Daily Archives: May 22, 2017

Pray for Manchester UK Tonight–as of this time, 19 confirmed dead and 50 injured in ‘terror’ incident at Manchester Arena, police say

Read it all and you can follow the #manchester hashtag on tiwtter as well as multiple liveblogs from the best english newspaper+news sites.

Posted in Children, England / UK, Music, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(CC) Sam Wells–A chat with the refiner’s fire

You’ve moved across the country, and you’re a long way from the town you know best. Time flies, and it’s been a couple of years since you’ve been back. But something has come up, and it turns out you’re going to spend a day or two there. When you go back, you can’t not go and see that one person, the one who knows you so well and loves you despite it all, and from whom you tend to shy away because he’s like a refiner’s fire that burns away the dross and leaves you with no way to hide the truth. But you’ve been away a couple of years. You’re a lot more worldly-wise now, and you’re not going to be seen through as easily as in the old days.

The conversation starts simply. “What’ve you been up to?” There’re lots of things to say to that. Then, “What’re you working on?” That one’s a bit harder, because you know it doesn’t just mean, “What’s keeping you busy?” but, ”What’s the part of you that’s being tested, what are you learning, what’s not working, and where are you having to grow through your mistakes?” You blunder on, offering up quite a few responses and hoping the number of different activities will prevent the conversation from settling on any single one of them. “That’s a lot of things,” says your refiner’s fire. “Which is the one that really matters?”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Theology

(Stuff) Christ Church Cathedral ‘holding up city’s regeneration’ as government intervention calls grow

The neglected Christ Church Cathedral is one of about 30 sites being targeted by council for holding up the city’s regeneration.

The Christchurch City Council’s list comes amid growing calls for the Government to take control of the earthquake-damaged building, which has been sitting derelict in Cathedral Square since the February 2011 tremor.

Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Nicky Wagner wants action on the site before a planned Anglican vote on its future in September, while campaigners have called for immediate government intervention to restore the cathedral.

Read it all.

Posted in Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia, Australia / NZ, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Spectator) Isabel Hardman–It’s not Tim Farron who is illiberal: it’s society

So why the squeamishness about certain beliefs? If it’s OK to say that Heaven exists, then why not answer a question on abortion or sex outside of heterosexual marriage? The answer is that even if Farron thinks it is perfectly possible to be a conservative Christian and an effective Liberal, he doesn’t believe it is possible to express certain Christian beliefs in today’s society. In other words, he suspects that our public debate isn’t particularly liberal.

And this is what the problem is. It’s not that Tim Farron is illiberal: his voting record suggests otherwise. It’s that he appears to fear that the reaction to his own religious beliefs would be so illiberal as to damage his party, and therefore he must obfuscate on those beliefs when asked. We live in a society of liberal intolerance, where only certain worldviews are deemed acceptable by people who often refuse to accept that they themselves have a worldview that also deserves interrogating. Such intolerance is often born of a sincere desire to make life better for those who have been persecuted in the past, including gay people, women who have abortions and those who divorce. But it becomes a form of persecution in itself, just focused on a newly unpopular group.

An election campaign is not the easiest time for a politician to take a principled stand against this liberal intolerance. But with every prominent figure who locks away the unpalatable parts of their worldview, society becomes a little less liberal. Which should worry many more people than just those who support Tim Farron’s party.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Uncategorized

(Tel.) Diocese of Salisbury bucks trend of declining confirmations with rock climbing and bread baking

Confirmations are often seen as an rite of passage out of the Church of England for unwilling teenagers soon to become more interested in socialising and sport.

But one diocese is experiencing an uptick in interest after it introduced rock-climbing, film sessions and baking bread into its classes.

The Rt Revd Dr Edward Condry, Bishop of Ramsbury, has been spearheading a project to increase the number of confirmation ceremonies, and believes it could be key to a revival.

Read it all and please also see this article on the diocesan website.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

(Gallup) Views of US Moral Values Slip to Seven-Year Lows

Americans’ ratings of U.S. moral values, consistently negative through the years, have slipped to their lowest point in seven years. More than four in five (81%) now rate the state of moral values in the U.S. as only fair or poor.

Since Gallup first asked in 2002 whether the nation’s moral values were getting better or getting worse, the percentage saying worse has always been well above the majority level, ranging from a low of 64% in November 2004 to a high of 82% in May 2007. Over the past six years, it has stayed within a five-point range, reaching a low of 72% in 2013 and 2015 before climbing to this year’s high of 77%.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Sociology

TV recommendation–Happy Valley on Netflix

It is a superb UK drama for which the lead actress (deservedly) won a BAFTA for best actress. Definitely not suitable for under seventeens since it features content you would expect for a gritty investigatory story. Available on Netflix.

Posted in Entertainment, Movies & Television, Police/Fire

(FT) Church of England fund becomes top world performer w yoy return on assets of 17.1%

The Church of England’s £7.9bn investment fund, which has in the past struggled to reconcile questions of morality and mammon, achieved its strongest returns in more than three decades last year, lifting it into the top ranks of the world’s best-performing endowment funds.

The Church Commissioners annual report discloses total return on assets of 17.1 per cent in 2016, with strong performances from global equities, private equity and timber.

Over 10 and 20 years, the fund returned 8.3 per cent and 9.5 per cent per annum respectively, compared with its target return of 5 per cent per annum above inflation. By contrast, returns from the Yale University endowment, top of the eight-member Ivy League, rose 3.4 per cent in the year to last June, with 10 and 20-year returns at 8.1 per cent and 12.6 per cent per annum respectively.

Read it all (subscription needed).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stock Market

(RNS) Emory’s Brent Starwn asks: Is the Old Testament dying?

But is the Old Testament really dying, and is there more than anecdotal evidence to prove its demise?

Yes, says Strawn, whose book examines sermons, hymns and weekly lectionary readings in mainline Protestant as well as Catholic churches.

Strawn analyzed 879 sermons published in collections called “Best Sermons,” and found that only 21 percent of those sermons were devoted to lessons from the Old Testament. As for lectionaries, heard in many churches each Sunday morning, the Revised Common Lectionary omits seven books of the Old Testament and severely underrepresents 13 others, Strawn writes. Contemporary worship songs fare no better at inculcating scriptural knowledge.

His conclusion? The patient is experiencing death throes, and churches and church leaders are largely to blame.

Read it all.

Posted in Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Gelasian Sacramentary

Into thy hands, O Lord, we commend ourselves this day. Let thy presence be with us to its close. Strengthen us to remember that in whatsoever good work we do we are serving thee. Give us a diligent and watchful spirit, that we may seek in all things to know thy will, and knowing it, gladly to perform it, to the honour and glory of thy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer, Uncategorized

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou who leadest Joseph like a flock! Thou who art enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth before E’phraim and Benjamin and Manas’seh! Stir up thy might, and come to save us!

–Psalm 80:1-2

Posted in Theology: Scripture