Monthly Archives: November 2015

Matthew Parris–The horrible events seem to have prompted Archbp Justin Welby to question his faith

…the Archbishop struggles. Why? I can only conclude that (as he has sometimes hinted) his belief in the very existence of a deity can falter. After all, if one starts from an absolute faith that there is a benevolent God, one must simply find ways to explain or discount apparently awkward evidence ”” of which the problem of pain is an obvious example. If, on the other hand, one is unsure about the existence of God, one does not seek to discount troubling evidence against the theory, but approaches it with an open mind.

I suspect that describes Archbishop Welby. If so, we should not reproach him for responding to an act of great wickedness as he did ”” though we might enquire whether it was really a good idea to be Archbishop of Canterbury. But what I must reproach him for is this: Paris is now, close to home, and once Welby’s own home, but why should that make the atrocity any more philosophically troubling than a Lisbon earthquake centuries ago? I feel a righteous anger against people who renounce their faith because their aunt died of cancer. Other people’s aunts die of cancer all the time. ”˜Why us? Why me? Why now?’ should carry no more force than ”˜Why others? Why then?’

The Archbishop’s response was doubtless human, but theologically shallow. Jesus, in His agony (”˜My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?) doubted Himself, not God. Straining his ears on last Saturday’s walk, the Archbishop might have heard a rumble from the sky: ”˜My Canterbury, my Canterbury, why has thou forsaken me?

Read it all from the Spectator.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Europe, France, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theodicy, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Alister McGrath–Let us think through the relationship between Science and Religion more carefully

There is little point in extending this analysis. We need instead to construct a better model of understanding of science and religion. Both continue to be significant presences in American culture. The Balkanisation of American culture may well be served by a studied refusal to allow two of its major elements to engage in any meaningful dialogue. Yet there are possibilities of dialogue and mutual enrichment for those willing to take risks, and allowing science and religion have a meaningful conversation.

That’s the approach I adopt in my new book The Big Question: Why we can’t stop talking about Science, Faith and God. It’s a narrative of my own journey over a period of 40 years to find ways of bringing together science and faith in a way that enriches and informs both. As a younger man, beginning my scientific studies at Oxford University, I took the view that religion was uninformed nonsense, which would soon be put out of business by scientific advance. The book tells of my gradual disenchantment with this approach, as I came to see its intellectual implausibility, and realized that human beings need more than just a description of the world if they are to leave meaningful and informed lives.

It was not until later that I read the great Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955), who managed to put his finger on the point at issue far better than I could. Scientists are human beings. If we, as human beings, are to lead fulfilled lives, we need more than the partial account of reality that science offers. We need a “big picture”, an “integral idea of the universe”. Ortega put it like this. Any philosophy of life, any way of thinking about the questions that really matter, will end up going beyond science — not because there is anything wrong with science, but precisely because its substantial intellectual virtues are won at a price. Science works so well because it is so focused and specific in its methods.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Apologetics, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Andrew

Almighty God, who didst give such grace to thine apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of thy Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him: Give unto us, who are called by thy Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Gelasian Sacramentary

Make us, we beseech thee, O Lord our God, watchful and heedful in awaiting the coming of thy Son Christ our Lord; that when he shall come and knock, he shall find us not sleeping in sin, but awake and rejoicing in his praises; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

–Psalm 1:1-3

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Law and Religion UK) Frank Cranmer–The end of banns in England?

The Revd Stephen Trott has tabled a Private Member’s Motion at General Synod, as follows:


The Revd Stephen Trott (Peterborough) to move:

“That this Synod, noting the Registration of Marriages Regulations 2015 and the growing burden and complexity of the legal requirements imposed on members of the clergy who conduct weddings in the Church of England, invite the Archbishops’ Council to bring forward draft legislation to replace ecclesiastical preliminaries to marriage by universal civil preliminaries, such as those which have been in operation in Scotland ”¦ when banns were replaced by a Marriage Schedule issued by the civil registrar.”

He has raised the issue before. I

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Church of Wales, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Wales

Engaging the Advent Conspiracy for 2015–Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love All

The Christmas story is a story of love, hope, redemption and relationship.

So, what happened? How did it turn into stuff, stress and debt?

Somehow, we’ve traded the best story in the world for the story of what’s on sale.

Enter Advent Conspiracy!

In 2006, several pastors got together to make Christmas a revolutionary event by encouraging their faith communities to Worship Fully, Spend Less, Give More and Love All. This year, Christ-St. Paul’s joins forces with many churches who are doing just that: Engaging in authentic worship and giving.

Read it all and follow the links.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Parish Ministry, Theology

(LA Times) Documentary-maker rediscovers Judaism, family, self

When Aaron Wolf began interviewing synagogue members and shooting footage for a documentary about the restoration of Wilshire Boulevard Temple, he considered himself a fallen-away Jew.

He knew that his late grandfather, Rabbi Alfred Wolf, had served the temple for 36 years. Aaron Wolf was bar mitzvahed in the historic sanctuary, and he spent summers at the camps for Jewish youth that his grandfather had created in Malibu.

But by the time he went to New York University to study film, he viewed religion as unimportant.

After four years of working on the documentary, “Restoring Tomorrow,” and learning more about the temple’s history and his grandfather’s role in it, that has all changed.Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Judaism, Movies & Television, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(Windsor Star) Huron Diocese to put historic St. George's Church up for sale

Historic St. George’s Church and Hall, facing likely demolition, will be put up for sale in a last-ditch effort to save it.

But officials at the Anglican Church’s Diocese of Huron ”” which owns the Walkerville property, with an asking price of $250,000 ”” aren’t holding their breath.

“We’re going to proceed with demolition but because the city really would like to see if we can sell it first, we’re going to test it on the market for a couple of months,” Paul Rathbone, secretary-treasurer for the Diocese of Huron, said Wednesday. “But we’re not going to hold it on the market long at all.

“I think the city will see there’s no demand for these buildings. One is condemned by an engineer.”

Read it all.

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

(RNS) Bread for the World puts price tag on hunger: $160 billion

Hunger and food insecurity are so widespread in the United States they add $160 billion to national health care spending, according to a Christian advocacy group.

The Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, said on Monday (Nov. 23) that hunger was a key factor in the U.S. having the worst infant mortality rate among developed countries.

“It is like a massive terrorist attack,” he said at the presentation of the group’s annual Hunger Report. “All the things that we do that allow the infant mortality rate to be so high ”” that is in effect killing a hundred thousand babies in communities across this country a year.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Globalization, Poverty

Carol Zaelski on Hope for Advent 2015

Yet Christian hope pertains to the lesser as well as the greater trials of our life. The short petition that follows the Lord’s Prayer in the Roman eucharistic rite expresses the idea beautifully: “In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.” Christ entered and exited the world under the same banner: “Fear not” (Luke 1 and 2) and “Let not your hearts be troubled” (John 14:1). With the surpassing gift of salvation comes an offer of protection from anxiety, provided we are open to it.

The question is, how to be open to it? Philosophers distinguish two kinds of hope: intentional (hoping for a certain outcome) and dispositional (a hopeful outlook). Dispositional hope, like other habits of the heart, may be inborn in some lucky souls, but it is also a trait that can be nurtured and trained. Prayer, suffering, loving service, remembrance of the dead””all these are schools for the practice of hope, according to Pope Benedict’s recent encyclical Spe salvi. And there may be other preliminary schoolroom exercises as well.

–“The thing with Feathers” Christian Century, June 3, 2008 (my emphasis)

Posted in Eschatology, Theology

CS Lewis on Hope for Advent 2015

Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ”˜thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.

–C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (San Francisco: Harper, 2001), p. 134

Posted in Eschatology, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Richard Baxter

Keep us, O Lord, while we tarry on this earth, in a serious seeking after thee, and in an affectionate walking with thee, every day of our lives; that when thou comest, we may be found not hiding our talent, nor serving the flesh, nor yet asleep with our lamp unfurnished, but waiting and longing for our Lord, our glorious God for ever and ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

Goose Creek SC couple renewing vows after 60 years of marriage and a whole lot of hilarity

On Christmas Eve, Joanne and Bill Gussler scraped up the money they could, traveled to Las Vegas and found a chapel where they exchanged their vows. It was 1955. Money and time were tight. Bill was on a short leave from the Navy, so there was no frill or fancy for their wedding.

“I had daisies when I got married,” Joanne says. “They were cheap, that’s why I had them.”

Sixty years later, at age 80, Joanne is getting the wedding she always wanted to Bill, now age 90.

Read it all and don’t miss the pictures.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Marriage & Family

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Eugene Bersier

O God, who hast given us life and all good things in this world: Thou hast created us for thy service, and when we have forsaken thee in our wanderings thou hast sought us out; thou hast vouchsafed to us the precious treasure of thy gospel; thou hast ordained that we should be born in the bosom of thy Church; thou hast revealed to us thy exceeding great riches in Jesus Christ our Lord. For all these gifts of thy grace, and for thy benefits which we remember not, we thine unworthy servants do give thee thanks, and bless thy holy name for ever and ever.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have being. Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no help.

–Psalm 146:1-3

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(ACNS) Archbishop Mouneer Anis Opens Ethiopia's First Anglican Theological College

The first Anglican theological college in Ethiopia, named after Saint Frumentius, has been officially opened by the Archbishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Mouneer Anis. Ethiopia is part of Archbishop Mouneer’s diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

For many years, St Matthew’s Church in Addis Ababa was the only Anglican congregation in Ethiopia. But that changed with the arrival of large numbers of refugees arriving in the country seeking sanctuary from the protracted civil war in Sudan from the mid-1970s.

“Many of these new refugees were Anglican and they began churches in the refugee camps,” the college said. “Later, Anglican churches were established in the villages of the Gambella region, in the west of Ethiopia.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Ethiopia, Seminary / Theological Education, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Theology

(AJ) Bruce Myers elected co-adjutor bishop of Quebec

Archdeacon Bruce Myers, the Anglican Church of Canada’s co-ordinator for ecumenical and interfaith relations, is now in line to be the 13th bishop of Quebec after being elected the diocese’s co-adjutor bishop Friday, November 27.

The election, which involved six candidates, went to six ballots before the only remaining candidate, Canon Stuart Pike, voluntarily withdrew his name. Following the rules of the diocese, it then went to one more vote so that the synod could confirm its choice of Myers. The decision required at least two-thirds majorities of both the lay and clerical delegates.

“I think it took longer than anyone anticipated, although I think it’s also a testament to what a really fine slate of nominees the synod was presented with,” Myers said after his election. “You never know how things are going to go, at an electoral synod especially, and the Spirit moves as it wills, and that can sometimes take us in unexpected places.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces

(Mercury) Anglican Diocese of Tasmania names new Bishop

THE Anglican Diocese of Tasmania has elected a new Bishop to replace the recently retired Bishop John Harrower.

The Church held its Election Synod gathering in Launceston over the past two days, with Dr Richard Condie selected for the top job.

Dr Condie is Vicar of St Jude’s Carlton, one of Melbourne’s largest Anglican churches.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces

(WSJ) Pope Francis Pays Tribute to Ugandan Martyrs

Pope Francis prayed at a shrine honoring Ugandan martyrs who died rather than renounce their faith on Saturday, amid hopes that his presence might ease the unrest that has emerged as the country prepares for next year’s election.

On the fourth of the pontiff’s six-day African tour, he honored a group of Catholic and Anglican martyrs who were burned alive after refusing to renounce their faith in the late 19th century. Earlier in the day, he visited sanctuaries honoring the Catholic and Anglican martyrs in the city of Namugongo and celebrated Mass to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their canonization.

The martyrs’ stories show that “fidelity to God, honesty and integrity of life, and genuine concern for the good of others bring us that peace that the world cannot give,” the pope said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of Uganda, Death / Burial / Funerals, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Teens / Youth, Theology

We Give thanks this Day for the birth of John Bunyan

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Poetry & Literature

A Prayer to Begin the Day from John Wesley

O Lord, take thou full possession of my heart, raise there thy throne, and command there as thou dost in heaven. Being created by thee, let me live to thee. Being created for thee, let me ever act for thy glory. Being redeemed by thee, let me render to thee what is thine, and let my spirit ever cleave to thee alone; for thy name’s sake.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there we hung up our lyres.
For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a foreign land?

–Psalm 137:1-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(LA Times) Plan for Virginia mosque becomes target of post-Paris anti-Muslim backlash

The zoning meeting, in a community room packed beyond capacity, was intended to focus on traffic, lighting and parking impacts from a proposed building.

But the building in question was a new mosque ”” and the meeting occurred four days after the terrorist attacks in Paris.

A thickly built man interrupted the discussion about stormwater runoff, saying to the small group of Muslims in the crowd, “Nobody wants your evil cult,” and “Every one of you are terrorists. I don’t care what you say. I don’t care what you think.”

The unidentified man pledged to do everything in his power to block the mosque, jabbing his finger toward one of the mosque’s trustees, a civil engineer leading the presentation, according to a video posted by the Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., City Government, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Karen Gorham to be New Bishop of Sherborne

Number 10 has announced this morning that the Ven Karen Gorham, currently Archdeacon of Buckingham, is to be the 36th Bishop of Sherborne and the 9th in modern times. The Bishop of Sherborne works in the Diocese of Salisbury with responsibility mainly for parishes in Dorset.

Karen said, “It has been a real privilege to serve the church in Buckinghamshire and work in the Diocese of Oxford. I now look forward to getting to know the people and places of Dorset, an area I have loved since childhood holidays.”

Bishop Nicholas added, “Karen has experience and brings gifts to help us with Renewing Hope: Pray, Serve, Grow. I think St Aldhelm would be pleased with her appointment, the first woman to the See of Sherborne which he founded. She emerged as the right person for this post from a company of excellent men and women considered equally. The Anglo-Saxon Church included women in authority as well as men, like St Cuthberga of Wimborne and St Edith of Wilton. Karen’s appointment is good news for Salisbury and for the Church of England.”

Read it all.

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

(WSJ) Karl Zinsmeister–The Roman Catholic School Revival

At first the rise of charter schools””to 7,000 today from 1,900 in 2000””was thought to be the nail in the coffin for Catholic education, which had been in decline for decades. Charters offer many of the same strengths as Catholic schools: order, kindness, discipline, high expectations (ideas initially borrowed from parochial institutions). But because charters are publicly funded, families don’t have to pay tuition. How could Catholic schools possibly compete with that?

Within the past few years, however, the borrowing has begun to go in the other direction, as Catholic schools poach staff from charter networks, draw from the same donors, and model their operations on charter successes. America’s usual miracle-workers””competition, civil society, entrepreneurial wealth and philanthropy””have come to the rescue of religious education.

Consider the Partnership for Inner-city Education, a nonprofit formed in 2010 to take responsibility for six Catholic schools serving disadvantaged children in Harlem and the South Bronx. The chairman of the Partnership’s board is Russ Carson, an equity-capital pioneer who also helped build KIPP charter schools in New York. Mr. Carson and fellow donors put millions of dollars into upgrading the campuses of these six Catholic schools.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(NYT) Student Debt in America: Lend With a Smile, Collect With a Fist

The American student loan crisis is often seen as a problem of profligacy and predation. Wasteful colleges raise tuition every year, we are told, even as middle-class wages stagnate and unscrupulous for-profit colleges bilk the unwary. The result is mounting unmanageable debt.
From Our Advertisers

There is much truth in this diagnosis. But it does not explain the plight of Liz Kelley, a Missouri high school teacher and mother of four who made a series of unremarkable decisions about college and borrowing. She now owes the federal government $410,000, and counting.

This is a staggering and unusual sum. The average undergraduate who borrows leaves school with about $30,000 in debt. But Ms. Kelley’s circumstances are not unique. Of the 43.3 million borrowers with outstanding federal student loans, 1.8 percent, or 779,000 people, owe $150,000 or more. And 346,000 owe more than $200,000.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance, The U.S. Government, Theology

Responsible Investor interviews Bp of Salisbury Nick Holtam–a Climate Pilgrim

Something he is keen to stress is the cross-faith work going on around climate change ”“ particularly in light of the Pope’s encyclical, which he says has had a “huge” impact. Holtam himself recently presented to the Jewish Board of Deputies with former Friends of the Earth Director Jonathon Porritt. “There is a sense that we really want to work across the faith communities,” he says ”“ pointing to an “ecumenical convergence” on the issue. The force of events ”“ an “existential crisis” ”“ was pushing faiths together to find a common solution. Indeed, our meeting coincided with a visit to London by the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, who insisted at an event with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby that global warming is a “moral crisis” requiring behavioural change.

“What we need to move to is a low carbon economy and therefore there needs to be a positive investment into renewable energy,” Holtam says. “There’s going to become a tipping point at which there are stranded assets and the question is, who’s going to spot when that comes? Because there’ll be a moment when you’re much better off investing in renewables than you are in fossil fuel.” Holtam doesn’t engage directly with corporate executives directly, but what would he say to the senior people at BP and Shell? “There’s a community of common interest,” he observes.

Read it all.

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

(LA Times) The Rev. Andy Bales on skid row and the myths about homelessness

What are the myths about homelessness?

One is that people come to L.A. to experience homelessness in the great weather, and that’s not the truth. Seventy percent of the people in the [homeless] count have been here 10 years or more. Many came here with a dream. That dream didn’t work out and they ended up on the streets. The vast majority of the people on skid row are from L.A.

The other myth is that [the biblical] quote ”” “The poor, you’ll always have with you” ”” [is] a case for inaction. But in one of the books of the Bible, Jesus says, “The poor you’ll always have with you to be kind to every day.” He’s quoting Deuteronomy. So what’s being used as a call to inaction [actually says] we’ve got to look after our neighbors, our brothers and sisters. I say skid row is the biggest man-made human disaster in the U.S. We made this corral-and-containment system. There’s a wiser, better approach.

You’ve already served some big Thanksgiving meals ahead of the holiday rush. Does it annoy you a bit that so much attention is focused on one single day of the year on skid row?

Every day is a big day; every day we have 2,000 meals and hundreds of volunteers. Our big event is the Saturday before Thanksgiving ”” 4,500 or 5,000 people who come for Thanksgiving dinner. And caring [volunteers] overwhelm us. It should happen every day. And it does here.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., City Government, Politics in General, Poverty, Urban/City Life and Issues

Archbishop Justin Welby responds to the Prime Minister's statement on Syria

“The test will obviously be the total mobilisation of effort in a focussed way that recognises the long-term needs of security for indigenous populations, and particularly the Christian populations, being harried out of the area at the time.

“For the first time in almost 300 years, we’re facing a conflict that has a distinct theological and religious element which we have not faced before. Recent studies demonstrate the theological basis of extremist groups behind jihadist thinking.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Syria, Terrorism