Daily Archives: December 13, 2015

I Howard Marshall RIP

I had expected to see a giant of a man. In fact, Howard reflected the humble Scottish roots of his home. Rather than a six-foot plus giant, Sally and I met a man who she could look at eye to eye, but his welcome and heart was the size of Texas. It was common to hear that he was meeting with students not just to review the current chapter dedicated to their thesis (what the British call a dissertation) but to pray with them. He opened his home to welcome those students and host them, making sure their arrival in Scotland and a foreign land had left them feeling at home.

He engaged in theological discussion and debate as a conservative of deep conviction who demanded that one’s work be thorough but also fair to the views being challenged. He spoke with a soft voice that communicated with clarity and gravity about the way one should regard the Scripture. That captured people’s attention. The depth of his awareness covering a sweep of topics was stunning. Despite all of that ability and knowledge, what struck one about Howard was his humility and devotion to God. His critique was delivered with a gentleness that not only made clear what might be misdirected but also that showed he cared about how that critique was received.

One incident after my time in Aberdeen is still clear to me. On a return visit to Aberdeen, we brought our family with us. Our two girls had been born in bonnie Scotland, but my son had not. It was the first and only time Howard met our son, who was a very young, playful, five-year-old boy at the time. The Marshalls had a tea warmer in the shape of penguin. Another aspect of Howard’s personality is that he had a classic Scottish wit. So Stephen spotted the warmer and was drawn to it. He offered Stephen to let him play with it and got down on the floor with him to share in the moment. Stephen took advantage of his new playmate and promptly placed the penguin on Howard’s head, leaving both of them laughing and my wife nothing short of horrified. But that was Howard, sensitive to where people were coming from with an eye to where they could go. When I remember Howard Marshall, it is this moment that most typifies him as a person.

Read it all from Darrell Bock.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Children, Christology, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Local Paper) 6 months later, a different Bible study meets at Mother Emanuel

The week after the shooting at Mother Emanuel, Bible study was so crowded every chair in the basement was taken. Black people. White people. Members of the national media. People had to stand in the back against the walls.

The world watched in awe as the nine victims’ family members publicly forgave the white supremacist accused of murdering their loved ones in the sanctuary of their beloved church. So moved, pilgrims flocked to Emanuel, leaving a parade of flowers, cards, rosaries and balloons behind. President Barack Obama broke into song during his eulogy for slain pastor the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, singing “Amazing Grace” before thousands of mourners in Charleston’s TD Arena.

Almost six months later, the crowds aren’t as big as they once were. For Sunday’s church service, fire marshals no longer have to block the doors. Nowadays, maybe 25 or 30 folks will attend Bible study. Last Wednesday, 22 showed up.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Adult Education, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

(CC) Jason Byassee–How the documentary "Chaplains" raises the issue of ecclesiology

A chaplain’s job is to serve the spiritual needs of everyone in his or her care. A Buddhist chaplain in Oregon has to provide amplifiers for evangelical praise music, drums for Native American circles, and a priest and wafers for mass. When a chaplain for Tyson Foods insists that the job isn’t just to patch people up so they can go out and make more money for Tyson, one has to wonder: Would Tyson pay for a chaplain if the chaplain’s presence weren’t profitable in some way? Would the army, the hospital, or the prison pay for chaplains if they didn’t serve their respective causes? Shouldn’t the local church minister to its members and communities rather than outsource personnel to secular institutions?

One military chaplain in the film tells of soldiers in Iraq coming to him to ask if their souls are endangered. We can only imagine what sorts of things they’ve done in our name. He reassures them that their souls are not in danger: if they’ve followed lawful orders, the culpability for giving those orders is on the head of those who issued them. But can we be so sure? Should the church dispense such assurance so glibly? Could a chaplain who responded “I don’t know” to that question keep her job? And isn’t “I don’t know,” at least in some cases, a more truthful response?

I’m more sympathetic to prison chaplaincy. In a nation that warehouses 2.2 million people, some of the only outsiders who care about the incarcerated come from religious communities. The film follows the work of Calvary Chapel of Southeast Portland, which treats the Oregon prison almost like a campus of its church. Its members offer instant relationship, social capital, and material help when prisoners are released.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ecclesiology, Economy, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture, The U.S. Government, Theology

Still in a Crib, Yet Being Given Antipsychotics

Andrew Rios’s seizures began when he was 5 months old and only got worse. At 18 months, when an epilepsy medication resulted in violent behavior, he was prescribed the antipsychotic Risperdal, a drug typically used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in adults, and rarely used for children as young as 5 years.

When Andrew screamed in his sleep and seemed to interact with people and objects that were not there, his frightened mother researched Risperdal and discovered that the drug was not approved, and had never even been studied, in children anywhere near as young as Andrew.

“It was just ”˜Take this, no big deal,’ like they were Tic Tacs,” said Genesis Rios, a mother of five in Rancho Dominguez, Calif. “He was just a baby.”

Cases like that of Andrew Rios, in which children age 2 or younger are prescribed psychiatric medications to address alarmingly violent or withdrawn behavior, are rising rapidly, data shows.

Read it all from the front page of Friday’s New York Times.

Posted in Uncategorized

(CT) Harry Lee Poe–C.S. Lewis Was a Secret Government Agent

However Lewis came to the attention of MI6, it needed Lewis in the wake of the German invasion of Norway and Denmark on April 9, 1940. Though the British sent troops to Norway to counter the German invasion, it was too late to intervene in Denmark, whose subjugation was accomplished in only one day. One month later on May 10, 1940, German forces invaded the Netherlands, Belgium, and France, and by June 22 the French government had capitulated, leaving Britain to fight on alone.

On that same morning in May, however, the British did the next best thing they could do to help Denmark and the rest of Europe: They launched a surprise invasion of Iceland, which was part of the Kingdom of Denmark. Iceland’s strategic significance in the North Atlantic had been known since the Viking voyages a thousand years earlier. Iceland sits along the arc of islands that include Britain, Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, and Newfoundland. Each island became a staging ground for pushing farther westward. In the Battle of the Atlantic, Iceland could have provided Germany with a strategic naval and air base. Instead, thanks to the British invasion, Iceland provided the ideal base for seaplanes to search for the German naval vessels that prowled the Atlantic sinking the merchant fleet with its crucial supplies.

Though British control of Iceland was critical, Britain could not afford to deploy its troops to hold the island when greater battles loomed elsewhere, beginning with the struggle for North Africa. Holding Iceland depended upon the goodwill of the people of Iceland who never had asked to be invaded by the British. If Britain retained Icelandic goodwill, then Churchill could occupy the island with reserve troops rather than his best fighting forces.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Church History, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, History, Iceland, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Scottish Prayer Book

O Lord Jesus Christ, before whose judgment-seat we must all appear and give account of the things done in the body: Grant, we beseech thee, that when the books are opened in that day, the faces of thy servants may not be ashamed; through thy merits, O blessed Saviour, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

–Scottish Prayer Book

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Because thy steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise thee. So I will bless thee as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on thy name. My soul is feasted as with marrow and fat, and my mouth praises thee with joyful lips, when I think of thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the watches of the night; for thou hast been my help, and in the shadow of thy wings I sing for joy.

–Psalm 63:3-7

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AI) Peter Berger–Rethinking the Reformation

On October 30, 2015, a joint Lutheran-Catholic statement was issued after a protracted consultation by theologians of both confessions: “On the Way: Church, Ministry and the Eucharist.” The opening phrase means on the way to full mutual recognition and intercommunion, which both sides acknowledge as having been the will of Jesus and as being the intended final relationship between the two communities. [As a sociologist I must observe that there is also a tacit empirical assumption here””that the disunity between churches weakens the credibility of the Christian faith. This may be true in Europe, where both Lutherans and Catholics come out of a history of state churches””and where secularization, as a decline of religion, has gone farther than on any other continent. In the United States this alleged nexus between Christian unity and the plausibility of the faith is less persuasive.]

“On the Way” was published jointly by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the largest and more liberal wing of Lutheranism in this country (known, not always affectionately, as Aunt Elka), and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. There has also been input from the Lutheran World Federation, the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, and the World Council of Churches (to which most Protestant and Eastern Orthodox churches at least nominally belong despite cacophonous disagreements). This document builds on an earlier joint statement in 1993 on the doctrine of justification, which has been a major disagreement between Lutherans and Catholics: The statement concluded in a somewhat tortured argument that there really were (or were no longer) any fundamental disagreements. It therefore decided, logically enough, to withdraw the solemn mutual condemnations (so-called anathemas, “accursed be”¦”) between Rome and its “separated brethren” (a phrase now considered impolite).

The gist of “On the Way” is a list of “32 agreements” (there is also an honest acknowledgment of issues on which there still is disagreement). Coming to the document as a non-theologian one is likely to be less than overwhelmed by what is supposedly agreed upon…

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Church History, Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Eucharist, Europe, History, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Alex Taylor on how to see the central message of Christmas–Away in a mangle

Some much-loved Christmas songs add things to the narrative which aren’t all together helpful. ”˜Away in a Manger’ is one such culprit ”“ how do we know Jesus didn’t cry? And don’t get me started on ”˜Little Donkey’. I mean, a little donkey, carrying Mary, following a star? Really?

I know some of you will be fuming by this point, and I’m being deliberately provocative, but take a moment to think it through. The Bible Christmas story has no donkey, no innkeeper, no kings apart from Herod. What it does have is God’s promised saviour come to live with his people. It’s a life-changing story, one that promises eternal life.

What I’m getting at, in my roundabout, ranty way, is this: we have reduced the greatest story we can tell ”“ the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Christ ”“ to a series of clichés and non-Bible sentiments. The world is crying out to hear this story of salvation, so let’s tell it with all the shock, surprise, joy, drama, grief, happiness and life of the biblical account. This awesome, powerful story doesn’t need a donkey or a badly acted innkeeper. It needs people willing to share the good news and the difference it has made to them.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Anglican Provinces, Christmas, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

Bp of Salisbury Nick Holtam on the Paris 2015 Climate Accord–"This Looks Like Real Progress"

Speaking as the Church of England’s lead on the environment, Bishop Nicholas has welcomed today’s agreement at the UN Climate Change Summit in Paris. After two weeks of talks, participants have committed to hold the increase in global temperatures to ‘well below’ 2-degrees above pre-industrial levels, alongside clear rules on transparency and reviews of carbon emissions every five years.

Speaking about the COP21 agreement, Bishop Nick Holtam, said, “is good to have an ambitious agreement about the aspiration. What matters now is that governments actually deliver a low carbon future – the transparency of accountability and process of review will be what ensures that happens. This looks like real progress – there is now a much more positive spirit about what now needs to happen than after Copenhagen six years ago, but we are still at an early stage on the journey.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, France, Globalization, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology