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(Bloomberg) Six People Fall Into Extreme Poverty in Nigeria Every Minute

“I eat anything I see,” says Abdul Edosa, 30, as he sits under the bridge in the sprawling Nigerian commercial metropolis of Lagos, where he sleeps. “I beg money from people — anything they give me, I eat.”

Edosa’s is a familiar voice in the country with the world’s largest number of extremely poor, which the United Nations defines as living on less than $1.90 a day. The estimated figure now is 87 million people, or almost half the population of Africa’s biggest oil producer, and unless something dramatic happens, it’s going to get much bigger.

While poverty in India, which has five times the population, is declining, the number of destitute in Nigeria is believed to be growing by six people every minute, according to a recent paper from The Brookings Institution. The UN expects its population to double to 410 million by 2050, potentially swelling the ranks of the poor.

Edosa usually passes his nights with a handful of men and women on makeshift wooden beds under the bridge in Ikeja, the capital of Lagos state. Police trying to chase them away are a constant menace. A high-school dropout who did a stint as a television-repair apprentice, he now heads off each morning to look for odd jobs at building sites or hits the streets to beg.

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, Nigeria, Poverty

(BBC) A key Moment in History Remembered today–Sheffield bomber crash: Flypast on 75th anniversary

Thousands of people cheered a flypast honouring 10 airmen who died when their plane crashed in a park 75 years ago.

The US bomber came down in Endcliffe Park, Sheffield on 22 February 1944, killing everyone on board.

A campaign for a flypast started after a chance meeting between BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker and Tony Foulds, who tends a park memorial.

A tearful Mr Foulds was given a rousing round of applause as the planes flew over. He said: “This is unbelievable.”

Relatives of the aircrew and thousands of people from across Britain paid their respects as the planes roared over the memorial at about 08:45 GMT.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Denmark, England / UK, Germany, History, Military / Armed Forces

Stephen Noll–“MEXIT”: Methodists, Anglicans and the Limits of Disagreement

In this post I shall address the “special General Conference” of United Methodists in St. Louis. Here is a brief preview of the agenda:

Last July, the Council of Bishops offered three possible plans for moving forward: the One Church Plan, the Connectional Conference Plan, and the Traditional Plan. The One Church Plan calls for removing language from the Book of Discipline that upholds traditional teaching on sexuality, and allowing individual churches and conferences to decide on the basis of conscience whether they will permit same-sex unions or homosexual bishops. The Connectional Conference Plan calls for completely reorganizing the regional conferences around shared beliefs rather than geography—in other words, creating traditionalist and progressive conferences and trying to hold them together. The Modified Traditional Plan calls for upholding the traditional teaching on sexuality and then offering an exit path for any local churches or conferences that disagree.

One might wonder why the Methodists are the last mainline church in North America to hold the line on biblical teaching on marriage and homosexuality. The reason is that, unlike the Anglican Communion, which granted autonomy to its missionary churches, the Methodists kept them together in one body – the General Conference. And the African churches have voted with conservatives in North America to uphold the Book of Discipline, which states that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” (sound familiar – see Lambeth Resolution I.10, clause d).

The revisionists, who hold the money and influence in the North American Methodist bureaucracy, have employed the usual Alinskyite tactics of “civil disobedience” to challenge the norm by ordaining [non-celiobate] gay pastors and now a [non-celibate] lesbian bishop. They are now calling for “good disagreement” under the One Church Plan, which would maintain formal unity while permitting radically different practices regarding marriage and ordination.

One proponent of the Modified Traditional Plan is Dr. William Abraham, a senior theologian from Southern Methodist University, who has written a paper titled; “In Defense of Mexit: Disagreement and Disunity in United Methodism.” Abraham proposes that the progressive minority be authorized to exit the Church (hence “Mexit”) with their property and to affiliate with another church or form their own “Progressive United Methodist Church” (Abraham suggests then renaming the majority body the “Evangelical United Methodist Church”).

What is interesting to me as an Anglican is how the Anglican experience figures into the theological discussion among conservative Methodists….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

TEC House of Deputies President Gay Jennings responds to the recent news about the spouses in same-sex marriages not being invited to Lambeth 2020

So, the situation in which we find ourselves is peculiar. The Archbishop of Canterbury is citing a resolution that does not set policy for the Anglican Communion as a reason to exclude same-sex spouses from Lambeth. That same resolution defines marriage as a “lifelong union.” However, the opposite-sex spouses of bishops who have been divorced and remarried have been invited to Lambeth. We are left to conclude that excluding same-sex spouses is a selective decision—perhaps even an arbitrary one.

Now, thanks to the intrepid reporting of Mary Frances Schjonberg of Episcopal News Service, we know that precisely two spouses are currently excluded from Lambeth. One is the wife of Bishop Mary Glasspool of the Diocese of New York, and the other is the husband of Bishop Kevin Robertson of the Diocese of Toronto in the Anglican Church of Canada. A third, the husband of Bishop-elect Thomas Brown of Maine—also known, for a few more months, as Deputy Brown—will be excluded assuming that the consent process to that election is successful.

In short, the universe of people directly affected by this situation is small. Very small. The Archbishop of Canterbury had already written to Bishop Glasspool and her wife and spoken directly to Bishop Robertson. And yet, Archbishop Idowu-Fearon wrote a blog post about it titled “The global excitement about the Lambeth Conference.” We are left to ponder why it was important for the Anglican Communion Office to make this situation very, very public nearly 18 months in advance.

One other thing: When Bishop Robertson and his husband were married late last year, after nine years together, we learned from media reports that they are the parents of two little children. I cannot overlook the fact that the Anglican Communion Office has created a public situation in which two children are learning that the hierarchy of the church considers their family to be a source of shame and worthy of exclusion. That makes me very angry. When little children are collateral damage, that is not the way of love.

If your internet spigot is similar to mine, and I imagine that it is, you’ve seen that there are a variety of opinions about what bishops and their spouses should do in response to this news. I leave that to the discernment of the bishops and their spouses. But there is the larger issue of how the rest of the Episcopal Church responds.

On Facebook, Deputy Winnie Varghese wrote, “I told an archbishop once that recent Lambeth conferences have done irreparable harm to the witness of The Episcopal Church to the most vulnerable in our society, poor, LGBTQI people of color, because if we show on the international stage that we won’t love our own people and our own leaders and their families, how could we possibly love them/us. … If you can’t invite everyone on equal terms, cancel. You’re not ready.”

I commend her entire post to you, and I agree with it. If we are not yet able to hold a global meeting of Anglican bishops and spouses to which everyone is invited, then I think we should not be holding global meetings of Anglican bishops and spouses.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), House of Deputies President, Marriage & Family, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Albert Mohler for Eric Liddell’s Feast Day–“God Made Me for China:” Eric Liddell Beyond Olympic Glory

“God made me for China.” Eric Liddell lived his life in answer to that calling and commission. As Duncan Hamilton explains, Liddell “considered athletics as an addendum to his life rather than his sole reason for living it.”

Eric Liddell ran for God’s glory, but he was made for China. He desperately wanted the nation he loved to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and believe. David J. Michell, director for Canada Overseas Missionary Fellowship, would introduce Liddell’s collected devotional writings, The Disciplines of the Christian Life, by stating simply that “Eric Liddell’s desire was to know God more deeply, and as a missionary, to make him known more fully.”

Christians must remember that Olympic glory will eventually fade. There will be medalists for all to celebrate. But, will there be another Eric Liddell? At the very least, his story needs to be told again. The most important part of his story came long after his gold medal arrived by mail.

Read it all.

Posted in --Scotland, China, Missions, Sports

More for Eric Liddell’s Feast Day–The Second Life of the Man Who Wouldn’t Run on Sunday

Liddell lived life to the hilt, but not in the modern “I am tenaciously dedicated to my own hedonic brand” kind of way. Liddell’s vision of an all-out life was to assess his options, count the cost, and then take the most risky step in the name of Jesus Christ. The calculation was a simple one: “Each one comes to the cross-roads at some period of his life,” Hamilton quotes Liddell as preaching, “and must make his decision for or against his Master.” This Christocentric logic made great sense to Liddell, even if it made little sense to the world. Liddell faced fierce skepticism for his attempts to live out his faith, whether in his famous decision not to run on Sundays or his withdrawal from competition in order to answer the missionary call.

This example can help inform contemporary engagement for believers. Much effort is made today by younger evangelicals to get the cultural backflip just right, to strenuously befriend unbelievers while never offending them with over-stressed Christianity. Liddell’s was a more straightforward approach. Drafting off of the Sermon on the Mount, his favorite section of Scripture, he stood for his convictions without flinching while loving his neighbor without hesitating. The resulting model of Christian witness is as simple as it is inspiring.

Liddell was not a perfect man, of course. Hamilton covers his lengthy separation from his family with a clear eye. Married in 1934 to the untiring Florence, Liddell fathered three children. He loved his wife and kids, but as Hamilton notes, his first priority was the work of missions. This meant lengthy periods of separation as Liddell worked in Siaochang and later Tientsin. The work was always grueling, and China in the 1930s and 1940s was a very fearsome place indeed. Liddell was often robbed, frequently hungry and dirty, and regularly accosted by officials seeking to impede his work.

Read it all from Christianity Today.

Posted in --Scotland, Church History, Missions, Sports

Meir Soloveichik for Eric Liddell’s Feast Day–Finding God in the Olympic Footrace

While Americans rightly exult in the achievements of U.S. medalists, “Chariots of Fire” also serves as a reminder that athletics and even patriotism only mean so much. When Liddell is informed that a qualifying heat takes place on Sunday, his Sabbath, he chooses not to compete in that race. The camera cuts from athletes at the Olympics to Liddell reading a passage in Isaiah: “Behold the nations are as a drop in the bucket . . . but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings, as eagles. They shall run, and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.” David Puttnam, a “Chariots of Fire” producer, wrote me that the verses were “specifically selected by the actor, the late Ian Charleson, who gave himself the task of reading the entire Bible whilst preparing for the film.”

The Isaiah passage is liturgically important for Jews: Parts of it are declaimed in synagogue on the Sabbath when we read God’s command to Abraham to leave the center of civilization and found a family, and a faith, in a new land. Isaiah reminds Jews that Abraham’s children have encountered much worse than what Harold Abrahams experienced. While most nations now rest on the ash heap of history, the biblical Abraham’s odyssey continues. The countries competing in today’s Olympics come and go, while those who “wait upon the Lord” endure.

“Chariots of Fire” also offers a message for people of faith who have grown troubled by the secularization of society and the realization that they are often scorned by elites. Like Liddell, we may be forced to choose religious principle over social success. Hopefully, however, we will be able to use our gifts to sanctify this world. As Liddell’s father told his son in the film: “Run in God’s name, and let the world stand back in wonder.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Scotland, Church History, Missions, Sports

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Eric Liddell

God whose strength bears us up as on mighty wings: We rejoice in remembering thy athlete and missionary, Eric Liddell, to whom thou didst bestow courage and resolution in contest and in captivity; and we pray that we also may run with endurance the race that is set before us and persevere in patient witness, until we wear that crown of victory won for us by Jesus our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in --Scotland, Church History, Missions, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Church of South India

O Christ our God, who wilt come to judge the world in the manhood which thou hast assumed: We pray thee to sanctify us wholly, that in the day of thy coming we may be raised to live and reign with thee for ever.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet unborn may praise the LORD: that he looked down from his holy height, from heaven the LORD looked at the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die; that men may declare in Zion the name of the LORD, and in Jerusalem his praise, when peoples gather together, and kingdoms, to worship the LORD. He has broken my strength in mid-course; he has shortened my days. “O my God,” I say, “take me not hence in the midst of my days, thou whose years endure throughout all generations!” Of old thou didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They will perish, but thou dost endure; they will all wear out like a garment. Thou changest them like raiment, and they pass away; but thou art the same, and thy years have no end.

–Psalm 102:18-27

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(TLC) Church of England General Synod Discusses Transgender Guidance

Many questions sought to clarify the bishops’ intentions in issuing the guidance, the process by which it was developed, and the permanence or provisionality of its suggestions.

Some confusion in the bishops’ answers arose about the intention behind the service and whether it was making any theological claims.

Prudence Dailey (Oxford) asked, “for the sake of absolute clarity,” whether the House of Bishops “intended … that the service of affirmation of baptismal vows should be used to mark gender transition.” The Bishop of Hereford, Richard Frith, said that it was “not intended at all.”

Some lack of clarity on this point continued, however, with the Bishop of Willesden later saying that the service was primarily developed to meet the needs of people who had “already in this situation” before joining the church, rather than those transitioning within a congregation. “We’re not at the moment making any more theological assumptions about where we go after that. That’s something that the [Living in Love and Faith] project is seeking to address.”

Dailey asked a supplementary question on whether “in addition to the pastoral concerns which they quite rightly considered,” the bishops had considered the significant “philosophical considerations” raised by these pastoral situations.

Cocksworth said the pastoral, philosophical, and theological questions raised by the guidance would be addressed by the Living in Love and Faith Project: “That is giving exactly the sort of theological and philosophical attention to the matters you raise now.”

Read it all and you can find the questions and answers here.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology

(Stuff) New Zealand Anglican group who are unwilling to compromise Christian sexual standards for leaders is growing

Since the vote to allow same-sex blessings last year, three Christchurch parishes have split from the Anglican church – St Stephens in Shirley, St John in Latimer Square and Christchurch South. About 80 per cent of worshippers in Woolston have also left to form a new church. Vicars have resigned in Avonhead, Papanui and Rakaia, taking some worshippers with them.

Last year, St Matthew’s church in Dunedin left the Anglican church, with vicar Stu Crosson writing in a parish newsletter that same-sex ceremonies were blessing “something that God calls an abomination”.

Rangiora vicar Andrew Allan-Johns declined to comment, but confirmed he had resigned and started a new church.

The worshippers, priests and parishes that have left the Anglican diocese intend to form a new church.

St Stephens minister Jay Behan said West Hamilton Church, which left the Anglican church in 2014 over same-sex blessings, will join the new church. He said the new church would hold its first synod in May to agree on a new name, constitution and bishop.

The first same-sex blessing in Canterbury gave Behan a “sadness”, he said.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(ACNS) Archbishop of Canterbury calls an Anglican Primates’ Meeting in Jordan in January 2020

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury

(Christian Today) Churches are playing a ‘key role’ in the fight against human trafficking

Churches and faith groups are making an important contribution to efforts to eliminate the global scourge of human trafficking, a UN human rights committee has heard.

Jack Palmer-White, the Anglican Communion’s Permanent Representative to the UN, outlined the many anti-trafficking initiatives being led by churches in a submission to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) this week.

The CEDAW is considering submissions on the issue of human trafficking as it prepares to make a ‘general recommendation’ to UN member states.

In his report, Mr Palmer-White asked that the general recommendation ‘reflects the key role that churches and other faith actors can, and do, play in the fight against trafficking of women and girls in the context of global migration’.

Examples of anti-trafficking work detailed in the report include a partnership between the US Embassy to Ghana and the Diocese of Accra which has led to the creation of a community shelter called Hope Village that rehabilitates rescued children, while holding the government of Ghana to account on its progress in eliminating trafficking.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Ghana, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(NYT) Murders of Religious Minorities in India Go Unpunished, Report Finds

The Indian authorities have delayed investigating a wave of vigilante-style murders of religious minorities, with many instead working to justify the attacks or file charges against some of the victims’ families, according to a report released Tuesday by Human Rights Watch.

The 104-page report said that since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party took power in 2014, attacks led by so-called cow protection groups have jumped sharply.

Between May 2015 and December 2018, at least 44 people have been killed, Human Rights Watch found. Most of the victims were Muslims accused of storing beef or transporting cows for slaughter, a crime in most Indian states. Many Hindus, who form about 80 percent of India’s population, consider cows sacred.

Data cited in the report from FactChecker.in, an Indian organization that tracks reports of violence, found that as many as 90 percent of religion-based hate crimes in the last decade occurred after Mr. Modi took office. Mobs hung victims from trees, frequently mutilated victims and burned bodies.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, India, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Violence

The Yorkshire Post speaks with the new Dean of Wakefield, the Very Reverend Simon Cowling

People are increasingly being corralled unwittingly into certain positions – corralled by social media, traditional media, being encouraged to take positions about things. Politicians are forced into not saying things or saying things because everyone wants to know where they stand on a particular issue. And all of us are being encouraged to do that.

I want Wakefield Cathedral to be a place where people can reflect on these issues without feeling they are being forced into a particular position; where they can have the space to think these things through. We want people to know that this beautiful building is for everyone.

Here at Wakefield Cathedral they can experience that sense of peace, quiet and tranquillity that is so often denied us but which is so important for reflection. I want it to be a place where people can understand something about themselves and about others, a place which enables them to test their sense of identity in a kind and supportive arena.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(CEN) Andrew Carey–A diminished Lambeth Conference

It is absolutely no surprise that the Anglican provinces of Nigeria and Uganda [and Rwanda] have already stated that they do not intend to go to the Lambeth Conference in 2020.

This is entirely consistent with the view of many global south Anglican leaders that the fabric of communion has already been broken by the actions of North American Anglicans – initially by consecrating Gene Robinson as a practising homosexual bishop in 2003. The process of discipline that was begun through the Primates’ Meeting and the Windsor Report was rapidly abandoned and the can was kicked down the road. But it was plain to anyone that communion between Anglicans was so badly damaged that never again could Anglicans pretend to have an interchangeable ministry and common worship.

For 10 years after the consecration of Gene Robinson there were various attempts to put the show back on the road but even Rowan Williams’ valiant attempt to create an Anglican Covenant, which might help to set some limits to the diversity of Anglicanism, was rejected by the General Synod of the Church of England. I still cannot quite believe that Synod members humiliated their Archbishop in such a brutal way.

When Justin Welby picked up the pieces, he travelled tirelessly around the world meeting with Anglican leaders. It is clear he picked up the message that the Communion was ‘broken’ in a very fundamental way. But he concluded that, because Anglican leaders were willing to meet with him, they might be willing to start meeting together once again. It was a risk worth taking but it hasn’t paid off. The boycott by…[three] of the biggest Anglican provinces will stand. Like the 2008 Conference in which almost a third of bishops refused to participate, the 2020 conference will be a diminished gathering.

 

Can the Anglican Communion be saved?

 

In a fascinating essay the evangelical theologian Andrew Goddard agrees that the signs are not good for the Lambeth 2020.

The great risk facing Justin Welby, he argues, is that a failure to gather all the bishops of the Anglican Communion will mark the end of the Lambeth Conference as an ‘effective Instrument of Communion’. He cites four factors, which could equally be applied to the other instruments of communion – the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting – which are:

  1. The failure to discipline
  2. The Archbishop’s changed approach on invitations to the Lambeth Conference
  3. An unwillingness to explore the logic of impaired communion
  4. And the conscientious objection of a large number of bishops.

I admire Goddard’s optimistic outlook that the Anglican Communion can still be saved. He sees the Communion as breaking down, whereas my slightly more brutal approach is to say the faultlines are too great and can never be bridged. The damage limitation exercise that Archbishops must engage in is to keep all the parties talking but it is long past time to abandon the so-called instruments of unity/communion and the pretence that Anglicans are in the same ‘Church’ in any meaningful sense.

But where I mostly disagree with him is on the obscure but important point that Justin Welby is wrongly acting out of step with his predecessor by issuing invitations to the Lambeth Conference on a different basis. Readers will remember that Rowan Williams refused to invite Gene Robinson to the Lambeth Conference in 2008, but even this little gesture backfired because those who refused to attend weren’t opposed in any petty sense to one single bishop, but to a heterodox theology that led to his consecration.

But Rowan Williams was wrong to think that he had the power of invitation to individual bishops. In fact his invitations should have been directed to all bishops in good standing with their own provinces. It is an over-mighty Archbishop who thinks he can personally decide for himself who he is in communion with, and therefore who is in the Anglican Communion. Archbishops of Canterbury have never been this powerful.

One of the problems that resulted from the Gene Robinson crisis in 2003 was that Anglicans pretended they had powers that they didn’t. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s clear choice in 2008 was not the petty power to single out one particular bishop but the greater and properly exercised power not to invite the Episcopal Church of the USA because through its actions it had torn the fabric of communion.

That was the only way to save the Anglican Communion. Of course, he didn’t and the rest is history.

–This appeared in the Church of England Newspaper, 15 February 2019 edition, on page 11; subscriptions to CEN are encouraged

Posted in - Anglican: Analysis, --Justin Welby, --Rowan Williams, Anglican Church of Canada, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Global South Churches & Primates

(Deseret News) Why the United Methodist Church seeks to end the decades-long battle over whether to change the standards of Christian behavior for leaders

Members of the United Methodist Church don’t agree on biblical teachings about homosexuality. More than that, they don’t agree on whether it’s necessary to agree about homosexuality in order to remain a unified denomination, church members and leaders said.

Participants in this special session of general conference on sexuality are tasked with determining whether it’s possible to avoid a denominational schism. They’ll debate policies on LGBTQ ordination and same-sex marriage, seeking to understand God’s will for the church.

“Our hope is not that this is an argument, but rather a way for followers of Jesus to develop empathy for each other and to listen to disagreements,” wrote Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, Jr., president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, in an email.

Conference delegates will vote on multiple potential paths forward, weighing whether to change church teachings stating that homosexual acts are sinful or provide an exit plan for those who don’t share this belief. Even creating room for pastors and congregations to hold a range of views on LGBTQ rights could lead to a schism, said Mark Tooley, author of “Methodism and Politics in the 20th Century” and president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy in Washington, D.C.

“This could potentially rip apart thousands of congregations,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Daily Prayer

Almighty God, whose sovereign purpose none can make void: Give us faith to stand calm and undismayed amid the tumults of the world, knowing that thy kingdom shall come and thy will be done; to the eternal glory of thy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Daily Prayer, Eric Milner-White and G. W. Briggs, eds. (London: Penguin Books 1959 edition of the 1941 original)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Have nothing to do with godless and silly myths. Train yourself in godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.

Command and teach these things. Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Till I come, attend to the public reading of scripture, to preaching, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands upon you. Practice these duties, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Take heed to yourself and to your teaching; hold to that, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

–1 Timothy 4:7-16

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(LA Times) Your phone and TV are tracking you, and political campaigns are listening in

“We can put a pin on a building, and if you are in that building, we are going to get you,” said Democratic strategist Dane Strother, who advised Evers. And they can get you even if you aren’t in the building anymore, but were simply there at some point in the last six months.

Campaigns don’t match the names of voters with the personal information they scoop up — although that could be possible in many cases. Instead, they use the information to micro-target ads to appear on phones and other devices based on individual profiles that show where a voter goes, whether a gun range, a Whole Foods or a town hall debate over Medicare.

The spots would show up in all the digital places a person normally sees ads — whether on Facebook or an internet browser such as Chrome.

As a result, if you have been to a political rally, a town hall, or just fit a demographic a campaign is after, chances are good your movements are being tracked with unnerving accuracy by data vendors on the payroll of campaigns. The information gathering can quickly invade even the most private of moments.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Science & Technology

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s presidential address to General Synod

In one extraordinary verse Peter brings together salvation, truth, holiness and love.

Even if there were not hundreds of other examples in scripture this one verse puts paid to the absurdity that truth and love are somehow alternatives, that we can be in favour of one but not the other.

To separate them is like separating breathing from the beating of the heart. The absence of either stops the other and brings death.

In holiness God brings salvation through Jesus the truth, overflowing in love to every person on earth, and as we respond to that love we cease to be what we were and become something new.

Yet Peter writes this letter because there is so much pressure to conform, and so much behaviour which is what the recipients had been, behaviour like those around them in their culture, the absence of love, competition, no grace, no hope.

There is too much of what they were, too little of what God in Christ has made them.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE)

(PBS Newshour) Read Michael Gerson’s sermon sharing his struggle with depression

It is impossible for anyone but saints to live always on that mountaintop. I suspect that there are people here today – and I include myself – who are stalked by sadness, or stalked by cancer, or stalked by anger. We are afraid of the mortality that is knit into our bones. We experience unearned suffering, or give unreturned love, or cry useless tears. And many of us eventually grow weary of ourselves – tired of our own sour company.

At some point, willed cheerfulness fails. Or we skim along the surface of our lives, afraid of what lies in the depths below. It is a way to cope, but no way to live.

I’d urge anyone with undiagnosed depression to seek out professional help. There is no way to will yourself out of this disease, any more than to will yourself out of tuberculosis.

There are, however, other forms of comfort. Those who hold to the wild hope of a living God can say certain things:

In our right minds – as our most sane and solid selves – we know that the appearance of a universe ruled by cruel chaos is an lie and that the cold void is actually a sheltering sky.

In our right minds, we know that life is not a farce but a pilgrimage – or maybe a farce and a pilgrimage, depending on the day.

Read it all (my emphasis).

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

Stephen Lynas on what will be discussed this week at the Church of England General Synod

Officially, the chief focus of the week is evangelism. But, as ever, there are other, unofficial currents flowing through the week, and so the other prominent thread will be human sexuality – both the work under the title ‘Living in Love and Faith‘ (long-term, official) and the ongoing rows about liturgy to be used with people who have undergone a gender change (current campaigning, unofficial).

We’ll get to the transgender row in a minute. But first of all, note the time being given to evangelism-related debates this week:

  1. On Wednesday, three contributions from Anglican leaders from elsewhere – North India, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Kenya.
  2. Thursday is an evangelism-free day. But on Friday we have three major items – Evangelism and Discipleship, evangelism on estates, and the Growing Faith debate on ministry among children and young people.
  3. On Friday we return to the subject with a Private Members Motion from Church Army’s Mark Russell about encouraging youth evangelism.

Read it all (and follow the links). Also, there is a good link to the General Synod papers there. As ever, the main General Synod page is there.

Posted in - Anglican: Commentary, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(CEN) Peter Brierley–Understanding midweek attendance figures

The Church of England publishes both its Usual Sunday Attendance (USA) across its 15,600 churches and also the Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) which is higher (5 per cent in 2017). It also publishes the weekday attendance across a church’s various activities, and, since 2013, separately the number who attend weekly school services in church. All are broken down between adults and children.

In a sentence, these various numbers may be summarised as “Sunday attendance is dropping; weekday attendance is increasing.” The increase in weekday just about compensates for the decrease in Sunday attendance, though the change in total attendance between 2013 and 2017 is slightly down, having dropped -2 per cent. It is also true that the total number of adults attending church is declining while the total number of children is increasing!

It may readily be seen that the total adult numbers at school services increased a little between 2013 and 2015 but has been much the same between 2015 and 2017. Adults at the weekday services have dropped a little since 2015, down from 121,000 to 115,000. Children’s school services participation, however, has increased very markedly in this period, weekday total rising from 103,000 in 2013 to 151,000 in 2017 – a 50 per cent increase.

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Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Stephen Noll–Lambeth Hypocrisy: Disinviting the Spouses

I was present at Lambeth 1998 and have explained it on more than one occasion. The Resolution is a clear statement of Christian moral doctrine. In brief it states:

  1. that God has ordained and blesses sexual relations in two and only two forms: heterosexual, monogamous, and lifelong marriage and abstinent singleness;
  2. that many people experience same-sex attraction and the church is called to listen to them, counsel them, and welcome them into its fellowship so that they may by God’s grace live transformed lives, either by remaining abstinent or finding fulfillment in traditional marriage;
  3. that homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture, and therefore the church cannot legitimize the ordination of practicing homosexuals or the blessing of same-sex unions.

What is fatally absent in Bishop Fearon’s recital of the Lambeth Resolution is #3. God not only ordains and blesses what is good, He declares what is sinful, which He calls immorality (porneia). Homosexual practice is by its very character sinful, as is heterosexual promiscuity and cohabitation.

So the problem is not just the scandal of the non-episcopal spouses but of the episcopal spouses themselves. Indeed, as bishops their sin is the greater (1 Timothy 3:1-2). The accountability goes even deeper. These bishops were nominated by canon, elected by their synods, and consecrated by their fellow bishops. Since judgment begins with the household of God (1 Peter 4:17), it is those churches and bishops who should be disinvited.

The shamelessness of invoking Lambeth I.10 is that they do not really believe it. They have already abandoned the prohibition on ordaining openly homosexual priests and bishops. They claim they are upholding the prohibition on same-sex marriage but only half-heartedly and until Lambeth 2020 is past. How likely is it that Justin Welby phoned the couples involved and explained: “I’m sorry, but you are in violation of Scripture and Resolution I.10, which as you know speaks of marriage as only between a man and a woman, and it will cause a scandal if you appear in Canterbury together”? And if he did say that privately, why will he not say it publicly?

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Posted in - Anglican: Analysis

(CT) The Radical Christian Faith of Frederick Douglass (for his Feast Day)

Douglass rejoiced in 1865 when the Union triumphed in the Civil War and the nation ratified the Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery forever. But he did not believe his prophetic work had ended. At the end of his life, equality under the law remained an aspiration, not a reality. African Americans and women were denied the right to vote. The ghost of slavery lived on in oppressive economic arrangements like sharecropping. Jim Crow carved rigid lines of racial segregation in the public square. White mobs lynched at least 200 black men each year in the 1890s.

He had good reason, then, in 1889, to mourn how the “malignant prejudice of race” still “poisoned the fountains of justice, and defiled the altars of religion” in America. Yet Douglass also rejoiced in the continued possibility of redemption. A new way of seeing the world, and living in it, still remained—one that rested, Douglass said, on a “broad foundation laid by the Bible itself, that God has made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Frederick Douglass

Almighty God, we bless thy Name for the witness of Frederick Douglass, whose impassioned and reasonable speech moved the hearts of people to a deeper obedience to Christ: Strengthen us also to speak on behalf of those in captivity and tribulation, continuing in the Word of Jesus Christ our Liberator; who with thee and the Holy Spirit dwelleth in glory everlasting. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Euchologium Anglicanum

O God, heavenly Father, who by thy Son hast made all things in heaven and earth, and yet desirest to draw to thyself our uncompelled love and devotion: Grant us grace to understand the manifestation of thy Son Christ the Lord and Saviour of mankind, and to engage all our affections in thy service, and labour to spread the gospel among those who know him not; that when he shall come again in great glory he may find a people gladly awaiting his kingdom; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

–1 Timothy 3:16

Posted in Theology: Scripture