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(BBC) Riding the Motel 22; homeless in Silicon Valley in California

Here is the BBC blurb about it:

‘Motel 22’ is an unusual shelter for California’s homeless people. The state is one of the wealthiest in America yet it has the largest population of homeless people – more than 151,000 – in the US. In the Silicon Valley the bus route 22 runs an endless loop from Palo Alto to the Valley’s biggest city, San Jose. Along the way it passes some of the world’s biggest tech giants: Google, Apple, Hewlett-Packard and Facebook. It is the Valley’s only all night bus and many of its night-time passengers ride to keep warm and sleep. For Assignment, Sarah Svoboda takes a ride on the bus, known to many as ‘Motel 22’, to hear the stories of its travellers.

Listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Poverty

(WSJ) Ericka Andersen–Thank God, American Churches Are Dying

As thousands of churches close across the U.S., many fret about the inevitable decline of faith in American life. Congregational demise is troubling, but underreported data suggest that fear of a secularizing America may be overwrought. A religious renewal could be on the horizon.

It’s true that denomination-based churches—Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal, Catholic—have been on a downward slope for years. But nondenominational evangelical churches are growing in number, from 54,000 in 1998 to 84,000 in 2012, according to the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. Pew Research data show a similar trend continuing to the present, with steep declines among mainline churches as evangelical ones keep popping up. And 42% of these new congregations report growing attendance, data from Lifeway Research shows.

One reason for the success of the new evangelical congregations is their aggressive pursuit of growth, which they call “church multiplication”: A new church will commit to start several smaller churches in a short time. Dave Ferguson, president of the church leadership organization Exponential, tells me that church multiplication numbers are on the rise. In 2015 only 4% of churches were multiplying, according to research conducted for Exponential by Lifeway. Last year 7% were doing so. Each percentage point upward represents some 3,000 churches. Mr. Ferguson says that if this growth is maintained, “it will change the spiritual landscape.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Gallup) Is Working Remotely Effective? Gallup Research Says Yes

Recently, several federal agencies reported they’re scaling back remote work programs, citing a lack of data regarding remote workers’ effectiveness.

“Given our current service challenges and lack of data on [the agency’s telework policy’s] impact on public service,” Social Security Administration spokesman Mark Hinkle told The Washington Post, “now is not the time to experiment with working at home.”

And a 2016 U.S. Government Accountability Office report on federal telework stated that the agencies it studied “had little data to support the benefits or costs associated with their telework programs. All of the selected agencies could provide some supporting documentation for some of the benefits and only two could provide supporting documentation for some of the costs.”

Gallup analytics has the data.

And the data are clear: Remote work not only improves outcomes and employee branding but is a policy that the most talented employees desire.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology

(FT) Behind closed doors: modern slavery in Kensington, featuring the C of E parish Saint John’s, Notting Hill

….the domestic worker from Mindanao in the southern Philippines ended two years of overwork, underpayment and underfeeding by slipping through a throng of people and into the street. As she headed between the elegant Victorian apartment blocks of Harrington Road, she asked for God’s help.

“As I’m walking, I’m praying, ‘Lord, bring me to your people,’” Canuday recalls.

Her prayer was answered. After a little more than two miles, Canuday, a slight, round-faced woman who is now 50, heard Filipino religious music coming from a west London church. When she followed it, she found herself at a service being conducted in Tagalog, the country’s most widely spoken language.

Members of the congregation sat her down, gave her coffee and food and offered reassurance. Today, Canuday remembers the event as an act of divine providence. “God took me to beside people who took care of me,” she says. “They said, ‘Don’t worry; don’t worry — relax.’”

Canuday’s reception at St John’s, Notting Hill — a prominent Gothic-revival building that houses London’s only Tagalog-language Church of England congregation — represented a rare nugget of good fortune for an overseas worker fleeing an abusive employer in the UK.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture, Violence, Women

(Guardian) How Hindu supremacists are tearing India apart

The onslaught on JNU marked the middle of a season of nationwide protest, provoked by a new law. The Citizenship Amendment Act, passed by parliament on 11 December 2019, provides a fast track to citizenship for refugees fleeing into India from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Refugees of every south Asian faith are eligible – every faith, that is, except Islam. It is a policy that fits neatly with the RSS and the BJP’s demonisation of Muslims, India’s largest religious minority. To votaries of Hindutva, the country is best served if it is expunged of Islam. The act was both a loud signal of that ambition and a handy tool to help achieve it.

Since December, millions of Indians have turned out on to the streets to object to this vision of their country. The government has fought them by banning gatherings, shutting off mobile internet services, detaining people arbitrarily, or worse. After protests flared at Jamia Millia Islamia, an Islamic university in Delhi, cops fired teargas and live rounds, assaulted students and trashed the library. As demonstrations spread across the state of Uttar Pradesh, police raided and vandalised Muslim homes by way of reprisal. Detainees in custody were beaten; one man reported hearing screams in a police station all night long. (In various statements, the police claimed to be acting in self defence, or to prevent violence, or to root out conspiracy.) At least 20 protesters died of bullet wounds. Police officials denied firing at the crowds, even though the police carried the only visible guns at these rallies.

Still, the protests have persisted well into February. At Shaheen Bagh, a neighbourhood in south-eastern Delhi, hundreds of thousands of people have turned up over nine weeks to take part in an indefinite sit-in. The BJP has taken a ruthless view of all this dissent. On one occasion, Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu cleric who is chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, said: “If they won’t understand words, they’ll understand bullets.” One of Modi’s ministers used “Shoot the traitors to the nation!” as a call-and-response at a rally – the same slogan the ABVP had raised in JNU.

In its 72 years as a free country, India has never faced a more serious crisis. Already its institutions – its courts, much of its media, its investigative agencies, its election commission – have been pressured to fall in line with Modi’s policies. The political opposition is withered and infirm. More is in the offing: the idea of Hindutva, in its fullest expression, will ultimately involve undoing the constitution and unravelling the fabric of liberal democracy. It will have to; constitutional niceties aren’t compatible with the BJP’s blueprint for a country in which people are graded and assessed according to their faith. The ferment gripping India since the passage of the citizenship act – the fever of the protests, the brutality of the police, the viciousness of the politics – has only reflected how existentially high the stakes have become.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Hinduism, India, Religion & Culture

(CEN) Confusion grows over fresh divisions in Ukraine Orthodoxy

Orthodox Christians in Ukraine – and in Orthodoxy worldwide – are in confusion following Metropolitan Filaret (pictured on the left) of Kiev’s break from the new Ukraine Orthodox Church, established just a year ago by Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.

The Patriarch’s decision ended three centuries of Russian Orthodox canonical authority over all Ukraine Orthodox.

Ninety-year-old Filaret, the Soviet-era Russian Orthodox Church leader in Ukraine who formed the breakaway nationalist ‘Kiev Patriarchate’ when the USSR dissolved, was Patriarch Emeritus and joint leader of the new church, which comprised his patriarchate and an earlier breakaway, the small Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.

Led by Metropolitan Epiphany, the new church claims to control some 7,000 parishes, 77 monasteries and 47 dioceses, with some 500 parishes having switched allegiance from the continuing Russiaaligned Ukrainian Orthodox Church [Moscow Patriarchate] – voluntarily or under nationalist pressure.

Declaring the new church “too much under the control” of the Ecumenical Patriarch, and that in practice his own role counted for little in its decisionmaking rather than being ‘side by side’ with Metropolitan Epiphany, Filaret has proclaimed the re-establishment of his former Kiev Patriarchate. He is busily rebuilding its support following an extraordinary ‘restoration assembly’ of his followers in Kiev’s historic St Volodymyr’s Cathedral last June, defying both Epiphany and the Ecumenical Patriarch.

Read it all.

Posted in Orthodox Church, Ukraine

(Church Times) Climate battle must start right now, says Bishop Holtam

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nick Holtam, the Church of England’s lead bishop on environmental issues, is writing to all bishops and diocesan secretaries this week, in response to the target set at the General Synod last week to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to net zero by 2030.

The most immediate problem facing the C of E is that it has no idea what its carbon footprint is at present. Bishop Holtam will ask parishes to use a new Energy Footprint Tool to measure the energy they use. The online tool also generates a dashboard to show churches how they compare. For details, see cofe.io/footprint.

Responding to the new target, 15 years before the official recommendation, the Bishop said: “We aren’t under any illusion that this will be easy. Synod’s target sets a serious challenge for the whole Church to examine urgently the steps necessary to achieve the kind of year-on-year carbon reductions we need. This is a national goal which will need more than 16,000 local plans supported by the right policies and resource.

“But the science tells us there’s no time to lose if we are to limit the warming of the planet humans are causing. The tone at Synod was overwhelmingly that Christians should respond urgently to our calling to safeguard God’s creation, and go as fast as we can.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, CoE Bishops, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stewardship

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Prayer Manual

Blot out, we humbly beseech Thee, O Lord, our past transgression; forgive our negligence and ignorance; help us to amend our mistakes and to repair our misunderstanding; and so uplift our hearts in new love and dedication, that we may be unburdened from the grief and shame of past faithlessness, and go forth to serve Thee with renewed courage and devotion; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–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)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet unborn may praise the LORD: that he looked down from his holy height, from heaven the LORD looked at the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die; that men may declare in Zion the name of the LORD, and in Jerusalem his praise, when peoples gather together, and kingdoms, to worship the LORD. He has broken my strength in mid-course; he has shortened my days. “O my God,” I say, “take me not hence in the midst of my days, thou whose years endure throughout all generations!” Of old thou didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They will perish, but thou dost endure; they will all wear out like a garment. Thou changest them like raiment, and they pass away; but thou art the same, and thy years have no end.

–Psalm 102:18-27

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(RNS) A daughter’s duty: From Boston, a Uighur woman champions her father’s release in China

Samira Imin can’t stop thinking about the times her father took her horseback riding.

She remembers how her father, a prominent Uighur publisher and historian named Iminjan Seydin, would always spoil her and shelter her from her mother’s scoldings. She thinks of the time she went out alone as a teen living in China’s Xinjiang region and became lost, and Seydin began frantically calling around to find her, then cried when she finally returned home.

“He was like a mountain to me, so strong,” said Imin, who works as a research assistant at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital. “He was always my protector.”

Now, months after she learned that Chinese officials were holding her father in a detention camp for Uighur Muslims before arresting him over charges of extremism, Imin says it’s her turn to become her father’s protector and bring him back home.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Islam, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(CW) Bill Muehlenberg–Biblical Anthropology: A Reader’s Guide

It is vitally important that we get the right understanding on what it is to be human. A wrong view on how we view humanity and personhood will often result in some very ugly results. Simply look at how the Nazis viewed human dignity and worth, and what flowed from that.

The Christian believes that one’s understanding of anthropology will be determined by one’s theology. A bad view of God almost always results in a bad view of man. Indeed, years ago John Warwick Montgomery made this three-part connection:

-In the 18th century we sought to destroy Scripture.
-In the 19th century we sought to destroy God.
-In the 20th century we sought to destroy mankind.

These things do go together. And the further we drift from God and his word, the further away we are from treating mankind as we should. Just yesterday I penned a piece on the new batch of human haters. Because of concerns about saving the planet, we have many voices now calling for the complete end of mankind. You can see that article here.

Read it all.

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

(The Coast) Atlantic School of Theology: Being Ready to Accept the Call

Typically to be accepted into the Master of Divinity program at the Atlantic School of Theology, you must have an undergraduate degree; Dawn-Lea Greer was accepted with an equivalency.

She worked with the AST faculty to submit a 300+ page portfolio of all of her work, courses she has taken and extensive volunteer experiences to be accepted into the program.

“I thought that I couldn’t make this program happen without an undergrad. With the encouragement from Rev. Susan MacAlpine-Gillis and Rev. David MacLachlan working with me to develop the portfolio, and to argue that I have an equivalency, made all the difference,” Dawn-Lea says. “Taking the time to comb through my achievements was validating, and when I was accepted, I rejoiced. Not all of us walk the same path, and that does not make one less or more of a candidate at AST. AST embraces students from all walks of life and many faiths.”

Dawn-Lea is now in her first year of the three-year full-time program, where she is also required to complete three years of formation (denominational formation), chapel and placement time.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Seminary / Theological Education

(Deseret News) Valery Hudson–Has the Utah Legislature done its homework on polygamy?

The Utah State Senate has voted to decriminalize polygamy between consenting adults, making bigamy and polygamy an infraction rather than a felony. Fines and community service would be the extent of legal enforcement, akin to a traffic ticket. Of course, Utah has for the past several decades largely declined to arrest anyone for polygamy, unless additional charges such as underage marriage or welfare fraud could be brought. Maybe decriminalization is “better than doing nothing,” to use the words of state Sen. Daniel Thatcher?

I suggest that position is untenable. Where polygyny is involved — and the vast majority of polygamy cases are in fact cases of polygyny (the union of one man to multiple wives) — the harm has been found to be inherent in the practice. In 2011, the Supreme Court of British Columbia was asked to rule on the constitutionality of Canada’s ban on polygamy. One of the star witnesses was Professor Rose McDermott of Brown University, who has penned an entire volume called “The Evils of Polygyny” summarizing her extensive research.

McDermott finds a statistically significant relationship between the legality and prevalence of polygyny within a country, on the one hand, and what they call “an entire downstream suite of negative consequences for men, women, children and the nation-state,” on the other. Their data analysis points to a significant relationship between polygyny and poor outcomes, including higher levels of sex trafficking and higher levels of domestic violence.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, polygamy, Religion & Culture, State Government

(NPR) Amid Census Concerns, Religious Leaders Asked To Quell Fears

JUDITH ANN KARAM: The outcome of the census is important because it signifies the dignity of the human person and resources that impact the quality of life of each individual. That is so fundamental to not only Catholic social teaching.

[HANSI LO] WANG: Sister Karam said it’s fundamental across many other faith traditions. It’s a U.S. tradition to use census numbers to determine each state’s share of congressional seats and Electoral College votes, as well as the redrawing of voting districts. During the summit, Census Bureau officials tried to counter worries that census data could be misused.

DILLINGHAM: The data comes in and statistics go out – numbers.

WANG: Federal law also prohibits the bureau from releasing information identifying individuals until 72 years after the information is collected. But Pastor John Zayas of Grace and Peace Church in Chicago raised concerns about how the Trump administration may try to misuse census data to help ICE officers carry out immigration raids.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Census/Census Data, Religion & Culture

(AP) Stresses multiply for many US clergy: ‘We need help too’

Greg Laurie is among America’s most successful clergymen — senior pastor at a California megachurch, prolific author, host of a global radio program. Yet after a youthful colleague’s suicide, his view of his vocation is unsparing.

“Pastors are people, just like everyone else,” Laurie said by email. “We are broken people who live in a broken world. Sometimes, we need help too.”

Laurie’s 15,000-member Harvest Christian Fellowship, based in Riverside, California, was jolted in September by the death of 30-year-old associate pastor Jarrid Wilson. He and his wife had founded an outreach group to help people coping with depression and suicidal thoughts.

“People may think that as pastors or spiritual leaders we are somehow above the pain and struggles of everyday people,” Laurie wrote after Wilson’s death. “We are the ones who are supposed to have all the answers. But we do not.”

There is similar introspection among clergy of many faiths across the United States as the age-old challenges of their ministries are deepened by many newly evolving stresses.

Read it all.

Posted in Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(CT) The Radical Christian Faith of Frederick Douglass (for his Feast Day)

Douglass rejoiced in 1865 when the Union triumphed in the Civil War and the nation ratified the Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery forever. But he did not believe his prophetic work had ended. At the end of his life, equality under the law remained an aspiration, not a reality. African Americans and women were denied the right to vote. The ghost of slavery lived on in oppressive economic arrangements like sharecropping. Jim Crow carved rigid lines of racial segregation in the public square. White mobs lynched at least 200 black men each year in the 1890s.

He had good reason, then, in 1889, to mourn how the “malignant prejudice of race” still “poisoned the fountains of justice, and defiled the altars of religion” in America. Yet Douglass also rejoiced in the continued possibility of redemption. A new way of seeing the world, and living in it, still remained—one that rested, Douglass said, on a “broad foundation laid by the Bible itself, that God has made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Frederick Douglass

Almighty God, we bless thy Name for the witness of Frederick Douglass, whose impassioned and reasonable speech moved the hearts of people to a deeper obedience to Christ: Strengthen us also to speak on behalf of those in captivity and tribulation, continuing in the Word of Jesus Christ our Liberator; who with thee and the Holy Spirit dwelleth in glory everlasting. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Euchologium Anglicanum

O God, heavenly Father, who by thy Son hast made all things in heaven and earth, and yet desirest to draw to thyself our uncompelled love and devotion: Grant us grace to understand the manifestation of thy Son Christ the Lord and Saviour of mankind, and to engage all our affections in thy service, and labour to spread the gospel among those who know him not; that when he shall come again in great glory he may find a people gladly awaiting his kingdom; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Bible Readings

O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of all his wonderful works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his presence continually!

–Psalm 105:1-4

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Sightings) Russell Johnson–Martin Buber’s Hope in Polarized Times

At Carnegie Hall in 1952, Buber gave a lecture titled “Hope for this Hour.” His goal was to give an honest assessment of life during the escalating Cold War. He announced, “The human world is today, as never before, split into two camps, each of which understand the other as the embodiment of falsehood and itself as the embodiment of truth.” Buber does not advocate a centrist position between these two camps, nor does he here weigh in on the disputed points between them. Rather, Buber analyzes how this disagreement over economic philosophies is a site of polarization. He makes three points that are relevant for “this hour” in our social landscape.

First, we need to be critical of the way disagreements are framed. In polarization, Buber says, a person is “more than ever inclined to see his own principle in its original purity and the opposing one in its present deterioration, especially if the forces of propaganda confirm his instincts in order to make better use of them.” He continues, “Expressed in modern terminology, he believes that he has ideas, his opponent only ideologies. This obsession feeds the mistrust that incites the two camps.” Put differently, polarization attenuates critical thinking, making us all too easily satisfied that our commitments are right because they are superior to those of our opponents. We also become less sensitive to distinctions and concerns of the other side, since we think we already know what really motivates their political behavior. Mistrust snowballs, then, as each side believes the other side is intentionally misrepresenting reality. The first thing we need in polarized times, Buber writes, is “criticism of our criticism.” Unless we hold ourselves to a high standard when inferring the motives and concerns of the other side, suspicion will get the better of truth.

Second, we need “individuation,” which means not treating the other side as a monolith but recognizing that each person has unique convictions. This idea is central to Buber’s philosophy of dialogue. One effect of polarization, he argues in “Hope for this Hour,” is the transformation of ordinary mistrust into “massive mistrust.” It is normal and even necessary to treat with suspicion the claims of a person who has shown themselves to be untrustworthy. We should be leery of an individual who has made a pattern of playing fast and loose with the truth. However, any transition from distrusting an unreliable individual to distrusting an opposing camp is not a change of degree but of kind. The other side’s speech becomes guilty until proven innocent. “One no longer merely fears that the other will voluntarily dissemble, but one simply takes it for granted that he cannot do otherwise.” Polarization is not extreme disagreement, but the erosion of the conditions—like trust—necessary for working through disagreement.

Read it all.

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

(CT) Polyamory: Pastors’ Next Sexual Frontier

How would you respond to Tyler, Amanda, and Jon? How would you counsel Tyler’s parents to respond? Tyler’s parents’ pastor advised them to first listen to their son rather than trying to preach at him, so after Tyler came out to them, they set up a time to simply connect and listen. Though they were clear they did not affirm Tyler’s choice, they did affirm their love for Tyler, Amanda, and their grandkids. They made a point to keep their weekly Thursday afternoon “dates” with their grandkids and stay a part of their lives. Because of this, Tyler has maintained his relationship with his parents, and though his relationship choices are unbiblical, they have been able to communicate their love and care for him and his family. Amanda’s mother responded differently. Decades earlier, her relationship with Amanda’s father had ended when he had proposed a polyamorous relationship and then left when she wasn’t open to it. Amanda’s choice reopened her mother’s unhealed wounds. Feeling angry and betrayed, Amanda’s mother effectively broke off the relationship with her daughter. When children choose less than God’s best for their relationships, affirming both grace and truth is a difficult but necessary balance for parents to maintain.

Another important pastoral step is to distinguish elements of polyamory that are in violation of God’s will from elements that are simply culturally unfamiliar to us. When we want to lovingly call people to repentance, we should be precise about what needs repentance and what relationships or elements can and should be sanctified in Christ. For example, the notion of kinship in polyamory is a secular echo of the way Scripture calls the church to function as a new family. In cultures that idolize individualism (but actually isolate individuals), polyamory’s focus on relationship, care, and affection can have a powerful pull. And in churches that idolize marriage and the nuclear family, polyamory’s focus on hospitality and community can be an attractive alternative. We can acknowledge that many of the elements that draw people to polyamory—deep relationships, care for others, hospitality, and community—are good things.

But Scripture does clearly connect sex, marriage, and monogamy in ways that are violated in polyamorous relationships. In the example above, Amanda and Tyler both need to be called to repentance for the way they have committed adultery. A pastoral approach would commend them for their desire to have other adults contribute to the life of their family but point them to the church—not a polyamorous relationship—as the place where God intends for that to happen.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in --Polyamory, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(The Observer) Archbishop Kaziimba faces uphill task to revamp Anglican church of Uganda

The archbishop-elect comes at a time when the COU lacks a sound political theology necessary to counter the intrigues of Uganda’s secular politics. In fact, his immediate predecessor has several times hushed critics who resolutely dared him to discharge his ‘political’ mandate.

Thus, we have often had and still have great difficulty in determining whether he speaks officially as Uganda’s archbishop, bishop of Kampala and chancellor of the Uganda Christian University (UCU); or privately as Rev Stanley Ntagali!

Little thought has been given to the centrality and impact of sound doctrine in modelling the spiritual life plus character of Anglicans in Uganda—to the extent that today, the COU is fast losing its identity and can easily be mistaken to be part of the so-called ‘Pentecostal’ movement—except that one is just yet to witness electrocution of believers and ‘soccer matches’ inter alia in ‘our’ sanctuaries.

Far more awful to note, is the manner in which many of our ministers—whether in purple or grey or black—have yielded to the wicked lure of searching for the lost coin rather than the lost sheep; not to mention those caught ‘feasting’ on their own ‘sheep’.

To put it crudely, the COU is infested with unscrupulous persons taking advantage of the gaps within the structures to steal church properties, chiefly money and land. To our dismay, they have been rewarded with titles or higher positions.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Uganda

(Unherd) Giles Fraser–Churches are closing down — I won’t let mine be one of them

A report for the Church Buildings Council has claimed that the Church of England is currently closing more church buildings than at any time since the sixteenth century. And the weight of these closures is falling predominantly in urban areas. Since 1969, about ten percent of the C of E’s churches have been turned into carpet warehouses or yuppie flats or Mosques. I won’t allow mine to be one of them.

But the powerful argument made by hard pressed parish clergy up and down the country is that they didn’t get ordained to become glorified building’s managers. A church is not the building, it is the people. And so many congregations retreat from their cold and leaky building into the local school hall or community centre. The problem here, however, is that the church building is not a mere bricks-and-mortar encumbrance, it is a way of being rooted in a community — a powerful expression of the physical presence of the Christian community over time.

In the vestry of my church is a list of Rectors of the parish going back to 1212. In 1876, the local authorities forced the old church at the Elephant and Castle to be demolished to make way for road widening. A new church was built a few hundred yards away, only to be destroyed by the Luftwaffe during the Blitz. Again it was rebuilt. The bricks of my church are not an inconvenience, a distraction — they are a statement of Christian defiance. And under its roof, Christians from all over the world seek shelter.

Read it all.

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

(EF) Pablo Martinez–“Turning the truth into a matter of personal opinions, inexorably leads to loss of hope”

Question. We went from ‘I think therefore I am’, to ‘I feel therefore I am’, and then to post-truth. What is the reference that will be an anchor to human beings in this new decade?

Answer. The two great anchors of human beings are truth and hope. Both come together, they are inseparable and make the backbone of human existence. These two do not vary with time, we need them today just like twenty centuries ago. What changes is the relationship, the attitude of Man towards these two anchors. That’s where the origin of the current deep crisis of values lies. The replacement of ‘the Truth’ by ‘my truth’ has broken one of the anchors, dragging the other one, hope, with its breakup. In his best known work From Dawn To Decay, the renowned French historian Jacques Barzun, already warned that ‘the postmodern assault on the idea of truth could lead us to the destruction of 500 years of civilisation’.

The root of the conflict is not cultural or ideological, it is a moral one. Ultimately, it is not a matter of a new philosophy, but a matter of who has the authority in my life and in the world. Does anyone rule up there or can I rule?

A strong earthquake has shaken the foundations of Western civilisation, because in the last 30 years the foundation and nature of the truth have amazingly changed. The change is summed up in one sentence: ‘Truth is dead, long live to my truth!’

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Theology

(1st Things) A profile of Laila Mickelwait, The Woman Taking On Big Porn

Read it all (content may not be suitable for some blog readers).

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Pornography

(Mirror) The Rev. Paul Nicolson–‘I’m an 87-year-old vicar – but when I acted homeless, I was suddenly invisible’

While several people entering or leaving Church House stopped for a chat, most walked by as if I was not there.

That invisibility while lying on the pavement must be very depressing for long term street homeless people.

£14.38 was put into my mug which I gave to one of the three street homeless people begging outside Tottenham who I pass on my journey home. I am planning another session in the role of beggar opposite Downing Street.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Poverty, Religion & Culture

(Seattle Times) Sudden resignation of two Seattle-area Roman Catholic school teachers stirs protests over church stance on same-sex relationships

Two people close to one of the teachers, Paul Danforth — his mother, Mary Danforth, and his fiance, Sean Nyberg — said his departure was related to news that he was planning to marry another man. They said they couldn’t comment about whether the teachers were fired, quit voluntarily or were asked to resign.

Several students said they already knew that Danforth and the other teacher were both in relationships with same-sex partners.

Kennedy Catholic mother Erika DuBois, who helped plan the walkout, said the news of the teachers’ departures shocked her. She said she knew that Catholic school teachers had to sign a contract that includes a morality clause about adhering to church values but that she didn’t expect the school to act on the clause.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Daily Prayer

Almighty God, whose sovereign purpose none can make void: Give us faith to stand calm and undismayed amid the tumults of the world, knowing that thy kingdom shall come and thy will be done; to the eternal glory of thy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever.

–1 John 2:12-17

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Vanguard) Anglican Bishop says Nigeria is at a crossroads in reverse gear

The Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion, Diocese of Ogbaru, Anambra State, on Monday, described Nigeria as a country at a crossroads and in a reverse gear without a steering.

Addressing newsmen at the Basilica of St. James Cathedral, Atani, Ogbaru Local Government, the Bishop, Diocese of Ogbaru, Rt. Rev. Prosper Amah, said what Nigeria needed now was divine and international intervention to save it from collapse.

Bishop Amah, who expressed shock over the crumbling security situation in Nigeria, called on the Federal Government to listen to the cry of the masses by reshuffling the security apparatus in the country and make the necessary changes on the composition of service chiefs. He said: “Nigeria, I must say, is gradually being consumed by insecurity. We are at a crossroads. Not just a crossroads, but a dark one, that is in a reverse gear without steering. “We do not know who is leading us now. We are confused; that is where we are now.”

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Posted in Church of Nigeria