Category : Religion & Culture

(NPR) Debate On Role Of Islam Divides German Government

Germany’s new minister of interior, Horst Seehofer, has stirred up debate about the role of Islam in Germany.

In an interview with the German newspaper BILD Seehofer said: “Islam is not a part of Germany. Germany has been influenced by Christianity. This includes free Sundays, church holidays and rituals such as Easter, Pentecost and Christmas. However, the Muslims living in Germany obviously do belong to Germany.”

This statement conflicted with the position of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel said, even though Germany has been influenced mainly by Christianity and Judaism, there are more than four million Muslims in the country, they “belong to Germany and so does their religion.”

Konstantin von Notz, member of the opposition Green party, protests, “The statement of Interior Minister Seehoher is complete nonsense. Germany cannot afford such behavior in the important questions of integration.”

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Posted in Germany, Islam, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

FT talks with the steward of the Church of England’s investment portfolio, Loretta Minghella, on god, guns, gender and her brother’s death

In the months since her arrival at Church House next door to Westminster Abbey, Ms Minghella has added to Sir Andreas’s legacy. Observers say she is hard-nosed when it comes to numbers, has a low tolerance for bad corporate behaviour and is uncompromising on issues such as gender diversity.

“We are looking for companies to have 30 per cent gender diversity on their boards. If they haven’t, we will be looking at chairs of nominations committees and actually not approving one or two of them,” she says.

“It’s the right thing to do, but it’s also the smart thing to do when it comes to investments.”

Our meeting takes place as the debate rages about investments in gun companies after the Florida school shooting.

Unsurprisingly, the fund already screens out “sin” stocks — arms, gambling, pornography, alcohol, tobacco — and it is taking a much tougher line on mining and energy companies.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Stock Market

Historic Diocese of South Carolina Case before the US Supreme Court is featured on the Prestigious Scotus Blog

You can find it there along with important links to material you may or may not have already seen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, * Theology, Church History, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

A transcript of Billy Graham’s TED talk in 1998: On technology and Faith

I spoke some time ago to a joint session of Congress, last year. And we were meeting in that room, the statue room. About 300 of them were there. And I said, “There’s one thing that we have in common in this room, all of us together, whether Republican or Democrat, or whoever.” I said, “We’re all going to die. And we have that in common with all these great men of the past that are staring down at us.” And it’s often difficult for young people to understand that. It’s difficult for them to understand that they’re going to die. As the ancient writer of Ecclesiastes wrote, he said, there’s every activity under heaven. There’s a time to be born, and there’s a time to die. I’ve stood at the deathbed of several famous people, whom you would know. I’ve talked to them. I’ve seen them in those agonizing moments when they were scared to death.

And yet, a few years earlier, death never crossed their mind. I talked to a woman this past week whose father was a famous doctor. She said he never thought of God, never talked about God, didn’t believe in God. He was an atheist. But she said, as he came to die, he sat up on the side of the bed one day, and he asked the nurse if he could see the chaplain. And he said, for the first time in his life he’d thought about the inevitable, and about God. Was there a God? A few years ago, a university student asked me, “What is the greatest surprise in your life?” And I said, “The greatest surprise in my life is the brevity of life. It passes so fast.” But it does not need to have to be that way. Wernher von Braun, in the aftermath of World War II concluded, quote: “science and religion are not antagonists. On the contrary, they’re sisters.” He put it on a personal basis. I knew Dr. von Braun very well. And he said, “Speaking for myself, I can only say that the grandeur of the cosmos serves only to confirm a belief in the certainty of a creator.” He also said, “In our search to know God, I’ve come to believe that the life of Jesus Christ should be the focus of our efforts and inspiration. The reality of this life and His resurrection is the hope of mankind.”

I’ve done a lot of speaking in Germany and in France, and in different parts of the world — 105 countries it’s been my privilege to speak in. And I was invited one day to visit Chancellor Adenauer, who was looked upon as sort of the founder of modern Germany, since the war. And he once — and he said to me, he said, “Young man.” He said, “Do you believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ?” And I said, “Sir, I do.” He said, “So do I.” He said, “When I leave office, I’m going to spend my time writing a book on why Jesus Christ rose again, and why it’s so important to believe that.” In one of his plays, Alexander Solzhenitsyn depicts a man dying, who says to those gathered around his bed, “The moment when it’s terrible to feel regret is when one is dying.” How should one live in order not to feel regret when one is dying?

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Posted in Apologetics, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(Economist) The number of ex-Muslims in America is rising

As soon as he stepped off the plane on a family holiday to Kenya, Mahad Olad knew something was wrong. His mother, a “very devout, very conservative, very Wahhabi” woman, was acting strangely—furtively taking phone calls when she thought he was out of earshot. His suspicions would soon be proved correct. Mr Olad’s family, Somali immigrants to America and devout Muslims, had discovered that he had not only renounced Islam but was also gay. The holiday was a ruse, an intervention to save his soul.

Mr Olad was told he would leave college and be turned over the next day to the care of Muslim clerics who would restore his faith. “I was aware of the horrors of these camps,” Mr Olad says. “They operate them in the middle of nowhere, where you cannot escape. They subject you to beatings, starvation and trampling.” He tried to contact the American embassy, but it could not send help because of recent terrorist attacks nearby. Luckily, he also managed to reach a Kenyan atheist group. In the dead of night he sneaked into his mother’s room, stole his passport and was whisked away by taxi to the embassy, which eventually returned him safely to America. He has not spoken to his family since.

Though few have such harrowing stories, hundreds of thousands of American Muslims might recognise something like their own experience in Mr Olad’s tale. As the number of American Muslims has increased by almost 50% in the past decade, so too has the number of ex-Muslims. According to the Pew Research Centre, 23% of Americans raised as Muslims no longer identify with the faith. Most of them are young second-generation immigrants who have come to reject the religion of their parents. Some, however, are older when their crisis of faith arrives, already married to devout Muslim spouses and driving children to the mosque to study the Koran at weekends.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Islam, Religion & Culture

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(SA) Ruth Lukabyo–Youth Revival: The impact of the 1959 Billy Graham Crusade on young people

Dad was not the only young person whose life was transformed that day. In fact, a statistical analysis of the Sydney Crusade demonstrates that 60% of those who signed the decision card were under the age of 21. The age most highly represented was 12-15 years at 28%, followed by 16-21 years at 19%. Many call the 1959 Billy Graham Crusade a revival, but it was not only a revival, it was a youth revival.

Apart from the work of the Spirit, why did the Crusade have such a marked impact upon youth? Graham’s message was a traditional gospel message of the sinfulness of people and their need for forgiveness through the death and resurrection of Jesus. This was not new.

What was new was the way it was communicated and Graham’s focus on young people. Youth nights were organised which were full of energy and infectious enthusiasm and were perhaps the most fruitful of the Crusade meetings. Associate evangelists spent hours at secondary schools, speaking at assemblies and lunch hour meetings. Graham spoke at Sydney University outside the Great Hall to a crowd of 4,000 students. Even at the main Crusade meetings, Graham would address young people separately and call them to dedicate themselves to Christ.

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Posted in Australia / NZ, Church History, Evangelism and Church Growth, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

(BBC) Wales’ burial space running out, warns Church

Wales could soon run out of space to bury its dead, the Church in Wales has warned.

A number of cemeteries have run out of plots, with some closed to new burials, while others have just years left until they are full.

Alex Glanville, from the Church in Wales, said people could no longer take for granted that they would be buried in their communities.

On Thursday, Cardiff council’s cabinet agreed to spend £3m on a new cemetery.

Councillors approved plans for a new 12.5 acre cemetery about 650 metres from the existing Thornhill Cemetery.

The authority said it would provide burial space for the next 35-40 years.

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Posted in --Wales, Church of Wales, Death / Burial / Funerals, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Premier) Prof Tom McLeish–Stephen Hawking may have rejected God, but he taught us to marvel at creation

[Stephen]…Hawking was clear time and again that he found the ‘case for a Creator’ unconvincing, but the reason for that seems to have never moved from a failure of that otherwise all-seeing mind to see beyond physics itself.

His conclusion that we do not ‘need God to light the blue touch paper of the Big Bang’ is not contested in terms of physics. But ‘why there is something rather than nothing’ is not a physics question – it lies in the theological realm to which, in spite of many thoughtful Christian correspondents over the years, including former archbishop Rowan Williams and Oxford mathematician John Lennox, Hawking seemed to remain impervious.

While we may sorrow over Hawking’s rejection of God, the Creator who is and loves and gives – rather than just ‘explains’, we may nevertheless be thankful to that God for the gift of one who articulated, even in unbelief, that our biblical calling is indeed to know God’s mind, to look into nature with the same love and insight as its creator, and to live with courage using the gifts we have rather than surrendering to our incapacities.

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Posted in Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(BBC) Child abuse inquiry: Diocese of Chichester had a ‘major issue’

The diocese of Chichester had a “major issue” with priests carrying out abuse, an inquiry has heard.

Bishop of Chichester, the Rt Rev Martin Warner, made the claim when giving evidence to the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse.

Dr Warner said there had been a “breakdown of trust” between the Church of England and the local council.

He also said he was warned by a senior Church of England official that the area was considered “a basket case”.

The bishop claimed Caroline Boddington, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s appointments secretary, made the remark when he was appointed in 2012.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(AP) 3 rural Illinois men charged with Minnesota mosque bombing

Federal authorities on Tuesday charged three men from rural central Illinois with the bombing of a Minnesota mosque last year and said one of the suspects told an investigator the goal of the attack was to “scare” Muslims out of the United States.

A statement from the U.S. attorney’s office in Springfield, Illinois, says the men also are suspected in the attempted bombing of an abortion clinic. The Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota, was bombed just before morning prayers on Aug. 5, causing a fire and extensive damage although no one was injured or killed. And there was an attempted bombing of the Champaign, Illinois, Women’s Health Practice on Nov. 7.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Violence

(GR) Washington Post attempts the near-impossible: Profiling Virginia Mens Basketball Coach’s Tony Bennett without mentioning faith

Tony Bennett — the coach, not the singer — is quirky. Mysterious. Someone who believes “it’s okay to be different.”

That’s the basic storyline for an in-depth Washington Post profile of Bennett, whose Virginia Cavaliers men’s basketball team enters March Madness as the No. 1 overall seed.

Strangely enough (ghosts, anyone?), the Post manages to write 1,850 words about Bennett without any reference to terms such as “faith,” “Christian” and “prayer.”

Those familiar with Bennett will understand why that’s so remarkable.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Education, Media, Religion & Culture, Sports, Young Adults