Daily Archives: January 27, 2016

[Deutsche Welle] What it's like to be a Christian in Iran

..The situation for Christians of any denomination in Iran is “very dramatic,” according to Markus Rode from Open Doors. In particular, individuals who have converted from Islam to Christianity are subjected to “extreme persecution.”

Many have been imprisoned, tortured, or threatened with death. Armenian and Chaldean churches are allowed to hold services, as long as they are not conducted in Persian, and they are observed by the police. Distributing Christian literature in Farsi is strictly forbidden, in order to prevent evangelization.

“The traditional churches are being strangled,” Rode told DW. “Those involved have no other choice but to go underground.” Many Christians form small house churches and meet in private homes.

Feigned public execution for Christian

Rode told the story of one particular Iranian Christian. In Tehran, the man “was yanked from the street into a taxi” and told, “You will give up your faith, you will return to Islam, or you will die.” A gun was pointed to his head and the trigger was pulled. However, it wasn’t loaded.

After the “feigned public execution,” the man was thrown into a prison in Tehran where his keepers extinguished their cigarettes on his bare skin.

Relatives of the man were able to buy his freedom. Today, he lives in Germany, but still fears the Iranian secret service, which even has influence abroad, according to Rode.

Read it all

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Religious Freedom / Persecution

[CS Monitor] Why is the Pope celebrating the Protestant Reformation?

..Pope Francis is set to lead a joint worship service alongside Lutheran World Federation President Bishop Dr Munib Younan and General Secretary Rev. Dr Martin Junge on Oct. 31, 2016, as a kickoff commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which will be in 2017.

“I’m carried by the profound conviction that by working towards reconciliation between Lutherans and Catholics, we are working towards justice, peace and reconciliation in a world torn apart by conflict and violence,” said Rev. Junge in a press release.

In an age of increasing distaste for organized religion in many OECD nations, the faith leaders involved said the joint commemoration could demonstrate the promise of Christian unity.

“The ecumenical situation in our part of the world is unique and interesting,” Anders Arborelius OCD, Bishop of the Catholic Church in Sweden, said in a press release. “I hope that this meeting will help us look to the future so that we can be witnesses of Jesus Christ and His gospel in our secularized world.”..

Read it all

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations

[IBT] Poignant paintings by Jewish concentration camp prisoners go on show in Berlin

One hundred paintings and drawings created by Jewish artists during the Holocaust are going on show in Berlin. The exhibition, Art from the Holocaust, includes work by inmates of various concentration camps, labour camps and ghettos. Of the 50 artists featured, 24 were murdered by the Nazis.

Read and view them all

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(Local Paper) Triple amputee tells his remarkable comeback story

[Bryan] Anderson is one of very few combat veterans who lost three limbs and survived.

“It hurt to breathe. It was hard to breathe” on the sidewalk, he said, “but, at the same time, I never felt like I was going to die.”

Military doctors who treated Anderson induced a coma. He was transported to Germany for life-saving surgery, then to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., for a 13-month-long recovery.

The 34-year-old now lives in Chicago and travels the country sharing his story with other veterans and various groups. He was featured on the cover of Esquire magazine, on “60 Minutes” and recently appeared in the 2014 film “American Sniper.” He also hosts an Emmy Award-winning PBS series in the Chicago area called “Reporting for Service with Bryan Anderson.” He was awarded a Purple Heart.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Health & Medicine, Iraq War, Military / Armed Forces, Psychology, Theology

Archbp Justin Welby–Why the Church is helping children understand how to handle money

Now, on the surface this might sound like a modest gesture. Not a bit of it. The programme is certainly down to earth and extremely practical, and rightly so. Yet it aims at the heart of some of the deepest, most painful and most intractable problems that families can face, and seeks to help put people on a new footing ”“ a footing that Jesus would recognise as healed and renewed.

When I prayed with the children during their assembly yesterday, I prayed especially for those whose households have serious money problems. Where there are such difficulties, it may lead to a whole range of other problems tightening their grip on a family: substance abuse, domestic violence and marital breakdown, among others.

So the way that money is dealt with is about human flourishing at its deepest level ”“ and it is absolutely right that the church is helping to try and break this cycle before it affects another generation. Meanwhile, on a practical level it makes perfect sense for the Church of England, which is involved in the education of a million children around the country, to be using our particular platform to make this contribution.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Children, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Theology

(LA Times) Bangladesh reeling after second wave of attacks possibly tied to ISIS

It has been nearly a year since Avijit Roy, a Bangladeshi-born American citizen, was hacked to death on the street in this South Asian country’s teeming capital, part of a series of grisly killings of secular writers who criticized Islamic fundamentalism.

But in the last four months, Bangladesh has been stunned by a second wave of deadly attacks ”” against religious minorities, security forces and foreigners ”” that is unusual even with the nation’s long history of political violence.

The more recent killings have raised fears that Bangladesh is entering a disturbing new phase of instability inspired from abroad. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for several of the attacks and is stepping up its efforts to recruit from this country of 160 million people, the vast majority Sunni Muslims.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Bangladesh, Terrorism

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saints Lydia, Dorcas and Phoebe

Filled with thy Holy Spirit, gracious God, thine earliest disciples served thee with the gifts each had been given: Lydia in business and stewardship, Dorcas in a life of charity and Phoebe as a deacon who served many. Inspire us today to build up thy Church with our gifts in hospitality, charity and bold witness to the Gospel of Christ; who livest and reignest with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Frank Colquhoun

Preserve us, O Lord, from the spirit of revenge. Give us, we beseech thee, the generous heart; that, if our enemy hunger, we may feed him, if he thirst, may give him drink; that we be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good; as servants of Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant. For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. Hence even the first covenant was not ratified without blood. For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.” And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the Holy Place yearly with blood not his own; for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

–Hebrews 9:15-28

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Happy Consecration Anniversary to Bishop Mark Lawrence

Happy Consecration Anniversary to you, Bishop Lawrence! January 26, 2008 was a great festival celebration as you became our 14th Bishop of South Carolina–Glory To God!

Posted by Diocese of South Carolina on Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Church History, Evangelism and Church Growth, Globalization, History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Daily Xtra) Anglican Church of Canada to vote on same-sex marriage in 2016

Same-sex marriage could be a reality within the Anglican Church of Canada by 2019, despite a recent vote by Anglican archbishops to suspend the church’s US branch for consecrating gay weddings.

Anglican priests in Canada took a significant step towards marrying same-sex couples in 2013, when the church’s highest governing body here (the triennial synod) voted to change canon law to allow for gay marriage.

The resolution still needs approval from two more synods in 2016 and 2019 before it can come into effect.

It also includes an opt-out clause for clergy members, bishops, congregations and dioceses opposed to blessing gay marriage.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Primates, --Justin Welby, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT Style) Happy Hour Without the Booze

On a recent rainy afternoon over veggie burgers at NeueHouse, the co-working space in the Flatiron district, three Vedic meditators were discussing drink options for a new kind of happy hour they were organizing.

“Tonight would be a good night for tea,” Katia Tallarico, 33, a lanky psychotherapist from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, said to Light Watkins, 42, an organizer from Los Angeles typically partial to a hot lemon-ginger elixir.

“It’s O.K., we have a really great water, from Australia,” said Andrea Praet, 34, a trend strategist from Greenpoint, who also runs an urban retreat series, with Ms. Tallarico, called the Uplift Project.

Around 5 p.m., the three made their way over to set up a “bar” and buffet at General Assembly, a fourth-floor technology school and site of New York City’s inaugural Shine: an inspirational, alcohol-free evening.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Alcohol/Drinking, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Young Adults