Monthly Archives: October 2015

CSM Cover story–Why religion still matters

While headlines often decry the “dechurching of America,” and experts talk about the country becoming more secular, like Europe, people are going to church ”“ and embracing religion ”“ in numbers that defy popular perceptions.

True, recent figures from the Pew Research Center show that 35 percent of Millennials ”“ adults born between 1981 and 1996 ”“ identify as “nones,” saying they are atheists or agnostics, or have no religious affiliation. And, yes, a host of other studies have, over the years, noted a similar drop in religious attendance in the United States, especially among the young. Many mainstream denominations, too, have been closing or consolidating churches.

But, experts note, America is far from becoming a churchless nation. On any given Sabbath, for instance, some 4 out of 10 Americans will make their way to churches and synagogues, mosques and temples ”“ a number that hasn’t fluctuated dramatically in the past half century.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Sociology

Christopher Howse on Winged angels carved on the beams of churches in East Anglia

Those who like angels ”“ and they’re popular at the moment ”“ have had a rolling feast of the creatures this week, with the Guardian Angels commemorated yesterday and a separate red letter day earlier in the week ”“ Michaelmas. Michaelmas is not about daisies. It honours St Michael, no man but the prince of the heavenly host of angels.

I celebrated by devouring The Angel Roofs of East Anglia by Michael Rimmer (Lutterworth, £19.95), enjoying the astonishing colour photographs. The book’s subtitle is Unseen Masterpieces of the Middle Ages, which may sound odd, since the carved angels have been on show for 600 years. But is quite accurate, since they are mostly so far above ground level and badly lit that only a telephoto digital camera can catch the true details.
People who use Twitter might know Michael Rimmer’s Angel Roofs account that since 2012 has shown the progress of his work recording the riches of East Anglian timber church roofs aflutter with angels. It’s a peculiarly English glory, and of the 170 or so angel roofs that survive, about 120 are in East Anglia.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Architecture, Art, Church History, Church of England (CoE), England / UK

(Church Times) Andrew Atherstone and Andrew Goddard reflect on "good disagreement"

But not every view held by a Christian is necessarily a legitimate Christian view. Some of our opinions may be plainly wrong and in need of correction. The Shared Conversations, in which the General Synod will soon take part, need to face up to this reality.

If “good disagreement” means embracing every opinion within the Church, then it leads only to doctrinal and moral pluralism, which is a recipe for disaster. Where would we be if Athanasius had not challenged Arianism at the Council of Nicaea? Or if Thomas Cranmer had simply gone with the flow? Or if Anglicans in South Africa had not fought against apartheid in the face of its defence by some Reformed denominations?

When a fundamental aspect of the gospel is at stake ”” such as the deity of Christ, salvation by grace alone, or the dignity and equality of every human being ”” it is wrong for Christians to “agree to disagree”. Good disagreement can too easily become an excuse for failing to do the hard theological work of wrestling together over the interpretation of scripture until we reach a common mind.

We need a different approach to “good disagreement”: a middle way between those who reject it outright and those who embrace it unthinkingly.

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

Posted in Uncategorized

The Bishop of Truro meets the Pope in Rome

A South West Bishop has met the Pope at a synod in Rome.

The Rt Revd Tim Thornton, the Bishop of Truro, represented the Anglican Church at the Roman Catholic Synod on the Family at the Vatican.

While in the Italian capital, Bishop Tim has been joining in debates around divorce and homosexuality and has even managed to squeeze in a couple of minutes with Pope Francis.

He said there had been “major differences in the room”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic

Justin Holcomb–Anglican Reading Recommendations

An interesting list–check it out.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Church History, Theology

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Media, Parish Ministry

(NYT on Religion) Secular, but Feeling a Call to Divinity School

During orientation at Harvard Divinity School here in 2013, Angie Thurston wandered amid the tables set up by the various campus ministries. Catholic, Methodist, Muslim ”” they mostly served to reinforce the sense that Ms. Thurston did not fit into an organized religion.

Here she was, starting her graduate studies in religion when she did not know the definition of liturgy, had never read the Bible and could not have identified a major theologian like Karl Barth, even if it would have won her a fortune on “Jeopardy!” Yet something in organized religion hinted at an answer to the atomized, unmoored life she led.

“I didn’t feel unwelcome, but I did feel like it was a call to creativity,” Ms. Thurston, 30, recalled of her initiation. “I wanted to respond to what I saw as a crisis of isolation among young people.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(CNN) Oregon massacre: Chris Mintz's story of chaos, horror and bravery

“It started so normal, the day that is,” Mintz said on his Facebook post.

Mintz was in his writing class, chuckling with the teacher and other students, when commotion broke out in another room.

“My teacher walked up to the door that connected our classroom and asked if everyone was OK,” he said. “No one could tell what the yelling was.”

When the teacher knocked, gunshots erupted, like firecrackers. His classmates took off running.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology, Violence, Young Adults

Your Prayers Requested for the SC Annual Clergy Conference Next Week, October 19-21

From the Diocese:

Keep our clergy in prayer as they gather for their annual clergy conference at St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center. The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach, Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church in North America and Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the South will be the keynote speaker. One session in the conference is titled, “Conversations on Provincial Affiliation.” Pray for discernment, wisdom, humility and open, frank communication as we seek God’s direction for the future of our Diocese.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

Rodney Hacking–St. Ignatius of Antioch and the Renewal of the Anglican Episcopate

Ignatius offers a fascinating insight into the heart of a true man of God given over to His will. It is tempting to want to leap from his example and vision of episcopacy to its practice within our own Church at this time, but such a leap needs great care. A bishop in the first decade of the second century cannot fairly be compared even to one of 250 years later let alone in the Church of today. The three-fold ministry was still in an early stage of its development. Even though Lightfoot has cogently argued that a case can be made for regarding episcopacy as being of Apostolic direction, and therefore possessing Divine sanction, long years of evolution and growth lay before it. At this stage too the Church across the Roman Empire faced the daily possibility of considerable persecution and martyrdom. That demanded a particular kind of shepherding and witness.
On the other hand a bishop at the beginning of the third millennium might profitably and properly ask (or be asked) whether endless committees and synods are really the way in which their lives are to be laid down for their flock? An institution requires administration, but in the New Testament list of charisms, administrators are quite low in the order of priorities, and of its pastors at this time the Church has other, more pressing, needs. Rather than imposing upon an already disheartened clergy systems of appraisal (mostly copied from secular models of management) it would be good for parish priests to experience bishops as those who were around so much that they could afford regularly to ”˜drop in’ and just be with them. It is hard to expect the parish clergy to make visiting a priority if their fathers in God do not set an example.

In some dioceses the more obviously pastoral role has sometimes been exercised by a suffragan but as more and more diocesan bishops, at least within the Church of England, are being selected from the ranks of the suffragans the temptation is for those who are ambitious to prove their worth more as potential managers than those given to the ”˜Word of God and prayer’ (Acts 6.2). If the communities within which the bishops are to exercise their ministry of unity and care are too large for them to do their work has not the time come to press for smaller dioceses and for bishops to strip themselves of the remnants of the grandeur their office once held and be found, above all, with their clergy and amongst the people, drawing them together into the unity for which Christ gave himself?

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Ignatius of Antioch

Almighty God, we praise thy name for thy bishop and martyr Ignatius of Antioch, who offered himself as grain to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts that he might present unto thee the pure bread of sacrifice. Accept, we pray thee, the willing tribute of our lives, and give us a share in the pure and spotless offering of thy Son Jesus Christ; 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 Saint Patrick

May the strength of God pilot us.
May the power of God preserve us.
May the wisdom of God instruct us.
May the hand of God protect us.
May the way of God direct us.
May the shield of God defend us.
May the host of God guard us against the snares of evil and the temptations of the world.
May Christ be with us, Christ before us, Christ in us, Christ over us.
May thy salvation, O Lord, be always ours this day and for evermore.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Now I know that the LORD will help his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with mighty victories by his right hand. Some boast of chariots, and some of horses; but we boast of the name of the LORD our God. They will collapse and fall; but we shall rise and stand upright. Give victory to the king, O LORD; answer us when we call.

–Psalm 20:6-9

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT Op-Ed) Fraidy Reiss–America’s Child-Marriage Problem

In the United States today, thousands of children under 18 have recently taken marital vows ”” mostly girls married to adult men, often with approval from local judges. In at least one case, a 10-year-old boy was legally married.

How is this possible? The minimum marriage age in most states is 18, but every state allows exceptions under which children under age 18 can wed.

The first common exception is for children marrying with “parental consent.” Most states allow children age 16 or 17 to marry if their parents sign the marriage license application.

Of course, one person’s “parental consent” can be another’s “parental coercion,” but state laws typically do not call for anyone to investigate whether a child is marrying willingly. Even in the case of a girl’s sobbing openly while her parents sign the application and force her into marriage, the clerk usually has no authority to intervene. In fact, in most states there are no laws that specifically forbid forced marriage.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Senate, Teens / Youth, Theology

Anglican Church in North America Declared Partner Province by the Global South

During the meeting, the Anglican Church in North America was declared to be an official partner province of the Global South. In addition, Archbishop Foley Beach, who earlier in the week had preached at All Saints Anglican Cathedral in Cairo, was seated as a member of the Global South Primates Council with both voice and vote; participating fully in the meeting.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Global South Churches & Primates, Theology

The Bishop of Montreal's Charge to Diocesan synod today

It is imperative that we find ways to reach out in mission and in faith to those who have not heard the Good News. It is not enough to tell ourselves how friendly our churches are while the attendance stays stable ”“ or worse. We need to be praying for opportunities to invite people into a relationship with Christ and then be on the lookout for the person God sends. When new people come to our churches, we need to offer the kind of hospitality that Christ has offered us. This is more than handing them a bulletin and ignoring them. Who is that PERSON that Christ has sent to you today? How can your parish serve them? If your parish can’t do it, help them find a church that is willing to do so! Making disciples, growing disciples, and equipping lay people for ministry will make it possible for the other marks of mission to flow. As people animated by the Holy Spirit, we can count on God wanting to work through us. If we teach others how to live with Christ, more can happen.

I am aware that some congregations are very tired and that there are limited resources. The model that we have been using is not working for everyone. That is why I suggest that the leadership of each congregation prayerfully consider taking on one new thing and letting go of one thing. What if we were to spend the next year keeping track of our opportunities to teach, baptize and nurture new believers? What if we were to reach out to the people around our churches and invite them to Messy Church or an Alpha Course? What if you were to set yourselves an audacious goal centered around the first two Marks of Mission? I hope to hear from you and to be able to share stories about the ”˜One Thing’ you took up and the ”˜One Thing’ you let go of. Both are really critical!

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Parish Ministry

(WSJ) Archbishop Charles Chaput–How to Read the Vatican Family Gathering

A friend of mine, happily married for many years, likes to tell a story. Over a 30th-anniversary dinner, and after a little too much wine, he said, “I love you, sweetheart. I’ve never been unfaithful, and I never will be.” He repeated that line a couple more times during the evening””until his wife put down her fork and said with all the warmth of a glacier, “Are you seeing someone else?”

The lesson of the tale: Even when done innocently, emphasizing one’s fidelity a little too often and earnestly can yield unwelcome results. Such may be the case in Rome, where more than 250 Catholic bishops from around the world have gathered in a three-week synod, ending Oct. 25, to discuss “the vocation and mission of the family in the contemporary world.”

Synods, from the Greek synodos for meeting or assembly, are purely advisory. They offer counsel to the pope on matters he chooses. As the Catholic Church’s supreme pastor, he can listen to their advice, ignore them or do something in between. But it is a rare bishop of Rome who would disregard the consensus of his brothers, so synods carry collegial weight.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

Lent+Beyond–More Prayer for the Diocese of South Carolina

We thank You that Your mercies are new every morning. You are gracious and steadfast, abounding in mercy.

May Your hedge of protection be around the Diocese of South Carolina…

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

NZ Anglican church rejects school funding criticism

The Anglican Church said it is doing enough to ensure the survival of the kura it runs, contrary to criticisms made by the Minister of Maori Development, Te Ururoa Flavell.
Mr Flavell said that the churches running Māori boarding schools were not fulfilling their obligations by upgrading them and making a bigger financial contribution.
He was responding to the Minister of Education’s interim decision to close Turakina Māori Girls’ College.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Religion & Culture, Theology

Bp David Hamid–Ecumenical coordination in Athens is growing for the sake of refugees

Canon Malcolm Bradshaw, of St Paul’s Athens, reports on the emerging ecumenical cooperation in Greece with regard to assistance for refugees. This emerging coordination is a fruit of much Anglican initiative.

On the morning of Thursday 15 October six Christian agencies and Churches came together in the offices of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNCHR), Athens, to learn what each one was doing in the face of the refugee crisis. They were able to share information on the resources that each may have and to explore the possibility of working more cohesively and effectively.

Around the table were Apostoli (the centre for the welfare work of the Orthodox Archdiocese of Athens), International Orthodox Christian Charities, the Jesuit Refugee Service, Caritas, the Salvation Army, the Greek Evangelical Church, the Anglican Chaplaincy in Athens (who joined by representatives of Anglican Alliance and Us) and a representative from UNCHR. All welcomed greatly the opportunity to be informed of what each Church was doing and something of the resources each could bring to the table.

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

Bp Alastair Redfern on the gift of real freedom

Freedom is the word used in our times to describe human flourishing. Freedom for the individual to be themselves in a safe and supportive environment. A great vision ”“ enshrined in Human Rights legislation and aspiration.

The great paradox of our times is that the more we speak about freedom, the more we discover about oppression and abuse. Amongst the most shocking challenges is the worldwide prevalence of modern slavery. Fellow human beings trapped as sex slaves, forced labour, pressured organ donors.

Freedom has become a space for the powerful, the criminal and the self-centred to exploit others ”“ not least because when a human being is reduced to the size of the individual, each potentially ”˜free’ person is in fact vulnerable and weak.

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

(CNBC) The $249B hangover: How binge drinking costs the US

We’re all painfully aware of the toll binge drinking takes on the body but what may be less known is the damage it inflicts on the economy.

Excessive drinking cost the U.S. $249 billion in 2010, or $2.05 per drink, according to a newly-released study by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a significant increase from $223.5 billion, or $1.90 per drink, in 2006.

The financial toll on the economy stems in part from reduced workplace productivity – in other words, hangovers. Crime, accidents and the cost of treating people for health problems caused by excessive drinking also add to the cost.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Alcohol/Drinking, Alcoholism, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Psychology, Theology, Young Adults

Under water? New sea rise study paints doomsday scenario for Charleston, SC+other low-lying cities

Charleston, New Orleans, Miami and other low-lying cities will be mostly under water by the end of this century unless global carbon emissions are dramatically reduced soon, a new study says.

Published [this past] Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study found that carbon emissions already have locked in at least 5 feet of sea rise by 2100.

But without drastic cuts in emissions, seas could eventually rise by 20 feet or more, the study found. Such an increase would affect at least 20 million coastal residents. Coastal South Carolina, Florida and Louisiana would be particularly hard hit.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, History, Science & Technology, Urban/City Life and Issues

([London] Times) Isis women are like gangsters, moans mother stuck in Syria

A British wife who took her five children to Syria to join Islamic State is trying to flee the country, complaining that the other women there have a violent “gangster” mentality.
Shukee Begum, 33, from Manchester, took her children, all aged under nine, to Syria last year to join her husband, Jamal al-Harith, an Isis fighter and former detainee at Guantanamo Bay.
She later fled Isis territory, but said that she and her children were held by smugglers for a number of months in Aleppo and close to the Turkish border before they were released. The circumstances of her release are unclear. According to Channel 4 news, rebels from Nusra Front, which is affiliated to al-Qaeda, intervened to facilitate it.
Ms Begum is trying to escape Syria, saying that she was shocked by the behaviour of single women in Isis, who revelled in its brutal executions.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Syria, Terrorism, Theology, Violence, Women

(Church Times) Review calls for more state funds for Church buildings

The Church of England should ask the Government to find more money to support listed churches and cathedrals, a report has recommended.

The Church Buildings Review Group, which was set up under the Reform and Renewal programme earlier this year, and chaired by the Bishop of Worcester, Dr John Inge, set out the proposal in a report released on Tuesday.

Although the report noted “conspicuous success” in recent years in securing state funds for church buildings, it urged the C of E and the Government to find new ways of funnelling money into maintaining the 16,000 churches under the Church’s care.

“By European standards, the Church of England bears an unusually heavy financial burden of maintaining part of the nation’s built heritage,” the report says.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology

PBS' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly–Ta-Nehisi Coates on Fear and the Black Experience

“I didn’t come out of the church. I don’t have an intuitive understanding of what religion gives to people. I just don’t. I didn’t really grow up in a Christian household,” says the author of Between the World and Me. “I’m very distanced from that. For both good and ill, it probably marks my writing.”

Watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley

Keep us, O Lord, constant in faith and zealous in witness, after the examples of thy servants Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and Thomas Cranmer; that we may live in thy fear, die in thy favor, and rest in thy peace; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Pastor's Prayerbook

All through this day, O Lord, let me touch as many lives as possible for Thee; and every life I touch, do Thou, by Thy Holy Spirit, quicken, whether through the word I speak, the prayer I breathe, the letters I write, or the life I live; in the name of Jesus Christ.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved….Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fulness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore

Psalm 16: 7-8;11

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Lent and Beyond–Prayers for the Diocese of South Carolina

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer