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A Prayer to Begin the Day adapted from Lancelot Andrewes’ thoughts on the parable of the unmerciful servant

O Lord and Father, to whom alone the debtors in ten thousand talents can come with hope of mercy: Have mercy upon us, O Lord, who have aught to repay; forgive us all the debt, forgive us all our sins, and make us merciful to others; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

—-Daily Prayer, Eric Milner-White and G. W. Briggs, eds. (London: Penguin Books 1959 edition of the 1941 original)

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me!

–Psalm 66:11

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(AJ) “You have to look in the mirror”: CoGS wraps up with reflections from partners, general secretary that stress racial justice, church’s future

[Noreen] Duncan told the group, “I know you invited [me] here to do these little nice reflections, and I didn’t do that. I’m not apologizing; it’s what I’m seeing. If we are to staunch the bleeding of the denomination, the numbers, we’re going to have to look to the new…Anglicans among us. That’s where we’re going to work. That’s where we’re going to grow.” Referencing a conversation that was brought up the previous day during a racial justice exercise, she said, “As we pointed out yesterday…it’s not just a question of wondering when are the African, Asian and Caribbean members of the congregation going to volunteer. You have to point them out. Bring them out for a tea…and ask them, please help us.”

When she first read the statistical report prepared by Rev. Neil Elliot (discussed at CoGS the evening of Nov. 9) she felt disheartened, Duncan said. But after spending time at the meeting, she said, she was convinced that “as a denomination, as a church, we’re not dying. And that’s not to say that I distrust statistics and numbers—I don’t. But we have to know we are not dying. We have to stop, however, and assess who we are and how we’re going to continue.”

In a report following Duncan’s reflection, General Secretary of General Synod Archdeacon Michael Thompson thanked the Episcopal Church’s representative for her words.

“Your truth in our midst is disturbing, and at the same time welcome,” said Thompson.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada

(The Point) Bad Infinity–The endurance of the liberal imagination

“In the United States at this time,” Lionel Trilling wrote in 1949, “liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition.” These words are strange to read today. One cannot imagine someone writing them now and, in retrospect, they suggest a dangerous hubris. And yet it is not clear that, applied either to Trilling’s time or to ours, they are wrong.

Since the global political unraveling in 2016, liberalism has lost its voice. From the “basket of deplorables” to the “#resistance” pins to the eat-pray-love liberalism of “a thousand small sanities,” public defenses of the West’s regnant political ideology ring hollow and desperate. Read the Times or the Post, listen to politicians, sit for a second and catch the mood in the airport: the absence is in the air, not just in our language. Max Weber called twentieth-century governance the “slow boring of hard boards”: they have been bored, and so are we.

To literary critics and political theorists—those whose job it is to front-run the zeitgeist—liberalism now seems not so much an opponent to battle as a corpse to put to rest. It is something to be, at most, anatomized, if not simply buried and forgotten. The new right tends toward the former: Patrick Deneen’s Why Liberalism Failed, published in 2018 and blurbed by everyone from David Brooks to Cornel West, blames the very idea of America, with its manic commitment to a radical and spiritually empty freedom. For millennial socialists and fully automated luxury communists, liberalism is, instead, a kind of dad joke, a boomer blooper: faintly embarrassing and best ignored. Maybe we grew up believing in Obama, but that’s all over; now we’ve grown up and moved out.

Wake up! critics seem to say; Get Real. Liberalism is dead. All you have to do is look around: the world we live in is one our old categories can’t explain. Liberalism envisions the tools of reason—science, public debate, law—liberating individuals, tempering passions and leading, however slowly and unevenly, to a world felicitously governed, in harmony with itself. It is very hard to square such a vision with the present world, in which governments have been captured by grifters and demagogues, algorithms move markets and ambient anxiety reigns.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Philosophy, Politics in General

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Margaret of Scotland

O God, who didst call thy servant Margaret to an earthly throne that she might advance thy heavenly kingdom, and didst give her zeal for thy church and love for thy people: Mercifully grant that we who commemorate her this day may be fruitful in good works, and attain to the glorious crown of thy saints; though Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in --Scotland, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Pastor’s Prayerbook

O God of Love, we yield thee thanks for whatsoever thou hast given us richly to enjoy, for health and vigor, for the love and care of home, for joys of friendship, and for every good gift of happiness and strength. We praise thee for all thy servants who by their example and encouragement have helped us on our way, and for every vision of thyself which thou hast ever given us in sacrament or prayer; and we humbly beseech thee that all these thy benefits we may use in thy service and to the glory of thy Holy Name; through Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord.

–Robert W. Rodenmayer, ed., The Pastor’s Prayerbook: Selected and arranged for various occasions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1960)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

On the holy mount stands the city he founded; the LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling places of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God.

–Psalm 87:1-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(NBC) Duke University Basketball Star Marshall Plumlee Turns In His NBA Jersey For An Army Uniform

Watch it all.

Posted in * General Interest, Military / Armed Forces, Sports

The New TEC Diocese in South Carolina files yet another Petition against the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina

On November 11, 2019 the Episcopal Church in South Carolina filed yet another petition (41 page pdf) in Federal Court this time objecting to the Diocese’s use of the name The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina, as well as references found on the diocesan website pertaining to its history.

Our legal team, in conjunction with the Standing Committee are formulating a response.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

An ABC Nightline Profile Piece on Dolly Parton

Sadness is a major theme in Parton’s music. On WNYC host Jad Abumrad’s podcast, “Dolly Parton’s America,” she revealed that she went through a rough time in her 30s when she dealt with weight gain and “some family things.” Parton said she even contemplated writing a last letter during her struggle with depression.

“I don’t think people can live in this world without going through times like that,” Parton said. “People always look at me, they always say, ‘Oh, you just always seem to be so happy.’ I said, ‘that’s the Botox.’ No, but seriously, I’m a very sensitive person. I feel everything to the core.”

It was during that time in the 1980s, she told Roberts, that she’d had “a complete breakdown.”

“I could totally relate to how people do get on drugs or alcohol, how people do commit suicide, because when you’re a tender, loving, caring, sensitive person, you feel like you can only stand so much heartache and sorrow,” Parton added.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Movies & Television

(WSJ) Timothy Beal–Can Religion Still Speak to Younger Americans?

The fastest-growing population on the American religious landscape today is “Nones”—people who don’t identify with any religion. Recent data from the American Family Survey indicates that their numbers increased from 16% in 2007 to 35% in 2018. Over the same period, there has been a dramatic decline in the share of the population who identify as Christian, from 78% of Americans in 2007 to 65% in 2018-19, according to a report by the Pew Research Center released this month. The rise of Nones is even more dramatic among younger people: 44% of Americans aged 18 to 29 are Nones.

What’s going on? A big part of the answer is that there is less social pressure to identify as religious, especially among young adults. In fact, a young adult today is more likely to feel social pressure to justify being religious than being None. Another factor is the rise of families in which the parents identify with different religions: Children in such families are often raised with exposure to both identities and left to decide for themselves which to adopt. In many cases, they eventually choose neither.

And part of the answer is that many of the personal and social functions traditionally performed by religious institutions are now being served by new communities that we might call “alt-religious.” Harvard Divinity School’s “How We Gather” initiative has drawn attention, for example, to the rapidly growing numbers of millennials who skip church or synagogue for their particular brand of “fitness cult,” such as SoulCycle, which grew from one studio in 2006 to 88 in 2018, with more than 10,000 riders a day. In these movements, as in a church, myth (in the form of the company’s origin story and mission statement) and rituals (a carefully regulated order of actions for leader and congregants) work together to create a sacred or “set apart” time and space.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Sociology, Young Adults

(Wash Post) Europe has resisted taking back citizens who joined ISIS. Now, it may not have a choice.

Bint Dahlia was 33 when she left Germany with her husband and children to start life in the Islamic State’s newly declared caliphate.

She is one of thousands of Europeans who did — and, five years later, one of hundreds trying to come back.

European governments have resisted repatriating their nationals since the caliphate crumbled. Leaders fear domestic attacks and public backlash and have argued that trials should take place regionally.

But now Europe’s hand is being forced. Although Turkey has said it is starting to deport people in its custody with suspected Islamic State links, even more significant are landmark court cases giving governments little choice.

Last week, an appeals court in Berlin ruled that the German government should repatriate Bint Dahlia alongside her three children from al-Hol, a squalid Kurdish-run camp inside Syria. (The woman’s real name was redacted in court documents shared with The Washington Post, and her relatives have asked that The Post use a family nickname for her safety.)

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

(Church Times) Interview: Martin Saunders, deputy chief executive, Youthscape

Good youth work is always about really listening to, truly caring about, and being there for the long haul for young people as they go through the most complex and fast-moving period of human life. Everything else is secondary to that. The statutory youth-work sector was decimated at the start of the recession; so, really, the voluntary sector now bears a lot of the responsibility. Churches are at the forefront of that.

We did some research at Youthscape, which discovered that only about 25 per cent of all churches actually did any formal work with young people. So there are pockets of great practice, but we’ve got a lot of work to do.

What young people desperately need are authentic, kind role-models who care. They don’t especially need someone who can speak their language or knows about the latest Netflix smash; so, in a sense, age is irrelevant. They need friends and role-models of all ages. The stereotype of the hip twenty-something, hoodie-wearing youth-worker needs to die.

Most Christian youth work is still really oriented towards helping young people to discover and then keep faith: the traditional Bible-study and social model is alive and well. There’s a big question around whether that’s still the best model, even for churches. The Scouting movement is seeing a huge increase in numbers. I think that they get a lot right.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Youth Ministry

(AI) Trinity School for Ministry expands campus, purchases local church

In the small town of Ambridge, PA, a renewal is taking place. Storefronts are being updated, old buildings are being refurbished to house new tenants, and new sidewalks have been poured. Trinity School for Ministry has a desire to support this renewal in a way that is helpful to the town and also helps to build community. To that end, Trinity School for Ministry is thrilled to announce that we have just purchased the Presbyterian Church of Ambridge, located just a few blocks from Trinity’s campus. “When the pastor from the church approached me to inquire whether we would be interested in buying the church, I knew that I had to explore this option,” stated the Very Rev. Dr. Henry L. Thompson, III (Laurie), Dean and President of Trinity School for Ministry. “We knew we needed a larger chapel/meeting space and we had been praying that God would help us to discern whether or not to build a brand new building,” Thompson added. “We received our answer— not surprisingly, this existing church met every one of my criteria that I had identified for a new building. God has given us such a tremendous gift.”

Opened in 1976, Trinity has a long history of working with the Ambridge and surrounding communities. Of interest is the fact that Trinity’s current chapel was a Presbyterian church, and when Trinity purchased it, half of the congregation began attending down the street at the church that was just purchased. “We feel like God has taken us full circle,” said Thompson, “and once again we are able to put new life into an older building.”

The recently purchased building will allow Trinity to move forward into the future as its residential student population continues to grow and its partnerships reach even further globally.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Housing/Real Estate Market, Seminary / Theological Education, Stewardship

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Herman of Alaska

Holy God, we bless thy Name for Herman, joyful north star of Christ’s Church, who came from Russia to bring the Good News of Christ’s love to thy native people in Alaska, to defend them from oppressors and to proclaim the Gospel of peace; and we pray that we may follow his example in proclaiming the Gospel; through the same Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, throughout all ages. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Daily Prayer

O LORD God, who hast called thy servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown: Give us faith to go out with a good courage, not knowing whither we go, but only that thy hand is leading us, and thy love supporting us; to the glory of thy Name.

—-Daily Prayer, Eric Milner-White and G. W. Briggs, eds. (London: Penguin Books 1959 edition of the 1941 original)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Dost thou work wonders for the dead? Do the shades rise up to praise thee?…Is thy steadfast love declared in the grave, or thy faithfulness in Abaddon? Are thy wonders known in the darkness, or thy saving help in the land of forgetfulness?

–Psalm 88:10-12

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(ES) Police arrest 17 after Romanian ‘sex trafficking gang’ busted in east London

Seventeen people were arrested today as police smashed a suspected global sex trafficking gang in east London.

Officers discovered 29 alleged victims as they busted a Romanian gang accused of bringing women into Britain to work as prostitutes.

The Met’s central specialist crime team carried out dawn raids at 16 addresses in Redbridge, Havering, Barking and Dagenham, Newham, Brentwood and Tower Hamlets — with the support of Romanian police officers.

The 14 men and three women, aged 17 to 50, were arrested just after 6am on suspicion of modern slavery, controlling prostitution, class A drug offences and possessing a stun gun. They remain in custody at a central London police station.

The alleged victims of human trafficking, all women aged between 20 and 40, were recovered and have been taken to a place of safety. A man was also arrested in Constanta, Romania.

The operation was supported by a team that included the Crown Prosecution Service, Romanian police and prosecutors, the Romanian embassy, Europol, Eurojust, the Church of England and Refuge.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(NYT) Nicholas Kristof reviews Karen Armstrong’s ‘The Lost Art Of Scripture: Rescuing The Sacred Texts’

I’ve long believed that the great gulf in religion is not so much from one faith to another, but rather between sanctimonious cranks of any creed who point fingers and those of any religion who humbly seek inspiration to live better lives. Armstrong’s exploration of Scripture across so many traditions reinforces my view.

The ancient Chinese scholar Xunzi complained about an early version of what today we might call religious blowhards. “The learning of the petty man enters his ear and comes out of his mouth,” Xunzi protested, adding that the words have affected only “the four inches between ear and mouth.” Instead, the aim for a wise man should be that learning “enters his ear, clings to his mind, spreads through his four limbs and manifests itself in his actions.”

Scriptures historically were infused with contradiction and mystery, intertwined with ritual and music, to offer glimpses of deep truths and often to promote ethical behavior. Scriptures typically evolved flexibly to promote compassion, empathy and magnanimity — so it is particularly sad when today they are cherry-picked by ideologues, wrenched from context, to justify rigid and pusillanimous dogma.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, Religion & Culture, Theology: Scripture

Regent College, Vancouver, Receives $3.5 Million For Endowed Chair In Marketplace Theology And Leadership

Regent College is very pleased to announce the creation of the R. Paul Stevens Chair in Marketplace Theology and Leadership. The Chair’s $3.5 million endowment, the gift of Dr. Margaret Wai Kay Wong of Hong Kong, is the largest gift in Regent’s history.

Dr. Jeff Greenman, President of Regent College, expressed the College’s gratitude and delight:

“We at Regent are deeply grateful to Dr. Margaret Wong for her generous support of Regent’s mission by investing in the College’s commitment to marketplace theology and leadership. A fully endowed chair simply is a marvelous gift to us. It provides a strong and enduring institutional platform for a faculty member’s research, teaching, writing, and mentoring in a strategic area of Regent’s ministry.”

“Throughout our entire history, Regent has sought to equip men and women with a deep, integrated faith that is lived out in a variety of marketplaces and in their leadership roles. This gift advances that distinctive pursuit and ensures the vitality of Regent’s contribution to the church in this important area.”

Dr. Wong, a Canadian citizen, lives and works in Hong Kong. She completed her doctorate in Physics at MIT before moving to Hong Kong to oversee management of her late father’s property developments, including new town residential communities in the New Territories.

Read it all.

Posted in Canada, Seminary / Theological Education

A Terrific NYT Profile Article on Tom Hanks–this Story Will Help You Feel Less Bad

I was worn down over the next few weeks as I spent hours on the phone with people who knew him well. The things they said about him were both remarkable and unremarkable: Heller called him “a human” who “treats everyone like people.” Meg Ryan, who starred with him in “Sleepless in Seattle” and other movies said he has an “astronomical” curiosity. Peter Scolari, who co-starred with him on the sitcom “Bosom Buddies” and then “Lucky Guy” on Broadway, called him “this very special man who is touched by God.” Sally Field told me that Tom Hanks is so good that it actually makes her feel bad. She calls him “Once in a lifetime Tom.”

Hearing that made me think of something Tom Junod said to me in Toronto, how he went into the Mister Rogers story looking for who Fred was but came out knowing only what he did. He stared at all his reporting for a long time before he realized that the doing is actually the thing we should be paying attention to. “I don’t know if Fred was the mask or the mask was Fred,” he said. “But in the end does it even matter?”

I’m not sure where we got the concept of an Everyman, but Tom Hanks isn’t really it. I don’t know people with hundreds of typewriters. He is the Platonic ideal of a man, a projection of what we wish we were, or, more worrisome, a theory of what we actually are, and, well: Have you read the other pages of this newspaper?

I am too old for Mister Rogers. My children are too old for Mister Rogers, too. So instead I showed them “Splash,” then “Forrest Gump,” then “Big,” then “A League of Their Own.” I showed them “That Thing You Do!” and parts of “Cast Away.” I told them about the man who heard I wasn’t feeling well and adjusted his schedule for me. I told them that it doesn’t matter why you do nice things; all that matters is that you do them. And one day, something changed. I had just finished “Toy Story 4,” and suddenly all my algorithms were recommending openhearted movies with heroes and good values, and I realized that I had begun to feel a little better. My heart was never a spike; it was always an umbrella but sometimes it would invert against a storm. That day I recalibrated, and suddenly my umbrella was upright, once again able to shield me from the weather. It was enough. It was more than enough. This is an accurate reflection of the time Tom Hanks spent with a journalist.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Entertainment, Movies & Television

(VN) Pope Francis receives Archbishop Welby at Casa Santa Marta

[Yesterday]…afternoon, 13th November 2019, Pope Francis received in audience His Grace Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, accompanied by His Grace Archbishop Ian Ernest, Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome and Representative of the Anglican Communion to the Holy See.

During the friendly discussions, the condition of Christians in the world was mentioned, as well as certain situations of international crisis, particularly the sorrowful situation in South Sudan.

At the end of the meeting, the Holy Father and the Archbishop of Canterbury agreed that if the political situation in the Country permits the creation of a transitional government of national unity in the coming 100 days, according to the timing set by the recent agreement signed in Entebbe, in Uganda, it is their intention to visit South Sudan together.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Relations, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic

(CT) James Cary–Does God Have a Funny Side?

For example, [Steve] Wilkens points out that humans laugh while animals don’t. This we know, unconvincing zoological examples notwithstanding. But Wilkens digs into the theological significance of ths fact, joining some dots that help us see comedy not as an optional extra, but something at the core of what it means to be human beings and divine image-bearers.

Jokes can have unintended consequences. This is often what makes people reluctant to attempt humor or risk a comic observation. But a well-placed joke can make everyone relax. A shared sense of humor can build a relationship and further a connection. In his epilogue, Wilkens explains how writing the book had unintended positive consequences. “As I read theology through the lens of humor,” he writes, “I discovered that I don’t just love God. I like God.”

Once you see God’s handiwork in the everyday, as well as in his image-bearers and in the pages of Scripture, this could be your reality as well. Given the overly serious times in which we live, it’s probably worth a try. Perhaps we can see God showing his mirth after all.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Humor / Trivia, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Samuel Seabury

Eternal God, who didst bless thy servant Samuel Seabury with the gift of perseverance to renew the Anglican inheritance in North America; Grant that, joined together in unity with our bishops and nourished by thy holy Sacraments, we may proclaim the Gospel of redemption with apostolic zeal; through Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Spirituality/Prayer, TEC Bishops

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Frank Colquhoun

Grant us, O Lord, the faith that rests not on signs and wonders but on thy love and faithfulness; that obedient to thy word and trusting in thy promises, we may know thy peace and healing power, both in our hearts and in our homes; for the honour of thy holy name.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

Samuel Seabury’s First years of Ministry for his Feast Day

Christmas day in 1753 fell on the Tuesday which was but two days after the ordination to the Priesthood just mentioned. The newly ordained priest on the morning of that day, was sent with a note of introduction from the Chaplain of the Bishop of London to the Incumbent of one of the Churches in that city, apparently with the view of assigning to him some duty for the day. The Incumbent gave him but a surly reception, sternly demanding upon his entrance to the vestry-room, who he was, and what he wanted; in silent reply to which demands he presented his note; the comment upon which was, “Hah! Well, if the Bishop has sent you, I suppose I must take you. Give him a surplice, and show him into the desk” (to the Sexton), “and do you, Sir, find your places, and wait there till I come.” A younger clergyman, of more amiable appearance, meanwhile seemed much amused at this splenetic reception. Coming back into the Vestry after the service, the Doctor turning fiercely upon the neophyte, exclaimed, “What is the reason, Sir, that you did not read the Litany?” “Because, Sir, it is not a Litany day.” “And don’t you know that if the Ordinary chooses to have it read on Festival days, it is your duty to read it?” “That may be, Sir, but it is the Ordinary’s business to let me know that.” The old man’s face was black with passion, but before he had time to explode, the younger clergyman came to the rescue, saying: “Doctor, you won’t get much out of this young man; you had better turn him over to me, for I see you don’t want him: come, Mr. Seabury, will you go with me to–Church and preach for me!” “I never preached a sermon in my life.” “Well, of all things I should like to hear a virgin preacher! ” So the young men took themselves off, and after dinner the virgin sermon was preached; though concerning its subject, and the place where it was broached, tradition is silent: as it also is in respect to any further official acts of the preacher during the remainder of his stay in England.

In the year following, 1754, having received his appointment as a missionary of the Society for Propagating the Gospel, he set sail for his native land, and soon after began the regular exercise of his ministry at New Brunswick, in the Province of New Jersey. One of his relatives, writing about this time to another, observed: “Mr. Samuel Seabury has returned to America again; an excellent physician, a learned divine, an accomplished gentleman and a pious Christian;” a record which indicates the reputation which he had in the small circle within which he was then known, and which it was anticipated that his future life would verify.

Not much is known in regard to his work during the short time of his charge at New Brunswick, but the period is interesting, both on account of the evidence of his doctrinal principles afforded by his sermons, and also on account of the evidence of the extension of his influence and reputation in a somewhat wider sphere, afforded by contemporaneous events with which he was associated.

Among his manuscripts are several of the sermons which he preached at New Brunswick….

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Ministry of the Ordained, TEC Bishops

From the Morning Bible Readings

And the Pharisees and Sad′ducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather; for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.

When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sad′ducees.” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How is it that you fail to perceive that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sad′ducees.” Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sad′ducees.

–Matthew 16:1-12

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(NPR) U.S. Roman Catholic Bishops Elect Their First Latino President: Archbishop José Gomez

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops selected Archbishop José Gomez as their next president Tuesday, making him the first Latino leader of a group whose roots stretch back more than 100 years.

“I promise to serve with dedication and love, and to always try to follow Jesus Christ and seek his will for his Church here in the U.S.,” Gomez said, calling his election an honor.

Gomez, 67, has been the archbishop of Los Angeles, the largest Roman Catholic diocese in the U.S., for most of the past decade. His previous posts include stints in Denver and San Antonio, Texas.

Read it all.

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

(AI) Bishop of Zaria warns Archbishop of Kaduna and ACC General Secretary against being “fake Christians and religious spies” for Islam

The archbishop’s apology drew an immediate response from the Bishop of Zaria.

“The bishop and the people of Zaria diocese are not surprised about the views and apologies expressed by Archbishop Lamido at the Governor’s office yesterday … because Bishop Lamido is known to always compromise christian standards and the truth.”

The diocesan statement claimed the archbishop was corrupt. He had sold “sold three very precious landed properties of Wusasa diocese to some Muslims. These properties were acquired by missionaries in the late 1800s. These great legacies have been lost forever by the Wusasa community.”

The statement further claimed: “Bishop Lamido brought a Muslim governorship candidates with money to bribe the House of Bishops to vote for this man against Governor El Rufai. His antecedents when it comes to standing for the church speak volumes.”

The bishop of Zaria took exception to the assertion that by protecting their cathedral the diocese were “religious bigots” or “at war with the Governor”. He explained: “We are only fighting for our right. Nobody can stop us from fighting for our right. Besides, prophets do not apologize to kings but kings apologies to prophets. Nobody can propose to demolish our cathedral and we will keep quiet or apologise.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Nigeria

(Christian Reflection: A Series in Faith and Ethics) Don Collett–Overcoming Historicism’s Dividing Wall of Hostility: The Theological Interpretation of Scripture

Christian Smith notes the influence of bad philosophies of language and science upon biblicists, the latter of which are typically imbibed without much, if any, critical reflection. Paradigm-protecting approaches to organizing the diversity of Scripture also generate canons within the canon, while the influence of modernism’s mathematical and scientific rationalism upon biblicists leads them to effectively regard the Bible as a set of algebraic equations, thereby confusing mathematical and scientific ideas of precision with accuracy and truth. Sophisticated views of the philosophy of language and science are either unknown in popular forms of biblicism, or if known, exploited for purely negative and apologetic purposes, thereby precluding their constructive appropriation on any level.

Among the more interesting answers that Smith gives to this question are found in his third chapter, which is largely rooted in sociological observations. As it turns out, biblicists don’t get out much. They talk among themselves within socially and ecclesially constructed rooms of their own making and vintage, never bothering to open up windows to let in fresh air from the outside. When one adds to this the sociological observation that the need to reinforce one’s own identity is often tied to the need to differentiate oneself from others, this isolation is compounded even further (62-63). In short, because difference is essential to identity, biblicists may be subconsciously resisting “the idea of the biblical differences among them actually being settled” (63). Smith’s discussion of “homophily”, which he defines as natural attraction to those who think in the same terms we do, also helps to explain, at least in part, why biblicism is so resistant to change. Evangelical biblicists regularly underestimate the influence of social networks and social location upon how people process Scripture (64-65; 195-196). Because of this, they fall into the trap of believing that if they can just get people all believing the right things, everything else would take care of itself. While one can go too far with this and foster a sort of social determinism that ignores the Bible’s ability, through the Spirit, to overturn and counter the influence of what Smith (following Peter Berger) calls ‘plausibility structures’, in this reviewer’s opinion, Smith is right to point out that most biblicists regularly underestimate the impact their social context and location has upon how they hear Scripture. Many biblicists are Cartesians who view people as disembodied selves, or if you prefer, ideas with feet.

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Posted in Books, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, Theology: Scripture