Daily Archives: December 12, 2019

The Early Exit Polls Point in a Certain Direction, but we shall need to wait until Tomorrow Morning to see The General Election 2019 outcome

Posted in England / UK, Politics in General

(New Statesman) The Rev Lucy Winkett: It’s always a risk walking around this time of year with a dog collar on. People might ask you things

It’s always a risk walking around with a dog collar on. People might ask you things. A bishop I know carries a list of the 12 disciples in his briefcase just in case someone puts him on the spot (the biblical list isn’t entirely clear). It’s like politicians being asked how much a second-class stamp is. Clergy dread being asked something they probably should know but forgot long ago.

I was once in court as an expert witness, testifying on behalf of a member of our congregation seeking asylum on the basis of conversion to Christianity. The Home Office lawyer was scathing when he couldn’t name six disciples and used this fact to challenge the genuineness of his conversion. In fact, he’d named five, which I thought was pretty good. I asked our congregation the following Sunday. They got as far as Simon Peter, Andrew and John – most remembered Judas – but after that it was a stretch.

“Can you be illiterate and be a Christian’’? demanded the lawyer. I was totally bemused by the question. Of the two billion Christians in the world today, a large proportion are technically illiterate. And for the first four centuries of Christianity, not a whole lot was written down in any case.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Religion & Culture

(PRC) Religion and Living Arrangements Around the World

Our households – who lives with us, how we are related to them and what role we play in that shared space – have a profound effect on our daily experience of the world. A new Pew Research Center analysis of data from 130 countries and territories reveals that the size and composition of households often vary by religious affiliation.

Worldwide, Muslims live in the biggest households, with the average Muslim individual residing in a home of 6.4 people, followed by Hindus at 5.7. Christians fall in the middle (4.5), forming relatively large families in sub-Saharan Africa and smaller ones in Europe. Buddhists (3.9), Jews (3.7) and the religiously unaffiliated (3.7) – defined as those who do not identify with an organized religion, also known as “nones” – live in smaller households, on average.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Globalization, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Atlantic) The Christian Withdrawal Experiment

Half an hour down the highway from Topeka, Kansas, not far from the geographic center of the United States, sits the town of St. Marys. Like many towns in the region, it is small, quiet, and conservative. Unlike many towns in the region, it is growing. As waves of young people have abandoned the Great Plains in search of economic opportunity, St. Marys has managed to attract families from across the nation. The newcomers have made the radical choice to uproot their lives in pursuit of an ideological sanctuary, a place where they can raise their children according to values no longer common in mainstream America.

St. Marys is home to a chapter of the Society of St. Pius X, or SSPX. Named for the early-20th-century pope who railed against the forces of modernism, the international order of priests was formed in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church’s attempt, in the 1960s, to meet the challenges of contemporary life. Though not fully recognized by the Vatican, the priests of SSPX see themselves as defenders of the true practices of Roman Catholicism, including the traditional Latin Mass, celebrated each day in St. Marys. Perfumed with incense and filled with majestic Latin hymns, the service has an air of formality and grandeur. To most American Catholics under the age of 50, it would be unrecognizable.

Throughout American history, religious groups have walled themselves off from the rhythms and mores of society. St. Marys isn’t nearly as cut off from modern life as, say, the Amish communities that still abjure all modern technology, be it tractor or cellphone. Residents watch prestige television on Hulu and catch Sunday-afternoon football games; moms drive to Topeka to shop at Sam’s Club. Yet hints of the town’s utopian project are everywhere. On a recent afternoon, I visited the general store, where polite teens played bluegrass music beside rows of dried goods. Women in long, modest skirts loaded vans that had enough seats to accommodate eight or nine kids—unlike most American Catholics, SSPX members abide by the Vatican’s prohibition on birth control. At housewarming parties and potluck dinners, children huddle around pianos for sing-alongs.

In their four decades in St. Marys, the followers of SSPX have more than doubled the town’s size….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture

(Gallup) More Americans Delaying Medical Treatment Due to Cost

A record 25% of Americans say they or a family member put off treatment for a serious medical condition in the past year because of the cost, up from 19% a year ago and the highest in Gallup’s trend. Another 8% said they or a family member put off treatment for a less serious condition, bringing the total percentage of households delaying care due to costs to 33%, tying the high from 2014.

Gallup first asked this question in 1991, at which time 22% reported that they or a family member delayed care for any kind of condition, including 11% for a serious condition. The figures were similar in the next update in 2001, and Gallup has since asked this question annually as part of its Health and Healthcare poll. This year’s survey was conducted Nov. 1-14.

Americans’ reports of family members delaying any sort of medical treatment for cost reasons were lower in the early to mid-2000s when closer to a quarter reported the problem. Since 2006, the rate has averaged 30%.

The pattern is similar for the subset of Americans postponing medical treatment for a serious condition. The rate rose from 12% in 2001 to an average of 19% since 2006. However, the current 25% is the highest yet, exceeding the prior high-point of 22% recorded in 2014.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Personal Finance & Investing, Theology

(WSJ) How China Persuaded One Muslim Nation (Indonesia) to Keep Silent on Xinjiang Camps

A year ago, clerics here in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country expressed alarm over China’s treatment of ethnic-minority Muslims—around a million of whom have been detained in re-education camps, according to human-rights groups.

Leaders of Muhammadiyah, Indonesia’s second-largest Muslim organization, issued an open letter in December 2018 noting reports of violence against the “weak and innocent” community of Uighurs, who are mostly Muslims, and appealing to Beijing to explain.

Soon after, Beijing sprang into action with a concerted campaign to convince Indonesia’s religious authorities and journalists that the re-education camps in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region are a well-meaning effort to provide job training and combat extremism.

More than a dozen top Indonesian religious leaders were taken to Xinjiang and visited re-education facilities. Tours for journalists and academics followed. Chinese authorities gave presentations on terrorist attacks by Uighurs and invited visitors to pray at local mosques. In the camps they visited classrooms where they were told students received training in everything from hotel management to animal husbandry.

Views in Indonesia changed. A senior Muhammadiyah religious scholar who went on the tour was quoted in the group’s official magazine as saying a camp he visited was excellent, had comfortable classrooms and wasn’t like a prison.

Read it all.

Posted in China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Indonesia, Islam, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

C of E publishes new research findings on clergy flourishing

The Living Ministry programme tracks the progress of groups of clergy ordained in 2006, 2011 and 2015 and women and men who entered training for ordination in 2016, seeking to understand what helps clergy to flourish in ministry.

The latest research from the project includes responses from 579 ordained clergy and 113 people training for ordained ministry in the Church of England.

The quantitative study includes research into physical and mental, relational, financial and material and spiritual and vocational well-being as well as responses to questions about ministerial effectiveness.

Read it all and take the time to look through the whole report (64 pages).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

Prayers for the UK General Election This day

Posted in England / UK, Politics in General, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal

Most Gracious God, who hast bidden us to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before thee; Teach us, like thy servants Francis and Jane, to see and to serve Christ in all people; that we may know him to be the giver of all good things, through the same, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

The Great O’s of Advent to Begin the Day

O Wisdom, that camest out of the mouth of the Most High, reaching from one end to another, firmly and gently ordering all things: Come and teach us the way of understanding.

O Adonai, Captain of the house of Israel, who didst appear to Moses in the flame of the burning bush, and gavest him the law on Sinai: Come and deliver us with thine outstretched arm.

O Root of Jesse, who standest for an ensign of the people, before whom kings shall shut their mouths, to whom the nations shall seek: Come and deliver us and tarry not.

O Key of David, Sceptre of the house of Israel, who openest and no man shutteth, and shuttest and no man openeth: Come and bring forth out of the prison-house him that is bound.

O Day-spring from on high, Brightness of Eternal Light, and Sun of righteousness: Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

O King of nations, thou for whom they long, the Cornerstone that makest both one: Come and save thy creatures whom thou didst fashion from the dust of the earth.

O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Desire of all nations and their Saviour: Come and save us, O Lord our God.

(for those interested in more about this, please read further there).

Posted in Advent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
so you will dwell in the land, and enjoy security.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.

–Psalm 37:3-5

Posted in Theology: Scripture