Daily Archives: August 6, 2015

([London] Times) Men need more sex so make prostitution legal, says think tank

Prostitution should be decriminalised because men have twice the need for sex that women do, a free market think tank claims in a report published today.
Men’s higher desire for sex means that the oldest profession can never be eliminated so it should be treated like any other job, the paper says. It also suggests that prostitution and erotic entertainment may “help to reduce sexual crime rates”. The report says there are too few studies to conclude that the sex industry damages women.
Catherine Hakim, the report’s author, said the laws on prostitution were outdated, misinformed and redundant in a world in which the internet had fundamentally changed sex lives.
Dr Hakim, a sociologist, said: “The very concept of prostitution is no longer workable in today’s world of fluid sexual markets, where anyone can meet anyone on whatever terms they choose. Decriminalisation is the only workable way forward.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Men, Politics in General, Sexuality, Theology

([London] Times) Radical preacher Anjem Choudary is charged with promoting ISIS

Mr Choudary, the former head of the banned Islamist group al-Muhajiroun, was accused of promoting Isis and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on social media.
The preacher gave a 20-minute speech protesting his innocence as he appeared at Westminster magistrates’ court yesterday afternoon. He told the court that it was David Cameron and the police who should be in the dock.
Wearing a long white robe, Mr Choudary, 48, spoke confidently and waved notes around about his case. He said that he wished to represent himself as he appeared alongside Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, 32, from Whitechapel, east London, who is also accused of inviting support for Isis.
Mr Choudary, who was born in Britain, refused to confirm his east London address.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

[WWM] South Sudan pastors accused of spying freed

Two South Sudanese pastors on trial in Sudan for, amongst other things, “spying” have been freed by the Judge of Khartoum North Central Court, Ahmed Ghaboush. Had they been found guilty of this, they could have faced the death penalty.

Yat Michael had taken his child to Khartoum for medical treatment when he was arrested on 14 December, 2014, after being asked to preach at a local church during his stay. Peter Yen was arrested in January 2015 when he went to enquire about Michael’s whereabouts. The two men were then reported as missing until Sudanese authorities revealed that they were being held in prison for “crimes against the state”.

Guilty on some accounts, but freed due to time served

The DPA German news agency reported that the judge found Yat Michael guilty of a “breach of the peace” (Article 69) and Peter Yen (also known as David Reith) guilty of “managing a criminal or terrorist organisation” (Article 65). But he ordered both be released, as they had already served the sentences for these offences through their eight-month stay in prison.

Experts said there were fears that they would have been convicted of the more serious charges; it was felt the judge was under pressure to balance local expectations on him to uphold the principles of the Sharia-governed state, with adherence to international human rights standards.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(NYT Op-ed) Ross Douthat–There is No Pro-Life Case For Planned Parenthood

So let’s be clear about what’s really going on here. It is not the pro-life movement that’s forced Planned Parenthood to unite actual family planning and mass feticide under one institutional umbrella. It is not the Catholic Church or the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles or the Southern Baptist Convention or the Republican Party that have bundled pap smears and pregnancy tests and HPV vaccines with the kind of grisly business being conducted on those videos. This is Planned Parenthood’s choice; it is liberalism’s choice; it is the respectable center-left of Dana Milbank and Ruth Marcus and Will Saletan that’s telling pro-life and pro-choice Americans alike that contraceptive access and fetal dismemberment are just a package deal, that if you want to fund an institution that makes contraception widely available then you just have to live with those “it’s another boy!” fetal corpses in said institution’s freezer, that’s just the price of women’s health care and contraceptive access, and who are you to complain about paying it, since after all the abortion arm of Planned Parenthood is actually pretty profitable and doesn’t need your tax dollars?

This is a frankly terrible argument, rooted in a form of self-deception that would be recognized as such in any other context. Tell me anything but this, liberals: Tell me that you aren’t just pro-choice but pro-abortion, tell me that abortion is morally necessary and praiseworthy, tell me that it’s as morally neutral as snuffing out a rabbit, tell me that a fetus is just a clump of cells and that pro-lifers are all unhinged zealots. Those arguments, as much as I disagree with them, have a real consistency, a moral logic that actually makes sense and actually justifies the continued funding of Planned Parenthood.

But to concede that pro-lifers might be somewhat right to be troubled by abortion, to shudder along with us just a little bit at the crushing of the unborn human body, and then turn around and still demand the funding of an institution that actually does the quease-inducing killing on the grounds that what’s being funded will help stop that organization from having to crush quite so often, kill quite so prolifically ”“ no, spare me. Spare me. Tell the allegedly “pro-life” institution you support to set down the forceps, put away the vacuum, and then we’ll talk about what kind of family planning programs deserve funding. But don’t bring your worldview’s bloody hands to me and demand my dollars to pay for soap enough to maybe wash a few flecks off.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(B+C) Philip Jenkins reviews Virginia Comolli's 'BokoHaram: Nigeria's Islamist Insurgency'

For many reasons, then, Boko Haram is a significant and threatening phenomenon, which demands explanation. It is valuable to have Virginia Comolli’s thoughtful and wide-ranging account of the movement, which draws on extensive conversations with Nigerians of many backgrounds, apart from archival work. As with any study of a current topic, her book runs the risk of becoming obsolete the moment it appears in print, but it is nevertheless a very useful overview. Surprisingly, many aspects of this strictly contemporary movement are fiercely debated and poorly understood, and Comolli is a sure-footed guide through the scholarly battlegrounds.

She roots the insurgency in some very old-established traditions within North African Islam. Long before the arrival of British colonialism, the lands that became northern Nigeria were ruled by proud sultanates and emirates, of which Kano was the most celebrated. One of the great events in that history was the sweeping jihad movement undertaken at the start of the 19th century by the visionary Fulani reformer Usman dan Fodio. Islamic memories survived powerfully under the British, who worked closely with local political and religious authorities.
That historical legacy is cherished up to the present day, providing an ideological vehicle for popular disenchantment and resistance. Comolli rightly points out that Boko Haram did not spring from nowhere in 2002, but grew out of a series of Islamist, Wahhabi, and fundamentalist sects and student movements that had been flourishing from the 1970s onward. Islamic insurgencies are nothing new to Nigeria, and neither are charismatic and prophetic leaders.

I offer one criticism of an excellent book, namely that Comolli is so focused on tracing the tangled origins of Boko Haram that she underplays the larger political, ethnic, and religious picture, and specifically the role of Christianity. Undoubtedly, she knows that story very well, but most non-specialist readers will not, and they need to be told. A case can be made that Boko Haram is the most aggressive and acute form of a sweeping anti-Christian protest movement.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Books, Islam, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(The Atlantic)–Russell Moore, the culture wars, “values” and the Freakishness of Christianity

If pastors and pundits and politicos follow Moore’s lead, what would that mean for evangelicals””and for everyone else?

On the evangelical side, Moore hints at a few strategic shifts ahead””and, perhaps, strategic retrenchments. During his time as a Southern Baptist leader, Moore has pushed hard on the topic of racial reconciliation within the denomination. He sees the broader church for what it’s becoming: markedly less white, and steadily more global. This is part of the context for his campaign against a vague, American-values Christianity””the real movement in the faith is happening outside of the United States.

He also thinks Christians need to change how they relate to their LGBT brothers and sisters. “The loudest voices against the hounding and intimidation of gay and lesbian persons around the world should be from the wing of the church most committed to a biblical Christian sexual ethic,” he writes. This means working to end homelessness among gays and lesbians, he says, and caring for teens who have been rejected by their parents.

But this response is not a softening on sexuality; if anything, Moore is calling for more fidelity to this Christian sexual ethic. This means talking about “chastity,” not just “abstinence,” he says; condemning “fornication,” not just “premarital sex.” It means eschewing divorce and recognizing traditional gender roles and rejecting the values of the sexual revolution.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Christology, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Globe and Mail) Atheist minister fighting United Church of Canada’s effort to fire her

[The Rev. Gretta] Vosper, 57, who was ordained in 1993 and joined her east-end church in 1997, said the idea of an interventionist, supernatural being on which so much church doctrine is based belongs to an outdated world view.

What’s important, she says, is that her views hearken to Christianity’s beginnings, before the focus shifted from how one lived to doctrinal belief in God, Jesus and the Bible.

“Is the Bible really the word of God? Was Jesus a person?” she said.

“It’s mythology. We build a faith tradition upon it which shifted to find belief more important than how we lived.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Canada, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Theology

New leadership training already showing “first fruits” in Church of England

The delivery of new training programmes for senior leaders in the Church of England is already bearing fruit, according to the senior bishop overseeing the programme.

Writing in the first of a series of blogs reflecting on Leadership and Development training, Stephen Conway, Bishop of Ely, who chairs the Development and Appointments Group of the House of Bishops, said that feedback from those having attended the courses “has been extremely positive and we feel blessed for the fruits it is already bearing.”

The first leadership programme for cathedral deans and leaders of greater churches held in March at Judge Business School in Cambridge, included remarks by one participant who observed that it had been “by a country mile, the most impressive course I have under taken in over 30 years of ordained ministry”. Another said, “Overall this has been an outstanding week, both in content and shape. Of course, there has been much value in conversations, etc., but the stand-out feature has been the sessions, with speakers of very high quality, genuinely addressing core issues for this very specific audience”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Parish Ministry

(CT) David Neff–Hudson Taylor and the Power of Gentleness

At the end of the 19th century, eight nations had significant numbers of businesspeople and diplomats in China. Their modern railroads and telegraph lines had greatly increased the vast country’s internal communication. Their missionaries, educators, and health workers had served the Chinese people for centuries. Many Chinese had become Christians.

The Boxer Uprising (1899”“1901) was an attempt to purge the country of foreign influence. Boxers, or members of the Society of Righteous Fists, laid siege for 55 days to the foreign quarter in Beijing. One provincial governor massacred 44 Protestant missionaries””men, women, and children””after luring them to his capital with promises of safety. The final death toll: 136 Protestant missionaries and 53 children; 2,000 Chinese Protestants; well over 200 Russian Orthodox Christians; and 30,000 Chinese Catholics.
Drastic repercussions followed. Some 20,000 soldiers invaded China and quashed the rebellion. Many foreigners””mainly soldiers and businesspeople, but also some missionaries””engaged in looting. Governments, companies, and mission agencies that lost people and property demanded huge reparations. Their demands put an already shaky dynasty into a worse condition and created further resentments.

Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission (CIM), stood apart.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Christology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Missions, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast of the Transfiguration

O God, who on the holy mount didst reveal to chosen witnesses thy well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty; who with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Saint Anselm

O Lord our God, grant us grace to desire thee with our whole heart; that so desiring thee we may seek and find thee; and so finding thee may love thee, and loving thee may hate those sins from which thou hast redeemed us; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous; but the LORD delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. Evil shall slay the wicked; and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

–Psalm 34:17-22

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Telegraph) Church told: Back Sunday shopping to save the high street

Ministers will challenge the Church of England to support the biggest shake up of Sunday trading laws in a generation to help boost high streets and cut shopping bills for every household in Britain.
Under plans unveiled in a consultation today, local authorities will be given the power to prevent large supermarkets from opening longer in an attempt to revive Britain’s high streets.
The Government will encourage councils to use the new powers to help town centre stores at the expense of larger out-of-town shops.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CSM) Can churches lead on racial harmony?

A low hum sweeps across the sanctuary, drifting above the bowed heads of huddled prayer groups, beyond the joined hands of blacks and whites. Earnest whispers carry words like harmony, unity, forgiveness, and peace. Outside, a police car idles as day fades to dusk at Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Ala.

Less than a week earlier, in a church basement 450 miles away, nine people had been fatally shot during a Bible study class at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, S.C. But the service here on this June day is not a vigil. It is the product of a bond established months before ”“ between mostly white Oak Mountain and the predominantly black congregation of Urban Hope Community Church.

In the aftermath of the Charleston shootings, the grace of the members of Emanuel AME ”“ poignantly forgiving the young man who killed their loved ones ”“ showed the power of faith in promoting racial harmony under the most trying conditions. The leaders of Oak Mountain and Urban Hope Community are persuaded that, going forward, churches have a crucial role in bringing that progress to America as a whole.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology