Daily Archives: January 23, 2018

Phillips Brooks on Phillips Brooks Feast Day

Courage…is the indispensable requisite of any true ministry…. If you are afraid of men and a slave to their opinion, go and do something else. Go make shoes to fit them. Go even and paint pictures you know are bad but will suit their bad taste. But do not keep on all of your life preaching sermons which shall not say what God sent you to declare, but what they hire you to say. Be courageous. Be independent.

—-Phillips Brooks, Lectures on Preaching, the 1877 Yale Lectures (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), p. 59

Posted in Church History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology: Scripture

(The Point) Elizabeth Bruenig–Charitable Living

Augustine may well have identified more than a shred of Roman sentiment in today’s American discourse, where citizenship is the defining question in so many cases of human need, and the prerogatives of the rich are treated more credibly than the demands of the poor.

It is not only in the church that we are prone, today, to the fetishism of wealth and ownership: our unlimited rights to property and subsequent capacity to store up unthinkable masses of wealth are closely correlated with our freedoms as Americans, with our very Americanness. It’s under this odd, quasi-spiritual penumbra that we treat commodities with an idolatrous reverence, and see in the acquisition of immense lucre the possibility of elevating ourselves into a kind of perfection. Our world isn’t exactly disenchanted, as the usual story about modernity tends to go; it’s rather that the spirit that enchants our age is malevolent.

Christians might do well to reconsider Augustine’s patient certitude that God made the world for the flourishing of humankind, meaning that hoarding it from the many is not only a misuse, but a rejection of God’s will, a sin. Christian or not, our culture could do much worse than to take heed of Augustine’s observation that the way we use our wealth—either in haughty shows of philanthropy or more modest and regular giving—is a matter of habit, meaning that it can be formed for our betterment or our worsening. Nothing I can see in American culture today frames the use of wealth as an arena for the education of the soul, which suggests that Augustine’s radicalism would be worth our investment. Now as then, lives depend on it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology

(Telegraph) ‘Deep freeze’ funerals set to come to the UK

“Deep freeze” funerals for people who don’t want to be buried or cremated could be about to become a reality in the UK.

Plans for a “green” crematorium which freezes bodies instead of burning them are under consideration by Sevenoaks District Council in Kent.

If approved the facility, which will come complete with a chapel and a cafe, will be the first of its kind in the world.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(NYT) Inside Amazon Go, a Store of the Future

There are no shopping carts or baskets inside Amazon Go. Since the checkout process is automated, what would be the point of them anyway? Instead, customers put items directly into the shopping bag they’ll walk out with.

Every time customers grab an item off a shelf, Amazon says the product is automatically put into the shopping cart of their online account. If customers put the item back on the shelf, Amazon removes it from their virtual basket.

The only sign of the technology that makes this possible floats above the store shelves — arrays of small cameras, hundreds of them throughout the store. Amazon won’t say much about how the system works, other than to say it involves sophisticated computer vision and machine learning software. Translation: Amazon’s technology can see and identify every item in the store, without attaching a special chip to every can of soup and bag of trail mix.

Read it all.

Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Science & Technology

(YDS) George Lindbeck, 1923-2018

As a scholar, George is remembered for two major contributions. In the broadest circles he is known for his work on Roman Catholicism and the Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogue. Four of his books were devoted to this topic: Dialogue on the Way (edited volume, 1965), The Future of Roman Catholic Theology (1970), The Infallibility Debate (co-authored, 1971), and Infallibility (1972). He was a “Delegated Observer” from the Lutheran World Federation to the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1964.

The year that he did not serve on the YDS faculty (1962-1963) he was at the Second Vatican Council. He later served as a member of the international Lutheran/Roman Catholic Dialogue sponsored by the Lutheran World Federation and the Vatican Secretariat for Christian Unity (1968-1987) and was co-chairperson of the Lutheran delegation for more than ten years (1976-1987). He also served in the same capacity at the national level as a member of the official Lutheran/Roman Catholic Dialogue in the U.S. (1965-1989). When Catholicism opened up to the larger world, George Lindbeck was there to welcome and embrace Catholics, not only for the Lutheran Church but for YDS. His work made YDS a place where Roman Catholics could come—and indeed did come—following the Second Vatican Council.

“Throughout his life he sustained profound relationships among Protestant congregations, but also between Lutherans and Roman Catholics,” remembers Margaret Farley, Professor Emerita of Christian Ethics at YDS. “He was able to cross what were for some scholars (and Christian believers) too high barriers in thought and action. A very gentle person, and a searcher of truth, he respected and even reverenced the faith and hope in all of the major Christian traditions. And his teaching was reflected in his similar respect and care for his students.”

The second area of Lindbeck’s work was postliberal theology. Perhaps his best known book is The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age (1984). He later published The Church in a Postliberal Age (2002). Harry Adams called the former “the most helpful of all the books we used to teach homiletics at YDS.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Seminary / Theological Education

(CEN) Andrew Carey–The problem of of defining ‘spiritual abuse’

Spiritual abuse is a thorny and difficult subject.

The recent case in Oxford Diocese was a clear-cut example of spiritual abuse. An Abingdon Vicar took an intense interest in mentoring a teenage boy to the extent of moving into the family home and ordering him to stop an adolescent relationship.

This kind of spiritual ‘mentoring’ in which a priest manipulated a young life under the guise of prayer and counselling resembles ‘heavy shepherding’ — one of the charismatic movement’s worst episodes. But even at the time this was not a very widespread phenomenon in Anglican circles and this kind of controlling behaviour has always been thought to be the preserve of new cults rather than established churches.

But according to an ‘online survey’ (two words that always raise alarm bells for me) conducted by academics from Bournemouth University on behalf of the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) a very high number of Christians have personally experienced spiritual abuse.

Of 1,591 responses, 1,002 said they had personally experienced spiritual abuse. This is too high a number to be believable and there must be widespread caution about the survey. In fact, all it is really useful for is to make the point that more research would be extremely valuable with a wider and more representative sample of Christians.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture

Peter Hitchens responds to Justin Welby’s statement–What Does the Archbishop Think He is Doing?

In an astonishing passage, he responds to the concerns of the historians, who are urging him to reconsider, by ludicrously comparing them to emotional defenders of Ball. He says ‘As in the case of Peter Ball, and others, it is often suggested that what is being alleged could not have been true, because the person writing knew the alleged abuser and is absolutely certain that it was impossible for them to have done what is alleged. As with Peter Ball this sometimes turns out to be untrue, not through their own fault or deceit but because abuse is often kept very secret. The experience of discovering feet of clay in more than one person I held in profound respect has been personally tragic.’

What sort of non-logic is this? It may *have been* suggested, before Ball was convicted and sent to prison, that what was alleged could not have been true. But is there any serious person (as serious as, for instance, Sir Ian Kershaw) who is suggesting it now? Who? How can Mr Welby possibly compare opinions held mistakenly before a fair trial and conviction showed them to be wrong, and opinions held where there has not been and cannot be any such trial, and where the evidence against the accused is solitary and weak?

The police arrested Ball, the CPS charged him, and Ball, who was able to ensure that he was professionally defended throughout, and was able to avail himself of the presumption of innocence, eventually pleaded guilty in court to serious charges and was sent to prison. I have not since heard it suggested by any of his former defenders that he is innocent of the charges he himself admitted. So those who may have found it difficult to believe that Peter Ball was a wicked abuser were shown to have been wrong in a fair and due process.

How on earth can Mr Welby equate this case with that of George Bell, who faced one uncorroborated accusation made years after his death, and was then condemned without any defence by what Lord Carlile found to be a sloppy and inadequate process in which key evidence undermining the accusation was not even seen by some of those involved, and in which key witnesses were neither found nor interviewed.

Mr Welby, in his very thin responses to the Carlile report, has never really addressed this. He has said that the report didn’t rule on Bell’s guilt or innocence, an almost childishly absurd response, since Mr Welby had told Lord Carlile in his terms of reference that he could not rule on this. In any case, Lord Carlile has repeatedly said since, in response to media questions, that no court would have convicted George Bell on the evidence which has been produced against him. It is clear that had Lord Carlile been asked to rule on George Bell’s guilt or innocence, he would have pronounced him ‘not guilty’….

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology

Statement from Archbishop of Canterbury following letter from historians regarding the Bishop George Bell case

Following a letter sent to Lambeth Palace and also to the Telegraphnewspaper by a group of academics, I felt it important to send a considered, personal response and this statement reflects the essence of my reply.

“I cannot with integrity rescind my statement made after the publication of Lord Carlile’s review into how the Church handled the Bishop Bell case. I affirmed the extraordinary courage and achievement of Bishop Bell both before the war and during its course, while noting the Church has a duty to take seriously the allegation made against him.

“Our history over the last 70 years has revealed that the Church covered up, ignored or denied the reality of abuse on major occasions. I need only refer to the issues relating to Peter Ball to show an example. As a result, the Church is rightly facing intense and concentrated scrutiny (focussed in part on the Diocese of Chichester) through the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). Our first hearing is in March.

“The Diocese of Chichester was given legal advice to make a settlement based on the civil standard of proof, the balance of probability. It was not alleged that Bishop Bell was found to have abused on the criminal standard of proof, beyond reasonable doubt. The two standards should not be confused. It should be remembered that Carol, who brought the allegation, was sent away in 1995, and we have since apologised for this lamentable failure; a failure highlighted by Lord Carlile.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Phillips Brooks

O everlasting God, who didst reveal truth to thy servant Phillips Brooks, and didst so form and mold his mind and heart that he was able to mediate that truth with grace and power: Grant, we pray, that all whom thou dost call to preach the Gospel may steep themselves in thy word, and conform their lives to thy will; 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, Spirituality/Prayer, TEC Bishops

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

O God, the strength of those who walk with thee, without whom nothing is safe, nothing is tranquil; Confirm in us the knowledge of thy presence, that, thou being our companion in the way, we may so deal with our anxieties that at length our hearts may find their rest in thee; 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 Bible Readings

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

–Hebrews 9:11-14

Posted in Theology: Scripture