Posted by Kendall Harmon

The evening concluded with the story of how Wendy Stovall, an assistant pastor in Utah’s Unification Church, started by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, found her way from Zimbabwe to a London park, where she met a friend from that faith.

Raised as an Anglican, Stovall found little comfort in that tradition after her divorce as a young woman. The Unification Church, she said, held many answers to the theological questions that troubled her. “God,” she said, “was taking a role in my life.”

That view was a common thread in the evening’s tapestry.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureWomen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianOther FaithsBuddhism

0 Comments
Posted April 1, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In his fourth democratic bid for Nigeria’s presidency, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari finally claimed victory Tuesday, beating incumbent Goodluck Jonathan by more than 3 million votes, according to early counts of the polling.

Results are not yet official, but Buhari has claimed victory, and according to media reports, Jonathan has called his rival and conceded defeat.

The election marks the first time since Nigeria’s 1999 transition from military rule that the People’s Democratic Party has lost the country’s presidency and the first time an incumbent has been ousted from the office.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 31, 2015 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every religious tradition has its skeletons and its saints, and sometimes they are the same people. Paul is warning his hearers not to count themselves better than their ancestors, for they all depend on the same rootstock – a root that nourishes the olive tree or the grape vine we cling to as intimate connection to God as Creator of all. That root is why we are here, and it is also why the LDS church is here.

When General Convention shows up here just over 3 months from now, many of the volunteers and dispensers of hospitality will be our sisters and brothers from that tradition. Will we recognize their welcome as a product of the same root, or will we assume that they come from a different and unrecognizable species?

Complexity defines human beings and their relationships, which just might convince us of the otherness of God. Difference is part of God’s creativity, from the riotous diversity of the species of creation to the inner chaos of most human beings. Paul names it when he says he wants to do the right thing, but he does something else instead.[8] Nevertheless, when people stay connected to that one rootstock, God can usually be found to bring something new and holy out of the mess.

Branches that seem radically different grow on the same tree and the same vine, even though we love to hate the ones who are not like us. We often in the church focus our attention on differences in reproductive customs and norms – yet both the grape vine and the olive tree has multiple ways to be generative. Flowers can be fertilized by pollen from the same plant or another one. The fruit and seeds that result are eaten by birds and animals and left to grow far from the original plant, yet they are still related. The vine also generates new branches from its rootstock or from distant parts of its branches. But all those kinds of vines and branches are related, however they come about.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsMormons* Theology

5 Comments
Posted March 31, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Scientology’s power over its followers is coming under new scrutiny because of the HBO documentary “Going Clear,” which premieres March 29 and is based on Lawrence Wright’s 2013 book of the same name. As Wright reported, Scientology has long relied on an arcane lingo that helps induct adherents into founder L. Ron Hubbard’s complex mythology while also isolating them from the outside world. “I’ve had a lot of former Scientologists tell me,” Wright said to me, “that it took quite a while for them to sort out what was a real word and what was a Scientology term.”

Hubbard began his superlatively prolific writing career in the 1930s as a sci-fi author for pulp magazines like Astounding Science-Fiction. At the time he started work on “Dianetics,” the ur-text of Scientology, he was corresponding with a group of prominent sci-fi writers who were all influenced by the ideas of Polish-American philosopher Alfred Korzybski. Korzybski believed that semantic training — correcting the flaws in abstract language that block one’s understanding of concrete things — could help cure various emotional and physical disorders. In part inspired by Korzybski, “Dianetics,” published in 1950, introduced a wide array of neologisms, jargon, and acronyms designed specifically for Hubbard’s new program.

Hubbard liked putting quirky twists on existing words: “Enturbulate,” using the Latin root from “disturb,” means “to upset”; to “hat,” as a verb, is to train for something; “havingness,” “beingness,” and “as-ising” (making something vanish) also pop up frequently. Many of his terms describe the central practice of Scientology: the “audit,” a space-age twist on Freudian psychoanalytic therapy. An “auditor” questions the subject, called the “preclear” — who is held back from spiritual progress by the “engrams,” or recordings of traumatic memories, in his “reactive mind,” a negative unconscious contrasted with the “analytic mind.” The goal is to discover the “basic-basic,” the subject’s original harmful memory, which sometimes dates back to before birth.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths

0 Comments
Posted March 30, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the heart of this celebration, which seems so festive, are the words we heard in the hymn of the Letter to the Philippians: “He humbled himself” (2:8). Jesus’ humiliation.

These words show us God’s way and the way of Christians: it is humility. A way which constantly amazes and disturbs us: we will never get used to a humble God!

Humility is above all God’s way: God humbles himself to walk with his people, to put up with their infidelity. This is clear when we read the Book of Exodus. How humiliating for the Lord to hear all that grumbling, all those complaints against Moses, but ultimately against him, their Father, who brought them out of slavery and was leading them on the journey through the desert to the land of freedom.

This week, Holy Week, which leads us to Easter, we will take this path of Jesus’ own humiliation. Only in this way will this week be “holy” for us too!

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyChristology

0 Comments
Posted March 30, 2015 at 11:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A few years later, Thomas Jefferson resolved these difficulties quite simply in his “harmonized” account of the life of Jesus. The Jefferson Bible ends with the crucifixion and burial: “There laid they Jesus: and rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.” The End. No Resurrection.

So, yes, Jefferson stood exactly in that century-old Deist tradition.

And you will see why I am very skeptical when I read that nineteenth or early twentieth century critics were so daring in their criticism of Biblical orthodoxy – for example, in the US during the years of the Briggs controversy of the 1890s and the rise of Fundamentalism. Those ideas were already very familiar indeed before Jefferson was born in 1743.

Here’s a thought. Maybe the most important theme to highlight in any history of Biblical criticism is that of serial amnesia.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyApologeticsTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted March 30, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Thousands of supporters of Nigeria's main opposition party on Sunday demonstrated in the oil-rich state of Rivers, calling for the cancellation of elections locally because of alleged irregularities.

The demonstrators from the All Progressives Congress (APC) converged on the local offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the state capital, Port Harcourt.

"We are here to register our protest that there was no election in Rivers state yesterday (Saturday)," Rivers state governorship candidate Dakuku Peterside told the crowd.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 30, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a faith-based coalition of 34,000 churches comprised of 15 denominations and 15.7 million African-Americans, has broken its fellowship with Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) following its recent vote to approve same-sex marriage.

The Presbyterian General Assembly, the top legislative body of the PCUSA, voted last June to revise the constitutional language defining marriage. This arbitrary change of Holy Scripture is a flagrantly pretentious and illegitimate maneuver by a body that has no authority whatsoever to alter holy text.

Rev. Anthony Evans, NBCI President noted:

"NBCI and its membership base are simply standing on the Word of God within the mind of Christ. We urge our brother and sisters of the PCUSA to repent and be restored to fellowship."

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted March 29, 2015 at 2:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Warrens held their first Bible study on Jan. 25, 1980, in their Laguna Hills home near Moulton Parkway and Via Iglesia.

That same day, Kay Warren’s grandmother died. The couple wondered if they should cancel the church launch. They didn’t.

The first public service took place weeks later, on April 6, 1980, at Laguna Hills High School. There were 205 in attendance.

“It was confirmation that this was really going to work,” Kay Warren said.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

0 Comments
Posted March 29, 2015 at 11:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an act of extraordinary heroism, a parish warden stopped an Islamist terrorist from detonating a bomb during Sunday worship at Christ Church Youhanabad near Lahore, Pakistan. Fifteen people were murdered during twin attacks on Christ Church and the neighboring St John’s Catholic Church on 15 March 2015, but the heroism of Zahid Yousaf Goga (pictured with his wife, Akash and three children) prevented further bloodshed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted March 29, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In all of these tragedies, the religious and ethnic minorities continue to be the most vulnerable communities. Among them are the Christians, our sisters and brothers in the Lord. They face the present danger of extermination or exile from their own region, a catastrophic assault on Christian life and witness in those lands. Many churches and Christians around the world have offered signs of solidarity and sympathy through prayer vigils, humanitarian assistance and advocacy for just peace. Despite these efforts, so many still feel powerless and incapable of making any impact and change. Yet we know that we worship a God of hope, in whom there is always cross, always resurrection. As Christians we are called to live in the hope Christ gives us and make this our witness in times of deep pain and strife.

During this Lenten season, the World Council of Churches invites its member churches and Christians worldwide to offer special prayers on Sunday, March 29 for all people affected by these wars. We ask these prayers especially for the countries of Iraq, Syria, Libya and Egypt, where the indigenous Christian presence and witness have been continuous since the incarnation of our Lord, and from where the Good News has spread all over the world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly WeekSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther Churches

0 Comments
Posted March 28, 2015 at 1:18 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Under the shadow of Boko Haram violence, Nigerians head to the polls Saturday (March 28) to elect a president and a deputy in a vote observers say is critical for the country’s stability and economic progress.

In a twist that might have been difficult to predict, many Christians in Nigeria’s north are backing a Muslim candidate to lead their country away from the brink of violence and chaos.

Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim from the north and the leader of the All Progressives Congress party, is challenging the leadership of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the south who heads the ruling People’s Democratic Party.

Some Nigerians fear that another term for Jonathan would mean institutionalization of corruption and emergence of more Muslim extremist groups in addition to Boko Haram. And they are willing to pin their hopes on a Muslim candidate.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 28, 2015 at 10:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the past six years, Boko Haram has terrorized the northeast region and burned down entire communities, killing thousands of people and abducting many more, including more than 200 missing schoolgirls.

The people driven from their homes are posing a challenge for Nigeria's electoral commission. The U.N. Secretary General's special representative for West Africa and high representative for Nigeria, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, says displaced people must be allowed to vote.

"These elections must be inclusive," Chambas says. "I got the assurance of the electoral commissioner that all efforts would be made to ensure that Nigerians internally displaced, as a result of Boko Haram terrorist activity, are not denied their franchise."

Nigeria is also grappling with a new biometric, voter ID card-reading system, which had hiccups during dry runs ahead of Saturday's vote.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 27, 2015 at 4:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Philip Jenkins's contribution to The Globalization of Christianity (edited by Gordon Heath and Steven Studebaker) offers sobering and exciting news by turns.

On the sobering side, he describes the statistical stagnation of Christianity, and compares it to the spread of Islam. For the past century, Christianity has held steady at 1/3 of the human population. It's grown, of course, but it has not grown as a proportion of the world's population.

Islam has. “In 1900, the 200 to 220 million Muslims then living comprised some 12 or 13 percent of humanity, compared to 22.5 percent today, and a projected figure of 27.3 percent by 2050. Put another way, Christians in 1900 outnumbered Muslims by 2.8 to 1. Today that figure is 1.3 to 1, and by 2050 it should be 1.3 to 1. Put another way, there are four times as many Christians alive as there were in 1900; but over the same period, Muslims have grown at least seven-fold” (21).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalGlobal South Churches & Primates* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryMissions* Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 27, 2015 at 3:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last month I visited the Syrian refugee camp in Jordan known as Za’atari. With 80,000 occupants, the camp would be the fourth-largest city in Jordan. It occupies a vast desert plain, filled with endless rows of tents that are gradually being replaced with rows of metal-sided caravans. Za’atari is a dreary place, but it is teeming with resilient people.

Residents of camps like Za’atari make up only 20% of the nearly four million refugees who have fled Syria. The rest live in cities, where they are often unregistered and therefore ineligible for services. These refugees tend to live in squalor and are vulnerable to exploitation. Nearly 80% of the refugees are women and children. These figures don’t include the 12.2 million within Syria who are either internally displaced or in urgent need of help.

About 200,000 people have been killed in Syria, many after torture. A photographer, who documented these horrors for the regime but defected, smuggled his photos out of Syria; they were passed on to me by a Syrian non-governmental organization. These emaciated, disfigured corpses could be skeletal Jewish inmates photographed during the liberation of Dachau, but they aren’t. They are Syrian Muslims and Christians—and this is happening now.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslamJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 27, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Much has been written about extremist groups such as IS and al-Qaeda, which directly threaten Westerners at home or abroad. But little is understood about Boko Haram, its leaders and its beliefs. This is partly because it has made little effort to explain itself to the wider world, unlike jihadists such as IS who reach out to potential recruits using social media, and partly because journalists are unable to enter territory it controls safely. Moreover, its limited regional focus means that most Western intelligence agencies have viewed it as posing little international threat.

This book by Mike Smith, a journalist, sheds light both on its crackpot ideas—Yusuf insisted that the world was flat and that rain was made by God—and on the deep contradictions faced by people who propose to return to a sixth-century lifestyle. When asked why he had computer equipment and hospital facilities at his home, Yusuf replied, “These are technological products. Western education is different. Western education is westernisation.”

Yusuf’s successor, Abubakar Shekau, is a particularly enigmatic figure who is known largely through the brief videos his group has released. In one he justifies selling into slavery the schoolgirls kidnapped in Chibok: “Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell.” Each time Nigerian forces claim to have killed him, new videos emerge, though security officials question whether the same person appears in all the grainy images.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 27, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anti-IS Sunnis think they should be armed again, as they were when the Americans fought al-Qaeda in Iraq, IS’s predecessor. But nobody is willing to give them weapons. “We wanted a national army,” says Ghazi Faisal al-Kuaud, a tribesman fighting alongside the government in Ramadi. “Instead they formed the Shia equivalent of IS.”

And Shia distrust of the Sunnis grows at a pace that matches that of the losses from its militias. Overlooking Najaf’s sprawling tombs, gravediggers talk of the brisk business they are doing burying militiamen. “I’ve never had it so busy,” says one. “Not even after 2003 or 2006 [the height of Iraq’s civil war].” The Sunnis “never accepted losing power from the time of Imam Ali, so why would they now?” asks Haider, a Shia shop owner. “Wherever you find Sunnis and you give them weapons, you will find IS,” says Bashar, a militiaman. Many Shias feel that the fight against IS justifies them in excluding Sunnis from government and the security apparatus.

The state that IS wanted to build looks more unlikely than ever to become a lasting reality, and that is good. The ruined territory on which it hoped to build, though, may end up even more damaged than it was at the outset.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 26, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Each week that passes we learn of more brutal Boko Haram abuses against civilians,” Mausi Segun, Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in the statement. “The Nigerian government needs to make protecting civilians a priority in military operations against Boko Haram.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 26, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In Pope Francis's latest gesture towards Rome's homeless, the Vatican said on Tuesday homeless people will get a special private tour of its museums and the Sistine Chapel.

About 150 homeless people who frequent the Vatican area - where Pope Francis has already set up facilities for them to have showers - will make the visit on Thursday afternoon, the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeItaly* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 26, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Councillors are to discuss how best to manage large-scale funerals after one for a traveller from Cheshire attracted hundreds of mourners.

Holy Trinity Church in Blacon and Chester Crematorium were packed for the service marking 54-year-old Elton man "Pudgie" Evans's life on 30 January.

Cheshire West and Chester Council and Cheshire Constabulary worked together to manage the funeral.

Local residents were advised beforehand and roads shut for the funeral cortege....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* Theology

2 Comments
Posted March 25, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For reporting purposes at Barna, we often combine atheists and agnostics into one group, which we call skeptics....

[There]..are five demographic shifts among skeptics in the past two decades.

They are younger. Skeptics today are, on average, younger than in the past. Twenty years ago, 18 percent of skeptics were under 30 years old. Today that proportion has nearly doubled to 34 percent—nearly one-quarter of the total U.S. population (23%, compared to 17% in 1991). By the same token, the proportion of skeptics who are 65 or older has been cut in half, down to just 7 percent of the segment.

They are more educated. Today’s skeptics tend to be better educated than in the past. Two decades ago, one-third of skeptics were college graduates, but today half of the group has a college degree.

More of them are women....

Read it all.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism

1 Comments
Posted March 25, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The film,Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, is based on Lawrence Wright’s similarly titled book-length exposé and will premiere on March 29.

Since news emerged of the documentary, Scientologists have been trying to counter the film’s arguments which isn’t at all surprising considering Scientology’s notorious methods for dealing with its critics in the past.

The film, itself, covers one such stoush the Church had with the US Internal Revenue Service who was ready to rule that Scientology should pay tax because it isn’t a religion.

David Miscavige, the leader of the Church of Scientology, retaliated by persuading thousands of Scientologists to sue individual officials of the agency.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths

3 Comments
Posted March 24, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The church started Jan. 25, 1980, as a small Bible study in Rick and Kay Warren’s Laguna Hills condo. Today, it includes 10 campuses in Southern California and four in other countries, averaging 27,000 weekly worshippers.

As part of Saturday’s celebration, Rick Warren shared a portion of the first sermon he preached at Saddleback 35 years ago, outlining his vision for the church. The pastor – who delivered the invocation for President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009 – choked up as he said he’s realized that vision and more, encouraging the crowd not to be afraid to aim high.

“I dare you to dream great dreams for God,” Warren said from the pitcher’s mound. “Whatever God asks you to do, do it, even if it’s at great risk.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyChristologySoteriology

0 Comments
Posted March 24, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The road from St. Matthew's brings you to the front line, just six miles from the outskirts of Mosul. Every town and village between here and the occupied city is in the hands of the Islamic State. And now, we're told, for the first time in nearly 2,000 years, there are no Christians left inside Mosul.

Archbishop Nicodemus Sharaf: They take everything from us, but they cannot take the God from our hearts, they cannot.

Nicodemus Sharaf is the Archbishop of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Mosul, one of about 10,000 Christians who fled the city. We found him living as a refugee in the Kurdish capital, Erbil. He said ISIS fighters were already inside Mosul when he escaped.

Archbishop Nicodemus Sharaf: I didn't have any time to take anything. I was told I had five minutes to go. Just I took five books that are very old.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 24, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was midnight when Babagana crept out of the Boko Haram hideout that had been his home for three days. Once he made his escape, he walked through the forest for hours before he found help. Like the other boys conscripted by the militants, he had been told that he would be hunted down and killed if he deserted.

“I didn’t leave with anything,” Babagana told me. “When the chance came to escape, I only had my pants on. I ran almost naked.”

Babagana was just 16 when militants invaded his town in northeastern Nigeria last May, butchering his parents as he watched, burning down his home, and forcing him to become one of thousands of Boko Haram soldiers.

Babagana still vividly recalls his involuntary induction into a world of misery. Boko Haram militants invaded the rural town of Gamboru in Borno State, burnt down houses and demanded that the local children be handed over to them. Parents who objected were killed, and a couple of children were forcefully taken.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted March 23, 2015 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Radical Islamic groups are using high-quality videos to recruit young Muslims in the US and Europe to join their fight. Now, a Somali Muslim immigrant in Minnesota is fighting back with his own videos—an animated series called “Average Mohamed” that counters extremist ideas about Islam.

Read or watch it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 23, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the beginning of December [2014] I went on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, for a few days to the north of Iraq, to Kurdistan, first to Erbil, the Kurdish capital, and then a three-hour journey to Dohuk. I went to see and know at firsthand the situation of the many thousands displaced by the forces of the Islamic State, which in August last year over-ran Mosul, Iraq’s second city, and then swept across the Nineveh plain, with its many Christian villages.

In one camp, in the grounds of Mar Elias Church, they were putting up their Christmas crib. It was in a tent, a tent like those which had been the shelter for families who had had to flee from their homes, their culture, their churches. As they put up the tent, and placed the nativity figures in it, of Mary, Joseph and the Christ Child, with the shepherds and the angels, it was a indeed a reminder of the reality of the Incarnation: God chose to come down into our midst – he pitched his tent among us.

The advance of ISIS forces, with their distorted fanatical interpretation of Islam, and appalling associated brutality, echoes the invasion of the Mongols centuries earlier, which likewise had devastating consequences for the Christian population of what is now Iraq. Christians and Christianity in the Middle East are under threat as never before. They find themselves ground so often between upper and nether millstones – between the conflict between Sunni and Shia, or between Israel and Palestine.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslam* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 23, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For all its brutality, ISIS is often praised for its social media savvy and a passion among its members akin to that of a very famous Silicon Valley start-up, says one Muslim social media entrepreneur. The way to defeat the group’s extremism is by harnessing the creativity of entrepreneurs, he says.

Listen to it all (about 4 minutes).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationMediaReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 22, 2015 at 5:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To understand where this cyber-libertarian ideology came from, you have to understand the influence of “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” one of the strangest artifacts of the ’90s, and its singular author, John Perry Barlow. Perhaps more than any other, it’s his philosophy — which melded countercultural utopianism, a rancher’s skepticism toward government and a futurist’s faith in the virtual world — that shaped the industry.

The problem is, we’ve reaped what he sowed.

Generally the province of fascists, artists or fascist artists, manifestos are a dying form. It takes gall to have published one anytime after, say, 1938. But “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” was an utterly serious document for a deliriously optimistic era that Wired, on one of its many valedictory covers, promised was a “long boom”: “25 years of prosperity, freedom, and a better environment for the whole world.” Techno-skeptics need not apply.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistoryPhilosophyPsychologyScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 22, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In recent years, John Walton, professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College, has been both lauded and criticized for his interpretation of Genesis 1–2. In his 2009 landmark book, The Lost World of Genesis One (InterVarsity Press), he argued that to rightly understand Genesis 1—an ancient document—we need to read it within the context of the ancient world. Read alongside other ancient texts, he says, Genesis 1 is not about how God made the world, but about God assigning functions to every aspect of it. In 2013, Walton contributed a chapter in Four Views on the Historical Adam (Zondervan). There he argued that Adam was a historical person, but also that Adam’s primary function in Scripture is to represent all of humanity. For Walton, Genesis 1–2 is not concerned about human material origins, but rather about our God-given function and purpose: to be in relationship with God and work alongside him, as his image bearers, in bringing continued order to our world.

Walton spoke recently with CT assistant editor Kevin P. Emmert about his newest book, The Lost World of Adam and Eve: Genesis 2–3 and the Human Origins Debate (IVP Academic).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted March 22, 2015 at 3:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Religious practice can certainly be targeted as a pursuit of the hopeful, the faith-based and the uncertain. But they badly overreach when they attack the intellectual underpinnings of Judeo-Christianity, from the ancient Judaic scholars and the Apostles to Augustine to Aquinas to Newman; deny the existence of any spiritual phenomena at all; debunk the good works and cultural creativity and conservation of the major religion; and deny that the general religious message of trying conscientiously to distinguish right from wrong as a matter of duty and social desirability is the supreme criterion of civilization. The theists defend their basic position fairly easily and only get into heavy weather when they over-invest in the literal truth of all the scriptures — though the evidence for veracity of the New Testament is stronger than the skeptics admit, including of Christ’s citations of God himself: “And God said …”

It is in the nature of the world that we don’t know, but the decline of Christianity is much more of a delusion than God is and even more wishful, and the serious defenders of a divine intelligence such as the delightful John Lennox almost always win the argument, as he did with Dawkins and the rest. There is a long way between these two poles, and agnosticism is a much more rigorous position than the belligerence of the proselytizing atheists, but that is not a stance that stirs serious people to militancy. They have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsAtheism

0 Comments
Posted March 22, 2015 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Calvinist-inclined Baptists and Presbyterians attending this year’s upcoming national conference of the Gospel Coalition are adding a place at the table for a new constituency: conservative Anglicans who have broken with the Episcopal Church.

Joining mainstays like Danny Akin, Mark Dever, Albert Mohler and Russell Moore scheduled to speak at the April 13-15 gathering in Orlando, Fla., is John Yates II, rector of The Falls Church Anglican in suburban Washington.

Other Anglican leaders are offering seminars and workshops at the Gospel Coalition 2015 National Conference, and there will be an informal gathering one evening for Anglicans to come together for fellowship and encouragement, Yates said in a Gospel Coalition blog titled “Who Are These Anglicans in TGC?”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesBaptistsEvangelicalsPresbyterian* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 22, 2015 at 1:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the trickle of volunteers has come from across the country. On Tuesday, a 47-year-old Air Force veteran with a checkered work history was charged in Brooklyn with trying to join the Islamic State. Two weeks earlier, a computer-savvy 17-year-old boy in Virginia was charged with helping a man a few years older make contact with the terrorist group and get to Syria.

The cases raise a pressing question: Is the slick online propaganda that ISIS has mastered enough to lure recruits, or is face-to-face persuasion needed? A federal grand jury in Minneapolis is investigating whether an Islamic State recruiter gave Mr. Nur and Mr. Yusuf cash to buy plane tickets.

“No young person gets up one day and says, ‘I’m going to join ISIS,’ ” said Abdirizak Bihi, 50, a Somali activist who has worked against radicalization since his nephew left Minnesota in 2008 and was killed fighting for the Shabab.

“There has to be someone on the ground to listen to your problems and channel your anger,” Mr. Bihi said. “Online is like graduate studies.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 22, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Boko Haram forcibly married scores of women in Bama after seizing it in September. Nigeria's military announced the recapture of the town on Monday.

Witnesses who were taken under military protection this week to Borno's capital, Maiduguri, 73 kilometres (45 miles) away, said the killing of women began 10 days before Bama was liberated.

The Islamists said if they kill their wives, "they would remain pious until both of them meet again in heaven, where they would re-unite," said Salma Mahmud, another witness.

"He informed them of the situation and the consequence of the takeover of the town by the advancing troops. He warned them that when soldiers killed them, they would take their wives back to the society where they would be forced to marry and live with infidels. The commander said it would be better for them to kill their wives and send them to heaven," the mother-of-seven said.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted March 22, 2015 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tolkien’s political vision doesn’t fit neatly into the simple American two-party system, or into schools of thought developed by others. We wrote a book, The Hobbit Party, to do it justice. In Tolkien’s fiction, that vision involves diverse communities, what we might call “civil society,” and even trade between different species of sentient creatures. If allowed to speak on his own, Tolkien might help bridge the divide between conservative free-market thinkers and distributists.

But there’s a line running through all that nuance that isn’t the least complex, one we tried to capture in the title of the first chapter of our book: “In a Hole in the Ground There Lived an Enemy of Big Government.” Unlike the many self-appointed “radicals” in lockstep with the spirit of his age, Tolkien was the true ­radical—the square peg in the round hole of modernity. In an age of secularism and the growing leviathan state, he was a conservative Catholic calling for the old virtues, a more vibrant civil society, and smaller, less meddlesome government.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksPoetry & LiteratureReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 22, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Right now, in Syria and Iraq, militant Islamists are taking over churches by force and turning them in to mosques. In the Church of England, apparently, all that’s needed is an ask. On March 6, in the heart of London, St. John’s Waterloo hosted a Muslim prayer service or “Jummah” in the sanctuary, on consecrated ground. Apparently the “Inclusive Jummah” was exclusive of anything Christian—hence what appears to be the covering up of all Christian imagery so as not to offend the worshippers.

Can you think of anything more bewildering, more offensive to Anglican followers of Jesus Christ and others who are suffering persecution at the hands of radical Muslims—watching their children beheaded by ISIS in places like Mosul, Iraq because they would not deny Jesus Christ? Watching their loved ones burned alive in hundreds of Anglican churches in Northern Nigeria by members of Boko Haram? Watching their relatives and friends be blown up during Sunday worship services by Islamic extremists in Pakistan?

Would it seem to them simply “a strange and erroneous opinion”?

And what sense could they possibly make of the relative silence and inaction of the bishops in the Church of England who are overseers of this church—the Bishop of Southwark, the area bishop who directly oversees this congregation, as well as the Archbishop of Canterbury who is, apparently, the patron of St. John’s?

Well, there has been an “apology” by the Vicar of St. John’s, in a joint statement from the Bishop of Southwark. But in fact it isn’t an apology at all. The apology is only for the “offence” that it caused, for the “infringement” of the “guidelines and framework” of the Church of England. There is no acknowledgement that this service denied a core doctrine of the Christian faith. No acknowledgement that it was simply wrong to cover up Christian symbols and to permit a prayer service that begins with the assertion that only Allah is God and Muhammed his prophet.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedSpirituality/Prayer* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyThe Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

0 Comments
Posted March 21, 2015 at 3:07 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On New Year’s Day, President al-Sisi of Egypt made a remarkable speech. How, he asked, could belief in Islam make Muslim nations a “source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction”?

“Is it possible”, he added, “that 1.6 billion people should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants — that is seven billion — so that they themselves may live?” He was asking where the mechanism of restraining Islamic violence lay.

But this heroic intervention has not sparked a worldwide theological debate among Muslims. The only perceivable response was the slaughter of 21 Egyptian Copts by Isis in Libya.

To understand the lack of protest by moderate Muslims, we need to look at Islam on its own terms and not try to see it through “Christianised” spectacles....

Read it all (requires subscription)

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 21, 2015 at 1:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Matthew was crazy about theology, a total idealist about studying theology. … But he wanted to learn history and philosophy and art and everything else," said Pentiuc. "I don't know anyone else who read so much and absorbed so much, so soon. It was going to take him 10 or 15 years to fully synthesize what he knew and to find his mature voice."

Friends joked that they could say "Go!" and challenge Baker to connect random subjects – such as "Duran Duran," a rock band, "GMOs," a genetics term, and "Apollinarianism," a 4th Century heresy – and "he would come up with authentically deep links between them," said Damick.

It's easy to imagine three or more books emerging from existing lectures, papers and research by Baker, noted Damick. But all the books and academic tributes in the world cannot answer the ultimate questions being asked by loved ones and friends mourning this loss.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church

1 Comments
Posted March 21, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For example, I believe that:

Religion is a human construct
The symbols of faith are products of human cultural evolution
Jesus may have been an historical figure, but most of what we know about him is in the form of legend
God is a symbol of myth-making and not credible as a supernatural being or force
The Bible is a human product as opposed to special revelation from a divine being
Human consciousness is the result of natural selection, so there’s no afterlife

In short, I regard the symbols of Christianity from a non-supernatural point of view.

And yet, even though I hold those beliefs, I am still a proud minister. But I don’t appreciate being told that I’m not truly a Christian.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianOther Faiths* Theology

3 Comments
Posted March 20, 2015 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the Commission suggests, no more introductions are needed to bring the two Churches together. Each has long exercised eucharistic hospitality, joint working on ethical and political matters is now the norm, and there are many more formal agreements in parishes around the country. The commitment made a few years ago not to do apart what could be done together has borne fruit. As a result, one of the final hurdles, the interchangeability of ministers, is once again the focus of debate.

The apostolic-succession question has sent the Methodists back down the garden path on more than one occasion, to their justifiable annoyance. In this report, however, the Anglican understanding of succession, and the problem it poses for the interchangeability of ministers, is explained fully and sympathetically.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesMethodist* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 20, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jihadists from the Islamic State (IS) group may have committed genocide and war crimes against the minority Yazidi community in Iraq, the UN says.

In a new report, it says IS had "the intent... to destroy the Yazidi as a group."

Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled villages in northern Iraq amid IS advances last summer. Many were killed, captured and enslaved.

Yazidis follow an ancient faith that jihadists regard as devil worship.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted March 19, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe is not—or should not be—a surprise. One of the least surprising phenomena in the history of civilization, in fact, is the persistence of anti-Semitism in Europe, which has been the wellspring of Judeophobia for 1,000 years. The Church itself functioned as the centrifuge of anti-Semitism from the time it rebelled against its mother religion until the middle of the 20th century. As Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of Great Britain, has observed, Europe has added to the global lexicon of bigotry such terms as Inquisition, blood libel, auto‑da‑fé, ghetto, pogrom, and Holocaust. Europe has blamed the Jews for an encyclopedia of sins. The Church blamed the Jews for killing Jesus; Voltaire blamed the Jews for inventing Christianity. In the febrile minds of anti-Semites, Jews were usurers and well-poisoners and spreaders of disease. Jews were the creators of both communism and capitalism; they were clannish but also cosmopolitan; cowardly and warmongering; self-righteous moralists and defilers of culture. Ideologues and demagogues of many permutations have understood the Jews to be a singularly malevolent force standing between the world and its perfection....

The Anne Frank House has never had a Jewish director (though Hinterleitner pointed out that at least two members of the board must have a “Jewish background”), and I would learn later that it is widely understood in Amsterdam’s Jewish community that Jews should not bother applying for the job. Hinterleitner said that the museum addresses anti-Semitism in the context of larger societal ills, but also that it recently issued a strong press statement condemning anti-Semitic acts in the Netherlands and elsewhere. He said the museum has made an intensive study of anti-Semitism in the Netherlands, and has learned that most verbal expressions of anti-Semitism in secondary schools come from boys and are related to soccer.

The Anne Frank House is merely a simulacrum of a Jewish institution in part because, as its head of communications told me, Anne’s father said that her diary “wasn’t about being Jewish,” but also, Hinterleitner suggested, because a museum devoted too obsessively to the details of a particular genocide might not draw visitors in sufficient numbers. “We want people to be interested in this issue, people from all walks of life. So we talk about the universal components of Anne Frank’s story as well. Our work is about tolerance and understanding.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 19, 2015 at 1:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s church time, close to 9 a.m. last Sunday.

Katherine Milligan, 66, walks through the central hallway of the Presbyterian Church of Stanley, feeling more uncomfortable, more spurned and more angry than she has in all her 33 years attending this Overland Park church.

“I’m too old. I don’t care what people think,” the Olathe woman said later, defiant in the battle she has joined. “No one is going to tell me I can’t worship in my sanctuary.”

Yet in late April a trial scheduled in Johnson County District Court will effectively determine exactly that. Judge Kevin Moriarty will hear arguments on who owns this $4.4 million house of God, a white modernist building erected in 1978 on a grassy rise at 148th Street and Antioch Road.

For six months, two factions of the church have been embroiled in what both sides agree has been an ugly and hurtful conflict.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/living/religion/article14448485.html#storylink=cpy

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted March 19, 2015 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nothing falls outside God’s creative and redeeming purposes, which include our being created male and female, the complementarity and fruitfulness built into our being created male and female, and the permanence of marriage, which is a sign of God’s own covenant fidelity. God is a communion of loving Persons; thus married love, St. John Paul II taught, is an icon of the interior life of the Holy Trinity. God keeps his promises; thus the promise-keepers among us who live the covenant of marriage bear witness to that divine promise-keeping by their own fidelity.

In light of all this, the Christian idea of chastity comes into clearer focus. In the Catholic view of things, chastity is not a dreary string of prohibitions but a matter of loving-with-integrity: loving rather than “using;” loving another for himself or herself. The sexual temptations to which the Church says “No” are the implications of a higher, nobler, more compelling “Yes:” yes to the integrity of love, yes to love understood as the gift of oneself to another, yes to the family as the fruit of love, and yes to the family as the school where we first learn to love. “Yes” is the basic Catholic stance toward sexuality, marriage and the family. We should witness to that “Yes” with a joyful heart, recognizing that the example of joyful Catholic families is the best gift we can offer a world marked today by the glorification of self-absorption.

In a pontificate that has reminded us continuously of our responsibilities to the poor, for whom God has a special care, preparations for the World Meeting of Families are also an opportunity to remind our society that stable marriages and families are the most effective anti-poverty program in the world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyPovertyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 19, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A priest in the diocese of Southwark who opened us his church for Muslim prayers has apologised after being told that this was not permitted within a consecrated building.

The Vicar of St John's, Waterloo, the Canon Giles Goddard, said on Tuesday that the event had caused "great consternation", and he apologised for "the offence caused and any infringement of Church of England's framework and guidelines".

The prayers were held on 6 March as part of the Inclusive Mosque Initiative, in the run-up to International Women's Day. They were led by Dr Amina Wadud who campaigns for gender justice in Islam. Men and women sat alongside one another in the church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

3 Comments
Posted March 18, 2015 at 11:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Complaints about the service prompted a meeting on 10 March 2015 between Canon Goddard and the Bishop of Kingston-on-Thames, the Rt. Rev. Richard Cheetham -- who also services as Anglican president of the Christian Muslim Forum. After the meeting Canon Goddard gave an interview to Ruth Gledhill of Christian Today stating everything his church did was legal and within bishops' guidelines.

He added: ‘It is very much about St John’s being a place of welcome. We understand God as a generous God, a God who celebrates love and celebrates life.”

‘We try and make sure we live that out. In that sense we feel very properly Anglican.’

However, Dr. Gerald Bray, director of research at the Latimer Trust at Oak Hill Theological College in London questioned Canon Goddard’s views about Islam and Christianity. Writing on Facebook he said: “The simple truth is that Islam is the only major world religion that is explicitly anti-Christian. The Buddha, for example, could not have known anything about Jesus and did not develop his ideas in contrast to Christ. Muhammad, on the other hand, knew about Christians and Jews and could easily have become one or the other himself. Instead, he concocted his own religion based on elements of Judaism and Christianity and regarded it is the culmination (perfection) of both. You could say that Islam is related to Christianity in much the same way as Mormonism is, but this does not constitute 'a common tradition’.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslam* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 18, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Presbyterian Church approved redefining marriage in the church constitution Tuesday to include a "commitment between two people," becoming the largest US Protestant group to formally recognize gay marriage as Christian and allow same-sex weddings in every congregation.

The new definition was endorsed last year by the church General Assembly, or top legislative body, but required approval from a majority of the denomination's 171 regional districts, or presbyteries. The critical 86th "yes" vote came Tuesday night from the Palisades Presbytery in New Jersey.

After all regional bodies vote and top Presbyterian leaders officially accept the results, the change will take effect on June 21. The denomination has nearly 1.8 million members and about 10,000 congregations.

Read it all and there are many more stories there.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

7 Comments
Posted March 18, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Nigerian army said on Tuesday it had repelled Boko Haram from all but three local government districts in the northeast, claiming victory for its offensive against the Islamist insurgents less than two weeks before a presidential election.

At the start of this year, Boko Haram controlled around 20 local government areas, a territory the size of Belgium, in its bloody six-year-old campaign to carve out an Islamic state in religiously mixed Nigeria.

But a concerted push by Nigeria's military and neighbors Chad, Cameroon and Niger has regained considerable ground. At the weekend, Nigerian government forces recaptured the city of Bama, the second biggest in northeasterly Borno state.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 17, 2015 at 5:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anderson grew up in modern evangelical “purity culture,” with all its widely documented problems. “I listened to story after story of being unable to feel close to God because of shame, being kicked out of one’s home, losing friends, separation from one’s faith community,” Anderson writes. “Many grew up being told over and over that their virginity was the most important thing they could give their spouse on their wedding night, only to reach that point and realize that having saved themselves didn’t magically create sexual compatibility or solve their marital issues.”

With Damaged Goods, Anderson wants to provide healing for those who have suffered from faulty teaching, and help for those who want to find a better, more genuinely Christian way to live. Anderson believes that the purity culture taught her to pride herself on living a celibate life and to look down on others who failed to live up to her high standards. Today, she regrets that prideful and contemptuous attitude and feels compassion for those who were hurt by it.

The church benefits from such course-correction and calls for healing in the wake of false teachings and unhealthy emphases in its teachings on sexuality. However, Damaged Goods goes further than that, conflating the misguided portions of purity culture—a relatively recent and proscribed phenomenon—with the Scripture-based beliefs about sexuality that the church has taught since its founding.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 17, 2015 at 12:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury and World Methodist Vice President are to launch a publication that aims to overcome centuries of separate ministries of the two Christian traditions.

Archbishop Justin Welby and Gillian Kingston will be in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland—the home of St Patrick—on March 17, St Patrick’s Day, to launch Into All The World: Being and Becoming Apostolic Churches.

The report, written by members of the Anglican-Methodist International Commission on Unity and Mission (AMICUM), highlights how Methodists and Anglicans have understood mission. It surveys places around the world where there is already active cooperation, and goes on to provide Tool Kits with practical advice for ways to work together.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesMethodist

0 Comments
Posted March 16, 2015 at 3:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I identify myself as a heritage Anglican, or a main stream Anglican, on the basis of that view of things. I adapt to state my Anglican identity, words from the great Pastor Duncan of the Free Church of Scotland, who something like 150 years ago, said in answer to a question about his identity as a minister of the church, "I'm first a Christian, second a Protestant, third a Calvinist, fourth a Paedo-baptist, and fifth a Presbyterian". Well, I go with the first four; and then "fifth I'm an Anglican". And if I'm asked to explain further what is the Anglicanism that I stand for, I reel off eight defining characteristics of my Anglicanism like this.

Anglicanism is first biblical and protestant in its stance, and second, evangelical and reformed in its doctrine. That's a particular nuance within the Protestant constituency to which the Anglican church is committed - the 39 Articles show that. Ten, thirdly, Anglicanism is liturgical and traditional in its worship.

I go on to say, fourthly, Anglicanism is a form of Christianity that is pastoral and evangelistic in its style. I quote the ordinal for that and I point out that ever since the ordinal and the prayer book required the clergy to catechize the children, Anglicanism has been evangelistic, though the form of the evangelism has not been that of the travelling big tent - the form of the evangelism has been rather institutional and settled; the evangelism was part of the regular work of the parish clergyman and the community around him. But let nobody say that institutional parochial Anglicanism is not evangelistic and, today, I know the wisest folk here in England are recovering parochial evangelism in a significant way. Thank God they are.

And then I say, fifthly, that Anglicanism is a form of Christianity that is episcopal and parochial in its organization and, sixthly, it is rational and reflective in its temper.

Guess the year and then go and read it all (also used by yours truly in the presentation to Diocesan Convention).

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 16, 2015 at 12:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Being a Plea for the Inclusion within the Church of England of all Mahometans, Jews, Buddhists, Brahmins, Papists and Atheists, submitted to the consideration of the British Public

It is now generally conceded, that those differences, which were once held to divide the Christian sects from one another, (as whether or not Confirmation were a necessary ordinance of the Church), can no longer be thought to place any obstacle against unity and charity between Christians; rather, the more of them we find to exist, the more laudable a thing it is that Christian men should stomach, now and again, these uneasy scruples, and worship together for all the world as if they had never existed. There is no progress in Humanity, without the surmounting of obstacles; thus, we are all now agreed that Satan, far from meaning any harm to our Race when he brought sin into the world, was most excellently disposed towards us, and desired nothing better than that we, having some good stout sins to overcome, should attain an eventful and exciting sort of virtue, instead of languishing for ever in that state of respectable innocence, which is so little creditable to the angels, who alone practice it. In like manner, all heresies and schisms are the very condition of Christian unity, and were doubtless designed to supply a kind of zest to the tedious business of Church-going, on the same principle that the digestion of poultry is improved, if they be allowed to have a little grit or gravel in their crops to assist them. So that there can be no more edifying spectacle, to the rightly-constituted mind, than that of two fellow-worshippers, one of whom is saying in his heart, great is Diana of the Ephesians and the other, O Baal, hear us, both which inward intentions they express by a common formula, when they profess openly with their lips, that honesty is the best policy.


ABOLISHING OF BISHOPS

Further, it has come to be seen that Bishops and Archbishops are not, as was commonly supposed hitherto, the vehicles of any extraordinary grace, which they passed on one to another, like a contagion, by the laying on of hands, but only another of these obstacles, which make the race of life so agreeable a pursuit. They exist to supervise our doctrines, and find them unscriptural, to control our religious practices, and forbid their continuance, thus enabling us to snatch a fearful joy while we are about them: in short to give the Christian profession that spice of martyrdom, which it has so sorely lacked since the abolition of the amphitheatre. However salutary this interference be, it is plain that it is of the nature of a luxury; and we shall, therefore, be content to forgo the enjoyment of it, if the non-conformists should demand the sacrifice as a condition of reunion with themselves


THE LAST JUDGEMENT POSTPONED

I conceive, then, that within a few years from the present date, the division of Christians into sects for purposes of worship will have utterly disappeared, and we shall find one great United Protestant Church existing throughout the civilized world. I would not deny but there might be some few difficulties of adjustment attending the venture; as, that the Fifth Monarchy men might withhold their assent from the scheme, unless we would all make it a matter of doctrine, that the Last Judgement is to be presently expected; which knowledge would cast an intolerable gloom over the more part of our pleasures, and create a lack of public confidence on the Exchange. But I cannot doubt, upon a little cool reflection, we should rid ourselves of these fanciful megrims of sectarian particularity; and there is gain to be shown on the other side; for example, it may be anticipated the Seventh Day Adventists will demand the observance of Saturday as well as Sunday as a feast of the Church; and we shall thus have two days instead of one in every seven on which we can lie abed till noon, over-eat ourselves, go out driving in the country, and dine away from home under colour of sparing trouble to our domestics.

Read it all (used by yours truly in the recent presentation to diocesan Convention).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 16, 2015 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If religions are natural for humans and give value to their lives, why spend your life trying to persuade others to give them up?

The answer that will be given is that religion is implicated in many human evils. Of course this is true. Among other things, Christianity brought with it a type of sexual repression unknown in pagan times. Other religions have their own distinctive flaws. But the fault is not with religion, any more than science is to blame for the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or medicine and psychology for the refinement of techniques of torture. The fault is in the intractable human animal. Like religion at its worst, contemporary atheism feeds the fantasy that human life can be remade by a conversion experience – in this case, conversion to unbelief.

Evangelical atheists at the present time are missionaries for their own values. If an earlier generation promoted the racial prejudices of their time as scientific truths, ours aims to give the illusions of contemporary liberalism a similar basis in science. It’s possible to envision different varieties of atheism developing – atheisms more like those of Freud, which didn’t replace God with a flattering image of humanity. But atheisms of this kind are unlikely to be popular. More than anything else, our unbelievers seek relief from the panic that grips them when they realise their values are rejected by much of humankind. What today’s freethinkers want is freedom from doubt, and the prevailing version of atheism is well suited to give it to them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPhilosophyPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther FaithsAtheism* TheologyAnthropologyApologetics

0 Comments
Posted March 16, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

That headline might sound familiar to readers at Faith & Reason. And it should. The sociologist I wrote about last winter when her research showed the majority of scientists identify with a religious tradition, not God-denying atheists, myth-busting again.

Now, the myth that bites the data dust, is one that proclaims evangelicals are a monolithic group of young-earth creationists opposed to theories of human evolution.

Actually, 70 percent of self-identified evangelicals “do not view religion and science as being in conflict,” said Elaine Howard Ecklund, a sociologist and director of Rice University’s Religion and Public Life Program.


Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureScience & TechnologySociology* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

0 Comments
Posted March 15, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Today, the same counterfeit ideas that Danielou identified are once again in circulation. Cultural change is cited as a reason to alter the Church’s teaching on communion for the divorced and remarried. Those who object are dismissed as ice-hearted “formalists.” What we need now is spontaneous faith rather than rulebook rigidity.

In his famous interview, Danielou warned against such arguments, saying that “with the pretext of reacting against formalism” there has arisen a “false conception of freedom that brings with it the devaluing of the constitutions and rules and exalts spontaneity and improvisation” and an “erroneous conception of the changing of man and of the Church.”

Danielou made these arguments even while living in great closeness to those who are usually held up as the beneficiaries of replacing formalism with freedom. Though his views made it difficult for him to live with his religious brothers, they did not prevent him from dying with those in need. If we hope to reprise Danielou's arguments today, we would do well also to imitate his actions.Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* International News & CommentaryEurope* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 15, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two bomb blasts have killed at least 14 people near two churches in a Christian neighbourhood of the Pakistani city of Lahore, local officials say.

More than 70 people were hurt in the explosions, which targeted worshippers attending Sunday mass at the churches in the Youhanabad area.

Violent protests erupted after the blasts, with a mob killing two men accused of involvement in the attacks.

Pakistan's Christian community has often been targeted by militants.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

0 Comments
Posted March 15, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What exactly does it mean to you to be a priest?

It's a funny thing in a way, probably atypical, but from the time I began to think about being anything I wanted to be a priest. Don't ask me why. It's the grace of God and I can't explain it all, but I kept that through grammar school and high school. When I was going into high school, one of the Holy Cross priests from Notre Dame was giving a mission at our parish in Syracuse, and he told my mother that I ought to come out to Notre Dame and do my high school in the seminary. And she said, "He's not going to pick up at age 12 and go that far away. He's going to high school here." And the priest said, "Well, he might lose his vocation." And she said, "Let me tell you something Father. If he loses his vocation growing up in a Christian family, where he goes to mass and communion every day and is an altar boy, in the Church, I'll tell you something—he doesn't have one." So when I finished high school, I came here.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchEducation* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

0 Comments
Posted March 14, 2015 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On a damp and dreary Saturday two months ago, several hundred mourners gathered outside City Hall here for a memorial service honoring Dr. Maher Hathout. Born in Egypt and trained as a cardiologist, Dr. Hathout, 79, had devoted decades to espousing a moderate version of Islam and reaching across denominational lines to other faiths.

So there was nothing surprising about the presence of rabbis and priests, Sikhs and Episcopalians at the service. The unexpected moment came when a man in a different sort of vestment, the dark blue uniform of the Los Angeles Police Department, knelt before Dr. Hathout’s widow and presented her with the carefully folded triangle of an American flag.

For the man in the uniform, Deputy Chief Michael Downing, that moment distilled the uncommon role he has within the department. While his full title aptly describes his investigative mission — commanding officer of the counterterrorism and special operations bureau — it omits what has become the signature element of his 33-year career. In a city with a history of traumatic, adversarial relations between the police force and various minority groups, Muslims among them, Chief Downing has forged bonds that are both durable and contentious.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted March 14, 2015 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Right after Valentine’s Day, the front window of my Brooklyn home sprouts a field of cardboard shamrocks each year. A statue of St. Patrick appears on the bookshelf and a sign is posted on the back door: “If you’re lucky enough to be Irish, you’re lucky enough.”

This is the work of my Irish-American wife in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day. As the Italian-American husband, I have in past years suggested equal attention to St. Joseph, a favorite saint of Italians. Nothing doing.

The proximity of St. Patrick’s Day on March 17 and the Feast of St. Joseph two days later leads to a good deal of teasing and ribbing every year between Catholics of Irish and Italian ancestry.

There is nothing extraordinary about this little bit of fun, unless one considers the bitterness that once marked relations between these two peoples.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsImmigration* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--IrelandEuropeItaly* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 13, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For his sane and timely books, like 2010’s “Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All,” the pediatrician Paul A. Offit takes much abuse from anti-vaccine activists. He has been called a liar, a profiteer and — in the words of one activist group — a “millionaire vaccine industrialist.”

In “What Would Jesus Do About Measles?,” his New York Times Op-Ed last month, Dr. Offit addressed the false conflict that some perceive between medicine and religious faith, writing that if religion “teaches us anything, it’s to care about our children, to keep them safe.” His new book, “Bad Faith,” offers a history of episodes in which fringe groups abjured modern medicine, with deadly consequences. And he continues his argument that religion, properly understood, should welcome vaccines, as well as other medical interventions.

Unfortunately, Dr. Offit’s book is more a fervent attack job than an earnest attempt to understand people with different, if misguided views. His book is thinly sourced and poorly researched, seeming at times as if he began with a conclusion and then went in search of evidence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksHealth & MedicineReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 13, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Toward the end of his life Stott spoke of his “three renunciations.” First, he decided against an academic career, feeling God had called him to be a pastor. Second was Stott’s renunciation of marriage. Third was his renunciation of the episcopate when some wanted him to be a bishop. His pastoral calling, he felt, remained primary.

As to marriage, Stott said this: “I was expecting to marry. I went about with a weather eye, and in my twenties and early thirties was looking for a possible bride. I did have two girlfriends—not simultaneously but one after t’other! But all I can say is that when the time came to decide whether to go forward in the relationship or not, I lacked the assurance that I should. That is the only way I can really explain it” (pp. 271-72). This was more a circumstantial and passive renunciation than an intentional choice.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilySexuality* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 12, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury...[Tuesday] night hosted a reception for inter-religious and community leaders at Lambeth Palace.

Speaking at the annual event, which brings together members different faith groups to foster relationships, Archbishop Justin Welby reflected on the theme of reconciliation, which is one of his ministry priorities.

The event was attended by a wide range of people from Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Jain and Christian traditions.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury Anglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 12, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In fact, during The Gospel Coalition 2015 National Conference, April 13 to 15 in Orlando, a number of Anglican leaders are offering seminars and workshops, and there will be an informal gathering one evening for Anglicans to come together for fellowship and encouragement.

Let me explain a little of how we reached this point. Many evangelicals might not know that in 2009 the Anglican Church in North America was established, and there are already a thousand or more congregations with a vigorous church planting flavor. While many are former Episcopalians, believers from various other traditions have been drawn down the Canterbury Trail. Many have rediscovered the beauty of Anglican worship and been surprised by the strong Reformation doctrines that permeate the Book of Common Prayer and its Thirty-Nine Articles. The Anglican Reformers of the 16th century were closely linked with the continental Reformers, and Thomas Cranmer—martyr and author of the first Anglican prayer book—was not only greatly influenced by Calvin and Bucer, but also married the niece of Luther’s disciple Osiander.

While the Episcopal Church in the United States has gradually self-destructed over the last 40 years, a decidedly Reformed and evangelical movement has matured and found expression in parts of ACNA, Trinity School for Ministry in Pittsburgh, and a growing number of congregations around North America.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 12, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 1534, Abbot Paul Bachmann published a virulent anti-Protestant booklet entitled “A Punch in the Mouth for the Lutheran Lying Wide-Gaping Throats.” Not to be outdone, the Protestant court chaplain, Jerome Rauscher, responded with a treatise of his own, titled “One Hundred Select, Great, Shameless, Fat, Well-Swilled, Stinking, Papistical Lies.” Such was the tenor of theological discourse among many of the formative shapers of classical Protestantism and resurgent Roman Catholicism in the sixteenth century. Such rhetoric was brought from the Old World to the New. Fueled by local prejudice and nativist traditions, it continued to deepen the divide between the heirs of the Reformation debates.

Imagine the surprise, then—in some circles the shock—when on March 29, 1994 the statement “Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium” was released in New York. Here, the old hostility between Catholics and Evangelicals was replaced by a new awareness of their common Christian identity—a shared life in Jesus Christ. The core affirmation of the first ECT statement, and of the entire project, was this declaration: “All who accept Christ as Lord and Savior are brothers and sisters in Christ. Evangelicals and Catholics are brothers and sisters in Christ. We have not chosen one another, just as we have not chosen Christ. He has chosen us, and He has chosen us to be his together.”

On the following day, the story of the new Evangelical and Catholic initiative was carried on the front page of The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, and other newspapers across the country. The reaction was immediate and explosive. While some saw this new effort as a hopeful sign, others, especially some conservative evangelicals on the right, were disturbed and distraught. Best-selling author Dave Hunt wrote of the ECT statement: “I believe the document represents the most devastating blow against the gospel in at least one thousand years.” For their part, many left-leaning progressives, both Catholics and Protestants, dismissed the statement as a publicity stunt tied to conservative politics.

It seemed to me that both of these narratives had badly misjudged the situation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman Catholic* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 12, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The idea that Catholics are being radicalised in state schools is "ridiculous" and "offensive", the Conservative MP for Gainsborough will say today during a parliamentary debate on education, regulation and faith schools.

Sir Edward Leigh, who is also the president of the Catholic Union of Great Britain, will say in a speech that "faith schools should hold their heads up high" and should stand for Christian values, according to fragments of his speech seen by the Telegraph.

"[Faith schools] should not engage in the pre-emptive cringe and kowtow to the latest fashion but should stand by the principles that have made them such a success: love for God and neighbour; pursuit of truth; high-aspiration and discipline," Sir Edward will say.

“The idea that Catholics are being radicalised in state schools is as ridiculous as it is offensive,” he will say.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

1 Comments
Posted March 12, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Saudi Arabia defended its human rights record on Saturday in its first public reaction to international criticism over last year's sentencing of liberal Saudi blogger Raif Badawi to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for "insulting Islam".

The first 50 of Badawi's lashes were carried out in January, prompting strong criticism of the kingdom's rights record in Western countries, including its laws on political and religious expression and the status of Saudi women.

"Saudi Arabia expresses its intense surprise and dismay at what is being reported by some media about the case of citizen Raif Badawi and his sentence," said a statement carried on state media and attributed to an unnamed "foreign ministry official".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesMediaReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 11, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Memories of Boko Haram's murderous spree in his Nigerian hometown haunt Tom Gowon, 9, as he sits on a patch of grass at a refugee camp, sipping steaming porridge from a plastic mug.

"I was lucky because I was not killed," said Gowon, recalling the assault on Baga, Nigeria, in early January. "But they shot and killed my father. My mother was kidnapped by the militants."

Children such as Gowon bear the brunt of Boko Haram's rampage since its fighters kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls last year and conquered enough territory to declare a caliphate that covers one-fifth of Nigeria.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaChadNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 11, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every January, tens of thousands of Christian college students from all over the world attend the conference Passion, where they sing, pray, and hear from a variety of pastors, authors, and activists about issues resonating within evangelical culture. For the last several years, conference founder Louie Giglio has made the issue of human trafficking an increasingly central part of these activities. In 2013, 60,000 students gathered at Passion in Atlanta for a late-night candlelight vigil dedicated to celebrating “Jesus, the ultimate abolitionist, the original abolitionist,” Giglio told CNN. The organization’s anti-trafficking project designated Feb. 27 as “Shine a Light on Slavery Day,” encouraging young people to raise awareness by taking selfies with red X’s drawn on their hands.

Human trafficking—and sex trafficking in particular—has become something of a Christian cause célèbre. There are prayer weekends, movies, magazine covers, Sunday school curricula, and countless church-based ministries. More unusual efforts include lipstick sold to help “kiss slavery goodbye” and tattoo alteration services for victims who say they have been “branded” by their captors. An extraordinarily complex global issue has somehow become one of the most energetic Christian missions of the 21st century.

Many of the new anti-trafficking advocates compare their work to the 19th-century abolitionist movement against chattel slavery—with some leaders in the movement referring to themselves (and, apparently, Jesus) as “abolitionists.” But, according to Gretchen Soderlund, author of the 2013 book Sex Trafficking, Scandal, and the Transformation of Journalism, 1885–1917, the better comparison may be to the “white slavery” panic of the late 19th century.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 10, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Nigerian militant group Boko Haram’s vow of allegiance to Islamic State shows it’s being weakened by a military offensive by government forces and neighboring countries, according to analysts including Martin Roberts at IHS Country Risk.

Boko Haram made the pledge of unity with Islamic State as forces from neighboring Chad and Niger joined Nigerian soldiers in strikes against the group. In fighting over the weekend, the armies took control of Damasak, about 700 kilometers (435 miles) north of the capital, Abuja, from rebels who had held the territory for five months. Nigerian soldiers on Monday killed “a number” of insurgents in northeastern Adamawa state and seized anti-aircraft guns and ammunition, military spokesman Colonel Sani Usman said in an e-mail on Tuesday.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 10, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Through most of their history, Christian churches de­manded that converts forsake traditional religious ideas and “pagan practices,” and modern-day Pentecostals are especially strict in these matters. In recent times, though, Christian thinkers have struggled to rethink the relationship between the new faith and its ancient counterpart, seeking to root Christianity in the land and the Dreaming. The most quoted such work is Rainbow Spirit Theology, produced in 1997 by a multidenominational group of Aboriginal Christians from Queensland. The whole text is a heroic attempt to reconcile the Euro-American North with the Aboriginal South.

Aboriginal thinkers present their traditional faiths as a kind of Old Testament precursor to the Christian message, one of the many and various ways in which God spoke to our ancestors. The name “Rainbow Spirit” refers to the common myth of the serpent that acted as a creative force in the Dreamtime. Christians generally dismissed this story as a crude Creator myth, with uncomfortably satanic connotations. Actually, these traditional peoples respond, the Rain­bow Serpent is a critical symbol of life and fertility, more comparable to the Holy Spirit, whose actions transcend time. Moreover, indigenous peoples acknowledge Christ as one who takes their own form.

In 2020 Australia will celebrate a quarter millennium of European contact. That commemoration provides a wonderful opportunity for churches to proclaim a wholly transformed attitude to­ward indi­genous traditions. Call it a dream.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryMissions* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 10, 2015 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a country recently transfixed by the trial of a famous politician that revealed details of his orgy escapades, and where the president was found to be cheating on his live-in partner, an ad promoting extramarital affairs might not seem like such a big deal.

But even in famously libertine France, the latest advertising campaign — evoking the temptations of Eve with a partly eaten apple — for a dating website geared to married women looking for affairs has spawned a backlash and a national debate.

The ads for the dating website Gleeden, which bills itself as “the premier site for extramarital affairs designed by women,” were recently splashed on the backs of buses in several French cities. Seven cities decided to withdraw the ads, and opponents have mobilized against them on social media, providing the latest example of a prominent cultural divide in France about the lines between public morality, private sexual conduct and the country’s vaunted freedom of expression.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryEuropeFrance* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 10, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jesus intentionally went to Samaria. His disciples James and John wanted, elsewhere in the Gospel of John, to vaporize the villages there with fire from heaven. But Jesus spoke of water, of living water that could quench thirst forever. Thirst is a type of desperation, the sort of language the Psalmist uses to express the longing for God, as for water in a desert land. We live in a culture obsessed with sex, sex abstracted from covenant, from fidelity, from transcendent moral norms, but beyond this obsession there seems to be a cry for something more.

In the search for sexual excitement, men and women are not really looking for biochemical sensations or the responses of nerve endings. They are searching desperately not merely for sex, but for that to which sex points—for something they know exists but just cannot identify. They are thirsting. As novelist Frederick Buechner put it, "Lust is the craving for salt of someone who is dying of thirst."

The Sexual Revolution cannot keep its promises. People are looking for a cosmic mystery, for a love that is stronger than death. They cannot articulate it, and perhaps would be horrified to know it, but they are looking for God. The Sexual Revolution leads to the burned-over boredom of sex shorn of mystery, of relationship shorn of covenant. The question for us, as we pass through the Samaria of the Sexual Revolution, is whether we have water for Samaria, or if we only have fire. In the wake of the disappointment sexual libertarianism brings, there must be a new word about more permanent things, such as the joy of marriage as a permanent, conjugal, one-flesh reality between a man and a woman. We must keep lit the way to the old paths.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMenReligion & CultureSexualityWomen* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted March 9, 2015 at 1:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Events surrounding the apparent suicide of Tom Schweich, Missouri’s Republican state auditor and a contender for the governor’s office, have left some grappling with the connection between anti-Semitism and state politics.

Kenneth Warren, a professor of political science at St. Louis University, said he has no doubt that Jewish candidates face greater obstacles when running for statewide office in Missouri.

“All other things being equal, if you’re running statewide it would be better to be non Jewish,” Warren said. “It’s certainly not going to be a help.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism

0 Comments
Posted March 9, 2015 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Father Matthew] Baker received theological degrees from St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Seminary in Pennsylvania and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School in Massachusetts. He also pursued doctoral studies in systematic theology at Fordham University in New York.

Following his ordination, he began teaching duties at Hellenic College/Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Mass., as an adjunct professor in theology.

He is survived by his wife and six children: Isaac, 12; Elias, 10, George, 8; Ellie, 6; Cyril, 4; and Matthew, 2.

You can read about it there and here. Also, there are many great links there.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOrthodox Church* TheologyEschatology

0 Comments
Posted March 8, 2015 at 3:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Forces from the group calling itself Islamic State launched a fresh offensive to overrun a string of Christian towns in northeastern Syria on Saturday, setting off violent clashes with local fighters mobilized against the militants.

A mixture of Assyrian Christians and Kurds fought off the Islamic State assault, activist groups said, just a week after extremists took about 250 people in the area—many women, children and elderly men.

The contested towns are along the Khabur river in al-Hasaka province, a strategic gateway that would help Islamic State consolidate territory it holds in Iraq and Syria. The population of the area is predominately Christian, while the Kurds are a minority.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraqSyria* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 8, 2015 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

CORNISH: Sitting next to Ala is Magdy Khaleel. He's 46 and Egyptian. He teaches architecture at the Technical University of Dresden. He says the fear of the protesters was very real.

MAGDY KHALEEL: We have families here and some people have been attacked, so we are a little bit worried. When you are sitting, you don't know who is with you in the metro or in the tram. You don't know he's with PEGIDA or against PEGIDA, so this has increased the feeling among people - so I should be careful, maybe he stab me. This is not comfortable life, you know? But we found some solidarity from different communities here in Dresden as well.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted March 8, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigerian militant group Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS), according to an audio statement.

The message, which was not verified, was posted on Boko Haram's Twitter account and appeared to be by the group's leader, Abubakar Shekau.

Boko Haram began a military campaign to impose Islamic rule in northern Nigeria in 2009. The conflict has since spread to neighbouring states.

It would be the latest in a series of groups to swear allegiance to IS.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeriaMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 7, 2015 at 5:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“We’re moving on Salahaddin,” said Badr Organization spokesman and military commander Karim al-Nouri. “And there are three names that strike fear in the heart of daesh: Hajj Qassem Suleimani, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and Hadi al-Amiri.”

These three figures might not be household names in Indiana, but in Iraq they are the biggest stars within the constellation of Shiite militias that are now trying to drive the Islamic State out of Tikrit, the capital of Salahaddin province. Suleimani, who is the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, regularly travels around the Middle East to lend support to Tehran’s allies; Muhandis, who is the leader of the Kataib Hezbollah militia, was convicted for the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait; and Amiri is the commander of the Badr Organization, one of Iraq’s largest and most prominent Shiite militias. Together, they form the backbone of Iranian influence in Iraq, which is at its highest point in almost four centuries.

Iraq’s Shiite militias have seen their influence skyrocket since last summer, as they have played a central role in beating back the Islamic State’s advance in Baghdad and the surrounding area. Tikrit, however, presents them with new challenges: It is the largest predominantly Sunni city that they have sought to reclaim, and U.S. officials have warned of a sectarian bloodbath if the militias launch an offensive there.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranIraq* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 7, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The city is working on a last-ditch plan to rescue deteriorating McDougall United Church from being torn down.

The 105-year-old building at 10025 101st St., was Edmonton’s first concert hall. It boasts fine acoustics that still make it a prime music venue.

But the small congregation hasn’t had enough money for the long-term maintenance needed to keep the facility in healthy condition.

A recent engineering report determined the church needs $18.4 million to $25.4 million in repairs during the next seven years.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 7, 2015 at 8:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Karen Swallow Prior/ March 4, 2015
Hannah More: Powerhouse in a Petticoat
Image: Frances Reynolds / Bristol Museum and Art Gallery / Bridgeman

Imagine yourself seated at a fashionable London dinner party in 1789.

The women are wearing hoops several feet wide, their hair dressed nearly as high and adorned with fruit or feathers. In between hips and hair, bosoms overspill. The men sport powdered hair, ruffled shirts, embroidered waistcoats, wool stockings, and buckled shoes. Politeness and manners reign around a table laden with delicate, savory dishes.

As guests wait for the after-dinner wine to arrive, a handsome but demure woman pulls a pamphlet from the folds of her dress. “Have you ever seen the inside of a slave ship?” she asks the natty gentleman seated next to her. She proceeds to spread open a print depicting the cargo hold of the Brookes slave ship. With meticulous detail, the print shows African slaves laid like sardines on the ship’s decks, each in a space so narrow, they can’t lay their arms at their sides. The print will become the most haunting image of the transatlantic slave trade—as well as a key rhetorical device used to stop it.

The woman sharing it is Hannah More.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureWomen* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

0 Comments
Posted March 6, 2015 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In January, Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the euphemistically titled “Human Rights Amendment Act.” The bill would compel Washington’s private religious schools to violate their beliefs about human sexuality by recognizing LGBT student groups or hosting a “gay pride” day on campus. The bill is currently under congressional review.

Provided private schools meet basic standards of safety and education, the government shouldn’t be in the business of coercing them to conform to someone else’s moral beliefs. After all, many families send their children to private schools precisely to escape government moral indoctrination. It is because of these schools’ distinctive creeds that families sacrifice to afford sending their children to private religious schools. Government officials should respect the ability of such schools to witness to their faith.

This is why public policy should protect Archbishop Cordileone’s decision to ensure that Catholic high schools retain an authentic Catholic identity. The revisions to the school handbook foster an equilibrium between institutional integrity and personal liberties. This freedom is exactly what allows all Americans—in whichever school they choose to attend—to live in a diverse and civil public sphere.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 6, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As a convoy of trucks carrying smoked fish cruised along the border of Niger and Nigeria last week, a Nigerien Air Force plane swooped low and opened fire, destroying the trucks and forcing the drivers to flee into Nigeria on foot.

The ill-fated fishmongers, Nigerien officials said, were collaborating with Boko Haram to sell their goods in Nigeria, despite Niger’s recent ban on cross-border fish trades. (Residents of Niger are called Nigerien; those from Nigeria are known as Nigerian). According to the Nigerien government, Boko Haram taxes goods transported through the territory the group controls to add to its cash reserves and finance terrorism, and the recent ban is intended to choke the Islamist group’s resources.

This alleged collaboration between rural fish traders and members of Boko Haram sheds some light on the group’s murky funding tactics, which differ sharply from those of other terrorist groups. In Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State has profited from illicit oil sales and bank lootings. Al Qaeda weaved an intricate financial web of sympathetic mosques, fake charities, and drug sales. In Afghanistan, the Taliban taxes opium and raisins. But in the largely impoverished Lake Chad basin, Boko Haram is now raising money by ignoring the rich and targeting the poor, an unusually cruel tactic that takes struggling innocents and pushes them over the financial cliff.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 6, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Purim approaches. Its narrative concerns an ancient Jew-hater, the Haman whose name we traditionally make noise at when the Megilla, or Book of Esther, is read in synagogue.

The narrative is a virtual parade of ironies: Haman turns up at just the wrong place at just the wrong time, and ends up being tasked with arranging honors for his nemesis Mordechai. All his careful planning ends up upended, and the gallows he prepared for Mordechai become his hanging-place. In the words of the Megilla, v’nahafoch hu, “and it was turned inside out.”

Such “chance” happenings are the hallmark of the defeat of Amalek, the irredeemable and sworn enemy of the Jews and Haman’s ancestor. Amalek, the Torah recounts, “chanced” upon the Jews (“karcha baderech,” literally, “happened upon you on the road”), a phrase that has been stressed in Jewish texts as reflecting that enemy nation’s belief that all is mere chance, and nothing is meaningful. That “chance-iness” is reflected as well in Haman’s “casting of lots,” or purim, from which the holiday takes its name. But chance, the message of Purim teaches, is an illusion; God is in charge. Amalek may fight with iron, but he is defeated with irony.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted March 5, 2015 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many people change faiths, but not like Brad and Chad Jones.

Identical twins, the brothers grew up in Elkin, N.C., a small town in the Bible Belt, the only children of devout Baptists. As boys, they attended the First Baptist Church of Elkin, studied Scripture, went to vacation Bible school and sang in the choir, as did many of their cousins, classmates and neighbors.

Today, Brad, 43, is a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Charlotte, and Chad is an Anglican bishop in Atlanta. Their parents, Jo Anne and Robert, remain faithful members of their Baptist congregation. When their sons visit, each celebrates mass according to his own rite in the dining room or living room of what has become a very ecumenical Jones household.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropology

4 Comments
Posted March 5, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Western leaders have long urged Muslims to do more to counter jihadist ideology. This month Barack Obama said moderate Muslims, including scholars and clerics, had a responsibility to reject “twisted interpretations of Islam” and the lie “that America and the West are somehow at war with Islam”. On February 23rd Tony Abbott, Australia’s prime minister, urged Muslim leaders to say that Islam is a religion of peace—“and mean it”.

Muslims have not taken kindly to such hectoring. Yet they are starting to debate the role that Islamist ideology plays in extremism. On February 22nd Ahmed al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar mosque, part of a university that is the Sunni world’s oldest seat of learning, declared that extremism was caused by “bad interpretations of the Koran and the Sunna [the doings of the Prophet Muhammad]”, and that what was taught in Islamic schools and universities needed to change.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 5, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The persecution of Christians reached historic levels in 2014, according to Open Doors USA, which estimated that 100 million Christians around the world face dire consequences for practicing their faith. North Korea topped the list of offending nations, with Iraq third and Syria fourth. Other regimes among the worst for Christians were Somalia, Iran, Pakistan, and Nigeria.

In Iraq and Syria in 2014, the so-called Islamic State ravaged Christian towns and forced Christians to flee or face death. In mid-February of this year, the world witnessed a video allegedly portraying the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians by militia in Libya allied with the Islamic State. Christians have been repeatedly targeted in the midst of that nation’s civil war....In late February, 90 Christians were kidnapped in northeastern Syria.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis Other FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 5, 2015 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Recently, the General Board of Church and Society in Washington D.C. has done a pretty good job – of keeping a low profile and not making the kinds of radical statements that have baffled and bothered traditional United Methodists for decades. But all that changed when one of the Board’s senior staffers, Dr. Bill Mefford, posted a picture of himself on Twitter as a spectator to the March for Life this January in Washington D.C. As sincere persons of faith marched for the unborn , Mefford greeted them with a large sign, stating, “I March for Sandwiches.”

Mefford serves as the board’s “Director of Civil and Human Rights.” While others were marching to protect the most basic human right – the right to life – our United Methodist champion for human rights seemed to be more concerned about his next ham on rye....

You have to wonder how Mr. Mefford would have reacted to someone holding a similar placard at a pro-immigration, anti-gun or climate change march whose defense was nothing more than, “I just wanted to make people laugh.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* General InterestHumor / Trivia* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 5, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A video released by Boko Haram purporting to show two beheadings shows that it is "incorporating itself into the Islamic State", an organisation that monitors terrorist groups has warned.

Veryan Khan, editorial director of the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium [TRAC], told Fox News that the latest release "shows Boko Haram is not a mere copycat of ISIS; rather, it is incorporating itself into the Islamic State."

ISIS supporters are "already starting to call Boko Haram the 'Islamic State Africa," Khan said.

Read it all.


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

0 Comments
Posted March 4, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is somewhat rare today that the church can gather an overflow crowd but the Anglican Diocese of Niagara has succeeded in doing that — unfortunately for all the wrong reasons.

The crowd that gathered were neighbours of Saint Matthias Anglican Church (at the corner of Edinburgh and Kortright roads) concerned that the Anglican Diocese is planning to sell the church and land to a developer who will build 81 units of rental housing geared to students.

It is understandable why the neighbourhood would be concerned. But I would suggest that it should be of concern for all of us in the rest of the city as well. In the whole south end of Guelph, there are only two church buildings — the Salvation Army and Saint Matthias.

Regardless of what you think of churches, these are often the only free or low-rent spaces available for community groups such as scouts, guides, AA, moms and tots groups or places where people can gather in times of celebration or mourning. And while it is true that many churches could do a better job connecting with their community, the Saint Matthias Church community has always had an open and welcoming presence in their neighbourhood. Unfortunately, they themselves now have no say in the matter.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 4, 2015 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

These are bad times for outspoken sceptics in countries where religion is brutally enforced, either by governments or fanatics with a self-appointed mission. Last week the atheist blogger Avijit Roy, who was of Bangladeshi origin but lived in the United States, was hacked to death at a book fair in Dhaka. It has been reported in Saudi Arabia that a young man in his twenties has been sentenced to death after he posted a video of himself ripping up a copy of the Koran.

In the far more comfortable environment of the United States, meanwhile, religious believers and sceptics denounce one another as though they were the greatest banes of one another’s lives. Atheists claim, perhaps correctly, that they face huge societal pressure not to declare their position, especially if they have any hopes of running for public office. Some religious believers say they face a liberal-humanist conspiracy to deny them the freedom to act out their beliefs, whether as employers, employees or in places of education.

But a physically courageous atheist from a Muslim-majority land says that a few months in America have reinforced his belief that believers and sceptics can and should deal courteously with one another and work together for freedom in places where it is dreadfully violated. Maikel Nabil Sanad, a young Egyptian blogger and protest leader, spent nearly a year in prison, enduring physical abuse and a hunger strike, before his release in January 2012.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryMiddle East* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsAtheism

0 Comments
Posted March 4, 2015 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi (1877/78-1960) wended his way into my doctoral research in 1999. Ian Markham commenced his study of Nursi in 2002. Of the relatively short list of English-language scholarly books about Nursi, several contain an essay by one or both of us. Markham, however, has gone steps farther than I. He included a chapter on Nursi in his Theology of Engagement (Blackwell, 2003); and significantly, of the English-language scholarly books on Nursi, Markham’s name is on the front cover of three, including the two texts under review here.

Who is Nursi? A Kurdish-Turkish scholar and spiritual leader, his public career overlapped two world wars, the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, and Turkey’s subsequent efforts to establish a different kind of government and national identity. His disciples — an extensive global community — see him as an Islamic restorationist, a God-sent reviver of the religion for the 20th century and beyond. Hence, they often refer to him by the honorific Bediuzzaman, that is, Wonder of the Age. His disciples are ardent students of his legacy, having produced more than 5,000 pages of thematically organized Qur’an commentary, practical spiritual guidance, and correspondence, most of which is published as the multi-volume Risale-i Nur (Epistles of Light). Nursi’s biography is compelling; but wading into his Risale can be daunting. He has his modern-day detractors, the government of Russia among them. Ian Markham’s Nursi projects offer guidance toward understanding and appreciation of Bediuzzaman.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 4, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For years, I thought I was called to be an Anglican priest. My wife and I wanted to plant an Anglican church in Minneapolis. To that end, I attended a beautiful Anglican seminary couched in the forests of Wisconsin. There, surrounded by men and women much holier than myself, I was challenged to grow up in Christ. During the course of my studies and discernment, I came to believe that Christ intended his Church to be apostolic—and also that Rome had greatly exaggerated Peter’s role in the apostolic college. I had many opinions about the papacy, most of them clouded by exaggeration and fabrication, and considered myself to be more Catholic than the Catholics.

“Are you Episcopalian?” people asked.

“No, I am Anglican,” I said.

“But aren’t Episcopalians Anglican?” they asked.

And I would try my best to explain how the Anglican communion is full of national churches and independent provinces that are out of communion with one another. By my senior year, I was tongue-tied.

Schism—however sincerely felt, conventional, or culturally imperative—remains schism. Anglicanism has not essentially changed since the moment King Henry VIII had, in the most frightening sense of the phrase, an original idea. Time and habit—together with popular acceptance and the enduring appeal of fresh breaks (I was in the ACNA, a break-off from TEC)—do not transform the Church of England into a “branch” of the Catholic Church. Time’s passage does not a Catholic Church make. In fact, just the opposite happens: the longer Anglicans remain out of communion with Peter’s successor, the pope, the longer the principle of decay can take effect. As in the moment of the original break, the result of schism is something schismatic every single second.

We should not mistake the gradual numbing of our awareness of schism with its disappearance or release from our ongoing responsibility for it; much less should we excuse such visible disunity by appealing to an invisible “unity in Christ”—at least not while we’re praying “on earth as it is in heaven.” The Church is more than a surface-level illusion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Episcopal Church (TEC)* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEcclesiologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted March 4, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An urgent national debate is needed to address the disproportionate number of Muslim men among groups convicted of using and selling young teenagers for sex, according to a landmark report.

Failings by police and care professionals led to more than 370 young girls in Oxfordshire falling victim to “conveyor-belt” sex crimes over the past 15 years, a serious case review published yesterday concluded.

It came after six young Oxford girls suffered years of abuse from multiple offenders, some of whom travelled the length of the country for sex in bedsits and guest houses. A review of agencies dealing with the victims identified an “undeniable” link between men of Pakistani heritage and “indescribably awful” crimes across England.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexualityTeens / YouthViolenceYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 4, 2015 at 5:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nigeria’s bishops have condemned Boko Haram’s use of children to commit suicide bombings.

“We deplore the fact that young children are used to commit such crimes, and the fact that young Nigerians are used by politicians to intimidate and inflict violence on their political opponents is a disturbing symptom of breakdown of family values in our society,” the bishops said at the end of a five-day meeting on the theme, ‘Good Families Make Good Nations’.

“We wonder: Who are the parents of these young Nigerians? Do these young ones not belong to families?” it said.

It said that many families were currently facing challenges caused by the Boko Haram insurgency and the heightened tension occasioned by the coming general elections, now scheduled for March 28 and April 11.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 4, 2015 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The area that the MNJTF will be covering draws the force's first limit.

Military and diplomatic sources have confirmed that MNJTF soldiers will only operate between the outskirts of Niger's Diffa border town, and the towns of Baga and Ngala in Nigeria.

In other words, the regional force's main task will be to secure the Nigerian side of Lake Chad, which represents "only 10 to 15% of the entire area where Boko Haram operates", according to a diplomat based in the region, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 3, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sadiqu al-Mousllie sees humor as a good way to fight growing anti-Islam sentiment in Germany.

He lives in Braunschweig, in western Germany. Earlier this month, he decided to go downtown and hold up a sign that read, "I am a Moslem. What would you like to know?"

"This is a bridge of communication," the Syrian-born German says. "Some people dared to ask, some others not, so we went to them and give them some chocolate and a say of our prophet to know what Muslims are thinking about."

Mousllie, 44, says he hopes to do it every other week.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted March 3, 2015 at 1:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new crisis hotline for those struggling between faith and atheism [was] launched [this past] Friday (Feb. 27).

Called “The Hotline Project,” the 24-hour free service will match volunteers with people who are considering leaving religion. It is a project of Recovering From Religion, a Kansas City, Mo.-based nonprofit that aids those transitioning out of faith.

“When people are reconsidering the role religion plays in their lives, they risk losing their families, their spouses, their jobs,” said Sarah Morehead, executive director of Recovering From Religion. “These people are isolated, excluded, shunned. It rocks these people to the bottom of their hearts. It is heartbreaking.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheismSecularism

0 Comments
Posted March 3, 2015 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nineteen of an estimated 220 members of an Assyrian Christian community kidnapped by Islamic State (IS) in north-eastern Syria have been released, activists say.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said an Assyrian commander had told it of the releases.

Some reports say the releases were made in exchange for a sum of money.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 2, 2015 at 3:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This year is an ignominious anniversary for Mainline Protestantism, commemorating a half century of continuous decline since their membership peaks in the early 1960s. Fifty years ago one of every six Americans belonged to the Seven Sisters of Mainline Protestantism. Today it’s one of every 16 and plunging. Membership has dropped from 30 million to 20 million during a time when Americas population has nearly doubled. And it did so despite Gallup Poll’s insistence that overall church attendance has remained essentially the same for about the last 80 years.

In our current post denominational age, many question why this decline matters. Who cares about the Mainline except the dwindling and increasingly aged members who remain? After all, haven’t evangelical churches, especially nondenominationals, plus Catholicism, more than filled the void? Wasn’t it time for the Mainline to leave the stage, having more than played its part in American and Christian history across 4 centuries? And in the end, didn’t they deserve their own demise?

The answers are yes and no.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 2, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It offends many Muslims that their religion is connected automatically to the terrorism and cold-blooded massacres that are currently creating chaos in Iraq, Syria and Libya. They believe that terms like “Islamic terrorism,” “Jihadism” and “Islamo-fascism” carry an unfair implication that all Muslims are likely to support such crimes.

“Stop saying these words, they hurt,” a Toronto imam, Hamid Slimi, urged the federal government at a recent conference. He’s the former chairman of the Canadian Council of Imams, currently at work on a global campaign, Muslim Messengers of Peace.

Everyone can sympathize with law-abiding, peace-loving Muslims when they feel accused by implication of atrocities committed far away by people with whom they have no real connection except their religion. But the connection is not as distant as they might like to think.

Read it all from the National Post.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted March 1, 2015 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




Return to blog homepage

Return to Mobile view (headlines)