Monthly Archives: September 2018

A poem written by Archpriest Grigory Petrov (Gregory Petrov) shortly before his death in a Siberian prison camp

From there:

What is my praise before Thee?

I have not heard the cherubim singing,
that is the lot of souls sublime,
but I know how nature praises thee.

In winter I have thought about the whole earth praying quietly to Thee in the
silence of the moon,
wrapped around in a mantle of white,
sparkling with diamonds of snow.

I have seen how the rising sun rejoiced in Thee,
and choirs of birds sang forth glory.

I have heard how secretly the forest noises Thee abroad,
how the winds sing,
the waters gurgle,
how the choirs of stars preach of Thee
in serried motion through unending space.

Posted in Liturgy, Music, Worship, Poetry & Literature, Prison/Prison Ministry, Russia

(NYT Op-ed) Timothy Keller–How Do Christians Fit Into the Two-Party System? They Don’t

What should the role of Christians in politics be? More people than ever are asking that question. Christians cannot pretend they can transcend politics and simply “preach the Gospel.” Those who avoid all political discussions and engagement are essentially casting a vote for the social status quo. American churches in the early 19th century that did not speak out against slavery because that was what we would now call “getting political” were actually supporting slavery by doing so. To not be political is to be political.

The Bible shows believers as holding important posts in pagan governments — think of Joseph and Daniel in the Old Testament. Christians should be involved politically as a way of loving our neighbors, whether they believe as we do or not. To work for better public schools or for a justice system not weighted against the poor or to end racial segregation requires political engagement. Christians have done these things in the past and should continue to do so.

Nevertheless, while believers can register under a party affiliation and be active in politics, they should not identify the Christian church or faith with a political party as the only Christian one. There are a number of reasons to insist on this.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Charles Kingsley

Take from us, O Lord God, all pride and vanity, all boasting and self-assertion, and give us the true courage that shows itself in gentleness; the true wisdom that shows itself in simplicity; and the true power that shows itself in modesty; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards, and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. “And in that day, says the LORD, you will call me, ‘My husband,’ and no longer will you call me, ‘My Baal.’ For I will remove the names of the Ba’als from her mouth, and they shall be mentioned by name no more. And I will make for you a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the creeping things of the ground; and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land; and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me for ever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; and you shall know the LORD. “And in that day, says the LORD, I will answer the heavens and they shall answer the earth; and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel; and I will sow him for myself in the land. And I will have pity on Not pitied, and I will say to Not my people, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say ‘Thou art my God.'”

–Hosea 2:14-23

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(PRC) A Majority of Teens Have Experienced Some Form of Cyberbullying


Name-calling and rumor-spreading have long been an unpleasant and challenging aspect of adolescent life. But the proliferation of smartphones and the rise of social media has transformed where, when and how bullying takes place. A new Pew Research Center survey finds that 59% of U.S. teens have personally experienced at least one of six types of abusive online behaviors.1

The most common type of harassment youth encounter online is name-calling. Some 42% of teens say they have been called offensive names online or via their cellphone. Additionally, about a third (32%) of teens say someone has spread false rumors about them on the internet, while smaller shares have had someone other than a parent constantly ask where they are, who they’re with or what they’re doing (21%) or have been the target of physical threats online (16%).

While texting and digital messaging are a central way teens build and maintain relationships, this level of connectivity may lead to potentially troubling and nonconsensual exchanges. One-quarter of teens say they have been sent explicit images they didn’t ask for, while 7% say someone has shared explicit images of them without their consent. These experiences are particularly concerning to parents. Fully 57% of parents of teens say they worry about their teen receiving or sending explicit images, including about one-quarter who say this worries them a lot, according to a separate Center survey of parents.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Psychology, Teens / Youth, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Michael and All Angels

O everlasting God, who hast ordained and constituted the ministries of angels and men in a wonderful order: Mercifully grant that, as thy holy angels always serve and worship thee in heaven, so by thy appointment they may help and defend us on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer, Uncategorized

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Saint Ambrose

Merciful Lord, the Comforter and Teacher of Thy faithful people, increase in Thy Church the desires which Thou hast given, and confirm the hearts of those who hope in Thee by enabling them to understand the depth of Thy promises, that all Thine adopted sons may even now behold, with the eyes of faith, and patiently wait for, the light which as yet Thou dost not openly manifest; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

–James Manning,ed., Prayers of the Early Church (Nashville: The Upper Room, 1953)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and he prolonged his speech until midnight. There were many lights in the upper chamber where we were gathered. And a young man named Eutychus was sitting in the window. He sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer; and being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down and bent over him, and embracing him said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” And when Paul had gone up and had broken bread and eaten, he conversed with them a long while, until daybreak, and so departed. And they took the lad away alive, and were not a little comforted.

–Acts 20:7-12

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) Eliora Katz on Ecclesiastes–The Sunshine of the Vanities

Yet Ecclesiastes is far from nihilistic, and a deeper understanding of what Solomon means by “vanity” is the key to making sense of Sukkot. “Vanity” is the common translation of the Hebrew word hevel, which literally means “vapor” or “breath.” Hence, “fleeting” is a more suitable translation.

Solomon emphasizes that life is short but not meaningless. Consider Ecclesiastes 9:9, an exhortation to man, with hevel translated in this way: “Enjoy life with the wife whom you love all the fleeting days of life that have been granted to you under the sun—all your fleeting days, for that is your portion in life and in your toil that you toil under the sun.” A disposition to enjoy life transforms its ephemerality from a source of anxiety to a focus on the healthy pleasures of humanity. Life becomes an end in itself.

The Talmud resolves Ecclesiastes’ contradictory verses on joy by noting that whereas Solomon praises joy that ensues from performing a mitzvah (divine commandment), he derides joy that is not born out of a mitzvah. We can understand this to mean that true joy is joy with purpose—joy in the intentional pursuit of a larger goal.

Life’s transience should enhance, not weaken, our satisfaction.

Read it all.

Posted in Judaism, Theology: Scripture

‘Share the good news on estates and the nation will take notice,’ says Bishop of Burnley Philip North

In 2013, the Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Revd Philip North, told the General Synod about his former parish on a large Hartlepool estate, which had been vacant for more than two years.

“Compare that with a recent vacancy in a richly endowed parish near Paddington, which attracted 123 firm applicants, and you will see the true measure of the spiritual health of the Church of England,” he said.

Five years later, he believes that, after years of being complicit in the abandonment of estates, the Church of England is “back”.

“The Holy Spirit is doing amazing things on the estates of this nation, and we are joining in,” he told a meeting of the National Estate Churches Network at St Francis at the Engine Room, on Wednesday.

Launching a strategy that includes an aspiration to have a “thriving, growing, loving church on every significant estate in the country”, he highlighted new church-plants, including Freedom Church, planted by St Paul’s, Marton, on the Mereside estate in Blackpool (News 4 August 2017); Oldhams Church, in Bolton (News 11 May); and St Cuthman’s, on the Whitehawk estate in Brighton (News 11 November 2016).

Recent visits to theological colleges had left him “overwhelmed by the enthusiasm that many of them have to serve in areas of deprivation”.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Evangelism and Church Growth

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton+Margery Kempe

Gracious God, we offer thanks for the lives and work of Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton, and Margery Kempe, hermits and mystics, who, passing through the cloud of unknowing, beheld thy glory. Help us, after their examples, to see thee more clearly and love thee more dearly, in the Name of Jesus Christ our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Prayer Manual

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 of Thy Name.

–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 Bible Readings

Dost thou work wonders for the dead? Do the shades rise up to praise thee?…Is thy steadfast love declared in the grave, or thy faithfulness in Abaddon? Are thy wonders known in the darkness, or thy saving help in the land of forgetfulness?

–Psalm 88:10-12

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CEN) UK Faith leaders urge protection for the displaced

Faith LEADERS have written an open letter urging national government leaders to strengthen the protection of displaced people.

Over 50 leaders of faith and religious organisations, groups and communities, including the Bishops of Durham and Salisbury and the Archbishops of Wales and South Sudan, pointed out in their letter that faith leaders are present before crises occur and are key providers of assistance and protection both during them and afterwards.

As such they have ‘special relationships of trust’ and insights into and access to communities.

“We can no longer stand by as the number of people forced from their homes but who have not crossed a border continues to rise in the wake of protracted crises and climate change, they said.Their letter explains that currently there are more than 65 million people displaced due to conflict and violence, and 40.5 million of these remain in their countries of origin.

“It would take more than a year to read all their names. Millions more are displaced due to climate-related events and disasters. We call on leaders of national governments to do more to ensure that the needs and rights of internally displaced people are addressed and upheld.”

Read it all (may require subscription).

Posted in England / UK, Religion & Culture

(Spectator) Harry Mount reviews ‘A Field Guide to the English Clergy: A Compendium to Diverse Eccentrics, Pirates, Prelates and Adventurers; all Anglican, some even practising’

As the wordy title of this book and the name of its author suggest, this is a faux-archaic, fogeyish journey around England’s oddest vicars. The Reverend Fergus Butler-Gallie is, though, the real thing: a young curate in the Church of England. Yes, he’s given to sometimes tiresome jocularity: he describes himself as ‘a Bon Viveur first and foremost, with a soupçon of Roguishness and Prodigality’. But, still, his essential thesis is right: the Church of England has produced some real oddballs in its time, and this is an entertaining gallop through several centuries’ worth of them.

For 400 years after the Reformation, the Church of England was the ideal Petri dish for nurturing eccentricity. Take plenty of money, lots of free time, a good education, power and class confidence, and vicars were bound to overindulge their whims. Well, at least until the second half of the 20th century — when the collapse of religious feeling, the decline of the Church’s wealth and power, and the selling-off of the finest vicarages and rectories brought a sad end to clever, rich, eccentric, educated vicars….

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Church of England, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

Thomas Traherne for his Feast Day–‘The Cross is the abyss of Wonders’

The Cross is the abyss of wonders, the centre of desires, the school of virtues, the house of wisdom, the throne of love, the theatre of joys, and the place of sorrows; It is the root of happiness, and the gate of Heaven.

Of all the things in Heaven and Earth it is the most peculiar. It is the most exalted of all objects. It is an Ensign lifted up for all nations, to it shall the Gentiles seek, His rest shall be glorious: the dispersed of Judah shall be gathered together to it, from the four corners of the earth. If Love be the weight of the Soul, and its object the centre, all eyes and hearts may convert and turn unto this Object: cleave unto this centre, and by it enter into rest. There we might see all nations assembled with their eyes and hearts upon it. There we may see God’s goodness, wisdom and power: yea His mercy and anger displayed. There we may see man’s sin and infinite value. His hope and fear, his misery and happiness. There we might see the Rock of Ages, and the Joys of Heaven. There we may see a Man loving all the world, and a God dying for mankind. There we may see all types and ceremonies, figures and prophecies. And all kingdoms adoring a malefactor: An innocent malefactor, yet the greatest in the world. There we may see the most distant things in Eternity united: all mysteries at once couched together and explained. The only reason why this Glorious Object is so publicly admired by Churches and Kingdoms, and so little thought of by particular men, is because it is truly the most glorious: It is the Rock of Comforts and the Fountain of Joys. It is the only supreme and sovereign spectacle in all Worlds. It is a Well of Life beneath in which we may see the face of Heaven above: and the only mirror, wherein all things appear in their proper colours: that is, sprinkled in the blood of our Lord and Saviour.

The Cross of Christ is the Jacob’s ladder by which we ascend into the highest heavens. There we see joyful Patriarchs, expecting Saints, Prophets ministering Apostles publishing, and Doctors teaching, all Nations concentering, and Angels praising. That Cross is a tree set on fire with invisible flame, that Illuminateth all the world. The flame is Love: the Love in His bosom who died on it. In the light of which we see how to possess all the things in Heaven and Earth after His similitude. For He that suffered on it was the Son of God as you are: tho’ He seemed only a mortal man. He had acquaintance and relations as you have, but He was a lover of Men and Angels. Was he not the Son of God; and Heir of the whole world? To this poor, bleeding, naked Man did all the corn and wine, and oil, and gold and silver in the world minister in an invisible manner, even as He was exposed lying and dying upon the Cross.

Centuries of Meditations 1:58-60

Posted in Christology, Church History, Theology, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology)

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Thomas Traherne

Creator of wonder and majesty, who didst inspire thy poet Thomas Traherne with mystical insight to see thy glory in the natural world and in the faces of men and women around us: Help us to know thee in thy creation and in our neighbors, and to understand our obligations to both, that we may ever grow into the people thou hast created us to be; through our Savior Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, in everlasting light. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Archbishop Edward White Benson (1829-1896)

Lord, Who hast called me with a holy calling; O Word of God, living and active, be Thou quick to discern the thoughts and intents of my heart, that I may not glory save in the Cross, that I may not tire in well-doing, and not wax weary in soul. Lord, I lack wisdom, make me wise, Who ask in faith and doubt neither Thy power nor Thy love; may my inner man be renewed day by day, fashioned after the image of God. And this I pray that love may abound in knowledge and all discernment, to learn to know Thy will and Thee, my God, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding and orderly prudence.

–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 Bible Readings

And God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to pronounce the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, mastered all of them, and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks; and fear fell upon them all; and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Many also of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all; and they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew and prevailed mightily.

–Acts 19:11-20

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(SN) Survey raises worries about how screen time affects kids’ brains

Nearly two out of three U.S. kids spend more than two hours a day looking at screens, a new analysis of activity levels finds. And those children perform worse on memory, language and thinking tests than kids who spend less time in front of a device, the study of over 4,500 8- to 11-year-olds shows.

The finding, published online September 26 in Lancet Child & Adolescent Healthbolsters concerns that heavy use of smartphones, tablets or televisions can hurt growing minds. But because the study captures a single snapshot in time, it’s still not known whether too much screen time can actually harm brain development, experts caution.

Researchers used data gleaned from child and parent surveys on daily screen time, exercise and sleep, collected as part of a larger effort called the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study. Cognitive abilities were also tested in that bigger study. As a benchmark for the new study, the researchers used expert guidelines set in 2016 that recommend no more than two hours of recreational screen time a day, an hour of exercise and between nine and 11 hours of nighttime sleep.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology

The Anglican Church of Nigeria Bishops statement in regard to Lambeth 2020

From here:

The House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) unanimously agree to the following statement regarding Lambeth 2020.

The House of Bishops of the Church of Nigeria reaffirm the Statement of GAFCON 2018 that the Archbishop of Canterbury should invite as full members to Lambeth 2020 the Bishops of the Province of the Anglican Church in North America and the Province of the Anglican Church in Brazil, and that he should not invite those Provinces that have endorsed by word or deed sexual practices that are in contradiction to the teaching of Scripture and Resolution 1.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, unless they have repented of their actions and reversed their decisions.

In the event that this does not occur the Bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) unanimously resolved that they will decline any invitation to attend Lambeth 2020 and all other meetings of the Instruments of the Communion.

Posted in Church of Nigeria

Lancelot Andrewes for his Feast Day–Defiled by the 1st Adam…by the 2nd cleansed and set right

This sure is matter of love; but came there any good to us by it? There did. For our conception being the root as it were, the very groundsill of our nature; that He might go to the root and repair of our nature from the very foundation, thither He went; that what had been there defiled and decayed by the first Adam, might by the Second be cleansed and set right again. That had our conception been stained, by Him therefore, primum ante omnia,to be restored again. He was not idle all the time He was an embyro all the nine months He was in the womb; but then and there He even ate out the core of corruption that cleft to our nature and us, and made both us and it an unpleasing object in the sight of God.

And what came of this? We who were abhorred by God, filii irae was our title, were by this means made beloved in Him. He cannot, we may be sure, account evil of that nature, that is now become the nature of His own Son is now no less than ours. Nay farther, given this privilege to the children of such as are in Him, though but of one parent believing, that they are not as the seed of two infidels, but are in a degree holy, eo ipso; and have a farther right to the laver of regeneration, to sanctify them throughout by the renewing of the Holy Ghost. This honour is to us by the dishonour of Him; this the good by Christ an embyro.

–From a sermon preached before King James, at Whitehall, on Sunday, the Twenty-fifth of December, 1614

Posted in Church History, Preaching / Homiletics

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Lancelot Andrewes

Almighty God, who gavest thy servant Lancelot Andrewes the gift of thy holy Spirit and made him a man of prayer and a faithful pastor of thy people: Perfect in us what is lacking of thy gifts, of faith, to increase it, of hope, to establish it, of love, to kindle it, that we may live in the life of thy grace and glory; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from New Every Morning

Almighty and eternal God, who madest thy light to shine in the darkness by the sending of thy Son Jesus Christ to deliver us from the dominion of evil: Visit us now, we pray thee, in the darkness of these times, and let thy truth and righteousness shine forth among us. Take from the world the fears which oppress mankind, that we may live in the power of justice and the freedom of thy truth; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–New Every Morning (The Prayer Book Of The Daily Broadcast Service) [BBC, 1900]

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

On that night the king could not sleep; and he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. And it was found written how Mor′decai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands upon King Ahasu-e′rus. And the king said, “What honor or dignity has been bestowed on Mor′decai for this?” The king’s servants who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.”

–Esther 6:1-4

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Kendall Harmon’s reflections on Gafcon 2018: ‘our God is a global God and he calls us to go to the whole world which he has made’


I remember when Elizabeth and I visited the Grand Canyon (if you have not you should definitely go). At the end of the day in which it seemed at every single vantage point, in every possible way, there was more to take in, we came to a lookout and there was the sign: “it seems too grand a statement even for nature to make.”

That sentiment fits well with all epic events and visits—there are so many perspectives you can never take them all in, and then if you could the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Gafcon 2018, one of the largest international gatherings of Anglicans in the last 5 decades, was just such an epic event. So read widely, take in all the livestream daily and other videos, and then realize even for those of us who were there it was just so much more.

I offer only my vantage point, trusting you will drink deeply from the good well of all the resources out there to get a better sense of the whole.

Consider the people. There were those whom you did know, and those who were new, and the sheer joy on both of those scores for me personally was immense.

Imagine—there was Vaughan Roberts, who I first met in the early 1990’s at Saint Ebbe’s, Oxford, when he was a curate (he is now a distinguished preacher and author). And up one day came Bishop Ray Smith and his wife Shirley whom I hadn’t seen since the mid 1980’s! These kinds of joyous reunions went on all conference long.

Then there were new people, most notably me for my daily prayer group which consisted of 2 Americans, 2 Australians, 2 Ugandans and 2 Nigerians. What different contexts and yet what a common bond in Christ and what beautiful prayers were prayed!

I should also mention my roommate, Sam Ferguson, assistant pastor for research and teaching at The Falls Church Anglican in Falls Church, Virginia. We had so much fun talking together that by the end I had him conversing with my wife via Facetime so he could tell her I was indeed behaving. Sam is one of the promising up and coming leaders in North American Anglicanism and is at present pursuing a PhD at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he is focused on the relevant and vital subject of biblical anthropology. (I am very pleased to say that when I was finalizing this reflection, Sam had been called to be the new rector of Falls Church, succeeding one of the true giants among the senior leaders of North American Anglican evangelicalism, John Yates).

The worship every morning was unforgettable in its contagious joy. We were led by a choir from Nigeria who wore different colors for each morning, all of which matched—and oh how they lifted us into the Lord’s presence. It was a chance to experience the rich embodiment of Psalm 122:1 ‘I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”

In terms of the plenary sessions, a number of elements stood out. Our theme all through the conference was proclaiming Christ faithfully to the nations and this was emphasized in many facets and ways–as for example when we welcomed continents and they would flash all the countries from a given continent who were at Gafcon 2018 up on the screen. By far the most moving moment of the whole gathering for me personally was when we were encouraged to pray the Lord’s prayer in our own language and nearby one could hear maybe 60-100 different dialects and languages. It was an awesome reminder that our God is a global God and he calls us to go to the whole world which he has made.

The authority of the Bible and the importance of letting the text speak on its own terms was another important feature of the major presentations. For myself I would highlight the presentations of Richard Coekin, David Short and Michael Raiter as excellent examples of people who were working hard to unearth the treasures of the text with theological depth and integrity.

As if all this was wasn’t enough, there were the individual seminar sessions, and I would like to say a word about the one I was asked to do. I was paired with evangelist Rico Tice, whom I had never met until we worked together in presenting on the Christian understanding of hell. It was Rico’s idea when we spoke over the phone before the conference to interview me as one who had devoted three years of his life to doctoral research on hell. This made for a very engaging format for the participants, especially when it was paired with Rico’s own evangelistic presentation on hell in which he went into detail about how he presents Jesus’ clear teaching on the possibility of missing one’s destiny to his own friends.

Of all the elements that emerged from the questions which came from the floor in the second half of our presentation, the one which seemed to have the most traction was the idea of practical universalism. This is the idea of the parish who says they take the clear New teaching on hell seriously but in practical terms they never present classes or sermons about it, or engage their friends in serious witness for the kingdom where hell features in a meaningful way. In such a case there is no difference between that parish and one which denies hell altogether in terms of the day to day life of the Christians in the community.

Our challenge is to reclaim the doctrine of hell in the twentieth century and lovingly warn people that rejecting Christ is a choice of eternal significance. It was of special interest in this regard that the doctrine of hell was regularly mentioned by a number of the plenary speakers at Gafcon 2018.

The mention of hell had a logical fit in the overarching structure of Gafcon2018. Because the unsearchable riches of Christ are the most precious gift in the universe, not to receive them would be the greatest loss. This was yet another reminder of the importance of proclaiming Christ faithfully to the nations, the conference theme.
–KSH.

Posted in GAFCON

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Sergius

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us, we pray thee, from an inordinate love of this world, that inspired by the devotion of thy servant Sergius of Moscow, we may serve thee with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

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

Let us praise and thank God for all great and simple joys;
For the gift of wonder and the joy of discovery; for the everlasting freshness of experience;
For all that comes to us through sympathy and through sorrow, and for the joy of work attempted and achieved;
For musicians, poets and craftsmen, and for all who work in form and color to increase the beauty of life;
For the likeness of Christ in ordinary people, their forbearance, courage and kindness, and for all obscure and humble lives of service;
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost ever world without end.

–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

He remembered that they were but flesh,
a wind that passes and comes not again.

–Psalm 78:39

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CT) Mr. Rogers Had a Dangerous Side

Raised as an only child—the richest kid in the working-class town of Latrobe, Pennsylvania—Rogers started off miles away from the children who would end up watching his programs. He was nicknamed “Fat Freddy” and bullied in school, and significant health concerns made his mother overprotective—she had him chauffeured to and from public school in a fancy car. Rogers never let go of the wounds of childhood, especially the fears and anxieties. He was one of those rare figures who sees some essential truth before everyone else—in this case, the importance of cultivating social and emotional intelligence in young children.

Reading about his early childhood, one gets the sense that Rogers was a highly sensitive person—something I knew nothing about until my first child was born and I struggled to make sense of how terrifying the world was to her. Together, we learned a lot from watching episodes of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, a program made by Fred Rogers Productions, a foundation that carries on his legacy of educating children in social-emotional intelligence. A brightly colored cartoon tiger helped my daughter learn that other people sometimes feel frightened and angry and don’t know what to do. The show gave her a language for understanding her inner world and taught her steps for addressing her fears. (As one song advises, “When you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four.”)

Rogers cut through the trappings of a Victorian-inspired culture that preferred children remain quiet, or at least deal quickly with any unpleasant feelings. Sadly, as a parent, this remains my first impulse—to wave away fears, supposedly to encourage resilience. King’s biography shows that Rogers took his bearings from experts who changed the way we view child psychology—not only Benjamin Spock but also Erik Erickson and especially Margaret McFarland, known as a giant in the field. For 30 years Rogers sought McFarland’s counsel on his shows and scripts, and her famous phrase, “Whatever is mentionable is manageable,” shaped his focus on helping children articulate and process their feelings. He saw all his work as a service for mental health—for creating neighborhood expressions of care.

As always, he grounded this approach in his Christian faith: The book quotes Rogers saying, “I believe that Jesus gave us an eternal truth about the universality of feelings. Jesus was truthful about his feelings: Jesus wept, he got sad; Jesus got discouraged; he got scared; and he reveled in the things that pleased him. For Jesus, the greatest sin was hypocrisy. . . . Jesus had much greater hope for someone like [a tax collector or prostitute] than for someone who always pretended to be something he wasn’t.”

In the preface to a 2016 edition of Madeleine L’Engle’s Walking on Water, author Sara Zarr wrote on the division between sacred and secular in Christian culture. Growing up in an evangelical family, she heard a great deal about what was “secular,” or bad, in popular culture. But she never heard anything Christian called “sacred.” Instead, Christian advertising and media routinely used “safe” or “clean” as an alternative. This, Zarr points out, is miles away from the real meaning of sacred—something holy, worthy of veneration.

Rogers treated children and their inner lives as sacred.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture