Category : Pastoral Theology

(AP) Episcopalians struggle with history of Confederate symbols

“You do have an identifiable connection to the Confederacy,” said Doug Thompson, history professor at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. He said Episcopal churches prayed for the president of the Confederacy, not the Union, during the war. “Episcopalians have built into their very structure an attachment to this national identity.”

Just steps away from the Statehouse, the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral is wrestling with Confederate ghosts. The South’s Gen. Wade Hampton and its poet laureate, Henry Timrod, are buried on the parish’s grounds. A plaque in its sanctuary honors members who died in the Civil War. However, the church doesn’t allow the display of Confederate flags, and the Very Rev. Dean Timothy Jones said Confederate flags recently placed on soldiers’ graves were removed.

“I care deeply about how historical symbols can create hurt and communicate a message of discrimination,” Jones said. “We believe in redressing the terrible wrongs of slavery and affirming the dignity of every human being.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Church History, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Sunday [London] Times) ‘They’re here, then they just die’: opioid addiction kills 175 Americans a day

At first glance, Manchester, New Hampshire, seems a typical New England town. A pleasant, low-key sort of place, free of extreme poverty or urban decay.

You do not have to look far, however, to see something is amiss: this is a town firmly in the grip of the opioid crisis that is devastating America.

Dotted around the central squares and parks are small groups of people visibly suffering from addiction. Yesterday, hundreds of residents took part in a “rally for recovery” in the town centre, gathering to highlight the plight of their friends and neighbours.

On the walls of the Hope addiction recovery clinic, a few hundred yards away, are pictures from a kayaking expedition. Karla Gallagher, who works at the clinic, cannot look at it without becoming close to tears.

“We lose these people all the time,” she said, pointing to a picture of a smiling young girl on a canoe. “We lost her. One day they’re here and then they just die.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, City Government, Death / Burial / Funerals, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, State Government, Theology

(CC) Samuel Wells–Love Becomes Frutiful: A former parishioner shows me the gospel

Twenty-three years ago, when I was in my first pastoral appointment, there was an 11-year-old boy who started coming to my church at the suggestion of a teacher at his middle school. He was an isolated, disconsolate figure who didn’t mix easily and took a greedy share of the cookies after worship. After he had been coming a few months, funds were found for him to participate in a parish weekend retreat.

By Saturday morning, the complaints were raining down. He was rude. He was grabbing food. He was bullying the younger children. The adults finally had to talk to each other about it; it was one of those parish conversations where the pastor doesn’t get a casting vote. The teacher through whose influence the boy had first come to church pointed out that, being brought up solely by his young and temperamental father, he was a troubled boy looking for security. Allowances were made, patience was maintained, and gradually the lad began to find his feet.

Nine months later at a special evening service he was baptized. His father was not there. His mother and brother, living across town, weren’t there either. But about 40 people were, and each member of the congregation was invited to describe what they most valued about being members of that church. One said friendship, another said acceptance, a third said trust. When the boy was asked the same question his narrow, fixed frown broke, for once, into a smile, and he replied, “You didn’t throw me out after that weekend.”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Soteriology

(ABC R+E) John Ozolins–Why the Argument for Same-Sex Marriage is Not Sound

The main argument put forward in favour of altering the definition of marriage as being between a man and woman is that this discriminates against relationships between individuals of the same sex and hence constitutes a violation of their right to have their relationship recognised as having equal value.

In short, the argument is that it devalues their love.

The question I want to examine is whether this is a sound argument.

One way of encapsulating the logical form of the argument is the following:

1.All love between all persons is equal (Assumption – that is, an assertion that is taken as given).
2.Love is recognised through marriage (Assumption).
3.Marriage is a human right (Assumption).
4.Human rights apply to all human beings (Assumption).
5.Marriage is a human right of all human beings (from 3 and 4).
6.Love between gay individuals is equal to other forms of love (from 1).
7.Love between gay individuals is recognised through marriage (from 2 and 6).
8.Marriage between gay individuals is a human right (from 5 and 7).

The question now becomes one of determining whether the argument is sound, since it appears to be a valid argument – that is, assuming the premises from which it begins are true, the conclusion is true. On the other hand, if any of the premises are false, then the conclusion is false, though the argument is still valid (since the form of the argument is valid). It is another matter whether the argument is sound. It is not sound if any of the premises are false, since the conclusion will not be true.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Philosophy, Religion & Culture

(NT News) Activist for the new Sexual Morality Rodney Croome urges respect in debate and praises Tasmania Anglican Bishop’s pastoral letter as the way the No case should be argued

There are fears debate during the $122 million postal survey process could turn nasty.

“Even though I very much disagree with Bishop Condie’s views on marriage equality, his pastoral letter on the issue is a very good example of how the ‘no’ case should be conducted because it is respectful and based on principle,” Mr [Rodney] Croome said.

“I urge marriage equality supporters not to casually throw around the word ‘bigot’ and I urge those against the reform not to use offensive terms like ‘stolen generation’ to describe the children of same-sex couples.”

Bishop Condie’s letter said that, for Christians, marriage had always meant a commitment of one man to one woman voluntarily entered into for life.

“We shun actions and words that demean and marginalise; we reject discrimination, and especially grieve the way people who identify as homosexual have been treated in our society and churches,” the letter said.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Australia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Bp of Tasmania’s Pastoral Letter on Marriage

Our prayer books set out the purpose of marriage: the procreation of children; a remedy against sin and fornication; and mutual support, help and comfort.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

From 2015 but still relevant–Everett Piper, President, Oklahoma Wesleyan University: This is Not a Day Care. It’s a University!

This past week, I actually had a student come forward after a university chapel service and complain because he felt “victimized” by a sermon on the topic of 1 Corinthians 13. It appears this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love. In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him, and his peers, feel uncomfortable.

I’m not making this up. Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic. Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims. Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them “feel bad” about themselves, is a “hater,” a “bigot,” an “oppressor,” and a “victimizer.”

I have a message for this young man and all others who care to listen. That feeling of discomfort you have after listening to a sermon is called a conscience. An altar call is supposed to make you feel bad. It is supposed to make you feel guilty. The goal of many a good sermon is to get you to confess your sins—not coddle you in your selfishness. The primary objective of the Church and the Christian faith is your confession, not your self-actualization.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology, Young Adults

Articles that make You want to Bang your head against a Wall Dept–(Entrepeneur) Why You Should Stop Saying Sorry, According to Science

After you hurt someone’s feelings or do something wrong, it turns out that saying sorry might not be the best solution. In fact, an apology might just add fuel to the fire, a recent study by researchers from Dartmouth College and the University of Texas has found.

To assess the impact of apologies after social rejections, researchers approached thousands of people and asked them questions and had them participate in experiments. When asked to write “a good way of saying no,” 39 percent of participants included an apology in their notes with the belief that they’d lighten the situation. However, when they were put on the receiving end of these apologetic notes, they reported feeling more hurt.

Apologies can actually anger people and trigger them to seek revenge, the researchers found. In another experiment, they conducted face-to-face rejections in order to understand how rejectees actually felt after an incident.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology

(PD) Ann Snyder–The Magnanimous Man: In Remembrance of Michael Cromartie

Mike was a walking library of political hope. In my early years of working in conservative policy circles, most of them peppered by some religious spice, I often found myself confused by theo-political unions that seemed more cynical than fruitful. I’d come to Christian faith in the context of an aggressively secular New England prep school, followed by a Wheaton education that began from theology, not ideology. To me, notions of the religious right and religious left seemed cheap at best, damaging at worst. Mike would see my consternation before the awkwardness of melding the City of God with the City of Man, hand me a stack of books to read, and every day afterward check up on my progress. We discussed Mark Noll and Nathan Hatch’s The Search for Christian America, Peter Berger’s The Sacred Canopy, Michael Novak’s The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, essays by Walter Russell Mead, Josef Joffe, Os Guinness, Francis Fukuyama, and Jacques Ellul. “You’re basically getting paid to get a graduate school education,” Mike would say. “Take advantage of it.”

His reading lists granted oxygen to a soul starved to understand her place as a Christian in political waters. But Mike also introduced me to the living map of Washington. His facility with DC’s social and institutional architecture continues to guide my own approach to understanding and interacting with new cities. He introduced me, too, to the craft of journalism and research, and to the art of connecting people to ideas and to one another. Mike’s tastes were unusual, in that they combined broad curiosity with confident judgment. He had a special radar for people of integrated excellence—mind and soul—and his speed dial included scholars of sociology, religion, physics, and history, statisticians employed by Gallup and Pew, an array of college presidents, and newspaper columnists from across the ideological spectrum….

Mike leveraged this impressive social and intellectual capital to create something that became the iconic culmination of who he was: the Faith Angle Forum. Founded in 1999, the Forum is a twice-annual, two-day breather for journalists to go deep with select scholars on the undercurrents of the day: terrorism and religious extremism, scientific empiricism and spiritual mystery, race and religion, technology, same-sex marriage, voting patterns among the faithful, social inequality. The goal is to grant a reprieve from the tyranny of the 24/7 news cycle and, in a coastal Florida setting, subvert stereotypes and fortify the reporting and commentary on religious believers, religious convictions, and the ways in which religiously grounded moral arguments affect American politics and public life.

Talk to any journalist who’s attended the Faith Angle Forum, and you’ll hear words like “irreplaceable,” “provoking,” “enlightening” and “a game-changer.” It’s served as the gateway for countless reporters from the likes of PBS, NPR, Time MagazineNewsweekThe AtlanticThe New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Economist, and RealClearPolitics to encounter the deeper currents underlying the news, peeling them apart in an intellectually rigorous, dialogue-driven circle….

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(SA) Scots ‘impair’ communion with Australia

The Scottish Primus said that the move meant his church now affirms that a same-sex couple is not just married but is married in the sight of God.

The move is in contravention of the doctrine of marriage in the Anglican church and breaches the Lambeth resolution of 1998.

The Dean of Sydney, Kanishka Raffel moved a motion at the General Synod meeting in Queensland which had earlier reaffirmed that marriage is between a man and a woman.

“Across the Anglican communion, churches are trying to work out how best to love people of diverse sexual orientation.  This is important because all people are made in God’s image; and God hates nothing that he has made.  It is important because all people are to be valued honoured and loved not only because they are created in God’s image but because of Christ’s costly redeeming love for them. ” Dean Raffel said in his speech.

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Posted in Anthropology, Australia, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

(WSJ) Opioid Epidemic May Be Keeping Prime-Age Americans Out of the Workforce

New research suggests a significant portion of the post-1990s decline in labor-force participation among Americans in their prime working years could be linked to the opioid epidemic.

Conducted by Princeton University economist Alan Kruegerthe study found that a national increase in opioid painkiller prescriptions between 1999 and 2015 may have accounted for about 20% of the decline in workforce participation among men ages 25 to 54, and roughly 25% of the drop in prime-age female workforce participation.

“The opioid epidemic and labor-force participation are now intertwined,” Mr. Krueger said. “If we are to bring a large number of people back into the labor force who have left the labor force, I think it’s important that we take serious steps to address the opioid crisis.”

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Posted in Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Young Adults

(CT) Matthew Loftus–The Beginning of Dementia Isn’t the End of Grace

In the era of modern medicine, a great many human afflictions can be treated, if not cured outright. Medicines easily defeat diseases that once would have killed us, while prosthetics and pain-relief drugs help us adapt to disabling symptoms and incurable illnesses. Dementia, unfortunately, remains neither curable nor especially treatable—and it is only getting more common as our population ages.

Dementia is especially fearsome in a culture like ours, one that treats autonomy as essential to human flourishing. Losing the ability to think and make rational decisions is always a profound loss, but it is especially terrifying for people who value independence so highly. Thankfully, Finding Grace in the Face of Dementia by physician John Dunlop is an excellent companion in thinking through the questions that dementia raises.

The first half of the book covers some basic theological precepts about sin, illness, and the body, as well as medical and scientific details about dementia. Dunlop then describes the daily experience of those who suffer from dementia and the people who care for them. Plenty of books and resources contain this sort of information, but this book remains immensely useful for anyone—pastors, family members, or even people in the early stages of dementia themselves—seeking basic facts about the disease and subjects like in-home care or nursing homes. Having spent many years caring for demented people at every possible stage, Dunlop helps readers step into the non-slip socks of a person with dementia and understand his or her frustrations and sorrows.

For the rest of the book, Dunlop asks whether we can find any grace in dementia. To do this, he first confronts the assumption that makes people queasy when they interact with someone who has dementia (or consider the possibility of developing it themselves): that human beings who have lost their intellectual capacity are aren’t quite fully human anymore. People might say, “He’s not there anymore” or “His soul is gone, but his body is still hanging on.”

Dunlop regards such sentiments as unbiblical.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

Primate Philip Freier’s Presidential Address to the Australian General Synod

Even though the matter is before the High Court of Australia this week, it is likely that Australians will soon be given the opportunity to vote on changing Australia’s
marriage law to include same-sex marriage. I have encouraged all Anglicans to exercise their democratic right and to participate in the postal plebiscite. Although not legally binding, I believe that Parliament will be better informed about Australians’ views by this means. Anglicans, like other Australians, have a wide range of opinions on same-sex
marriage, supporting or opposing it for a variety of reasons in accordance with their conscience and their understanding of the principles and issues. I do not presume to advise others how they should vote, though I myself intend to vote “no”.

I think Anglicans are capable of a respectful discussion without vilifying our opponents and respecting that each side’s position can be principled and considered. Kindness in our speech should be the hallmark of our engagement in difficult issues. For me, the most disturbing part of the recent discussion has been the assumption that Australians are incapable of discussing this matter with civility. It is unfortunate that this rhetoric, that we are well accustomed to in party political debate, has been applied to a large part of the electorate who reasonably expected to share a direct role in the decision. Stereotyping public opinion ahead of an argument being advanced is divisive and destructive of public discourse.

If same-sex marriage becomes law, the Church will of course need to accept that it is part of the landscape. Politicians on all sides have affirmed that we can still stand for and offer holy matrimony between a man and a woman as a sacred ordinance given by God, while accepting that the state has endorsed a wider view of marriage. The doctrine of the Book of Common Prayer remains unchanged, that marriage is between a man and a woman, under God, forsaking all others until death parts them. I do not believe that the Anglican Church in Australia is likely to revise its doctrine of marriage.

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Posted in Australia, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Provinces Other Than TEC, Theology: Scripture

(AI) Fallout in Australia over Andrew Lines consecration

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia has asked the church’s Appellate Tribunal to offer a ruling as to whether its bishops may participate in the consecration of bishops who are not members of the Anglican Communion.

On 16 August 2017, the Most Rev. Philip Freier, Archbishop of Melbourne, wrote to the registrar of the tribunal stating he had received a request from the Bishop of Bendigo, the Rt. Rev. Andrew Curnow, supported by four other bishops that raised objections to the consecration of the Rt. Rev. Andrew Lines of the Anglican Church in North America by the Archbishop of Sydney and Bishops of Tasmania and Northwest Australia.

The proceedings, made public in a letter to the Australian bishops on 28 August 2017, comes a week before the start of the church’s General Synod at Maroochydore, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, from 3-9 Sept 2017 and will likely overshadow its proceedings.

The Appellate Tribunal of the Anglican Church of Australia is not a disciplinary tribunal, but a body charged with providing legal opinions on ecclesiastical questions.

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Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Australia, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, GAFCON, Pastoral Theology

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh’s Gafcon’s Chairman Letter for September 2017

I attended the Canterbury Primates Meeting held in January 2016 because I believed it might be possible to make a new start and change the pattern of repeated failure to preserve the integrity of Anglican faith and order. I was disappointed. The Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Lusaka the following April neutered the Primates’ action to distance The Episcopal Church of the United States (TEC) from Communion decision making. TEC has not repented, and continues to take aggressive legal action against orthodox dioceses. For example, the congregations of the Diocese of San Joaquin are currently having to turn over their places of worship to TEC, which has no realistic plan for filling them with worshippers.  At the same time, the Diocese of South Carolina is now facing the potential loss of many of its historic buildings.

My disappointment was shared by the other Global South Primates who gathered in Cairo last October and we concluded in our communiqué that the ‘Instruments of Communion’ (which include the Primates Meeting of course) are “unable to sustain the common life and unity of the Anglican Churches worldwide” and do actually help to undermine global mission.

The only difference between the present and 2008, when Gafcon was formed, is that we have a different Archbishop of Canterbury. Everything else is the same or worse. There is endless debate, the will of the orthodox Primates is frustrated and misrepresented, false teaching is not being corrected, and nothing is being done to halt orthodox Anglicans in North America (and maybe soon elsewhere) being stripped of the churches that have helped form their spiritual lives.

In these circumstances, I have concluded that attendance at Canterbury would be to give credibility to a pattern of behaviour which is allowing great damage to be done to global Anglican witness and unity. Our energies in the Church of Nigeria will be devoted to what is full of hope and promise for the future, not to the repetition of failure.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, GAFCON, Global South Churches & Primates, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture