Daily Archives: November 19, 2019

(WSJ) Roman Catholicism, Culture Mix at the Sheen

Like many arts spaces in New York City, the Sheen Center for Thought & Culture offers a varied mix of events, from film screenings to gallery exhibits.

But the nonprofit venue in Manhattan’s NoHo neighborhood differs in that its mission is exactly that—a religious calling.

The Sheen Center is the cultural home of the Archdiocese of New York. And even as the Roman Catholic Church has contended with a range of issues and scandals in recent years, the center has proved something of a local success story.

Since the Sheen opened in 2015, it has expanded its programming. It now hosts more than 50 events annually that encompass many cultural disciplines, plus talks and lectures. The center’s leadership also says it draws its audience from beyond the base of 2.8 million Catholics throughout the metropolitan New York City area, noting that a local rabbi, Joseph Potasnik, serves on its board.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Urban/City Life and Issues

(CC) Jason Micheli reviews David Zahl’s new book: Politics, parenting, and other secular things we put our faith in

Seculosity shines its light upon on the conditional “if/then” construction of the promises seculosities make. If you eat organic and sustainably sourced food, then you will be enough. In the language of the apostle Paul and Martin Luther, the oughts and shoulds of seculosities pledge the very same promise that is at the heart of any religion based only on law. The promise is predicated entirely on our performance. Seculosities ultimately lead to exhaustion because we can never measure up to their ever-shifting standard of performance. They also lead to judgmentalism: the fact that we ourselves fall short of the standard doesn’t stop us from pointing out how others fall short.

By the conclusion of the book, readers are in on the joke of the subtitle “and What to Do about It.” Doing is exactly our problem. We’re busy producing, earning, climbing, proving, striving, and performing. We’re chasing our enoughness “into every corner of our lives, driving everyone around us—and ourselves—crazy.” The law is inscribed, Paul says, not just on tablets of stone but on every heart.

The remedy is to be found not in another exhortation about something we must do but in the proclamation of something that has been done for us. The conclusion of Seculosity is a contemporary companion to Luther’s thesis in the Heidelberg Disputation: “The law says, ‘do this,’ and it is never done. Grace says, ‘believe in this,’ and everything is already done.”

In other words, relief from all our replacement religions just might be found in the opposite of religion—the promise of the gospel. Unlike religions of law, Zahl argues, Christianity does not instruct us in how to construct our enoughness. The language of earning is antithetical to the gospel. Christianity rather invites us to receive our enoughness, which is Christ’s own enoughness, as sheer gift. Our Christian activities are the organic fruit of our enoughness, not the stuff by which we earn it.

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Posted in Books, Christology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology

(CT) Half of Pastors Say the Opioid Epidemic Has Hit Their Church

Twenty years ago this month, Gallaty endured a near-fatal car accident. When he left the hospital, the club-bouncer-turned-church-leader took with him several prescriptions for painkillers.

“My descent into full-scale drug abuse was amazingly rapid,” he writes in his new book, Recovered: How an Accident, Alcohol, and Addiction Led Me to God. “In November of 1999, before the accident, I was selling cars, training for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and thinking about business opportunities. By early the next year, I was looking for faster and better drug connections.”

After stealing $15,000 from his parents to feed his addiction, Gallaty found himself at his lowest point—kicked out of his parents’ home and told not to come back. “It was the hardest three months of their lives, and they’ll tell you that,” he said. “But it was the best thing for me. I knew that I couldn’t fix myself.”

This led Gallaty, now pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee, to what he calls a “radical, Paul-like conversion” on November 12, 2002.

Most pastors don’t have the intimate knowledge of addiction Gallaty has, but most say they’ve seen it face to face through people connected to their church and among members of their congregation.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Telegraph) Betting firms deploy AI to get gaming machine addicts to ‘cool off’ from their gambling

Betting firms are installing Artificial Intelligence (AI) on all gaming machines which spots addictive behaviour and switches them off to stop punters playing….

Betting firms are also introducing a separate mandatory automatic alert which triggers when any player has spent 20 minutes on a machine forcing them to take a shorter 20 second “cooling off” period with staff also alerted.

Dr Alan Smith, the bishop of St Albans and a campaigner on gambling, said it was a “first step” but he questioned that 20 or 30 second breaks were too short and called for an independent academic review of its effectiveness.

‘It is strange that industry chiefs are fighting any further regulation for their remote operations while at the same time trumpeting their efforts on the high street,” said Dr Smith.

“What we have seen so far, however, continues to put the onus of responsibility on the consumer and not on the industry who are then free to create and then promote addictive gambling products.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Gambling, Religion & Culture

(NYT) First Comes Snapchat, Then the Bachelor and Spinster Ball

“It’s hard finding love,” Rippy said, noting that his wife of 30 years was somewhere nearby. “I’d hate to be single again. It’s scary, dead set.”

But that’s why the balls matter, he added. Along with the awkward singles, the free-flowing beer and the backfiring pickup trucks, or “utes,” turned on and off to create fiery explosions called key bangs, there are people who connected at balls and come back to socialize.

“Who here is a couple?” Rippy yelled, meandering through the crowd.

Within a minute, Jess and Matt Chown emerged. He works on sheep farms; she works at an aged-care home for veterans.

“We met at a ball in 2011,” Ms. Chown said. “I laid eyes on him and it was love at first sight.”

“You know why I come? To do things I can’t do in church,” Mr. Chown said. Standing at least 6-foot-3 and wider than a tree cut for timber, he kicked a trash bin, making a loud clang.

Everyone laughed, including his wife.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Australia / NZ, Marriage & Family, Men, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Women

(Mirror) Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says Jesus would not have got a UK visa

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says Jesus would not have got a UK visa under the points-based system being proposed by the government.

The clergyman, who has been outspoken about social justice, said there would have to be a “shortage of carpenters” in Britain for Jesus to be granted entry during an event at the CBI conference in London.

He said: “Our founder Jesus Christ was of course not white, middle class and British – he certainly wouldn’t have got a visa – unless we’re particularly short of carpenters.”

The Archbishop was talking as part in a discussion on social inequality chaired by the BBC Business Editor Faisal Islam who shared a clip on his Twitter feed.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General

(BBC) Bishop of Dover: The Rev Dr Rose Hudson-Wilkin to be consecrated today

The first black woman to become a Church of England bishop will be consecrated during a ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral.

In June it was announced chaplain to the speaker of the house, The Rev Dr Rose Hudson-Wilkin, will be the new Bishop of Dover.

She said she feels a “bit like a bride” ahead of Tuesday’s consecration.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

A Prayer for the Feast day of Mechtilde of Hackeborn and Gertrude the Great

Almighty God, who didst give to thy servants Mechthilde and Gertrude special gifts of grace to understand and teach the truth as it is in Christ Jesus: Grant, we beseech thee, that by their teachings we may know thee, the one true God, and Jesus Christ thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from J. R. Illingworth

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who knowest the Father, even as Thou art known of Him, lead us onward evermore in the knowledge of Thee Who art the truth, till at last we see Thy face, and know Thee as we are known of Thee; Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost livest and reignest, one God for ever and ever.

–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

The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! Clouds and thick darkness are round about him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him, and burns up his adversaries round about. His lightnings lighten the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness; and all the peoples behold his glory.

–Psalm 97:1-6

Posted in Theology: Scripture