Monthly Archives: July 2016

Pres. Goodluck Jonathan's Govt Established Boko Haram Had Ties With Al-Qaeda

The dreaded Nigeria-based terrorist group, Boko Haram, established links with some international terrorist groups, including Al-Qaeda, the Presidential Fact-Finding Committee on the Abducted Female Students of Government Secondary School, Chibok, has said.

The committee stated this in its report submitted to former President Goodluck Jonathan before he left office.

The 50-page report, which details were never made public, was obtained exclusively by Premium Times.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Globalization, Islam, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Terrorism

William Reed Huntington for his Feast Day-'Catholicity is what we are reaching after'

Dissatisfaction is the one word that best expresses the state of mind in which Christendom finds itself today. There is a wide-spread misgiving that we are on the eve of momentous changes. Unrest is everywhere. We hear about Roman Councils, and Anglican Conferences, and Evangelical Alliances, about the question of the Temporal Power, the dissolution of Church and State, and many other such like things. They all have one meaning. The party of the Papacy and the party of the Reformation, the party of orthodoxy and the party of liberalism, are all alike agitated by the consciousness that a spirit of change is in the air.
No wonder that many imagine themselves listening to the rumbling of the chariot- wheels of the Son of Man. He Himself predicted that ” perplexity” should be one of the signs of His coining, and it is certain that the threads of the social order have seldom been more seriously entangled than they now are.

A calmer and perhaps truer inference is that we are about entering upon a new reach of Church history, and that the dissatisfaction and perplexity are only transient. There is always a tumult of waves at the meeting of the waters; but when the streams have mingled, the flow is smooth and still again. The plash and gurgle that we hear may mean something like this.

At all events the time is opportune for a discussion of the Church-Idea ; for it is with this, hidden under a hundred disguises, that the world’s thoughts are busy. Men have become possessed with an unwonted longing for unity, and yet they are aware that they do not grapple successfully with the practical problem. Somehow they are grown persuaded that union is God’s work, and separation devil’s work ; but the persuasion only breeds the greater discontent. That is what lies at the root of our unquietness. There is a felt want and a felt inability to meet the want; and where these two things coexist there must be heat of friction.

Catholicity is what we are reaching after….

–William Reed Huntington The Church Idea (1870)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Ecclesiology, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of William Reed Huntington

O Lord our God, we thank thee for instilling in the heart of thy servant William Reed Huntington a fervent love for thy Church and its mission in the world; and we pray that, with unflagging faith in thy promises, we may make known to all peoples thy blessed gift of eternal life; 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 Christina Rossetti

O Lord, whose way is perfect: Help us, we pray thee, always to trust in thy goodness; that walking with thee in faith, and following thee in all simplicity, we may possess quiet and contented minds, and cast all our care on thee, because thou carest for us; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name for ever; may his glory fill the whole earth! Amen and Amen!

–Psalm 72:18-19

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(1st Things) Pierre Manent–Faced with radical Islamist attacks, what is Europe doing?

The gravity of this crisis has long been hidden by what we like to call the construction of Europe. The energies of our political class have been devoted to buttressing the authority of an enterprise that delegitimizes the nation and promises a new way of bringing humans together. As national political life becomes less and less satisfying, citizens and government officials look elsewhere. The people, unhappy with government, and the government, unhappy with the people, both turn their faces toward the promised land of Europe, a new, post-political way of being, in which each would finally be rid of the other.

These sweet hopes have become less and less plausible. Those who govern and those who are governed remain prisoners of each other. And both are prisoners of a European Union that is now just one more insoluble problem. Neither the institutions of Europe, nor the government of France, nor what is called civil society have enough strength or credibility to claim the attention or fix the hopes of citizens. As rich as we still are in material and intellectual resources, we are politically weak. Nothing seems to have the power to gather us toward the common action we all feel necessary. Faced with crises such as Greek default and the attacks of radical Islamists, we are capable only of offering technical fixes or hollow platitudes. Real political leadership of the kind that calls on our deepest loyalties and highest capacities is nowhere to be seen.

This political weakness has not escaped the attention of those who now attack us. To be sure, when men have at each other, they do not precisely calculate the power ratios, and it sometimes happens that the weaker attacks the stronger. Still, it would be a mistake to look at things this way. When some of our citizens take up arms against us so brazenly and implacably, this means that not only our state, our government, and our political body but we ourselves have lost the capacity to gather and direct our powers, to give our common life form and force….

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Terrorism, Theology

(NYT) ISIS Says Its ”˜Soldiers’ Attacked Church in France, Killing Priest

ST.-ÉTIENNE-DU-ROUVRAY, France ”” Attendance was sparse at the 9 a.m. Mass on Tuesday at the Église St.-Étienne, a 17th-century church in a working-class town in Normandy. Many regular parishioners were on vacation; so was the parish priest.

Mass was ending around 9:30 a.m. when two young men with knives burst in. They forced the auxiliary priest, the Rev. Jacques Hamel, 85, to kneel. When he resisted, they slit his throat. They held several worshipers and at least one nun hostage, while another nun escaped. Officers from a specialized police unit descended on the church. A short while later, officers shot the young men dead when they emerged from the church.

The brutality in St.-Étienne-du-Rouvray, a suburb of Rouen in northern France, was the latest in a series of assaults that have left Europe stunned, fearful and angry. President François Hollande raced to the town and blamed the Islamic State for the attack; soon after, the terrorist group claimed responsibility, calling the attackers its “soldiers.”

It was the fourth attack linked to the Islamic State in Western Europe in less than two weeks

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, France, Islam, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(CT) What the Magic Kingdom Reminds Us About the Eternal Kingdom

The world that Disney presents to us is one in which all the sharp edges of real life have been smoothed away. For this reason the Magic Kingdom can never truly be the happiest place on earth in a biblical sense. Unlike Jesus, who entered the real, broken world in order to redeem it, the best Disney can offer is a fantasy of a world that never was. It is a nice place to visit but you really can’t live there.

It is common practice for churches to do with their past what Walt Disney did with his. Churches have a tendency to reimagine the past and make it their ideal. It’s not such a problem for a theme park, but it is a real obstacle for a church, especially when that reimagined world becomes the model for its mission. Churches have often spent decades trying to return to a past that never really existed. The “Christian America” churches try to bring back was not that Christian. The fondly remembered pastor of that golden age was not that golden. Those hallowed church ministries were not as effective as we remember, or if they were, they would no longer be effective today. The sweet fellowship of yesteryear was not that sweet.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Entertainment, Eschatology, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, Theology

(UNHCR) South Sudan fighting drives surge of refugees to Uganda

Recent fighting in South Sudan has to date forced 37,491 people to flee to Uganda. To put this in context: more refugees have arrived in Uganda in the past three weeks than during the entire first six months of 2016, when 33,838 came there in search of safety.

On 25 July an estimated 2,442 refugees were received in Uganda from South Sudan. Some 1,213 crossed at the Elugu border point in Amuru, 247 in Moyo, 57 in Lamwo and 370 in Oraba. Another 555 were received at the Kiryandongo settlement. The majority of arrivals ”“ more than 90 per cent ”“ are women and children. People are coming from South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria region, as well as Juba and other areas of the country.

UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards told a press briefing in Geneva that the intensity of the violence that broke out in South Sudan between rival factions loyal to Salva Kiir and Riek Machar has subsided since early July. However, the security situation remains volatile.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --South Sudan, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Poverty, Sudan, Theology, Uganda

New Suffragan Bishop of Tewkesbury to be Robert Wilfrid Springett

The Venerable Robert Springett (aged 53), studied at Nottingham University for his BTh, and then at London University for his MA. He trained for the ministry at Lincoln Theological College. He served first as curate at Colchester in Chelmsford diocese from 1989 to 1992 before moving to be curate at Basildon from 1992 to 1994. From 1994 to 2001 he was Priest in Charge at Belhus Park and South Ockendon. He was Rural Dean at Thurrock from 1998 to 2001. From 2001 to 2010 he was Rector at Wanstead in Chelmsford diocese and was Area Dean of Redbridge from 2008 to 2010 and Honorary Canon at Chelmsford Cathedral. Since 2010 he has been Archdeacon of Cheltenham.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the Parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Almighty God, heavenly Father, we remember in thanksgiving this day the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and we pray that we all may be made one in the heavenly family of thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from C J Vaughan

Make us tender and compassionate towards those who are an overtaken by temptation, considering ourselves, how we have fallen in times past and may fall yet again. Make us watchful and sober-minded, looking ever unto thee for grace to stand upright, and to persevere unto the end; through thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, 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

[Christian Times] China shuts 'unofficial' Christian churches ahead of G20 summit

Chinese authorities are banning “illegal” and “unofficial” churches in preparation for the G20 summit, which will be held in Hangzhou.

Many heads of state will arrive in the city for a two-day meeting in September. Authorities say closing the churches in Hangzhou was meant for safety purposes.
One unofficial Protestant church that has existed for 40 years in the city’s Jianghan district and has around 2,000 members received a warning about the “illegal gatherings” they were apparently holding. The religious affairs bureau instructed it to “reform its illegal gathering activities,” according to Radio Free Asia.

Along with the notice came officials who took down a large cross on a church wall.

The church, which has since then been prohibited from meeting together, sought counsel from lawyer Li Guisheng.

Li said authorities have attempted to convince the church to become part of the Three-Self church, but they continually refused. Their refusal could be the reason behind the ban on church meetings, Li said.

Read it all

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

[Jeff Walton] Episcopal Seminary Succumbs to “Unsustainable” Spending

The Episcopal Church has dropped from 3.6 million to 1.8 million members in a generation; this historic decline will have continued consequences for institutions that seek to serve the denomination
A menu of recycled 1960s-era liberation theology themes garnished with radical sexuality and gender studies proved unappealing to prospective seminarians. If a seminary is to survive, it has to provide something the secular culture isn’t already promoting ”“ in this case, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC)

[Roger Bootle] The Brexit pill has not choked us as expected

Contrary to President Obama’s warning that “the UK would go to the back of the queue”, it seems the US is embracing the prospect of a trade deal with the UK. There is also enthusiasm from Canada, Australia, India, China, Japan, Brazil and New Zealand.

Of course, the really big question concerns our trade relationship with the EU, and on that we still know very little. But at least the penny has begun to drop for many people that being outside the single market does not mean being unable to trade with it.

Read it all

Posted in * International News & Commentary, England / UK

[Liam Halligan] The Brexit vote is over and the UK is fine – let’s stop the negativity

..The major danger facing the UK economy now isn’t Brexit, but a systemic meltdown on European bond markets sparked by Italy. For months, this column has warned about the danger posed by the vast swathe of non-performing loans harbored by Italian banks ”“ amounting to over 15pc of all loans outstanding, close to a jaw-dropping 20pc of GDP.

Italy is in this mess partly due to financial mismanagement but mainly because, since adopting the single currency in 1999, the country’s GDP has barely grown. Constrained by a high-currency euro strait-jacket, Italy has stagnated, causing even responsibly extended loans to go bad.

With the cost of recapitalizing Italy’s main banks standing at around €50bn, this crisis should be manageable. Yet EU rules prevent any state bail-out prior to a “bail-in” ”“ that is, shareholders and bondholders taking a hit before any taxpayer backing. But that would mean millions of innocent Italian households lose considerable sums ”“ as uninsured depositors or owners of widely-held retail bank bonds.

Were that to happen, Italy’s Five Star movement, which has recently overtaken the ruling centre-Left party in opinion polls, could easily take power. Having just clinched mayoral seats in Turin and Rome, Five Star is resurgent ”“ not least due to its pledge to hold a referendum on Italian euro membership..

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, England / UK

Mendelssohn – I waited for the Lord

Académie Vocale de Paris [13-18 year-olds]

I waited for the Lord, he inclined unto me, he heard my complaint.
O bless’d are they that hope and trust in the Lord. [see Psalm 40:1-5]

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Liturgy, Music, Worship

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint James the Apostle

O gracious God, we remember before thee this day thy servant and apostle James, first among the Twelve to suffer martyrdom for the Name of Jesus Christ; and we pray that thou wilt pour out upon the leaders of thy Church that spirit of self-denying service by which alone they may have true authority among thy people; through the same 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 the American Prayer Book

Almighty God, whose loving hand hath given us all that we possess: Grant us grace that we may honour thee with our substance, and, remembering the account which we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of thy bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

When I am afraid, I put my trust in thee. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust without a fear. What can flesh do to me?

–Psalm 56:3-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) Bishop of Sodor and Man Robert Paterson to retire

The Right Reverend Robert Paterson, 67, has served the Diocese of Sodor and Man since 2008, as well as holding a seat on the island’s Legislative Council.

He told Manx Radio his decision to retire on 11 November was motivated “purely by age”.

Sodor and Man is the smallest diocese in the Church of England, overseeing 45 churches and 27 parishes.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(Sunday [London] Times) C of E priest Clive Larsen has resigned so he can marry his male partner

A notice on a church website, which was removed after The Sunday Times began making inquiries, read: “A ceremony of commitment and blessing . . . Clive will be resigning his post in the church from the day before.”

The notice requested that guests “make a bit of an effort” by bringing “your favourite savoury or sweet dish to share” and suggested bringing “enough [drink] for yourself and maybe a bit extra just in case”.

The service included a blessing from a liturgy originally intended for civil partnerships, beginning: “God the giver of life, God the bearer of pain, God the maker of love, bless, preserve and keep you.”

Larsen said he did not want to embarrass either the Church of England or David Walker, the Bishop of Manchester, by discussing the details of his departure…

Read it all (requires subscription).

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

(GR) Julia Duin-Christian Science Monitor’s seven-part religious liberty series delivers a punch

Living as I do just east of Seattle, I’ve been waiting for a magazine to do the definitive profile of Barronelle Stutzman, the Richland, Wash., florist who’s getting sued to the nines for refusing to provide flowers for the wedding of a gay friend (and long-time customer).

Whereas the New Yorker and the Atlantic have sat this one out, the Christian Science Monitor team stepped in. Their Stutzman piece, which ran last week, leans over backward to give the facts linked to the florist’s side of the story, as well as the views of her critics.

It is part of an intriguing series of seven stories on religious liberty and gay rights and it’s the best treatment I’ve seen yet. The lead story discusses how gay rights is pushing many religious Americans into a corner where they feel compelled to support behaviors their faith condemns as immoral. Look for the Russell Moore quote about the sexual revolution not tolerating public dissent and the John Inazu quote about what will happen to our society when faith-based organizations ”“ if stripped of their nonprofit status ”“ cease to provide social services to the hungry, poor and homeless.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from E B Pusey

O God, who art faithful to thy people and dost not permit them to be tempted above that they are able, but with the temptation also makest a way of escape that they may be able to bear it: We humbly entreat thee to strengthen us thy servants with thy heavenly aid and keep us with thy continual protection; that we may evermore wait on thee, and never by any temptation be drawn away from thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is the King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory!

–Psalm 24:7-10

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AJ) Diocese of Ottawa priest Rhonda Waters–Reflections from Canadian General Synod 2016

I was one of the people moved to tears on the floor of General Synod when the motion to amend the marriage canon failed to achieve the required two-thirds majority in the House of Clergy. I was in shock that, once again, the church had failed to honour the lives of so many people, created in God’s image and revealing Christ’s love in their loves. I was filled with sorrow that we, as a church, had been unable to follow the leading of the Spirit””because I do not believe that whatever happens on the floor of synod must necessarily be the will of God. God’s will and our own interact in ways far more complicated than that.

And then, less than 24 hours later, the story changed. It’s already an old story: one vote, miscounted, tipped the scales, and the just-barely “no” became a just-barely “yes.” It felt like a miracle as my weeping turned into rejoicing.

But, appealing though that story is, it’s too simple, too self-congratulatory. The truth of the matter is, almost one-third of the members of synod voted to withhold access to Christian marriage from people who love people of the same gender. That’s fewer people than it used to be, but it’s still a lot of people. And the people who feel this way use the Bible to justify their position, claiming that it is actually God doing the withholding. And the church, desiring to be inclusive and compassionate, creates space for these arguments to be heard. As a result, LGBTQ2S+ [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Two-Spirited] persons and their friends and family members were subjected, yet again, to hearing people and their relationships called unacceptable; in need of disciplining; against the will of God; unnatural; abominations. They were, once again, required to put themselves on display and to make their pain and suffering available for discussion, and compete in the sad sport of comparing oppressions.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(SHNS) Pat Summitt never hid her quiet, strong faith

Once a year, Seymour United Methodist Church in Tennessee held a “Laity Day,” in which folks from the pews would handle all the clergy stuff one Sunday — including the sermon.

The year was 1984, early in the Rev. Charles Maynard’s decade at this fledgling congregation near Knoxville. He already knew that one active member had a knack for motivational speaking, since she coached the University of Tennessee’s Lady Vols basketball team.

“This was before she turned into Pat Summitt, you know? For me, she was just a lady at church named Pat,” said Maynard, now the district superintendent of the region’s Maryville District. “I asked her to speak and she said she didn’t feel comfortable doing that sort of thing. …

“But the next year, she said ”˜yes.’ She talked about teamwork and linked everything to people having their own roles in the Body of Christ. It was all very biblical and she did a great job. I mean, she’s Pat Summitt.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Methodist, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sports, Women, Young Adults

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Lord Jesus, our Master, go with us while we travel to the heavenly country; that, following thy star, we may not wander in the darkness of this world’s night, while thou, who art our Way, and Truth, and Life dost shine within us to our journey’s end; for thy mercy’s sake.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

But I call upon God; and the LORD will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he will hear my voice. He will deliver my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me.

–Psalm 55:16-18

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture