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(NYT) Addicted to Vaped Nicotine, Teenagers Have No Clear Path to Quitting

A Harvard addiction medicine specialist is getting calls from distraught parents around the country. A Stanford psychologist is getting calls from rattled school officials around the world. A federal agency has ordered a public hearing on the issue.

Alarmed by the addictive nature of nicotine in e-cigarettes and its impact on the developing brain, public health experts are struggling to address a surging new problem: how to help teenagers quit vaping.

Until now, the storm over e-cigarettes has largely focused on how to keep the products away from minors. But the pervasiveness of nicotine addiction among teenagers who already use the devices is now sinking in — and there is no clear science or treatment to help them stop.

“Nobody is quite sure what to do with those wanting to quit, as this is all so new,” said Ira Sachnoff, president of Peer Resource Training and Consulting in San Francisco, which trains students to educate peers about smoking and vaping. “We are all searching for quit ideas and services for this new nicotine delivery method. It is desperately needed.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Teens / Youth

A Prayer to Begin the Day from The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory

O God of hope, fill us, we beseech thee, with all joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in hope by the power of thy Holy Spirit, and show forth our thankfulness to thee in trustful and courageous lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: Services of Praise and Prayer for Occasional Use in Churches (New York: Oxford University Press, 1933)

Posted in Advent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their licentiousness, and because of them the way of truth will be reviled. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words; from of old their condemnation has not been idle, and their destruction has not been asleep.

For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven other persons, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomor′rah to ashes he condemned them to extinction and made them an example to those who were to be ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the licentiousness of the wicked (for by what that righteous man saw and heard as he lived among them, he was vexed in his righteous soul day after day with their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.

–2 Peter 2:1-10a

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Anglican Taonga) New Zealand Bishops speak out on West Papua

As Bishops of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, we express our deep disappointment at the continued suppression by the Indonesian Government of the basic human rights of West Papuan people.

We stand with our sisters and brothers in West Papua in their struggle to determine their own political destiny, and we pray that the Indonesian government will halt all state-sanctioned abuse and violation of human rights there.

The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia also calls upon each government represented within its jurisdiction[1] to clearly express support for the people of West Papua in the redress of their historical injustices.

We urge our governments to continue to draw attention to the sustained ethnic violence and ongoing denial by the Indonesian government of the first people’s right of self-determination, and the abuse of their natural resources by foreign corporations.

We also commend the political leaders of Pacific Island countries such as Vanuatu, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Tuvalu, who continue to draw international attention to the plight of the peoples of West Papua.

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Posted in Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology

(ACNS) A Christmas Message from Ugandan Archbishop Stanley Ntagali

The name “Jesus” is the Greek version of the Hebrew name “Joshua”, which literally means “the Lord saves.” The meaning of Jesu’s name tells us who He is. He’s the only one who can save us.

As we come to the end of the year and reflect on the past year, many of us can see how we have tried to save ourselves from the challenges we face in our lives. We have tried to be our own saviours. Have you realised yet that it doesn’t work?

We can’t be our own saviour. And that’s why God sent his Son, Jesus, to save the world. To save you and me.

Fundamentally, Uganda’s problems are spiritual. We have allowed evil to flourish in Uganda at all levels, including our families. This is why we have made the past two years in the Church of Uganda the Year of the Family. The transformation of our country begins when individuals and families recognise they can’t be their own saviour, when they invite Jesus to rescue them, and when they pursue righteousness and holiness in their families.

This Christmas, I urge you to stop trying to be your own saviour and to surrender your life to Jesus as the only One who can save you.

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Posted in Christmas, Church of Uganda

(BBC) China’s pre-Christmas Church crackdown raises alarm

A recent surge of police action against churches in China has raised concerns the government is getting even tougher on unsanctioned Christian activity.

Among those arrested are a prominent pastor and his wife, of the Early Rain Covenant Church in Sichuan. Both have been charged with state subversion.

And on Saturday morning, dozens of police raided a children’s Bible class at Rongguili Church in Guangzhou.

One Christian in Chengdu told the BBC: “I’m lucky they haven’t found me yet.”

China is officially atheist, though says it allows religious freedom.

But it has over the years repeatedly taken action against religious leaders it considers to be threatening to its authority or to the stability of the state, which, according to Human Rights Watch, “makes a mockery of the government’s claim that it respects religious beliefs”.

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Posted in China, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

(CT) David Taylor–Why Putting Christ Back in Christmas Is Not Enough

Perhaps the problem is not whether we remember “that Jesus is the reason for the season,” but that the story that “Christmas in America” tells looks nothing like the story that Matthew and Luke tell about the birth of Christ and always seems to distort or to leave out essential elements of the Nativity narrative.

There’s a reason for that, of course. Christmas in America is influenced less by the stories of a publican and a physician—the Gospel writers Matthew and Luke—than by the stories of a Puritan, a princess, a poet and a host of painters.

What’s needed, I might argue, is a far more radical re-conceptualization of the story of Christmas—what it sounds like, how it feels, where it takes us, and what it enables us to imagine—and for the story of Matthew and Luke to redefine how Christians in America celebrate the “mass of Christ.”

Perhaps what’s needed, more bluntly, is to leave the story of “Christmas in America” alone and for Christians to learn to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity.

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Posted in Christmas, Christology

(BBC) Manchester United sack their manager Jose Mourinho

Manchester United have sacked manager Jose Mourinho after identifying a catalogue of his failings at the club.

The Portuguese, 55, took over in May 2016 and led United to League Cup and Europa League titles but they are 19 points behind league leaders Liverpool.

The club have made a change after no progress with results or style despite spending nearly £400m on 11 players.

The club also says the new manager will understand the philosophy of the club, including its attacking traditions.

It is understood that players and staff are not happy after a disappointing and unsettling period during which young players were not developed.

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Posted in England / UK, Sports

Bishop Libby Lane named as next Bishop of Derby

Bishop Libby is currently the Suffragan Bishop of Stockport, in the Diocese of Chester – a post she has occupied since 2015.

Libby describes Derbyshire as ‘the place that holds my heart’. She grew up in Glossop in the north-west of the county and was selected for ordination while working in the parish of St Thomas Brampton, Chesterfield.

Bishop Libby said: “I am excited and privileged to have been called to serve as Bishop of Derby.

“I grew up here and my vocation was fostered here. Derbyshire nurtured me and brought me to faith and I want to love Derbyshire back.

“I want to lead a church in Derbyshire where people find hope because they know they are loved by God in Christ, and I pray that hope sets us free to live our lives in ways that bring change for good.”

On hearing the news, the Dean of Derby, the Very Reverend Dr Stephen Hance, said: “I am thrilled that Libby is coming to be our bishop. Her roots are here in Derbyshire, and we are all very much looking forward to welcoming her home and working with her in the months and years ahead….

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Bishop William Walsham How

O Heavenly Father, whose most dearly beloved Son has come once to save the world, and will come again to judge the world: Help us, we pray thee, to watch like servants who wait for the coming of their lord. May we abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost; and, having this hope, may we purify ourselves by thy grace, even as Christ is pure. Grant this, O Father, for his sake and for the glory of thy holy name.

Posted in Advent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

But there will be no gloom for her that was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zeb′ulun and the land of Naph′tali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shined.
Thou hast multiplied the nation,
thou hast increased its joy;
they rejoice before thee
as with joy at the harvest,
as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
thou hast broken as on the day of Mid′ian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government will be upon his shoulder,
and his name will be called
“Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom,
to establish it, and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and for evermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

–Isaiah 9:1-7

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CTV) 126-year-old Springhill, Nova Scotia, church to be torn down

It stands like a beacon at the entrance to downtown Springhill, N.S.; a landmark more than a century old. But the All Saint Anglican Church will soon be gone.

The church was built in 1892 and lately, it’s been showing its 126 years of service. Damage to the roof and the steeple, and issues with heating the church all factor in the congregation’s difficult decision to tear the church down.

“The size of the building, the need for repairs on the roof, which, our conclusion was a new roof and we figured, we believed there would be other maintenance issues,” says Reverend Dr. Brian Spence, the church rector. “It was an extremely difficult decision and one that was the result of many years of struggling with the situation.”

Winter services have been held in the adjacent church hall for the last few years, and the congregation has dwindled to about 30 dedicated members. The cost of heating the church is just about more than they can afford.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Parish Ministry

(WSJ) The Loneliest Generation: Americans, More Than Ever, Are Aging Alone

Danny Miner, a 66-year-old retired chemical plant supervisor, spends most days alone in his Tooele, Utah, apartment, with “Gunsmoke” reruns to keep him company and a phone that rarely rings.

Old age wasn’t supposed to feel this lonely. Mr. Miner married five times, each bride bringing the promise of lifelong companionship. Three unions ended in divorce. Two wives died. Now his legs ache and his balance is faulty, and he’s stopped going to church or meeting friends at the Marine Corps League, a group for former Marines. “I get a little depressed from time to time,” he says.

Baby boomers are aging alone more than any generation in U.S. history, and the resulting loneliness is a looming public health threat. About one in 11 Americans age 50 and older lacks a spouse, partner or living child, census figures and other research show. That amounts to about eight million people in the U.S. without close kin, the main source of companionship in old age, and their share of the population is projected to grow.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(NYT) Laura Turner–Internet Church Isn’t Really Church

In his letters to early Christian communities, the Apostle Paul describes the church as a body comprising different but equally necessary members. When the church at Corinth was bickering over the importance of different spiritual gifts, Paul wrote to remind them that “the body does not consist of one member but of many.” He writes, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’” Later, he says, “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.”

Religious affiliation in America is down, according to a 2015 Pew survey. Religious institutions more and more reflect an insular community, and Churchome Global is the best distillation of where American Christianity is headed — your living room, your phone, your television. No longer will you have to leave your house to interact with fellow worshipers. You can do it all from the comfort, and isolation, of your own home.

But this individual, isolated experience of church is the poorer one for those of us who are able to go. (Live-streaming services are of course important for the homebound.) In an era when everything from dates to grocery delivery can be scheduled and near instant, church attendance shouldn’t be one more thing to get from an app. We can be members of a body best when we are all together — we can mourn when we observe and wipe away tears, just as we can rejoice when we can share smiles and have face-to-face conversations. Studies show that regular attendance at religious services correlates with better sleep, lower blood pressure in older adults and a reduced risk of suicide. I doubt these same phenomena occur when online church is substituted for the real thing, because the truth is that community is good for us. We need one another.

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Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(CT) [For her Feast Day] remembering the unlikely story of Dramatist, Author and Apologist Dorothy Sayers

At the height of her fame, Sayers was asked to write a play to be performed in Canterbury Cathedral for an annual festival. Having spent 15 years writing about a sexually adept aristocrat who entered churches more for aesthetic contemplation than spiritual renewal, Sayers hesitated. She finally accepted the commission, due, most likely, to the prestige of her predecessors in the job, T. S. Eliot and Charles Williams.

However, in writing a play about the 12th-century architect who rebuilt part of Canterbury Cathedral after its fiery destruction, Sayers experienced her own baptism by fire. As though a hot coal had touched her lips, she began speaking, through her characters, about the relevance of Christian doctrine to the integrity of work. Intriguing even professional theologians, her play ends with an angel announcing that humans manifest the “image of God,” the imago Dei, through creativity. After all, the Bible chapter proclaiming the imago Dei presents God not as judge or lawgiver but as Creator: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27).

Even more radically, Sayers’s angel suggests that creativity is Trinitarian. Any creative work has three distinct components: the Creative Idea, the Creative Energy “begotten of that Idea,” and the Creative Power that is “the meaning of the work and its response in the lively soul.” Indeed, Sayers’s angel says of Idea, Energy, and Power, “these three are one.”

Called The Zeal of Thy House, Sayers’s 1937 play ran for 100 performances, having moved from Canterbury to London’s West End. Audiences valued its unusual communication of Christian belief. Rather than endorsing pietistic practices, it celebrated the sanctity of work; rather than obsessing over sexual sins, it denounced arrogant pride as the “eldest sin of all.” The play’s self-aggrandizing protagonist, a womanizer who believes he alone can make the cathedral great again, is humbled by a crippling fall. Only then does he abandon his narcissistic need for mastery and acclaim, telling God, “to other men the glory / And to Thy Name alone.”

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Posted in Church History, Women