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(AI) Bishop David Parsons response to BC Bishops rejection of reconsideration for the Rev. Jake Worley as Bishop for Caledonia

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Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Canada, Ecclesiology

(Scotsman) Princess Royal: Scotland’s churches have ‘major role in welcoming strangers’

The Princess Royal has praised the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly as a place for “reasoned debate” in her opening address at the annual event.

Her remarks come ahead of a debate at the assembly later this week which could move the Kirk a step closer to allowing ministers to perform same-sex marriage.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Scotland, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Theology: Scripture

(CT’s The Exchange) Karen Swanson–NORP Think and the U.S. Criminal Justice System

Truth: Ninety-seven percent of all cases are resolved through a plea bargain. If all cases went to trial, the criminal justice system would collapse. Pleas can be used to intimidate inmates or to get them to help with other cases. For example, a woman was offered a lighter sentence if she would be wired and placed in a dangerous situation to get information for the police. There are times when people plead guilty to a charge they did not commit so they can be released from incarceration. For them, each day increases the risk of losing their job, home, and most importantly with women, custody of their children.

One of the most infamous cases of this is Kalief Browder, who was sent to Rikers Island when he was 16 years old because he was accused of stealing a backpack. Although he never stood trial or was found guilty, he spent three years at the New York City jail complex, nearly two of them in solitary confinement. He was beaten by corrections staff and other inmates. He refused to accept a plea deal even though it would have meant his immediate release because he insisted on his innocence. Ultimately, prosecutors dropped the charge. Haunted by the trauma of his ordeal, he committed suicide at the age of 22.

As Christians, we should be NORPs, but not have NORP think when it comes to the criminal justice system. I hope you will not tune out conversations about mass incarceration. As scripture says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Prov.31:8-9).

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Law & Legal Issues, Prison/Prison Ministry

Boko Haram traps starving people in Nigeria, UN warns

Two million people are teetering on the brink of famine in northeastern Nigeria but efforts to reach some are being thwarted by Boko Haram jihadists, the UN’s food agency said Thursday.

More than 20 million people across Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen, are in areas hit by drought and are experiencing famine or are at high risk of famine in “the biggest crisis we have seen in the past 50 years”, said Denise Brown, emergency coordinator for the UN’s World Food Programme.

“While they are all in difficulty, northeastern Nigeria is one that has got under our skin at WFP,” she added.

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Posted in Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Nigeria, Poverty, Terrorism

NYT: How one Christian School Dealt with a Teenager who bravely chose to Keep her Baby

Ms. Runkles’s story sheds light on a delicate issue: how Christian schools, which advocate abstinence until marriage, treat pregnant teenagers.

“You have these two competing values,” said Brad Wilcox, a sociologist at the University of Virginia who directs the National Marriage Project, which conducts research on marriage and families. “On the one hand, the school is seeking to maintain some kind of commitment to what has classically been called chastity — or today might be called abstinence. At the same time, there’s an expectation in many Christian circles that we are doing all that we can to honor life.”

Navigating that balance is exceedingly difficult for Christian educators, and schools respond in various ways, said Rick Kempton, chairman of the board of the Association of Christian Schools International, which represents about 3,000 schools in the United States and many others overseas.

“There’s a biblical term that many Christian schools use, and it is the whole idea of grace: What would Jesus do?” Mr. Kempton said. Of Ms. Runkles, he added: “She’s making the right choice. But you don’t want to create a celebration that makes other young ladies feel like, ‘Well, that seems like a pretty good option.’”

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Posted in Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth, Uncategorized

A Prayer to Begin the Day from BF Westcott

Almighty God, Lord of heaven and earth, in whom we live and move and have our being: We beseech thee to send thine abundant blessing upon the earth that it may bring forth its fruits in due season; and grant that we, being filled with thy bounty, may evermore give thanks unto thee, who art the giver of all good; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty! Thy decrees are very sure; holiness befits thy house, O LORD, for evermore.

–Psalm 93:4-5

Posted in Uncategorized

(Good News) Tom Lambrech–Bright Spots in a Confusing Decision by the recent United Methodist Judicial Council

1. The Judicial Council clearly and forcefully upheld the principle that a jurisdiction’s bishops, acting on behalf of the whole United Methodist Church, cannot legally consecrate as bishop a person who does not meet the qualifications for office. The Western Jurisdiction had maintained that it could elect and consecrate whoever it thought would be an appropriate bishop in light of their particular context, and that the rest of the church could say nothing about their choice. The ruling recognized that bishops are bishops of the whole church and that jurisdictional bishops are acting on behalf of the whole church when they consecrate a bishop. No jurisdiction or annual conference is completely autonomous. We are part of a connection that is responsible and accountable to each other.

2. The Judicial Council clarified that “a same-sex marriage license issued by competent civil authorities together with the clergy person’s status in a same-sex relationship is a public declaration that the person is a self-avowed practicing homosexual.” This important ruling will put an end to games that some openly homosexual clergy have been playing by living in a same-sex marriage, yet declining to acknowledge that they are practicing homosexuals. Rather than requiring church authorities to ask intrusive questions about the personal lives and practices of clergy, all that is now necessary for a person to be brought up on a complaint is the public record of being in a same-sex marriage. The Judicial Council recognized that being in a marriage assumes a sexual relationship, and that it would then be up to the clergyperson under complaint to give “rebuttal evidence” during a complaint process to refute that assumption in an individual case. This should make it much easier and more straightforward to hold accountable some clergypersons who are living contrary to the moral teachings of the church.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology: Scripture

(AJ) Caledonia administrator ‘shocked and saddened’ by decision not to consecrate bishop-elect the Rev. Jake Worley

…[The Rev. Gwen] Andrews said she was shocked at the bishops’ decision, partly because in March, before the electoral synod, a search committee formed by the diocese sent a copy of Worley’s curriculum vitae and his employment history to Privett, pointing out his missionary work under the bishop of Rwanda and asking if it posed a problem to his candidacy. The search committee told her, Andrews said, that Privett did not think it would pose a problem.

Asked about this, Privett said his remarks were “off the cuff,” not part of the formal vetting process, and based on the fact that Worley had been received by the diocese of Caledonia as a priest in good standing.

“In itself, it may or may not have been an issue,” Privett said. “At that point, it didn’t seem to be, because he was functioning in the diocese of Caledonia and I’d assumed that the diocese of Caledonia had received him in due order…It was only when it came to the House of Bishops, when we were looking primarily at the criteria in the provincial canon, that we recognized that we needed to look further than we had been before.”

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Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Church of Rwanda, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Pastoral Theology

(G+M) Mark Kingwell–Artificial intelligence in 2017 means respect, not fear

…fear remains the dominant emotion when humans talk about technological change. Are self-driving cars better described as self-crashing? Is the Internet of Things, where we eagerly allow information-stealing algorithms into our rec rooms and kitchens, the end of privacy? Is the Singularity imminent?

But fright is closely seconded by wonder. Your smartphone makes Deep Blue look, as Mr. [Gary] Kasparov has said, like an alarm clock. In your pocket lies computing power exponentially greater than a Cray supercomputer from the 1970s that occupied an entire room and required an elaborate cooling system. Look at all the things I can do, not to mention dates I can make, while walking heedlessly down the sidewalk! This is familiar terrain. The debate about artificial intelligence is remarkable for not being a debate at all but rather, as with Trump-era politics or the cultural-appropriation issue, a series of conceptual standoffs. Can we get past the typical stalemates and break some new ground on artificial intelligence?

I think we can, and Mr. Kasparov himself makes the first part of the argument. We can program non-human systems, he notes, to do what we already know how to do. Deep Blue won against him using brute force surveys of possible future moves, something human players do less quickly. But when it comes to things we humans don’t understand about ourselves, and so can’t translate into code, the stakes are different. Intuition, creativity, empathy – these are qualities of the human mind that the mind itself cannot map. To use Julian Jaynes’s memorable image, we are like flashlights, illuminating the external world but not the mechanisms by which we perceive it.

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Posted in Canada, Philosophy, Science & Technology

(ACNS) Worldwide preparations ahead of Thy Kingdom Come global prayer campaign

Hundreds of thousands of Christians of all denominations are preparing to take part in the international prayer initiative “Thy Kingdom Come” which starts next week. What began as an invitation from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to the Church of England last year has quickly grown into an international and ecumenical call to prayer.

Between 25th May and 4th June, communities and churches around the world are gathering together to pray that their friends, families and neighbours come to know Jesus Christ. Prayer events of all shapes and sizes will take place across the 10 days, including 24-7 prayer rooms, prayer days, prayer walks and half nights of prayer. Cathedrals, churches and other venues will host Beacon Events, gathering people across towns and cities to worship and to pray for the empowering of the Holy Spirit for effective witness. The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued a global challenge to Christian people to take the #Pledge2Pray for #ThyKingdomCome, an online prayer initiative.

Archbishop Justin said: “Jesus prayed at the Last Supper that we, those who follow him, might ‘be one that the world might believe.’ We are invited to make a lasting difference in our nations and in our world, by responding to his call to find a deep unity of purpose in prayer. It’s not a Church of England thing, it’s not an Anglican thing, it’s a Christian thing.”

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Evangelism and Church Growth, Spirituality/Prayer

(ABC) Digital addiction? Michigan teen who skipped school to play video games goes through treatment in the wilderness

By the time Al and Christine’s son Josh was 14 years old, he was so consumed with playing video games that he stopped going to school.

“He just said, ‘Hey, I’m dropping out,'” his father Al told ABC News “20/20.”

Josh would stay up late to play well into the night and sleep in late the next day. His mother said he would often play for as many as 12 hours straight, for as much as 60 hours in a week. They tried to talk to him, Al said, but made little progress.

“It’s like, ‘You’ve got to stop … you’ve got to close it down,'” Al said. But he said his son replied, “I can’t.”

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Entertainment, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Science & Technology

ACNA releases its Holy Orders Task Force Report

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In 2012 the College of Bishops appointed a Task Force on Holy Orders to provide the College with a scholarly and informed study on Holy Orders and, specifically, women in Holy Orders (the enabling resolution is reprinted in what follows). The Task Force, led by Bishop David Hicks, consisted of people representing differing perspectives and practices. They have met for the past 5 years and during that time have periodically released progress reports. This past January Bishop Hicks presented a report on the last phase of the process to the College, and we are now releasing the whole report to the Province.

Please note the following:

• The Task Force was not commissioned to resolve the issue, but was asked to develop
resources to help the bishops in future conversation on this topic.
• Therefore the report does not answer the questions of what the College is to do, but it is
a study presented to the College to help the College in our discussions.
• The report does not change our current practice regarding women’s orders as stated in
our Constitution. Our current practice allows each diocese to determine whether it
will ordain women as deacons or priests.
• The report will now be sent to the GAFCON Primates for their input and guidance for
our discussions.
• The College of Bishops will now be studying the whole report, and we will meet in
special session later in the year to discuss how we move forward together.

Read it all and note the link to download the entire report at the bottom.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Ecclesiology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology, Women's Ordination

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Lancelot Andrewes

O God our Father, let us find grace in thy sight so as to have grace to serve thee acceptably with reverence and godly fear; and further grace not to receive thy grace in vain, nor to neglect it and fall from it, but to stir it up and grow in it, and to persevere in it unto the end of our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

-Romans 15:13

Posted in Theology: Scripture