Daily Archives: October 14, 2015

Timothy Tennent–Marriage, Human Sexuality, and the Body–The Spousal Meaning of the Body

Within marriage, we discover what John Paul calls the “spousal meaning of the body.” We are created for marriage. To even say that today sounds controversial, because we have been so versed by our culture to the strains of solitude. But Jesus repeats this in Matthew 19 “a man shall leave his mother and father and be united to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.” There are, of course, those who are called to celibacy and marry the church. There is a profound dignity in singleness which we will explore later on in these homilies. But, the basic design is marriage. Our modern discomfort with this is perhaps illustrated by the recent trend in the elimination of Mother’s Day or Father’s Day in the church. This has been driven mostly because of concerns that those who are single or childless might feel excluded. But, this is a sign of the inward gaze which is the anti-sacrament of autonomous solitude. Surely, the more profound insight is that our very presence in the world, or in this room, is a testimony that we have or had a father and a mother. And we stand even in our singleness and honor our father and our mother, which is the first commandment with a promise.

The contemporary world has set the genders at war with one another in endless cruel and destructive ways. Remember, the trajectory of the fall is always pushing towards autonomous solitude; the trajectory of redemption is always summoning us to communion with the Triune God. The world lives under the gravity of sin and self-orientation; we live under the gravity of holy-love. This is the heart of what John Paul meant by the “spousal meaning of the body.”

Read it all and note it has 4 parts.

Posted in Uncategorized

(W Post) The stunningly simple idea that could change solitary confinement as we know it

It began with a painting, a biologist and an idea to disprove the widely-held axiom that trees are static. The biologist first affixed a paintbrush to a tree branch, set it to a canvas and watched it sketch. She then multiplied the length of that tree’s stroke by every branch in its crown. In the course of a year, the biologist learned, the tree would move 187,000 miles ”” or seven times across the globe. This seemingly immobile thing was actually in constant motion.

The drawing and its implications would ultimately spark a program that has infiltrated some of the most impenetrable prisons in the nation, attracted international attention, and earned a spot on TIME Magazine’s list of best inventions. Called the Nature Imagery Project, it transports the soothing elements of nature into supermax prisons to help ease the psychological stress of solitary confinement.

The project is rooted in an idea that even the most static entities ”” like trees, like inmates in solitary confinement ”” have the capacity for change. “Prisoners seem to be these people who will never change,” said the biologist, Nalini Nadkarni, a professor at the University of Utah. “They will always be violent, always a burden on society. But if we can change our perspective, we can see that people can move even if they seem stuck.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Prison/Prison Ministry

(NYT) The Chains of Mental Illness in West Africa

KPOVÉ, Togo–The church grounds here sprawled through a strange, dreamlike forest. More than 150 men and women were chained by the ankle to a tree or concrete block, a short walk from the central place of worship. Most were experiencing the fearsome delusions of schizophrenia. On a recent visit, some glared, while others slept or muttered to themselves. A few pushed to their feet and gestured wildly, their cries piercing the stillness.
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Until this year, Koffi Gbedjeha, 45, a carpenter and father of four, was one of them ”” a resident of the Jesus Is the Solution prayer camp here, shackled like the others, his family and camp staff members said. For more than two years, his youngest sister, Akossiwa, 27, tended to him. Rising early each morning, she walked along a cool red-earth path to the human forest; each day, amid the stirring bodies and clinking chains, she emptied her brother’s chamber pot, swept the ground and cooked his meals over a charcoal fire.

“Don’t you pray for me,” Mr. Gbedjeha (pronounced guh-BED-zhe-ha) sometimes shouted at camp workers who asked God to cast out the dark spirits they believed were making him sick. “I should be praying for you.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Mental Illness, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Togo

The Archbishop of Dublin's Diocesan Synod Address last evening

The importance of communion within this inter”“relationship of communication and community is that it is itself a relationship whose quality transcends both division and negativity. This is the greatest gift of the Spirit throughout history and the hardest to accept in our individualized and competitive culture where celebrity is given an almost ridiculous prominence.
Increasingly, each and every one of us wants the ground in front of us for ourselves. Ever more reluctantly, we make space for others with whom we agree and disagree; it hardly seems to matter; they are where we have decided that we want privacy, freedom, headspace, whatever we like to call it. More and more today people to whom I talk find that others are in their way. Communion not only transcends division and negativity and prejudice; it also binds us into a relationship with one another, with the whole of the Trinity and therefore with the whole of creation.
Communion pulls it all together. It is more than a federation and it is more than a club. It has to do with being part of something and someone larger than ourselves, not controlling this: belonging to God the Father and through God to our neighbour. It has to do with remembering and with forgetting, in a spirit of reconciliation of divisive differences, and with having the wisdom to know the difference between differences that are destructive and differences that are creative: belonging to God the Son and through God to our enemy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of Ireland, England / UK, Ireland, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(W Post) How Christians in Kenya are trying to hack government corruption

In a small side hall inside a ministry building, a group of young developers and artists huddled over their laptops. Half-filled Fanta and Coke bottles sat forgotten in the center of the table as the group worked in studied concentration while gospel music played in the background. With crumpled candy wrappers lying nearby, the scene was reminiscent of a college dorm hall or cafeteria. But but rather than cramming for exams, these young Kenyans were trying to hack government corruption.

“Corruption has affected everybody in the country directly,” said software developer Brian Birir, a lead organizer for the event last weekend. “It’s something that’s really impeding the development of our country. And it’s in our churches. But very few people are actually fighting it.”

In Nairobi ”” a city of heavily charismatic and evangelical Christian faiths ”” religion and technology, two of its most robust economies, don’t always know how to speak to each other.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Kenya, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(CEN) Martin Down–A Way Forward for the C of E given foundational disagreement over marriage?

If we needed any further persuading that there is no hope of holding the Church together over this, we need look no further than the history and example of what has happened in the USA, or indeed in the worldwide Anglican Communion. Whatever the scolding of the arrogant, Western, liberal élite, Gafcon and ACNA are simply not going to compromise or go away. It is clear that if the Church of England goes the way of The Episcopal Church and abandons its historic doctrine and discipline regarding marriage and sexuality a number of both clergy and congregations will secede from the Church here as they have done in the US and Canada.

We feel, and I speak as one of them, that the teaching of Jesus, the witness of Scripture throughout the Bible, and the tradition of the church, is unambiguous: marriage is between one man and one woman, and all expressions of sexuality outside that relationship are sinful deviations from the will of God. Of course, in our different ways, we all fall short of that ideal, but that does not change God’s will and purpose, nor our obligation to maintain our witness to it, both by our doctrine and our practice. We also feel that this is not an issue that can be fudged or relegated to a secondary or minor status, but that it is fundamental to our witness, both for the good of men and women and for the good of society, not least of children.

The only question worth discussing then is how a dignified and respectful separation can be achieved, in such a way that neither side is disadvantaged or penalized.The worst case would be that we repeat the quarreling and litigation that have disgraced the name of Jesus in the USA. Neither would it be sufficient simply to pension off the clergy who decided to leave, as happened over the ordination of women. There are important questions about local church property and funds to be addressed. But perhaps more importantly or more basically there is the matter of honouring the integrity of both sides, however much we may feel that the others are seriously wrong, and leave God to be our judge.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, FCA Meeting in London April 2012, Global South Churches & Primates, Instruments of Unity, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, TEC Departing Parishes, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Covenant) Jordan Hylden+Keith Voets–Is Christ-centered comprehension possible on marriage in TEC?

The bishop-elect of Dallas, George Sumner, observes that comprehensiveness, while often a point of pride for Anglicans, is in fact a difficult achievement, not to be taken for granted (“After Comprehensiveness,” Anglican Theological Review, Fall 2004). He writes:

We see that Episcopalians are fighting over same-sex relationships, and we assume that Anglicanism is comprehensive, and so we ask, what is the intellectual superstructure that allows us now to remain comprehensive? This is surely a mistake; we assume what needs to be shown. Comprehensiveness assumes that common and more central doctrines form a framework, an encompassing context into which lesser disagreements may be placed and so relativized. Such larger, often tacit, agreements keep a tradition in contention from descending into sheer incoherence. Anglicanism shows comprehensiveness when it achieves these goals of showing the more basic agreement, and so of putting disputes in context. Only pride would assume that such success is the essential quality of our tradition.

If what we mean by comprehension is some kind of embrace of a “larger truth” on this issue, Sumner writes, that is the kind of muddled nonsense we must avoid.

Even for Anglicans up is not down, and black is not white; we too should make our yes a yes. We are not exempt from the law of noncontradiction. Either same-sex relationships are a blessing from God, or they are contrary to God’s will. While our tradition may prove comprehensive in many respects, if there is such a disagreement we cannot be comprehensive with respect to it. To deny this is to make of comprehensiveness a kind of transitional object by which we lull ourselves to sleep.Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, General Convention, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Sexuality, TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–(How) can we live with disagreement?

Earlier this year, I took part in a consultation on the current conflicts in the Church of England, particularly on sexuality, and whether it is possible to disagree well. Out of that discussion has come the book Good Disagreement? edited by Andrews Atherstone and Goddard and published very promptly by Lion Hudson. The back cover blurb runs as follows:

At every level of church life from the local congregation to worldwide denominations, Christians can find themselves in turmoil and divided over a range of important issues. Many conclude that harmony is not achievable, and never will be. Can we, as Archbishop Justin Welby has asked, transform ”˜bad disagreement’ into ”˜good disagreement’? What would that look like in practice? This book is designed to help readers unpack the idea of ”˜good disagreement’ and apply it to their own church situations. It doesn’t enter into specific contentious debates, but instead considers issues such as reconciliation, division, discipline, peacemaking, mediation and mission. It asks what needs to happen for those from differing viewpoints to both listen and be heard, and does not shy away from hard questions about unity in the gospel and the church”˜s public witness….

I hope to write on a number of the essays in the coming days; I think the book could make a significant and honest contribution to our current discussions.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Books, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(RNS) Nobel-nominated Eritrean priest rescues refugees from Mediterranean

Mussie Zerai was once a refugee.

Now the 40-year-old Roman Catholic priest from Eritrea, helps migrants trapped in the North African deserts and rickety wooden boats drifting across the Mediterranean Sea.

“It is my duty and moral obligation as a priest to help these people,” Zerai said in a telephone interview. “For me it’s simple: Jesus said we must love one another as we love ourselves.”

The little-known priest, now based in Rome and Switzerland, was among this year’s nominees for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Pope Francis. (The prize, announced Friday, was awarded to the National Dialogue Quartet, which helped build a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia.)

Zerai runs a center that receives calls from distressed migrants who have fled their countries in hopes of finding a better life in Europe. He relays refugees’ GPS coordinates to coast guard and naval authorities so they can launch rescue operations.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Eritrea, Ethics / Moral Theology, Immigration, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology, Violence

Archbishop Justin Welby's sermon at Virginia Theological Seminary yesterday

Returning to Winnie-the-Pooh and his honeypot, as all good stories must: this building is on top of us when we serve it, and becomes the servant of the people of God when it points to Jesus Christ, and where confronted by that mystery and love we fall in worship, find ourselves reorientated through the liturgy, are captivated by God’s holiness and sent out to do His will.

‘To the glory of God’ may future generations burn with fire in this new chapel, just as they did in the former one ”“ many of you here ”“ to follow the words of Jesus in that chapel and on the arch opposite me here, and ‘go ye into all the world and preach the gospel’. Amen.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky

O God, who in thy providence didst call Joseph Schereschewsky from his home in Eastern Europe to the ministry of this Church, and didst send him as a missionary to China, upholding him in his infirmity, that he might translate the holy Scriptures into languages of that land: Lead us, we pray thee, to commit our lives and talents to thee, in the confidence that when thou givest thy servants any work to do, thou dost also supply the strength to do it; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

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

Almighty God, who hast taught us that they who mourn shall be comforted; grant that in all our grief we may turn to thee; and, because our need is beyond the help of men, grant us the peace of thy consolation and the joy of thy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Robert W. Rodenmayer, ed., The Pastor’s Prayerbook: Selected and arranged for various occasions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1960)

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

King Zedeki′ah sent Jehu′cal the son of Shelemi′ah, and Zephani′ah the priest, the son of Ma-asei′ah, to Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “Pray for us to the Lord our God.” Now Jeremiah was still going in and out among the people, for he had not yet been put in prison. The army of Pharaoh had come out of Egypt; and when the Chalde′ans who were besieging Jerusalem heard news of them, they withdrew from Jerusalem.

Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet: “Thus says the Lord, God of Israel: Thus shall you say to the king of Judah who sent you to me to inquire of me, ‘Behold, Pharaoh’s army which came to help you is about to return to Egypt, to its own land. And the Chalde′ans shall come back and fight against this city; they shall take it and burn it with fire. Thus says the Lord, Do not deceive yourselves, saying, “The Chalde′ans will surely stay away from us,” for they will not stay away. For even if you should defeat the whole army of Chalde′ans who are fighting against you, and there remained of them only wounded men, every man in his tent, they would rise up and burn this city with fire.’”

Now when the Chalde′an army had withdrawn from Jerusalem at the approach of Pharaoh’s army, Jeremiah set out from Jerusalem to go to the land of Benjamin to receive his portion there among the people.

–Jeremiah 37:3-21

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win!

What a huge victory for the cubs against a very fine Cardinals team. I am still trying to calm down.

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

(USA Today) Kirsten Powers on the new California Law: Suicide by any other name

The grim reaper is feeling bullish.

Following success in California ”” the fifth state where doctors are now free to prescribe lethal doses of medication to terminally-ill or dying patients ”” so-called “right-to-die” activists have turned their eyes to Maryland, New York and beyond.

“I think that this is a national wave,” Maryland Del. Shane E. Pendergrass, D-Howard, told The Washington Post. Pendergrass plans to sponsor “right-to-die” legislation in January.

It’s a wave with the potential to sweep some of society’s most vulnerable ”” the elderly, the terminally ill and disabled ”” prematurely into the hereafter.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

Launch of major new report on how the C of E manages its 16,000 church buildings

As part of its Reform and Renewal programme, which was debated in the General Synod in February, the Church of England has today published a report and launched a consultation on proposals to improve the support for its 16,000 church buildings.

The report comes from the Church Buildings review group, which was chaired by the Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd Dr John Inge. It constitutes the first attempt in many years to undertake a comprehensive review of the Church of England’s stewardship of its church buildings and includes a wide range of statistics, a substantial theological reflection and a survey of various initiatives being taken in individual dioceses. The report goes on to identify a number of principles that should shape the Church’s approach and makes some specific recommendations.

The review notes that more than three quarters of the Church of England’s churches are listed, and the Church of England is responsible for nearly half of the grade I listed buildings in England. More than half of churches are in rural areas (where 17% of the population lives) and more than 90% of these are listed.

Read it all and follow the link to the full report.

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