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(Local paper Front Page) Firefighter suicides outnumber line-of-duty deaths. How South Carolina first responders are trying to save their own

Later that morning, Emily Avin called 911 from her home in Aiken to report a suicide.

She then picked up a gun, walked outside and pulled the trigger before anyone could reach her. She was 26.

Scrolling through her daughter’s phone in the following days, Sue Ann Avin found a prophetic cartoon. It depicted an EMS worker illustrated to resemble a ticking time bomb, saying, “Traumatic calls, burn out, compassion fatigue — that stuff never gets to me.” The paramedic wore a badge that said “denial.”

Suicides such as Emily Avin’s were once overlooked by firefighters and paramedics eager to maintain an image of bravery and invincibility. But that’s changing as the profession acknowledges a deadly scourge that claims more lives than the perils firefighters face in the line of duty.

Long a taboo topic in firehouses, suicide was recently labeled by the U.S. Fire Administration as a “critical” issue that’s being “faced more squarely by the fire service.”

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Psychology, Suicide

A Prayer to Begin the Day from BF Westcott

Blessed Lord, who wast tempted in all things like as we are, have mercy upon our frailty. Out of weakness give us strength; grant to us thy fear, that we may fear thee only; support us in time of temptation; embolden us in time of danger; help us to do thy work with good courage, and to continue thy faithful soldiers and servants unto our life’s end.

Posted in Lent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying,

“I will proclaim thy name to my brethren,
in the midst of the congregation I will praise thee.”

And again,

“I will put my trust in him.”

And again,

“Here am I, and the children God has given me.”

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage. For surely it is not with angels that he is concerned but with the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted.

–Hebrews 2:10-18

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Regent College Profiles David Robinson, a visiting scholar in theological ethics for the 2017-18 year

You were ordained in 2009 and have worked in both Anglican and Episcopal churches. Can you comment further on how you have tried to balance your pursuits in ministry with your academic pursuits?

I have to confess that I don’t think I do balance very well. That’s partly because my week is mainly spent caring for a rambunctious toddler. But I have also been trained to pursue something other than balance. I remember one mentor, in particular, talking about what it means as a theologian to, before all else, be responsive to the Word, the Word being God’s address to us in our forms of life across different seasons. Sometimes God’s call will provide you a feeling of equilibrium between academic work and other ministry opportunities.

But sometimes it can mean that you have an intense period where life feels a bit out of control—starting a new ministry, for instance, or that final period of “writing up” a thesis. The important thing for me is to be able to say that I’m responding to God at that moment, giving my all where I’m called to serve. Right now, I’m primarily an academic and dad; while I certainly take part in the church, I’m not that active in leadership. That’s the shape of my obedience for this season and I’m finding new clarity and joy here.

Maybe twenty years from now I’ll be able to give you a better answer. Maybe part of it is that I’ve had a period of four years in ministry, then four years in PhD work, now a combination of full-time parenting and writing. Certainly in both cases I sought the other community: as a pastor in Ottawa I was regularly involved on the neighbouring university campus, and as a doctoral student in Scotland, I was regularly involved in the local churches. Then there are times when the communities overlap: a big joy of my time in Scotland was working with Iain Provan and other Regent alum as they founded the Abbey Summer School, where they insist on integration.

Read it all and you can check out his website there.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(NY Post) Salena Zito–Faith is no longer a virtue in America

Last week Joy Behar, co-host of the ABC show “The View,” did something that has become an escalating trend in our popular culture over the past 10 years — she mocked religiosity.

In a segment about Vice President Mike Pence and his belief that he hears the voice of God, Behar quipped: “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you. That’s called mental illness, if I’m not correct . . . hearing voices.”

The audience of “The View” clapped and laughed along with her.

But outside the entertainment bubble, in places like Cumberland, people were horrified.

“I am not sure what shocked me the most, that Behar mocked one of the core beliefs of Christianity or the reaction of the studio audience,” said Tim McGregor, pastor at the Lighthouse of Hope, a non-denominational Christian church here in western Maryland.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Entertainment, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

(CT) J Todd Billings–The New View of Heaven Is Too Small

Temple: We come to Christ, the Temple, the dwelling place of God, as people whose true identity is to be temples of the Holy Spirit. Personally and corporately, we receive atoning forgiveness and new life from Christ, the High Priest. We also feed upon Christ as the manna in the wilderness—manna that provided a foretaste of the promised land of milk and honey and was placed in the Temple’s Holy of Holies.

Marital Fellowship: We celebrate together at the Table in joyful yet aching anticipation of the wedding feast to come. In the Old and New Testaments, the Lord speaks of his people as his spouse, and Revelation speaks of the coming “wedding feast of the Lamb.” This is not just an abstraction, either now or in the age to come. As we celebrate the Supper now, we celebrate a foretaste of a great feast that includes table fellowship with peoples of all nations and cultures and ethnicities. We’re brought together as a people who praise and delight in our life-giving spouse and lover, Jesus Christ.

These concrete “instruments” of the Spirit do not give us a to-do list of tasks—for now or for the age to come. To the contrary, through the Word and Sacraments, the Spirit does something greater than disclosing a list of tasks: the Spirit reveals our true and future identity in Christ, which even death itself cannot sever.

Thus, I’m left with a conclusion that is unfashionable at the moment, against the grain of the cottage industry of recent evangelical books: that it’s basically right to see worship as central to the “purpose” of the eschaton. By this, I don’t mean that hitting a high C in singing or mastering our footwork in the worship-dance will be central. Rather, corporate worship is an appropriate image for our final end because the Triune God and his glory will be the central actors in the age to come. Our lives will be lived only in him, always pointing beyond themselves to the Lord of life; we won’t be defined by what we do.

The central question is not what we will do in heaven, but what drama will we be incorporated into?…

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in Eschatology

(AI) Samford’s Beeson Divinity School to Host Anglican Theology Conference in September

The Institute of Anglican Studies at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School will host its first Anglican Theology Conference, Sept. 25-26. This year’s conference, “What is Anglicanism?,” will bring together top scholars and church leaders to probe what it means to be Anglican.

With a membership of approximately 85 million worldwide, the Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion in the world, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. In recent years, its center of gravity has moved to the Global South, where new understandings of Anglicanism have emerged amidst spiritual vitality and dynamic church growth, according to Gerald McDermott, professor of divinity and director of the Institute of Anglican Studies. However, Anglican identity is still contested. The conference will address these issues and more, he added.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Identity, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

***Bishop Festo Kivengere’s account of the Martyrdom of Ugandan Archbishop Janani Luwum

In Uganda, during the eight years in the 1970’s when Idi Amin and his men slaughtered probably half a million Ugandans, “We live today and are gone tomorrow” was the common phrase.

We learned that living in danger, when the Lord Jesus is the focus of your life, can be liberating. For one thing, you are no longer imprisoned by your own security, because there is none. So the important security that people sought was to be anchored in God.

As we testified to the safe place we had in Jesus, many people who had been pagan, or were on the fringes of Christianity, flocked to the church or to individuals, asking earnestly, “How do you prepare yourself for death?” Churches all over the country were packed both with members and seekers. This was no comfort to President Amin, who was making wild promises to Libya and other Arab nations that Uganda would soon be a Muslim country. (It is actually 80 per cent Christian)….
It became clear to us through the Scriptures that our resistance was to be that of overcoming evil with good. This included refusing to cooperate with anything that dehumanizes people, but we reaffirmed that we can never be involved in using force or weapons.

…we knew, of course, that the accusation against our beloved brother, Archbishop Janani Luwum, that he was hiding weapons for an armed rebellion, was untrue, a frame-up to justify his murder.

The archbishop’s arrest, and the news of his death, was a blow from the Enemy calculated to send us reeling. That was on February 16, 1977. The truth of the matter is that it boomeranged on Idi Amin himself. Through it he lost respect in the world and, as we see it now, it was the beginning of the end for him.

For us, the effect can best be expressed in the words of the little lady who came to arrange flowers, as she walked through the cathedral with several despondent bishops who were preparing for Archbishop Luwum’s Memorial Service. She said, “This is going to put us twenty times forward, isn’t it?” And as a matter of fact, it did.

More than four thousand people walked, unintimidated, past Idi Amin’s guards to pack St. Paul’s Cathedral in Kampala on February 20. They repeatedly sang the “Martyr’s Song,” which had been sung by the young Ugandan martyrs in 1885. Those young lads had only recently come to know the Lord, but they loved Him so much that they could refuse the evil thing demanded of them by King Mwanga. They died in the flames singing, “Oh that I had wings such as angels have, I would fly away and be with the Lord.” They were given wings, and the singing of those thousands at the Memorial Service had wings too.

–Festo Kivengere, Revolutionary Love, Chapter Nine

Posted in Church History, Church of Uganda, Death / Burial / Funerals, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Janani Luwum

O God, whose Son the Good Shepherd laid down his life for the sheep: We give thee thanks for thy faithful shepherd, Janani Luwum, who after his Savior’s example gave up his life for the people of Uganda. Grant us to be so inspired by his witness that we make no peace with oppression, but live as those who are sealed with the cross of Christ, who died and rose again, and now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Church of Uganda, Death / Burial / Funerals, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Frederick Macnutt

O Lord and heavenly Father, who hast given unto us thy people the true bread that cometh down from heaven, even thy Son Jesus Christ: Grant that throughout this Lent our souls may so be fed by him that we may continually live in him and he in us; and that day by day we may be renewed in spirit by the power of his endless life, who gave himself for us, and now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end.

Posted in Lent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;

To the end that [my] glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

–Psalm 30:11-12 (KJV)

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Richard Peers–A Better Story: thinking about the Church of England Evangelical Council’s “Gospel, Church and Marriage – Preserving Apostolic Faith and Life”

The first thing to note about the document is that is is graciously written and utterly immersed in Scripture. The vocabulary is profoundly Christian. I think that there is a lesson to be learned by those seeking a more inclusive approach. It would be hard to imagine language such as ‘submission’ and placing ourselves under the ‘rule of Christ’ among those seeking to be more inclusive. Yet there is no reason that it shouldn’t. Radical inclusion will only be truly Christian if it is so because it is the will of God, if it is what Jesus calls us to.

The statement recognises that we are fallen and in need of salvation. “The Gospel shines into the darkness of our fallen hearts and cultures, and gives us the transforming knowledge of God’s mercy and grace in the face of Jesus Christ.” It recognises that we are called “away from idolatry, injustice and immorality”. I think this is so important. One of the things that has shocked me in recent months is descriptions I have read of Love Island. A programme that not only encourages casual sex but publicises it. We all know that pornography is too easily accessible and read horror stories of the number of young people watching it. In one school I worked in a colleague had to try and identify the six Year 10 boys filmed while a female pupil performed oral sex on them in turn. The world so desperately needs “the life-changing goodness of [Christ’s] ‘amazing grace’”.

There is a strong and deeply biblical section on grace, and a wonderful sentence reminding us that “In establishing Christian communities the apostles … did not teach doctrine without discipleship, faith without formation, or grace without godliness.” We talk a lot of discipleship. With my educational preference for teaching that is knowledge based, rather than simply experiential, I value this call to link discipleship with doctrine, formation and godliness. We don’t talk nearly enough about how our lifestyles should be different because we are Christians.

The next section highlights the special gifts of marriage and singleness. The marriage section is strong, as we might expect, but could have been more. Working with young people I have always struggled to know how to promote marriage as a vocation. So many young people have no direct experience of lifelong marriage in any members of their family or friends. It is hard to praise marriage without sounding critical of their own families.

It is the section on singleness that I think is stronger, Again, this is desperately needed in a culture which imagines that to be a single is a failure.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology), Theology: Scripture

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Martyn Percy–‘Sorry’ seems to be the hardest word: apologetics and apologies in the Bishop Bell case

Lord Carlile reacted by saying that he was astonished that the Church had gone public with the new claim, when among his recommendations was that people accused of abuse should remain anonymous until the allegations are proven. We note that the decision of the NST to share the information through a press release is a direct breach of article 3.8 of the Practice Guidance 2017 from the House of Bishops, published in October 2017.

So, despite the Church of England saying – begrudgingly – that it had accepted many of Lord Carlile’s recommendations in his report, it appears that this is not the case. For starters, the ‘Core Group’ of the NST that will investigate the alleged “new information” looks set to include some members of the previously discredited group. Members of that original Core Group are seriously conflicted and should not in any way participate in the new investigation. The deficiencies and failings in the process and mind-set of the original Core Group were so extensive that no one who was a member of this dealing with the first complaint (by someone known as ‘Carol’) could be confidently relied upon.

We must remember that Carlile’s report noted that the original Core Group failed to establish a process that was fair and equitable to both Carol and the reputation of Bishop Bell. There was “a rush to judgment”, which failed to give proper consideration to the rights of Bishop Bell. The Core Group was set up in an unmethodical and unplanned way, and became a confused and unstructured process. The ‘process’ – if that can be any meaningful description of the debacle overseen by the NST – was predicated on Bishop Bell’s guilt. The truth of what ‘Carol’ was saying was implicitly accepted without serious investigation or and kind of wide-ranging inquiry. Carlile’s report was effectively a vote of ‘no confidence’ in the NST.

As for ‘proven’, Mrs Barbara Whitley, George Bell’s niece, and now 94 years of age, has made it clear that she wished to be represented by Desmond Browne QC. Yet without consulting with Mrs Whitley or the wider family further, on 8th February 2018, Graham Tilby of the NST informed Bell’s family and friends that he had assigned a Mr Donald Findlater to represent their interests and concerns.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Children, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(WSJ) Robert Sirico–What I Learned From Michael Novak

I first read Michael Novak’s groundbreaking work “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism” when it was published in 1982, before I entered seminary at the Catholic University of America. The book’s dialogue between economics and theology made a deep impression on me, as it did thousands of others. I wrote the author and asked if we might meet once I arrived in Washington. Thus began a friendship that lasted until Novak’s death last year.

The first anniversary of his passing, Feb. 17, comes at a difficult time. Americans face an uncertain economy and deadlocked government. A vocal critic of capitalism leads the Catholic Church. Young people are showing a strange attraction to socialism, as are many Christians who might have been expected to sustain Novak’s philosophy of virtuous capitalism. The U.S. lacks leaders who combine prudence and moral vision.

I was intrigued to find a theologian who was familiar with writers like Friedrich Hayek. I sought his mentorship as I began my theological studies at a time when much of the academy was enamored with Marxist “liberation theology.” I even suggested that Novak squarely address that movement, which he did in another book, “Will It Liberate? Questions About Liberation Theology” (1986).

Even though we were from different generations, I soon found many parallels in our intellectual and religious trajectories. We had both identified as men of the left in early life. Over time we moved from advocating some form of democratic socialism to supporting the free economy. We spent decades defending free-market democracy as the system that best reflected the truth about man.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(The Hill) In Washington State a student is arrested after grandmother finds journal detailing school massacre plans

An 18-year-old high school student in Washington state was arrested this week after his grandmother reportedly found his journal with detailed plans for a school shooting.

Joshua O’Connor’s grandmother called 911 on Tuesday, the day before a deadly high school shooting in Florida, saying she believed her grandson had plans with “upcoming and credible threats.”

Excerpts from the journal detailed how O’Connor planned to shoot students and use homemade explosives at ACES High School in Everett, Wash., police said.

Officers were alarmed when they reviewed the journal, where O’Connor reportedly wrote about how often he thought about his plan and wanted to make it “infamous” by causing the “biggest fatality number I possibly can,” The Everett Daily Herald reported.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Police/Fire, Teens / Youth, Violence