but we must trust even more in the power of the Holy Spirit, who can heal and reconcile us, and accomplish what humanly does not seem possible.”

Not only does unity seem impossible at this point, but movements within global Anglicanism itself are moving towards schism instead of unity. Earlier this month, the leaders of an organization named GAFCON met in London. GAFCON stands for Global Anglican Future Conference. Spearheaded by African Anglican bishops, GAFCON now includes representatives from North America, Australia, and South America.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Global South Churches & Primates, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Theology

(BBC) Barcelona beat Bayern Munich to reach Champions League final

Barcelona reached their first Champions League final since 2011, despite Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich salvaging pride in the return leg in Germany.

Trailing 3-0 from the first leg, Bayern revived their hopes through Medhi Benatia’s early downward header.

Barca levelled when Luis Suarez squared for a tap-in from Neymar, who drilled in after the pair combined again.

Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller both curled in as Bayern won on the night, but Barca still progressed.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Germany, Men, Spain, Sports

(Aleteia) Philip Jenkins–Has Christianity Failed in India?

In India… [Tony Joseph] suggests, Christianity is doing far worse than in most parts of the world, while Hinduism is booming. Presently, he declares, around 78 percent of Indians are Hindus.

Well, yes and no. Nobody can claim that Christianity has claimed major shares of the Indian population, or that it is likely to do so in the near future. But some counter-arguments do need to be stressed, especially about the overall numbers. No sane person believes the religious content of the Indian national census, which is one of the world’s great works of creative fiction. At all levels, there is enormous pressure of all kinds ”“ cultural, political and bureaucratic ”“ to minimize the presence of all non-Hindu religions, including Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. That pressure becomes overwhelming when dealing with people of low and no caste, those who are most tempted to defect to one of the alternative faiths. Bureaucrats are especially hard to convince in matters of religious conversion from Hinduism.

That matters because such low or no caste people are so very numerous. India presently has over 200 million Dalits, the so-called untouchables. If the census is failing to pick up just a few percent of those groups who have converted to other faiths, that is potentially a huge number. In consequence, the estimate of India as 78 percent Hindu represents an extreme higher-end estimate, achieved only by making that the default stance adopted and enforced by census takers and bureaucrats. I would confidently expect future estimates of Christian numbers to decline still further as the government attitudes become chillier ”“ which has nothing whatever to do with actual numbers on the ground.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Hinduism, History, India, Inter-Faith Relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology

(LA Times) Nigeria's push into Boko Haram's forest stronghold fraught with risk

Booby traps, tunnels, mines and dense woodland cover thousands of miles.

The Nigerian military’s push to invade the Sambisa Forest, the last stronghold of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, capture its leader and wipe the group out is delicate, highly dangerous and unlikely to be completely successful, analysts said.

Government forces have taken over numerous Boko Haram bases in the forest in Nigeria’s northeast, rescued hundreds of women and children and released aerial images of terrorists retreating, but it has yet to capture the top leaders of the group or many of its fighters.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence