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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

(NPR) Debate On Role Of Islam Divides German Government

Germany’s new minister of interior, Horst Seehofer, has stirred up debate about the role of Islam in Germany.

In an interview with the German newspaper BILD Seehofer said: “Islam is not a part of Germany. Germany has been influenced by Christianity. This includes free Sundays, church holidays and rituals such as Easter, Pentecost and Christmas. However, the Muslims living in Germany obviously do belong to Germany.”

This statement conflicted with the position of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel said, even though Germany has been influenced mainly by Christianity and Judaism, there are more than four million Muslims in the country, they “belong to Germany and so does their religion.”

Konstantin von Notz, member of the opposition Green party, protests, “The statement of Interior Minister Seehoher is complete nonsense. Germany cannot afford such behavior in the important questions of integration.”

Read it all.

Posted in Germany, Islam, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

FT talks with the steward of the Church of England’s investment portfolio, Loretta Minghella, on god, guns, gender and her brother’s death

In the months since her arrival at Church House next door to Westminster Abbey, Ms Minghella has added to Sir Andreas’s legacy. Observers say she is hard-nosed when it comes to numbers, has a low tolerance for bad corporate behaviour and is uncompromising on issues such as gender diversity.

“We are looking for companies to have 30 per cent gender diversity on their boards. If they haven’t, we will be looking at chairs of nominations committees and actually not approving one or two of them,” she says.

“It’s the right thing to do, but it’s also the smart thing to do when it comes to investments.”

Our meeting takes place as the debate rages about investments in gun companies after the Florida school shooting.

Unsurprisingly, the fund already screens out “sin” stocks — arms, gambling, pornography, alcohol, tobacco — and it is taking a much tougher line on mining and energy companies.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Stock Market

The C of E’s Statement on the Government’s Integrated Communities Strategy

Following the Publication of the Integrated Communities Strategy, the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council has issued the following statement:
“We welcome this Green Paper as a very positive step towards a national debate and programme of action to make our communities places where everyone – whatever their background – can live, work, learn and socialise together, based on shared rights, responsibilities and opportunities.

“This aim is entirely at one our vision for the nation, committed to the common good, recognising all as made in the image of God.

“We also warmly welcome the importance accorded in this document to the place of faith institutions in building integration.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England

(The Verge) Starting in May, China will ban people with poor ‘social credit’ from planes and trains

Starting in May, Chinese citizens who rank low on the country’s burgeoning “social credit” system will be in danger of being banned from buying plane or train tickets for up to a year, according to statements recently released by the country’s National Development and Reform Commission.

With the social credit system, the Chinese government rates citizens based on things like criminal behavior and financial misdeeds, but also on what they buy, say, and do. Those with low “scores” have to deal with penalties and restrictions. China has been working towards rolling out a full version of the system by 2020, but some early versions of it are already in place.

Previously, the Chinese government had focused on restricting the travel of people with massive amounts of debt, like LeEco and Faraday Future founder Jia Yueting, who made the Supreme People’s Court blacklist late last year.

The new travel restrictions are the latest addition to this growing patchwork of social engineering, which has already imposed punishments on more than seven million citizens. And there’s a broad range when it comes to who can be flagged. Citizens who have spread “false information about terrorism,” caused “trouble” on flights, used expired tickets, or were caught smoking on trains could all be banned, according to Reuters.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, China, Law & Legal Issues, Psychology, Travel

(NYT) The world is changing. This South Carolina Trappist abbey isn’t. Can it last?

 “A year and a half ago, I could do anything — run the chain saw, cut up trees, use a backhoe.”

Brother Joseph Swedo was bent forward in his chair, his rugged hands folded delicately in his lap. As a monk at Mepkin Abbey, a Trappist monastery in South Carolina, he maintains that Roman Catholic order’s code of prayer, work, seclusion, poverty and chastity. And for the last 73 years — since he joined the order at age 17, answering a call from God, he said — physical labor has been an integral part of his daily routine.

Lately, though, Brother Joseph’s health has taken a turn for the worse, narrowing the scope of his monastic life. He is no longer strong enough, he said, to regularly attend the first or last of Mepkin’s seven daily prayer services — vigils at 3:20 a.m., and compline at 7:35 p.m. Nor can he fully participate during the roughly five hours set aside each day for agricultural work and the upkeep of the monastery’s grounds.

“Right now, it’s a bleak situation,” he said. “We’re all getting old.”

Mepkin Abbey — part of a global network of Trappist monasteries that for nearly 1,000 years have provided their communities with reliable sources of prayer, learning and hospitality — is edging toward a potential crisis.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Roman Catholic, Spirituality/Prayer

Historic Diocese of South Carolina Case before the US Supreme Court is featured on the Prestigious Scotus Blog

You can find it there along with important links to material you may or may not have already seen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, * Theology, Church History, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

Kendall Harmon’s teaching on the Hope of Heaven at the recent South Carolina Diocesan Convention

You can find the mp3 link there.

Posted in * By Kendall, Adult Education, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Sermons & Teachings, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Reflection on Saint Joseph the Worker for his Feast Day

ZENIT spoke with Father Tarcisio Giuseppe Stramare of the Congregation of Oblates of Saint Joseph, director of the Josephite Movement, about Tuesday’s feast of St. Joseph the Worker….

ZENIT: What does “Gospel of work” mean?

Father Stramare: “Gospel” is the Good News that refers to Jesus, the Savior of humanity. Well, despite the fact that in general we see Jesus as someone who teaches and does miracles, he was so identified with work that in his time he was regarded as “the son of the carpenter,” namely, an artisan himself. Among many possible activities, the Wisdom of God chose for Jesus manual work, entrusted the education of his Son not to the school of the learned but to a humble artisan, namely, St. Joseph.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Joseph

O God, who from the family of your servant David raised up Joseph to be the guardian of your incarnate Son and the spouse of his virgin mother: Give us grace to imitate his uprightness of life and his obedience to your commands; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from John Tauler

O God, my protector, enlighten, I beseech Thee, my inward eyes, that I consent not to sin; strengthen all my powers, that I may overcome mine enemies. Lord, subject all my senses and all my members to my spirit, in order to serve Thee alone. Cleanse Thou my heart, inflame my spirit, enlighten my understanding, collect my thoughts, unite all my powers, and bind them together with the chain of Thy love and the fetters of Thy fear, so that nevermore may I be estranged from Thee, but that, ever subject and united to Thee, I may cleave unto Thee and faint not, but rather fear, and love, and thank, and praise, and bless Thee now and for 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

But I trust in thee, O LORD, I say, “Thou art my God.” My times are in thy hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors! Let thy face shine on thy servant; save me in thy steadfast love!

–Psalm 31:15-16

Posted in Theology: Scripture

A transcript of Billy Graham’s TED talk in 1998: On technology and Faith

I spoke some time ago to a joint session of Congress, last year. And we were meeting in that room, the statue room. About 300 of them were there. And I said, “There’s one thing that we have in common in this room, all of us together, whether Republican or Democrat, or whoever.” I said, “We’re all going to die. And we have that in common with all these great men of the past that are staring down at us.” And it’s often difficult for young people to understand that. It’s difficult for them to understand that they’re going to die. As the ancient writer of Ecclesiastes wrote, he said, there’s every activity under heaven. There’s a time to be born, and there’s a time to die. I’ve stood at the deathbed of several famous people, whom you would know. I’ve talked to them. I’ve seen them in those agonizing moments when they were scared to death.

And yet, a few years earlier, death never crossed their mind. I talked to a woman this past week whose father was a famous doctor. She said he never thought of God, never talked about God, didn’t believe in God. He was an atheist. But she said, as he came to die, he sat up on the side of the bed one day, and he asked the nurse if he could see the chaplain. And he said, for the first time in his life he’d thought about the inevitable, and about God. Was there a God? A few years ago, a university student asked me, “What is the greatest surprise in your life?” And I said, “The greatest surprise in my life is the brevity of life. It passes so fast.” But it does not need to have to be that way. Wernher von Braun, in the aftermath of World War II concluded, quote: “science and religion are not antagonists. On the contrary, they’re sisters.” He put it on a personal basis. I knew Dr. von Braun very well. And he said, “Speaking for myself, I can only say that the grandeur of the cosmos serves only to confirm a belief in the certainty of a creator.” He also said, “In our search to know God, I’ve come to believe that the life of Jesus Christ should be the focus of our efforts and inspiration. The reality of this life and His resurrection is the hope of mankind.”

I’ve done a lot of speaking in Germany and in France, and in different parts of the world — 105 countries it’s been my privilege to speak in. And I was invited one day to visit Chancellor Adenauer, who was looked upon as sort of the founder of modern Germany, since the war. And he once — and he said to me, he said, “Young man.” He said, “Do you believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ?” And I said, “Sir, I do.” He said, “So do I.” He said, “When I leave office, I’m going to spend my time writing a book on why Jesus Christ rose again, and why it’s so important to believe that.” In one of his plays, Alexander Solzhenitsyn depicts a man dying, who says to those gathered around his bed, “The moment when it’s terrible to feel regret is when one is dying.” How should one live in order not to feel regret when one is dying?

Read it all.

Posted in Apologetics, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(Telegraph) Christopher Howse–Sacred Mysteries: The joy-creating sorrow of an Orthodox Lent

Like a journey abroad to understand home, a look at what the Orthodox make of Lent brings perspective to the more familiar practices of the Western Church. The schism between the two is disastrous, but a consolation is the strong identity of the Eastern liturgies.

So anyone who wants to know what Lent is should be grateful to Kallistos Ware. This monk, now 83, born in Bath, and educated at Westminster and Magdalen College, translated into English the Orthodox service book The Lenten Triodion.

His translation from the Greek was done with Mother Mary of the Monastery of the Veil of the Mother of God at Bussy-en-Othe in Burgundy….

Read it all.

Posted in Orthodox Church

(TGC) Trevin Wax–The Call to Repentance and the Championing of Grace

“We’re losing the nerve to call people to repentance.”

That’s what a retired pastor recently told me, expressing his concern that while the next generation loves to champion the unconditional love and grace of God, rarely does their message include Christ’s call to repentance. Younger pastors, he said, want to meet people where they are, in whatever mess they’re in, and let the Spirit clean them up later. God will deal with their sins down the road.

But in the Gospels, Jesus seems much more extreme. His good news was the announcement of God’s kingdom, and the first word to follow? “Repent!” No wonder Jesus didn’t tell the rich young ruler to walk with Him for a while until he stopped coveting. No, He got to the root of an unrepentant heart when He said, “Sell all your possessions and give them to the poor.” In other words, Repent. Turn around.

“I’m cheering for the next generation,” the pastor said, “but I feel like an ogre for stressing repentance all the time….”

Here’s where we so easily take a wrong turn. Wherever did we get the notion that the call to repentance is opposed to the championing of grace? When did truth and grace get separated? Or repentance and faith?

To think that the message of grace and the call of repentance are opposed to one another is to miss the beautiful, grace-filled nature of what repentance actually is. The call to repent is one of greatest expressions of the love of God.

Read it all (quoted by yours truly in the morning sermon) [emphasis mine].

Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture