Daily Archives: June 8, 2015

(Gallup) Fewer Young People Say I Do — to Any Relationship

Along with the decline in marriages among 18- to 29-year-olds in the U.S. in recent years, Gallup trends on Americans’ living arrangements reveal that the percentage of young adults “living together” has hardly budged. This means that not only are fewer young adults married, but also that fewer are in committed relationships. As a result, the percentage of young adults who report being single and not living with someone has risen dramatically in the past decade, from 52% in 2004 to 64% in 2014.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Marriage & Family, Sociology, Young Adults

Statement from the Russian Orthodox Church on the Church of Scotland Decision

concerning the decision of the Church of Scotland on a possible ordination of gay people in civil partnership and of the United Protestant Church of France on a possible blessing of the so called same-sex unions.
June 3rd, 2015

On May 16, 2015, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland allowed ordination of gay people in civil partnership and on May 21 voted to continue the study of this matter aimed at an extension of the adopted decision. On May 17, the Synod of the United Protestant Church of France allowed a possibility of blessing the so called same-sex unions.

These decisions of the Protestant Churches of Scotland and France have deeply disappointed the Russian Orthodox Church as they seem incompatible with norms of Christian morality

We state with profound grief that today we have new divisions in the Christian world not only on theological problems, but also on the moral issues.
The Russian Orthodox Church holds the firm position based on Holy Scriptures and has repeatedly declared that the mentioned innovations were inadmissible for moral teaching and thus is ought to reconsider a format of her relations with the churches and associations which trample upon the principles of traditional Christian morality. In 2003, the Russian Orthodox Church suspended contacts with the Episcopal Church in the USA because this Church consecrated an open homosexual as bishop. Similar reasons have brought about the severance of relations with the Church of Sweden in 2005 when it decided to bless the same-sex unions.

During last years we have kept attentive watch over debates in the Churches of Scotland and France. In 2013, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, sent a letter to the leadership of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in which he expressed his anxiety and disappointment over a possibility of ordaining gay people and expressed hope that the consideration of this issue in future would be based on the apostolic tradition. Regrettably, these hopes have not been justified, and the words of warning have not been heard.

Guided by the resolutions of the Bishops’ Council of 2008, saying that ”˜the future of relations with many Protestant communities depends on their faithfulness to the norms of Gospel and apostolic morality kept by Christians over many centuries,’ and of the Bishops’ Council of 2013 saying that ”˜a dialogue with confessions which openly defy the Biblical moral norms is impossible,’ the Department for External Church Relations does not see any prospects in maintaining official contacts with the Church of Scotland and with the United Protestant Church of France.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations

(LA Times) Engineers look to insects for robotic inspiration

At a UC Berkeley laboratory, engineers are building cockroach-like robots with a noble purpose ”” search and rescue.

Smaller than the palm of a hand and weighing an ounce, the robots are fast, nimble, and equipped with microphones and thermostats to detect sound and heat.

“Imagine there’s a warehouse that’s collapsed,” said Ronald Fearing, the director of UC Berkeley’s Biomimetic Millisystems Lab, which developed the VelociRoach robot. “You can send in hundreds of these robots, and if there’s an opening, they can get through or get close to certain areas to notify rescuers they’ve found a survivor.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Animals, Science & Technology

(Orange County Register) Saddleback Church raising $71 million for its largest expansion yet

Saddleback Church has launched what leaders are calling its largest and most ambitious plan ever to expand the mega-church’s ministry.

Pastor Rick Warren describes The Daring Faith Campaign as the church’s most faith-stretching, world-impacting and God-honoring plan in 35 years.

“I’m going to stretch your faith, I’m going to challenge it,” Warren told his flock at the campaign’s launch 10 weeks ago. “We don’t grow in comfort. Growth is often uncomfortable. The result is blessing, maturity and answered prayers.”

A week ago, Warren’s congregation responded during his Victory Sermon at the church’s main campus in Lake Forest, pledging to raise $71 million over the next three years to take Saddleback’s reach beyond its already global impact. About $7 million has already come in as cash donations. The Children’s ministry ”“ students from Kindergarten to 6th grade ”“ raised $20,156 by donating more than 600,000 coins. The campaign is Saddleback’s eighth and largest.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Christology, Economy, Eschatology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Stewardship, Theology

Augustine on Humans Having a Corrupted Will prior to their Actions

Our first parents fell into open disobedience because already they were secretly corrupted; for the evil act had never been done had not an evil will preceded it. And what is the origin of our evil will but pride? For “pride is the beginning of sin.” And what is pride but the craving for undue exaltation? And this is undue exaltation, when the soul abandons Him to whom it ought to cleave as its end, and becomes a kind of end to itself. This happens when it becomes its own satisfaction….The devil, then, would not have ensnared man in the open and manifest sin of doing what God had forbidden, had man not already begun to live for himself….By craving to be more, man became less; and by aspiring to be self-sufficing, he fell away from him who truly suffices him.

–The City of God 14.13, quoted by yours truly in yesterday’s early service sermon

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Church History, Theology

Dean of Liverpool Pete Wilcox responds to Richard Moy's Dear Deans letter

(The Dear Deans letter to which this responds may be found here–KSH).

Now, Liverpool Cathedral is not perfect. Your piece is a challenge to me. What might we do better, where are we falling short and failing to make the most of the opportunities which the Lord is presenting to us? But nor is Liverpool Cathedral unique! Here’s the thing: in its inherited tradition, ours probably is the most Evangelical of all the Cathedrals in England. I guess it is, anyway ”“ though we now manage that in an intentionally non-partisan, non-tribal way, delighting in the contributions of the Anglo-Catholic and liberal bits of the CofE. But given that Evangelical inheritance, maybe I’ve found a greater appetite for evangelism here than I might have found if I had been appointed Dean anywhere else. But I can assure you that when I am talking to my fellow Deans about what’s going on here, I absolutely don’t encounter sniffy contempt. Not one bit. They rejoice with me, and sometimes I think they’re a bit wistful on account the scope which both our architecture and our long tradition gives us. Because, for all your frustration, the fact is that the Deans do understand and embrace the missionary challenge we face. Of course, the mission is understood differently in different places ”“ you’d expect that in the Church of England. You’re surely not asking for every Cathedral to be an outpost of HTB.

Here, by the way, is an excerpt from the report which Vivienne Faull, the Dean of York, has just given (as its Chair) at the annual meeting of the Association of English Cathedrals. (I don’t have her permission to quote from it, but I think she’d be delighted if it reaches a wider audience!) She cites some recent research to be published imminently by Grace Davey which ”˜will show how cathedrals are an important means by which the passive majority becomes acquainted with the forms of religion performed by the active minority”¦ The location of cathedrals on the border between the religious and the secular enhances this capacity. She goes on, ”˜many English Anglican cathedrals are working with this liminality with creativity and effectiveness. And towards the end she notes, ”˜Many of those who now affiliate to cathedrals have relatively little knowledge of Christian faith, or of the Church of England. Most cathedrals are now offering routes by which newcomers to faith may discover more. Intentional discipleship in cathedrals marks a significant shift away from the assumption that those who worship with us seek anonymity’.

This, I think, is the particular ministry of Cathedrals, and I’m confident all my colleagues know it, value it and want to make the most of it. How we are doing so will differ according to several variables: theological standpoint is only one; architecture and location are significant too. But take heart: there is much effective evangelism taking place. Maybe we could all be making more of precisely the interface you cite, when Choral Evensong meets Tourism Central; but don’t assume that’s the whole deal. And also, give us a break: the Church of England is on a journey, and Cathedrals are on board. You can be sure that the language of mission is more and more mainstream even in Cathedrals and that when the Deans meet to talk, we even talk, at least some of the time, about making Jesus known. We remember that that is what we were ordained to do, I promise.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology

Tim Keller–The Bible and same sex relationships: A review article

The saddest thing for me as a reader was how, in books on the Bible and sex, Vines and Wilson concentrated almost wholly on the biblical negatives, the prohibitions against homosexual practice, instead of giving sustained attention to the high, (yes) glorious Scriptural vision of sexuality. Both authors rightly say that the Bible calls for mutual loving relationships in marriage, but it points to far more than that.

In Genesis 1 you see pairs of different but complementary things made to work together: heaven and earth, sea and land, even God and humanity. It is part of the brilliance of God’s creation that diverse, unlike things are made to unite and create dynamic wholes which generate more and more life and beauty through their relationships. As N.T. Wright points out, the creation and uniting of male and female at the end of Genesis 2 is the climax of all this.

That means that male and female have unique, non-interchangeable glories ”” they each see and do things that the other cannot. Sex was created by God to be a way to mingle these strengths and glories within a life-long covenant of marriage. Marriage is the most intense (though not the only) place where this reunion of male and female takes place in human life. Male and female reshape, learn from, and work together.

Therefore, in one of the great ironies of late modern times, when we celebrate diversity in so many other cultural sectors, we have truncated the ultimate unity-in-diversity: inter-gendered marriage.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Latest Issue of the Diocese of South Carolina Newspaper

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

Congratulations to Lionel Messi and Barcelona for winning the Treble

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Argentina, Europe, Men, South America, Spain, Sports

Roland Allen in his own words on Mission and Saint Paul

In little more than ten years St. Paul established the Church in four provinces of the Empire, Galatia, Macedonia, Achaia and Asia. Before AD 47 there were no churches in these provinces; in AD 57 St. Paul could speak as if his work there was done, and could plan extensive tours into the far west without anxiety lest the churches which he had founded might perish in his absence for want of his guidance and support.

The work of the Apostle during these ten years can therefore be treated as a unity. Whatever assistance he may have received from the preaching of others, it is unquestioned that the establishment of the churches in these provinces was really his work. In the pages of the New Testament he, and he alone, stands forth as their founder. And the work which he did was really a completed work. So far as the foundation of the churches is concerned, it is perfectly clear that the writer of the Acts intends to represent St. Paul’s work as complete. The churches were really established. Whatever disasters fell upon them in later years, whatever failure there was, whatever ruin, that failure was not due to any insufficiency or lack of care and completeness in the Apostle’s teaching or organization. When he left them he left them because his work was fully accomplished.

This is truly an astonishing fact. That churches should be founded so rapidly, so securely, seems to us today, accustomed to the difficulties, the uncertainties, the failures, the disastrous relapses of our own missionary work, almost incredible. Many missionaries in later days have received a larger number of converts than St. Paul; many have preached over a wider area than he; but none have so established churches. We have long forgotten that such things could be. We have long accustomed ourselves to accept it as an axiom of missionary work that converts in a new country must be submitted to a very long probation and training, extending over generations before they can be expected to be able to stand alone. Today if a man ventures to suggest that there may be something in the methods by which St. Paul attained such wonderful results worthy of our careful attention, and perhaps of our imitation, he is in danger of being accused of revolutionary tendencies.

–Roland Allen, Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours; A Study of The Church In The Four Provinces, Chapter One

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Missions, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Roland Allen

Almighty God, by whose Spirit the Scriptures were opened to thy servant Roland Allen, so that he might lead many to know, live and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ: Give us grace to follow his example, that the variety of those to whom we reach out in love may receive thy saving Word and witness in their own languages and cultures to thy glorious Name; through Jesus Christ, thy Word made flesh, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from James Mountain

Almighty God our heavenly Father, who hast given thy Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins, and hast commanded us to love one another as thou hast loved us: Make us, we beseech thee, so mindful of the needs and sufferings of others, that we may ever be ready to show them compassion, and according to our ability to relieve their wants; for the sake of the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

When I am afraid, I put my trust in thee. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust without a fear. What can flesh do to me?

–Psalm 56:3-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(FT) Health tech start-ups target internet talent

A new wave of data-intensive “health tech” companies is drawing talent from the internet world as cloud computing, artificial intelligence and intensive data analysis are brought to bear on health.

Former Facebook chief financial officer David Ebersman last week launched a start-up to crunch data and use analytics to improve the identification and treatment of behavioural health issues such as depression and anxiety.

Data gathered from the sensors in smartphones, as well as an analysis of social activity on sites such as Facebook, could one day be used to improve the diagnosis of mental illnesses, Mr Ebersman said. Other executives at his new company, Lyra Health, include chief technology officer Daniel Tunkelang, a data scientist who previously worked at professional social networking company LinkedIn.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology, Theology

Cybersecurity center in SC heads off hackers, brings ”˜information dominance’ to the battlefield

In a heavily cloistered complex on the old Charleston Naval Weapons Station here, young engineers, mathematicians, analysts and technicians are keeping watch on the world.

From battling terrorist hackers, monitoring combatant countries or installing the technology to launch an “end-of-the-world” nuclear missile strike, the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic ”“ or SPAWAR ”“ is the Navy’s first line of defense in the increasingly dangerous realm of cyberwar.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Theology

Peter Bowes: Is this the secret to living longer?

Where has the weekend gone? For that matter, what happened to last month?

If you’re anything like me, your precious time is gobbled by a pinging phone, a bouncing email icon and the ubiquitous stack of admin.

But what if we could stop everything, for just 24 hours, to rest, reboot and refocus? Take a day away from the gadgets, gizmos, to-do lists and anything remotely connected to work. Could that be the elusive secret to a long and healthy life?

I first became enthralled by this possibility when I worked on a BBC documentary, Living Longer in Lovely Hill, in which I met the Seventh Day Adventists of Loma Linda, a quiet university town about 100km east of Los Angeles. They are one of the longest-lived groups of people in the world and scientific studies have linked their lifestyle to increased longevity.

Members of this evangelical Christian community live up to 10 years longer than most Americans…

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet

Martin Robinson: Church Planting in a Continent Experiencing Rapid Change

Video from FOCL

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

[Telegraph] Bp Nazir-Ali on Halting Anglican Decline

We need to embrace our history and reach out to the “spiritual” if we want to halt declining Anglican numbers

We must emphasise a mutual belonging to our society, and toughen up religious teaching if we want to achieve spiritual harmony
One of the features of the BSA survey is the absence of a category on the spiritual. I suspect that if there had been such a category, many in the “No Religion” group might well have declared some “spiritual” affiliation.

The term “religion” has increasingly come to have a perjorative connotation, suggesting at least legalism, hypocrisy and hocus pocus, if not downright violence and evil. But most people are not “secular” in the sense of denying the existence of a spiritual realm. Rather than taking the trouble to distinguish between good and bad religion, they instead take the easy option of believing in some kind of “spirituality”, which allows them to acknowledge a spiritual domain without having to belong to an organisation and live by its rules. Their awareness may be vestigial, increasingly distant from historical Christianity and more and more idiosyncratic, but it is there.

For the churches, this can be a point of contact, but we have to realise, more generally, that if spiritual beliefs are to make a lasting impact on society, they need a means of social expression. Soft focus “spirituality” does not make any demands about social responsibility, delayed self-gratification or the importance of the family. This is what the churches have done until now. There seem to be no other candidates in the field. The choice is between even more individualism, and “making it up” as we go along, or some kind of revitalisation of the social aspect of belief. Will our churches rise to the challenge?

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Follow Up: A National Secular Society tweet in response to the Bishop–

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

(Ib Times) Mary Irwin-Gibson Elected New Anglican Bishop of Montreal

Anglican Canada elected Saturday its newest bishop of Montreal, Mary Irwin-Gibson, the first woman to serve in the role, CBC News reported. Irwin-Gibson, 59, is dean and rector at St. George’s Cathedral in Kingston, Ontario. She was ordained as a deacon in 1981 and as a priest in 1982. She served in Montreal between 1981 and 2009 before moving to Kingston, the Anglican Journal said.

In being elected Montreal’s bishop, Irwin-Gibson was chosen over two men, Bishop Dennis Drainville and Archdeacon Bill Gray, and one woman, the Rev. Karen Egan. About 160 clerical and lay delegates in the diocese were eligible to vote in the election, the Anglican Journal said. Irwin-Gibson will replace Bishop Barry Clarke, who announced his retirement in April, saying he would be departing as of Aug. 31. Clarke was elected bishop in 2004. He followed a line of 10 men who served in the position.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canada, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Economist) Doctors are trying–with some success–to recruit the immune system to fight cancer

There are, broadly speaking, four ways to fight cancer. You can cut a tumour out, with surgery. Or you can try one of three different ways of killing it. Radiotherapy targets tumours with radiation. Chemotherapy uses chemicals that poison all rapidly dividing cells, cancerous ones included. “Targeted therapies”, as their name suggests, recognise particular features specific to cancer cells.

Singly and in combination, these four types of treatment have contributed to a steady increase in the survival rates for most kinds of cancer. Now they may be joined by a fifth. At this year’s meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), in Chicago, the assembled researchers heard about the latest progress in “immuno-oncology”.

Modern medicine provides every reason to think that the immune system””which, after all, is there to keep the rest of the body safe””can and does attack cancers. People whose immune systems have been weakened, either by disease or by medicines designed to help them tolerate organ transplants, run a greater risk of malignancies. Many risk factors for cancer, such as a bad diet, heavy drinking, stress and smoking are known also to affect the immune system. Exercise, thanks to the boost it gives the body’s defences, can improve cancer survival rates.

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