Daily Archives: June 12, 2018

(The Week) Bonnie Kristian–The vast emptiness that only religion can fill

The Reddit lonely are not alone in this sad reverse engineering. Witness, for example, Ritual Design Lab in Silicon Valley, where a “small team of ‘interaction designers’ is working to generate new rituals for modern life.” On offer is a personalized practice to inject meaning into one’s day. “You tell us your problem. We will make you a ritual,” promises the lab’s peppy tagline. “The new generation, they want bite-size spirituality instead of a whole menu of courses,” founder Kursat Ozenc told The Atlantic. “Design thinking … can help people shape their spirituality based on their needs.”

These rituals are “lightweight,” Ozenc says. They add just a sprinkling of transcendence and fun. As philosopher Charles Taylor says in his magnum opus, A Secular Age, modern people can feel “a terrible flatness in the everyday.” Silicon Valley’s bespoke rituals posture themselves as a playful source of relief from, in Taylor’s words, the “emptiness of the repeated, accelerating cycle of desire and fulfillment in consumer culture.”

But these rituals are not real. They cannot do what we ask of them. A personalized ritual is part of that consumeristic cycle. It cannot fill the lack into which we pour it. It cannot overcome the terrible flatness. It cannot solemnize the big moments or dignify the small ones. It cannot return transcendence to our lives where it is missing any more than a board game club can provide a true sense of belonging.

“Atheists and agnostics have long tried to rebottle religion,” wrote The New York Times‘ Mark Oppenheimer in 2016, “to get the community and the good works without the supernatural stuff. It has worked about as well as nonalcoholic beer. As with O’Doul’s, converts are few, and rarely do they end up having a very good time.” We may want the community and ritual of religion without the “supernatural stuff” and the ethical obligations it entails, but this sort of individualized comfort mechanism is at best a pale, disjointed counterfeit.

Read it all.

Posted in Religion & Culture

(SA) Archbp Glenn Davies–Proclaiming Christ to the nations

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the momentous resolution concerning human sexuality adopted by the 1998 Lambeth Conference of bishops from around the Anglican Communion. In essence, Resolution I.10 reiterated our long-held doctrine that only marriage is the God-ordained place for sexual relations. Hence one of the opening paragraphs of Resolution I.10 states:

[This conference], in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage;

The phrase “in view of the teaching of Scripture” is critical. It is the teaching of God’s word that must direct our lives, and despite its counter-cultural perspective in today’s society – as it was in the first century – our God-given sexual desires are not to be satisfied in casual liaisons or adulterous relationships, nor given expression through homosexual relationships, either male or female. For this reason, the resolution goes on to reject “homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture”. Yet it also endorses a pastoral response to those who are same-sex attracted and the need to care for those who struggle to be faithful to Christ.

The resolution, which passed overwhelmingly, reflects the doctrine of Christ. Furthermore, the General Synod of the Anglican Church in Australia affirmed similar teaching about human sexuality in Faithfulness in Service, the national code of conduct of all clergy and church workers.

Let us be candid. This is not how the Western world sees things….

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Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, GAFCON

(MLB) Joe Namath visits Wrigley Field

Posted in Sports

The Gafcon Chairman Archbp Nicholas Okoh’s June 2018 Letter

My dear people of God,

The ‘Songs of Ascents’ (Psalms 120-134) express a deep sense of longing, hope and confidence in the living God. For ancient pilgrims it was wonderful to be standing together within the gates of Jerusalem and for us today it is no less wonderful because in Jesus the hope which Jerusalem and its temple represented has been fulfilled.

Some 2,000 delegates will be welcomed to Jerusalem this month and many more will be able to share in GAFCON 2018 as it unfolds with reports through each day and live streaming accessed through the Gafcon website.  We thank the Almighty God for the privilege of being able to gather in this city where the great events of our salvation were enacted, but it is not now necessary to go on pilgrimage to encounter the living God. Through God’s Word and by the power of God’s Spirit, every local church becomes the household of God and an anticipation of the heavenly Jerusalem.

This is why our conference matters so much for the many of you who are not able to attend in person, yet have a vital role to play. Our purpose is to see faithful Anglicans everywhere equipped and empowered so that the churches of our global Anglican Communion, from parishes to provinces, will be united in one gospel and with one voice will serve the purpose of our conference theme ‘Proclaiming Christ faithfully to the Nations’.

A major way in which this great task will be carried forward beyond the conference is through the launch of nine key networks: Theological Education, Church Planting, Global Mission Partnerships, Bishops Training, Youth and Children’s Ministry, Women’s Ministry, Sustainable Development together with an Intercessors Fellowship and a Lawyers Task Force.

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Posted in Church of Nigeria, GAFCON, Israel

Diocese of South Carolina Canon Theologian Kendall Harmon to speak at GAFCON 2018

From here:

Canon Theologian Dr. Kendall Harmon has been asked to speak at the upcoming Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON), in Jerusalem, June 17-22. Nearly 2000 Anglican delegates – laity, clergy and bishops are expected at this the third GAFCON gathering.

Dr Harmon will be presenting a seminar entitled “understanding the Christian doctrine of Hell” along with Rico Tice, Senior Minister at All Souls, Langham Place, in London (UK). Tice will be interviewing Harmon about the issues around hell in church history and today and will then be giving a short talk as an example of how he preaches on hell. The two of them will explore both the theological underpinnings of hell in Scripture as well as providing practical applications for this doctrine in the ministry of those attending. GAFCON, whose mission is “to guard the unchanging, transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ and to proclaim Him to the world,” is founded on the Bible, bound together by the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration of 2008, and led by a Primates Council which represents the majority of the world’s Anglicans.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Eschatology, GAFCON

(Wash Post) American Medical Association rejects maintaining its opposition to medically assisted death, deciding instead to keep reviewing the matter

A recommendation that the American Medical Association maintain its opposition to medically assisted death was rejected Monday, with delegates at the AMA’s annual meeting in Chicago instead voting for the organization to continue reviewing its guidance on the issue.

Following a debate on whether the nation’s most prominent doctors’ group should revise its Code of Medical Ethics, the House of Delegates voted by a margin of 56 to 44 percent to have the AMA’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs keep studying the current guidance. That position, adopted a quarter-century ago, labels the practice “physician-assisted suicide” and calls it “fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as healer.”

The council spent two years reviewing resolutions, not so much on whether to support the practice but on whether to take a neutral stance on what has become a divisive issue among health-care providers. The group’s report sought to find common ground, noting, “Where one physician understands providing the means to hasten death to be an abrogation of the physician’s fundamental role as healer that forecloses any possibility of offering care that respects dignity, another in equally good faith understands supporting a patient’s request for aid in hastening a foreseen death to be an expression of care and compassion.”

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology

([London] Times) Dumb and dumber: why we’re getting less intelligent

The IQ scores of young people have begun to fall after rising steadily since the Second World War, according to the first authoritative study of the phenomenon.

The decline, which is equivalent to at least seven points per generation, is thought to have started with the cohort born in 1975, who reached adulthood in the early Nineties.

Scientists say that the deterioration could be down to changes in the way maths and languages are taught, or to a shift from reading books to spending time on television and computers.

Yet it is also possible that the nature of intelligence is changing in the digital age and cannot be captured with traditional IQ tests. The turning point marks the end of a well-known but poorly understood trend known as the Flynn effect, in which average IQs have risen by about three points a decade for the past 60 or 70 years….

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Posted in Anthropology

William Witt–Why I Do Not Take the “New Atheism” Seriously: “Flying Spaghetti Monsters,” Orbiting Tea Pots, and Invisible Pink Unicorns

While the above responses do indeed point to weaknesses in arguments that compare the existence of God to “Flying Spaghetti Monsters” or orbiting tea pots, they do not specifically address what I think is the most important problem with the New Atheists, and that is that the very use of such arguments shows that the New Atheists do not know what they are talking about when they use the word “God.” What all of these New Atheist memes – invisible pink unicorns, “Flying Spaghetti Monsters,” orbiting tea pots – have in common is that they compare God to finite contingent physical objects existing within the known physical universe. God is understood to be one additional entity among others in the same way that an orbiting teapot would be one teapot among other non-orbiting teapots or a “Flying Spaghetti Monster” would be composed of “spaghetti,” a physical substance of which every grocery store has numerous items. (This is also evident in the New Atheist claim “I just believe in one less god than you do,” or the claim, “I don’t believe in the Christian god, but I don’t believe in Zeus or Thor either.”)

In the same way that an argument about Physics as a scientific discipline would have to address accurate accounts of the scientific discipline and not beliefs in phlogiston or physical reality being made of earth, fire, air, and water, New Atheist rejections of the Christian God at least should clearly show an understanding of what it is that Christians mean when they affirm that God exists. And no competent Christian theologian or philosopher has ever claimed that God is one finite contingent entity among others – another item existing within the physical universe. When the New Atheists say that they do not believe in God, comparisons to “Flying Spaghetti Monsters” and “orbiting tea pots” make clear that they do not know what they are talking about.

If one is going to deny the existence of God, then what needs to be denied is the God of historical Christian faith, and the place to turn for an account of this Christian God would be classic Christian theologians such as Irenaeus, Athanasius, Augustine, John of Damascus or Thomas Aquinas, or even more contemporary theologians such as Karl Barth or Thomas F. Torrance (among Protestants), or (among Catholics) Hans Urs von Balthasar or Matthew Levering or numerous philosophical theologians such as David Burrell (my dissertation director) or Herbert McCabe, or Orthodox thinkers such as David Bentley Hart.

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Posted in Atheism, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Henry Alford

O God, who in thy blessed Son hast prepared for us a rich feast and dost invite us day by day to partake of thy bounties: Grant that neither the distractions of business nor the allurements of pleasure may cause us to turn a deaf ear to thy call, nor to neglect thy so great salvation, which thou hast given us in the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to thee, when my heart is faint. Lead thou me to the rock that is higher than I; for thou art my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in thy tent for ever! Oh to be safe under the shelter of thy wings!

–Psalm 61:1-4

Posted in Theology: Scripture