Monthly Archives: September 2015

(FP) Paul McCraery–The Cold War in Europe is back, but the borders have moved

“Anti-access/area denial, or A2/AD, is a growing problem,” Gen. Philip Breedlove, supreme allied commander Europe and commander of U.S. European Command, told an audience in Washington on Monday. Kaliningrad has given Moscow the ability to better defend the Baltic, while the annexation of Crimea has done the same on the Black Sea, he said.

“The geography of Europe has changed” since the end of the Cold War, Benitez said. “The geography of NATO has changed. In the Cold War NATO’s borders were in the center of the continent, but now the front lines are the Baltics, and you’re drawn to that small land bridge [near Suwalki].”

“The Russians have chosen to make this the new zone of friction, that’s where you’re seeing the air provocations,” such as Russian warplanes flying with transponders off, said Benitez.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General, Russia, The U.S. Government, Theology, Ukraine

Eric Dudley's Sermon at Tripp Jefford's Institution at Saint Paul's Summerville SC

You can listen directly at the link found here or you can download the MP3 there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

(Commonweal) Rowan Williams–Embracing Our Limits :The Lessons of Laudato Si'

It is this fantasy of living in an endlessly adjustable world, in which every physical boundary can be renegotiated, that shapes the opening reflections of the encyclical and pervades a great deal of its argument. The paradox, noted by a good many other commentators, is that our supposed “materialism” is actually a deeply anti-material thing. The plain thereness of the physical world we inhabit tells us from our first emergence into consciousness that our will is not the foundation of everything””and so its proper working is essentially about creative adjustment to an agenda set not by our fantasy but by the qualities and complexities of what we encounter. The material world tells us that to be human is to be in dialogue with what is other: what is physically other, what is humanly other in the solid three-dimensionality of other persons, ultimately what is divinely other. And in a world created by the God Christians believe in, this otherness is always communicating: meaning arises in this encounter, it is not devised by our ingenuity. Hence the pope’s significant and powerful appeal to be aware of the incalculable impact of the loss of biodiversity: it is not only a loss of resource but a diminution of meaning. “Because of us, thousands of species will no longer give glory to God by their very existence, nor convey their message to us” (33).

The argument of these opening sections of Laudato si’ repeatedly points us back to a fundamental lesson: We as human beings are not the source of meaning or value; if we believe we are, we exchange the real world for a virtual one, a world in which””to echo Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty””the only question is who is to be master. A culture in which managing limits is an embarrassing and unwelcome imperative is a culture that has lost touch with the very idea of a world, let alone a created world (i.e., one in which a creative intelligence communicates with us and leads us into meanings and visions we could not have generated ourselves). The discussion in Chapter III of the obsessive pursuit of novelty in our lives draws out very effectively how the multiplication of pure consumer choice produces not greater diversity or liberty but a sense of endless repetition of the same and a lack of hope in the future. Once again, the underlying issue is the loss of meaning. It is fully in keeping with this general perspective that what Pope Francis has to say about the rights and dignities of the unborn (120) is seamlessly connected with the dangers of a culture of “disposability” in which the solid presence of those others who do not instantly appear to contribute to our narrowly conceived well-being can so readily be forgotten.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Christology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Politics in General, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(British Religion in Numbers) Sunday Trading and Other News

A poll by Populus for ACS, undertaken online among 1,864 adults in England and Wales on 2-3 September 2015, revealed that a majority (58%) of the public still thinks that Sunday is different from the rest of the week, 61% because it is a shared time with family and friends, and 58% because it is a day of relaxation. Two-thirds (67%) supported the current legislation permitting large stores to open up to six hours on Sundays while 23% opposed it, presumably because they thought it was either too strict or too liberal. Three-fifths agreed that the existing laws provide sufficient opportunities to shop on Sundays (with just 12% dissenting) and a similar proportion felt that, if the laws were relaxed, shop staff would be forced to work longer and their family life would suffer. At the same time, 25% agreed that the present legislation is not convenient for people like themselves and a plurality of 42% that it constrains customers’ choice when they can go shopping. Sunday trading is one of those topics where the outcome of surveys can be radically different dependent upon the question-wording and context.

An online survey by Research Insight for ACS of 70 local authority chief executives in England and Wales between 6 August and 4 September 2015 found that 64% were likely to support deregulation in some form in their own local authority, typically in an out-of-town location. However, 64% were concerned that having different Sunday trading regulations within their local authority would cause confusion for consumers and 69% that it would displace trade from some zones to others.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology

(Quartz) HBO and Snapchat are reportedly helping the US government counter ISIS Propaganda

The US State Department is seeking a counter-narrative to the propaganda being spread by ISIL, and it is reportedly turning to some of America’s preeminent storytellers for help. According to The Daily Beast, executives from both HBO and Snapchat are part of a team of filmmakers and social media specialists that’s brainstorming how to hamper the effectiveness of ISIL’s messaging.

Citing unnamed industry and government sources, The Daily Beast reports that HBO and Snapchat representatives were invited to Sunnylands, a California retreat known for hosting important government figures, in June to meet with State Department officials on how best to counter the ISIL narrative, which has lured young men from the Middle East, Europe, and even the United States, to join its violent ranks. Mark Boal, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Zero Dark Thirty, is reportedly part of the team assisting the State Department.

Neither HBO nor Snapchat have responded to requests for comment. The State Department, in a statement to Quartz, neither confirmed nor denied the Daily Beast report but noted that film “is an especially powerful medium for building cross-cultural understanding” of world issues.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Islam, Media, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, The U.S. Government, Theology, Violence

”˜Strangely, we ourselves are being blessed’-how the Anglican Ch in Europe is helping refugees

Of all the European countries, Greece bears the heaviest refugee burdens. Malcolm Bradshaw, our Athens chaplain, relates that between 1 and 14 September 54,000 migrants arrived in Greece from Turkey. These were people whose hopes of a better life had been cruelly raised.

For the last eight years, we have helped run a soup kitchen that delivers 800 meals a day to poor people in central Athens. In Greece, refugees are at the bottom of the pecking order. Earlier this year, I visited a large detention centre north of Athens where refugees were being held in the kinds of cages where we might more usually house animals. I was distressed to see two cages where unaccompanied minors were being held. They had broken shoes and torn trousers, and appeared dazed and confused.

We have provided clothes, toiletries, sleeping bags and phone cards to the residents of the detention centres. We are working with UN and Orthodox Church representatives to provide food and shelter to new arrivals. Of course the fundamental problems that lead people to leave their countries need to be dealt with at a political level. But Christians are enjoined to help those who are casualties of forces far beyond their control.

Yet, strangely, we ourselves are being blessed….

Read it all from the C of E blog.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

Wednesday Morning Mental Health Break–A Kitten, a box, and a surprise

Watch the whole adorable thing.

Posted in * General Interest, Animals, Photos/Photography

([London Times) Alice Thomson–We must catch up with the new sexual politics

Virgin mothers having IVF, three-parent babies, transgender gold medallists . . . the new sexual politics is changing so rapidly that few can keep up. Facebook now has more than 71 terms for gender identity including gender fluid, hermaphrodite, polygender, asexual and two-spirit person. Google has increased its coverage of transgender healthcare for employees to include genital surgery, facial feminisation and pectoral implants.

In America they are increasingly clued up about these new sexual identities. Caitlyn Jenner ”” formerly known as Bruce ”” the Olympic decathlete and reality TV star, came out in July as transgender and said she was tired at 65 of telling lies. The arguments have now moved on to whether you have to be biologically female for the ladies’ loos. Campaigns have been launched, #weneedtopee and #occupotty, as states such as Florida and Kentucky struggle to work out what is appropriate in schools, hospitals and prisons.

The acronym LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) doesn’t trip off the tongue so easily here, but slowly the discussions are reaching Britain. The comedian Eddie Izzard, whom I interviewed, explained that he now sees being a transvestite as a gift, “because women talk to me in a different way”. Grayson Perry’s art transcends what he wears. Gender is increasingly no longer about men v women, Mars v Venus, but where you are on the spectrum.

The young are much more likely to challenge their sexuality. The number of children under ten being seen for transgender treatment on the NHS has quadrupled in the past five years.

Read it all (requires subscription).

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Children, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Men, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Sexuality, Theology, Women

Bishop Steven Croft on the Sustainable Development Goals

The new Global Goals have emerged from an international three year process of listening. The UK government, led by the Prime Minister, played a really key role.

There is huge ambition here. According to the UN document: “Never before have world leaders pledged common action and endeavour across such a broad and universal policy agenda”. And again, “We can be the first generation to succeed in ending poverty just as we may be the last to have a chance of saving the planet”.

The goals are more comprehensive this time. There are 17 goals and 169 targets. They are therefore less catchy but much more realistic. They recognize that all kinds of things are interconnected in tackling poverty. They are also goals for every country not simply for the developing world. The British government has promised to implement them alongside governments in Africa and Asia. There is a much stronger emphasis on building strong, honest, robust governments and institutions as well as on aid and generosity. There is a strong slogan which focuses on helping the weakest so that no-one is left behind.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Other Churches, Politics in General, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Theology

Religion+Ethics Report: Stephen Burns on Archbp Welby's Call for a primates Gathering

The gulf is widening among the world’s 80 million Anglicans and now the Archbishop of Canterbury has called a summit of church leaders to work out a new way of running the divided church.

Archbishop Justin Welby has asked Anglican primates from each major region to meet in London in January 2016.

He will discuss religiously motivated violence and the protection of children. But it’s the issue of sexuality and same-sex relationships that’s most divisive.

Is Archbishop Welby trying to achieve the impossible””satisfying the demands of liberal and conservative Anglicans for a church that’s totally inclusive or Biblically conservative? The Rev Dr Stephen Burns, associate dean of Trinity College Theological School in Melbourne and an expert in the worldwide Anglican communion, discusses the dilemma.

Listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Australia / NZ, Global South Churches & Primates, Media, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

A portrait of Saint Jerome in Prayer

From the magisterial Rembrandt, worth a look.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Art, Church History, History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Jerome

O Lord, thou God of truth, whose Word is a lantern to our feet and a light upon our path: We give thee thanks for thy servant Jerome, and those who, following in his steps, have labored to render the Holy Scriptures in the language of the people; and we beseech thee that thy Holy Spirit may overshadow us as we read the written Word, and that Christ, the living Word, may transform us according to thy righteous will; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Eugene Bersier

O God, who hast given us life and all good things in this world: Thou hast created us for thy service, and when we have forsaken thee in our wanderings thou hast sought us out; thou hast vouchsafed to us the precious treasure of thy gospel; thou hast ordained that we should be born in the bosom of thy Church; thou hast revealed to us thy exceeding great riches in Jesus Christ our Lord. For all these gifts of thy grace, and for thy benefits which we remember not, we thine unworthy servants do give thee thanks, and bless thy holy name for ever and ever.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Only take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if any one sees you, a man of knowledge, at table in an idol’s temple, might he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak man is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food is a cause of my brother’s falling, I will never eat meat, lest I cause my brother to fall.

–1 Corinthians 8:9-13

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CC) Israel’s dreams and nightmares: speaking with Author Yossi Klein Halevi

With civil war in Syria, the emergence of ISIS, and the growing power of Iran, a new Middle East seems to be in the making. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become in some ways a sideline to these other developments. What do you see emerging out of these developments with regard to Israel/Palestine?

For the first time since the collapse of the Oslo process in 2000, I feel a small stirring of optimism and can see a way out. The defining conflict in the Middle East is no longer between Arabs and Israelis but between Sunnis and Shi”˜ites. Much of the West hasn’t yet internalized this historic shift. The Saudis are now meeting regularly with Israelis and even allowing those meetings to become public knowledge. This is unprecedented.
During the Gaza War last year, even as anti-Israel demonstrations were happening in the West, Israel was receiving urgent messages from Sunni leaders demanding that it destroy the Hamas regime. Hamas is especially detested by many Sunnis for making common cause with Shi”˜ite Iran””it’s the only Sunni Muslim Brotherhood organization to break ranks in the Sunni-Shi”˜ite war.

All of which is to say that the Middle East looks very different from the Middle East than it does from the West. When Israelis looks around the region, what we see is that the most intact society left is Israel. I say that with more anxiety than pride, because this is the region in which I live, in which I’m raising a family. My prayer is for a Middle East in which all its peoples will find their safe place. Ultimately, the success of the Jewish homecoming depends on our finding our place in the Middle East.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Bill Atwood–Unicorns, skittle rainbows and the law of unintended consequences

There was a report that the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion office was offering “facilitators” for the January gathering of Primates. He may be planning that, but I would suggest that the facilitators get refundable tickets. There is absolutely no chance that the GAFCON and Global South Primates will stand for another meeting where they are “handled” and manipulated by “facilitators” who have a pre-cooked agenda. This upcoming meeting will either be utterly genuine in all the gritty reality that brings, or it will not happen at all. I think it is truly an important gathering and I pray that it will be effective.

When innovations are introduced, it is done with the expectation that there will be unicorns and skittle rainbows. When they are done thoughtlessly, the result can be catastrophic, as it has been with some Provinces who have discarded the historic Biblical teaching on sexuality. I’m sure that they think all will be well because they want it to be; that there will be rain showers of gumdrops and the pot at the end of the skittle rainbow will be found, but in truth, consequences that they did not anticipate or intend are actually driving the train. Superficial solutions never work more than superficially. This is a time in which we need to actually deal with the departures from Biblical faith, with issues of Christology that are being erroneously embraced, and a disastrous sexual ethic that is not bearing godly fruit.

Here is the bottom line. If the January gathering of Primates does not fully address the real issues, the Communion will not survive””nor should it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CBC) From steeple to splinters: Former Anglican church in St. Philip's being razed

A former Anglican church in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s that was the source of deep division in the community is being demolished.

A demolition crew arrived at the property Monday and made short work of the steeple, which had become a symbol of a bitter feud that has raged since 2009 when the diocese approved a plan to remove the 120-year-old former sanctuary.

Someone took a saw to the steeple in March 2010 and used a vehicle to pull it down to the ground. That’s where it rested until it was hauled away and later reduced to splinters by a backhoe.

Read it all.

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

Gillian Scott–as 40% of adults think Jesus is a Myth, has Religious Education Failed?

Richard Dawkins and the other prophets of atheism love to tell us that in the fabricated battle between religious belief and rationalism, there can be only one winner, and that their side is finally gaining the upper hand; the days of superstitious belief in sky pixies and the like are numbered ”“ at least in the enlightened West. The tide is turning, and it is their hope that, in time, all religious belief, including Christianity, will be seen as little more than a dwindling remnant of the age of ignorance. This is the dawning of the Age of the Nones, where science and technology are the new gods to be worshipped and revered.

Certainly Christianity, though still the dominant faith in the United Kingdom, is in a bad way. Those who never progressed beyond the linear graphs of GCSE Maths will look at the decline in the number of professing Christians and calculate that, based on Census numbers going down from 72 per cent of the population in 2001 to 59 per cent in 2011, Christians will be about as common as chicken teeth by about 2060. If you happen to be a Methodist, things are even worse: your obituary is being readied for 2035.

But once you start digging deeper, the picture tells a set of more intricate stories. Even within the United Kingdom there are significant regional differences. A recent poll for the Theos think-tank found that Scotland is far more irreligious than the rest of the country, with 50 per cent of respondents having no religious faith compared to 35 per cent nationally. A quarter of the Welsh still attend a weekly service, almost double that of England and Scotland, and only 27 per cent of 18-24-year-olds actually describe themselves as Christian, compared to 79 per cent of the over 65s.

Read it all from the Archbishop Cranmer Blog.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Education, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Theology

More Foreclosures, this time by Hedge Funds

Private equity and hedge fund firms have bought more than 100,000 troubled mortgages at a discount from banks and federal housing agencies, emerging as aggressive liquidators for the remains of the mortgage crisis that erupted nearly a decade ago.

As the housing market nationwide recovers, this is a dark corner from which banks, stung by hefty penalties for bungling mortgage modifications and foreclosures, have retreated. Federal housing officials, for the most part, have welcomed the new financial players as being more nimble and creative than banks with terms for delinquent borrowers.

But the firms are now drawing fire. Housing advocates and lawyers for borrowers contend that the private equity firms and hedge funds are too quick to push homes into foreclosure and are even less helpful than the banks had been in negotiating loan modifications with borrowers. Federal and state lawmakers are taking up the issue, questioning why federal agencies are selling loans at a discount of as much as 30 percent to such firms.

Read it all from the front page of today’s New York Times.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Personal Finance, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Theology

Anglican Church of NZ Working group reports on Motion 30

The report was provided on 5 August 2015, in time for Te Runanganui and every Diocesan Synod.
In the report the Working Group outlines its intention to propose a two-step process which would allow consultation at Diocesan Synod and Hui Amorangi level between sessions of the General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui in 2016 and 2018.
This process will give more time for consultation than would have been possible for a proposal capable of adoption at a single General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui. It is the procedure provided for by the Church of England Empowering Act 1928.

Read it all and the link to the report itself.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AI) PEARUSA Moves Legally to ACNA, Remains Relationally Connected

The Synod of the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda, at its regular meeting on September 23rd, 2015, has initiated a bold move for Anglican unity.

By affirming the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) as an Anglican Province, and by holding true to Anglican order, the Synod is calling for the legal transfer of PEARUSA to the ACNA under Archbishop Foley Beach by June 2016. This call includes the PEARUSA Networks becoming ACNA Dioceses.

At the same time, Archbishop Rwaje and Presiding Bishop Steve Breedlove (pictured) have announced that PEARUSA will now transition into Rwanda Ministry Partners, a ministry association within the ACNA.

“Though we release you legally,” Archbishop Rwaje said, “We are bound relationally in Jesus Christ. We will continue serving together as we always have with ever increasing strength.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Provinces, Church of Rwanda

(NR) Robert George+Bill Lee on how Bill Nye the Science Guy gets Science wrong on Abortion

Bill Nye is supposed to be “the science guy.” Recently he published a video on YouTube purporting to inform viewers of what science tells us about abortion. Nye claims that laws against abortion reflect “a deep scientific lack of understanding.” But it turns out that it is Nye himself who doesn’t understand the science. “I really encourage you to look at the facts,” he says. But then he misrepresents the facts from top to bottom in an embarrassingly transparent effort to hijack science in the cause of pro-abortion ideology.

Nye’s video is so breathtakingly arrogant and incompetently argued that it is hard to know where to begin. He opens by saying: “Many, many, many, many more hundreds of eggs are fertilized than become humans. Eggs get fertilized, and by that I mean sperm get accepted by ova ”” a lot.” The fact he is pointing to here ”” the high rate of pre-implantation spontaneous abortions (estimates range from 45 percent to as high as 70 percent) ”” is the only bit of science Nye ever mentions in the video. But he thinks one can infer from it that a human being does not come to be until the embryo implants on the uterine wall: “[The sperm’s joining the ovum] is not all you need. You have to attach to the uterine wall, the inside of a womb, a woman’s womb.”

But that is easily exposed as a non sequitur ”” a logical fallacy, the conclusion does not follow from the premise. The fact that many human embryos die at an early stage of development (pre-implantation) provides no evidence whatsoever for the proposition that they are not embryonic human beings ”” no more than comparable high rates of infant mortality in most places before the 20th century showed that infants were not human beings.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Apologetics, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

Gavin Dunbar–Catechizing

Christ commissioned the church to make disciples of all nations, by “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”; and by “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you”(Matthew 28:19). There is a doctrine to be learned, “mere Christianity” if you like, “the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments and all other things which a Christian ought to know and believe to his soul’s health”. In accordance with Scripture’s command (Psalm 78:1-8) the Prayer Book provides a Catechism, in question and answer form, “that is to say, An Instruccion to bee learned of every childe, before he be brought to be confirmed of the bushop” (1549 Prayer Book rubric in original spelling!).

In his classic treatise on pastoral care, the Country Parson, the priest-poet George Herbert values Catechizing for infusing “a competent knowledge of salvation to every one of his Flock”: The “secret” benefit of this practice “consists in this, that at Sermons, and Prayers, men may sleep or wander; but when one is asked a question, he must discover what he is [i.e. awake, and alert or asleep, and wandering!]”….

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Adult Education, Christology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Atlantic) How Should America Deal With the Sinners in Its Prisons?

Dammer, the University of Scranton professor, said people are often skeptical of religious people in prisons, and particularly those who convert behind bars. “The common thought by correctional officers or people who run prisons or even the general public is that people who are involved in religion in prison because ”¦[they] think they’ll get parole easy or earlier,” he said. This isn’t really the case, he said; especially as states have moved away from indeterminate sentencing, or prison terms that involve a range of possible lengths, this kind of pious performance hasmattered less for helping people get parole.

“Do some inmates use religion in prison in a manipulative way? Absolutely. They do it to meet women at services, they do it to get goods and services,” he said. “Most of them, though, don’t do it for this myth””just to get out of prison. They do it to help them live in prison in a way that helps them survive.”

Religious figures play various roles in prisons. Institutions will usually have hired chaplains on staff, sometimes euphemistically called “faith representatives.” These chaplains often oversee groups of volunteers who come into prisons to run bible studies and other programs. In one prison that Dammer studied, “the only contact [inmates] had with anybody was with the chaplains, who would walk up and down the hallways and read the bible. [Otherwise], it was 23 hours a day of total solitary confinement.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Pope Benedict XVI, Prison/Prison Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

Paul House–Yours is the Day, Yours..the Night': Dietrich Bonhoeffer+the Practice of Daily Worship

The daily spiritual exercises Dietrich Bonhoeffer expected of all members of Finkenwalde created some controversy at the time.

Bonhoeffer required silence before the morning service, which consisted of Bible reading, prayers and hymns. He also required a time of silent meditation and intercession after breakfast before lectures began. The community had a similar evening service, and at times readings during lunch.

Though these exercises were balanced by study, lectures and recreation, many objected to such “Catholic” practices. Others considered them evidences of legalism at Finkenwalde. Why did Bonhoeffer require these aspects of the community’s day together and its day alone?

He did so because he believed that students were members of Christ’s body preparing to be shepherds of the body of Christ.

Read it all from ABC Australia.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Christology, Church History, Europe, Germany, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

David Brooks–the Mass Incarceration Problem is not caused by what most Think

…research suggests that while it’s true that lawmakers passed a lot of measures calling for long prison sentences, if you look at how much time inmates actually served, not much has changed over the past few decades. Roughly half of all prisoners have prison terms in the range of two to three years, and only 10 percent serve more than seven years. The laws look punitive, but the time served hasn’t increased, and so harsh laws are not the main driver behind mass incarceration, either.

So what does explain it? Pfaff’s theory is that it’s the prosecutors. District attorneys and their assistants have gotten a lot more aggressive in bringing felony charges. Twenty years ago they brought felony charges against about one in three arrestees. Now it’s something like two in three. That produces a lot more plea bargains and a lot more prison terms.

I asked Pfaff why prosecutors are more aggressive. He’s heard theories. Maybe they are more political and they want to show toughness to raise their profile to impress voters if they run for future office. Maybe the police are bringing stronger cases. Additionally, prosecutors are usually paid by the county but prisons by the state, so prosecutors tend not to have to worry about the financial costs of what they do.

Read it all from the New York Times Op-ed page.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Prison/Prison Ministry, Psychology, Theology

Head of Church of England’s task force on credit unions urges wealthy to lend to the poor

Sir Hector Sants is calling upon the wealthy to lend to credit unions and help run co-operatives in an attempt to raise their profile and fill the vast gap left by the shrinking payday lending sector.

The former chief executive of the City watchdog was appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury last year to lead the Church of England’s task force on credit unions, but said they need greater support to help borrowers seeking short-term loans.

In an interview with FT Money, Sir Hector said: “Join a credit union ”” it doesn’t have to be your sole bank ”” and deposit money, which can then be lent out. There are often good terms if you need a loan.”

Read it all from the FT.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance, Poverty, Religion & Culture, The Banking System/Sector, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Michael and All Angels

O everlasting God, who hast ordained and constituted the ministries of angels and men in a wonderful order: Mercifully grant that, as thy holy angels always serve and worship thee in heaven, so by thy appointment they may help and defend us on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Frank Colquhoun

Blessed Lord, who putteth down the mighty from their seat and exaltest those of low degree: Save us, we beseech thee, from pride and vainglory, from self-seeking and false ambition. Give us a humble and contrite spirit, that we may think less of ourselves, more of others, and most of all of thee, who art our mighty God and Saviour; to whom with thee and the Holy Spirit we ascribe all praise and glory, now and for evermore.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! Clouds and thick darkness are round about him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him, and burns up his adversaries round about. His lightnings lighten the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness; and all the peoples behold his glory.

–Psalm 97:1-6

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture