Category : * International News & Commentary

Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, reflects on the recent Attacks on Copts in Egypt

We find ourselves once again at a time of pain during which words seem insufficient. I have previously addressed victims of terrorist acts; I have addressed their families; I have even addressed those who may have had an opportunity, even in some small way, to advocate for or support those most vulnerable. This time however, I feel a need to address those who perpetrate these crimes.

You are loved. The violent and deadly crimes you perpetrate are abhorrent and detestable, but YOU are loved.

You are loved by God, your Creator, for He created you in His Image and according to His Likeness, and placed you on this earth for much greater things, according to His plan for all humankind. You are loved by me and millions like me, not because of what you do, but what you are capable of as that wonderful creation of God, Who has created us with a shared humanity. You are loved by me and millions like me because I, and we, believe in transformation.

Transformation is core to the Christian message for throughout history we have seen many transformed from being those who persecuted Christ Himself and Christians, to those who went on to live with grace. We believe in transformation because, on a daily basis, we are personally transformed from a life of human weakness and sinfulness to a life of power and righteousness. We believe in transformation because the whole message of the Cross and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is to take humanity from the bonds of sin and death to a liberation in goodness and everlasting life. Our world is certainly suffering from the brokenness of our humanity, but it is our responsibility, personally and collectively, to encourage and inspire ourselves, and all those whom we meet along our path, to a life of virtue and holiness, and the love and forgiveness of all.

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, England / UK, Terrorism

(CT) DL Mayfield–How Government Support Saved Me; Signing up for food stamps changed my view of poverty in America

Just a few months ago, my family stopped qualifying for government cheese.

It came as a little bit of a surprise to me—I had, after all, been a part of the WIC (women, infants, and children) program for almost seven years, starting with my first child. My daughter was born two months early due to life-threatening complications and I was never able to breastfeed. WIC supplied the formula, an expense that would have been a huge blow to our family’s finances. As my husband and I took turns getting our graduate degrees, WIC provided us with milk, cheese, eggs, and a few other essentials, and when we were support-raising missionaries living in immigrant and refugee neighborhoods for three years, we used our WIC vouchers along with all of our neighbors.

Two years ago when my second child was born, I wasn’t able to work, and while moving across the country, our only car broke down. By the time we finally found an apartment to live in and a job for my husband, we didn’t even have enough money to buy curtains for our windows. We applied for food stamps, or SNAP, along with WIC, and I don’t know what we would have done without it for those few months. I felt sweet relief being able to go to the grocery store, swipe my card, and purchase food for my family. Each time, I was incredibly grateful for my country.

In light of where my family is now, it’s important for me to take a moment and remember those feelings—both the stress of not having money to buy essentials and the gratitude for any small breaks.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Personal Finance & Investing, Poverty, Religion & Culture

(NYT) “The terrorists waited on the road like game hunters”–Samuel Tadros-Coptic Christians: ISIS’ ‘Favorite Prey’

“At this rate Copts will be extinct in 100 years. They will die, leave, convert or get killed,” a friend wrote on Facebook as news broke of the latest bloody attack on Egypt’s Coptic Christians. Less than two months ago, while attending church in Cairo on Palm Sunday, my friend told me she’d mused to herself that it was a blessing her daughter wasn’t with her: If there was a bombing, at least her child would survive. Forty-five Copts were murdered that day by the Islamic State in churches in Alexandria and Tanta. Such are the thoughts of Coptic parents in Egypt these days.

The terrorists chose today’s target well. The Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor, which I visited a decade ago, is very hard to reach. One hundred and ten miles on the Cairo Luxor desert road, you make a right-hand turn and for the next 17 miles drive on an unpaved road. The single lane forces cars to drive slowly, and, as the only route leading to the monastery, the victims were guaranteed to be Copts. Friday is a day off in Egypt, and church groups regularly take trips there. Outside of a few policemen stationed out front, there is little security presence.

The terrorists waited on the road like game hunters. Coming their way were three buses, one with Sunday school children. Only three of them survived. Their victims were asked to recite the Islamic declaration of faith before being shot.

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(WSJ) Sohrab Ahmari–How Nationalism Can Solve the Crisis of Islam

Then again, the 19th-century marriage of liberalism and nationalism ended in a very ugly divorce in the first half of the 20th century. What about the dangers of reviving nationalism today? “There is no a priori guarantee that it could not devolve into something nasty,” Mr. Manent says. “But if we don’t propose a reasonable idea of the nation, we will end up with an unreasonable idea of the nation. Because simply: However weakened the idea of the nation, nations do not want to die.”

Then there is the example across the Atlantic. Like Tocqueville, Mr. Manent sees much to admire in the American experiment. Even as Europeans have sought to pool or even abandon their sovereignty, he says, “Americans remained very much attached to the idea of a people making its laws to protect itself.”

True, “this people was open to the world, since of course it was formed by immigration. But people came from all over the world, not to be human beings but to be citizens of the United States, which had a keen sense of its exceptionalism and unique character.” In the Second Amendment, the persistence of the death penalty, and the reluctance of U.S. courts to follow foreign precedents, Mr. Manent sees “not a proof of American barbarism” but of democratic vigor.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Europe, History, Islam, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) We will repair damage done to our city and its people, Bishop tells Manchester

The killing of 22 people in a suicide bombing in Manchester on Monday had provoked “proper anger and rage” that must be directed into a “force for good”, the Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, said this week.

In the worst terrorist attack in the UK since the London bombings of July 2005, a lone attacker, Salman Ramadan Abedi, detonated an im­­provised explosive device at Man­chester Arena at the conclusion of an Ariana Grande concert. Among those killed were children, and parents waiting to collect their children. In addition to the deaths, 59 people were injured. Many are being treated for life-threatening conditions.

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister announced that the threat level in the UK had been raised to “critical”, indicating that a further attack might be “imminent”. For the first time since 2003, troops were being de­­ployed to join the police’s armed patrols. “It is a possibility we cannot ignore that there is a wider group of individuals linked to this attack,” Theresa May said. On Wednesday afternoon, the Manchester police chief, Ian Hopkins, said: “I think it’s very clear that this is a network that we are investigating.” Islamic State has claimed responsibility.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(BBC) Egypt Coptic Christians killed in bus attack

At least 23 people have been killed and 25 wounded after gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic Christians in central Egypt, state media report.

The incident occurred in Minya province, 250km (155 miles) south of Cairo, as the bus headed to a church.

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Posted in Coptic Church, Egypt, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(PPG Editorial) Congo chaos: Another ‘president for life’ in this African nation?

Three recent disastrous events in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire, indicate that it may be approaching another meltdown point, not at all the first in its history.

The highly contagious disease Ebola, the outbreak of which in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in West Africa in 2014 became a global concern, has reappeared, not for the first time, in northeast DRC, in the region of Kisangani, formerly known as Stanleyville. The area where it has appeared is so remote and devoid of infrastructure that even Doctors Without Borders is having a hard time getting personnel and supplies into it.

The second event, potentially catastrophic in its implications, is the killing of two human rights workers, one Swedish and the other American, who were inquiring, on behalf of the United Nations, into reports of other killings, perhaps even by DRC soldiers, in the south-central region of the country. Other deaths, of Congolese colleagues of the two international workers, may also have occurred although neither they nor their bodies have yet been found.

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Posted in Politics in General, Republic of Congo

(Barna) Who Are the Lonely in America?

Science has shown that people who have close friendships are happier, more successful and even more physically and emotionally healthy. And in our hyper-connected culture, it may seem like it’s never been easier to make and maintain relationships. But is that true? How do Americans meet their friends? Who is most likely to feel lonely? In the infographic below, Barna explores new data about the care and keeping of friends.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sociology

Please Join us in praying for Manchester, UK, as they seek to recover from the recent terrorist attack

Posted in England / UK, Spirituality/Prayer, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues

(PPH) Anthony Doerr, author of ‘All the Light We Cannot See,’ returns to Maine

At Bowdoin, Doerr majored in history because it gave him the flexibility to take classes across a range of subjects. Bowdoin allowed him to explore his curiosities and what it means to be human. He sought out subjects of interest – in science, sociology, architecture, astronomy and nutrition – but never took a creative writing class. He did submit a poem as part of an application for a poetry workshop, but was rejected.

Still, writing was central to his time at Bowdoin. He wrote for the college newspaper and other publications, and his history major required a thesis. That was his first experience at long-form writing, and it led directly to his career as a novelist and essayist. Being a writer, he said, was never a consideration as a kid. It all happened at Bowdoin.

“Growing up where I did, being a novelist was something I could not do. I never met a novelist. I thought novelists were dead or living in Paris,” he said. “But at Bowdoin, I got to write a thesis. I learned how to hash out a book and what it was like to build a longer project. It was only 90 pages, but it was a way to start putting together a big piece of research and larger blocks of text. It felt empowering as a 20-year-old.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, Education, Poetry & Literature, Rural/Town Life, Young Adults

(CT) Shame, Guilt, and Fear: What 1,000 Americans Avoid Most

Many Americans are more worried about their reputation than their conscience.

They worry less about guilt and fear and more about avoiding shame, according to a new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

Shame has become particularly powerful in American culture in the internet age, said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. A single mistake or embarrassing moment posted on social media can ruin a person’s life.

“What’s our biggest cultural fear? Shame,” he said. “What’s surprising is not that personal freedom, ambition, and doing the right thing are valued by Americans. It’s that risk to our reputation is what matters most.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology

(BBC) Manchester attack: Vigil finds city defiant in the face of terror

The silence held for a full five minutes before the Lord Mayor Eddy Newman began to speak.
His was a message of thanks for the emergency services and defiance in the face in the terrorism, words that were met with cheers and loud applause.
He was followed by others with equally unbending speeches.
The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Rev David Walker, spoke of the city’s unerring belief in diversity and unity and said those who would seek to destroy such things were “the very few, but we are the many, we are Manchester”.

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Posted in England / UK, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Premiere) Only half of young people believe Jesus was a real person

One third of Christian teenagers don’t know how to talk about Jesus according to a recent poll.

The ComRes survey of 2000 eleven to 18 year olds in England also found that despite this, 56 per cent of non-Christian teenagers said they’d be comfortable with a friend talking to them about faith.

Jimmy Dale who is the Church of England’s Youth Evangelism Officer told Premier’s News Hour the research leaves a big challenge.

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Posted in England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

PM Theresa May’s Statement this Morning on the Manchester Attack in Full

At terrible moments like these, it is customary for leaders, politicians and others to condemn the perpetrators and declare that the terrorists will not win. But the fact that we have been here before, and the fact that we need to say this again, does not make it any less true. For as so often while we experience the worst of humanity last night, we also saw the best. The cowardice of the attacker met the bravery of the emergency services and the people of Manchester. The attempt to divide us met countless acts of kindness that brought people closer together. And in the days ahead, those must be the things we remember. The images we hold in our minds should not be those of senseless slaughter, but of the ordinary men and women who put concerns about their own safety to one side and rushed to help, of the men and women of the emergency services, who worked tirelessly to bring comfort, to help and to save lives, of the messages of solidarity and hope of all those who opened their homes to the victims, for they are the images that embody the spirit of Manchester and the spirit of Britain. A spirit that through years of conflict and terrorism has never been broken and will never be broken.

There will be difficult days ahead. We offer our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of those affected. We offer our full support to the authorities, the emergency and the security services as they go about their work. And we all, every single one of us, stand with the people of Manchester at this terrible time. And today let us remember those who died, and let us celebrate those who helped, safe in the knowledge that the terrorists will never win and our values, our country and our way of life, will always prevail.

Please take the time to read or watch it all.

Posted in Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Andrew Graystone’s Thought for the Day the day after the Manchester bombing

Thousands of excited young people gathered last night for a concert in the Manchester Arena, just a couple of miles from where I am now. For some, their tickets were a birthday or Christmas present. For others, perhaps a quick break in their revision schedule. Many of those young people saw and heard things they will never forget. For them, and for countless friends and family members of those who were killed or injured, the course of their lives has changed forever

An event like this tears through the ordered fabric of our lives. We can find ourselves overwhelmed by anger, fear or deep sadness at the fallenness of our world, and the sinfulness of human hearts. If, as police are currently assuming, it was some sort of terror attack, then that was the precise intention. Random violence can’t win any followers – but it has the power to destabilise us, even those of us who aren’t affected directly. It can stoke the flames of fear or alienation.

But that response is not inevitable….

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Posted in England / UK, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology