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(Premier) Praying in tongues and prophecy, all part of Archbishop of Canterbury’s daily routine

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has spoken of his daily discipline praying in tongues and seeking words of knowledge and prophecy from others in a wide ranging interview with Premier.

The head of the Church of England has admitted: “It’s not something to make a great song and dance about, given it’s usually extremely early in the morning it’s not usually an immensely ecstatic moment.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

(Vanguard) 100 years: Lagos Anglican Diocese plans Centenary City, Online Radio

The Diocese of Lagos (Anglican Communion) has joined several other church organisations to express concern over the forthcoming general elections, praying to God for a peaceful polls and the election of credible leaders.

Addressing journalists ahead of the centenary anniversary celebration of the foremost mission in Nigeria, the diocesan Bishop, Rt. Rev. Humphrey Olumakaiye revealed his vision to reposition the diocese to continue to impact the society and influence the nation for the good of all citizens.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Nigeria

(NYT) Described as Defeated, Islamic State Punches Back With Guerrilla Tactics

For three years, terrorists controlled a huge stretch of territory in Iraq and Syria. They ran their own state, collecting tens of millions of dollars in taxes and using the proceeds to fix potholes, issue birth certificates, finance attacks and recruit followers from around the world.

All but 1 percent of that territory is now gone, which has prompted the White House to describe the Islamic State as “wiped out,” “absolutely obliterated” and “in its final throes.” But to suggest that ISIS was defeated, as President Trump did when he announced plans to pull out American troops from Syria, is to ignore the lessons of recent history.

The group has been declared vanquished before, only to prove politicians wrong and to rise stronger than before.

The attack last week by a suicide bomber outside a shawarma restaurant in the Syrian city of Manbij, which killed at least 15 people including four Americans, is one example of how the group still remains a serious, violent threat.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Iraq, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces, Syria, Terrorism, Violence

(Local Paper) Pittsburgh synagogue shooting survivors join Emanuel AME Church in shared sorrow

They stood hugging, a rabbi and an AME minister, two men of God united by the bloodshed of earthly hatreds.

Beneath their feet, in the fellowship hall of Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church, nine black worshipers died in June 2015 when a gunman opened fire during their Bible study, killing them because they were black.

About 700 miles north, in Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, an antisemitic gunman killed 11 worshipers less than three months ago during their Shabbat morning services, simply because they were Jewish.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Violence

Archbishop Peter Jensen hands on the General Secretary of Gafcon position to Archbishop Ben Kwashi

Much is at stake. It is the testimony of Scripture that ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23) and that ‘the wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23). Every single human being is so important in the eyes of God, that we will be held accountable for our sins of thought, word and deed on the Day of Judgement and the proper punishment for our sins is the place of destruction, hell itself.

The Gospel is not some children’s game, or some therapy to make us feel better. It is deadly serious. And it needs to be preached faithfully, in its full-orbed truth. It is about the salvation of sinners from hell.

‘The wages of sin is death’, but the rest of this wonderful sentence runs, ‘the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord’, These words capture the grace of God (the free gift) given to us when we did not deserve it and were incapable of being good enough to receive it. It reminds us of the glory that is ours in eternal life, as opposed to destruction. And it tells us where eternal life may be found, namely in the Jesus who is the Christ, the fulfilment of all the promises of God, and the one who saves us by being our Lord.

In our times, the tendency is to omit two absolutely vital parts of this: First, the fact that we are faced with the choice between life and death. We fail to preach judgement, because we do not want to offend. Instead we preach a Christ who will fulfil all our desires – for money, for success, for happiness, because we cannot believe in eternal life and eternal death.

Second, we omit the summons to repentance which is integral to the true Gospel.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of Nigeria, GAFCON

Westhill Community Church votes to Leave the Scottish Episcopal Church

From here:

The result of the vote on Thursday 17th January asking whether you agree with the leaders and vestry that Westhill Community Church should leave the Scottish Episcopal Church was 87% Yes and 13% No, with 2 spoiled papers.

There will be no immediate changes. We as a Church need to take time to catch our breath and pray about the way forward.

Thanks to everyone who assisted with the process including everyone who came out on such a cold night to vote and everyone who stayed to pray together.

With every blessing, on behalf of the Leaders and Vestry

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Scottish Episcopal Church, Theology: Scripture

(AP) Paying for funerals impossible for many poor families

Darlene Hardison would have loved to have a funeral for her father and uncle and bury them in marked graves at a Michigan cemetery. But she and her family could come up with only enough money to have Hoover Heags and Arthur Hardison cremated, then they left the remains to a Detroit funeral home to bury.

Authorities later discovered Heags’ and Hardison’s cremated remains among nearly 300 others in bags, boxes and other containers inside Cantrell Funeral Home, one of two Detroit funeral homes police and state licensing officials are investigating for allegedly improperly storing remains. Heags had died about a year earlier; Hardison had been dead for about two years.

“The funds were limited … to paying house bills and we just didn’t have the money to cover everything we needed,” Darlene Hardison said at a cemetery where a memorial service was held for some of the people whose cremains authorities found in the now-closed Cantrell Funeral Home on Detroit’s east side. “We were just able to do a cremation and that was it,” Hardison said, wiping away tears.

Hardison’s story illustrates how the funeral homes now under scrutiny may have ended up having so many remains and why it is that families didn’t notice. Many poor families in the U.S. have been priced out of funerals and burials. People who can’t afford those services are left with the cheapest option: cremating their loved one’s remains and leaving it to a funeral home to dispose of them. Others may simply abandon relatives’ remains altogether, leaving it to coroners and funeral homes to pay for cremation and disposal.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance & Investing, Poverty

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Vincent

Almighty God, whose deacon Vincent, upheld by thee, was not terrified by threats nor overcome by torments: Strengthen us, we beseech thee, to endure all adversity with invincible and steadfast faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Church of South India

Almighty God, the giver of strength and joy: Change, we beseech thee, our bondage into liberty, and the poverty of our nature into the riches of thy grace; that by the transformation of our lives thy glory may be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Epiphany, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Prove me, O LORD, and try me; test my heart and my mind. For thy steadfast love is before my eyes, and I walk in faithfulness to thee.

–Psalm 26:2-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(ABC Aus.) Stanley Hauerwas–The Only Road to Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Nonviolence

Of all the silly claims sometimes made by atheists these days, surely one of the silliest is that Christianity was in no way determinative of the politics of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Just take Christopher Hitchens’s claim that, on account of King’s commitment to nonviolence, in “no real as opposed to nominal sense … was he a Christian.” Wherever King got his understanding of nonviolence from, argues Hitchens, it simply could not have been from Christianity because Christianity is inherently violent.

The best response that I can give to such claims is turn to that wonderfully candid account of the diverse influences that shaped King’s understanding of nonviolence in his Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, and then demonstrate how his Christianity gave these influences in peculiarly Christ-like form.

King reports as a college student he was moved when he read Thoreau’s Essay on Civil Disobedience. Thoreau convinced him that anyone who passively accepts evil, even oppressed people who cooperate with an evil system, are as implicated with evil as those who perpetrate it. Accordingly, if we are to be true to our conscience and true to God, a righteous man has no alternative but to refuse to cooperate with an evil system.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CT) Dante Stewart–Martin Luther King Jr.: Exemplar of Hope

As I reflect on King, I am reminded of the language of Zechariah 9:12: “Return to your fortress you prisoners of hope.” He was indeed a “prisoner of hope.” To be a prisoner of hope is not the same thing as being optimistic. Life has been too realistic for that. Optimism is rooted in sentimentalism and believes in the inevitability of progress. Hope is rooted in a redemptive realism and the promise of the victory of God in Jesus. King was not naive about the realities he faced nor did he expect that good was just around the corner.

In the last book he wrote before he was assassinated, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, King wrote, “The majority of White Americans consider themselves sincerely committed to justice for the Negro,” but, he argued, “unfortunately this is a fantasy of self-deception and comfortable vanity.” White America was willing to welcome some change, but, just as they do today, apathy and disinterest rose to the surface when the next logical steps needed to be taken. Though the real democratic spirit of some of white America resisted this tendency, these were exceptional individuals and far too small in number for widespread change to take root. It was King’s conclusion that the practical cost of change for the nation up to this point had been cheap and characterized by the ever-present tendency to backlash—realities we still live with 51 years later.

While blacks proceeded from the premise that “equality means what it says and they have taken white Americans at their word,” far too often “equality is a loose expression for improvement” and that “whites … are not putting in a similar mass effort to re-educate themselves out of their racial ignorance.” The hard truth was that “neither Negro nor white has yet done enough to expect the dawn of a new day.”

For King, freedom is not won by passive acceptance of suffering. It is “won by a struggle against suffering.” Standing in the chasm between disappointed cries for black power, stiffening resistance from white backlash, the darkness of Vietnam, and the pervasiveness of poverty, King appealed to our common humanity and care for the common good. He called for the full participation of blacks and whites, rich and poor, natives and immigrants, Pentecostals and Presbyterians—any who would join the struggle for freedom and community. I believe Thurman is right when he claims that King’s greatest contribution was his life, which embodied a radical discipleship and a revolutionary love.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

Richard John Neuhaus: Remembering, and Misremembering, Martin Luther King Jr.

As Abernathy tells it—and I believe he is right—he and King were first of all Christians, then Southerners, and then blacks living under an oppressive segregationist regime. King of course came from the black bourgeoisie of Atlanta in which his father, “Daddy King,” had succeeded in establishing himself as a king. Abernathy came from much more modest circumstances, but he was proud of his heritage and, as he writes, wanted nothing more than that whites would address his father as Mr. Abernathy. He and Martin loved the South, and envisioned its coming into its own once the sin of segregation had been expunged.

“Years later,” Abernathy writes that, “after the civil rights movement had peaked and I had taken over [after Martin’s death] as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference,” he met with Governor George Wallace. “Governor Wallace, by then restricted to a wheel chair after having been paralyzed by a would-be assassin’s bullet, shook hands with me and welcomed me to the State of Alabama. I smiled, realizing that he had forgotten all about Montgomery and Birmingham, and particularly Selma. ‘This is not my first visit,’ I said. ‘I was born in Alabama—in Marengo County.’ ‘Good,’ said Governor Wallace, ‘then welcome back.’ I really believe he meant it. In his later years he had become one of the greatest friends the blacks had ever had in Montgomery. Where once he had stood in the doorway and barred federal marshals from entering, he now made certain that our people were first in line for jobs, new schools, and other benefits of state government.” Abernathy concludes, “It was a time for reconciliations.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: Letter from a Birmingham Jail

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.

There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

Read it all.

Posted in History, Religion & Culture

Music for Martin Luther King Day–I’m gonna ride the Chariot in the morning Lord

Listen to it all.

Posted in Liturgy, Music, Worship

Harriet Beecher Stowe on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Have not many of us, in the weary way of life, felt, in some hours, how far easier it were to die than to live?

The martyr, when faced even by a death of bodily anguish and horror, finds in the very terror of his doom a strong stimulant and tonic. There is a vivid excitement, a thrill and fervor, which may carry through any crisis of suffering that is the birth-hour of eternal glory and rest.

But to live, to wear on, day after day, of mean, bitter, low, harassing servitude, every nerve dampened and depressed, every power of feeling gradually smothered, this long and wasting heart-martyrdom, this slow, daily bleeding away of the inward life, drop by drop, hour after hour, this is the true searching test of what there may be in man or woman.

When Tom stood face to face with his persecutor, and heard his threats, and thought in his very soul that his hour was come, his heart swelled bravely in him, and he thought he could bear torture and fire, bear anything, with the vision of Jesus and heaven but just a step beyond; but, when he was gone, and the present excitement passed off, came back the pain of his bruised and weary limbs, came back the sense of his utterly degraded, hopeless, forlorn estate; and the day passed wearily enough.Long before his wounds were healed, Legree insisted that he should be put to the regular field-work; and then came day after day of pain and weariness, aggravated by every kind of injustice and indignity that the ill-will of a mean and malicious mind could devise. Whoever, in our circumstances, has made trial of pain, even with all the alleviations which, for us, usually attend it, must know the irritation that comes with it. Tom no longer wondered at the habitual surliness of his associates; nay, he found the placid, sunny temper, which had been the habitude of his life, broken in on, and sorely strained, by the inroads of the same thing. He had flattered himself on leisure to read his Bible; but there was no such thing as leisure there. In the height of the season, Legree did not hesitate to press all his hands through, Sundays and week-days alike. Why shouldn’t he?””he made more cotton by it, and gained his wager; and if it wore out a few more hands, he could buy better ones. At first, Tom used to read a verse or two of his Bible, by the flicker of the fire, after he had returned from his daily toil; but, after the cruel treatment he received, he used to come home so exhausted, that his head swam and his eyes failed when he tried to read; and he was fain to stretch himself down, with the others, in utter exhaustion.

Is it strange that the religious peace and trust, which had upborne him hitherto, should give way to tossings of soul and despondent darkness? The gloomiest problem of this mysterious life was constantly before his eyes, souls crushed and ruined, evil triumphant, and God silent. It was weeks and months that Tom wrestled, in his own soul, in darkness and sorrow. He thought of Miss Ophelia’s letter to his Kentucky friends, and would pray earnestly that God would send him deliverance. And then he would watch, day after day, in the vague hope of seeing somebody sent to redeem him; and, when nobody came, he would crush back to his soul bitter thoughts, that it was vain to serve God, that God had forgotten him. He sometimes saw Cassy; and sometimes, when summoned to the house, caught a glimpse of the dejected form of Emmeline, but held very little communion with either; in fact, there was no time for him to commune with anybody.

–Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Poetry & Literature, Race/Race Relations

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: I Have a Dream

You can find the full text here.

I find it always is really worth the time to listen to and read and ponder it all on this day–KSH.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast day of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Almighty God, who by the hand of Moses thy servant didst lead thy people out of slavery, and didst make them free at last: Grant that thy Church, following the example of thy prophet Martin Luther King, may resist oppression in the name of thy love, and may strive to secure for all thy children the blessed liberty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Agnes

Almighty and everlasting God, who dost choose those whom the world deemeth powerless to put the powerful to shame: Grant us so to cherish the memory of thy youthful martyr Agnes, that we may share her pure and steadfast faith in thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from William Temple

Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to thee, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly thine, utterly dedicated unto thee; and then use us, we pray thee, as thou wilt, but always to thy glory and the welfare of thy people; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ; so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.

–Ephesians 4:11-16

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Congratulations to the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots for making the 2019 Super Bowl

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Men, Sports

(CT) Christopher Benson reviews Rowan Williams’ “Being Human: Bodies, Minds, Persons:” What Humans Have That Machines Don’t

In Being Human, the Anglican theologian Rowan Williams awakens us to the dead metaphor of the human machine, which has become so familiar that we seldom recognize it as a metaphor, let alone one that truncates the mystery and complexity of our existence. His book is the latest contribution in “a sort of unintended trilogy” that includes Being Christian (2014) and Being Disciples (2016). Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, speaks clearly and calmly into the “contemporary confusion” about our humanity because he follows the perfect model of being fully human: Jesus Christ. Consisting of addresses given between 2009 and 2015, the first three chapters concern human nature as it relates to consciousness, personhood, and mind-body relations, while the last two chapters concern human flourishing as it relates to faith and silence.

Like C. S. Lewis before him, Williams understands that human beings are set apart from animals because of personhood—a nature shared with our three-personal God. Machines, however sophisticated, lack this nature; therefore, we should resist comparing humans to them. If personhood depended upon “a set of facts,” we might tick various boxes to judge whether a human being deserves respect, thus endangering “those not yet born, those severely disabled, those dying, those in various ways marginal and forgotten.” Williams persuasively argues that we ascribe dignity to humans—regardless of “how many boxes are ticked”—because every person stands “in the middle of a network of relations” that confers meaning and worth. God himself belongs to a network of relations that Christians name the Trinity.

Not only does the community of the Godhead precede the community of humans, but the latter is coupled to the former, making atomized existence a delusion. As the metaphysical poet John Donne famously penned, “No man is an island entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” What else could this continent be other than God? God, we could say, reclaims the oceans that man invents to separate himself from his Creator and neighbor. “Before anything or anyone is in relation with anything or anyone else,” Williams writes, “it’s in relation to God … the deeper I go into the attempt to understand myself, who and what I am, the more I find that I am already grasped, addressed, engaged with. I can’t dig deep enough in myself to find an abstract self that’s completely divorced from relationship. So, for St. Augustine and the Christian tradition, before anything else happens I am in relation to a non-worldly, non-historical everlasting attention and love, which is God.”

Read it all.

Posted in Apologetics, Books, Theology

(BP) J.D. Greear: Sanctity of Human Life Sunday–Beware the distractions

{This week] in our nation’s capital, thousands upon thousands of people [participated] in the March for Life, the largest pro-life rally in the world. The march is built on the conviction that unborn babies are made in the image of God and, as such, they deserve the rights God has given to all people.

The conversation about abortion really should hinge on one question: Are the unborn human or not?

If so, then the reasoning behind the pro-choice cause falls apart. The arguments become “red herrings” — distractions that aren’t relevant to the issue at hand.

Here are some of the most common….

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Theology

John Stott–Paul’s message to the defeated and the complacent: ‘Let the Holy Spirit continuously fill you’

But when Paul says to us, ‘Be filled with the Spirit’, he uses a present imperative, implying that we are to go on being filled. For the fullness of the Spirit is not a once-for-all experience which we can never lose, but a privilege to be renewed continuously by continuous believing and obedient appropriation. We have been ‘sealed’ with the Spirit once and for all; we need to be filled with the Spirit and go on being filled every day and every moment of the day.

Here, then, is a message for both the defeated and the complacent, that is, for Christians at opposite ends of the spiritual spectrum. To the defeated Paul would say, ‘Be filled with the Spirit, and he will give you a new love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness and self-control.’ To the complacent Paul would say ‘go on being filled with the Spirit. Thank God for what he has given you thus far. But do not say you have arrived. For there is more, much more, yet to come.’

—-John Stott, The Message of Ephesians (Bible Speaks Today) [Downer’s Grove, Ill. IVP Academic, 1984), p.121 to be quoted in my adult ed class this morning

Posted in Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Gregorian Sacramentary

May the grace of the Lord Jesus sanctify us and keep us from all evil; may He drive far from us all hurtful things, and purify both our souls and bodies; may He bind us to Himself by the bond of love, and may His peace abound in our hearts.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

For this Melchiz′edek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him; and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, and has neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest for ever.

See how great he is! Abraham the patriarch gave him a tithe of the spoils. And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brethren, though these also are descended from Abraham. But this man who has not their genealogy received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. Here tithes are received by mortal men; there, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchiz′edek met him.

-Hebrews 7:1-10

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Sightings) Martin Marty–Religion in the Years Ahead

A virtual throwaway line in a recent book review in the New York Review of Books caught my attention and prompted some early-in-the-year reflections on “the times.” Stephen Holmes, in a review of two sage and sane accounts by veterans Francis Fukuyama (Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment) and Kwame Anthony Appiah (The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity: Creed, Country, Class, Culture), comments that Fukuyama “explains why liberal democracy has ceased to impress much of the world as the ideal form of political and social organization.” More Holmes: “What [Fukuyama] could not have foreseen [when he wrote an earlier book in 1992] was that the high tide of liberal democracy would last a mere fifteen years. ‘Beginning in the mid-2000s, the momentum toward an increasingly open liberal world order began to falter, then went into reverse.’” Fukuyama concludes in his new book that identity politics has supplanted it. Appiah, meanwhile, wants us to understand religious, national, and cultural identities as “labels.” In his view, they are not accurate representations but rather “coordinating devices or ‘ways of grouping people’” for a variety of purposes, and also “for good or ill.” It strikes me that our bookshelves are stacked with references to “coordinating devices” which were intended to help readers navigate their way in unsettled and unsettling times.

Familiar with the work of both authors, and moved by discernments in the Holmes review, I have spent these first days of the new year reflecting on what it means, or might mean, that the liberal world order vanished within fifteen years of Fukuyama’s depiction of liberal democracy “as the default form of government for much of the world” in his 1992 book. To review some ways in which it appeared to scholars in my field—religious history, sociology, and practical theology—I pulled down and reread two books from the lost world of 1969. We’ll open them in a moment. But first: crucial for all fair and honest appraisals or bad guesses about future cultural climates is a famed word by philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, written as he reflected back on America’s founding. Whitehead argued that the founders’ thinking, acting, and writing were characteristic of an era in which “wise men hoped, and that as yet no circumstances had arisen to throw doubt upon the grounds of such hope.” The Civil War was a decisive moment in American history in this regard, but it was only one of many “circumstances” which re-set the stage for American dreaming. While values and virtues from the founding period would live on, the changes after that period were profound.

Sightings columns don’t typically allow for the kind of elaboration that many of us as scholars prefer, so please forgive me for the way I’m perhaps teasing this subject instead of offering a comprehensive treatment of it. But it strikes me that in 1969, a high year in the “old world order,” two Chicagoans published books on the subject of religion in the future. One was Andrew M. Greeley’s Religion in the Year 2000, and the other was the young scholar Martin E. Marty’s The Search for a Usable Future. Both authors were ordained clergy, both University of Chicago PhDs, both lived for some time in the same high-rise condo building, both born in 1928. I was technically twenty minutes older than Father Greeley, but I was admittedly less productive than the famed priest, in no small part because he had priestly celibacy while I was preoccupied with family life. My book pondering a “usable future”—honestly, less usable for this column’s purposes—was devoted to life amid paradoxical claims, less predictive about specific futures and more about “how to live” in the face of a variety of options for the future. I cited Martin Luther’s putative observation that “God rides the lame horse; he carves rotten wood.” The “Usable” in the title is of the “no matter what unfolds” sort.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Religion & Culture

(Advocate) A tale of 2 churches: Baton Rouge Anglican congregation finds home in a Baptist church

For four years, Holy Cross Anglican Church met in a car dealership. The price was right — free — but the congregation wanted a more traditional space.

Holy Cross found it in a place that has made opening its doors part of its mission.

Grace Mid-City, a Southern Baptist church at 630 Richland Ave., has been sharing its facilities with Holy Cross since Oct. 28. The Anglicans worship at 9 a.m., the Baptists at 10:30 a.m., and each has its educational programs while the other is using the sanctuary. Both groups say they’re happy with the arrangement.

“The first Sunday that we both had our services, the chief complaint was that we had figured out how to move around the campus so well to accommodate one another that our congregations didn’t interact. Our folks wanted to interact more,” said the Rev. Jarrett Fontenot, rector of Holy Cross. “We wanted to see each other and meet these new faces and remind each other that at the end of the day, our mission, our work, what we’re about is really the same thing, and it’s bigger than our denominational distinctives. It’s been a lot of fun.”

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Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Baptists, Ecumenical Relations, Parish Ministry

Saturday Food for Thought from Martin Luther

Posted in Anthropology, Church History