Daily Archives: August 9, 2015

(WQ) Modi's india: Caste, Inequality, and the rise of Hindu Nationalism

Indian democracy has not blown up. But Ambedkar’s contradiction persists, and the caste foundation of India’s political structure maintains the hierarchy at the root of the country’s tremendous inequality of status and condition. Much of the careful thought of the nineteenth-century reformers and the founding generation has been shunted aside by the force of caste-based politics on the one hand and capitalist materialism on the other. The political principles on which the Indian state is founded have not been sufficient to create an inclusive, egalitarian society. Although the post-independence generation of Congress politicians promoted a secular vision of the Indian nation, they did not pursue the kinds of reforms that might have brought social reality closer to their political ideal. In doing so, they opened the way for the ascendance of caste-based politics and, ultimately, the more reactionary rise of religion in politics.

Hindu nationalism, with its dual focus on cultivating traditional social practices and providing social services afforded neither by the state nor economic growth, would seem to provide the strongest alternative to a modern capitalist society. But Hindu nationalism itself has adapted to India’s increasing wealth. The upper castes, particularly the Brahmins, once prided themselves on simple, even ascetic, living; they now hold up material success as another sign of caste superiority. The traditional Hindu elite is no longer distinguishable from the modern economic elite.

Prime Minister Modi is the living embodiment of this troubling marriage of Hindu nationalism and capitalism, of traditional social hierarchy and modern materialism. While he has maintained the support of his elite urban business constituents, he has proven himself to be as much a disciple of the Hindu Right as he was in his youth. Even as the RSS offers hope and basic services to thousands of poor, lower-caste youth like Aakash, we cannot take the organization’s apparent social egalitarianism at face value. At its core remains the inequality that has long marked Indian life.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Hinduism, India, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Rural/Town Life

(FT Magazine) Cannabis: Silicon Valley’s hot new sector

The Silicon Valley version of that “green rush” looks a little different. It involves slick apps, software and founders who talk about big data and algorithms. AngelList, a website where micro start-ups can look for angel investors, lists more than 300 marijuana start-ups in the US ”” half were founded this year, and a third of those are in California. (Examples include an Amazon for cannabis, a Kickstarter for cannabis, inventory management software and dozens of delivery companies.) Investments in marijuana-related companies have reached $200m over the past 12 months, quadruple the levels of the previous year, according to CB Insights, a venture capital database.

This rush of funding has attracted software engineers such as Austin Heap, a veteran of some half-dozen start-ups. Heap didn’t initially know much about the marijuana industry, other than being a medical marijuana consumer himself. He and a friend (now co-founder) started batting ideas about last autumn and came up with Potbox, a monthly subscription delivery service for organic, farm-to-table cannabis. They met their other co-founder, a 20-year veteran of the industry, because they had been using his marijuana delivery service.

“It feels like a very normal start-up, it just happens to be cannabis,” Heap told me, the day before their launch on July 8. Later that night, he would put the final touches on their social media accounts and website. “Hopefully at about 2:30 in the morning I will be a) still awake and b) getting Cloudflare in place, which will help us deal with any huge spikes in traffic,” he explained with a geeky enthusiasm. “I’m largely tech focused.” Heap says the huge investor interest in cannabis is “refreshing” after years of doing the venture capital dog-and-pony show. “No start-up I’ve worked on has said no to so many investment requests. I think we have something the cannabis industry has never seen.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy

Food For Thought–Austin Farrer on how to think about the Bible

“What is the bible like? Like a letter which a soldier wrote to his wife about the disposition of his affairs and the care of his children in case he should chance to be killed. And the next day he was shot, and died, and the letter was torn and stained with his blood. Her friends said to the woman: the letter is of no binding force; it is not a legal will, and it is so injured by the facts of the writers own death that you cannot ever prove what it means. But the lady said: I know the man, and I am satisfied I can see what he means. And I shall do it because it is what he wanted me to do, and because he died the next day.”

–quoted by yours truly in Sunday school this morning

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Adult Education, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CGM) (II) Anglican Church Decline in the West ”“ Possible Reasons

It was clear that all four denominations were declining, but that in Wales, Scotland and the USA the Anglican churches were declining much faster than the Church of England. Both the C in W and the SEC had potential extinction dates about 2040, with ECUSA possibly lasting 10-15 years longer. Indeed, although the Church of England is declining, it is only on the margins of extinction if the current pattern remains, thus unlikely to face extinction this century.

Rather than just repeat the standard reasons given for church decline, in the light of the contrasts in decline patterns, I would rather look at a different question: What does the Church of England have, that the other three denominations do not, that may have helped reduce the effects of numerical decline?

Here are some suggestions, not exhaustive, and some may be a bit controversial….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Church of Wales, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Data

(CGM) (I) A look at the attendance and membership data of 4 Western churches: Anglican Decline

The Anglican Church, once a key institution in the English-speaking world, has suffered decline for over half a century. Although in both the UK and North America there are many examples of growing and lively Anglican churches, as national denominations the trend is downwards. This decline is in marked contrast to continued Anglican growth in Africa and other parts of the world. There the church is healthy. In the West it is sick. The question is ”“ is the Anglican sickness unto death?

In this blog I explore the different patterns of Anglican decline through four denominations: the Church of England (C of E), the Church in Wales (C in W), the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC), and the Episcopal Church of the USA (ECUSA). The study is not perfect, nor is the data, but I hope it inspires debate and other studies. A subsequent blog will suggest possible reasons for their differences in decline.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Church of Wales, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Scottish Episcopal Church, Theology

Front Page above the Fold–Visiting Emmanuel Church Charleston now seen as rite of Passage

Much like New York City’s World Trade Center site that was destroyed in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, the church has become a destination and a ground zero for modern racial strife. It could mark a historic turning pointing in how Americans view race.

Tourism officials hesitated to estimate how many people have inquired about visiting Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, but the building has risen nearly to the top of Charleston’s tourist attractions.

The interim pastor, the Rev. Norvel Goff, said members of his congregation were energized by a public sentiment that the church has “an open door to all visitors, regardless of color.”

“It’s become a touchstone for Charleston,” he said. “People from around the world are coming to share their thoughts and how their communities have come together in their own way because of how this community came together.”

Read it all from the local paper.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Violence

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Euchologium Anglicanum

Almighty and everlasting God, who hast revealed thyself in all thy power through the incarnation of thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, and who dwellest in us by the working of thy Holy Spirit: Grant that we may, each in his several calling, profit from the operation of that one and the self-same Spirit whose gifts are manifold, to the glory of thy holy name, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, world without end.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip.

–Psalm 66: 8-9

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(GR) Richard Ostling–Evangelicals+Mormons: is this America’s most unlikely interfaith dialogue?

With scant media attention, leading U.S. thinkers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a. Mormon) and Evangelical Protestantism have been holding regular dialogue meetings the past 15 years. This is a good moment for religion writers to examine where things stand between these two dynamic faiths.

That’s because the talks are pausing temporarily as participants issue a new anthology: “Talking Doctrine: Mormons & Evangelicals in Conversation” (InterVarsity Press). The book’s editors, who’ve led the dialogue to date, are top sources for journalists: Robert Millet, former religious education dean at the LDS Brigham Young University, and Richard Mouw, retired president of Fuller Theological Seminary.

The two sides constitute the most unlikely dialogue partners imaginable, despite their concord on moral issues in the socio-political realm.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, Evangelicals, Inter-Faith Relations, Mormons, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(The Spectrum) Same sex marriages allowed in Episcopal churches

“I think this is something that has been in the works for more than a year,” said Lee Montgomery, vicar for St. Jude’s Episcopal Church in Cedar City.

Because of that, Montgomery said he was “not at all surprised” by the decision, but he has mixed feelings about the reaction of some of his congregants.

“Personally, as I interpret the Bible and from our religious perspective, I applaud the Supreme Court decision that finally grants the right to marry to a group that I think has been deprived of that right,” Lee said. “At the same time, I feel extreme sadness because I know there are people who disapprove of the Supreme Court ruling.”

Some within the Episcopal Church view the decision to perform such marriages in the church as being in opposition to their religious beliefs, said Lee. “I feel sympathy for those people.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, TEC Parishes, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Bible Society Aus.) Read the Bible with”¦ Miroslav Volf

What advice would you give someone struggling to read the Bible each day?

I struggle to read Bible each day, and I often fail. My advice to myself? Neither your human worth nor your salvation lies in your accomplishments or failures. Both are a gift.
Seek to be close to God””the source and the goal of your life; seek to learn more about Jesus Christ,””the Word made flesh and the prime exemplar of humanity. If you do, the Bible reading will take care of itself. And don’t read just to read and to have read. Read to be read, to have the Bible read you to yourself so that you can come to know yourself and be transformed.

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Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Irish Times) Gordon Linney–Jesus and the Christian response to violence

Barbara Brown Taylor says that despite their pain [the family members of the Charleston massacre victims] they did what Jesus had taught them: turn the cheek, pray for the persecutor, love the enemy, welcome the stranger. In everything do to others as you would have them do to you. “It sounds like advice for angels, not humans” she said, “so unrealistic, so undefended, it’s a wonder we repeat it at all. Yet there it is: the Christian teaching on how to respond to violence when it comes. Sometimes it actually works to disarm the violence in others, which is why we know the names of Gandhi, Tutu, and King. But that is not its main purpose. Its main purpose is to disarm the violence in us, so that we do not join the other team.”

Michael Lapsley is an Anglican priest working in South Africa. Because of his resistance to apartheid he had to flee that country. In 1990 as a result of a parcel bomb attack he lost an eye and both hands. Despite this he has worked tirelessly for healing and reconciliation in South Africa. He insists victims must be heard: “There are often areas of silence where people are told they must forget and move on. Yet everyone has a right to have their story heard in a safe place.” It’s something we do well to remember on this island.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Violence