Daily Archives: November 20, 2015

(WSJ) Nicholas Hahn–Prayers, Puppies and a Political Menagerie

At first it seems like a heartwarming partnership: Christians join with a prominent nonprofit that purports to save puppies and kittens. But this new movement, ostensibly aimed at reminding Christians of their duty to protect animals, is peddling a theologically questionable and overtly political agenda.

This fall appeared the initiative Every Living Thing, spearheaded by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), a national group that doesn’t manage local pet shelters, despite public perceptions. More than 1,000 Christians have signed a statement invoking the Bible to note that animals are an “especially vulnerable subset of all God’s creatures” that “can be most subject to irresponsible and cruel treatment by humans.”

For centuries Christians have debated animal theology. Last year newspapers reported incorrectly that Pope Francis had assured an aching young boy whose pet had died that “we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ.” Christine Gutleben, director of faith outreach at HSUS, said the pope’s comments seemed to imply “that animals have a soul.” As it turned out, the media mangled the facts. Pope Francis never said such a thing, though in the 1970s Pope Paul VI alluded””pastorally, not as a matter of doctrine””to the idea that all dogs go to heaven.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Animals, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(LA Times) ISIS' presence in the U.S. is 'the new normal,' FBI director Comey says

…in the United States, where neither Al Qaeda nor Islamic State has pulled off a major strike since Sept. 11, 2001. Despite the track record, FBI director James B. Comey has warned that Islamic State, an organization that was added to the agency’s list of foreign terrorist groups only last year, is now in virtually every state.

“This is sort of the new normal,” Comey said in July after announcing the arrests of 10 people believed linked to Islamic State plots, including some suspected of planning attacks to coincide with the July 4 holiday.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Islam, Other Faiths, Terrorism

Music for Friday Morning–For the Beauty of the Earth – John Rutter

For the Beauty of the Earth – John Rutter from Music@belpres on Vimeo.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * General Interest, Liturgy, Music, Worship

(Church Times) C of E in talks on safeguards for school character

The Church of England is attempting to clarify its rights over church schools when the Education and Adoption Bill becomes law next year.

At present, there is uncertainty over the position of diocesan boards of education when, under a provision in the Bill, an inadequate school can be forcibly transferred to academy status under a different provider.

The Government has strongly resisted amendments to the Bill, which is intended to speed up the improvement of schools that are giving cause for concern. This will be achieved, the Government argues, by giving Ministers the right to force failing schools to become academies, and circumvent local consultation and objections that have hitherto delayed the process.

Instead of being secured in legislation, the Church’s position will be set out in a Memorandum of Understanding associated with the Bill.

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

(Touchstone) Michael Avramovich–Christians Refugees From The Middle East

And what about the Christians from the Middle East? Are they part of a resettlement plan into Europe or the United States? Sadly, the Department of State does not support a “special” category to bring, for example, Assyrian Christians into the United States, even though private donors have offered complete funding for the airfare and the resettlement in the United States of Assyrian and other Iraqi Christians. It is a particularly absurd irony for U.S. government officials to say that Christian refugees from the Middle East will not be supported because of their religious affiliation, even though it is precisely their religious affiliation that makes them candidates for asylum based upon a credible fear of ISIS persecution.

To the consternation of the United States and European Union officials (and much of the mainstream media), several EU countries have said that they will admit refugees from the Middle East, but only those who are Christians, and no Moslems need apply. Slovakia is one such country, and I have been informed that intra-governmental task forces in at least two other European nations are contemplating similar action, though no official actions have been announced. However, EU Commission spokeswoman Annika Breithard has stressed that EU states are banned from “any form of discrimination.” Thus, Christians from the Middle East have been driven out of their homes by ISIS and other terrorists, but are given little protection or safe havens as refugees, notwithstanding international law. Yes, we should watch and pray, but we must also remember our obligation from Galatians 6:10, which reads, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

([London] Times) Melanie Phillips–Terror attacks have everything to do with Islam

Even after the Paris atrocities, the West still isn’t joining up the dots. The free world was shocked by 9/11, shocked by the 7/7 London bombings, shocked by the 2008 onslaught in Mumbai, shocked by January’s Paris massacres at Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket.
Now it is shocked by Isis, which it presents as “nihilists”. So they just happen to be the same type of nihilists as al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Jaysh al-Islam and Boko Haram.
By an amazing coincidence, these all just happen to have the same aim: to spread Islam through holy war using the same tactics of shootings, stabbings, beheadings, disembowelling and human bomb attacks.
Theresa May fatuously said of the Paris attacks that they had “nothing to do with Islam”. David Cameron inched towards realism by saying on Monday night it was “not good enough” to “deny any connection between the religion of Islam and the extremist”. Yet on other occasions he says Islamic terror is a “perversion” of the religion.
Such contortions are an attempt to avoid lumping all Muslims together. But Islam is simply what Muslims practise.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Edmund of East Anglia

O God of ineffable mercy, who didst give grace and fortitude to blessed Edmund the king to triumph over the enemy of his people by nobly dying for thy Name: Bestow on us thy servants, we beseech thee, the shield of faith, wherewith we may withstand the assaults of our ancient enemy; through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, 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 F T Woods

Into thy hands, O Lord, we commend ourselves and all who are dear to us this day. Be with us in our going out and in our coming in. Strengthen us for the work which thou hast given us to do. And grant that, filled with thy Holy Spirit, we may walk worthy of our high calling, and cheerfully accomplish those things that thou wouldest have done; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Of old thou didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They will perish, but thou dost endure; they will all wear out like a garment. Thou changest them like raiment, and they pass away; but thou art the same, and thy years have no end.

–Psalm 102:25-27

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

([London] Times) It was like a war, say lifesaving doctors

“It was like Kabul come to Paris,” said one doctor at a military hospital on the outskirts of Paris, as the city’s emergency medical teams responded to the gravest attack on French soil since the Second World War.
At least 415 people were wounded in last Friday’s attacks and rushed to 38 different hospitals in and around Paris.
The city put into action its “plan blanc”, a maximum level of mobilisation designed to deal with “exceptional medical scenarios”. It has been hailed as a testament to France’s renowned public hospitals system that only three of the injured victims are believed to have died in hospital, arresting the death toll at 129 when it could have been far higher.
Parisian hospitals had carried out a drill for a terrorist attack that morning, just hours before the real attacks took place. The “plan blanc”, devised in 2004 for just such a crisis, allowed staff to requisition nurses, surgeons, resuscitation staff, operating theatres, beds, ambulances and psychiatric services.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Europe, France, Health & Medicine, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Russell Moore–Stop pitting security and compassion against each other in the Syrian refugee crisis

Most importantly, we shouldn’t allow our domestic controversy over refugees to cloud the larger issue of what is driving the refugee crisis in the first place””a death cult with aspirations of regional or global dominance. Christian communities that have been in the Middle East since literally the Book of Acts are in danger of extinction, as are those who are in need of hearing the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.

We cannot love our neighbors at the same we’re standing aside and watching them be slaughtered. The Bible grants the state the power and mandate to use force to protect the innocent. That means both engaging ISIS with a strong military response and doing what is in our power to shield the innocent from terror. Anything less is not a sufficiently Christian response.

We cannot forget our brothers and sisters in peril. And we cannot seal ourselves off from our mission field. An entire generation of those fleeing genocide will be asking whether there is an alternative to the toxic religion they’ve seen.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Globalization, Immigration, Middle East, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Syria, Terrorism, Theology