Daily Archives: June 29, 2015

Food for Thought from Dallas Willard

“We live in a culture that has, for centuries now, cultivated the idea that the skeptical person is always smarter than one who believes. You can almost be as stupid as a cabbage as long as you doubt.”

–Dallas Willard, Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God (IVP, 2012), p.283

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Evangelicals, Notable & Quotable, Other Churches

Bp Graham Kings: The Mission of God and the Future of the Anglican Communion

I am very grateful to the Center for Anglican Communion Studies, at Virginia Theological Seminary, and to the Compass Rose Society, for the invitation to attend General Convention and to speak today.

I look forward to the responses from the three Primates here: of Korea, Paul Keun-Sang Kim; of Pakistan, Samuel Robert Azariah; and of Brazil, Francisco De Assis Da Silva; for I have been given an impossibly wide-ranging title!

…Justin Welby, with his wife, Caroline, has visited all 38 Provinces of the Communion in his first 18 months, staying with the Primates and listening attentively to them.
He has written a significant Foreword to the 2014 book, Living Reconciliation by Phil Groves and Angharad Parry Jones. It is entitled ”˜Reconciliation is the Heart of the Gospel’, and is worthy of an extended quotation:

We agree on these [five] marks [of mission]. Yet in so many other things, we disagree. Given our transparent and open structures, we often do so loudly. But we do so as part of a family which, however much it falls out, remains linked. We have to deal with the reality that, no matter how strained our relationships may become at times, we belong to each other”¦

I am not arguing that we should resist making decisions until the whole Anglican Communion (let alone the universal Church) is in total and unanimous agreement. That would be a legalistic and regulatory response to a problem that is relational and missional.

Rather, I am eager to encourage each of us to take full account of the way in which decisions in one province echo around the world. We do not have a volume button that can limit or determine how our voices are heard beyond our own country or region. The impact of their echoes is something to which we must listen in the process of our decision-making, if we are not to narrow our horizons and reject the breadth of our global family. That process requires extensive conversation and prolonged engagement ”“ an honest reinforcement of the bonds of the relationship ”“ amidst the confusing and costly work of common discernment.
Justin Welby, ”˜Foreword: Reconciliation is the Heart of the Gospel’ in Phil Groves and Angharad Parry Jones, Living Reconciliation (London: SPCK, 2014), p. x and xi.

Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, the new Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion, will be commissioned in September 2015. His long term work of mission and dialogue with Muslims in Nigeria, and on the Network for Inter Faith Concerns of the Anglican Communion, is remarkable.

Frank Griswold, the 25th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, has known him since 1998. He told the Episcopal News Service in April:

Josiah is, above all, a man of communion, a careful listener, and a respecter of the different ways in which we are called to articulate and live the good news of God in Jesus Christ.

Read it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

[The Living Church] Video: The Primate of Pakistan

In this conversation, Azariah outlines the growing need for reconciliation within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

“I also think the Episcopal Church is going through a major time of challenge,” he said. “There is a need of great healing. There is a need for great understanding within the family of the Episcopal Church and within the Anglican Communion here in the United States of America. It is not easy, but it is something which has to be done in love, in faith, in trust upon God, and in not being judgmental to one another.

“I appeal to my brothers and sisters here in the Episcopal Convention ”” and I also appeal to those Christians and Anglicans who were a part of the Episcopal Church but … do not relate to the Convention ”” that the time has come when we cannot live like this. Let us not exhibit a ”˜holier than thou’ game over here. ”¦ Let us stand together and believe in whatever we believe in and continue to do that ”” but let us not break up the life of the body of Jesus Christ.”

Read and watch it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

Chinese Delegation Explores Religion in Egypt

Last week Archbishop Mouneer Anis, the Archbishop of the Anglican Diocese of Egypt, welcomed a Chinese delegation from the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) led by Mr. Jiang Jianyong, Vice Minister of Religious Affairs of the Republic of China. They had a number of important meetings during their visit to discuss religious affairs in both Egypt and China. They were accompanied by Dr. John Chew, former Primate of the Province of the Anglican Church in South East Asia…

Read it all

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

(AP) Conservative churches confront new reality on same-sex marriage

At First Baptist Dallas, where the pulpit was adorned Sunday with red, white and blue bunting to honor the Fourth of July, the pastor called the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling “an affront in the face of Almighty God.”

The iconic rainbow colors that bathed the White House Friday night after the court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide represent “depravity, degradation and what the Bible calls sexual perversion,” the Rev. Robert Jeffress said.

“But we are not discouraged,” Jeffress said. “We are not going to be silenced. This is a great opportunity for our church to share the truth and love of Jesus Christ and we are going to do it.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

Kathleen Parker–The giant step from realization to racial reconciliation

I asked Dr. Susan Glisson, executive director of the William Winter Institute of Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi. She and Associate Director Charles Tucker gave me a three-hour tutorial in my Washington living room about how people can have the necessary conversation and work toward true reconciliation. First, said Glisson, it can’t be a national conversation. “The best conversations are the most local,” she says.

To this end, the institute created a portable template for conversation called “The Welcome Table,” a physical table where up to 25 people of all races sit and talk. Really talk. As moderator, Glisson or Tucker might ask each participant to speak for three minutes about when he or she first noticed the elephant of race in the room.

Honesty is crucial, even if it smarts. Sometimes people’s stories lead to tears. Other times, to laughter. People often laugh over what Tucker calls their “nervous stories.” Tucker, who is African-American and grew up on a cotton plantation in the Mississippi Delta, releases a rolling, baritone laugh from deep within his 6-foot-3 frame at my own nervous story. He has had plenty of personal encounters with racism yet seems to have a considerable well of compassion for the most foolish among us. This is in part because he has listened to other people’s stories and really heard them. Something about the telling of stories draws out our more human selves. Empathy displaces cynicism and guardedness.

Glisson, a font of knowledge and wisdom, paraphrases Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, saying, “My enemy is someone whose stories I don’t know.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CEN) Amelia Abplanalp–Assisted dying law would put the most vulnerable in mortal peril

Rejected in 2006, and again in 2009, attempts to introduce assisted suicide are now back on the table. This also follows rejection in Wales, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Rob Marris MP has introduced an assisted dying bill that is expected to be largely the same as Lord Falconer’s previous effort, which ran out of time before May’s general election. It is anticipated the bill will make it legal to assist in the death of people who are terminally ill with six months or less to live, provided they are considered mentally competent by two doctors. The change is presented as a compassionate response to tragic situations. Cases of people in severe continual pain make us want to be compassionate, and that is a good thing.

But this is a wholly wrong way to look after the most vulnerable. In fact, it does the opposite, putting them in mortal peril. The law must stay as it is now to protect those who are least able to have their voice heard: the disabled, terminally ill and elderly, people who might otherwise feel pressured into ending their lives. Campaigners to change the law make grand promises for the modesty of their goals, but I don’t believe them. The parameters set out for who could ask for a doctor’s help in killing themselves are ambiguous, open to challenge, and not unanimously supported among assisted dying advocates.

For example, many campaigners would like the law to apply to chronic non-terminal conditions.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

Kendall Harmon's Sunday Sermon–What does it Mean to Live Faithfully to Christ in our Time?

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

There a many references to the Diocese of South Carolina statement here if you need it.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sermons & Teachings, Sexuality, Theology

(Local Paper) Fort Sumter furls its Confederate flags, probably forever

Tim Stone, superintendent of the Fort Sumter-Fort Moultrie National Monument, said Fort Sumter’s four flags were lowered the day after the shooting.

“The tragedy has made all of us re-evaluate our role in the community and in the nation,” he said.

On Thursday, the National Park Service, which runs the fort, issued a directive to remove Confederate flag items such as banners, belt buckles and other souvenirs from its gift shops, though books, DVDs and other materials showing the flag in a historical context may remain for sale.

On the same day, the Park Service also instructed its parks and related sites to not fly flags other than the U.S. flag and respective state flags outside their historic context.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, History, Race/Race Relations, Violence

Abortion, Down syndrome and the throwaway culture: Why the left has to grapple with Pope Francis

Almost on cue, there were three different news stories about abortion and Down syndrome around the time of the encyclical’s release. New blood screening, for instance, has resulted in a 34 percent increase in such abortions in Britain. Just a few days later, a Washington Post guest columnist argued such routine and systematic screening ”” not least because between 67 percent and 92 percent end up aborting ”” constitutes the formal “elimination of a group of people quite happy being themselves” under “the false pretense of women’s rights.” And then there was the story of the truly despicable company stealing the image of a child with Down syndrome for their Orwellian-sounding test kit named “Tranquility.”

You couldn’t ask for a more revealing practice of the throwaway culture Pope Francis so strongly decries. It doesn’t matter that people with Down syndrome are happier than those who are “normal;” our consumer culture’s tendency is to turn everything into a mere object or tool of the market, and when the object or tool is no longer useful, we simply discard it. These children don’t meet the quality-control standards of the consumer, and so the product simply gets thrown out as so much trash.

But one of the central themes of Pope Francis’s encyclical is that all creation has value independent of its value within a consumer culture. In response to my sharing the three stories mentioned above on social media, an old friend sent me a touching e-mail (parts of which are shared here with permission) about her sister with Down syndrome. She remembers that her family was initially sad and worried ”” but now, looking back, “it truly made no sense….”

Read it all from Charles Camosy in the Washington Post.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of St. Peter and St. Paul

Almighty God, whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul glorified thee by their martyrdom: Grant that thy Church, instructed by their teaching and example, and knit together in unity by thy Spirit, may ever stand firm upon the one foundation, which is Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Daily Prayer

O God in whom all fullness dwelleth, who givest without measure to them that ask; Give us faith to ask, and faith to receive, all that thy bounty giveth; that being filled with all thy fullness we may as thy faithful stewards impart thy gifts to all thy children; for Jesus Christ’s sake.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Praise the LORD! O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever! Who can utter the mighty doings of the LORD, or show forth all his praise? Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!

–Psalm 106:1-3

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Elem School Students Get Surprise Visit From CEO Dan Price Who Took Pay Cut to Raise Salaries

[Dan] Price dropped his salary from about $1 million to $70,000 in order to increase pay for many of his employees.

In the weeks that have followed, Price has received hundreds of messages ”” some from CEOs who followed suit with similar moves and others from critics who feel the decision will destroy Price’s company.

Of all the notes that he has received, the most striking to Price was a stack of 33 letters ”” delivered by mail ”” from a class of sixth graders at Woodbury Elementary School in Irvine, California.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Children, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Theology

Rod Dreher–Orthodox Christians Must Now Learn To Live as Exiles in Our Own Country

…the Court majority wrote that gays and lesbians do not want to change the institution of marriage, but rather want to benefit from it. This is hard to believe, given more recent writing from gay activists like Dan Savage expressing a desire to loosen the strictures of monogamy in all marriages. Besides, if marriage can be redefined according to what we desire ”” that is, if there is no essential nature to marriage, or to gender ”” then there are no boundaries on marriage. Marriage inevitably loses its power.

In that sense, social and religious conservatives must recognize that the Obergefell decision did not come from nowhere. It is the logical result of the Sexual Revolution, which valorized erotic liberty. It has been widely and correctly observed that heterosexuals began to devalue marriage long before same-sex marriage became an issue. The individualism at the heart of contemporary American culture is at the core of Obergefell ”” and at the core of modern American life.

This is profoundly incompatible with orthodox Christianity. But this is the world we live in today.

Read it all from Time Magazine.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Ecclesiology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, The U.S. Government, Theology

Vice President Joe Biden draws strength from Emanuel AME Church during Sunday visit

Biden’s attendance, along with his son and daughter-in-law Hunter and Kathleen, was a meant to be a show of solidarity, he said, but it was also an effort to lift him and his family up during their time of grief.

“The reason we came was to draw strength from all of you, draw some strength from the church,” he said, noting that he had spoken and or met with each of the nine victim’s families since their losses. “I wish I could say something that would ease the pains of the families and of the church. But I know from experience, and I was reminded of it again 29 days ago, that no words can mend a broken heart. No music can fill the gaping void.”

Biden’s son died May 30 of brain cancer. No stranger to death in his family, Biden said only faith could bring relief during such difficult times.

Read it all from the local paper.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Theodicy, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Funeral service for the Rev. DePayne Middleton Doctor concludes with hymns, prayers

Mourners filled Emanuel AME Church on Sunday afternoon to pay their last respects to the Rev. DePayne Middleton Doctor.

Middleton Doctor is one of nine parishioners fatally shot June 17 during a church Bible study she was leading in the historic Charleston church. She was 49.

The Rev. Margaret Cochran said Middleton Doctor ministered so well that “when I walked out of this sanctuary I was not the same person.”

Several dignitaries also spoke at the services.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

New TEC Presiding Bishop Curry may open doors to estranged Anglicans, hopes Scottish primus

Read it all from Anglican Ink.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, TEC Bishops