Daily Archives: November 17, 2015

(Macleans) One Canadian’s quest to use Scripture to help sell climate science

Nods and exhalations of “uh-huh” from the crowd give the brief sense of a revival meeting, making it easy to forget that Hayhoe is, first and foremost, a scientist. The 43-year-old Ph.D. made her name building localized statistical models (“downscaling,” in the argot of her field), which governments from California to Massachusetts use to prepare for a future onslaught of drought, or unprecedented rainfall. She currently heads up the Climate Science Center of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, and has contributed to reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Later this month, she’ll appear at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris on behalf of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a 46-year-old organization devoted to promoting a healthier, safer planet.

But here in the beating heart of Christian America, she’s an apostle of her discipline, faced with a daunting challenge. Of all U.S. religious groups, white evangelical Protestants are least likely to believe in human-caused planetary warming: Only 11 per cent accept the idea, compared to 46 per cent of the broader U.S. population. Yet no movement punches further above its political weight, bringing cash and votes to Republicans who voice their doubts and fears in Washington. If you belong to the 97 per cent of climate scientists who regard global warming as real, man-made and potentially catastrophic, this deep fracture in U.S. politics is an enormous problem.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Globalization, History, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

Gillian Scott–The Paris Attacks are a reminder of Uncomfortable Truths

The truth is that the majority of Muslims are law abiding people who are horrified by the slaughter of innocents in Paris as much as anyone else. The truth though is also that all religions are not the same. We cannot separate Islam from the current crisis we face. We might like to think that it is possible to shoehorn all Islamic practice and theology into a culture of Judeo-Christian human rights, but it is not that simple. A poll earlier this year found that 3 in 10 Muslims think that their faith is incompatible with British values. Other surveys in recent years have found large minorities in favour of introducing Sharia law to the UK or that killing in the name of religion is justified. Our government is spending £40m a year on its Prevent strategy trying to stop the radicalisation of some of our Muslims in a way that our mosques are unable to do.

In an open and genuinely tolerant society, we should be able to ask the difficult questions of others with different views and beliefs and expect a productive dialogue that builds understanding and agreement. Instead we pussyfoot around too scared to criticise aspects of the Islamic faith in a way that we freely do with Christianity, for fear of being accused of Islamaphobia or racism or both.

Read it all and follow the links from the Archbishop Cranmer blog.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Multiculturalism, pluralism, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Anna McCrum–How is the CofE ”˜A Christian presence in every community’?

What impact does the CofE really make on people’s lives? In the first of a series of blogs, I sew a patchwork of diocesan news stories from the past week offering a snapshot of our presence across England and Europe to show that the work based in our 16,000 church buildings, 4700 Church schools and in hospitals, prisons and places of work are led by an active team of clergy and lay people who really do make a difference in people’s lives, from the cradle to the grave.

I start this week with the part our churches play in the immediate aftermath of tragic events such as the Paris attacks and others including Beirut. Churches have been holding candlelit vigils as a focus for grief and reflection following the Paris terrorist attack on Friday. St Michael’s and St George’s, in central Paris and part of the Diocese in Europe have been working within their communities to support those caught up in the events of Friday night, St George’s adapting their usual Sunday worship to a Requiem setting in memory of those who died.

The refugee crisis has been wiped from the headlines in recent days. But with winter arriving this week with Storm Abigail, we are reminded of the plight of the dispossessed. Working with other agencies, the Diocese of Canterbury last week took part in the screening of a film from the Communities and Partnerships Framework which followed the story of Bilal, a young man who travels illegally across Europe from Iraq and then attempts to make it across the Channel by swimming. The film depicts life for those within the camp in Calais and the impact of their presence on the town. An impassioned discussion followed the screening highlighting the pressing need both in Calais and Kent, for volunteers to help distribute goods, as well as befriend and mentor young unaccompanied refugees and migrants in Kent. The diocese’s Refugee Toolkit has been updated ahead of an open session to discuss the refugee crisis at Diocesan Synod.

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

David Brooks–On Rabbi Jonathan Sacks recent book+Finding Peace Within the Holy Texts

Justice demands respect of the other. It plays on the collective memory of people who are in covenantal communities: Your people, too, were once vulnerable strangers in a strange land.

The command is not just to be empathetic toward strangers, which is fragile. The command is to pursue sanctification, which involves struggle and sometimes conquering your selfish instincts. Moreover, God frequently appears where he is least expected ”” in the voice of the stranger ”” reminding us that God transcends the particulars of our attachments.

The reconciliation between love and justice is not simple, but for believers the texts, read properly, point the way. Sacks’s great contribution is to point out that the answer to religious violence is probably going to be found within religion itself, among those who understand that religion gains influence when it renounces power.

It may seem strange that in this century of technology, peace will be found within these ancient texts. But as Sacks points out, Abraham had no empire, no miracles and no army ”” just a different example of how to believe, think and live.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

An important August New Yorker article–the other France

Xavier Nogueras, a defense lawyer in Paris, represents twenty French citizens accused of jihadism. A few of his clients are violent and dangerous, he said, but many went to Syria out of idealism, wanting to defend other Muslims against the Assad regime and build an Islamic state. He argued that such people pose no threat to France and that the state shouldn’t permanently embitter them with years of detention. Nogueras resisted tracing his clients’ motives to social conditions in the banlieues. Few have criminal backgrounds; some had well-paid jobs in large French companies. “The most surprising thing to me is their immense humanity,” Nogueras said. He finds jihadists more interesting than the drug dealers and robbers he’s represented. “They have more to say””many more ideas. Their sacred book demands the application of Sharia, which tells them to cover their wives, not to live in secularism. And we are in a country that inevitably stigmatizes them, because it’s secular. They don’t feel at home here.”

I found the lawyer’s distinction between jihadism at home and abroad less than reassuring. Coulibaly’s faith could have led him to kill people in Paris or in Syria; violence driven by ideology could happen anywhere. The “idealism” of clients motivated to make Sharia universal law is, in some ways, more worrying than simple thuggery: even if France dedicates itself urgently to making its Muslims full-fledged children of the republic, a small minority of them will remain, on principle, irreconcilable.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, France, History, Islam, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology, Young Adults

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Hugh of Lincoln and Robert Grosseteste

Holy God, our greatest treasure, who didst bless Hugh and Robert, Bishops of Lincoln, with wise and cheerful boldness for the proclamation of thy Word to rich and poor alike: Grant that all who minister in thy Name may serve with diligence, discipline and humility, fearing nothing but the loss of thee and drawing all to thee through Jesus Christ our Savior; who liveth and reigneth with thee in the communion of 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 John Calvin

O Lord, heavenly Father, in whom is the fullness of light and wisdom: Enlighten our minds by thy Holy Spirit, and give us grace to receive thy Word with reverence and humility, without which no man can understand thy truth; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

–John Calvin (1509-1564)

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! Clouds and thick darkness are round about him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him, and burns up his adversaries round about. His lightnings lighten the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness; and all the peoples behold his glory.

–Psalm 97:1-6

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Paris Attacks Plotted by Belgian Who Fought for ISIS, French Officials Say

The hunt for those responsible for the Paris terrorist attacks escalated on Monday as French officials identified a 27-year-old Belgian who fought for the Islamic State in Syria as the chief architect of the assaults and the police in France and Belgium conducted extensive raids seeking other suspects.

Three days after the attacks, which killed 129 people, French and Belgian security services were focused on the role of the Belgian, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who is among the most prominent Islamic State fighters to have come out of Belgium and has been linked to a series of previous terrorist plots.

A French official briefed on the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss operational details, said Mr. Abaaoud had mentioned plans to attack “a concert hall” to a French citizen who returned from Syria.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, France, Islam, Other Faiths, Theology