Category : Religion & Culture

Food for Thought from the TEC Bishop of Dallas reflecting on a recent “advert of the Hemlock Society”

I recently read an advert of the Hemlock Society, presenters at a diocesan convention, believe it or not. “We’ve moved far past these primitive notions of a God ruling life – perhaps now we can see how in such cases taking life enhances quality life – and our powers to affect this may be God’s will in our time – who is he anyway to command life and death – our methods are so pastoral now… .” The soft offer of half-truths to an opposite end – to learn whose soft voice that really is where spiritual safety lies. To hear God’s voice plainly as His, even in the modern hall of mirrors – what if that is the higher wisdom? To reject the soft, spiritual, skeptical voice, Girma Wormtongue’s, may be the key to Christian ethics.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, TEC Bishops

(FB) Matthew Continetti–The Great American Earthquake: Can the foundations of our society hold?

I have thought a lot about Kristol’s essay in recent weeks, as one American institution after another has found itself beleaguered, besieged, crippled, and delegitimized. We may be richer and healthier and safer in the aggregate than our predecessors. But the parade of ugliness we face bears more than a passing resemblance to theirs.

Riots and the suppression of freedoms on campus, drug addiction, deadly clashes between white nationalists and left-wing radicals, increasing numbers of hate crimes, mass shootings, bitter arguments over the national anthem resulting in declining ratings and support for the National Football League, a cascading stream of allegations of sexual impropriety against figures in entertainment and in politics, the slow-motion disintegration of our major parties—it’s as if America itself has been thrown into the midst of a demolition derby, with every one of our prominent figures and major institutions targeted for destruction by Monster Truck.

Beginning with the sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, and carrying on through our ambiguous interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the financial crisis, the rollercoaster ride of the Obama and Trump presidencies, the comeuppance of the elite media and political class in the 2016 election, and the racial and sexual and class-based chaos of today, the temporal and spiritual authorities to whom we once looked for guidance have been subverted, disestablished, exposed. And all the while the erosion continues of the civic-bourgeois culture to which Kristol referred….The slightest glance at political, entertainment, and business headlines demonstrates that the bourgeois virtues of restraint, frugality, reticence, self-control, self-discipline, and fidelity are not only absent in our public life. They are denigrated. Nor is this a mere political phenomenon. The liberation of the sovereign self transcends race and creed, religion and party. It has bloated our waistlines along with our national deficits, tossed families into a spin cycle of disorientation and breakdown, and endangered and addled children.

Read it all; also cited by yours truly in the morning sermon (my emphasis).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Media, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sports

In a 2-2 Decision, the South Carolina Supreme Court Denies the Historic Diocese of South Carolina a rehearing

Today the Diocese of South Carolina (Diocese) was informed by mail that the South Carolina Supreme Court denied its motions filed for Rehearing and Recusal in its ruling in Appellate Case No. 2015-000622.  Doing so finalized a sharply divided ruling that could deprive at least 28 parish churches of their right to properties some have held for over 300 years.

Statement by the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis:
“We are deeply disappointed the Court did not see fit to recuse Justice Hearn.  Her personal interest in the outcome of this litigation, beyond the normal matters of law, has clearly influenced its outcome. That is unfortunate not only for the Diocese but for all the citizens of this State with concerns for a fair and impartial judiciary. We also find it disturbing that the weight of the Constitutional concerns raised was not given further opportunity to be addressed. Church property ownership in South Carolina is now gravely complicated.

Given the gravity of all these concerns, we will now give serious consideration to seeking review by the U.S. Supreme Court. We believe the number and character of the issues at stake in this ruling merit review by the high court. Because of the long road of litigation that has brought us to this day, all the parties to this case will need to take counsel together before deciding our next steps.

We remain confident that God is at work in even these circumstances to redeem and use them, as He does all things, for His glory and the building up of His Church.”

Read it all and follow all the links carefully.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(PRC FactTank) Assaults against Muslims in U.S. surpass 2001 level

The number of assaults against Muslims in the United States rose significantly between 2015 and 2016, easily surpassing the modern peak reached in 2001, the year of the September 11 terrorist attacks, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of new hate crimes statistics from the FBI. In 2016, there were 127 reported victims of aggravated or simple assault, compared with 91 the year before and 93 in 2001.

But assaults are not the only form of hate crime carried out against Muslims and other religious groups. The most common is intimidation, which is defined as reasonable fear of bodily harm. Anti-Muslim intimidation also increased in 2016, with 144 reported victims, compared with 120 the previous year. These numbers, however, are still dwarfed by the 296 victims of anti-Muslim intimidation in 2001.

Certain types of crimes that damage or destroy property, including vandalism, also have risen, from 70 cases against Muslims in 2015 to 92 last year.

Read it all.

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

(WSJ) Lewis Andrews–Finding God on a Mars Colony–Could Renewed space exploration could spark humanity’s spiritual reawakening?

The prospect of colonizing Mars used to be no more than a distant fantasy, but today it seems tantalizingly real. NASA remains committed to building a deep-space passenger capsule called the Orion. Meantime, private companies like Blue Origin and SpaceX are bringing excitement to the field. Elon Musk hopes to put 200 colonists on the red planet by 2024.

Much of the discussion about space exploration focuses on its economic benefits. Someday there could be money made from mining precious metals in the asteroid belt or shuttling tourists to off-world vacations. Space colonization eventually could create a multiplanetary economy. But what may be even more profound is space travel’s spiritual effects.

Many astronauts have had religious experiences in space. Charlie Duke, who went to the moon with Apollo 16, was inspired to become a lay witness for Christ. Jim Irwin, a moon walker with Apollo 15, searched for Noah’s Ark after returning home. Gene Cernan, Edgar Mitchell and Rusty Schweickart have also been very public about the metaphysical effects of leaving the Earth. No doubt future astronauts will report similar awakenings.

Read it all.

Posted in Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

The new Church of England website launches this week

[Wednesday of this week]…marks a significant milestone since the founding of the Digital Communications team at Church House in London one year ago. We’re thrilled to announce the launch of the new Church of England website, which has been rebuilt from scratch with the help of many colleagues in the national office in just seven months from start to finish.
While the old website received lots of traffic and interest, the confusing user experience and the 75,000+ documents and pages on the site were identified as key issues. These were resolved by content and plain English workshops for staff.

In January 2017 we ran an extensive research project with 1,800 Christians and non-Christians across the country. This included doing the following to understand what people found frustrating, what they’d like to see more or less of and, crucially, how Christians grow in faith and how we bring new people to faith:

Focus groups in Carlisle, Blackburn, Birmingham and London
1:1 interviews
Targeted national online surveys through social media
Website analytics and heatmapping how users interact with the content.

Read it all.

Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Media, Religion & Culture

(The Tablet) Outcome of Australia’s same-sex marriage plebiscite will not end fight

Fr Frank Brennan, CEO of Catholic Social Services, wrote on the Jesuit-operated Eureka Street website on 9 November that wrote that with the return rate of the survey “a very credible 78.5 per cent” (compared with Ireland, where 60.5 per cent of eligible voters turned out to vote for same-sex marriage), the Australian vote in favour of Parliament legislating for same-sex marriage was likely to be even higher than the 62 per cent of Irish voters who in 2015 supported a change to the Irish Constitution recognising same-sex marriage.

“After Wednesday’s announcement, let’s hope we hear from some of our Catholic bishops repeating the sentiments of Archbishop Dermot Martin after the 2015 Irish vote: ‘The Church needs a reality check right across the board, to look at the things we are doing well and look at the areas where we need to say, ‘Have we drifted away completely from young people?’

“Wednesday will be a day of celebration for those wanting a ‘Yes’ vote,” Fr Brennan wrote. “It should also be a day when we Australians recommit ourselves to respect for all citizens, especially those whose beliefs differ significantly from our own. Our politicians led us into this divisive campaign. Now they need to lead us out of it with considered and timely legislation and a commitment to better protection of human rights for all.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality

(Church Times) Churches hope to see the end of Mugabe’s rule

Churches in Zimbabwe have spoken with hope about “the birth of a new nation”, after military action on Wednesday appeared to curtail the rein of President Robert Mugabe.

In a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, the Zimbabwean Council of Churches said: “We see the current situation not just as a crisis in which we are helpless. We see the current arrangement as an opportunity for the birth of a new nation. Our God created everything out of chaos, and we believe something new could emerge out of our situation.”

In the hours that followed the military intervention, the general secretary of the Zimbabwean Council of Churches, the Revd Dr Kenneth Mtata, called on all political and civil actors to rebuild a broken society.

Dr Mtata, a Lutheran pastor, said from Harare on Wednesday: “The current situation was inevitable. We had reached a point of no return. Our politics of attrition and toxic public engagement has had its logical conclusion.

“Our hope is that we can put back the train on the rails of democracy and citizenship engagement. We hope the current situation is only a transition to something that will be participatory and just.”

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Zimbabwe

(ABC Aus.) Same-sex marriage Yes vote threatens to cause rift in Australian Anglican Church

While the Federal Parliament continues to debate Senator Dean Smith’s bill, which is expected to legalise same-sex marriage, the Anglican Church still deems it illegal to marry a same sex couple.

The Liberal Senator’s bill was introduced to the Senate after a majority of 61.6 per cent of Australians responded Yes to the national survey on same-sex marriage.

Bishop Gary Nelson’s diocese runs from Geraldton to the Kimberley, the majority of which falls into the electorate of Durack — where 59 per cent voted Yes to change the definition of marriage.

“As has occurred in America, for example where you’ve got two Anglican churches — one who disagrees with same-sex marriage and one who agrees.

“I think that would be a more likely scenario than it getting passed.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(Christian Today) Pressure mounts on Boris Johnson to approach Pope and Archbishop over British mother jailed in Iran

A former foreign office minister and a senior Catholic have urged Boris Johnson to heed the advice of Tom Tugendhat MP and approach Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury to help negotiate the release of the British mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe who is imprisoned in Iran.

The support for Tugendhat’s suggestion comes as Christian Today has learned that neither Lambeth Palace nor Pope Francis has, at the time of writing, received any approach from the Foreign Office. Christian Today has approached the Foreign Office for comment.

Tugendhat, the chair of the foreign affairs committee of MPs and Conservative MP for Tonbridge and Malling, put it to the Foreign Secretary that religious leaders be used to negotiate Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release with the Islamic clerics who run Iran’s judicial system.

‘This poor woman is being used as a political football not only sadly here but in Iran,’ Tugendhat, who is a Catholic, told MPs in the House of Commons yesterday.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Iran, Politics in General, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(C of E) Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying tackled in new guidance for Church schools

Guidance for the Church of England’s 4,700 schools published today aims to prevent pupils from having their self-worth diminished or their ability to achieve impeded by being bullied because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity.

The report makes 12 recommendations for schools including ensuring schools’ Christian ethos statements offer “an inclusive vision for education” where “every child should be revered and respected as members of a community where all are known and loved by God. ”

Clear anti-bullying policies should include HBT behaviours and language, policies on how to report incidences should be accessible, staff trained on recognising bullying, curriculum and collective worship should support the vision and the wider church ensure that schools are responding well to the guidance.

Commending the report, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “All bullying, including homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying causes profound damage, leading to higher levels of mental health disorders, self-harm, depression and suicide.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(Telegraph) Pressure to grow congregations leads to ‘clergy self-harm’ says Christ Church Dean

Pressure on bishops and clergy to grow their audience is leading to “clergy self-harm”, the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, has said.

Speaking to an audience at the charity Sons & Friends of the Clergy, Professor Martyn Percy, who also teaches in the theology faculty, said that bishops “need to stop being the CEO of an organisation that is chasing growth targets”.

He said that clergy stress was “fuelled by anxiety about growth and organisation and professionalism.

“The church has become too organisational and bureaucratic.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

Leicester is the most ‘exciting’ city in the UK – says Archbishop of Canterbury as he arrives for three-day visit

The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend Justin Welby, has arrived in the city as part of a three-day visit.

He was officially welcomed by city mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, at the Guildhall, in front of a host of dignitaries.

Mr Soulsby recalled the Archbishop’s last visit to Leicester for the reinterment of King Richard III.

He said: “I remember there were some nerves on that occasion, but it was an amazing day and it’s wonderful to have you back here.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Religion & Culture

The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, speaks on the outcome of the postal survey on same-sex marriage in Australia

Watch and listen to it all.

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

(NYT) Australia Votes for Same-Sex Marriage, Clearing Path to Legalization

A solid majority of Australians voted in favor of same-sex marriage in a historic survey that, while not binding, paves the way for Parliament to legally recognize the unions of gay and lesbian couples.

Of 12.7 million Australians who took part in the government survey, 61.6 percent voted yes and 38.4 percent voted no, officials announced on Wednesday morning. Participation was high, with 79.5 percent of voting-age Australians sending back their postal ballots.

“The Australian people have spoken, and they have voted overwhelmingly ‘yes’ for marriage equality,” said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who called the survey in a move described by advocates as a delay tactic devised to appease his party’s far-right faction. “They voted ‘yes’ for fairness, they voted ‘yes’ for commitment, they voted ‘yes’ for love.”

Read it all.

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