Daily Archives: June 3, 2015

(RNS) After death threats, Bangladeshi atheist relocates to US

An internationally renowned atheist activist has relocated from India to the U.S. after receiving death threats from an extremist group that has claimed responsibility for at least one of three machete killings of South Asian atheists this year.

Taslima Nasrin, a Bangladeshi gynecologist, novelist and poet, arrived in New York state last Wednesday (May 27). The move was orchestrated by the Center for Inquiry, an organization that promotes secularism and has been working with atheist activists in countries where atheism is unprotected by blasphemy laws.

“Extremist groups have been pretty public that they want Taslima killed,” said Michael de Dora, CFI’s director of public policy and president of the United Nations NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief. “In the last couple of weeks this has been ramping up and that’s why we were so concerned.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Atheism, Bangladesh, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Other Faiths, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

[Andrew Symes] Father, Son, Spirit, Marriage

Here is a wedding symbolizing and remembering God’s final great act of creation ”“ man and women in his image, different but coming together in intimate partnership for fruitfulness and stewardship. God is present, but incognito, and sees that the wine ”“ the spiritual heart of celebration and shalom ”“ has gone. V6 mentions jars were used to hold water for Jewish purification ceremonies. They are empty. Religious ceremonies, whether Jewish, Christian or otherwise, only point to the spiritual, supernatural dimension to life ”“ they cannot in themselves connect us to the life of God. What Jesus has come to do is to restore the ”˜God dimension’ to our humanity which religious works in themselves can’t do. But of course at that time in the story Jesus had not yet gone to the cross to die for our sins, he had not yet risen from the dead, breaking through death and showing God’s plans for eternal life for all who believe in him; he had not yet sent the Holy Spirit ”“ so at that time his hour had not yet come. But for us it has come!

So Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding is a picture of a divine restoration of humanity as originally intended: communities of celebration in relationship with God the Father who saves, communicates and sustains by his Word, built on the foundation of men and women in happy marriages. Instead of worship and witness being confined to empty religious forms, the presence and the truth of Christ and the free flowing new wine of the Spirit spill over into the whole of life. This is what churches are called to model.

But of course this brings huge questions for our day. What about people who are not married, and what about same sex marriage? Here are some brief thoughts:

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

(FP) New report by Amnesty Intl shows that Nigeria's military systematically committed war crimes

It is no secret that as the bloody insurgency waged by the Boko Haram since 2009 intensified, so too did the brutality of the Nigerian military’s response. Since the start of the conflict, Amnesty International has been documenting and highlighting human rights abuses perpetrated by both sides. But the report released today, “Stars on their Shoulders, Blood on their Hands,” goes further than ever before. Not only does it reveal incontrovertible evidence of the horrifying scale and depravity of war crimes committed by the military, it also shows that military commanders either sanctioned the abuses or ignored the fact that they were taking place.

This report is based on years of research and analysis ”” including hundreds of leaked military reports and correspondence and interviews with more than 400 victims, eyewitnesses, and senior members of the Nigerian security forces. We have found that more than 7,000 young men and boys died in military detention since March 2011. In addition, more than 1,200 people were rounded-up and unlawfully killed by the military since February 2012. And Amnesty International’s evidence suggests that the vast majority of those arrested, detained, or killed were not members of Boko Haram.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Nigeria, Politics in General, Theology

(C of E) New Head of Formation Announced

The Archbishops’ Council has today announced the appointment the Revd Canon Dr Ian McIntosh has been appointed as the new Head of Formation in the Ministry Division.

Ian is currently Principal of the Eastern Region Ministry Course and recently served as president of the Cambridge Theological Federation.

The new role of Head of Formation includes responsibility for the Division’s work in both discernment and initial ministerial education. Ian will take up his new role at the start of September 2015.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(Scotsman) Churches ”˜let off the hook’ by child abuse inquiry

Survivors of historical child abuse say Scotland’s churches have been “let off the hook” by a national public inquiry set up to investigate the issue.

The inquiry, which is set to get under way later this year, will look at allegations of abuse relating to children in residential care, including independent boarding schools.

But it will not examine allegations where the child was living with its family or an adoptive family, or where the child was attending a “faith-based organisations on a day-to-day basis”.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Children, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Scotland, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(WSJ) SEC Eyes Broadened ”˜Clawback’ Restrictions for some Company Executives

U.S. companies whose financial statements contain errors may soon have to “claw back” some of their top executives’ compensation as a result.

The Securities and Exchange Commission will soon propose long-awaited rules forcing companies to claw back, or revoke, some of their top officials’ incentive pay if they have to restate the financial results that led to it, according to people familiar with the agency’s internal deliberations.

Unlike existing rules, in which clawbacks are triggered only in a narrow set of circumstances involving misconduct at companies that restate earnings, the SEC’s proposal would apply to all manner of restatements””including those issued because of mistakes.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Stock Market, The U.S. Government, Theology

(NYT) World Economy Improving at Sluggish Pace, O.E.C.D. Reports

The world economy continues to heal at a disappointingly slow pace, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said on Wednesday, but it predicted that growth should return to a healthier rate close to its long-term goal by the end of 2016.

“Global growth is improving, but it’s not good enough,” Catherine L. Mann, the organization’s chief economist, said in a conference call held before the release of the forecast by the O.E.C.D., the research and policy organization of the world’s richest countries. “It’s a B-minus performance.”

The slow growth has had harmful consequences, Ms. Mann said, contributing to weak labor markets and rising inequality in many countries.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Theology

Radiolab Does a Fantastic Segment on 'what happens when your heart starts to work against you'

The segment is the first one which may be found here. “Summer Ash found that after fighting for a healthy heart, her heart started fighting her in ways she hadn’t expected.” Really well done and amazing.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

(JE) Ashby Neterer: The (Biblical) Sex Talk: What the Church Should Be Doing

As an undergraduate at a men’s college, I am constantly bombarded with the culture’s view on sex. Guys see how many times a week they can “score” as though sex were a sport and women the ball being tossed around. Once, a drunken classmate of mine, walking toward his room with a girl he had just met at a party, told me, “Don’t worry, bud. You’ll get there one day.” The implication, of course, was that I would one day have the exciting opportunity to “hook up” with a stranger.

Sadly, in spite of my Christian upbringing, no one ever told me what was wrong with the hook up culture. In fact, sex before marriage was encouraged by much of my Christian family and by the unanimous agreement of my Christian friends, who both mentioned preventing unwanted pregnancies, but never voiced the option of abstinence. What is worse, I never heard about the topic of sex in church. It was not until my involvement with a Christian campus ministry that I heard someone speak against premarital sex using biblical teaching.

This being my experience, I urge the Church, particularly parents raising children in the Church, to speak out on this issue and embrace the God’s intention for sex. Parents, do not make your child wait until he is a legal adult to hear about it from someone else. Talking about it may be awkward, but it could save your child from making a huge mistake and dealing with a lifetime of baggage for it.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AP) FBI using low-flying spy planes over U.S.

The FBI is operating a small air force with scores of low-flying planes across the U.S. carrying video and, at times, cellphone surveillance technology – all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government, The Associated Press has learned.

The planes’ surveillance equipment is generally used without a judge’s approval, and the FBI said the flights are used for specific, ongoing investigations. The FBI said it uses front companies to protect the safety of the pilots and aircraft. It also shields the identity of the aircraft so that suspects on the ground don’t know they’re being watched by the FBI.

In a recent 30-day period, the agency flew above more than 30 cities in 11 states across the country, an AP review found.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Psychology, Science & Technology, Terrorism, The U.S. Government, Theology

A S Haley–The Episcopal Church is Making a Mishmash of Marriage (Part I)

Now you should see the dilemma in which the revisionist clergy find themselves. In jumping the gun in 2012 to rush into church-sanctioned same-sex marriages (as a matter of “generous pastoral response” to a tiny minority of parishioners), they did not have the patience first to change either the Canons or the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer. (The latter would have required action by two successive General Conventions, or a minimum of four years.)

As a consequence, every single bishop and every single priest in ECUSA who has presided over the solemnization of a same-sex marriage up to now — whether using a rite “authorized by the diocesan” or not — is liable to discipline under Title IV of the Church Canons. Need I bother declaring the odds of such proceedings ever taking place? No matter — the Canons have still been, and still are, knowingly violated and so, disrespected — by the very persons charged with conforming to them.

And now comes the Task Force with its “proposal” to amend Canon I.18, as embodied in proposed Resolution 2015-A036. In my next post, I will show how their proposal continues to make a mockery of the Canons and of the Book of Common Prayer. In the process, it manages to create a thorough mishmash of “Christian marriage” in the Episcopal Church (USA). All in all, that is quite a feat!

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Book of Common Prayer, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the Martyrs of Uganda

O God, by whose providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: Grant that we who remember before thee the blessed martyrs of Uganda, may, like them, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ, to whom they gave obedience even unto death, and by their sacrifice brought forth a plentiful harvest; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Hilary of Poitiers

Keep us, O Lord, from the vain strife of words, and grant us a constant profession of our faith. Preserve us in the way of truth, so that we may ever hold fast that which we professed when we were baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and may give glory to thee, our Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier, now and for evermore.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Open your hearts to us; we have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. I have great confidence in you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. With all our affliction, I am overjoyed.
For even when we came into Macedo”²nia, our bodies had no rest but we were afflicted at every turn””fighting without and fear within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more. For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it (though I did regret it), for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting; for you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves guiltless in the matter. So although I wrote to you, it was not on account of the one who did the wrong, nor on account of the one who suffered the wrong, but in order that your zeal for us might be revealed to you in the sight of God. Therefore we are comforted.

–2 Corinthians 7:2-16

Posted in Uncategorized

Meaford Anglican Church bells ringing every day

The bells at Christ Church Anglican Meaford (Boucher Street East) will be rung 60 times at noon each day ending Sunday June 21 – a total of 1320 times, to honour and remember missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada and to draw attention to the need for an inquiry. The first day for the ringing was May 31.

The Bishop of Huron, the Right Reverend Robert Bennett has endorsed and invited the faith communities of Huron to respond to the call by Archbishop Fred Hiltz (Primate of all Canada) and Bishop Mark MacDonald (National Indigenous Anglican Bishop) for the Anglican Church of Canada to enter into 22 Days of prayer and renewal beginning on May 31 (the closing ceremony of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission) and ending 22 days later on June 21 (National Aboriginal Day of Prayer).

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Wataninet) Expelled Coptic families return home

The five Coptic families that were last week forcefully evicted from their home village of Kafr Darwish in al-Fashn, Beni Sweif some 100km south of Cairo, are now back home and receiving warm ”˜welcome home’ visits from their neighbours, Muslim and Copt. A general air of festivity and jubilation reigns as the family members settle home weeping with joy.

The five families form one extended family whose patriarch Youssef Tawfiq is 80 years old and matriarch is 75. The sons: Atef, Emad, Nour, and Ayman, are married and have their own families. They had been forced to leave the village on account of claims that Ayman Youssef Tawfiq, who currently works in Jordan while his wife and children remain in Kafr Darwish, posted cartoons offensive to the Prophet Muhammad on his Facebook page. The family says Ayman is illiterate and has no FB page; they claim he was framed and had lost his mobile phone a few days before the alleged FB posting having.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Coptic Church, Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence