Daily Archives: October 6, 2015

(NYT) South Korean Jehovah’s Witnesses Face Stigma of Not Serving in Army

Since he was a teenager, Kim Min-hwan knew he would have to make a choice: abandon his religious convictions or go to prison.

Mr. Kim is a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who for decades have faced jail terms as conscientious objectors under South Korea’s Military Service Act. Since his release from prison in 2013, Mr. Kim has found the stigma too great to find a meaningful job, though he was a chemical engineering major. He spends his days volunteering at the Jehovah’s Witnesses headquarters south of Seoul.

“I was predestined to become a convict because I believed in the creator,” Mr. Kim, 31, said in an interview. “I want South Korea to recognize that there are other, nonmilitary ways for us to serve the community.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Korea, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(New Atlantis) James Poulos–Losing Liberty in an Age of Access

A few months before 9/11, when I first moved to downtown Los Angeles, the city’s high rises teemed with lawyers and bankers. The lights stayed on late ”” a beacon of industriousness. But as I quickly discovered, they rolled up the sidewalks by sundown. No matter how productive and wealthy its workers, downtown was a ghost town. LA’s urban core was no place to raise a family or own a home. With its patchwork of one-way streets and expensive lots, it was hardly even a place to own a car. The boom of the late 1980s and early 1990s that had erected LA’s skyline had not fueled residential growth. Angelenos who wanted to chase the dream of property ownership were effectively chased out of downtown.

But things change. Last month, I moved back to “DTLA,” as it’s now affectionately known. Today, once-forlorn corners boast shiny new bars, restaurants, and high-end stores. The streets are full of foot traffic, fueled by new generations of artisans, artists, and knowledge workers. They work from cafés or rented apartments, attend parties on hotel rooftops, and Uber religiously through town. Yes, there are plenty of dogs. But there are babies and children too. In a little over a decade, downtown’s generational turnover has replaced a faltering economy with a dynamic one.

What happened? Partly, it’s a tale of the magnetic power possessed by entrepreneurs and developers, who often alone enjoy enough social capital to draw friends and associates into risky areas that aren’t yet trendy. Even more, it is a story that is playing out across the country. In an age when ownership meant everything, downtown Los Angeles languished. Today, current tastes and modern technology have made access, not ownership, culturally all-important, and LA’s “historic core” is the hottest neighborhood around. Likewise, from flashy metros like San Francisco to beleaguered cities like Pittsburgh, rising generations are driving economic growth by paying to access experiences instead of buying to own.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

(CC) Lian Xi-China’s gospel valley: Churches thrive among the Lisu people

Pastor Jesse’s mud-plastered Mitsubishi SUV jolted wildly along the newly dug dirt road that zigzagged up the mountainside toward the construction site of the new church. We stopped to let a pedestrian squeeze by, a middle-aged Lisu woman with a pink, checkered headscarf and a giant bamboo back basket which was strapped to her forehead. The Lisu are one of the 55 ethnic minorities of China and the predominant tribespeople in Gongshan, which nestles on the slope of the Gaoligongshan mountain range. Only 30 miles to the north, these mountain peaks reach more than 16,000 feet. Beyond that is Tibet.

It was a sun-drenched Saturday morning in December 2014. I had arrived the night before on my first visit to the area after reading Chinese media reports of the explosive growth of Christianity among the Lisu people in the “Gospel Valley,” as the Upper Salween River Valley is known. The church under construction is called Zion. It replaces a smaller one built in 1998 with members’ shovels, picks, baskets, and bare hands.

“Brothers and sisters brought their own bedrolls and woks and camped over there during construction of the first church,” Pastor Jesse said, gesturing toward the terraced fields up the slope. “Almost all the construction material was carried up here in bamboo baskets.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(DW) Europe's top court declares EU-US data deal invalid

In a landmark ruling, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg on Monday declared the Safe Harbor data-sharing deal as invalid.

The agreement, signed in 2000 between Brussels and Washington, enables companies and international networks to easily transfer personal data to the United States without having to seek prior approval, a potentially lengthy and costly process.

“The Court of Justice declares that the (European) Commission’s US Safe Harbour Decision is invalid,” it said in a decision on a case brought against Facebook by Austrian law student Max Schrems.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Theology

David Ould–Same-Sex Marriage+the Church: What God has Joined Together, Bishop Parkes Puts Asunder

Another day, another bishop trying to tell us that the church has had it wrong for 2,000 years.

The latest is the Anglican bishop of Wangaratta, the Most Rev. John Parkes, who has gotten himself into the newspapers and on the radio to tell us that not only is same-sex marriage inevitable in Australia, but that it might actually be compatible with Christian doctrine.

He is, of course, not the first to make the argument in one form or another, and none of his arguments are new so they serve as good example of this tendency of the theologically liberal wing of the church – and, not least, the Anglican Church of Australia – to keep pushing contrived arguments that are less likely to make the grade than that famous strained gnat of which Jesus spoke.

Read it all from ABC religion and Ethics in Australia.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) Bishop David Walker–system to catch benefit cheaters isn't having desired effect

Benefit cheats should be allowed to get away with fraud to stop innocent people being punished with sanctions and late payments, a leading bishop has said.
The Rt Rev David Walker criticised the “Kafkaesque” workings of the welfare system which he said produced too many wrongly imposed sanctions and delays.
The Bishop of Manchester made the remarks at a Conservative Party conference fringe event in the city.
He claimed innocent people are trapped in the drive to catch fraudsters.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

Time Magazine–10 questions with evangelical leader Rob Schenck

Why are you now taking up the issue of guns?

Our perceived need for self-defense discounts the life of the person on the other side of the gun. I’m really limiting my message to my fellow Christians, especially evangelicals. And we have a massive presence of lethal weapons in our Christian communities. I’m aware of some pastors who now go into the pulpit armed and ready to use their weapons to defend their congregants. That sets up, in my mind, a disaster.

What do you say to people who say they need a gun to protect themselves and their families?

I like to ask people the last time they faced a mortal threat in their life. Most people can’t think of one. Within our conservative ranks, there seems to be an almost rampant fearmongering that’s used as a device to build audiences and readership. And I think it’s contrary to the optimism of the Gospel.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

(LA Times) How assisted suicide will work in California now that its been signed into law

Q: What do critics say?

Many doctors continue to object to it, as do many religious leaders and activists for the disabled who fear that the disabled could be put under duress to end their lives prematurely.

The California Catholic Conference, the Medical Oncology Assn. of Southern California and the California Disability Alliance note that similar bills have failed recently in Connecticut, Delaware and Colorado.

“This bill is simply about protecting doctors and HMOs from liability,” Marilyn Golden, a senior policy analyst for the Berkeley-based Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund told The Times earlier this year, “and tells people with disabilities who face a terminal diagnosis that may well prove inaccurate that there is no dignity in our lives.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, State Government, Theology

(CNN) South Carolina flooding: 18 dams breached

At least 18 dams have breached or failed in South Carolina since Saturday, the state’s emergency management agency said early Tuesday.

One failure, of the Overcreek dam in Forest Acres, sent a torrent of floodwater raging downstream and forced a mandatory evacuations near Columbia.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, * South Carolina, City Government, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Politics in General, State Government, Weather

Today we remember the martyrdom of William Tyndale

Tyndale has been called the architect of the English language, and in many cases he invented words to better convey the original:




“mercy seat”


And scores of his phrases have proved impossible to better in the last five centuries”¦

“Let there be light”

“In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God”

Wonderful stuff–make sure to read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale

Almighty God, who didst plant in the heart of thy servants William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale a consuming passion to bring the Scriptures to people in their native tongue, and didst endow them with the gift of powerful and graceful expression and with strength to persevere against all obstacles: Reveal to us, we pray thee, thy saving Word, as we read and study the Scriptures, and hear them calling us to repentance and life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Saint Benedict

O gracious and holy Father, give us wisdom to perceive thee, diligence to seek thee, patience to wait for thee, eyes to behold thee, a heart to meditate upon thee, and a life to proclaim thee; through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber.

–Psalm 121:1-3

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Ruth Worsley, Fifth woman C of E bishop, is installed as Bishop of Taunton

The Rt. Rev. Ruth Worsley, the fifth woman bishop to be appointed by the Church of England, has been officially installed as the Bishop of Taunton.

Hundreds of people travelled to Wells Cathedral on Saturday for the special service and to greet and welcome her to the Diocese of Bath & Wells.

During the service Bishop Ruth was presented with her pastoral staff by Phoebe Lang, a student at the Blue School, Wells, and was placed in her seat in the cathedral by members of the Chapter.

The pastoral staff has been designed by Bishop Ruth’s husband, Howard, and made by Sam Jolly in Dorset from ash wood. Each of the three parts bears a phrase from Micah 6: ‘act justly’, ‘love mercy’, ‘walk humbly’.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(ACNS) Persecuted church charity honours Sudanese archbishop

Archbishop Ezekiel Kondo travelled to Finland last month to receive the award and to give a speech entitled “the Suffering Church’s message for us.”

“I am very much honoured to receive this award from you,” Archbishop Kondo said. “This Award is not only to me but it is for all the faithful Sudanese Pastors who work in a very difficult situations and some with no salary!

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, --South Sudan, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Sudan

Michael Curry offers possible preview of agenda as new presiding bishop of Episcopal Church

North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry, who will be installed next month as the new head of the Episcopal Church in the United States, offered a possible preview Sunday of his agenda. Topping the list: Promoting a form of evangelism that calls on members to listen to others’ faith stories and then share their own.

He also wants to stress the love of Jesus, foster social justice, work for reconciliation ”“ racial and otherwise ”“ and preside over a church that’s open to all, including both supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage.

Curry, an outgoing preacher and author of “Crazy Christians: A Call to Follow Jesus,” will be the national church’s first African-American presiding bishop. In a Q&A with parishioners at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in uptown Charlotte, he said that Episcopalians have been so shy about advertising what their tradition has to offer ”“ including its liturgy, its sacraments and its commitment to social justice ”“ that many people don’t know the denomination exists.

“We’ve got to get to the day when the average Episcopalian is in touch with their own faith story and faith journey and is able to share that appropriately and authentically,” Curry said. “That may be the game-changer. ”¦ We’re good about doing. We’re nervous about talking.”

Read it all from the Charlotte Observer.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops