Daily Archives: September 17, 2015

(Economist) Skirmish on the Mount–Trouble is brewing again at Jerusalem's holiest site

The year 5,775 on the Hebrew calendar ended much the way it began: with violence at Jerusalem’s holiest site. On the morning of September 13th, hours before the Rosh Hashanah holiday began, Israeli police raided the compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. A group of Palestinian worshippers emerged from the al-Aqsa mosque to pelt them with stones, and the officers responded with tear gas and sound bombs. Similar scenes have played out on the next two mornings as well.

Police said the raid was a preemptive measure ahead of the holiday, which typically brings an influx of Jewish visitors. Gilad Erdan, the public-security minister, said that pipe bombs had indeed been found inside the mosque. Twenty-six people were injured, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. More than 1,000 Israeli Jews ascended anyway, in spite of the violence.

The plateau, occupied by Israel during the 1967 war, is Judaism’s most sacred site, believed to be the location of the Biblical temple. Muslims revere it as the place where the Prophet Muhammad made his night journey to heaven. Under a long-standing arrangement, Muslims have exclusive rights to pray there; Jews may visit at certain times, but must worship below at the Western Wall.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Local Paper) South Carolina again tops list of nation’s deadliest states for women

South Carolina has been ranked the deadliest state in the nation for women for the fourth time in 17 years, but experts say new sweeping domestic violence reforms could help stanch the bloodshed and end this ignoble reign.

With 57 women slain in a year’s time, South Carolina’s murder rate for women killed by men was more than double the national average, according to the latest rankings by the Washington, D.C.-based Violence Policy Center.

Last year, the state was No. 2 in the nation, a spot now held by Alaska.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Men, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Violence, Women

(NYT) Cabins, the New American Dream

Tiny living (a gentle, left-leaning alternative to hard-edged right-wing survivalism) is a way for people who are already slim to go on dieting. In both its real and imaginary versions, but especially in the latter, it’s invigorating and clarifying. Lack of closet space concentrates the mind, challenging us to reflect on our priorities, or develop some if we don’t have any. In my own life, I’ve noticed in recent years that the pleasures of divestiture ”” of carting stuff off to the thrift store or the dump ”” far exceed the pleasures of acquisition. When I see a photo of a clever loft space perched above a compact, TV-free living room with a cool kitchenette in the corner and views of pine trees, I drift off into an alternate existence where smartphones and antacids have no hold over me.

Is any of this new? Of course not. Back in the 1930s, during the Depression, the businessman and tinkerer Wally Byam founded a company called Airstream. Its signature product, a streamlined RV, was a miracle of miniaturization promising freedom and self-reliance. ”˜”˜I’m here today and gone tomorrow/ I drive away from care and sorrow,’’ reads a vintage postcard from the era that depicts a grumpy bill collector gazing after a departing trailer hitched to a car whose driver wears a huge grin. But Byam’s goals for his homes on wheels weren’t merely escapist; he truly believed that his trailers could save the world, or at least substantially improve it. He organized caravans of the vehicles with the intention, similar to Zach Klein’s, of fostering understanding and togetherness and building, what we now call ”˜”˜community.’’ Humble spaces, smiling faces ”” that was the general notion. And it endures. The American Dream is like that. You think it has receded, that it has died, but really, it’s only downsized.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Theology

(Atlantic) Conor Friedersdorf–The Rise of Victimhood Culture

Last fall at Oberlin College, a talk held as part of Latino Heritage Month was scheduled on the same evening that intramural soccer games were held. As a result, soccer players communicated by email about their respective plans. “Hey, that talk looks pretty great,” a white student wrote to a Hispanic student, “but on the off chance you aren’t going or would rather play futbol instead the club team wants to go!!”

Unbeknownst to the white student, the Hispanic student was offended by the email. And her response signals the rise of a new moral culture America….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Men, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Theology, Women, Young Adults

(BBC) Malaria: '700 million cases' stopped in Africa

Nearly 700 million cases of malaria have been prevented in Africa as a result of concerted efforts to tackle the disease since 2000, a study shows.
The report published in the journal Nature showed that overall the number of infections fell by 50% across the continent.
Bed nets were responsible for the vast majority of the decrease.
There have also been calls to maintain funding to ensure the progress is not undone.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Theology

A Statement from ACNA leader Foley Beach on the Proposed Primates Gathering

I did indeed receive a personal call from Archbishop Justin Welby inviting me to attend and participate.

If my fellow GAFCON Primates accept the invitation, and I am expecting that they will, then I have also pledged to attend. The challenges facing the Anglican Communion over the last couple of decades are no secret, and it is time to face them.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury

A S Haley–A Surprise Meeting for an Anglican Family no longer functioning as a Communion

The challenge to Archbishop Welby and the gathered Primates will be to find a path that will allow the greatest possible number of shattered relationships to heal, and so in time (perhaps) to move the Communion to a new consensus.

But for that to happen, the Anglican Communion Office (through both the Archbishop of Canterbury and its Secretariat) will have to distance itself further from financial and ideological dependency on ECUSA and its wealthy constituents, such as Trinity Wall Street. For too long now, from GAFCON’s point of view, the revisionists have been calling the shots, but now there are signs that they at last are weakening. That is why Archbishop Idowu-Fearon will play a key role, along with Archbishop Welby, in resolving how best to start the realignment the Communion at the upcoming Primates’ Meeting, if that process is to begin at all.

If they try to help ECUSA and ACoC retain their erstwhile roles of influence, they will hasten the eventual disintegration of the Anglican Communion. Likewise, if they listen only to the voices of modernity, according to which each church’s or denomination’s view of Scripture needs to get in step with the culture, then they will seal that disintegration, by recognizing it as a fact that has already occurred. But if they actually listen to the voices that are seeking to hold the Communion in line with its traditional understanding of Scripture””an understanding that stems from the very beginnings of the Anglican Church””they may yet hope to call a halt to the disintegration, and to lay the first firm paving-stones for a Communion that will, one day and once again, derive its strength from its collective faith in the good news of Christ crucified.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(L. Times Leader) The Archbishop of Canterbury is offering the Anglican communion a reality check

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitation yesterday to all primates to meet in January to thrash out their differences is a bold attempt to end the arguments that have brought the Anglican church to the brink of schism. It is also a high-risk strategy, with splits and walkouts more likely than agreement or even agreement to disagree. Why has he taken this step now?
First, he is determined to focus Anglicans on the most serious issues confronting Christians today, from violence and persecution in the Middle East to poverty and the protection of vulnerable children throughout the developing world. This is impossible as long as they are wasting their energies quarrelling among themselves. Like Rowan Williams, his predecessor, he wants to keep the 80 million-strong communion together, but not at any price. So he is proposing a looser, less imperial structure. A church can decide not to remain in communion with every other one, as long as it retains a clear link with Canterbury. As a source at Lambeth Palace suggests, it is not a divorce; more like sleeping in separate beds.
Second, the archbishop, a former oil executive, likes clarity. The communion cannot go on pretending that all is well when it is not.

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Posted in Uncategorized

([London Times) Archbp Welby holds crisis talks to prevent a church split

The Most Rev Justin Welby will propose that Anglican communities with differing views loosen their links. Many have refused to speak directly to each other for more than a decade, but he will try to persuade them not to break away altogether.
Faced with the biggest crisis in the church since Darwin developed his theory of evolution, the archbishop intends to offer each of the churches “wiggle room” to hold different positions on issues such as gay marriage, sources say. They could sever links with churches holding different views as long as they keep a basic connection with the “mother church in Canterbury”.
The archbishop believes that he could then maintain relations with the liberal churches of North America as well as the African churches, some of which favour the criminalisation of homosexuality. The changes would in effect turn the church into a semi-independent federation.
Sources put the chance of success at only 30 per cent, however. Traditionalist bishops are expected to reject the proposals, meaning that the church could ultimately divide permanently.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AI) Is the End near for Anglicanism in Quebec?

Anglophone migration out of Francophone Canada has decimated the Anglican Church with the number of members of the Diocese of Quebec falling almost in half over the past two years, a document released on the diocesan website reports.

“A Thumbnail Sketch of the Diocese” published on 14 Sept 2015 in preparation for the election of the 13th Bishop of Quebec reported: “There are 69 congregations, serving an overall Anglican population of approximately 1800 souls.” Statistics published in a report released in early 2014 by the Task Force on Mission Ministry and Management reported the diocese had 3000 members in 52 parishes with 87 congregations.

On 5 Aug 2015 the Bishop of Quebec, the Rt Rev. Dennis Drainville (61) announced that he would step down in 2017 and called for the election of a coadjutor at a special meeting of synod on 26-29 Nov 2015, with his successor consecrated in March 2016. Earlier this year, Bishop Drainville stood for election in Montreal and called for the merger of the two dioceses. He lost to Bishop-elect Mary Irwin-Gibson. He told the Anglican Journal his decision to retire was not related to the result of that election.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canada, Christology, History, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology

Nigeria: Controversy Trails Boko Haram Terrorists' Surrender, Dialogue

Nigerians have greeted the recent reported surrender of Boko Haram terrorists and federal government’s dialogue with the terrorists with mixed feelings.

Recent reports from the military high command in the northeast indicate that the Boko Haram terrorists, weary of fighting and mass-killing through suicide bombing, have begun to lay down their arms and handing themselves over to the Nigerian military.

Immediately coming on the heels of the military report was the statement credited to the presidency that negotiation was ongoing with the leaders of the terrorists who have severally been quoted as bragging that they would not go into any negotiation with the Nigerian government.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Terrorism, Theology, Violence, Women

(AC) Philip Jenkins–Germany’s Coming Demographic Revolution

They still haven’t got it.

European media and policymakers have correctly realized that the present refugee crisis is an enormous challenge to the assumptions that have guided the continent for decades, to the point of potentially breaking the European Union. But apparently they still are not prepared to confront the specifically religious revolution now under way.

This issue places me in a strange and unprecedented position. Over the past decade, I have written about the presence of Islam in Europe, arguing repeatedly that the threat of “Islamization” is overblown. Overall, I have argued, Europe’s Muslim population is presently around 4.5 percent of the whole, which by U.S. standards is in no sense a massive minority presence. It might rise to 10 or 15 percent later in the century, but the change will be gradual, allowing plenty of time for assimilation.

My moderate position on this has been heavily criticized by various right-wing outlets such as FrontPage Magazine, a publication with which I agree on basically nothing. On most issues, I find FrontPage’s tone hysterical and alarmist. Now, suddenly, I myself have to criticize that magazine for being insufficiently concerned about Islam. These are strange times.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Foreign Relations, Germany, Islam, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Hildegard of Bingen

O God, by whose grace thy servant Hildegard, enkindled with the fire of thy love, became a burning and shining light in thy Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and may ever walk before thee as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Charles Kingsley

Lift up our hearts, we beseech thee, O Christ, above the false show of things, above fear, above laziness, above selfishness and covetousness, above custom and fashion, up to the everlasting truth and order that thou art; that so we may live joyfully and freely, in faithful trust that thou art our Saviour, our example, and our friend, both now and for evermore.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

–Matthew 5:1-10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(The State) Judge will release some documents, 911 calls in Charleston church shooting

A South Carolina judge says he will release some police documents and other evidence in connection with the Charleston church shooting that claimed the lives of nine African-American worshippers.

Judge J.C. Nicholson said he first wanted to sit down with attorneys for the victims and the news media to review some of the more graphic evidence ”“ including photographs of the crime scene ”“ before deciding specifically what will be released.

During a hearing in Charleston on Wednesday, Nicholson also indicated the 911 calls would be released but that there had been no decision whether the tapes themselves or just simply transcripts would be released.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Anthropology, City Government, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, State Government, Theology, Violence

An interview with Anglican Vicar and ex-con Paul Cowley on his mission to Britain's prisons

Cowley has serious concerns about the state of the UK prison system, reform of which he describes as “my little bit of the Big Society”. He has visited every single prison in the country, and some of them are “horrendous”. We are failing “to bring the men out better than they went in”, one of the most important and basic tasks of a prison. Overcrowding is a problem ”“ HMP Pentonville, for instance, was built for 250 men but now holds about 1300. The only remaining space left is in the chapel. Some prisons were built in a very different age and are no longer fit for purpose ”“ here Cowley agrees with Michael Gove that we ought to consider closing some of the big Victorian central London prisons like Wandsworth and Wormwood Scrubs. The Prison Service could make enormous amounts of money from the sale of the property and build purpose-built modern prisons. More fundamentally, though, Cowley sees a problem with vision. There is not enough commitment to creating and sustaining prisons that enable people to emerge as better and more productive members of society. The average reading age of a male British prisoner (11 years old) has not shifted in the nearly two decades since CFEO started their work. The typical profile of a British prisoner remains depressingly static ”“ poor family background, drugs and alcohol problems, minimal education, mental health issues (70% of British prisoners are estimated to have at least one mental health problem). Clearly, Cowley argues, not enough is being done to give these men a decent second chance while they are detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure. He looks overseas for better ways of doing things, notably to Scandinavia, where the use of smaller prisons and innovative management has reduced reoffending. Obviously he has thought deeply about the lessons we might learn in this country.

I came away from meeting Cowley with a deep admiration for the man and his work. He is engaged in one of the hardest and most thankless trenches of charitable endeavour, working with people who most people would instinctively prefer to avoid or write off. His achievements are vast; I am quite sure that in a thousand little ways, mostly unseen, all over the country, his organisation is changing lives for the better.

Read it all from Quadrapheme.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Guardian) Archbishop of Canterbury plans to loosen ties of divided Anglican communion

The archbishop of Canterbury is proposing to effectively dissolve the fractious and bitterly divided worldwide Anglican communion and replace it with a much looser grouping.

Justin Welby has summoned all the 38 leaders of the national churches of the Anglican communion to a meeting in Canterbury next January, where he will propose that the communion be reorganised as a group of churches that are all linked to Canterbury but no longer necessarily to each other.

He believes that the communion ”“ notionally the third largest Christian body in the world with 80 million members, after the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox churches – has become impossible to hold together due to arguments over power and sexuality and has, for the past 20 years, been completely dysfunctional.

A Lambeth Palace source said the archbishop felt he could not leave his eventual successor in the same position of “spending vast amounts of time trying to keep people in the boat and never actually rowing it anywhere”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture