Category : Rural/Town Life

£1 million social investment puts Church workers at heart of London estates

Estates in Old Street and Bethnal Green and their local church communities have been the first to benefit from missional workers living on-site, following the success of a pioneering bond. The Missional Housing Bond was developed by a partnership of churches and charities to allow church workers to live among the communities they serve, in spite of the rising rents in the capital.

Three years of work on the Missional Housing Bond have resulted in two successful rounds of crowdfunding raising close to £1 million of capital. This has enabled a partnership involving the Diocese of London to purchase two small flats near to Inspire London church in Old Street and St Peter’s church in Bethnal Green, both rapidly growing churches in an area of London where high levels of need and deprivation exist alongside some of the highest property values in the world.

The flats are made available at social rents to church missional workers who are not only on hand to help the life of their church, but also embed themselves in the life of the local area, helping the Church to fulfill its mission to local people.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Rural/Town Life, Stewardship, Theology, Young Adults

2016 9/11 Stories (II)–LA Times: Shanksville, Pa., will never forget 9/11

Often not seen in pictures are stories of residents who manned the crash site in two-hour volunteer shifts to ensure it was respected and not vandalized. Using notebooks to keep track of the facts, they relayed to tourists and mourners alike how the hole smoldered and the crash left little wreckage above ground except scattered papers and pieces of engine and fabric.

“We were just neighbors and friends,” said long-time volunteer Chuck Wagner, 67, of Stonycreek Township.

They helped bring to fruition the Flight 93 National Memorial, which grew from barrels and a chain link fence holding small mementos into a stunning feat of architecture that embraces the beauty of nature and the resolve of mankind.

Former Gov. Tom Ridge remains in awe of the community’s effort in embracing its part of history.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Rural/Town Life, Terrorism

James Smith on Yuval Levin's "The Fractured Republic"–Hope in the Ruins

But Levin’s case is not a counsel of despair. Far from it. Nor does he simply dismiss our nostalgia. Instead, we need to learn from it: “To learn from nostalgia, we must let it guide us not merely toward ‘the way we were,’ but toward what was good about what we miss, and why.” Or, as we’ve suggested here before, we need to “remember forward.”

That endeavour informs the second, constructive half of The Fractured Republic. The diagnosis is important: the same mid-century developments we celebrate were Trojan horses that unleashed forces hostile to the institutions, habits, and practices that made them possible. More specifically, what crawled out of those horses were agents of individualism that devoured the mid-level institutions of society, leaving atomistic individuals fending for themselves and/or looking to a behemoth state to save us. The result has been “the collapse of the culture of solidarity.”

The creative way forward, then, is to recover a culture of solidarity in the face of atomistic individualism and an abstract state. But what distinguishes Levin’s proposal from the nostalgia of others is his almost Hegelian attentiveness to the contingencies of history. So we can’t just turn back the clock to consolidation. Riffing on Alexis de Tocqueville, Levin concedes that the “diffusion” that characterizes our society is “a ‘generative fact’ of our particular time. It can be channelled and directed, perhaps mitigated at the margins, but it cannot be meaningfully reversed, at least in the foreseeable future.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(CEN, COL) Jeremy Moodey–Five reasons why Christians should consider voting Remain on 23 June

Our leaving the EU after 43 years of membership would in effect be a divorce. We entered into a contract when we acceded to the Treaty of Rome on 1 January 1973, and now we want to exit the contract. Divorce is a tragic reality in our modern world, and it happens for all sorts of reasons, but that does not make it God’s ideal. On the contrary, he wants us to do everything we can to honour the contracts we freely enter into. ”˜When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said’ (Numbers 30:2). The leave camp argues that the EU has morphed into an undemocratic monolith which is a totally different beast from the loose ”˜Common Market’ which we joined in 1973. But this a specious argument. As a nation we signed up to the rules of the club (including its voting rules and their amendment over the years) and we have put our name on those treaties (particularly Maastricht in 1992 and Lisbon in 2007) which created today’s EU. If a marriage is struggling, our first duty as Christians is to work to save it, not to rush headlong for the exit. So too should be our attitude to membership of the EU.

As I say, many Christians will take a different view from mine. But what is clear is that our membership of the European Union has a moral and theological dimension as well as an economic and political one. Christians must consider this dimension before they cast their vote on 23 June.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Rural/Town Life, Theology

official Scottish Episcopal Church Statement

The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church has today passed a first reading of a change to its Canon on marriage (Canon 31). The change is to remove from the Canon the doctrinal statement regarding marriage that marriage is to be understood as a union “of one man and one woman.”

A first reading of the change is the first step in a process and does not represent a final decision. The proposed change now passes from the General Synod to the Church’s seven dioceses for discussion and comment in their Diocesan Synods in the coming year. The opinions from the dioceses will then be relayed back to the General Synod which will be invited to give a second reading of the Canon in June 2017. At that stage, for a second reading to be passed, it must achieve a majority of two thirds in the “houses” of bishops, clergy and laity within the General Synod. The change to the canon would include a conscience clause ensuring that clergy opposed to the change are not required to marry people of the same sex.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Rural/Town Life, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) Scottish Episcopal Church takes step toward same-sex marriage approval

The Scottish Episcopal Church’s General Synod has made the first steps of any Anglican Church in the UK towards allowing gay marriage in church.
The synod voted that a change to its Canon law governing marriage should be sent for discussion to the church’s seven dioceses.
A further vote will happen at next year’s synod.
The proposal would remove the doctrinal clause which states that marriage is between a man and a woman.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Rural/Town Life, Scotland, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Southern Cities Split With States on Social Issues

For decades, the cultural gap between Southern cities and cities on the East and West Coasts has been narrowing to the point where the cultural riches of a place like Oxford, Miss. ”” with its literary scene and high end regional cuisine ”” are almost taken for granted.

But commerce and the Internet have pushed global sophistication into new frontiers. In Starkville, Miss., an unassuming college town that Oxford sophisticates deride with the ironic nickname “StarkVegas,” a coffee bar called Nine-twentynine serves an affogato prepared with espresso from Intelligentsia, the vaunted artisanal coffee brand.

With these cultural markers have come expressions of unblushing liberalism that would have been unthinkable a decade ago. In January, Bernie Sanders drew thousands to a rally in Birmingham, Ala. Last June, after the Supreme Court affirmed the right to same-sex marriage, the city government in Knoxville, Tenn., lit up a bridge in rainbow colors.

The result has been a kind of overlapping series of secessions, with states trying to safeguard themselves from national cultural trends and federal mandates, and cities increasingly trying to carve out their own places within the states.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, History, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(L. Times) U of London Islamic students pull plug on talk by atheist who ”˜violated safe space’

A secular campaigner has told how she was heckled and shouted down by members of a student Islamic society who said that she was violating their “safe space”.

Maryam Namazie claimed that the Islamic society at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she was addressing the institution’s atheist group, tried to stop her talk going ahead by invoking a “no platform policy”.

When that failed, she said that Islamic students disrupted her speech and tried to intimidate her. One switched off the power to her computer as she showed a PowerPoint slide of a “Jesus and Mo” cartoon.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Rural/Town Life, Theology, Young Adults

(NYT) A Small Indiana Town Scarred by a Trusted Doctor

On a spring evening last year, Debra Davidson flipped on the television to watch the local news. When an item came on about her longtime physician, she perked up and leaned forward. Then she screamed. Her husband rushed into the living room to see if everything was O.K.

Everything was not O.K. The report said that her cardiologist, Dr. Arvind Gandhi, had been sued by two former patients who accused him of performing unnecessary operations.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Psychology, Rural/Town Life, Theology

(PBS Blog) Race relations in U.S. at a low point in recent history, new poll suggests

In the year following the death of Michael Brown, America has seen its share of racial disquiet. The Aug. 9, 2014, shooting death of the black teenager at the hands of a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, sparked weeks of protest, and drew attention to a brand new civil rights campaign for the modern era: Black Lives Matter.

The organization, and the phrase itself, has been the center of controversy and tension since it gained nationwide attention last year. Candidates on the 2016 presidential campaign have stumbled while trying to find the perfect pitch in addressing its significance.

On the evening of June 17, 2015, America once again was forced to confront racial tensions with the mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, nearly a year after Brown’s death.

It is with this backdrop that PBS NewsHour and Marist College’s Institute for Public Opinion conducted a survey of Americans that illustrates the contrast in opinions along racial lines about the opportunities available today for African Americans.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Emmett Till’s death, and history, is fading in the Mississippi town where he died

Today, Bryant’s Grocery is derelict and forgotten, much like the town of Money. Although Till’s lynching is considered a pivotal spark of the civil rights movement, there’s little here to recall those events other than a modest historic marker erected outside Bryant’s four years ago.

Some say the grocery store should be turned into a museum, like many other places critical to the civil rights movement, or at least prevented from falling down.

“They should have preserved all of it,” said Eddie Carthan, a distant relative of Till’s mother and the former mayor of Tchula, which in the 1970s became one of the first Delta plantation towns to elect a black mayor.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Race/Race Relations, Rural/Town Life, Theology, Violence

(S. Anglicans) Archbishop of Sydney backs plebiscite plan

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, has congratulated the Prime Minister and the Coalition for backing a plebiscite on same-sex marriage.

“I believe that marriage is a foundational concept to our society and indeed to human civilisation as a whole, in accordance with God’s own plan for all people, and it is intrinsic to the continuation of the human race as the bedrock of the family from which succeeding generations are born.”

“Despite the relentless campaign by some sections of the community, it is only now that other views are starting to be heard in the media, not only from the churches. T

a href=”http://sydneyanglicans.net/mediareleases/archbishop-backs-plebiscite-plan”>Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Rural/Town Life, Sexuality, Theology

(WQ) Modi's india: Caste, Inequality, and the rise of Hindu Nationalism

Indian democracy has not blown up. But Ambedkar’s contradiction persists, and the caste foundation of India’s political structure maintains the hierarchy at the root of the country’s tremendous inequality of status and condition. Much of the careful thought of the nineteenth-century reformers and the founding generation has been shunted aside by the force of caste-based politics on the one hand and capitalist materialism on the other. The political principles on which the Indian state is founded have not been sufficient to create an inclusive, egalitarian society. Although the post-independence generation of Congress politicians promoted a secular vision of the Indian nation, they did not pursue the kinds of reforms that might have brought social reality closer to their political ideal. In doing so, they opened the way for the ascendance of caste-based politics and, ultimately, the more reactionary rise of religion in politics.

Hindu nationalism, with its dual focus on cultivating traditional social practices and providing social services afforded neither by the state nor economic growth, would seem to provide the strongest alternative to a modern capitalist society. But Hindu nationalism itself has adapted to India’s increasing wealth. The upper castes, particularly the Brahmins, once prided themselves on simple, even ascetic, living; they now hold up material success as another sign of caste superiority. The traditional Hindu elite is no longer distinguishable from the modern economic elite.

Prime Minister Modi is the living embodiment of this troubling marriage of Hindu nationalism and capitalism, of traditional social hierarchy and modern materialism. While he has maintained the support of his elite urban business constituents, he has proven himself to be as much a disciple of the Hindu Right as he was in his youth. Even as the RSS offers hope and basic services to thousands of poor, lower-caste youth like Aakash, we cannot take the organization’s apparent social egalitarianism at face value. At its core remains the inequality that has long marked Indian life.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Hinduism, India, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Rural/Town Life

Village church near Salisbury saved after meeting fundraising target

A church which put out an urgent appeal for financial help has been saved.

Grade II listed St John’s church in Bemerton, near Salisbury, closed in 2010 when the heating broke and there was no money to fix it.

The building was declared redundant by the Church of England but supporters have raised more than £500,000 to turn it into a community centre.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Stewardship

(NYT) With Same-Sex Decision, Evangelical Churches Address New Reality

The result has been an obvious change in tone and emphasis ”” but not teaching or policy ”” at many churches. Almost all evangelical churches oppose same-sex marriage, and many do not allow gays and lesbians to serve in leadership positions unless they are celibate. Some pastors, however, now either minimize their preaching on the subject or speak of homosexuality in carefully contextualized sermons emphasizing that everyone is a sinner and that Christians should love and welcome all.

“Evangelicals are coming to the realization that they hold a minority view in the culture, and that on this issue, they have lost the home-field advantage,” said Ed Stetzer, the executive director of LifeWay Research, which surveys evangelicals. “They are learning to speak with winsomeness and graciousness, which, when their view was the majority, evangelicals tended not to do.” A handful of evangelical churches have changed their positions. City Church in San Francisco, for example, has dropped its rule that gays and lesbians commit to celibacy to become members, and GracePointe Church in Tennessee has said gays and lesbians can serve in leadership roles and receive the sacrament of marriage. Ken Wilson, who founded the Vineyard Church in Ann Arbor, Mich., published an open letter calling for a greater embrace of gays and lesbians in evangelical churches. But Mr. Stetzer said they are the exceptions.

“Well-known evangelicals who have shifted on same-sex marriage, you could fit them all in an S.U.V.,” Mr. Stetzer said. “If you do shift, you become a media celebrity, but the shift among practicing evangelicals is minimal.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Sexuality, Supreme Court, Theology, Theology: Scripture