Monthly Archives: August 2019
I love the ending to The Hobbit.
It’s like, the *relief* of not being a big deal.
The joy of being a small person in a large world. Of not interpreting everything in relation to yourself. pic.twitter.com/lyaKEcDK5p
— Gavin Ortlund (@gavinortlund) August 22, 2019
(SHNS) What shall we Make of how the Church is dealing with the Doctrine of Hell in the 21st Century?
Many modern people want eternal justice on their own terms. This desire may have little or nothing to do with God.
“You can feel this tension with someone like Epstein right now, because people really want justice, and even if they were able to get human justice, that wouldn’t be enough, because of the horrors of what this man appears to have done,” said the Rev. Kendall Harmon, canon theologian for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina. His Oxford University doctoral studies focused on 20 centuries of doctrines about hell, and last year, he addressed the Global Anglican Future Conference in Jerusalem on modern beliefs about eternal damnation.
When faced with hellish acts by individuals and groups, modern believers and even unbelievers can’t help but cry out for some form of justice that transcends human courts, he noted. That creates a problem, since many people no longer “believe in a transcendent source of justice that determines what is right or wrong in this life. Their beliefs about eternal judgment are all personal and based on their own feelings. …
“You end up with a sense of injustice about the lack of ultimate justice, because the only justice that would provide what many people yearn for is some kind of transcendent, divine justice – which they would never accept.”
— Chuck Hinkle (@CLHinkle) August 19, 2019
Few places are as deadly as central Nigeria. For years villages on the front line between Islam in the north and Christianity in the south have been victims of the fighting between Muslim militants and Christians determined to protect their lives and rights. Boko Haram, the extremist group linked to al-Qaeda, has been harassing the population for a decade, but has recently been overshadowed by more murderous attacks by ethnic Fulani cattle herders, who are linked to Islamists too.
Last year the Global Terrorism Index called the Fulani the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world, killing six times more people than Boko Haram. Some 6,000 people died in the first six months of 2018 and two million displaced people were forced to flee.
Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi lives in the middle of the conflict zone, in the city of Jos. A charismatic and influential figure, he has called on Christians to resist what he sees as virtual genocide by extremists trying to drive all non-Muslims out of northern Nigeria. He has paid a heavy price. Three times they have tried to kill him. His house has been burnt down. Many of his congregation have been murdered, raped or forced to flee. His wife, Gloria, was attacked while he was away, beaten and sexually assaulted in their house one night, partially blinded and left to die. She was found semi-conscious and survived.
“Each time it just makes me more determined to live my life to the full for Jesus. Whatever the gunmen do, when the suicide bombers do their worst, God’s message will always be, ‘I love you. I have given my Son for you. Turn to Him and live.’ Until my time is up, I will live each moment for the gospel,” the archbishop declared in a book just published on his turbulent time as a priest and bishop in a war zone…..”
Read it all (subscription).
Great coverage by Michael Binyon in @thetimes for Neither Bomb Nor Bullet, biography of Archbishop @benkwashi head of @gafconference. New book highlights Islamist agenda in #Nigeria. https://t.co/QTB8HuSleq#fulani #bokoharam
— Andrew Boyd (@AndrewRJBoyd) August 12, 2019
O Lord, heavenly Father, in whom is the fullness of light and wisdom: Enlighten our minds by thy Holy Spirit, and give us grace to receive thy Word with reverence and humility, without which no man can understand thy truth; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.
–John Calvin (1509-1564)
“Faith is like an empty, open hand stretched out towards God, with nothing to offer and everything to receive.” John Calvin pic.twitter.com/CkU0GyNqe1
— Preaching and Preachers (@PreachingJKA) August 10, 2019
The Vicar of Fowey, the Revd Philip de Grey-Warter, who is also Priest-in-Charge of Golant, said on Tuesday that he had “wrestled” with the decision since December, when the House of Bishops issued guidance on using the liturgy for the Affirmation of Baptismal Faith to mark a person’s gender transition (News, 14 December 2018).
“We have been very clear that we are making this move in conscience and not telling anyone else what they ought to do,” he said. “We hope some people will come and plant with us, and there will be others who continue in the parish church. We want to ensure good relationships are maintained.”
In a letter for the parish newsletter, published last week, he wrote: “The General Synod and the House of Bishops of the Church of England currently seem less concerned to stick with the Bible than they are to appear ‘relevant’ by changing the message to suit our increasingly secular culture. . .
Priest quits for GAFCON plant https://t.co/0SueOkzMyS
— The Anglican Diocese of the Living Word (@The_ADLW) August 9, 2019
The Lord gives us power and strength when we need it most. Never lose faith! 🙏🏿🙌🏿 pic.twitter.com/Ay7wcbNNQu
— Charlie Wilson (@CharlieWilson) August 11, 2019
O God, fountain of love, pour thy love into our souls, that we may love those whom thou lovest with the love thou givest us, and think and speak of them tenderly, meekly, lovingly; and so loving our brethren and sisters for thy sake, may grow in thy love, and dwelling in love may dwell in thee; for Jesus Christ’s sake.
— Pusey House Library (@PuseyHouseLib) September 16, 2015
Lab rivalries go back nearly as far as labs themselves. There’s the case of a prominent 19th-century bacteriologist who paid local authorities to deny a former collaborator access to the bodies of plague victims. There are the AIDS researchers who sabotaged one another’s work on at least five occasions. And there are numerous stories of scientists who have accused colleagues of stealing their work.
But even the highest-profile cases rarely end up in criminal court; they typically become humiliating footnotes to the discoveries they slowed.
This week, however, a judge in Montana sentenced a former chemist at the water treatment plant in Billings after she pleaded guilty in October to a felony charge of tampering with public records or information.
The information in question? Her colleagues’ water tests, which she contaminated for three months, ultimately costing the Billings water treatment plant its state certification and thoroughly perplexing her colleague, her boss and a host of experts, who could not figure out why just one chemist’s tests kept failing, according to prosecutors.
Lab rivalries are common. It’s rare that they end up with a felony charge in court – or in this case a $40,000 fine for, essentially, gaslighting. https://t.co/55sycshA97
— The New York Times (@nytimes) August 8, 2019
Almighty God, whose Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, was moved with compassion for all who had gone astray, with indignation for all who had suffered wrong: Inflame our hearts with the burning fire of thy love, that we may seek out the lost, have mercy on the fallen, and stand fast for truth and righteousness; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.
—Daily Prayer, Eric Milner-White and G. W. Briggs, eds. (London: Penguin Books 1959 edition of the 1941 original)
According to a recent YouGov survey, some 30 percent of American millennials say that they are “lonely.” More than 20 percent report that they have no friends; a quarter claim to have no close ones. Many even insist that they have no “acquaintances,” which should, one hopes, be impossible. But I wonder. For even younger people, in so-called “Generation Z,” the figures are even bleaker.
We can make facile jokes about avocado toast and baristas with degrees in cultural studies who spend more time on Instagram than they do in real-life conversations with non-customers. There may be a bit of truth in these caricatures. But I’m not sure we should find them amusing.
“We don’t quite know why this is happening,” a psychologist who has studied the problem of loneliness in Germany tells Vox. Of course she doesn’t. Even pretending to would violate roughly 7,500 norms of her profession. Thankfully the rest of us have eyes and ears and mouths.
One in five people my age say they have “no friends.” How did this happen? https://t.co/BC8HBEHzpm
— Matthew Walther (@matthewwalther) August 7, 2019
As you no doubt guessed, we are on an August break so posting will be sporadic.
O Thou in whom all things live, who commandest us to seek thee, and art ever ready to be found: To know thee is life, to serve thee is freedom, to praise thee is our souls’ joy. We bless thee and adore thee, we worship thee and magnify thee, we give thanks to thee for thy great glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed, he is girded with strength. Yea, the world is established; it shall never be moved;
thy throne is established from of old; thou art from everlasting.
(Church Times) Hilary Mantel and Diarmaid MacCulloch–‘Make something of me’: creating Thomas Cromwell
HILARY MANTEL: There has always been a mismatch between what Thomas Cromwell has meant to historians and what he has meant to the general public — and that’s the case whether they’re novel-readers or theatregoers or filmgoers. For some academics in the past, Cromwell has been nothing but a cynical hatchet-man: clever but destructive. There is a far more interesting, vital, creative figure that the great Tudor historian Geoffrey Elton uncovered — or, some people say, created. . .
There are several problems with a biographer, which the novelist also shares. Cromwell’s early life is mostly off the record, and it exists as a set of interesting traditions and almost folk tales rather than a set of verifiable facts. And, in the second phase of his life, when he’s working for Cardinal Wolsey, he begins to come on the record; and then, in the third phase, as secretary to the King, and in effect Henry VIII’s first minister for almost a decade, he doesn’t just come on to the record, he is the record: his work is everywhere; his eye, his hand are everywhere.
Paradoxically, that makes it difficult, because it’s too big to pin down. He ranges across every department of government. Accordingly, biographers have tended to think of him in compartments; so, there’s Cromwell and the Church, Cromwell and finance, and Cromwell and Parliament. And you readily see what happens. You can’t section a human being like that. So, a sense of a man being in there vanishes.
— Paul Monk (@Revd_Paul_Monk) August 3, 2019
Prayer spaces in schools have helped encourage positive mental health in young people, according to pupils who have been involved in a project promoting them.
Four Church of England secondary schools in the Diocese of Durham were involved in the “reservoirs of hope” project, which started in February.
The prayer spaces were set up in The Venerable Bede Church of England Academy in Sunderland, Ian Ramsey Church of England Academy in Stockton, Whitburn Church of England Academy in Sunderland and St Aidan’s Church of England Academy in Darlington.
(ESPN) [Must-Not-Miss story]–Whatever happened to Villanova basketball star Shelly Pennefather? ‘So I made this deal with God.’
Twenty-five years old and not far removed from her All-America days at Villanova, [Shelly] Pennefather was in her prime. She had legions of friends and a contract offer for $200,000 to play basketball in Japan that would have made her one of the richest players in women’s basketball.
And children — she was so good with children. She had talked about having lots of them with John Heisler, a friend she’d known most of her life. Heisler nearly proposed to her twice, but something inside stopped him, and he never bought a ring.
“When she walked into the room,” Heisler said, “the whole room came alive.
“She had a cheerfulness and a confidence that everything was going to be OK. That there was nothing to fear.”
That Saturday morning in 1991, Pennefather drove her Mazda 323 to the Monastery of the Poor Clares in Alexandria, Virginia. She loved to drive. Fifteen cloistered nuns waited for her in two lines, their smiles radiant.
She turned to her family.
“I love you all,” she said.
The door closed, and Shelly Pennefather was gone
Is it just me, or does it seem like the mainstream media is suddenly fascinated by nuns? This is such a great story. https://t.co/oKJPMygYI0
— elizabeth foss (@elizabethfoss) August 3, 2019
Air Force units will stand down for one day this summer to address the rising problem of suicides, which Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said is “an adversary that is killing more of our airmen than any enemy on the planet.”
As of the end of July, 79 suicides had occurred in the Air Force in 2019 —nearly as many as were recorded last year in about half the time. The service saw about 100 suicides per year in each of the last five years.
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright told airmen this week he believes suicide is the biggest problem the service faces.
“Let’s take a moment and breathe and spend a little time on our airmen and their resiliency, and make sure we’re not missing anything when it comes to suicide and suicide awareness,” Wright told Air Force Magazine during a visit to Tinker AFB, Okla., this week.
The Air Force has ordered a stand down as suicide rates have gone up. Let’s keep having this conversation. 🙏https://t.co/40G69q68Ac
— Matt Ray 📻🎙️ (@MattRayTalk) August 1, 2019
Almighty God, who didst reveal the resurrection of thy Son to Joanna, Mary and Salome, as they faithfully came bearing myrrh to his tomb: Grant that we too may perceive the presence of the risen Lord in the midst of pain and fear, that we may go forth proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
Today the Church commemorates Joanna, Mary, and Salome, Myrrhbearers. On Easter morning, these three women went to Jesus’ tomb with spices to adorn and preserve His body. https://t.co/Lci3zSrssd
— CPH Academic (@CPHAcademic) August 3, 2019
O Lord Jesus Christ, thou good Shepherd of the sheep, we beseech thee to be present in thy power with the missions of thy Church in this our land. Show forth thy compassion to all who are out of the way, and bring them home in safety to thy fold; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.
In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him, and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days, and have nothing to eat; and if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way; and some of them have come a long way.” And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these men with bread here in the desert?” And he asked them, “How many loaves have you?” They said, “Seven.” And he commanded the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish; and having blessed them, he commanded that these also should be set before them. And they ate, and were satisfied; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away; and immediately he got into the boat with his disciples, and went to the district of Dalmanu′tha.
(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Martin Sewell: “Shabby and shambolic” – the CofE still conspires against truth and justice in historic sexual abuse
In a church that has nominally (if belatedly) embraced “Transparency and Accountability”, rejected clergy deference and pledged to “put the interests of the victim first”, it is surely not asking too much for a full and frank response to be issued to these important and prima facie legitimate concerns about the way the review is being handled. One of the problem areas also identified by the survivors lawyers at IICSA is the Church of England’s “Byzantine procedures”.
In this case, it is by no means clear who is driving the decision to limit the terms of the review. Is it the Archbishops, the House of Bishops, the Archbishops’ Council, the National Safeguarding Team, the National Safeguarding Supervisory Group, the acting National Safeguarding Director, the incoming National Safeguarding Director, the Lead Safeguarding Bishop, or the Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council and Secretary General of the General Synod? Is the decision administrative or executive, individual or collective? One only has to list the potential decision-makers to illustrate the lawyer’s point. Grappling with this organisation and its confusing structures is extraordinarily difficult for an aggrieved individual. It should not be like this.
It is therefore legitimate to pose three simple and direct questions:
1) Who in the Church of England has the power to change these decisions?
2) Who will accept responsibility for not changing them if we want to challenge these matters in detail at the next meeting of the General Synod?
3) How do we change the decision-maker if access to justice is denied?
I do, of course, refer to justice to accused and accuser alike, which can only emerge from fair and independent process. In short, if the shabby and shambolic behaviour continues, who carries the can?
Funny, isn’t it, how some CofE bishops go on and on and on about Boris and Brexit, but are completely mute about the abuse and injustice in their midst.. https://t.co/jaR4MqXPau
— Archbishop Cranmer (@His_Grace) August 2, 2019
(Local Paper Front Page) A Lowcountry South Carolina Parish gets its steeples back 30 years after Hurricane Hugo toppled them
For David Shorter, Thursday morning brought back a monumental memory.
He was in the seventh or eighth grade at West Ashley’s Blessed Sacrament School in the 1960s when a construction crew installed the twin spires atop the new Catholic church next door. The schoolchildren were allowed to step over the steeples before they were hoisted into place.
Of course, Shorter also remembers them being blown down by Hurricane Hugo in 1989, and the church’s brick towers have stood unadorned ever since. At least until Thursday.
Shorter was among a few dozen who gathered just outside the church to watch as a construction crew hoisted the first steeple back into place.
“I ain’t missing this for no reason,” he said. “Twice in a lifetime.”
The spectacle was so dramatic that those involved waited until after the morning rush hour on Savannah Highway, reducing the chance of causing any wrecks. Thursday’s weather was near perfect: clear skies and only the slightest breeze. But a computer glitch with a construction crane ended up delaying the lift until the lunch hour.
But by 1:20 p.m., the first one — weighing almost 3 tons — was stood up and hoisted off the ground….
A few dozen gathered just outside the church to watch as a construction crew hoisted the first steeple back into place.https://t.co/xzmq5NlGiL
— The Post and Courier (@postandcourier) August 2, 2019
Mr. Harris’s book seems to have taken a special toll on young Christian women, who felt controlled and objectified when church leaders told them that immodesty, even if unintentional, makes them responsible for violating men’s spiritual and emotional purity. Worst of all, some readers told Mr. Harris they had lost their faith because of the shame and spiritual duress his book inflicted.
Hearing such things left Mr. Harris “in a place where I would find my own faith really shaken,” he said in December. “The brand of Christianity that I practiced was so specific, and was so tied to thinking certain ways, certain practices.” Questioning them means “I’m having to figure out what does that mean, in regard to my relationship with God, because my relationship with God was those things.” Mr. Harris was questioning whether “I can let go of this, and not let go of God.”
In July, Mr. Harris made two personal announcements on Instagram: He and his wife were separating, and he had “undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus,” he wrote. “Many people tell me that there is a different way to practice faith and I want to remain open to this, but I’m not there now.”
Many Christians responded with mourning, but I’m hopeful. Abandoning untrue beliefs is progress, and a faith that doesn’t stand up to the toughest inquiry isn’t worth believing. The Book of Hebrews says that “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Mr. Harris, please keep seeking, and I’ll be praying as you wander.
Downside of the Purity Narrative…Joshua Harris Kisses Christianity Goodbye https://t.co/yEEmBT2TW5
— Living Without Lust/Jay Haug Executive Director (@LWLorg) August 2, 2019
Before Mohammed, before Jesus, before Buddha, there was Zoroaster. Some 3,500 years ago, in Bronze Age Iran, he had a vision of the one supreme God. A thousand years later, Zoroastrianism, the world’s first great monotheistic religion, was the official faith of the mighty Persian Empire, its fire temples attended by millions of adherents. A thousand years after that, the empire collapsed, and the followers of Zoroaster were persecuted and converted to the new faith of their conquerors, Islam.
Another 1,500 years later – today – Zoroastrianism is a dying faith, its sacred flames tended by ever fewer worshippers.
We take it for granted that religions are born, grow and die – but we are also oddly blind to that reality. When someone tries to start a new religion, it is often dismissed as a cult. When we recognise a faith, we treat its teachings and traditions as timeless and sacrosanct. And when a religion dies, it becomes a myth, and its claim to sacred truth expires. Tales of the Egyptian, Greek and Norse pantheons are now considered legends, not holy writ.
Even today’s dominant religions have continually evolved throughout history. Early Christianity, for example, was a truly broad church: ancient documents include yarns about Jesus’ family life and testaments to the nobility of Judas. It took three centuries for the Christian church to consolidate around a canon of scriptures – and then in 1054 it split into the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic churches. Since then, Christianity has continued both to grow and to splinter into ever more disparate groups, from silent Quakers to snake-handling Pentecostalists.
— Patrick DESPERRIER (@pdesperrier) August 2, 2019
John Grogan, Co-Chairman of the One Yorkshire Committee, has issued a statement along with his fellow co-chairman Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate, stressing the need for devolution.
In the statement they reveal that the Archbishop, Dr John Sentamu, will lead a delegation to London in October to lobby for One Yorkshire.
It says: “The One Yorkshire Committee has been created to campaign for the One Yorkshire Devolution Agreement proposed by council leaders of all parties from across the county. This would involve the election of a Mayor for Yorkshire supported by a cabinet of council leaders. The committee brings together business, trade union, academic and political leaders and has now met seven times. The committee has received a grant of £32,500 from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd to support its work and is launching a website today.
“The lack of progress on devolution is hurting the people of Yorkshire. The economic case presented to ministers shows that One Yorkshire devolution would result in a £30 billion boost to our economy – up to £5,400 extra growth per person, per year in the Yorkshire economy.
“The lack of progress on devolution is hurting the people of Yorkshire….”https://t.co/PQ3Wvmp8YC
— The Press (@yorkpress) August 1, 2019