Category : Uncategorized

Church of England brings cashless transactions to its congregations

The Church of England announced…[yesterday] that it is making contactless, virtual terminal, and SMS mobile payments available throughout England, in a bid to make transactions faster and easier for the Church’s congregations. In an increasingly cashless era, churches will now be able to offer cashless payment options for events including weddings, christenings, church fetes and concerts, as well for making one-off donations and the booking of churches and halls.

Over 16,000 churches, cathedrals, and religious sites will now have access to portable card readers through the Church of England’s Parish Buying portal through a partnership with SumUp and iZettle. The readers will be used to take contactless payments, Apple Pay and Google Pay, as well as chip & PIN capable. The pay-as-you-go pricing is well suited to the needs of religious institutions, charging only a small transaction fee when the reader is used. The decision follows a trial which began in summer 2017 in cathedrals and parish churches.

Read it all.

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A Prayer of Thanksgiving from Thomas Ken on his Feast Day

All praise, all glory be to Thee, my Lord and my God, for hearing my prayers in the time of my trouble. Praise the Lord, O my soul: while I live will I praise the Lord; as long as I have my being, I will sing praises unto my God. I called upon the Lord in my trouble, and the Lord heard me at large; therefore will I praise Him. Thou art my God, and I will thank Thee; Thou art the Lord, and I will praise Thee. Praised be the Lord, Who hath not cast out my prayer, nor turned His mercy from me. O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is gracious, and His mercy endureth for ever. I will not only praise Thee in secret, O Lord, but I will tell abroad what Thou hast done for my soul. Accept, O my God, this my sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; and since the longer I live, the more I experience Thy most adorable boundless goodness, the more devoutly may I daily praise Thee, the more fervently may I daily love Thee, through Jesus Christ, Thy Beloved.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

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(CBS) Marking 7 bloody years since the Syrian civil war

Take the time to watch it all and pray for the end to this unimaginable tragedy.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Syria, Uncategorized, Violence

(1st Things) George Weigel–Parsing the “T”

About five years ago, a friend took her son with her when she went to a beauty shop to get her hair cut. The hairdresser was snipping away and the boy was engrossed in reading on his Kindle when another mother came into the shop with her daughter in tow. The daughter was carrying an American Girl doll, and the mother announced to the entire beauty shop, “We’re here to get the doll’s hair cut. We’re transgendering her!”

Fortunately, my friend’s son, a big-time reader, missed all this. But if her seven-year old had asked, “Mommy, what’s ‘transgendering’?,” what, my friend asked me, was she supposed to say?

What, indeed?

Many people seem tongue-tied when it comes to the “T” in “LGBT.” The virtue-signaling mother in that beauty shop notwithstanding, there’s an intuitive understanding that we’re dealing here with real psychological distress—“gender dysphoria,” in the technical vocabulary—and that this and similar problems ought not be political ping-pong balls, because lives are at stake. Unfortunately, that reticence to discuss the “T” storm inside the broader “LGBT” tsunami leaves the field to partisans of “gender reassignment” in all its forms, which now include prescribing puberty-blocking drugs to pre-pubescent children who claim to be something other than what they are. Moreover, nine states, the District of Columbia, and thirty-three local jurisdictions have laws banning mental health professionals from offering “conversion therapies” to minors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Uncategorized

(Atlantic) People Don’t Actually Know Themselves Very Well

Sixteen rigorous studies of thousands of people at work have shown that people’s coworkers are better than they are at recognizing how their personality will affect their job performance. As a social scientist, if I want to get a read on your personality, I could ask you to fill out a survey on how stable, dependable, friendly, outgoing, and curious you are. But I would be much better off asking your coworkers to rate you on those same traits: They’re often more than twice as accurate. They can see things that you can’t or won’t—and these studies reveal that whatever you know about yourself that your coworkers don’t is basically irrelevant to your job performance.

Humans’ blind spots are predictable: There are certain types of traits where people can’t see themselves clearly, but others where they can. The psychologist Simine Vazire asked people to rate themselves and four friends on a bunch of traits, ranging from emotional stability and intelligence to creativity and assertiveness. Then, to see if they had predicted their own personalities better than their friends had, they took a bunch of tests that measured these traits.

The good news: You have some unique insight into your emotional stability. In the study, people outperformed their friends at predicting how anxious they’d look and sound when giving a speech about how they felt about their bodies. But they did no better than their friends (or than strangers who had met them just eight minutes earlier) at forecasting how assertive they’d be in a group discussion. And when they tried to predict their performance on an IQ test and a creativity test, they were less accurate than their friends.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Psychology, Theology, Uncategorized

A Prayer for the Day from Saint Benedict

O gracious and holy Father, give us wisdom to perceive thee, diligence to seek thee, patience to wait for thee, eyes to behold thee, a heart to meditate upon thee, and a life to proclaim thee; through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord.

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Brian Hedges reviews ‘Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church’ by D. A. Carson

Chapter five contains Carson’s most detailed critique of the emerging church movement itself. He voices five criticisms, all of them related to the movement’s handling of truth-related issues. They are (1) their failure to come to terms with the importance of non-omniscient truth-claims (126-132); (2) their failure to face the tough questions especially if they are truth related (132-138); (3) their failure to use Scripture as the norming norm over against an eclectic appeal to tradition (139-146); (4) their failure to handle “becoming” and “belonging” tensions in a biblically faithful way (146-155); and (5) their failure to handle facts, both exegetical and historical in a responsible way (155-156). Chapter six specifies this critique by carefully examining two significant books, Brian McLaren’s A Generous Orthodoxy and Steven Chalke’s The Lost Message of Jesus. Carson’s criticisms are irenic and charitable in tone, though he doesn’t hesitate to call these authors on the carpet where he deems it warranted by Scripture.

Finally, in chapters seven and eight Carson points his readers to some biblical passages to help us in our evaluation of postmodernism and the emergent church. He lists over 120 passages (some more helpful than others) relevant to truth, knowledge, and pluralism (188-202), then briefly comments on ten texts that are particularly insightful for this discussion (202-217), and concludes with an excellent biblical meditation on truth and experience, grounded in a chapter-length exposition of 2 Peter 1. Scripture, subject, and name indices are included at the end of the book.

Read it all.

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From the Morning Scripture Readings

I will sing of thy steadfast love, O LORD, for ever; with my mouth I will proclaim thy faithfulness to all generations. For thy steadfast love was established for ever, thy faithfulness is firm as the heavens.

–Psalm 89:1-2

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(Newsweek) Christian Persecution and Genocide Is Worse Now Than “Any Time in History,” a new Report Says

The persecution and genocide of Christians across the world is worse today “than at any time in history,” and Western governments are failing to stop it, a report from a Catholic organization said.

The study by Aid to the Church in Need said the treatment of Christians has worsened substantially in the past two years compared with the two years prior, and has grown more violent than any other period in modern times.

“Not only are Christians more persecuted than any other faith group, but ever-increasing numbers are experiencing the very worst forms of persecution,” the report said.

The report examined the plight of Christians in China, Egypt, Eritrea, India, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria and Turkey over the period lasting from 2015 until 2017. The research showed that in that time, Christians suffered crimes against humanity, and some were hanged or crucified. The report found that Saudi Arabia was the only country where the situation for Christians did not get worse, and that was only because the situation couldn’t get any worse than it already was.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Religion & Culture, Uncategorized, Violence

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Frank Colquhoun

Lord Christ, almighty Saviour, we cry to thee for aid against our strong enemy. O thou who art the Stronger than the strong, deliver us, we pray thee, from the evil one, and take sole possession of our hearts and minds; that filled with thy Spirit we may henceforth devote our lives to thy service, and therein find our perfect freedom; for the honour of thy great name.

Posted in Uncategorized

Make financial education compulsory in primary schools, says Archbishop of Canterbury’s Just Finance Foundation

Primary school pupils should receive compulsory lessons on how to manage money as part of the response to growing levels of financial insecurity and problem debt in the UK, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Just Finance Foundation says today.

Learning where money comes from, when to spend and how to save is vital to children’s ability to navigate adult life and should be a mandatory part of personal, social, health, and economic education (PSHE) in primary schools, the Foundation says in a document published today.

In a written submission to a Department for Education consultation, the Foundation highlights figures that show 40% of UK adults have less than £100 in savings and that struggling to manage money is becoming a mainstream issue.

Read it all.

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(Stuff) New Zealand Anglicans to debate marriage blessings for same sex couples

Same sex couples may be able to have their marriages blessed in New Zealand Anglican churches under a divisive new proposal being debated by Canterbury diocese members.

Christchurch Anglicans are meeting on Saturday to discuss whether to allow same sex blessings in a debate that could split the church. A final decision on whether to adopt the proposal will be voted on by the national Anglican Synod, the church’s governing body, at a meeting in New Plymouth in May.

The proposal would allow each Anglican bishop to decide if same sex blessings were allowed in their diocese. In 2014, the New Zealand Anglican church defined marriage as being “between a man and a woman.” The decision meant same sex couples could not marry in Anglican churches. The new proposal would allow only for blessing ceremonies for same sex couples who were married elsewhere.

The proposal would also give each diocese’s bishop and clergy immunity from complaint if they refused to conduct blessings of same sex couples.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture, Uncategorized

A Prayer for the Day from Henry Alford

O Blessed Saviour, who art full of mercy and compassion, and wilt not cast out any that come to thee: Help us, we beseech thee, who are grievously vexed with the burden of our sins; and so increase in us the power of thy Holy Spirit that we may prevail against the enemy of our souls; for thy name’s sake.

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Thomas Fleming: a Christmas story about George Washington’s Gift that too few Americans know

Washington went on to express his gratitude for the support of “my countrymen” and the “army in general.” This reference to his soldiers ignited feelings so intense, he had to grip the speech with both hands to keep it steady. He continued: “I consider it an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my official life by commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God and those who have the superintendence of them [Congress] to his holy keeping.”

For a long moment, Washington could not say another word. Tears streamed down his cheeks. The words touched a vein of religious faith in his inmost soul, born of battlefield experiences that had convinced him of the existence of a caring God who had protected him and his country again and again during the war. Without this faith he might never have been able to endure the frustrations and rage he had experienced in the previous eight months.

Washington then drew from his coat a parchment copy of his appointment as commander in chief. “Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theater of action and bidding farewell to this august body under whom I have long acted, I here offer my commission and take leave of all the employments of public life.” Stepping forward, he handed the document to Mifflin.

This was — is — the most important moment in American history.

The man who could have dispersed this feckless Congress and obtained for himself and his soldiers rewards worthy of their courage was renouncing absolute power. By this visible, incontrovertible act, Washington did more to affirm America’s government of the people than a thousand declarations by legislatures and treatises by philosophers.

Thomas Jefferson, author of the greatest of these declarations, witnessed this drama as a delegate from Virginia. Intuitively, he understood its historic dimension. “The moderation. . . . of a single character,” he later wrote, “probably prevented this revolution from being closed, as most others have been, by a subversion of that liberty it was intended to establish.”

Read it all (emphasis mine).

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From the Morning Bible Readings

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him.

–Romans 12:1-3

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