Posted by Kendall Harmon

On December 12, the Rt. Rev. William Skilton, retired suffragan bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina released an “Open Letter to the Faithful Anglicans/Episcopalians in Lower South Carolina” in which he shared correspondence he’d received from Rt. Rev. Charles vonRosenberg, the provisional bishop of TECinSC and his response. Bp. Skilton has been directed to no longer function in any sacramental capacity in any TEC congregation in South Carolina. Bp. Skilton had sought to minister in a reconciling way with parishes in both dioceses (though functioning as a bishop in neither). This action will effectively end that dual ministry. He will, nonetheless, continue to be a welcome guest among parishes in the Diocese of South Carolina and we look forward to his continued sacramental ministry among us.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South Carolina* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

December 15, 2014 at 3:19 pm - 28 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the context of the present dispute, this means that the Court will base its final decision upon a close examination of the various deeds and other documents evidencing ownership and title, as well as the governing documents (constitution, canons, articles and bylaws) of the parishes, the Diocese, and of the Episcopal Church (USA) itself.

As to the ability of the Diocese to withdraw from ECUSA, it would seem that it has already been finally adjudicated (by the courts of Illinois) that there is no language in the Constitution or canons of ECUSA which would prevent a Diocese from withdrawing. That is also a decision drawn under neutral principles, and so is in harmony with the method shown in the All Saints Waccamaw case. I should think that Judge Goodstein will find the reasoning of those two cases both persuasive and binding upon her.

Resolution of that question will not, however, necessarily resolve the issue of property held in trust. Under the Waccamaw decision again, an express written trust of some kind will be required -- one that satisfies the Statute of Frauds under South Carolina law (it must be in writing, and signed by the actual owner of the person so placing the property into a trust). The Dennis Canon alone will not work -- that was one of the express holdings in the Waccamaw case which will be binding upon Judge Goodstein.

There was no evidence of any such trust document or documents offered at the trial, to my knowledge. Consequently, the decision on this point, while open, should not be a difficult one under neutral principles.

Read it all and please follow and read all the links as well.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South Carolina* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

December 10, 2014 at 6:30 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My family is, in many ways, emblematic of America in the 21st century: multiethnic, multicultural, multireligious. I am a Muslim from Iran. My wife is a Christian from western Pennsylvania. That may seem an incongruous coupling. But when we first met, we realized almost immediately that we shared the same values and worldview, even though we expressed those things in a different spiritual language.

That’s all religion is, really: a language made up of symbols and metaphors that allow people to communicate, to themselves and to others, the ineffable experience of faith. I already spoke my wife’s spiritual language (Christianity); I taught her mine (Islam). And now we are a spiritually “bilingual” household. Actually, we are multilingual, considering we are committed to teaching our children all the spiritual languages of the world so that they can choose for themselves which ones, if any, they prefer in communicating their own individual faith experience.

But that is also the reason the prayer was tripping us up that first Christmas together. We were having a difficult time understanding one another’s spiritual languages, let alone coming to a consensus on which language to use.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchMulticulturalism, pluralismReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamSecularism* Theology

December 22, 2014 at 4:29 pm - 1 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Across the world, people who reject all religious belief or profess secular humanism are facing ever worse discrimination and persecution, but the existence and legitimacy of such ideas is becoming more widely known and accepted. That is the rather subtle conclusion of the latest report by the International Humanist and Ethical Union, an umbrella body for secularist groups in 40 countries, which in 2012 began making annual surveys of how freedom of thought and conscience are faring worldwide.

In common with lots of other reports on the subject, it noted that many countries still prescribe draconian penalties for religious dissent, through laws that bar blasphemy against the prevailing religions or "apostasy" from Islam. Some 19 countries punish their citizens for apostasy, and in 12 of those countries it is punishable by death. In Pakistan, the death sentence can be imposed for blasphemy, for which the threshold is very low. In all, 55 countries (including several Western ones) had laws against blasphemy; the perceived offence could lead to prison terms in 39 countries and execution in six.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheismSecularism* Theology

December 22, 2014 at 3:49 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In pursuing these goals, the Archbishop cuts a different figure from Rowan Williams, his predecessor. While Lord Williams was a cerebral theologian prone sometimes to obscurity and circumlocution, the current Primate is more of a practical doer, reflecting both his past in industry and his membership of the evangelising wing of the church. He has been a serious voice in the debate on banking ethics. He has also been pragmatic. He did not argue, for example, that the government should step in to quash payday lending. Instead he supported community-based credit unions, which can do a similar job to organisations such as Wonga, but not by charging eye-watering interest rates.

The challenges facing the Archbishop in the year ahead will only grow. Holding together the worldwide Anglican communion, which threatens to split over same sex relationships, will be perhaps his biggest test. At one end of the spectrum, the episcopal church in America has consecrated an openly lesbian bishop. At the other, African bishops have supported harsh anti–gay laws. As the Archbishop recently conceded: “Without prayer and repentance, it is hard to see how we can avoid some serious fractures.”

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

December 22, 2014 at 3:16 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Vicki Wells, churchwarden at St Peter’s, Hale, where Lane has served for the past seven years, said: “Our congregation has increased threefold since she came here. It speaks for itself.”

Amid what is seen as a happy pre-Christmas tonic for the C of E, which took lots of public criticism as the bishop debate dragged on, Reform, the conservative evangelical network, was a lone contrarian voice. “Though it grieves us it comes as no surprise,” said Prebendary Rod Thomas, Reform’s chair.

Behind the scenes, Archbishop Welby has lobbied and worked with great energy to win the case for women as bishops. His right-hand agent was Canon David Porter, a seasoned negotiator whose work in Northern Ireland crafted a peace formula there. Porter needed to overcome misgivings of conservative evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics. He did so by gathering key players in one room to hammer out a compact their constituents could support, having blocked earlier legislation in the synod in November 2012. Welby has said that he hopes the House of Bishops will have a 50/50 male-female balance within 15 years.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchWomen

December 22, 2014 at 11:29 am - 1 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In recent months, Church leaders have expressed concern about the departure of a rising number of Christians from the Middle East.

The civil war in Syria and the advance of so-called Islamic State militants in Iraq have led to appeals for greater support for some of the world's oldest Christian communities.

Read and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UKMiddle EastIsrael

December 22, 2014 at 8:25 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Who, in the age of the internet, online gaming, Facebook and 3D televisions would want to move a pointer around on a board in the hope of getting a message from the spirit world?

The astonishing answer is, quite a lot of people! The story turns out to be true. Promoted by an apparently dreadful film (sponsored by Hasbro, the toy firm that holds the rights to Ouija boards), sales of the £20+ boards have gone through the roof. And it’s not just me who is mystified. As Simon Osborne wrote in The Independent: 'What better time to talk to dead people for fun than the festival to celebrate the birth of Jesus?'

Hunger for the supernatural

This is yet another phenomenon reminding us that, for all the bold claims of new atheism that the world is moving into an age of rational thought in which every form of the supernatural is rejected, the 'on the ground' reality is very different. The hunger for the supernatural, the paranormal and the mystical remains intense and almost universal. Indeed, it seems that the more a 'universe without God' is talked up, the more people flock to the supernatural. If atheism is true, it's very odd that no one seems to be following it.

A Ouija board is not, in any way, a game....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths

December 22, 2014 at 8:00 am - 4 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pope Francis issued a blistering critique Monday of the Vatican bureaucracy that serves him, denouncing how some people lust for power at all costs, live hypocritical double lives and suffer from "spiritual Alzheimer's" that has made them forget they're supposed to be joyful men of God.

Francis' Christmas greeting to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See was no joyful exchange of holiday good wishes. Rather, it was a sobering catalog of 15 sins of the Curia that Francis said he hoped would be atoned for and cured in the New Year.

He had some zingers: How the "terrorism of gossip" can "kill the reputation of our colleagues and brothers in cold blood." How cliques can "enslave their members and become a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body" and eventually kill it by "friendly fire." About how those living hypocritical double lives are "typical of mediocre and progressive spiritual emptiness that no academic degree can fill."

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

December 22, 2014 at 7:45 am - 2 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In truth, we Christians have been losing our traditions for centuries. Misplaced, misappropriated, misapplied—we have pulled the rich timbre from original intent, given ourselves over to cheap plastic toys and premade wassail. We have hurried the season because to us, Christmas is a day and not a season at all.

For our Orthodox brothers and sisters, though, the feasts during the days after Christmas not only mark time but also insert intentional delay in a world gone mad for Christmas kitsch. History aside, we have for centuries chosen to celebrate his coming on December 25. It has become a placeholder of a day when some of us remember that Jesus is the reason for the season. But then we go to bed, full of Christmas spirit, and wake up to traffic and spilled lattes and kids who want to spend their gift cards today. Where are the good feelings now?

For the early church, the purpose for 12 days of feasting following Christmas Day was to bring them to the edge of Epiphany. If, for various reasons, we do not entertain the liturgy of the days, can we at least entertain the purposes?

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture

December 22, 2014 at 7:28 am - 2 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the first Christmas Jesus did not have it so easy.

He too came as a stranger, in his mother’s womb, but his was a humble birth in a poor stable; there was only just enough room for him.

The ox and ass made for a smelly and unhygienic maternity ward.

His first guests were a bunch of shepherds, in those days society’s outcasts; the last people you or I would probably invite to our celebration of a new birth.

All this, however, was God’s deliberate choice.

God wanted to be with those on the edge who did not have much room.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* TheologyChristology

December 22, 2014 at 7:15 am - 1 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I don’t know what a perfect first-century family looked like, but I’m certain that Joseph and Mary didn’t fit the ideal. Joseph had no money. He had no safe place for his wife to give birth and no plausible explanation for her pregnancy. How scared they must have been. Their family was turned upside down before it even began.

I know about unusual families. I come from one. There is a picture in one of my mother’s photo albums of the day she and my stepfather were married. They are holding hands and looking pleased but also totally overwhelmed. Each had lost a spouse to cancer only 18 months before. Their kids are on either side of them—six teenagers with mouths stuffed full of braces, heads full of regrettable ’80s hair, each one of them with a dead look in his or her eyes. When I look at that picture and see my biological sister, my adopted sister, three step-siblings whom I didn’t know, my stepfather, my mother and me, I don’t see an ideal family. I see something quite unusual.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsAdventChristmas* Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

December 22, 2014 at 7:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What can we expect of the Shared Conversations?

By Stephen Hofmeyr QC, Acting Chairman of the Church of England Evangelical Council, writing in the Church of England Newspaper.

The Church of England is embarking on a process of “shared conversations” which has two objectives. The first objective is ‘to clarify how we can most effectively be a missionary church in a culture which has changed its view on human sexuality’. Amen! The revealed truth of the gospel is God’s truth for all people, everywhere, in every age. Therefore, the issue about being an effective missionary church is not about whether we are free to change what God has taught, but how to communicate God’s truth in a culture that has changed its view. In areas of human sexuality, that will require a communication of the Bible’s teaching about the body and sexuality which a generation ago would have gone without saying. So long as the scope of this first objective is correctly understood, it presents a wonderful opportunity. The second objective is ‘to clarify the implications of what it means for the Church of England to live with … “good disagreement” on these issues’. What are the possible outcomes of these shared conversations?

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

December 22, 2014 at 6:29 am - 2 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 46-year-old Bishop Samuel Gidudu of North Mbale Diocese was consecrated on November 16, 2014 at St Matthew’s Cathedral, Buhugu in Sironko District. The father of three, who is married to Ms Esther Gidudu, spoke about growing up amid wealth and then getting lost in a vice which nearly cost him his calling.

QN: Bishop Gidudu, how did you feel when you heard you were the bishop-elect of North Mbale Diocese?
A: (Laughs). At first, I thought the person who called to give the information was fooling me but I later asked myself, “Why should I be a doubting Thomas?” I composed myself and prayed about it and from then on, I started receiving calls from all over the country congratulating me upon the election.

I was actually humbled by the election. I believe that it is the amazing love and grace of God that I was appointed to be the next shepherd of the Christians of North Mbale Diocese.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Uganda* Culture-WatchAlcoholismReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfricaUganda

December 22, 2014 at 6:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

North Korea warned that any U.S. punishment over the hacking attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment would lead to damage “thousands of times greater,” with targets including the White House and Pentagon.

Hackers including the “‘Guardians of Peace’’ group that forced Sony to pull a comedy about the assassination of Kim Jong Un ‘‘are sharpening bayonets not only in the U.S. mainland but in all other parts of the world,’’ the Kim-led National Defense Commission said in a statement published yesterday by the official Korean Central News Agency. Even so, North Korea doesn’t know who the Guardians are, the commission said.

North Korea has called on the U.S. to hold a joint investigation into the incident, after rejecting the conclusion by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that it was behind the attack. President Barack Obama said last week that Sony had ‘‘suffered significant damage,’’ and vowed to respond to North Korea ‘‘in a place and time and manner that we choose.’’

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMovies & TelevisionScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaNorth Korea* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

December 22, 2014 at 5:00 am - 1 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almighty and everliving God, who didst strengthen thine apostle Thomas with sure and certain faith in thy Son's resurrection: Grant us so perfectly and without doubt to believe in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God, that our faith may never be found wanting in thy sight; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistorySpirituality/Prayer

December 22, 2014 at 4:40 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lord God Almighty, King of glory and love eternal, worthy art thou at all times to receive adoration, praise, and blessing; but especially at this time do we praise thee for the sending of thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, for whom our hearts do wait, and to whom, with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, be honour and dominion, now and for ever.

--Prayers for the Christian Year (SCM, 1964)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsAdventSpirituality/Prayer

December 22, 2014 at 4:18 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to thee, when my heart is faint. Lead thou me to the rock that is higher than I; for thou art my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in thy tent for ever! Oh to be safe under the shelter of thy wings!

--Psalm 61:1-4

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

December 22, 2014 at 4:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

December 21, 2014 at 7:26 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

KIM LAWTON, correspondent: Southeastern Turkey shares a 500-mile-long border with Syria. On this day, the view into Syria looks quiet, peaceful even. But just a few miles from here, Syrian government forces, rebel groups and ISIS are waging a brutal battle for control. So far, nearly 1.6 million Syrians have sought safety in Turkey, and more are coming every day.

SAVAS METIN, Kimse Yok Mu: They escaped from this conflict with their own clothes. They couldn’t bring any kind of stuff, their belongings, together with them. They just escaped. They left everything behind.

LAWTON: Since the beginning of Syria’s civil war in March 2011, nearly 11 million people have been forced to flee from their homes. Almost eight million are displaced inside Syria, while three and a quarter million have ended up in neighboring countries. Daryl Grisgraber focuses on the Middle East for the advocacy group Refugees International.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEuropeTurkeyMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

December 21, 2014 at 6:00 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

December 21, 2014 at 4:58 pm - 7 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It takes something unusually vile for the world to pay much attention to a terrorist outrage in Pakistan. Since 2007 the annual toll of murders by jihadists has never dropped below 2,000 and in 2012 and 2013 it was not far off 4,000. This year has actually seen the mayhem decline by a third. But the horror of the attack by the Pakistani Taliban, an umbrella organisation of militant groups officially known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), on an army-run school in Peshawar stands out for the scale and nature of its brutality.

At about 10am on December 16th, seven heavily armed Taliban gunmen scaled an outer wall of the school and began shooting indiscriminately. By the time army commandos regained control of the compound 141 people, most of them teenagers and younger children, had been killed. Given the seriousness of the wounds that the injured have suffered, the number of deaths will almost certainly rise (see article). This is the deadliest terrorist attack in Pakistan’s history.

The army, and previous governments, must take much of the responsibility for the violence the country has suffered in recent years.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan

December 21, 2014 at 3:15 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A $2 million gift from a Dallas couple will be used to establish a new endowed professor chair in religious freedom at Baylor University.

Jerry and Susie Wilson’s gift will benefit Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion and support the university’s efforts to rally support for the preservation, protection and defense of religious freedom in Congress, according a press release.

“The Wilsons are faithful supporters of local, national and international ministries, and their overarching passion is to follow Christ, to help grow God’s kingdom on Earth and to serve the local church,” Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr said in the release.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchEducationReligion & Culture

December 21, 2014 at 2:12 pm - 1 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(Alert readers are asked to note that the title above is the one used in the paper's National edition in print this past week--KSH.

A machine that administers sedatives recently began treating patients at a Seattle hospital. At a Silicon Valley hotel, a bellhop robot delivers items to people’s rooms. Last spring, a software algorithm wrote a breaking news article about an earthquake that The Los Angeles Times published.

Although fears that technology will displace jobs are at least as old as the Luddites, there are signs that this time may really be different. The technological breakthroughs of recent years — allowing machines to mimic the human mind — are enabling machines to do knowledge jobs and service jobs, in addition to factory and clerical work.

And over the same 15-year period that digital technology has inserted itself into nearly every aspect of life, the job market has fallen into a long malaise. Even with the economy’s recent improvement, the share of working-age adults who are working is substantially lower than a decade ago — and lower than any point in the 1990s.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

December 21, 2014 at 1:02 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Egypt killed Islam in America,” said one Muslim-American of Egyptian origin, who had been involved in Muslim civic activism for years. He was responding to a question I had about Muslim-Americans’ reactions to the various twists and turns of the Egyptian revolution, after the well-known Swiss-Egyptian academic, Tariq Ramadan, had declared that he would boycott a gathering of Muslim activists in Canada, partly due to political differences over Egypt.

The activist’s answer was flamboyant, and likely overestimated the impact of the Egyptian revolutionary uprising and its aftermath on the development of a specifically Muslim-American consciousness. There are a number of different issues in the international arena that mobilise or interest Muslim-Americans, and there have been for many years – Egypt is certainly not the most critical one. But he had a point in noting that Egypt, before and after former president Mohammed Morsi had been ousted, had created two sharply opposing political camps in the Muslim-American community. That point has some currency far beyond the United States, in Canada as well as a number of European nations. In all of them, large numbers of Muslims are discussing the tensions arising from the Arab uprisings that began in 2011—and Egypt is a big part of that discussion.

The stances of those two camps are not only polarising—they are also inconsistent on the issue of speaking truth to power, in the midst of a multifaceted proxy war that remains deeply energised in the Arab world, and against the backdrop of clear positions on the normativity of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Islamism.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

December 21, 2014 at 12:30 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

December 21, 2014 at 12:04 pm - 1 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"True courage is knowing not when to take a life, but when to spare one," Gandalf tells Bilbo in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.*

Gandalf's homily doesn't appear in Tokien's original novel The Hobbit. Still, the sentiment has some textual support....

[However]...if Jackson meant for Gandalf's comment to highlight Tolkien's nonviolent ethic, though, the rest of his film undercuts it—and, indeed, almost parodies it. The scene where Bilbo spares Gollum in the movie comes immediately after an extended, jovially bloody battle between dwarves and goblins, larded with visual jokes involving decapitation, disembowelment, and baddies crushed by rolling rocks. The sequence is more like a body-count video game than like anything in the sedate novel, where battles are confused and brief and frightening, rather than exuberant eye-candy ballet.

The goblin battle is hardly an aberration in the film. I had wondered how Peter Jackson was going to spread the book over three movies. Now I know: He's simply added extra bonus carnage at every opportunity. The dwarves, who in the novel are mostly hapless, are in the film transformed into super-warriors, battling thousands of goblins or orcs and fearlessly slaughtering giant wolves three-times their size.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksMovies & TelevisionViolence* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

December 21, 2014 at 11:11 am - 2 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Churches will be full again this week, as they always are at this time of year: three million people will go to an Anglican service on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, a third of the population will visit a place of Christian worship by the end of the season, but what then? What is happening to the Church of England and its place in the nation?

Churches will be full again this week, as they always are at this time of year: three million people will go to an Anglican service on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, a third of the population will visit a place of Christian worship by the end of the season, but what then? What is happening to the Church of England and its place in the nation?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchWomen

December 21, 2014 at 11:08 am - 5 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

December 21, 2014 at 7:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dan Taylor stood up in front of 13,000 people earlier this year and made them laugh. As the opener for comedy legend Russell Peters, Taylor was the envy of almost every comic in the industry. The next Sunday he stood in front of 300 people and preached, like he does most Sundays.

Pastor by day, comic by night, Dan Taylor of Edmonton, Alberta is making waves in the Canadian comedy scene after being named Edmonton’s top comic by Sirius XM satellite radio network. It also nabbed him the opportunity to open for Peters in Edmonton.

The recent exposure has shot Taylor to the top of Canadian comic lists, an opportunity he is using to minister not only to audiences, making people laugh in a way that honours God, but also back stage, being good at the craft and living a life of integrity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* General InterestHumor / Trivia* International News & CommentaryCanada* TheologyAnthropologyTheology: Scripture

December 21, 2014 at 6:15 am - 1 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Regulations for controversial techniques to create three and four-parent babies have been published.

MPs and Peers will vote early in the new year on allowing the two procedures, Maternal Spindle Transfer (MST) and Pro-Nuclear Transfer (PNT).

MST involves replacing the nucleus in a healthy donor egg with the nuclear DNA from the prospective mother – resulting in a child with DNA from three parents....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

December 21, 2014 at 6:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Assembly Members (AMs) were asked to vote on whether they supported the principles of the Assisted Dying Bill.

The answer was a clear and refreshing “No” - it does not support it. Only 12 Assembly Members voted to support it, 21 voted against doing so; 20 abstained.

It was heartening to watch the quality of this debate from the public gallery.

I was particularly impressed by the understanding which many Members showed of a Bill that goes to considerable lengths to dress up what it is proposing in reassuring language (for example, by describing the lethal drugs it would supply to terminally ill people as ‘medicines’) yet makes no effort, beyond stating a handful of vague eligibility conditions, to provide for any serious safeguards to protect vulnerable people from harm.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife Ethics* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Wales* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

December 21, 2014 at 5:40 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

O God, who didst promise that thy glory should be revealed, and that all flesh should see it together: Stir up our hearts, we beseech thee, to prepare the way of thine only begotten Son; and pour out upon us thy loving kindness, that we who are afflicted by reason of our sins may be refreshed by the coming of our Saviour, and may behold his glory; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth one God, world without end.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsAdventSpirituality/Prayer

December 21, 2014 at 5:20 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is the King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory!

--Psalm 24:7-10

Filed under: * TheologyTheology: Scripture

December 21, 2014 at 5:00 am - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Flagging morale, desertion and factionalism are starting to affect the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as Isis, testing the cohesion of the jihadi force as its military momentum slows.

Activists and fighters in parts of eastern Syria controlled by Isis said as military progress slows and focus shifts to governing the area, frustration has grown among militants who had been seen as the most disciplined and effective fighting force in the country’s civil war.

The group hurtled across western Iraq and eastern Syria over the summer in a sudden offensive that shocked the world. Isis remains a formidable force: it controls swaths of territory and continues to make progress in western Iraq. But its fighters have reached the limit of discontented Sunni Muslim areas that they can easily capture and US-led coalition air strikes partnered with offensives by local ground forces have begun to halt their progress.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

December 20, 2014 at 4:00 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The report reveals that in U.S. dioceses, baptisms are down five percent from 27,140 in 2012 to 25,822 in 2013. Similarly, marriages are down four percent from 10,366 to 9,933 (the denomination has seen a 40 percent decline in children baptized since 2003 and a 46 percent decline in marriages over the same period). The losses are not evenly distributed, with some dioceses performing worse than others: in the Diocese of Northern Michigan, where an ordained Buddhist was elected (and later failed to gain consent from other dioceses) to be bishop in 2009, zero children were confirmed in 2013.

Episcopal “renewing” dioceses in San Joaquin and Fort Worth are also continuing to struggle: Fort Worth closed five parishes in 2013 (from 22 to 17), with San Joaquin closing two (21 to 19). Pittsburgh added one new parish (36 to 37). Other diocese closing parishes include Maryland (4) and Massachusetts (3), with most of the dioceses in Northeastern Province 1 seeing the closure of at least one parish.

Despite continuing to claim over 70 parishes and 28,000 members following the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina (DioSC) and the vast majority of its parishes ending their affiliation with the Episcopal Church, the renewing Episcopal Church in South Carolina (ECSC) has posted updated information on baptisms and weddings, showing a drop from 388 children’s baptisms in 2012 to only 135 in 2013. South Carolina reported 170 children and 143 adults confirmed in 2012, dropping to 54 children and 37 adults in 2013.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalCommon Cause Partnership--Proposed Formation of a new North American ProvinceEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Departing ParishesTEC DataTEC Parishes* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologySacramental TheologyBaptism

December 20, 2014 at 3:00 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

December 20, 2014 at 2:00 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is little doubt that those in favour of changing the law on assisted suicide have talked up a storm. In spite of peers expressing very mixed opinions during debates on the Assisted Dying Bill, the casual observer might be forgiven for thinking that all that remains to be done is to find effective safeguards ensuring that vulnerable individuals are not pressured into requesting assistance for ending their own lives; otherwise the matter is a done-deal. Leaving to one side, the rather important point that finding effective safeguards is proving as elusive as finding the Holy Grail, recent announcements from the medical profession have helped to bring some much-needed perspective to the debate.

The Royal College of Physicians’ recent announcement that, in the light of a thorough survey of its members, it will continue to oppose a change in legislation, is significant...

Read it all and follow the links.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

December 20, 2014 at 1:28 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



I really loved this--watch it and see what you think--KSH.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchMovies & Television* General InterestHumor / Trivia

December 20, 2014 at 1:02 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Awaiting the results of litigation. Please pray for Her Honor Judge Diane S. Goodstein, the Diocese of South Carolina and its legal team, all those involved in the proceedings and for the growth of God's Kingdom in South Carolina

Psalm 138:7-8 (ESV)

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me. The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Our Father in heaven,

We thank You for the preservation of the Diocese of South Carolina. Fulfill Your purpose for them by Your steadfast love. Do not forsake them, for they are the work of Your hands. Amen.

Please pray it all and there are more prayers for South Carolina here

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South Carolina

December 20, 2014 at 12:09 pm - 0 comments - [link] [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

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