Daily Archives: October 4, 2022

(SCMP) Xi Jinping may ‘recalibrate’ after miscalculation of siding with Russia, Henry Kissinger says

After watching China’s “no limits” partnership with Russian President Vladimir Putin fall well short of expectations, the stage is set for President Xi Jinping to tilt at least modestly toward the United States after the 20th party congress, former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger said on Monday.

“Xi gave a rather blank check to Putin,” Kissinger said at the Asia Society in New York. “He must have thought the invasion would succeed. He must need to recalibrate.”

A slow easing of US-China tensions could begin as early as next month at the Group of 20 summit of economic nations in Indonesia when Xi and US President Joe Biden are expected to meet.

Xi almost certainly expected Putin to be successful after Russia’s February 24 invasion of Ukraine – an offensive that has revealed deep weaknesses in the Russian military – and wants to avoid seeing a wall of Western opposition against China develop in the way it has against Russia, potentially raising questions at home, Kissinger said.

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Posted in China, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(Church Times) Cathedral music is facing a sustainability crisis, report warns

Cathedral music faces a serious sustainability crisis and is in danger of losing credibility with the public, unless it faces up to the challenges of widening participation and increasing affordability, a comprehensive report from the Cathedral Music Trust, published on Sunday, has concluded.

The report acknowledges that cathedral music — “one of the glories of English cultural heritage” — has an importance in British national life which goes far beyond its place in daily worship. “The UK’s flagship cathedral choirs are renowned worldwide and consistently perform to the highest standards of excellence. Cathedral music is one of the UK’s greatest and most distinctive cultural assets,” it says.

It also emphasises: “Cathedral music and particularly the service of choral evensong have seen a sustained surge in popularity even at a time of decreasing church attendance overall. Many people love cathedral music for its transcendent beauty and numinous quality, whether or not they are religiously active, and there is strong support and engagement for cathedral music from those interested in heritage, the artistic value of the music and its place in education.”

But, without compromising on excellence, it must evolve to meet the challenges of the context in which it now operates, the report concludes. Cathedral choirs are “expensive to run and difficult to manage”, it acknowledges. “There is a risk that cathedral music becomes polarised between well-endowed choral foundations with linked choir schools which produce music of the highest quality but are perceived as exclusive, and those cathedrals which recruit their choristers from local schools but struggle to find the time and money to reach similar standards of excellence.”

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Posted in Church of England, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Music, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

(1st Things) Ephraim Radner reflects on the Partial Lambeth Gathering of 2022

This year’s Conference was meant to help bring things back together. I observed it only from a distance, but I am aware of the great labor, prayer, and goodwill that went into its preparation (of which I was a part), and of the efforts of many present to be faithful, open, and hopeful. For all my frustrations, I admire the archbishop of Canterbury and the many bishops who worked hard for this affair. But the result simply didn’t add up.

The penny is finally dropping. Anglicans are “irreconcilably ­divided”—that is, their divisions are viewed on all sides as arising from essential commitments, which cannot be compromised. Anglican leaders are finally admitting that these “essential commitments” are tied up with claims about sexual identity and its scriptural (and hence Christian) meaning. Not that most Anglicans did not already know this. But at the public and administrative levels of leadership within the Communion—among bishops and their theological advisors or subalterns—a refrain of the past two decades has insisted on the secondary nature of these differences. Sexuality and its scriptural significance, it was explained, do not touch “core” realities of the gospel; they are “matters indifferent” (adiaphora, in the technical sense of not being doctrinal issues that should divide the church), or, if not quite that, at least matters that can be set aside as we focus on our commonalities and continue to chug along “together.” The Communion could carry on as a Communion, we were told, without resolving the supposedly secondary issues of sex and sexual identity.

It was at best a naive view and at worst a willful refusal to admit the obvious in hopes of maintaining a grip on ecclesiastical power. Though theologians, formal and informal, can argue that this or that matter ought to be adiaphora, the category is in fact purely descriptive. Christians divide over what they think is important, not according to a template devised by scholars. So “sex” is not important? Prove it to the Communion! Opposing sides say otherwise and have proven their commitments through their actions. Confusion, disagreement, and political hostilities over sexuality reflect deep cultural issues that may one day be resolved—but not in the short term, and probably not without the intervention of catastrophic social changes driven by factors other than theological discussion.

The Anglican “Communion,” therefore, is no longer a “communion” in the twentieth-­century sense, a sense that grew out of a nineteenth-century understanding and experience of common Christian mission. There are Anglican leaders who seem quite happy with the fragmentation; indeed, this summer’s Lambeth Conference seemed at times giddy with relief at having left behind the desperate efforts to paper over disunity. But if the Anglican “Communion” is not the Communion of the past, what is it?

First, it is necessary to clarify what else today’s Communion is not and does not do. The Anglican Communion no longer holds a common teaching about the gospel….

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Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, Anthropology, Global South Churches & Primates, Globalization, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

Archbishop Justin Welby preaches at a special Service of Rededication at St John’s Waterloo

Peter never says that holiness means one must separate oneself from people who are not holy. Because when we do that, we confuse, holiness with purity, and they are not the same thing. Purity ends with us saying that single mothers, or people of different sexual identities are automatically not holy. Holiness is not something over which we have power or control. It is the action of God with which we co-operate in love, not judgement. Purity demands conformity, holiness loves diversity in God’s light; it is dancing to a million tunes, each one perfect, each one caught and shared.

The call of the Christian is to live on the very front line of holiness, the risky place where we can reach over the frontier and draw people into the love of Christ. A person is holy, the church is holy, a community is holy, only because Christ is in the middle of it.

In our church history, we find people who say ‘put up a wall, keep the unholy separate.’ But that is not what Peter says. He says, ‘Go out, engage, transform’. We are to declare the wonderful works of God. Jesus’s incarnation, and life and death, and resurrection and ascension and the sending of the Holy Spirit into an unholy world shows that separation is not the same as holiness.

And so reflect, how do we walk together with those who are alien and exiled? What would our communion, our church around the world, the Christian church look like if everyone was loved as a chosen person of God? What would the world be like?

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE)

(CH magazine) Francis of Assisi’s Obedience

When he had been led before the bishop, Francis neither delayed nor explained himself, but simply stripped off his clothes and threw them aside, giving them back to his father. He did not even keep his trousers, but stood there in front of everyone completely naked. The bishop, sensing his intention and admiring his constancy, rose and wrapped his arms around Francis, covering him with his own robe. He saw clearly that Francis was divinely inspired and that his action contained a mystery. Thus he became Francis’ helper, cherishing and comforting him.

This holy man, having changed his attire and repaired the aforesaid church, went to another place near Assisi and began to rebuild a certain dilapidated and nearly ruined church, ceasing only when the task was finished. Then he went to still another place called the Portiuncula, the site of a church dedicated to the blessed virgin, the mother of God. This church, built long ago, was now deserted and cared for by no one. When the holy man of God saw how destroyed the church was, he was moved with pity and began to spend a great deal of time there, for he burned with devotion toward the mother of all good. It was in the third year of his conversion that he began to repair this church. At that time he wore a sort of hermit’s attire, a leather belt around his waist and a staff in his hands, and he went about wearing shoes. One day, however, when the gospel story of Christ sending his disciples to preach was read in the church, the holy man of God was present and more or less understood the words of the gospel. After mass he humbly asked the priest to explain the gospel to him. He heard that Christ’s disciples were supposed to possess neither gold, nor silver, nor money; were to have neither bread nor staff; were to have neither shoes nor two tunics; but were to preach the kingdom of God and penance.

When the priest had finished, Francis, rejoicing in the spirit of God, said, “This is what I want! This is what I’m looking for! This is what I want to do from the bottom of my heart!”

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Posted in Church History

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Francis of Assisi

Most high, omnipotent, good Lord, grant unto thy people grace to renounce gladly the vanities of this world; that, following the way of blessed Francis, we may for love of thee delight in thy whole creation with perfectness of joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to begin the day from John Richardson 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 ;he 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 Scripture Readings

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber.

–Psalm 121:1-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture