Daily Archives: September 2, 2017

(Standpoint) Rabbi Jonathan Sacks–Cultural Climate Change

One thing is clear. Religion is not about to die. The religious have bigger families and stronger communities. They’re going to grow in numbers and confidence in the course of the 21st century. But the secular West is in real trouble. It’s re-enacting a scenario played out many times in the course of history, in Athens and Rome in antiquity, and Renaissance Italy. The same thing happens each time. A culture or civilisation at the very height of its affluence and its creativity finds that people are becoming more individualistic. They become more hedonist. They become more sceptical of religious beliefs, and that causes a loss of social cohesion, social energy and social ideals. No one said it better than a great American historian, Will Durant. As a young man he wanted to be a priest but actually became an atheist. So listen to what this atheist says — and it’s unbelievably powerful. After his huge study of the story of civilisation, he says:

What happens at a certain point in history is that the intellectual classes abandon the ancient theology and, after some hesitation, the moral code allied with it. Literature and philosophy become anti-clerical. The movement of liberation rises to an exuberant worship of reason and falls to a paralysing disillusionment with every dogma and every idea. Conduct deprived of its religious support deteriorates into epicurean chaos and life itself shorn of consoling faith becomes a burden alike to conscious poverty and to weary wealth. In the end, a society and its religion tend to fall together like body and soul in a harmonious death. Meanwhile, among the oppressed, another myth arises and gives new form to human hope, new courage to human effort and, after centuries of chaos, builds another civilisation.It is a very sober warning for our times, though it was written 60 years ago.

So in a world like today, religion can do one of three things. Number one, it can attempt to conquer society. That is the radical Islamist version. Number two, it can withdraw from society. That is the Benedict option or the ultra-Orthodox option, or the Soloveitchik option. Or number three, it can attempt to reinspire society, to do what Will Durant called giving people a new form of human hope and new courage to human effort.

If we adopt the first option, the radical anti-Western option, we will move straight away into the dark ages. If we adopt the second option, we will survive the dark ages, but they will still be dark. But if we adopt the third option of being true to ourselves and yet engaged in the public square, we have a chance of avoiding the dark and of countering cultural climate change. By religion, I don’t mean religion as a substitute for science. I certainly don’t mean religion in opposition to a free society. Don’t forget the architects of freedom in the modern world, in Holland, in England, and in America, Spinoza, Locke, and Jefferson, they did it in the name of religion, not as a protest against but in the name of religion.

So what do I mean by religion in the public square? I mean simply religion as a consecration of the bonds that connect us, religion as the redemption of our solitude, religion as loyalty and love, religion as altruism and compassion, religion as covenant and commitment, religion that consecrates marriage, that sustains community and helps reweave the torn fabric of society. That kind of religion is content to be a minority. Jews have been a minority wherever we went for 2,000 years, and in the immortal words of Sir Elton John, we can all say as Jews, “I’m still standing.” So religion can be a minority, but it can be a huge influence. It doesn’t seek power; it seeks influence. It’s engaged with the world; it’s not in retreat from the world. If we can do that, we might just bring those two cars closer together. We might just find that we can have our feet in society and our head in Heaven and we can bring the light that will vanquish the darkness. That is the kind of religion the world needs right now.

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

Saturday Mental Health Break–Mandy Harvey: Deaf Singer With Original song ‘TRY’ on America’s Got Talent

Enjoy it all.

Posted in Entertainment, Music

Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary, Writes the Diocese of South Carolina about the Motions Filed with the SC Supreme Court

September 1, 2017

Dear Friends,

Today the Diocese filed two motions with the South Carolina Supreme Court;

  • A Motion to Recuse, addressing the participation of Justice Kaye Hearn, and
  • A Motion for Rehearing, asking the court to reconsider multiple important issues in the current ruling.

The respective motions and the expert opinions can be found here:

The press release filed today is available here.

We continue to believe what we have asserted from the beginning. With the freedom of association comes the freedom of disassociation. In the pursuit of the constitutionally protected right to the free exercise of our religious beliefs we disassociated from the Episcopal Church. It should not be the case that this protected right causes the loss of our property when it would not do so if we were not a religious organization.

It is incomprehensible that a parish like St. Philip’s in Charleston, that was worshipping here 100 years before TEC even existed, can have that place of worship taken from them and given to an unincorporated New York association who contributed nothing to its building or preservation.  This is a principle worth fighting for.

In Christ’s service,


–The Rev. Jim Lewis is Caon to the Ordinary, Diocese of South Carolina

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Church History, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the Martyrs of New Guinea

Almighty God, we remember before thee this day the blessed martyrs of New Guinea, who, following the example of their Savior, laid down their lives for their friends; and we pray thee that we, who honor their memory, may imitate their loyalty and faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Pastor’s Prayerbook

Comfort, we beseech thee, most gracious God, these thy servants, cast down and faint of heart amidst the sorrows and difficulties of the world; and grant that, by the power of thy Holy Spirit, they may be enabled to go upon their way rejoicing, and give thee continual thanks for thy sustaining providence; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Robert W. Rodenmayer, ed., The Pastor’s Prayerbook: Selected and arranged for various occasions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1960)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Now I know that the LORD will help his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with mighty victories by his right hand. Some boast of chariots, and some of horses; but we boast of the name of the LORD our God. They will collapse and fall; but we shall rise and stand upright. Give victory to the king, O LORD; answer us when we call.

–Psalm 20:6-9 (my emphasis)

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Diocese of South Carolina and 29 Parish Churches File Motion for Rehearing in State Supreme Court

Citing significant departures from both state and federal precedents, the Diocese of South Carolina and 29 parish churches today filed a motion for rehearing in the South Carolina Supreme Court regarding its recent ruling in Appellate Case No. 2015-000622.  In 2012, the Diocese of South Carolina, along with 50 of its congregations voted to disassociate from The Episcopal Church.  In a complicated and sharply divided ruling consisting of five separate opinions, the S.C. Supreme Court ruled on August 2 this year that parishes which had “acceded” to the national church’s ‘Dennis canon’ are subject to a trust interest in their property by The Episcopal Church (TEC).  Only eight congregations were judged to have full rights to retain their property.

In a decision that partly reversed the February 2015 Circuit Court ruling of Judge Diane Goodstein, the Supreme Court significantly changed court precedents in multiple areas and divested the property rights of at least 28 congregations and over 20,000 church members.

Grounds for Rehearing

While there are multiple legal issues in the ruling that merit rehearing, the most crucial are possibly the constitutional ones controlling cases of religious property.  As stated in the conclusion to the petition: “The majority has fashioned a neutral principles standard for religious organizations under South Carolina property, trust and corporate law that admittedly would not be applied to secular organizations. It then applied it to religious organizations today in a fashion it did not do 8 years ago involving the same issues between the Plaintiff Diocese, The Episcopal Church and a parish church. It does so when no appellant asked the trial court, either during trial or post trial, to apply such a standard. As a result, the majority would transfer the real and personal property of South Carolina religious organizations, many of whom preexisted The Episcopal Church and the United States, to a New York religious organization. This establishment of one religion over another impacts the choices these South Carolina religious organizations (and those associated with them) made in the free exercise of their religion.  They chose to disassociate, exercising their right of association under the United States and South Carolina Constitutions which this Court has recognized.  Yet, according to the majority, that constitutionally protected decision, requires a massive transfer of centuries old real and personal property when it would not be required for a secular South Carolina organization.”

The petition concluded: “These are serious issues for Respondents, Appellants and for all religious organizations in South Carolina. This Court should grant a rehearing.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Primary Source, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina