Category : Ethics / Moral Theology

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

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

(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

(Good News) Rob Renfroe on the United Methodist Crisis over the new Sexual Morality–Respect or Contempt

The bishops have reported that three plans have been put before them. One would strengthen the church’s present position against homosexual practice and would allow progressive churches to leave the denomination. Another, often referred to as “the local option,” would let individual pastors determine whether they will marry gay couples, and each annual conference would be free to determine if it will ordain practicing homosexuals. A third option would create three branches within the UM Church, each with a different sexual ethic, ranging from thoroughly progressive to fully conservative (the latter of which is actually nothing more than maintaining the church’s present position).

The details of the third option have not been made public, probably because they have not been fully determined. And they have probably not been determined because they are numerous and challenging. How will churches and pastors decide which of the three branches they will join? What if there are more fully committed progressive pastors than there are progressive churches willing to receive them? What if there are more progressive bishops than there are progressive annual conferences – must conservative conferences accept a bishop whose sexual ethic is different than its own? Will all churches be expected to pay apportionments to national boards that promote policies contrary to their beliefs? Can a conservative conference live with a partnered lesbian bishop on the Council that oversees the entire church? Or must there be three different councils? This third “multi-branch” option cannot be the plan Bishop Ough had in mind when he called for a plan that was simple rather than complex, with little ambiguity, and few disciplinary changes.

Where does that leave us? Option one – a more tightly-enforced Book of Discipline and liberal churches exiting the denomination – will never be recommended by a Council that leans left and largely believes we need to liberalize the church’s position (there are notable exceptions within the Council). The only plan remaining and the one Bishop Ough seems to be suggesting is the “local option.” Annual conferences vote. Pastors make their own decisions. The church stays together. And it’s done. Simple and with little ambiguity.

Except for one small detail. It will create schism, not unity. At its first national conference in Chicago, October 2016, with over 1400 pastors in attendance, The Wesleyan Covenant Association approved a statement that said, “A plan that requires traditionalists to compromise their principles and understanding of Scripture, including any form of the “local option” around ordination and marriage, will not be acceptable to the members of the Wesleyan Covenant Association, stands little chance of passing General Conference, would not definitively resolve our conflict, and would, in fact, lead to the fracturing of the church.” Good News sent a similar statement to the Commission on a Way Forward. So did the Confessing Movement. So did UM Action.

I’m not troubled that the Council might recommend a plan that conservatives disagree with. I expect they will. What does disturb me is that it appears the Council will propose a plan that all of the denomination’s conservative leaders have said will fracture the church and lead to a mass exodus. Why would it do that?

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) Deborah Gastfreund Schuss: Learning to Pray When Words Fail–Disorders like aphasia pose a challenge for adherents of speech-based faiths

Julie Shulman decided to study linguistics because she wanted to help people with speaking disorders. She never imagined how personal this mission would become. After graduating from Israel’s Bar-Ilan University in 2000, the Maine native headed to Massachusetts for a master’s degree and job in speech therapy. Her husband, Ayal Shulman, worked as a business-development manager for an Israeli startup in Brookline. They returned to Israel in 2009—with promising careers and three young children.

Two weeks after their return, Mr. Shulman, then 37, suffered a massive brain hemorrhage. Despite the initially grim prognosis, his cognitive function is intact. But his speech is limited to sentences of three or four words, and his reading and writing abilities are limited.

Along with Mr. Shulman, at least two million people in the U.S. live with aphasia, according to the National Aphasia Association. Some 180,000 acquire the disorder every year. The condition, which produces a disconnect between what the brain wants to convey and what is actually expressed, often strikes survivors of strokes or head trauma without affecting their intelligence. The incidence is growing because medical advancements enable people with such maladies to survive at higher rates. Yet cures for the ensuing handicaps remain elusive.

Ms. Shulman —an Orthodox Jew deeply immersed in her faith—wanted to enhance her husband’s practice of Judaism. Today she helps reintegrate others suffering from aphasia into communal religious participation.


Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Judaism, Language, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Martin Davie–‘Transgender, reality and pastoral care’

The fact that ‘I’ am a unity of body and soul means that it makes no sense to suggest, as we have seen Judith does in the Church of Scotland report, that ‘I was born in the wrong body.’ There is no ‘I’ separable from the body we possess. What ‘I’ means is the person who exists in this particular combination of body and soul. The suggestion that I should have been born in a different body really means that I should have been a different person, but in that case I would not exist, so the suggestion is asking for the impossible.

What is also impossible is for someone to change their body from male to female or vice versa. It is possible through the use of hormones and plastic surgery to change to a certain extent the way our bodies function and their outward appearance, but we cannot change the fundamental character of our bodies as male or female. We can produce what Paul McHugh calls ‘feminized men or masculinized women, ‘ [13] but we cannot make a man into a woman or a woman into a man.

The evidence of Scripture agrees that human beings are bodily creatures that are male and female and are able to reproduce as such, but it supplements the witness of natural reason in this regard in two key ways.

First, it teaches in the creation narratives in Genesis 1 and 2 and also in the words of Jesus in the Gospels (Matthew 19:4, Mark 10:6) that we are not a dimorphic species by accident, but because God in his goodness and wisdom created us as such so that men and women together can rule over and care for the world on God’s behalf and together can produce offspring who can continue this vocation in their turn.[14] Scripture as a whole further teaches that the dimorphic structure of the human species is also the basis for marriage (Genesis 2:23-24) through which human beings are called to bear witness to the marital relationship between God and his people, which has begun in this world, but will be finally consummated in the world to come (see Ephesians 5: 21-33 and Revelation 19:6-9, 21:2-4).

Secondly, it teaches that our bodies are an eternal part of who we are.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Lord Williams backs abuse survivors’ demand for independent safeguarding body at IICSA

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Williams, has given his support to one of the key demands of survivors of clergy abuse: the creation of an independent body to deal with safeguarding cases.

Speaking at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) on Wednesday, Lord Williams said that there was a “strong case” for handing over safeguarding issues to a new agency outside of the normal Church of England structures.

“There’s a strong case for having some such arms-length body,” he replied, when asked about it by the lead counsel to the Inquiry’s investigation into the Anglican Church, Fiona Scolding QC.

Lord Williams said that such a move would, in theory, free the Archbishop to take more of a leadership position in safeguarding for the whole Church, but admitted that the reform might never appear high on “any Archbishop’s list of priorities”.

Read it all.

Posted in --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(Tablet) Rowan Williams Admits Failings Over C Of E Child Abuse

The Church of England was “naive and uncritical” when in came to abuses of power by clergy, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams told the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse.

On day eight of a three-week hearing on the Anglican church as part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), Lord Williams of Oystermouth said that a mindset in which the authority of an ordained minister was thought to be “beyond criticism” was a “definitely a problem” when it came to preventing abuse.

“So much of this turns on how we understand the exercise of power in the Church, in which we have often been in the past — myself included — naïve and uncritical,” he admitted. “It did take us an unconscionably long time for us to really focus on the need of the complainant and the proper care,” he told the inquiry.

He added that this “top down model of authority” leaves “little mental or spiritual space for a victim to speak out in the confidence that they will be heard”.

Read it all.

Posted in --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(CBS) Marking 7 bloody years since the Syrian civil war

Take the time to watch it all and pray for the end to this unimaginable tragedy.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Syria, Uncategorized, Violence

(Patheos) Chris Gehrz–The Stevens Point Pathway: How the Liberal Arts Will Die at Christian Colleges

In my experience, most college professors pay little attention to what’s happening in higher education beyond their own discipline or institution. So last week it was remarkable how many colleagues came up and asked me, “What happened at UW-Stevens Point?”

They were referring to one of the 26 campuses in the University of Wisconsin system, which announced last Monday that it was planning to address a $4.5 budget deficit by a combination of two strategies: “adding or expanding 16 programs in areas with high-demand career paths as a way to maintain and increase enrollment” and “shifting resources from programs where fewer students are enrolled,” to the point of cutting several majors.

What will grow? Business programs like marketing, management, and finance, and STEM programs like chemical engineering, computer information systems, and aquaculture/aquaponics.

What will go away? Virtually every art, humanity, and social science major that isn’t directly connected to a professional “pathway.” Not just the languages (French, German, and Spanish at UWSP) and fine arts (art and music literature) programs that have been the first to go when smaller schools make such cuts. Stevens Point students would no longer be able to major in English, philosophy, political science, sociology, or history….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Religion & Culture, State Government, Theology, Young Adults

(CEN) Abuse survivor calls for senior Anglican bishops to resign over failures

[Matthew] Ineson points out that in the statement by the Church of England’s National Safeguarding Team ‘it is claimed that the Archbishop did not fail to act on any disclosure made, because the responsibility to respond and act lay with the diocesan bishop, namely Steven Croft’.

“The National Safeguarding Team are clearly stating here that Steven Croft should have acted,”he adds.

He points out that his alleged perpetrator, Trevor Devamanikkan,was charged in May 2017 with six serious charges of sexual abuse against Ineson. However, he committed suicide before the case could come to court.

“Steven Croft has admitted on several occasions that I disclosed my abuse to him in the media over the past 16 months. I have pursued the complaint against Steven Croft’s failures several times with the Church, who have blocked any attempt at investigation into his failures.

“The National Safeguarding Team now acknowledge those failures and I call on Steven Croft to resign with immediate effect,” said Ineson.

He also calls on Archbishop Sentamu to resign with immediate effect ‘for failing to act on my disclosure to him’.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Anthropology, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon from Saint Michael’s, Charleston–What is the Gospel (John 3, Ephesians 2)?

The link is there and you can listen live or download the audio depending on your preference.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Soteriology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Salvation (Soteriology), Theology: Scripture

(1st Things) George Weigel–Parsing the “T”

About five years ago, a friend took her son with her when she went to a beauty shop to get her hair cut. The hairdresser was snipping away and the boy was engrossed in reading on his Kindle when another mother came into the shop with her daughter in tow. The daughter was carrying an American Girl doll, and the mother announced to the entire beauty shop, “We’re here to get the doll’s hair cut. We’re transgendering her!”

Fortunately, my friend’s son, a big-time reader, missed all this. But if her seven-year old had asked, “Mommy, what’s ‘transgendering’?,” what, my friend asked me, was she supposed to say?

What, indeed?

Many people seem tongue-tied when it comes to the “T” in “LGBT.” The virtue-signaling mother in that beauty shop notwithstanding, there’s an intuitive understanding that we’re dealing here with real psychological distress—“gender dysphoria,” in the technical vocabulary—and that this and similar problems ought not be political ping-pong balls, because lives are at stake. Unfortunately, that reticence to discuss the “T” storm inside the broader “LGBT” tsunami leaves the field to partisans of “gender reassignment” in all its forms, which now include prescribing puberty-blocking drugs to pre-pubescent children who claim to be something other than what they are. Moreover, nine states, the District of Columbia, and thirty-three local jurisdictions have laws banning mental health professionals from offering “conversion therapies” to minors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Uncategorized

(Wash Post) In Oregon, pushing for assisted suicide for patients with degenerative diseases

Relatively modest drives are afoot in Washington state and California, where organizations have launched education campaigns on how people can fill out instructions for future caregivers to withhold food and drink, thereby carrying out an option that is legal to anybody: death by starvation and dehydration. (It is often referred to as the “voluntarily stopping eating and drinking” method.)

The boldest bid is taking place in Quebec. Prompted by a 2017 murder case involving the apparent “mercy killing” of a 60-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s by her husband — who smothered her with a pillow — the provincial government is studying the possibility of legalizing euthanasia for Alzheimer’s patients. Unlike medically assisted suicide, a medical doctor would administer the fatal dose via injection. A survey in September found that 91 percent of the Canadian province’s medical caregivers support the idea.

“The process that could lead to [legislative] changes has already begun,” said Marie-Claude Lacasse, a spokeswoman for the Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services.

Somewhere between these points is Oregon, where several lawmakers are trying to push the right-to-die envelope.

Under the current law, eligible patients can obtain prescriptions for lethal barbiturates. Qualified patients must be diagnosed with a terminal illness, have a prognosis of six or fewer months to live, and self-ingest the drug. The vast majority — more than 70 percent, according to the Oregon Health Authority — have cancer; most others have either heart disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(Telegraph) Teach pupils the value of abstinence and celibacy, says Church of England

Pupils should be taught about the value of abstinence and celibacy as part of their sex education lessons, the Church of England has said.

In its submission to the Government’s overhaul of sex and relationships education the church also said that its lessons will also focus on “the Christian understanding of marriage as the context for sexual relationships”.

In a blog the Church’s chief education officer, the Rev Nigel Genders, says that relationships and sex education in schools should teach students about “healthy relationships and lifestyle choices”.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology