Daily Archives: March 27, 2018

(Economist Erasmus Blog) As French Catholics hail a martyr, the faith is fading in Europe

Even in Europe, the world’s least religious continent, a dramatic turn of events can turn a little-known public servant into a posthumous hero hailed as a kind of modern martyr.

Arnaud Beltrame, a police colonel, died of his injuries over the weekend after voluntarily taking the place of one of the hostages seized by a fanatical Islamist in a small French town. As it happens he was a devout Catholic who devoted much spare time to pilgrimages and helping with religious instruction. He won praise of two different kinds. Speaking for the French republic, President Emmanuel Macron described him as a man who had “fallen as a hero” and deserved “the respect and admiration of the entire nation.” In the Catholic circles to which Beltrame belonged, another vocabulary was used. He was praised as a man whose self-sacrifice reflected the faith that he had eagerly professed since a conversion experience a decade ago. Comparisons were made with Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish friar who in 1941 stood in for a fellow prisoner, a man with children, whom the Nazis were preparing to execute.

A French priest who had been preparing to solemnise the policeman’s marriage (he was already married civilly) instead found himself sitting at his friend’s bedside, conducting the last rites. With understandable emotion, the cleric described Beltrame as a man who “had a passion for France, her greatness, her history and her Christian roots which he rediscovered with his conversion.”

But whatever the truth of that statement about cultural roots, how much longer will such language be comprehensible, let alone appealing, to people growing up on the continent?

Read it all.

Posted in Europe, France, History, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Yorkshire Post) Sir Tony Robinson: Why York Minster and Britain’s other great cathedrals are right to charge an entrance fee

These days, cathedrals like York Minster are both a tourist attraction and a place of worship. More than 690,000 people visited in 2017 and, while it’s their entrance fees which keep the place running, finding the balance between commercial and spiritual demands is not always easy.

“I think York gets it right. These places are money pits and without the income they receive from visitors they would begin to crumble. I know that there are some people who would like them to be free to enter, but we do have to be realistic. We no longer live in the 19th century when wages were so low these great big cathedrals could easily afford to have 100 workers on-site without worrying about how they were going to pay the wage bills.

“However, what I particularly loved about York Minster was how every so often the general bustle of the day would stop and within a second it would revert to a place of stillness and a place of prayer.”

England is home to 44 cathedrals and given they have witnessed Henry VIII’s Reformation and Second World War bombing raids as well as the ravages of time, it is a minor miracle that the likes of York Minster have remained standing at all.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

(The Drum) Exeter Cathedral spreads its message online with new portal

Exeter Cathedral is aiming to lead the way in how religious institutions market themselves online, following a complete refresh of its online portal by digital marketing agency AB.

The new site was required to meet the varied requirements of the Cathedral’s churchgoers, hirers, the local community as well as tourists and potential visitors. The new site features a centralised events calendar and also raises the profile of the Cathedral’s fundraising efforts, including its current Big Lego Build project.

Laurence Blyth of Exeter Cathedral explained that the Cathedral’s previous site was no longer fit for purpose, which has led to the need for the commission. “It told the story of the Cathedral from a religious point of view, but hadn’t kept pace with how the Cathedral needs to fundraise and attract tourist visitors. The portal developed and delivered by AB has been very well received and we expect to see a significant uplift in visitor numbers this year as a result of our enhanced digital presence.”

Read it all.

Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(Wash Post) Court in Metro’s ad ban case discusses Christmas shopping, beer-making monks, charitable giving

A central question before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit: Can Metro allow secular advertisers to promote Christmas shopping and charitable giving, but not the church?

Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh was unrelenting in questioning Metro’s lawyer, former solicitor general Donald B. Verrilli Jr., and stated unequivocally his view that the policy is “pure discrimination” in violation of the First Amendment.

Kavanaugh, who is on President Trump’s list of candidates for possible Supreme Court vacancies, made several references to recent high court opinions, including a 2017 ruling that sided with a Missouri church denied access to government grants meant for a secular purpose.

The two other judges on the panel — Judith W. Rogers and Robert L. Wilkins — pointed out that the archdiocese had acknowledged its ads were designed in part to promote religion, not just charitable giving.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Religion & Culture, Travel, Urban/City Life and Issues

Fleming Rutledge’s Talk at the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, Alabama on the problem of Evil

You may find the mp3 there–take the time to listen and ponder it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Soteriology, Theodicy, Theology: Scripture

(Premier) Bishop of Salisbury hopes for unity during Holy Week in aftermath of spy poisoning

“This is one of those occasions when the Christian faith speaks deeply into our present context. The terrible things that happened don’t get the last word.

In the end love, life and resurrection are where the story takes us,” Bishop Nicholas said.

He added that there are similarities between Jesus’ betrayal and Skripal’s attack.

“Salisbury has been through a difficult time, it’s got some of the same ingredients in terms of betrayal, a murderous attack and people who have been deeply injured by this,” Bishop Nicholas said.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture

(The Tablet) Chinese state control over religions tightened

China’s ruling Communist Party has stepped up its control over all religions by closing its longstanding State Administration for Religious Affairs agency and handing its functions to the party’s United Front Work Department. The department once described by Chinese leader Xi Jinping as a “magic weapon” – now has daily oversight and direct control over the state-run organisations of all five official religions, including the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association.

The move comes seven weeks after stricter new rules on religion were introduced on 2 February….

Read it all.

Posted in China, Religion & Culture

(AP) Churches that survived 9/11 give in, install metal detectors

The two stone churches near the foot of Broadway, in the shadow of the World Trade Center, have seen fire and calamity and the sweep of American history, and through it all have kept their doors wide open.

But in a sign of the times, Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel both installed metal detectors this month. Visitors on their way to see Alexander Hamilton’s tomb in Trinity’s historic graveyard, or who want to sit in the pews at St. Paul’s where George Washington prayed and dust-covered rescue workers rested after 9/11 attacks, now have to pass through airport-style security checkpoints.

The metal detectors, installed March 1, will be there “until this world becomes a safer place,” said Trinity’s vicar, the Rev. Phillip Jackson.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues

A Prayer for Holy Week from the American BCP

Lord God, whose blessed Son, our Saviour, gave his back to the smiters, and hid not his face from shame: Grant us grace to take joyfully the sufferings of the present time, in full assurance of the glory that shall be revealed; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Holy Week, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from William Temple

O Lord Jesus Christ, Thou Word of God, Creator and Redeemer, possess our mind and conscience, our heart and imagination, by Thine indwelling Spirit; that we and all men, being purged of pride, may find and rest in that love which is Thy very self.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

O LORD, rebuke me not in thy anger, nor chasten me in thy wrath. Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are troubled. My soul also is sorely troubled. But thou, O LORD–how long? Turn, O LORD, save my life; deliver me for the sake of thy steadfast love.

–Psalm 6:1-4

Posted in Theology: Scripture