Daily Archives: February 23, 2016

Gambella: News from Bishop Grant and Doctor Wendy LeMarquand

The LeMarquands report:
..On Jan. 30th, the Gambella Centre, received an unexpected influx of local ”˜refugees.’ About 70 women and children from the small community nearby our compound suddenly walked through the gate. I’ll let Wendy describe their visit.

As they entered our compound, they reminded me of of the lines of refugees we saw heading into Akule refugee camp two years ago: women with their meager belongings on the heads, little babies in their arms, and children, silent, stoney faced, walking alongside. One difference ”“ razor sharp spears and deadly pangas (machetes) were carried by a few of them, mostly boys, 8 or 9 years old. They had heard that ”˜people were coming to kill them’, and they fled to us for refuge.

“What can we do?”, I wondered. “We have no stores of food and no means of defending them.” Inwardly I stepped back into Peace, and greeted each with a smile. I looked into the dull eyes and hardened faces. The sun beat down. “Water,” I thought. “Give each a cup of water.” As I gave each a cup of water, I looked into their eyes. It was the children who softened first. Slowly, shy smiles answered mine. Eyes began to brighten. It was lunch time. “They must be hungry,” I thought. I remembered yesterday, when the lunch prepared for 10 people stretched to amply feed almost 30. I had bread and ”˜Injera’ enough for ten. But what was that with such a crowd? “Test Me in this,” the thought seemed to come. Grant went to get some peanut butter crackers left by our visiting team from South Carolina. Everyone had at least 4 or 5 pieces of the bread, injera and crackers (“biscotti”). Some of our Anuak students were with us. They and Grant led us in prayer…

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

[Newcastle Herald] Clergy tensions before Anglican conference

The emergence of a “para Anglican Communion” was underway, Newcastle Bishop Greg Thompson said in a letter to Anglican Primate Archbishop Philip Freier in December, in which he declined to attend the annual bishops conference in South Australia from March 6 because it would give the impression of a united church that conflicted with reality.

He accused Sydney diocese of demanding other dioceses sign up to Anglican protocols on homosexuality, or Sydney would not attend any further national bishops’ conferences.

Bishop Thompson’s letter followed a Sydney Synod resolution in October against Australia’s first female Anglican Bishop, Kay Goldsworthy, for appointing an openly gay priest in a long-term relationship with a man to a parish in her diocese of Gippsland.
Prominent evangelical Sydney Anglican priest David Ould described the Sydney resolution as “robust”, in a blog in which he said Bishops Goldsworthy and Parkes were “undermining the Biblical doctrine of marriage and human sexuality”.

The resolution included “praise to God” for the recently formed Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) in Australia, associated with the global Confessing Anglicans movement based on strong rejection of female and gay clergy and same sex marriage.

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

[Deutsche Welle] ISIS releases last of kidnapped Assyrian Christians after ransom payment

..A group of 42 Assyrian Christians, including women and children, were handed over after months of negotiations between Assyrian leaders and the radical Sunni jihadist group.

IS captured around 250 members of the ancient Christian community last February after the terror group overran parts of northeastern Hassakeh province in northern Syria.

Much of the Assyrian homeland has since been retaken by Syrian Kurdish forces and allied Arab and Christian militia (pictured above).

Members of the religious community that still speaks the language of Jesus have been periodically released in exchange for ransom payments.

Earlier releases had reportedly been arranged through the mediation of Arab tribes in the region, but an Assyrian organization said a priest had been involved in the last release…

Read it all.

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

[CSM] Egypt: Why blasphemy cases are rising under President Sisi

Prosecutions for contempt of religion, common under former President Hosni Mubarak, increased dramatically after the 2011 uprising that deposed him, with many observers saying it was correlated to the rise to power of the Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood.

But in 2015 under Mr. Sisi, the former general who unseated the Islamists and is overseeing an unprecedented crackdown on the Brotherhood, authorities prosecuted or investigated at least 20 contempt of religion cases, says Ishak Ibrahim, a researcher on religious freedom at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. That’s more than at any time under Mr. Mubarak or since.

Religious minorities, particularly Christians, Shiites, and atheists, are often targeted. But recently prominent Sunni Muslim public figures who have voiced criticism or questions of prevailing religious doctrine have also been convicted of insulting religion.

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

(CC) Norman Wirzba–Love goes to work:Miracles in the midst of dying

People came from many directions to see Jesus because he represented a compassionate and empowering response to life’s suffering. “All in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them” (Luke 6:19). When Jesus laid his hands on a crippled, bent-over woman who had not been able to stand up straight for 18 years, she immediately stood up straight. When he met a naked, demon-possessed man, he commanded the demons to depart, and the man returned to his right mind. When a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for 12 years touched the fringe of Jesus’ clothes, her bleeding stopped.

It is right to speak of these events as miracles. People were surprised and astounded by Jesus’ ability to transform sickness and death into new life. We should be clear, however, that a miracle is not simply an interruption or an abrogation of the laws of nature. Our bodies get sick and die because their physiology demands it. Many people believe that if sickness and death are overcome at a word or touch from Jesus, then Jesus has reversed or canceled something that otherwise would have happened.

But Jesus’ miracles are not interruptions. They’re focal moments in which Jesus shows us creatures as they are meant to be: physically healthy, well fed, of right mind, and in right relationship with each other. Miracles are God making right what has gone wrong. They are not interruptions but acts of liberation that allow creatures to move into the lives that God desires for them.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AJ) John Bowen–The four kinds of leader we need

Leadership comes in many shapes and sizes””not just one. And different situations call for different styles of leadership. So what types of leader does the church need right now?

Clichés become clichés for a reason””usually because they are true. So I am going to risk saying that because the church is in crisis, we need a different kind of leader from those we needed fifty years ago. It is a cliché””but it is also true.

I was thinking about this recently when speaking at the induction of a friend, Ross Lockhart, as Director of Ministry Leadership and Education at St. Andrew’s Hall, the Presbyterian College at the Vancouver School of Ministry. My brief was to “give the charge.” This was not a phrase I was familiar with, so I asked Ross whether it meant I had to tell everyone how wonderful he is, or whether it was a chance for me to tell him what to do. Modest man that he is, he said the latter. I was happy to oblige””though I would happily have done the first too.

Since seminaries like St Andrew’s are in the business of training leaders, and since Ross is teaching leadership, it seemed like a good opportunity to reflect on what kind of leaders the church needs in today’s world.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Ecclesiology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Bishop David Thompson's reflections on General Synod

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s opening address in which he told us what really happened at the Primates’ Gathering, behind all the spin. Remember that report that the Primates had had their phones taken away? Not true! In fact they delighted in waving them at the Archbishop to prove it. On the positive side, there were clearly moments when prayer and the presence of the Spirit changed everything, and made communion real. Alleluia!

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Primates, --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016, Religion & Culture

A Portion of the Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp for his Feast Day

Now, as Polycarp was entering into the stadium, there came to him a voice from heaven, saying, “Be strong, and show thyself a man, O Polycarp!” No one saw who it was that spoke to him; but those of our brethren who were present heard the voice. And as he was brought forward, the tumult became great when they heard that Polycarp was taken. And when he came near, the proconsul asked him whether he was Polycarp. On his confessing that he was, [the proconsul] sought to persuade him to deny [Christ], saying, “Have respect to thy old age,” and other similar things, according to their custom, [such as], “Swear by the fortune of Cæsar; repent, and say, Away with the Atheists.” But Polycarp, gazing with a stern countenance on all the multitude of the wicked heathen then in the stadium, and waving his hand towards them, while with groans he looked up to heaven, said, “Away with the Atheists.” Then, the proconsul urging him, and saying, “Swear, and I will set thee at liberty, reproach Christ;” Polycarp declared, “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?”

The Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp, Chapter IX.

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Polycarp

O God, the maker of heaven and earth, who didst give to thy venerable servant, the holy and gentle Polycarp, boldness to confess Jesus Christ as King and Saviour, and steadfastness to die for his faith: Give us grace, after his example, to share the cup of Christ and rise to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, 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 Henry Alford

O Blessed Saviour, who art full of mercy and compassion, and wilt not cast out any that come to thee: Help us, we beseech thee, who are grievously vexed with the burden of our sins; and so increase in us the power of thy Holy Spirit that we may prevail against the enemy of our souls; for thy name’s sake.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to thee, when my heart is faint. Lead thou me to the rock that is higher than I; for thou art my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in thy tent for ever! Oh to be safe under the shelter of thy wings!

–Psalm 61:1-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Testimony heard round the world: Coach's rousing eulogy for wife hard to capture in printed words

On Friday, I drove from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth, Texas, to visit my parents. Somewhere along Interstate 35 south of the Red River, I flipped the FM dial to a Dallas sports talk station.

I hoped to hear discussion of my favorite team, the Texas Rangers, arriving at spring training and the outlook for the upcoming season.

Instead, I found myself mesmerized by two sports talk hosts focused on faith and forgiveness ”” and the rousing eulogy that Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams gave for his wife, Ingrid, on Thursday.

“I’m jealous of someone with that kind of faith,” said one of the hosts, as questions of life and death suddenly trumped draft picks, trade deadlines and even the Dallas Cowboys.

Read it all; the main thing to do is to watch the video which was have posted earlier.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Christology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Soteriology, Sports, Theology

(Time) Nancy Jo Sales–How social media is disrupting the lives of American girls

I spent the past 2½ years researching my new book American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teen­agers, visiting 10 states and talking to more than 200 girls. It was talking to girls themselves that brought me to the subject of social media and what sexualization is doing to their psyches. How is it affecting their sense of self-worth? The tweens and teens I spoke to were often very troubled by the ways the culture of social media was exerting influence on their self-images and their relationships, with both friends and potential dating partners. They were often highly aware of the adverse effects of the sexualization on girls””but not always sure what to do about it.

“Sexism has filtered into new arenas that adults don’t see or understand because they’re not using social media the same way,” says Katie, a student I interviewed at Barnard. “They think, Oh, how can there be anything wrong here if it’s just Snapchat or Instagram””it’s just a game.” But if this is a game, it’s unlike any other we’ve ever played. And the stakes for girls could not be higher.

Victim isn’t a word I’d use to describe the kind of girls I’ve seen, surviving and thriving in an atmosphere that has become very hostile to them much of the time. How can this be, when girls are graduating from college in higher numbers than ever before, when they’re becoming leaders in their chosen fields in greater numbers? From what we hear, American girls are among the most ­privileged and successful girls in the world. But tell that to a 13-year-old who gets called a slut and feels she can’t walk into a school classroom because everybody will be staring at her, texting about her on their phones.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Science & Technology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Women