Daily Archives: November 18, 2016

(Macleans) It has risen: Is this the key to growing Protestant churches?

Eventually, through word-of-mouth””which often turned out to be more hopeful than accurate, adds co-author Flatt””the researchers found their examples. They surveyed clergy and””a step ignored by earlier studies””2,255 lay attendees.

Answers in accord with traditional Christian orthodoxy””basic articles of faith (the ancient Creeds), the authority of Scripture, God’s visible working in the world today, the exclusivity of Christianity (Jesus as the door to eternal life), the importance of daily prayer””were tightly bound to growing life in individual churches. As well, conservative churches had a lower mean age among attendees (53 to 63), emphasis on youth groups, the presence of young families, wide participation by congregants (not only on Sunday mornings) and a commitment to evangelism.

The lessons absorbed at growing churches are not confined there, but are being spread as ministers transfer to new churches. In recent years, two priests have left St. Paul’s Anglican to head up their own, already-established churches in Toronto, where attendance has climbed by 23-50 per cent since 2013.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) Church in South India celebrates mission’s bicentenary

Bishops and missionaries were among the tens of thousands of people to gather in the Nehru sports stadium in Kottayam, India, on Saturday, to celebrate 200 years of the Church Mission Society (CMS) in the country.

The public event, which began with a procession, fireworks, music, and speeches, was organised by the Church of South India. On Sunday, the Church commissioned 210 missionaries. It concluded four years of events marking two centuries since Thomas Norton first brought Christianity to the city of Alleppey, in what is now the diocese of Madhya Kerala, about 20 years after the foundation of CMS in London.

Hundreds of missionaries followed in his wake, championing the right to education for men, women, and children of all social classes. Their work resulted in the foundation of the CMS College (the oldest school in the country), and the CMS Press and Industrial School, in the diocese. Today there are about 27.8 million Christians in India: that is, 2.3 per cent of the population.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Church History, India, Missions, Theology

(TSM S+H) Bp Alf Stanway–The Kind of Leader We want to train

Read it all (pages 6-8).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(TLS) Biography in the Twitter age

I’m sure biography will survive all this, just as it has survived the telephone, the telegram, the postcard and countless other changes to the ways we communicate with one another. At the same time, though, the form seems likely to undergo a more radical transformation in the coming years than it has for several centuries. Among the main qualities and duties of contemporary biography is the way it measures the distance between a subject’s public and private selves ”“ and if people don’t regularly take the measure of themselves in writing any more, that may no longer be possible.

In spite of this lack, perhaps the biographer of the future will be adequately equipped to represent the subject of the future. We construct our selves in language, and if we no longer speak to ourselves about our selves ”“ if we no longer take the time to examine our lives and thoughts in writing ”“ we will surely be different to the people of the past. If we’re always performing for an external audience, then the distance between our private and public selves will surely shrink. Biographers will have to rely increasingly on video footage and the accounts of witnesses, rather than on their subjects’ own words ”“ but perhaps that’s fitting for this seemingly more superficial age.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

(Time) American marriage rates may be stabilizing after decades of decline

The U.S. divorce rate dropped for the third year in a row, reaching its lowest point in nearly 40 years, according to data released Thursday.

Marriage rates, on the other hand, increased last year. In 2015, there were 32.2 marriages for every 1,000 unmarried women age 15 or older, according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University. This represents a jump from 31.9 in 2014 and is the highest number of marriages since 2009, which suggests that marriage rates may be stabilizing after decades of decline.

On the divorce side, the 2015 rate was 16.9 divorces per 1,000 married women age 15 or older, which is down from 17.6 in 2014 and a peak of almost 23 divorces in 1980.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Sociology, Theology

The Washington Post has a terrifying interview with a Facebook fake-news writer

You’ve been writing fake news for a while now ”” you’re kind of like the OG Facebook news hoaxer. Well, I’d call it hoaxing or fake news. You’d call it parody or satire. How is that scene different now than it was three or five years ago? Why did something like your story about Obama invalidating the election results (almost 250,000 Facebook shares, as of this writing) go so viral?

Honestly, people are definitely dumber. They just keep passing stuff around. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore ”” I mean, that’s how Trump got elected. He just said whatever he wanted, and people believed everything, and when the things he said turned out not to be true, people didn’t care because they’d already accepted it. It’s real scary. I’ve never seen anything like it.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Theology

The Bp of Winchester speaks on Lifting People out of Poverty through fairer trade Agreements

(Bp Tim Dakin: Diocese of Winchester photo)

My Lords, I too thank the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, for securing this debate. With Malawi on the brink of a major humanitarian crisis, there is no better time to highlight the challenges facing Africa today. I declare an interest as the chair of a small charity supporting education and development in Africa.

The welfare of the east African nations is of particular importance to me. I was born in Tanzania and spent some of my teenage years in Kenya. In the 1990s, I was the principal of a small college in Nairobi””indeed, we still keep a home situated on an old coffee farm near Thika. Through this previous experience and from regular visits, I have observed the finely balanced life which Kenyan agricultural workers live. Smallholdings are a significant element in the agricultural sector of Kenya. Many city dwellers also have a smallholding upcountry. A severe drought might mean the end of their children’s education. It may also result in families being unable to afford even the most basic medicines or in workers having to resort to desperate means of generating income to support their families.

The economic partnership agreements that we discuss today may have as much of an impact on the livelihoods of east African smallholders as a bumper harvest or a deadly drought. We have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, a sample of the difficulties caused by EPAs. I want to highlight two issues which could specifically affect the smallholder in Africa.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Malawi, Politics in General, Poverty, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Hilda of Whitby

O God of peace, by whose grace the abbess Hilda was endowed with gifts of justice, prudence, and strength to rule as a wise mother over the nuns and monks of her household, and to become a trusted and reconciling friend to leaders of the Church: Give us the grace to respect and love our fellow Christians with whom we disagree, that our common life may be enriched and thy gracious will be done, 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 George Hickes

Teach us, O gracious Lord, to begin our works with fear, to go on with obedience, and to finish them in love, and then to wait patiently in hope, and with cheerful confidence to look up to thee, whose promises are faithful and rewards infinite; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man; and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Vindicate me against my adversary.’ For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

–Luke 18:1-8

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(LA Times) In America, the rich outlive the poor by up to 9.5 years, study says

The United States is one of the richest countries in the world, but it would look dramatically different if its 50 states were organized according to income instead of geography.

If that were the case, residents of the poorest state in the union would have a median household income that’s just above the federal poverty line for a family of four. They would also expect to live shorter lives than people in more than half of the world’s countries.

It’s not a pretty picture, according to the researchers who carried out this thought experiment.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Poverty, Theology

Thursday Mental Health Break–Arkansas Policeman Phil Blaylock lights kids days up with Karyoke

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Music, Police/Fire

(AJ) First Day of Anglican Church of Canada's Council of Gen Synod Meeting Emphasizes Unity

In a wide-ranging address, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada opened Council of General Synod’s (CoGS) first meeting of the 2016-2017 triennium by encouraging members to see their church’s social justice work as grounds for unity.
“There is so much more that unites us than divides us,” he said, noting the broad support that exists in the church for anti-poverty work and refugee sponsorship. “In that is our strength, in that is our hope.”

It was the first meeting of the council since the tense and emotional General Synod in July, where a controversial motion to allow priests to perform weddings for same-sex couples passed its first reading.

Following the announcement that the vote had passed, several General Synod members unhappy with the result had walked out of synod. Seven bishops later signed an open letter noting their “public dissent” from the decision.

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

(WSJ) Jennifer Grossman–Can You Love God and Ayn Rand?

Though her atheism never wavered, Rand’s feelings toward religion weren’t simplistic. She admired the brilliance and impact of historical religious thinkers like Aquinas and respected religious freedom, even drafting a speech for Barry Goldwater that included ample references to God. And one account, if true, suggests that Rand understood the powerful appeal of spirituality during times of grief.

Steve Mariotti””an education entrepreneur whose grandfather, Lowell B. Mason, had been Rand’s friend””spoke with Rand as she was grieving the loss of her husband, Frank O’Connor. Hoping to comfort her, Mr. Mariotti suggested that she would see Frank again in a spiritual sense. He told me in a recent interview that Rand replied, “I hope you are right. Maybe you are. . . . I will find out soon enough.” Mr. Mariotti jokingly responded to let him know, prompting a laugh that lifted her mood.

More important, militant atheism doesn’t spring from the pages of Rand’s fiction. If she truly believed that religion was such a threat, where are the religious villains in her novels? Corrupt priests or hypocritical churchgoers are nowhere to be found. It’s possible to read “Atlas Shrugged,” “We the Living,” “The Fountainhead” and “Anthem,” cover-to-cover and have little idea what Rand thought about religion.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, History, Philosophy, Religion & Culture