Daily Archives: June 1, 2016

(W Post) Barton Swain–The left won the culture war. Will they be merciful?

More recently, Notre Dame historian George Marsden ”” a self-described “Augustinian Christian” and so something close to an evangelical, whatever that still means ”” has argued in his book “The Twilight of the American Enlightenment” that religious traditionalists and secularist liberals can avoid a great deal of acrimony by defenestrating the midcentury idea of a “neutral” public sphere and instead adopting what he and others have termed “principled pluralism.” More recently still, in his new book “The Fractured Republic,” the scholar and journalist Yuval Levin, a Jewish social conservative, has counseled both religious conservatives and secularist liberals that they can repair our dysfunctional politics by comprehending the implications of this one essential truth: that American society is no longer the consolidated unit it once was but a diffuse assortment of subcultures.

True, many religious social conservatives still think it’s their duty to take America back, their disposition expressed in the fierce eloquence of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.). But many do not. Many have finally given up on the whole idea of a culture war or are willing to admit they lost it. They are determined only to remain who they are and to live as amiably and productively as they can in a culture that doesn’t look like them and doesn’t belong to them.

In time, this shift in outlook may bring about a more peaceable public sphere. But that will depend on others ”” especially the adherents of an ascendant social progressivism ”” declining to take full advantage of their newfound cultural dominance. I see few signs of that, but I am hopeful all the same.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths, Philosophy, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Sexuality, Theology

(Her.meneutics) Valeria Dunham–my Son, Fearfully and Autistically Made

Once he was declared autistic, it didn’t feel like our relationships were narrowing; it felt like they were expanding””making room for a God-knit little boy who isn’t typically developing. I felt relieved. My heart swelled with joy for who my son is. We felt peace.
That night, we ate cake. We commemorated the end of one journey and the beginning of another. We rejoiced over the fact that doors to much-needed therapy would finally open. We affirmed the personhood of an autistic little boy; we celebrated the face of a boogeyman.
Declan has big brown eyes set into a round face. His smile, when he graces you with it, is angular and cheesy. He spins in circles, around and around like a colorful top. He loves music. His hands flutter like the steady thrum of a heartbeat, clasping and unclasping with rhythmic beauty. The only unprompted observation he has ever made about God was informed by his obsession with circles:
“Look””circle!” he exclaimed from the backseat.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(RNS) Mark Tooley–United Methodism’s global evangelical transformation

At the recent General Conference, talk of a formal church split became more salient. A prominent self-professed centrist pastor suggested a three-way division among liberals, moderates and conservatives. Some liberal voices, frustrated by their declining influence, for the first time publicly sympathized with schism. A formal church split appeals to some as the ostensibly easy solution to nearly half a century of conflict over sexuality.

Except there would be little easy about it. Most United Methodist congregations are not homogeneously liberal or conservative or even centrist. A typical local church has a wide range of perspectives, reinforced by the denomination’s clergy appointment system, in which liberal clergy often are appointed by bishops to more conservative churches, and vice versa. A formal denominational schism would likely mean anguishing division in thousands of United Methodism’s more than 30,000 congregations, accompanied by years of litigation. The ultimate winners would be few.

Maybe such a cataclysmic denominational split for America’s third largest church eventually will occur. (A thoughtful proposal at this year’s General Conference allowing liberal churches that dissent from church teaching on sexuality passed in committee, but it got no plenary vote because of deferral of sexuality legislation to the bishops.) Some hope that the bishops’ new study commission on sexuality will propose formal division.

I expect and prefer a less disruptive scenario….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, * Resources & Links, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Methodist, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Wonderful 60 minutes story on how a new "mobile money" revolution has swept Kenya

Bob Collymore, the CEO of Kenya’s largest cell phone provider, Safaricom, says his company sought to solve the problem. While a majority of Kenyans don’t have a bank account, eight in 10 have access to a cell phone. So in 2007, Safaricom started offering a way to use that cell phone to send and receive cash. They call it M-PESA: m stands for “mobile;” “pesa” is money in Swahili.

Bob Collymore: It is often referred to as Kenya’s alternative currency. But safer and more secure.

Lesley Stahl: You’re texting money?

Bob Collymore: You are effectively texting money.

Read or watchit all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Kenya, Personal Finance, Poverty, Science & Technology, Theology

(Archbp C) is EU Court moving toward a ban on Christians wearing crosses in the workplace?

This isn’t the headline in most of the UK media, for some reason, which appears to prefer singling out Muslims and hijabs. There’s nothing quite like a bit of Islamomania in a morning to go with your toast and marmalade, is there? ”˜Top EU court adviser backs workplace Muslim headscarf ban”˜, says the BBC. ”˜EU’s top judge backs workplace ban on headscarves”˜, writes the Independent. ”˜Senior EU lawyer backs workplace ban on Muslim headscarves”˜, proclaims the Guardian., above a picture of Muslim women wearing sky-blue burqas (which the Guardian calls a ”˜headscarf’) emblazoned with the stars of the EU flag. ”˜Top European Union court adviser says employers should be allowed to ban Islamic headscarves”˜, says the Evening Standard, while the Express goes with: ”˜Bosses can ban Muslims wearing headscarves at work”˜.

It’s left to the Telegraph to take a more equitable and accurate approach to headlines: ”˜Bosses can ban headscarves and crucifixes, EU judge says”˜, they write (noting that ”˜crucifix’ sounds a bit meatier than ”˜cross’ in the spectrum of hallowed bling). But even this doesn’t extend to kippahs, tichels, turbans or karas. Why not just say: ”˜Bosses can ban religious clothing and jewellery in the workplace’? Or does that leave hanging the fuzzy question of facial hair? Should hirsute tendencies be exempt? If so, why?

The legal opinion (HERE in full) was issued by Juliane Kokott, an Advocate General to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), in response to clarification sought by a Belgian court on what precisely is banned under anti-discrimination laws, following the dismissal of a receptionist who refused her employer’s request not to wear her hijab at work.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Inter-Faith Relations, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Multiculturalism, pluralism, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

Ian Paul–Putting the C of E at risk

The 2015 report (due out quite soon) will be much more specific about the particular operational issues, and lists

Failure to recruit sufficient new clergy and lay leaders
Failure of new initiatives to deliver church growth
Failure of safeguarding processes, and impact of national enquiries (such as the Goddard report)
Failure to gain support for the Renewal and Reform programme
Financial insolvency in a significant part of the church
IT capacity and security.
I wonder how that compares with your own list? I suspect most people would suggest that there is one very significant strategic risk for the church as a whole which isn’t covered by the above list of operational risks: the danger of schism over a major issue of belief or practice. Reading newspaper headlines, or attending to the internal workings of the Church, it would be hard not to notice that the debate on sexuality and its outcome is the ”˜major issue’ currently threatening the future of the C of E as we know it.

If that is the case, why would any diocesan bishop act in a way to exacerbate this risk? Yet in the last month, two appear to have done just that.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), South Africa, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) Kenneth Bailey RIP, the Scholar Who Made Jesus Middle Eastern Again

Kenneth E. Bailey, the scholar who introduced evangelicals to Middle Eastern culture and history, died [on] Monday [May23]…at age 85.

Bailey gave Western readers “the eyes to see” the deeper significance of Jesus’ life and stories by placing them in the cultural context of the Middle East, publishing books like Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes and Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes, a 2012 CT Book Awards winner.

Bailey was the “premier cultural interpreter of the life of Jesus,” according to Wheaton College New Testament professor Gary Burge. Bailey’s insights stemmed from his own childhood in Egypt and a 40-year career studying and teaching in Egypt, Cyprus, Israel, and Lebanon.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Books, Christology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Middle East, Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Justin Martyr

Almighty and everlasting God, who didst find thy martyr Justin wandering from teacher to teacher, seeking the true God, and didst reveal to him the sublime wisdom of thine eternal Word: Grant that all who seek thee, or a deeper knowledge of thee, may find and be found by thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from William Knight

O God, we know and believe in the love thou bearest towards us. May we, by dwelling in that love, dwell in thee, and thou in us. We would learn to love and to serve him whom we have not seen, by loving and serving our brethren whom we have seen; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

But when Cephas came to Antioch I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And with him the rest of the Jews acted insincerely, so that even Barnabas was carried away by their insincerity. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” We ourselves, who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, yet who know that a man is not justified[a] by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified. But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we ourselves were found to be sinners, is Christ then an agent of sin? Certainly not! But if I build up again those things which I tore down, then I prove myself a transgressor. For I through the law died to the law, that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose.

–Galatians 2:11-21

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

8 Episcopal parishes in New Haven consider future as congregations shrink, costs grow

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in New­hallville is confronting questions about its very existence, but it is not alone.

Eight Episcopal parishes in New Haven have been engaged in talks at the diocesan offices in Meriden about their future. Like all of the so-called mainline Protestant denominations, the Episcopal Church is dealing with the decline in churchgoers while many parishes are weighed down with expensive, if beautiful, churches.

“We have until Dec. 4 really to resolve several issues that we have to address,” said Lou Campbell, senior warden of St. Andrew’s. These include “a deficit that accumulated over many, many years ”¦ and also we don’t have a priest so we have to start moving toward getting a priest.”

Read it all from the New Haven Register.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Parishes