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From the Morning Scripture Readings

At the set time which I appoint I will judge with equity. When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars….

For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up; but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.

–Psalm 75: 2-3; 6-7

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) Peggy Noonan–Rage Is All the Rage, and It’s Dangerous

What we are living through in America is not only a division but a great estrangement. It is between those who support Donald Trump and those who despise him, between left and right, between the two parties, and even to some degree between the bases of those parties and their leaders in Washington. It is between the religious and those who laugh at Your Make Believe Friend, between cultural progressives and those who wish not to have progressive ways imposed upon them. It is between the coasts and the center, between those in flyover country and those who decide what flyover will watch on television next season. It is between “I accept the court’s decision” and “Bake my cake.” We look down on each other, fear each other, increasingly hate each other.

Oh, to have a unifying figure, program or party.

But we don’t, nor is there any immediate prospect. So, as Ben Franklin said, we’ll have to hang together or we’ll surely hang separately. To hang together—to continue as a country—at the very least we have to lower the political temperature. It’s on all of us more than ever to assume good faith, put our views forward with respect, even charity, and refuse to incite.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General

(PD) Ismail Royer–Bernie Sander’s Relativism Test Is Bad for Muslims and All Religious Believers

Thus, any Muslim unwilling to repudiate the belief that Islam is objectively true and that other religions are, at least in critical respects, objectively false, would be unqualified to serve under Bernie’s relativism test.

It also follows that any Muslims objecting to Vought’s appointment must either admit they don’t believe Islam is objectively true, admit they’re employing a double standard, or drop their objection to the appointment. The corollary to this, of course, is that any non-Muslims objecting to a Muslim’s appointment to public office merely on the basis of his religious beliefs are in precisely the same position. As James Madison wrote, the No Religious Test Clause means “Jews Turks & infidels” are free to serve in government. So long as a Muslim candidate for public service is qualified for office, the fact that he or she is an unapologetic Muslim can be no grounds for objecting to the appointment. Anyone who says otherwise while opposing Bernie’s test must either admit his bad faith or repudiate the Constitution.

I am inclined to think that Bernie Sanders and his allies mean well in opposing Vought’s nomination. They want to protect the feelings of members of a religious minority that has come under fire from many quarters. That sentiment is admirable and appreciated, but misguided. Bernie needs to realize that Muslims in America are more adult, and have more confidence in themselves and in the truth of their faith, than one might imagine. More importantly, by bending the Constitution in the name of pluralism to require relativism from all holders of public office, the institution of such a test would constitute a loss for Muslims and all religious believers in the long run.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Philosophy, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Sohrab Ahmari–(Current Political) Liberalism: Believers Need Not Apply

Soon after he took the party reins in 2015, Mr. Farron was asked whether, as a Christian, he considers homosexuality a sin. The Lib Dem leader gave the quintessential Christian reply: “We’re all sinners.” But it wasn’t enough. The question would resurface amid the election campaign this spring.

During a TV interview on April 18, he was pressed four times, and four times he demurred. Quiescence wasn’t enough.

Pressure mounted, and the next day Mr. Farron relented. No, he clarified in remarks at the House of Commons, homosexuality isn’t a sin. That still wasn’t enough. The latter-day Gletkins and Ivanovs needed to be sure that Mr. Farron believed this in his heart of hearts, not merely as a matter of public confession. If he didn’t think homosexuality a sin, asked a BBC interviewer a few days later, why had it taken him so long to say so? Mr. Farron was reduced to spouting gibberish.

Then the Guardian newspaper unearthed a 2007 interview, in which he had suggested that “abortion is wrong” but also cautioned Christian activists that an immediate outright ban would be impracticable. Confronted with his own words on the campaign trail, Mr. Farron pleaded that he’d never advocated abortion restrictions. It wasn’t enough.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(DW) Islamist extremism: Germany invests millions to prevent radicalization

Germany’s Family and Youth Minister Katarina Barley on Wednesday called for her country to strengthen its efforts to prevent all forms of extremism, calling for a federal law on the prevention of extremism to stabilize projects and initiatives against, for example, right-wing extremism.

Although there is now more money available for prevention, “we aren’t yet on target,” Barley said on Wednesday. Announcing the findings of a report into extremism prevention, Barley said at a press conference in Berlin that in fighting Islamist extremism, “we must not wait until young people have become radicalized.”

“Security and prevention must go hand in hand,” she added.

According to Barley, prevention work must begin where the threat is particularly high, for example in the school yard, on the Internet, and also in the prisons.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Germany, Islam, Religion & Culture, Violence

From the Morning Bible Readings

And when he drew near and saw the city he wept over it, saying, “Would that even today you knew the things that make for peace! But now they are hid from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you, when your enemies will cast up a bank about you and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and dash you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another in you; because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer’; but you have made it a den of robbers.”

And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people sought to destroy him; but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people hung upon his words.

–Luke 19:41-48

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Tel.) Colombia gets first ‘polyamorous family’ as three men legally established as unit

Three gay men say they have gained legal recognition as the first “polyamorous family” in Colombia, where same-sex marriages were legalised last year.

“We wanted to validate our household… and our rights, because we had no solid legal basis establishing us as a family,” said one of the men, actor Victor Hugo Prada, in a video published by Colombian media on Monday.

He said he and his two partners, sports instructor John Alejandro Rodriguez and journalist Manuel Jose Bermudez, signed legal papers with a solicitor in the city of Medellin, establishing them as a family unit with inheritance rights.

Read it all.

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

Posted in --Polyamory, Colombia, Law & Legal Issues, Sexuality

A S Haley–the Episcopal Church and Inclusivity Revisited

In lieu of an update while I still explore my alternatives, I am reposting this 2014 article, because I deem it most relevant to the decisions I face just now in evaluating what it truly means to join an “inclusive” church. Obviously, ECUSA has not achieved all that it expected from its plan to “broaden” its outreach while deposing those who dared to oppose its progressive agenda.

There is no future for those who would strive to remain orthodox within the oppressive atmosphere of ECUSA. This post from 2014 says it all:

Consider the following Canon of the Episcopal Church (USA), Canon I.17.5:
No one shall be denied rights, status or access to an equal place in the life, worship, and governance of this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disabilities or age, except as otherwise specified by Canons.
(There is a similar Canon applying to the discernment process for would-be clergy.) The words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity and expression” are the most recent additions to the list of grounds upon which Episcopalians are called not to discriminate. As this Canon’s predecessor stood from its adoption in 1964 (at the height of the civil rights movement) until 1982, it read:

Every communicant or baptized member of this Church shall be entitled to equal rights and status in any Parish or Mission thereof. He shall not be excluded from the worship or Sacraments of the Church, nor from parochial membership, because of race, color, or ethnic origin.
With only slight rewording in 1982, the threefold grounds of “race, color, or ethnic origin” remained untouched until General Convention 1994, when the categories were expanded by one Resolution (1994-C020) to include “national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, disabilities or age.” Most recently Resolution 2012-D002 added the categories “gender identity and expression.”

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology: Scripture, Uncategorized

(CT) The UK’s Highest-Ranking Evangelical Politician Steps Down

Amid mounting scrutiny over his evangelical faith, the head of the Liberal Democrats in the United Kingdom resigned from his position and spoke out about the tension he faced as the political party’s leader.

Considered the first evangelical party leader in a century, Farron dodged questions during the recent campaign about whether he believed homosexuality was a sin despite his political stance in favor of same-sex marriage and equal rights. An evangelical amid Anglicans, he faced accusations of harboring conservative theology within the liberal party, even when he made his liberal views clear.

Still, the accusations bled into the general election—the party gained seats in Parliament but their vote share declined—and were enough to make a fellow party leader step down on Wednesday. Farron’s announcement came hours later.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Sharp increase in numbers training to be priests in the Church of England

A 14% increase in numbers training for the priesthood has been welcomed by the Church of England. An anticipated total of 543 men and women will begin studies this Autumn at colleges across England.

Welcoming the increase the Bishop of Guildford, Andrew Watson, said:

“I am delighted at both the number and the range of those whom God has been calling into ordained ministry over the course of the past year. Here are men and women who are choosing to put their faith on the line, so as to bring hope and spiritual nourishment to individuals and communities alike. In an increasingly uncertain world, nothing could be a greater privilege than walking alongside people in their joys and sorrows, from birth to grave.”

An increase of 17% in women coming forward for ordination was welcomed by Catherine Nancekievill, Head of Vocation for the Church of England….

Read it all.

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

(CC) Craig Barnes–The temporary gift of marriage

…as compassionately as possible, I said, “Mike, in my experience 100 percent of marriages come to an end, and you’ll never beat those odds.”

There was a pause before Mike stammered out, “What?” I tried again. “Well, your marriage will end in either death or divorce. There are no alternatives.” This time his face was blank.

I sat back in my chair. “Let’s say you have a fabulous marriage that lasts as long as we can imagine. How about 60 years? Or 70? There are few of those, but let’s assume you have 70 years, and that each of those years is an experience in deeper intimacy. Still, one of you is eventually going to have to lay the other into the arms of God. That day will tear you apart.”

Young people often assume that the funerals for old lovers are not so difficult, as if the weeping person in the first pew is thinking, “Well, we had a good run.” To the contrary, the better the marriage the harder it is at the end. A great marriage concludes with two souls that have become so intertwined the survivor has no idea what survive means without the one in a grave.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology

From the Morning Bible Readings

In thee, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame! In thy righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline thy ear to me, and save me! Be thou to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me, for thou art my rock and my fortress.

–Psalm 71:1-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Reason) Young Men Are Playing Video Games Instead of Getting Jobs

Video games, like work, are basically a series of quests comprised of mundane and repetitive tasks: Receive an assignment, travel to a location, overcome some obstacles, perform some sort of search, pick up an item, and then deliver it in exchange for a reward—and, usually, another quest, which starts the cycle all over again. You are not playing the game so much as following its orders. The game is your boss; to succeed, you have to do what it says.

This is especially true in the genre that has come to dominate much of big-budget game development, the open-world action role-playing game, which blends the hair-trigger violence of traditional shooters with the massive explorable landscapes of games like Grand Theft Auto and the intricate craft and character leveling systems of pen-and-paper tabletop fantasy games like Dungeons & Dragons.

The games consist of a series of assignments combined with a progression of skills, awards, and accomplishments, in which you, the player, become more powerful and proficient as a result of your dedication. And dedication is what these games require. It is not uncommon for single-player games to take upward of 60 hours to complete. Online, multiplayer variants can easily chew up hundreds or even thousands of hours of time, with the most accomplished players putting in dozens of hours a week for months on end. Although these games are usually packaged in a veneer of fantasy, they work less like traditional entertainment and more like employment simulators.

So it is perhaps not surprising that for many young men, especially those with lower levels of educational attainment, video games are increasingly replacing work.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Economy, Entertainment, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Men, Young Adults

(AM) Essex churches pass motions of no confidence in “unbiblical leadership” of Archbishops of Canterbury and York

Two churches in Chelmsford Diocese have taken the unprecedented step of issuing public statements of no confidence in the Church of England leadership, following the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call for ‘radical inclusion’ at General Synod in February, and Bishop Stephen Cottrell’s call for thanksgiving prayers to be offered for same sex relationships in his Presidential Address to the Chelmsford Diocesan Synod.

The decision to publish the no confidence motions has been motivated by the Diocese provocatively hosting their June Synod at a church publicly supporting same sex marriage, and Archbishop Welby’s recent letter to Primates which does not mention the Scottish Episcopal Church’s departure from Christian orthodoxy but criticises Gafcon’s decision to appoint a faithful missionary Bishop.

Although two churches have gone public with their protest, Anglican Mainstream understands that several dozen clergy and a number of lay people in the Diocese have written to Bishop Stephen since February expressing deep concern about the direction of the C of E as evidenced by his statements.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Debating transgender

One of the most difficult debates facing General Synod when it meets in July arises not from the main business agenda, but from a diocesan motion from Blackburn Diocese, which will be proposed by Revd Chris Newlands:

That this Synod, recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, calls on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition.

I was approached to discuss this with Chris on last weekend’s Sunday programme on Radio 4, and if you want to see how complex and challenging this debate is going to be, then you can listen to our discussion on iPlayer starting at 30 minutes into the programme. The difficulties start (as is often the case in such debates) with the language; the question here is less about ‘gender’ (that is, socially constructed roles of men and women) but ‘sex identity’ (that is, whether someone is a biological man or woman) as is evident from Chris’ own language. That is why, in informed discussions, the situation we are faced with is described as ‘gender identity disorder’ or more commonly ‘gender dysphoria’. Chris is right to emphasise the serious and distressing nature of the pastoral issue—but unfortunately my agreement with him on this, and my explaining my personal experience of that amongst friends and family was edited out (the discussion was pre-recorded) in order to create a sense of ‘liberal pastoral care’ versus ‘traditionalist dogma’ on the programme. There is no doubt at all that this is how many will seek to configure the Synod debate.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)