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Congratulation to Novak Djokovic, 2018 Wimbledon men’s Champion

John Updike, the great American author, made the following observation: “Professionalism in art has this difficulty: to be professional is to be dependable, to be dependable is to be predictable, and predictability is aesthetically boring — an anti-virtue in a field where we hope to be astonished and startled and at some deep level refreshed.”

I wonder if it is this sentiment that underpins the lack of affection for Djokovic. Is he too dependable? Too predictable? Does his game lack that element of surprise that is so central to, say, Federer? If so, allow me to suggest that dependability contains its own kind of beauty. To watch this unique athlete hitting groundstrokes deep and true, returning serves with solidity, chasing down balls with those elastic legs, is a privilege.

One must surely admire his journey, too. He lived his formative years in the devastation of war-torn Belgrade, spending 78 straight nights in a shelter as Nato bombs rained down during the Kosovo campaign. He was almost killed by the precision bomb of an F-117 bomber, which levelled a building a few yards away. There have been other upheavals, not least in tennis where, for many years, he had a body that broke down at critical moments.

Today, dependability is not just an approach to tennis, but a kind of sanctuary. His phenomenal work rate, on and off the court, is an elusive search for shots that never miss, never fragment, never let him down. Yesterday, he looked as implacable as two years ago, when he won four straight slams and had a stranglehold on the game. He is not just one of the greats of tennis, but of sport.

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Posted in England / UK, Men, Serbia, Sports

ACNA’s Liturgy Task Force seeks feedback on Initiatory and Pastoral Rites

In April, when the Liturgy Task Force met to finalize the lesser daily offices, the Great Litany and the Lent and Holy Week rites, 277 feedback emails significantly assisted the Task Force in shaping the final forms of those services.

The last appeal for feedback was hugely successful. We are nearing the home stretch. According to a recent survey by the Barna Organization, 1 in 10 active Christians uses the Book of Common Prayer daily. The BCP 2019 will form a generation of believers. Let’s make it the best it can possibly be.

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Posted in --Book of Common Prayer, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Liturgy, Music, Worship

(WSJ) Egyptian Legislation treats social-media accounts with more than 5,000 followers as media outlets, opening Twitter and Facebook users to prosecution

Egypt’s parliament passed a law giving the government sweeping powers to regulate traditional and social media, a move critics say will boost the Sisi regime’s ability to crack down on free speech and dissent.

The measure allows authorities to penalize traditional media like television and newspapers for spreading what the government terms fake news. It also treats social-media accounts with more than 5,000 followers as media outlets, opening Twitter and Facebook users to prosecution on vague charges including defaming religion and inciting hatred.

Most prominent media outlets in Egypt are pro-government, and some analysts and rights groups see the law as an aggressive attempt to restrict social media, which remains one of the few remaining arenas of free expression in a country where independent news websites are often blocked and unauthorized street protests banned.

“These laws would legalize this mass censorship and step up the assault on the right to freedom of expression in Egypt,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa campaigns director at Amnesty International, commenting on the law and related legislation ahead of the vote.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Egypt, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Middle East

(Patheos) It is Well With My Soul: The Witness of the Church of Nigeria

At present, the future for all Christians in Nigeria looks grim:

  • Nine of the country’s thirty-six states impose full-blown Sharia. This forces Christians in those states to navigate a minefield. In this minefield, Islamic rage could be detonated by anything as seemingly innocuous as a gesture, a word, or even an act of God. In one such incident, Muslims blamed Christians for a lunar eclipse and went on a killing spree.
  • Then there is the murderous violence of Boko Haram. For years the U.S. State Department seemed determined to see Boko Haram as “disenfranchised, impoverished youth.” (Forget the fact that they were driving around the northern and middle belt states in fully-loaded SUVs, accompanied by their own chef.) Elites complained that they were just “in need of job counseling and midnight basketball.” But determined activists, of which I was one, finally broke through the false narrative. State designated Boko Haram a Foreign Terrorist Organization in November 2013.
  • In more recent years, nomadic Fulani “herdsmen” have evolved into Fulani Jihadists. They target Christians, wiping out entire villages and grabbing the land. If Christians attempt to defend themselves, they are accused of “retaliating.” As one Nigerian Christian told a member of Congress, “We are told to ‘turn the other cheek,’ but we have no more cheeks left to turn.” The Fulani are now ranked above Boko Haram as deadliest terrorists. They murdered more people than Boko Haram in 2015, 2016, and 2017. And they are already on their way to beating their own record in 2018.

Faith and Peace

Still, at GAFCON it was obvious to me that the Nigerian archbishops, bishops, clergy, and lay delegates were full of the joy of the Lord. A talented and powerful worship team from Nigeria had led our music all week long. I was happy to see Nigerian church leaders that I already knew. Among those were the Archbishop and Primate, the Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh. And there was Bishop Nathan Inyom, whose Diocese of Makurdi is a refuge for those fleeing from Fulani.

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Posted in Church of Nigeria, Nigeria, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(NYT) Adam Kirsch–A French Novelist Imagined Sexual Dystopia. Now It’s Arrived.

…until Minassian committed his crime, the grievances of incels had received little public attention. In May, Jordan Peterson, the Canadian psychologist who has been celebrated and reviled for his views on society and gender, created a furor when he told The New York Times that “enforced monogamy” might be the only way to pacify their rage. Along with some other social conservatives, Peterson sympathizes with the notion that the sexual revolution, like the free-market revolution, has created classes of winners and losers, and that the losers have a legitimate grievance. “No one cares about the men who fail,” Peterson observed.

To any reader of the French writer Michel Houellebecq, this lament will sound eerily familiar. For the last 25 years, in novel after novel, Houellebecq has advanced a similar critique of contemporary sexual mores. And while Houellebecq has always been a polarizing figure — admired for his provocations, disdained for his crudeness — he has turned out to be a writer of unusual prescience. At a time when literature is increasingly marginalized in public life, he offers a striking reminder that novelists can provide insights about society that pundits and experts miss. Houellebecq, whose work is saturated with brutality, resentment and sentimentality, understood what it meant to be an incel long before the term became common….

The sexual revolution of the 1960s, widely seen as a liberation movement, is better understood as the intrusion of capitalist values into the previously sacrosanct realm of intimate life.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Poetry & Literature, Sexuality

(AP) ‘Sheltering wings:’ Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston’s memorial plan conveys solace

Church officials unveiled detailed plans Sunday afternoon for the permanent tribute designed by the architect behind the 9/11 Memorial in New York. The announcement, coinciding with the 200th anniversary of the church known as “Mother Emanuel,” will be followed by a push to raise the money needed to build the memorial and prayer garden.

Church officials say the design conveys both solace and resiliency. A marble fountain with carvings of the victims’ names will be flanked by curved stone benches that rise above visitors’ heads and cradle the space “like sheltering wings,” according to a news release.

“When you walk into the memorial, it’s going to give you the feeling of being embraced, just embraced with warmth,” said City Councilman William Dudley Gregorie, a church trustee who lost a loved one in the June 2015 attack.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Violence

A recent Kendall Harmon Sermon: Living as a Christian with suffering and Weakness (2 Corinthians 12)

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Scripture

Nathan Barontini–The Three Advents of Christ in Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

From here:

We know that there are three comings of the Lord. The third lies between the other two. It is invisible, while the other two are visible. In the first coming he was seen on earth, dwelling among men; he himself testifies that they saw him and hated him. In the final coming all flesh will see the salvation of our God, and they will look on him whom they pierced. The intermediate coming is a hidden one; in it only the elect see the Lord within their own selves, and they are saved. In his first coming our Lord came in our flesh and in our weakness; in this middle coming he comes in spirit and in power; in the final coming he will be seen in glory and majesty.

In case someone should think that what we say about this middle coming is sheer invention, listen to what our Lord himself says: If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him. There is another passage of Scripture which reads: He who fears God will do good, but something further has been said about the one who loves, that is, that he will keep God’s word. Where is God’s word to be kept? Obviously in the heart, as the prophet says: I have hidden your words in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.

Keep God’s word in this way. Let it enter into your very being, let it take possession of your desires and your whole way of life. Feed on goodness, and your soul will delight in its richness. Remember to eat your bread, or your heart will wither away. Fill your soul with richness and strength.

Because this coming lies between the other two, it is like a road on which we travel from the first coming to the last. In the first, Christ was our redemption; in the last, he will appear as our life; in this middle coming, he is our rest and consolation.

If you keep the word of God in this way, it will also keep you. The Son with the Father will come to you. The great Prophet who will build the new Jerusalem will come, the one who makes all things new. This coming will fulfill what is written: As we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, we shall also bear the likeness of the heavenly man. Just as Adam’s sin spread through all mankind and took hold of all, so Christ, who created and redeemed all, will glorify all, once he takes possession of all.

Posted in Christology, Church History

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Alfred the Great

Lord God Almighty, shaper and ruler of all creatures, we pray Thee for Thy great mercy, that Thou guide us better than we have done, towards Thee, and guide us to Thy will, to the need of our soul, better than we can ourselves. And steadfast our mind towards Thy will and to our soul’s need. And strengthen us against the temptations of the devil, and put far from us all lust, and every unrighteousness, and shield us against our foes, seen and unseen. And teach us to do Thy will, that we may inwardly love Thee before all things, with a pure mind. For Thou art our maker and our redeemer, our help, our comfort, our trust, our hope; praise and glory be to Thee now, ever and ever, world without end. Amen.

–James Manning, ed., Prayers of the Middle Ages: Light from a Thousand Years (Nashville: The Upper Room, 1954)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

To thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in thee I trust,
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Yea, let none that wait for thee be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know thy ways, O Lord;
teach me thy paths.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me,
for thou art the God of my salvation;
for thee I wait all the day long.

–Psalm 25:1-4

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Warm congratulations to Sam Ferguson, announced this morning as the new rector of Falls Church (Anglican)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Parish Ministry

Sunday food for Thought from Kathy and Tim Keller

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, Theology

(NR) Americans Quit Church but Still Search for Meaning, Now as Loners

People may be looking to nontraditional beliefs in their search for meaning, but there are reasons to doubt that those are effective substitutes for religion. Religion may be a uniquely powerful meaning resource because, in addition to providing a needed space for spiritual engagement, it binds individuals to a meaning-sustaining social fabric. Many alternatives to traditional religion are products of an increasingly individualistic culture, more focused on personal interests and less on social duties. However, the more a belief system promotes interdependence, the more likely it is to enhance meaning. Research shows that belongingness increases a sense of meaning, whereas loneliness and social alienation undermine it. Similarly, the people who are least vulnerable to existential anxiety perceive themselves not just as distinct individuals but as part of broader social and cultural groups. Religion is best able to serve an existential function when it cultivates strong family, friendship, and community bonds. This isn’t to say that religion doesn’t have its own problems. After all, humans are involved. When people form groups, whether secular or religious, they become susceptible to in-group biases that can contribute to social conflict.

It is no small matter that, in their search for meaning, people are turning to beliefs that may not reliably generate and maintain meaning. Viewing life as full of meaning is associated with a wide range of positive health outcomes, including longevity. People who believe they have an important purpose in life tend to be motivated to take care of their physical, mental, and social health and are better able to manage the many challenges and stressors of life. Moreover, feeling that life is meaningless is a risk factor for depression, anxiety, problem drinking, drug abuse, and suicide — which are all on the rise in America.

It isn’t enough to make life longer, easier, or even more pleasurable. People need to feel that they matter, that they are meaningful members of a meaningful social world. Not all beliefs in the supernatural or paranormal help to fulfill this need equally. Our society is becoming not more truly secular but more individualistic and, as a result, more likely to suffer from an epidemic of meaninglessness.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture

Congratulations to France, Winners of the World Cup 2018

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Posted in France, Men, Russia, Sports

(FT) How business is capitalising on the millennial Instagram obsession

The tables at the Tsubaki Salon are slightly wobbly. No more than a couple of millimetres off kilter, but enough to be noticeable.

This is puzzling because, in all other respects, this highest of high-end pancake houses, nestling among the haute-couture flagships of Tokyo’s Ginza district and fitted out in bracingly minimalist decor, is perfection. The plates and cups are the definition of Japanese ceramic elegance. The spindly handled spoons and forks have been created by one of the country’s most famous designers to fit the pinnacle of pancake Epicureanism. When it comes to the edible stars of the show — made using a complex technique — they too, in the view of the pancake cognoscenti, are flawless.

But what about that wobble? “It’s deliberate,” says Yukari Mori, nudging the table a little to demonstrate that even this imperfection is perfection. “They were designed this way to show off what makes these pancakes so good.”

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Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Japan, Photos/Photography, Science & Technology, Young Adults