Daily Archives: September 25, 2015

The full text of Pope Francis’ speech to the United Nations

First, it must be stated that a true “right of the environment” does exist, for two reasons. First, because we human beings are part of the environment. We live in communion with it, since the environment itself entails ethical limits which human activity must acknowledge and respect. Man, for all his remarkable gifts, which “are signs of a uniqueness which transcends the spheres of physics and biology” (Laudato Si’, 81), is at the same time a part of these spheres. He possesses a body shaped by physical, chemical and biological elements, and can only survive and develop if the ecological environment is favorable. Any harm done to the environment, therefore, is harm done to humanity.

Second, because every creature, particularly a living creature, has an intrinsic value, in its existence, its life, its beauty and its interdependence with other creatures. We Christians, together with the other monotheistic religions, believe that the universe is the fruit of a loving decision by the Creator, who permits man respectfully to use creation for the good of his fellow men and for the glory of the Creator; he is not authorized to abuse it, much less to destroy it. In all religions, the environment is a fundamental good (cf. ibid.).

The misuse and destruction of the environment are also accompanied by a relentless process of exclusion. In effect, a selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity leads both to the misuse of available natural resources and to the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged, either because they are differently abled (handicapped), or because they lack adequate information and technical expertise, or are incapable of decisive political action.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Other Churches, Politics in General, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Theology

Church Times: No refusals so far to Welby’s invitation to Canterbury

…the Episcopal Church confirmed that the Rt Revd Michael Curry, who is due to succeed Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop, would attend.

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Most Revd Archbishop Fred Hiltz, welcomed the meeting as “a good thing”. Speaking on Tuesday, he described the decision to invite ACNA ”” it is understood that the representative will be present for one day, before the formal meeting gets under way ”” as “an opportunity for some conversation, in the ultimate hope that we might be able to find a way forward towards reconciliation”.

US bishops also welcomed the Archbishop’s initiative, despite reservations. “I hope that all will be in attendance, and participate fully,” the Bishop of Vermont, the Rt Revd Thomas C. Ely, said. “It is not clear to me the reasoning behind inviting other guests who are not Primates of the Anglican Communion to this meeting, especially since this is the first meeting of the Primates in quite some time.

“Clearly the Archbishop, with his wider perspective on things, thinks this is a good idea, and so I trust his judgement.”

Read it all [emphasis ours]

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates

CEN: Gafcon unconvinced by plans for Primates’ Gathering

Via Anglican Mainstream
…Sources say that Archbishop Welby reached out to the Global South Group, Archbishop Mouneer Anis of the Middle East, Ian Ernest of the Indian Ocean, Bolly Lapok of SE Asia, Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi ”“ to get this off the ground.

They are said to have come on board before the invitation was issued publicly. It is their understanding the first order of business will be a discussion of what to do about the [American] Episcopal Church.

The Archbishop of York, the Most Rev Dr John Sentamu was invited to attend, but is unable to make the meeting.

Read it all and follow the link [page 4] for the above extract [emphasis ours]

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates

After 40 years in office, Charleston's Joe Riley prescribes 6 ways to make SC better

On a few topics, Riley was brief and to the point.

Invest in early childhood education, he urged, and increase the amount of money available for public infrastructure, perhaps through an increase in the state’s gas tax.

It is imperative that communities have well-functioning roads, bridges and public transportation, Riley said. “We have to have thriving, livable metropolitan areas that are creating jobs, and transportation is a very important part of that.”

Riley also mentioned the importance of attracting high-tech jobs, naming a handful of technology companies headquartered in Charleston, including Blackbaud, maker of fund-raising and nonprofit software; BoomTown!, purveyor of real estate software; and Benefitfocus, which specializes in human resources software.

Read it all from The State newspaper in Columbia, SC.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, State Government, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

Bp Bill Atwood: YWAM Discipleship Training School-DTS and the Anglican Church

For decades, the “gold standard” of mission discipleship has been Youth With A Mission’s (YWAM) Discipleship Training School (DTS). The original curriculum was designed by Dave Gustaveson, pretty much universally referred to as Dave G. Now, years later, though there has been wisdom and evolution, the basic pattern continues. Three months of classroom and community building is followed by three months of deployment on overseas mission in what is called the “10-40 Window.” That is the band around the globe from 10ËšNorth to 40ËšNorth in which most of the world’s unreached people groups live. To my knowledge it was first coined by Louis Bush in 1990. Bush, a Christian mission strategist saw the need to target the area because of the religious makeup of the people who lived in that region and the lack of penetration of Christian faith.

The YWAM vision to reach the nations of the world goes back to 1956 when a 20 year old Loren Cunningham was traveling in the Bahamas over Spring Break with a Christian singing group. Here are his words on what happened:…

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

(Telegraph) The real-life exorcist behind the ITV Drama Midwinter of the Spirit

It might not be well-publicised by the church, but every diocese in Britain has its own deliverance minister. Each is appointed, personally, by the Bishop. Many, like Stephen, become interested in taking on the role after having their own experience of some apparently supernatural phenomena . “I used to live in a house that seemed to have some sort of presence,” says Stephen. His haunting, though, was mild: more pest than pestilence. “Even though it was a relatively modern house it was always very cold, particularly in my children’s bedroom,” he says. “We bled the radiators, we looked for a draft and there was none. The place just had an atmosphere. I went away for a couple of nights and my wife, who’s fairly level headed, was freaked out just by being left in the house with my child.” At a loss, he called in a deliverance minister who told him, ”˜Don’t worry, I can deal with this,’ and blessed the house. As he said his prayers everyone gathered felt the temperature rise around them, right where they stood. “It went from cool to being very warm, and it wasn’t just me that felt it,” he says. “This is something I’ve experienced a few times. The house is actually quite a pleasant place to live now.”

Becoming a deliverance minister not only requires selection by the bishop, but the attendance of a compulsory training course. “It lasts three or four days,” he says. “It gives you a huge amount of input along the lines of, ”˜these are things you may not have experienced before and how you go about dealing with them.’ There’s also a very heavy emphasis on the difference between people who are psychotic and people who might be manifesting evil influences.” As part of his general training, Stephen says he completed an extended placement working at a mental health facility. “I have quite an extensive knowledge and experience of people who’ve got various psychiatric problems.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theodicy, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Guardian Law: Woman awarded £184,000 in UK's first caste discrimination case

A woman recruited from India to work in Britain and paid as little as 11p an hour has been awarded nearly £184,000 compensation in one of the UK’s first claims of caste discrimination.

Permila Tirkey, from Bihar ”“ one of India’s poorest states – was kept in domestic servitude by her employers in Milton Keynes and forced to work as their cleaner and nanny.

Tirkey’s family are Adivasi people who are dark skinned, poor and of low caste. They describe themselves as being from the “servant class” comprising of Hindus and Christians.

Her employers, Ajay and Pooja Chandhok, both originally Hindus, were found by an employment tribunal to have made her work for 18 hours a day, seven days a week.

Tirkey, a Christian, was required to sleep on a mattress on the floor, prevented from bringing her bible to the UK, not allowed to contact her family and given a bank account which was controlled by her employers. Her ordeal lasted four and a half years.

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

NYT: Pope Francis to Find a Church in Upheaval

..The Roman Catholic Church that Pope Francis will encounter on his first visit to the United States is being buffeted by immense change, and it is struggling ”” with integrating a new generation of immigrants, with conflicts over buildings and resources, with recruiting priests and with retaining congregants. The denomination is still the largest in the United States, but its power base is shifting.

On the East Coast and in the Midwest, bishops are closing or merging parishes and shuttering parochial schools built on the dimes and sweat of generations of European immigrants. In many parishes, worshipers are sparse, funerals outnumber baptisms, and Sunday collections are not enough to maintain even beloved houses of worship.

In the West and the South, and in some other unexpected pockets all over the country, the church is bursting at the seams with immigrants, mostly from Mexico and Latin America, but also from Asia and Africa. Hispanic parents put their children on waiting lists for religious education classes and crowd into makeshift worship spaces, but avoid predominantly Anglo parishes because they do not always feel welcome there.

“The ethnic face of the church is changing, and the center of gravity and influence in the church is shifting from the East to the West, and from the North to the South,” Archbishop José H. Gómez of Los Angeles said…

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic

Nepal's new constitution comes into force on Sunday, but minorities say it privileges Hindus

Gyanu Adhikari in Scroll.in
The upper-caste leaders crafting Nepal’s constitution ”“ to come into force 5 pm on Sunday ”“ have included provisions on secularism that leave room for future conflicts over religion, lawyers warn. The new constitution says Nepal will be a secular state, but goes on to define secularism as the “protection of Sanatan religion culture, as well as cultural and religious freedom”.

“Sanatan religion, in Nepal’s context, is interpreted as Hinduism, which has influenced Nepali law and governance,” said Sapana Pradhan Malla, a lawyer who has been active in exposing the constitutional provisions that discriminate against women ”“ including a separate unequal provision for men and women on passing citizenship to their children.

Secularism has long been demanded by Nepal’s religious minorities ”“ including Buddhists, Christian, Muslims, and nature worshippers, as well as indigenous groups some of whose cultural traditions have been criminalised by laws based on Hinduism.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, The Anglican Church in South East Asia

(C of E Blog) Nigel Genders–Religious Education is not a soft option

Religious Education is not a soft option, it is a vital subject for promoting understanding. But there will be no option to choose the subject of Religious Studies as one of the humanities in the proposed compulsory English Baccalaureate (EBacc). Having worked so positively with government for the reform of RS GCSE and A-levels to ensure the new qualifications are rigorous and have much greater theological depth, this is hugely disappointing.

In fact today, the head of Osted, Sir Michael Wilshaw has also challenged the Government over the Ebacc.

The numbers of students opting to take RS as a GCSE has been steadily rising, because they recognise the important role the subject plays in equipping them for life in today’s world. But by not including RS in the EBacc options, the government is limiting choice. Schools will obviously be swayed by which measures are used to hold them accountable. For example, the fact that the RS GCSE short course is no longer included in those measures has resulted in a 67% fall in the numbers of students taking the qualification. Many have switched to the full course RS GCSE, which is obviously a good thing, but the move to make the EBacc compulsory (for those taking GCSEs in 2020) will then have a dramatic impact on the courses students are able to choose.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Children, Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Theology

(RNS) Ben Carson’s Muslim comments ignore his own denomination’s history

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

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Office of the President, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Church Times) Help refugees to escape a slow death, urges Coptic Leader Bishop Angaelos

The leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Britain, Bishop Angaelos, has called on the Government to multiply its efforts to resettle Middle Eastern refugees in the UK.

Bishop Angaelos visited a transit camp for refugees on the border of Greece and Macedonia earlier this month, and said that the people he met were desperate to find a safer life.

He spoke on Tuesday about a conversation with a young Syrian. “He said: ”˜In Syria we are used to quick deaths through bombs and bullets, but we are embarking on a slow death.’ He was referring to the trip by sea.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Coptic Church, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Syria, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Sergius

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us, we pray thee, from an inordinate love of this world, that inspired by the devotion of thy servant Sergius of Moscow, we may serve thee with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Church History, Europe, Russia, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from A Form of Prayer (1940)

O Lord Christ, thou Prince of peace, the faithful and true: Grant to us all, we beseech thee, that putting on the whole armour of God, we may follow thee as thou goest forth conquering and to conquer; and, fighting manfully under thy banner against sin, the world, and the devil, may be found more than conquerors, and at the last may be refreshed with the multitude of peace in the holy city of our God; whose is the greatness and the power, the victory and the majesty, world without end.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Dost thou work wonders for the dead? Do the shades rise up to praise thee?…Is thy steadfast love declared in the grave, or thy faithfulness in Abaddon? Are thy wonders known in the darkness, or thy saving help in the land of forgetfulness?

–Psalm 88:10-12

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Love Divine – Maddy Prior

Love divine, all loves excelling,
joy of heaven, to earth come down;
fix in us thy humble dwelling;
all thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus thou art all compassion,
pure, unbounded love thou art;
visit us with thy salvation;
enter every trembling heart.

Breathe, O breathe thy loving Spirit
into every troubled breast!
Let us all in thee inherit;
let us find that second rest.
Take away our bent to sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
end of faith, as its beginning,
set our hearts at liberty.

Come, Almighty to deliver,
let us all thy life receive;
suddenly return and never,
nevermore thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
serve thee as thy hosts above,
pray and praise thee without ceasing,
glory in thy perfect love.

Finish, then, thy new creation;
pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see thy great salvation
perfectly restored in thee;
changed from glory into glory,
till in heaven we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before thee,
lost in wonder, love, and praise.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Liturgy, Music, Worship

(WSJ) On Eve of Pope Francis’s Visit, U.S. Catholic Church Grapples With Growth and Decline

The U.S. Catholic Church is expanding quickly in the South and West, largely driven by immigrants from Latin America filling pews in Atlanta, Houston and in Southern California.

Meanwhile, the church is contracting in the East and upper Midwest, where historic Catholic strongholds like Boston, Detroit and New York City are closing parishes as population or attendance declines.

The result: Old-line dioceses are battling to keep their doors open, even as fast-growing ones are scrambling to meet the needs of the growing faithful.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(CC) Stephanie Paulsell–Words that count

These feelings and convictions””that study is as sweet as honey, that reading is as intimate and mysterious as prayer, that we long for a glimpse of God’s presence and will wake up early to seek it””are not easy to communicate, even in church. It’s hard to find the right words to express them. But these early fall days, when our communities feel the most porous, are an opportunity to try. What matters most is our willingness to speak with each other about the things that matter most to us.

The Christian calendar gives us a saint for this work: St. Jerome, the fourth-century scholar whose translations of the Old and New Testaments formed the basis of the Latin Vulgate. September 30 is the feast day of this patron saint of translators who stands at the threshold of our rich religious inheritance and beckons us to enter. Jerome devoted his life to making scriptures first written in Hebrew and Greek available in a different language. His work of translation is our work too.

As Jerome knew, our attempts to cross the boundaries of language draw us into relationship with others””in Jerome’s case, with the rabbis who taught him to read the Hebrew text and with the women who supported his work and shared his devotion to prayer and study. His translations opened the Bible to the people of his time and place and far beyond it. And his work of translation opened him to others’ lives. This fall we have an opportunity to translate and to be translated, to find words for what matters most to us, and to be changed by the encounter with what matters to others.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Education, Religion & Culture, Theology

(F Things) Russell Moore–Why Evangelicals will not be surrendering to the Sexual Revolution

Could the next Billy Graham be a married lesbian? In the year 2045, will Focus on the Family be “Focus on the Families,” broadcasting counsel to Evangelicals about how to manage jealousy in their polyamorous relationships? That’s the assumption among many””on the celebratory left as well as the nervous right. Now that the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case has nationalized same-sex marriage, America’s last hold-outs, conservative Evangelical Protestants, will eventually, we’re told, stop worrying and learn to love, or at least accept, the sexual revolution. As Americans grow more accustomed to redefined concepts of marriage and family, Evangelicals will convert to the new understanding and update their theologies to suit. This is not going to happen. The revolution will not be televangelized.

In any given week, I’m asked by multiple reporters about the “sea change” among Evangelicals in support of same-sex marriage. I reply by asking for evidence of this shift. The first piece of evidence is always polling data about Millennial support for such. I respond with data on Millennial Evangelicals who actually attend church, which show no such shift away from orthodoxy. The journalist then typically points to “all the Evangelical megachurches that are shifting their positions on marriage.” I request the names of these megachurches.

The first one mentioned is almost always a church in Franklin, Tennessee””a congregation with considerably less than a thousand attendees on any given Sunday. That may be a “megachurch” by Episcopalian standards, but it is not by Evangelical standards, and certainly not by Nashville Evangelical standards. The church is the fifth-largest, not in the country, not in the region, not even in the city; it is the fifth-largest congregation on its street within a mile radius. I’ll usually grant that church, though, and ask for others. So far, no journalist has named more churches shifting on marriage than there are points of Calvinism. They just take the Evangelical shift as a given fact.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, History, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Get Religion with yet another reminder that Reporters get the Anglican Timeline Wrong

Any global timeline would have to include 1998, when the worldwide Lambeth Conference passed a resolution affirming scripture and traditional teachings on marriage and human sexuality. Then 65 Episcopal bishops sign another statement of dissent. That was also the year when [Bishop John] Spong released his famous 12 theses, beginning with “Theism, as a way of defining God, is dead.” In his 10th thesis, he added: “Prayer cannot be a request made to a theistic deity to act in human history in a particular way.”

Looking for issues other than sex? Spong was raising some big ones, rejecting most of the basic elements of creedal Christianity.

On a related issue, I have always thought it was crucial that, in 1992, Bishop C. FitzSimons Allison of South Carolina stopped receiving Holy Communion in meetings of the U.S. House of Bishops after several of his colleagues refused to condemn a liberal theologian’s statement that she served a god that is “older and greater” than the deity revealed in the Bible.

How much of that needs to be mentioned in a news story? That is a matter for editors and reporters to determine. But the simple fact is that the actual battles over homosexuality began in the late 1970s and efforts to build alternative conservative structures in the United States began in the 1990s. To say that Robinson’s election “precipitated” this division is inaccurate. Why settle for flawed or, at best, simplistic language? Why pretend that the battle is about homosexuality, alone?

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Justin Welby, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Christology, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates, Marriage & Family, Media, Multiculturalism, pluralism, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture