Daily Archives: November 20, 2016

(Sunday {London] Times) Child of 7 signed up for body freezing by the controversial Cryonics UK

Children as young as seven are being signed up to be frozen after their death by the organisation at the centre of the controversy over cryonics.

Cryonics UK, which prepares bodies for long-term frozen storage in the US, said it had about “four or five” children on its membership list. The youngest person it had been asked to freeze was seven, but the arrangements could not be made before the child died.

Tim Gibson, 45, a committee member of Cryonics UK, which operates as a charity, said there was no age limit for children to be frozen. The cost of the procedure is about £45,000 and is offered in the hope that those who have died might be resuscitated in the future.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Secularism, Theology

Bp Mark Lawrence–You Matter to God””Mind, Body and Heart

The great teachings of the Bible and the Christian faith””such as the Creation, Revelation, the Fractured human condition, along with God’s Redemption, Judgment and Eternity all imply that we have the duty to think, and to act upon what we think and know. To be sure our minds just as our bodies and our hearts have partaken of what Christian theologians refer to as the fall. The result of this participation is that there is a fracture not unlike fault lines across a geographical region. It runs through our minds so that we do not always think rightly. It runs through our bodily appetites and desires so that we don’t always desire rightly. And it runs through our hearts so that we don’t always “feel” or emotionally desire rightly. Yet this gives us no reason to retreat from thought. Rather it is a motivation to avail ourselves of what God has revealed and think carefully and deeply about it. As the Anglican theologian and statesman, John Stott wrote some forty years ago in a marvelous short book entitled, Your Mind Matters, “Faith is not an illogical belief in the improbable””faith is a reasoning trust in the character and promises of God.”

Often when I meet with the new members I am confirming or receiving into the Church I remind them of what the Anglican reformers were keen to teach””that “What the heart desires, the will chooses and the mind justifies.” That is, what the heart gives itself to think about, meditate upon, or yield to, sooner or later the will chooses; and once the will has chosen what the heart desired the mind will go to work to justify what the heart desired and the will chose.

A contemporary Christian writer and preacher, Tim Keller, has put it this way: “Whatever captures the heart’s trust and love also controls the feelings and behavior. What the heart most wants the mind finds reasonable and the will finds doable.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Adult Education, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Post-Gazette Editorial–When jail fails: The push for alternatives must get stronger

A report released Wednesday calls out Allegheny County law enforcement officials and the court system for putting people in jail when alternatives would better serve the defendants and the taxpayers. Too bad it came out after James Marasco died of undetermined causes in the county jail while serving a 10-day sentence for loitering.

The report, by the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics, indicated the jail’s population had swelled to 2,200 despite falling crime rates. Many are locked up while awaiting disposition of their cases; 81 percent of inmates in the county jail are not serving sentences, compared with a national average of 62 percent. Only 19 percent of county inmates have been charged with violent crimes; the rest are there for drugs or the kind of lower-level crimes that landed Mr. Marasco behind bars.

Moreover, as many as 75 percent of inmates have mental illness, substance abuse problems or both. Mr. Marasco had mental illness and used drugs. Mental illness may be the underlying factor in a person’s crimes and should be taken into account before incarceration. The primary purpose of jail is correction, not treatment. It’s unlikely that a person’s mental illness will improve in jail. The illness is likely to worsen, and that is why mentally ill inmates often incur more disciplinary infractions and serve longer sentences than healthy peers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, City Government, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Mental Illness, Politics in General, Psychology, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

Conflicts of interest between industry+rehabilitation programs stall Romanian fight vs gambling

On the cusp of turning 40, Dan has been living with addiction for half his life. Yet his eyes behind thin-rimmed glasses are not bloodshot; his arms are not punctured or bruised by needles. Under a fine Bucharest drizzle, he heads for a gambling hall, convinced he has lost almost everything. “People believe that all humans are fit to survive,” said Dan, a pseudonym to protect his identity. “But nature is not like that.”

Gambling venues have become ubiquitous across Romania since the first big betting hall opened its doors in Bucharest’s central train station in the spring of 1990, just months after Nicolae CeauÅŸescu’s communist rule ended in popular revolt and a Christmas Day firing squad.

In May 2015, the Romanian parliament approved a law on gambling that included measures designed to tackle the scourge of addiction. But more than a year later, there are reasons to doubt their effectiveness.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Gambling, Romania, Theology

(RI) Rob Sturdy–Another King, called Jesus.

The Feast of Christ the King, along with the encyclical letter Quas Primas, is a modern form of an ancient Christian assertion that there is “another King” than the myriad lesser kings seated on thrones or behind government desks. The early Christians were accused of acting against the official laws of the land, “against the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king, Jesus” (Acts 17.7). And though ancient Christians were certainly the target of large amounts of unjust slander, in this instance the accusation was absolutely true. After all, the Apostle Paul preached the Kingdom of God and the Lordship of Jesus from within Caesar’s household. Explicit in such an activity is the uniquely Christian notion that there is a greater empire than that of the Romans, with a mightier king than that of Caesar. The secular powers of this world cannot long stand such assertions, which is most certainly one of the reasons the Apostle Paul’s head was removed from his neck.

In his magnificent New Testament and the People of God, N.T. Wright notes that one group feeling existentially threatened by another is often the precursor to persecution. In the case of early Christianity, he wrote:

Mere belief””acceptance of certain propositional statements­””is not enough to elicit such violence. People believe all sorts of odd things and are tolerated. When, however, belief is regarded as an index of subversion, everything changes. The fact of widespread persecution, regarded by both pagans and Christians as the normal state of affairs within a century of the beginnings of Christianity, is powerful evidence of the sort of thing that Christianity was, and was perceived to be. It was a new family, a ”˜third race’, neither Jew nor Gentile but ”˜in Christ’. Its very existence threatened the foundational assumptions of pagan society.

Wright’s point is that the early Christian confession of the Lordship of Christ, along with the beliefs and ethics entailed therein, appeared so threatening to the ancient world’s foundational convictions, that the only option was to wipe Christianity out. In light of this it’s worth asking: are modern confessions of the Lordship of Christ as threatening to this secular age as the early church was to the ancient world? I wonder.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from C J Vaughan

O Lord God, we pray thee to keep us from all self-confidence and vainglory, and to bestow upon us thy great grace of humility and self-forgetfulness. To thee may we look, in all that we do, both for the will and for the power; and to thee may we ascribe with a sincere heart all the praise; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures for ever!

–Psalm 118:1

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) Terror Grows in Southern Philippines From Militants Linked to ISIS

Abu Sayyaf, once written off as one of the global jihadist movement’s also-rans, is gaining strength in the southern Philippines by chasing down high-value victims at sea and ransoming them off for millions of dollars.

After a relative lull for most of a decade, kidnappings have surged to more than 20 annually since 2014, when the group’s main leader Isnilon Hapilon swore allegiance to Islamic State.

That rebranding””and the accompanying brutality, including beheadings””has generated international headlines and raised fears that the island-dotted region could re-emerge as a hub for Islamist terrorists, as it was for al Qaeda in the 1990s.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Islam, Other Faiths, Philippines, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Travel, Violence

(Christian Today) Conservative Anglican Churches Buck Trend Of Decline

Susie Leafe, director of Reform, told Christian Today: “Without these churches the collapse of the Church of England would be even more noticeable.”

Reform asked churches with clergy who were members of Reform or who had attended their ReNew conference to report their statistics every year for the last five years. More than 300 churches contributed to the results that support research from Canada showing theologically conservative churches grow faster than those with a more liberal leaning.

Leafe said Reform’s member churches were spread across the UK with different neighbourhoods and congregations. She added they varied in style from the traditional to the charismatic. “What the leadership of these churches have in common is a belief that the Bible is our authority in matters of life and doctrine and the teaching we find in its pages about Jesus Christ is reliable, coherent, challenging and life transforming,” she said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

(Lateline) Dying in the comfort in your own home

HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: How do you and your colleagues deal with what you do every day?

PAULINA SCULLI: It’s a common question that people ask me.

And I often say that I feel that I have the heart to do it. That I let myself feel the grief and that I don’t shy away from that grief.

And I let myself be heartbroken ’cause I’ve seen a lot of people die and a lot of really difficult situations, and I let them touch me. And because I let those situations actually touch my heart, I feel that I journey with people and move through with them and I just feel at the end of it, I feel that I’ve accomplished something in that I’ve been able to support people through a difficult process.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Theology