Daily Archives: May 23, 2016

Martin Davie responds to Oliver O'Donovan's recent piece on the Scottish Episcopal Marriage debate

(For the original piece to which this is responding please see here–KSH).

There are likely to be many Anglicans, not least in the Church of England, who will welcome the idea that there might be a viable ”˜third way’ between supporting same-sex marriages and simply maintaining the Church’s traditional position. However, I would want to argue that there is in fact no viable ”˜third way’ on this issue. This is for three reasons.

First, the position of those advocating for LGBT equality has moved on since the days when a blessing of same-sex partnerships might have been seen as acceptable.

Now that same-sex ”˜marriage’ is legal in an increasing number of jurisdictions around the world, including England, Scotland and Wales, LGBT advocates will not be content with anything less than the Church coming into line with society and practicing ”˜equal marriage’ as well. For example, those Gay and Lesbian Christians such as Canon Jeremy Pemberton who are already ”˜married’ are not going to be content with anything less than the Church’s full recognition of their marital status.

Furthermore, even the recognition of same-sex ”˜marriages’ is now a relatively conservative position. The new focus of LGBT activism is now the call to move beyond the ”˜heteronormative gender binary’ (the idea that humanity is divided into men and women) and recognise a whole multiplicity of different gender identities (Facebook UK now gives you seventy one gender options to choose from) and a whole range of forms of personal relationship to suit these different identities….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Scotland, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) Standing with Charleston, One Year After the Emanuel AME Church Shooting

Of all the evidence in recent years that white supremacy remains imprinted on American life, the shootings were the most indisputable. A white boy had come of age in the 21st century drinking from the same poisoned spring as lynch mobs across the country in the 20th. He had stepped through loopholes in gun laws broad enough to allow a 21-year-old with a criminal history to purchase a Glock, and carried it into the sanctuary of a church in hopes of avenging imagined wrongs and inciting a race war.

At the same time, in a way without any obvious parallel in recent decades, the offers of forgiveness, prayers, and mercy in the face of judgment were an extraordinary public reminder of the holy power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, its persistence even in an increasingly secular nation, and its capacity to change hearts, minds””and legislatures. Within three weeks of the shooting, the debate about the Confederate flag flying over South Carolina’s State Capitol, a debate that had been entrenched in stalemate in the South Carolina House of Representatives, was over. On July 10, 2015, the flag was removed. As South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley noted, the grace shown on June 19 helped to change the minds of wavering officials.

All this happened in a few terrible and memorable days. And it all deserves to be remembered and commemorated, lamented and honored, as CT seeks to do with the following story.

But none of it is over.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

[WWM] Second Chibok girl rescued, says Nigerian army

Nigeria’s army says that it has rescued a second Chibok schoolgirl, two days after rescuing Amina Ali Nkeki, 19, the first of the 219 kidnapped girls to be found alive.

“We are glad to state that among those rescued is a girl believed to be one of the Chibok Government Secondary School girls that were abducted on 14 April 2014 by the Boko Haram terrorists,” said a statement issued by Acting Director of Public Relations, Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman.

Serah Luka is believed to be the daughter of a pastor, says the statement, and is currently receiving medical attention at the medical facility of Abogo Largema Cantonment in Biu, Borno state.

But parents of the kidnapped Chibok girls and the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group have not been able to confirm the information..

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

[NYT] Decapitated Churches in China’s Christian Heartland

..people familiar with the government’s deliberations say the removal of crosses here has set the stage for a new, nationwide effort to more strictly regulate spiritual life in China, reflecting the tighter control of society favored by President Xi Jinping.

In a major speech on religious policy last month, Mr. Xi urged the ruling Communist Party to “resolutely guard against overseas infiltrations via religious means,” and he warned that religions in China must “Sinicize,” or become Chinese. The instructions reflect the government’s longstanding fear that Christianity could undermine the party’s authority. Many human rights lawyers in China are Christians, and many dissidents have said they are influenced by the idea that rights are God-given.

In recent decades, the party had tolerated a religious renaissance in China, allowing most Chinese to worship as they chose and even encouraging the construction of churches, mosques and temples, despite regular crackdowns on unregistered congregations and banned spiritual groups such as Falun Gong.

Hundreds of millions of people have embraced the nation’s major faiths: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam and Christianity. There are now about 60 million Christians in China. Many attend churches registered with the government, but at least half worship in unregistered churches, often with local authorities looking the other way.

But Mr. Xi’s decision to convene a “religious affairs work conference” last month ”” the first such leadership meeting in 15 years ”” suggested that he was unhappy with some of these policies. People familiar with the party’s discussions say it intends to apply some lessons from the campaign in Zhejiang to rein in religious groups across the country.

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

(Economist Prospero blog) new Male singing stars will likely emerge from Church choirs

Choirs may be the ultimate training ground for hopeful boy bands and ensembles. Choristers””who in British and American cathedral choirs usually range from eight to 13, with continental choirs retaining their singers until the age of 19””typically rehearse together daily, making their decision to team up in ensembles of their own making less risky. They form an immediate talent pool of skilled musicians who enjoy making music together, and know one another’s musical likes and personalities. “[British cathedral] choirs are an ideal place for future bandmates to grow up in,” says Simon Kirk, director of music at St John’s College School, which educates the boy choristers of St John’s College Chapel in Cambridge. “You work as part of a professional team that tours and records. From the age of nine to ten, the boys work as professional musicians.”

When Barnaby Smith graduated from Westminster Abbey Choir School at 13, he already knew that he wanted to keep singing with some of his fellow choristers. Several years later, four of them formed the acapella ensemble Voces8, which has since won numerous competitions and is now the singers’ full-time occupation. “A small ensemble is like a family,” Mr Smith explains. “Having sung in a boys’ choir was vital. Choir school is a very professional environment where boys depend on one another. It’s not something you do on your own.”

Though top-level choirs are fertile band-making territory, establishing an ensemble can be awkward if it takes place while the boys are still choir members. “You decide who you get along with,” explains Louis Weise, a 17-year-old member of the St Thomas Choir in Leipzig. “If you’re going to do additional rehearsals together and also try to make money together, you really have to get along.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Education, England / UK, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Men, Music, Teens / Youth

(BBC) The Archbishop of York completes his six-month pilgrimage

The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu has completed a six-month pilgrimage around the North East of England.

He began his trek in Whitby, North Yorkshire in December and completed the 2,000-mile journey at York Minster.

During his travels, Archbishop Sentamu is thought to have met around 20,000 people.

The 66-year-old spent six days in each of the 21 deaneries of the Diocese of York and walked a “sizeable distance” through them all.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of York John Sentamu

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Euchologium Anglicanum

O God, who hast made thyself known to us as Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity, in order that we may be informed of thy love and thy majesty: Mercifully grant that we may not be terrified by what thou hast revealed of thy majesty, nor tempted to trespass upon thy mercy by what we know of thy love for us; but that by the power of thy Spirit we may be forever drawn to thee in true adoration and worship; who livest and reignest, one God, world without end.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

To thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in thee I trust,
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Yea, let none that wait for thee be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know thy ways, O Lord;
teach me thy paths.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me,
for thou art the God of my salvation;
for thee I wait all the day long.

–Psalm 25:1-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Opioid Prescriptions Drop for the First Time in Two Decades

After years of relentless growth, the number of opioid prescriptions in the United States is finally falling, the first sustained drop since OxyContin hit the market in 1996.

For much of the past two decades, doctors were writing so many prescriptions for the powerful opioid painkillers that, in recent years, there have been enough for every American adult to have a bottle. But for each of the past three years ”” 2013, 2014 and 2015 ”” prescriptions have declined, a review of several sources of data shows.

Experts say the drop is an important early signal that the long-running prescription opioid epidemic may be peaking, that doctors have begun heeding a drumbeat of warnings about the highly addictive nature of the drugs and that federal and state efforts to curb them are having an effect.

“The culture is changing,” said Dr. Bruce Psaty, a researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle who studies drug safety. “We are on the downside of a curve with opioid prescribing now.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine