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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Great cover pic.twitter.com/YC3s9BAg3q— Alex White (@AlexWhite1812) June 24, 2016
Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland --Scotland --Wales Europe * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord!
I will keep thy statutes.
I cry to thee; save me,
that I may observe thy testimonies.
I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I hope in thy words.
My eyes are awake before the watches of the night,
that I may meditate upon thy promise.
Hear my voice in thy steadfast love;
O Lord, in thy justice preserve my life.
Every year around this time—June is of course Pride month in LGBT communities—I go back and reread an older essay by Eve Tushnet called “Romoeroticism.” Tushnet points out that in the nineteenth century, as same-sex love was being newly described as a pathology, a psychological disorder, it was the Catholic Church, of all places, where many same-sex attracted men and women found a home—because it was the Church that, rather than medicalizing same-sex love, celebrated “the possibility of shockingly chaste same-sex love.” When I first read that, several years ago now, it reconfigured my whole way of thinking about being gay and Christian: Yes, Scripture was telling me that gay sex wasn’t the true fulfillment of my longings for same-sex intimacy, but no, it wasn’t telling me to deny the goodness of that longing itself. On the contrary, traditional Christianity, it turned out, was radically pro-same-sex love.
The actual on-the-ground history is messy, of course. Many Catholic parishes aren’t exactly safe places to be out as LGBT, and the rich history of celebrated same-sex love is largely unknown—or suppressed—in many churches. But Tushnet’s point is that the resources are there in Catholicism (and, I would argue, in my own Anglican Communion and other churches too) to dignify and nurture same-sex love. We wouldn’t have to compromise one iota of historic Scriptural, Christian teaching in order to open our doors to gay and lesbian people, to offer them a place free from disdain and rejection and humiliation, and even to affirm their (our!) desire to lay down their lives for a friend.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine History Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality * Theology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Pope Francis on Sunday essentially backed a cardinal’s suggestion that Christians owe LGBT persons an apology for past mistreatment or neglect, but suggested apologies are probably in order to other constituencies as well, including the poor, exploited women and divorced families.
Francis was speaking in response to a question that linked the call for an LGBT apology to the recent massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.
The pontiff said gay persons must not be discriminated against, conceding that there are “some traditions and cultures that have a different mentality,” and said apologies are in order whenever there are “people we could have defended and we didn’t.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch History Psychology Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Francis * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
An independent review of the processes used in the George Bell case has been announced today in accordance with the House of Bishops guidance on all complex cases.
The House of Bishops practice guidance states that once all matters relating to any serious safeguarding situation have been completed, the Core Group should meet again to review the process and to consider what lessons can be learned for the handling of future serious safeguarding situations. A review has always been carried out in any case involving allegations against a bishop.
The review will be commissioned by the Church of England's National Safeguarding Team, on the recommendation of the Bishop of Chichester, to see what lessons can be learnt from how the case was handled. The case involves the settlement in 2015 of a legal civil claim regarding sexual abuse against George Bell, who was Bishop of Chichester from 1929-1958.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Sexuality Teens / Youth Violence * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Those who voted to stay within the EU need to acknowledge the overwhelming majority of Leave voters who are not part of the racist fringe that disfigures our society. Men and women who believe with integrity that their vote will help us get something of our identity and even our country back. We need to engage with those who have seen little by way of economic benefit from EU membership, as their towns and villages have suffered decline, and who hope that a more independent Britain offers a chance for change. Understanding and working with these, our fellow citizens for the future of our country, is both essential and urgent, not least so that the future we forge together remains outward looking and closely connected to our continental neighbours. Sadly, too much of what I have read by way of comment from the Remain constituency in these last few days feels engulfed in and paralysed by a bereavement that most UK voters do not share, and for whom even the present turmoil in our political parties and the financial markets may be a sign that for once they have stood up and been counted.
The challenge for Leave voters is perhaps even more urgent, to join in with and even lead immediate moves to isolate those who are trying to use the referendum decision as a building block for a resurgence of racist aggression.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK Europe * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
When matters didn’t go quite so smoothly, and when some groups in these liberal societies were in fact harmed by these developments, a degree of backlash was inevitable. It didn’t help that elites in many liberal countries made some critical blunders, including the creation of the euro, the invasion of Iraq, the misguided attempt to nation-build in Afghanistan, and the 2008 financial crisis. These and other mistakes helped undermine the legitimacy of the post-Cold War order, open the door to illiberal forces, and left some segments of society vulnerable to nativist appeals.
Efforts to spread a liberal world order also faced predictable opposition from the leaders and groups who were directly threatened by our efforts. It was hardly surprising that Iran and Syria did what they could to thwart U.S. efforts in Iraq, for example, because the George W. Bush administration had made it clear these regimes were on its hit list, too. Similarly, is it that hard to fathom why Chinese and Russian leaders find Western efforts to spread “liberal” values threatening, or why they have taken various steps to forestall them?
Liberals also forgot that successful liberal societies require more than the formal institutions of democracy. They also depend on a broad and deep commitment to the underlying values of a liberal society....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization History * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Economy Foreign Relations Iraq War Politics in General War in Afghanistan * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. England / UK Europe * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
From self-driving vehicles and semi-autonomous robots to intelligent algorithms and predictive analytic tools, machines are increasingly capable of performing a wide range of jobs that have long been human domains. A 2013 study by researchers at Oxford University posited that as many as 47% of all jobs in the United States are at risk of “computerization.” And many respondents in a recent Pew Research Center canvassing of technology experts predicted that advances in robotics and computing applications will result in a net displacement of jobs over the coming decades – with potentially profound implications for both workers and society as a whole.
The ultimate extent to which robots and algorithms intrude on the human workforce will depend on a host of factors, but many Americans expect that this shift will become reality over the next half-century. In a national survey by Pew Research Center conducted June 10-July 12, 2015, among 2,001 adults, fully 65% of Americans expect that within 50 years robots and computers will “definitely” or “probably” do much of the work currently done by humans.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Psychology Science & Technology Sociology * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Pastoral Theology
You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.
Filed under: * By Kendall Sermons & Teachings * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Christology Soteriology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology) Theology: Scripture
1. When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but vivâ voce: wherefore also Paul declared, “But we speak wisdom among those that are perfect, but not the wisdom of this world.”And this wisdom each one of them alleges to be the fiction of his own inventing, forsooth; so that, according to their idea, the truth properly resides at one time in Valentinus, at another in Marcion, at another in Cerinthus, then afterwards in Basilides, or has even been indifferently in any other opponent,who could speak nothing pertaining to salvation. For every one of these men, being altogether of a perverse disposition, depraving the system of truth, is not ashamed to preach himself.
2. But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth. For [they maintain] that the apostles intermingled the things of the law with the words of the Saviour; and that not the apostles alone, but even the Lord Himself, spoke as at one time from the Demiurge, at another from the intermediate place, and yet again from the Pleroma, but that they themselves, indubitably, unsulliedly, and purely, have knowledge of the hidden mystery: this is, indeed, to blaspheme their Creator after a most impudent manner! It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition.
3. Such are the adversaries with whom we have to deal, my very dear friend, endeavouring like slippery serpents to escape at all points. Wherefore they must be opposed at all points, if perchance, by cutting off their retreat, we may succeed in turning them back to the truth. For, though it is not an easy thing for a soul under the influence of error to repent, yet, on the other hand, it is not altogether impossible to escape from error when the truth is brought alongside it.
--Against Heresies: Book III, Chapter 2.
I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber.
Could Brexit be an entrée for the French?
That was the suggestion on Monday as French politicians wondered aloud whether a UK departure from the EU could be a chance to finally establish French as the EU’s main official language.
“English can no longer be the third working language of the European Parliament,” tweeted Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a leftwing MEP and French presidential candidate. “The English language has no legitimacy in Brussels,” said Robert Ménard, mayor of the town of Béziers in southern France.
Read it all.
The Referendum debate has been a divisive, brutal, dehumanising, victimising, bitter experience, and at times not even a debate; but now that the campaign is over, the UK must learn from its mistakes, and move towards reconciliation and healing within communities, church voices across the UK have said.
Primates, bishops, archdeacons, chaplains, and academics made their views clear this week on how the country — its people and Government — had conducted themselves throughout the campaign, and on what the next step should be both for the Church and communities across the UK.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Church of Wales * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK Europe * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The California legislature is poised to consider legislation that could destroy the ability of numerous faith-based colleges and universities to pursue the mission for which they were created. SB 1146, one of two similar bills recently introduced into the California legislature, would essentially restrict fully faith-based education to seminaries.
As explained in the Biola University news:
If passed as is, this bill would strip California’s faith-based colleges and universities of their religious liberty to educate students according to their faith convictions.
The proposed legislation seeks to narrow a religious exemption in California only to those institutions of higher learning that prepare students for pastoral ministry. This functionally eliminates the religious liberty for students of all California faith-based colleges and universities who integrate spiritual life with the entire campus educational experience.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General State Government * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
At least five people have been killed and 15 others wounded in a multiple suicide bomb attack in north-eastern Lebanon, officials and medics say.
Four bombers blew themselves up outside a house in the predominantly Christian village of Qaa, close to the border with war-torn Syria.
It was not immediately clear who or what the attackers planned to target.
Al-Manar TV, which is owned by the militant Shia group Hezbollah, blamed the Sunni jihadist group Islamic State.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Middle East Lebanon * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Run, John, and work, the law commands,
yet finds me neither feet nor hands,
But sweeter news the gospel brings,
it bids me fly and lends me wings!
Praise the LORD! O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures for ever! Who can utter the mighty doings of the LORD, or show forth all his praise? Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!
The Obama administration is rushing to help contain the political and economic turmoil roiling Europe in the aftermath of the U.K.’s surprise decision to leave the European Union, with top U.S. officials seeking to ease tensions between European and British leaders over the timing of the divorce.
As the U.K.’s main political parties struggled to address a leadership crisis, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced plans to visit Brussels and London from Rome on Monday, attempting to gauge, and potentially tamp down, reactions among leaders across the world’s largest trading bloc. The trip is an opportunity to understand how the transition will occur -- something U.K. officials are still figuring out --and stress U.S. commitments to the U.K. and EU, a senior administration official said.
The blitz from U.S. officials come amid new uncertainty over the mechanics of Brexit, which has roiled global financial markets. European leaders this weekend sent new signals they’re eager to consummate the departure of the U.K. as a way to consolidate support for the union and ward off similar populist uprisings in their own countries.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization * Economics, Politics Economy Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. England / UK Europe * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Wonderfully encouraging--watch it all.
The art and literature of Paul's day provide ample evidence for the widespread practice of sexual immorality. When we read that "the sexual life of the Graeco-Roman world in NT times was a lawless chaos" (Barclay 1962:24), we only need to observe the chaos in our own world to understand the conditions in Paul's day. In fact, a good case could be made that in the two millennia since the Roman Empire, our generation comes closer than any previous one to the blatant prevalence of sexual perversions that was characteristic then. And a study of the fall of the Roman Empire suggests that any society that tolerates the unchecked promotion of such perversions will inevitably fall apart from the rottenness within.
--G. Walter Hansen Galatians (Downer's Grove: IVP Academic, 2010), pp.174-175
Ii is just 50 hours since the referendum result was announced. In that time, the British prime minister has resigned, there has been a coup against the leader of the Labour party (still playing out as I write), sterling has had one of its biggest one-day falls in history, the banks are starting to talk about moving jobs to Europe, and Scotland has opened the process of calling a second independence referendum.
The political turmoil was predictable and predicted in this blog. Most MPs backed the Remain case and now have to implement the Leave case. Even the Leave campaigners are balking at invoking Article 50 immediately; David Cameron reversed his position and has left the decision to his successor. That means it won't be until October. This can be presented as tactically shrewd; there is no rush. Although the rest of the EU is pushing the UK to act immediately, it would seem as if it can't force the pace. But it also reflects the lack of clarity in the Leave campaign about what kind of deal they want;a Norway-style approach (with continued free movement and budget contributions) or complete separation (with restricted access to the single market).
Of course, this politicking only extends the period of uncertainty that will follow the referendum result. The nature of the UK's trading relationship with the EU will not become clear until late 2018 at the earliest.
Read it all.
So Paul, standing in the middle of the Are-op′agus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything. And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us, for
‘In him we live and move and have our being’;Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the Deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, a representation by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all men by raising him from the dead.”
as even some of your poets have said,
‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked; but others said, “We will hear you again about this.” So Paul went out from among them. But some men joined him and believed, among them Dionys′ius the Are-op′agite and a woman named Dam′aris and others with them.
For American bankers living in London, the Brexit signals uncertainty about the capital's status as the world's largest foreign exchange market.
US banks will have to decide on moving thousands of jobs to other major European cities such as Dublin, Frankfurt or Paris depending on whether the UK is able to negotiate new trade deals to retain access to the world's largest single market, the EU.
In a memo to staff on Friday, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon indicated that though the company planned to maintain a large presence in Britain, it would face significant hurdles.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. England / UK Europe * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
It is time for Project Grit. We warned over the final weeks of the campaign that a vote to leave the EU would be traumatic, and that is what the country now faces as markets shudder and Westminster is thrown into turmoil.
The stunning upset last night marks a point of rupture for the post-war European order. It will be a Herculean task to extract Britain from the EU after 43 years enmeshed in a far-reaching legal and constitutional structure. Scotland and Northern Ireland will now be ejected from the EU against their will, a ghastly state of affairs that could all too easily lead to the internal fragmentation of the Kingdom unless handled with extreme care.
The rating agencies are already pricing in a different British destiny. Standard & Poor’s declared that Brexit “spells the end” of the UK’s AAA status. The only question is whether the downgrade is one notch or two, and that hangs on Holyrood. Moody’s has cocked the trigger too.
Just how traumatic Brexit will be depends on whether Parliament can rise to the challenge and fashion a credible trade policy...
Read it all from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization * Economics, Politics Economy Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK Europe * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
One who is asked is Rowan Williams, who responds in part as follows:
A campaign fought on both sides without a clear vision of either national or international identity, reverting again and again to manipulative, irrelevant anecdotal appeals to self-interest, is a poor advertisement for the democratic process as currently operating.Read the whole thing.
The challenge is how to restore the possibility of genuinely educated debate; which is a substantial challenge given the overwhelming dominance of populist rhetoric in most of the British press, whose effect on the debate has for the most part been corrosive. Grass roots political literacy has to be built; the voices of properly independent civil society (frequently silenced by warnings from regulators and the like in this debate) - from churches to local citizens' groups, from NGO's to universities (if they can ever free themselves from their present servitude to functionalist ideology) - have to be liberated. Above all, class and regional divisions have to be addressed without colluding with reactive, anxiety-driven populism.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK Europe * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Since Poland joined the EU in 2004, about two million Poles have left in search of higher paid jobs, many of them heading to the UK, where they can earn up to four times as much doing the same job here.
It is estimated 850,000 Poles now live in the UK, making them the largest non-British nationality. Poland's National Bank reckons Poles send home more than $1bn (£728m) a year, driving consumption in many parts of the country.
For Poles in the UK, especially those who have not lived there for the five years needed to apply for permanent residency, the future is uncertain.
Read it all.
The polls put the PP in first place, but again, without enough seats to form an absolute majority.
Left-wing newcomers Podemos are vying with the established traditional opposition, the Socialists (PSOE) for second place.
Podemos, who were allied with Greece’s Syriza, have campaigned for change. But they are, in many respects, an unknown on which - after Friday’s Brexit vote - many Spaniards may be unwilling to gamble.
Read it all.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For he who has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
The life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, rather than economic prosperity, political sovereignty or national greatness, are the condition and possibility of movement into new kinds of relationship with God and neighbour. Yet this conversion demands that as humans we orientate ourselves in a particular way to living in time and the experience of flux and transition that is constitutive of being temporal creatures. Such an orientation rules out a nostalgic division that poses the past as good and the present as intrinsically bad, as well as making judgments about who is and who is not on the "right side of history."
Rather, ways must be found to identify with Christ and thereby dis-identify with the historical idols and cultural systems of domination within which human life is always and already entangled. Politics, understood as action in time through which forms of peaceable common life are cultivated, is a necessary part of any such process of discovery. However, the tragic dimensions of social and political life cannot be avoided and failure is often the result. Yet faith, hope and love demands the risk still be taken.
Some will judge what I am saying as merely swapping one kind of dangerous sentimentalism for another. Nevertheless, I beg those who consider themselves Christians to take up forms of politics orientated to faith, hope and love, yet alive to the fragility of ourselves, others and the world around us and to ignore the siren calls of the politics of nostalgia.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Globalization History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK Europe * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Theodicy
In a hard-fought and at times bruising campaign, it has been clear that debate about Europe has allowed a number of difficult issues to come to the surface. The debate and the patterns of voting suggest that our politicians in recent years may not have paid sufficient attention to some of the deeper issues which are present in our life. The inevitable and necessary period of reflection which must now follow will allow space for questions of poverty and immigration to be explored.
Those of us who live in Scotland are aware that the outcome of the Referendum is potentially of great significance. We hope that our politicians on all sides will take time for careful reflection and consultation.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Scottish Episcopal Church * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK --Scotland Europe * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The natural inclination of the Church has been internationalist, because our Christian faith does not recognise borders but sees the world and all its people as one. We are part of a world-wide community with a responsibility to one another and the whole of creation. Over recent years, the urgency of taking that international responsibility seriously has become more clear as global poverty, environmental degradation, and the refugee catastrophe call us to find co-operative and international responses.
It feels as though this vote is a vote against that spirit of international co-operation and those who have campaigned to leave have rarely addressed some of the issues that we in the Church of Scotland feel are crucial. Least of all,this vote hardly seems to be an act of solidarity even with our friends in places like Greece, which is going through so much turmoil at the moment both economically and in bearing the brunt of the refugee crisis.
Today, it is important to recognise that those who were our neighbours yesterday are still our neighbours today.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK --Scotland * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Presbyterian * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Read it all and there is more here including:
People in Britain have expressed their discontent with the structures of the EU. Actually, these discontents are widely shared by other Europeans. I hope that EU leaders and officials are able to bring about the reform to European political structures that is needed for these structures to endure. And I pray that they do endure. Because they were constructed to serve the cause of peace and reconciliation after the two terrible world wars. The task of reconciliation is never done, and I want my children and grandchildren to enjoy the kind of European peace which my generation has known.
In the meantime, I continue my own work of pastoring our European diocese, sharing the good news of Jesus and encouraging people in their faith. I pray for the future of the United Kingdom and of our European continent. I long for our continent to be a place of faith, of hope and of neighbourly care, with political institutions that serve the cause of justice, peace and prosperity.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK Europe * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The country has just taken part in a giant democratic exercise – perhaps the biggest in our history. Over 33 million people – from England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar – have all had their say.
We should be proud of the fact that in these islands we trust the people with these big decisions.
We not only have a parliamentary democracy, but on questions about the arrangements for how we are governed, there are times when it is right to ask the people themselves, and that is what we have done.
The British people have voted to leave the European Union and their will must be respected.
I want to thank everyone who took part in the campaign on my side of the argument, including all those who put aside party differences to speak in what they believed was the national interest.
And let me congratulate all those who took part in the Leave campaign – for the spirited and passionate case that they made.
The will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered. It was not a decision that was taken lightly, not least because so many things were said by so many different organisations about the significance of this decision.
So there can be no doubt about the result.
Across the world people have been watching the choice that Britain has made. I would reassure those markets and investors that Britain’s economy is fundamentally strong.
And I would also reassure Brits living in European countries, and European citizens living here, that there will be no immediate changes in your circumstances. There will be no initial change in the way our people can travel, in the way our goods can move or the way our services can be sold.
We must now prepare for a negotiation with the European Union. This will need to involve the full engagement of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland governments to ensure that the interests of all parts of our United Kingdom are protected and advanced.
But above all this will require strong, determined and committed leadership.
I am very proud and very honoured to have been Prime Minister of this country for 6 years.
I believe we have made great steps, with more people in work than ever before in our history, with reforms to welfare and education, increasing people’s life chances, building a bigger and stronger society, keeping our promises to the poorest people in the world, and enabling those who love each other to get married whatever their sexuality.
But above all restoring Britain’s economic strength, and I am grateful to everyone who has helped to make that happen.
I have also always believed that we have to confront big decisions – not duck them.
That’s why we delivered the first coalition government in 70 years to bring our economy back from the brink. It’s why we delivered a fair, legal and decisive referendum in Scotland. And why I made the pledge to renegotiate Britain’s position in the European Union and hold a referendum on our membership, and have carried those things out.
I fought this campaign in the only way I know how – which is to say directly and passionately what I think and feel – head, heart and soul.
I held nothing back.
I was absolutely clear about my belief that Britain is stronger, safer and better off inside the European Union, and I made clear the referendum was about this and this alone – not the future of any single politician, including myself.
But the British people have made a very clear decision to take a different path, and as such I think the country requires fresh leadership to take it in this direction.
I will do everything I can as Prime Minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months, but I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.
This is not a decision I have taken lightly, but I do believe it is in the national interest to have a period of stability and then the new leadership required.
There is no need for a precise timetable today, but in my view we should aim to have a new Prime Minister in place by the start of the Conservative party conference in October.
Delivering stability will be important and I will continue in post as Prime Minister with my Cabinet for the next 3 months. The Cabinet will meet on Monday.
The Governor of the Bank of England is making a statement about the steps that the Bank and the Treasury are taking to reassure financial markets. We will also continue taking forward the important legislation that we set before Parliament in the Queen’s Speech. And I have spoken to Her Majesty the Queen this morning to advise her of the steps that I am taking.
A negotiation with the European Union will need to begin under a new Prime Minister, and I think it is right that this new Prime Minister takes the decision about when to trigger Article 50 and start the formal and legal process of leaving the EU.
I will attend the European Council next week to explain the decision the British people have taken and my own decision.
The British people have made a choice. That not only needs to be respected – but those on the losing side of the argument, myself included, should help to make it work.
Britain is a special country.
We have so many great advantages.
A parliamentary democracy where we resolve great issues about our future through peaceful debate.
A great trading nation, with our science and arts, our engineering and our creativity respected the world over.
And while we are not perfect, I do believe we can be a model of a multi-racial, multi-faith democracy, where people can come and make a contribution and rise to the very highest that their talent allows.
Although leaving Europe was not the path I recommended, I am the first to praise our incredible strengths. I have said before that Britain can survive outside the European Union, and indeed that we could find a way.
Now the decision has been made to leave, we need to find the best way, and I will do everything I can to help.
I love this country – and I feel honoured to have served it.
And I will do everything I can in future to help this great country succeed.
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The outcome of the EU referendum is now clear.
Within our parishes and across our country, people will be reflecting on the result in different ways. Those who voted Leave will be happy that their voice was heard, and hopeful for our country’s future outside the EU. For those who voted Remain, this will be a day of profound regret and even sorrow. The close final result will only have strengthened these feelings all round.
There will also be those who have felt disengaged from the long political campaign, and who still feel dismayed at the bitterness with which it was often conducted. It will be vital for us all, as we accept the result and deal with what it means, to understand and respect those who take different views of the same event.
In the debates that will come, we will be most effective if we now seek to heal the divisions of the past campaign. However, those divisions were about such deep issues of national identity and indeed self-identity that doing so will be a difficult and costly task. In the Church, it will be achieved through a renewed focus on what is unchanged, and on what is unchangeable.
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On Thursday, millions of people from across the United Kingdom voted in the Referendum, and a majority expressed a desire that Britain’s future is to be outside the European Union.
The outcome of this referendum has been determined by the people of this country. It is now the responsibility of the Government, with the support of Parliament, to take full account of the outcome of the referendum, and, in the light of this, decide upon the next steps. This morning, the Prime Minister has offered a framework for when this process might formally begin.
”The vote to withdraw from the European Union means that now we must all reimagine both what it means to be the United Kingdom in an interdependent world, and what values and virtues should shape and guide our relationships with others.
“As citizens of the United Kingdom, whatever our views during the referendum campaign, we must now unite in a common task to build a generous and forward-looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world. We must remain hospitable and compassionate, builders of bridges and not barriers. Many of those living among us and alongside us as neighbours, friends and work colleagues come from overseas and some will feel a deep sense of insecurity. We must respond by offering reassurance, by cherishing our wonderfully diverse society, and by affirming the unique contribution of each and every one.
”The referendum campaign has been vigorous and, at times, has caused hurt to those on one side or the other. We must therefore act with humility and courage — being true to the principles that make the very best of our nation. Unity, hope, and generosity will enable us to overcome the period of transition that will now happen, and to emerge confident and successful. The opportunities and challenges that face us as a nation and as global citizens are too significant for us to settle for less.
”As those who hope and trust in the living God let us pray for all our leaders, especially for Prime Minster David Cameron in his remaining months in office. We also pray for leaders across Europe, and around the world, as they face this dramatic change. Let us pray especially that we may go forward to build a good United Kingdom that, though relating to the rest of Europe in a new way will play its part amongst the nations in the pursuit of the common good throughout the world.”
(Found in a number of places including there).
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The goal is to unwind Britain’s 43-year membership of the bloc, disentangle and sever the legacy of shared sovereignty, and then reshape the biggest single market on earth.
Three fundamental issues arise.
On substance, what political and commercial arrangements will Brexit Britain demand and will the EU accept them?
In execution, will the exit deal — the divorce and breaking of old obligations — be struck at the same time as a trade agreement covering post-Brexit trade? And if no, is a transition possible to ensure a soft landing?
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Almighty God, by whose providence thy servant John the Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Savior by preaching repentance: Make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth's sake; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist. He prepared the way of the Lord! https://t.co/gMdo7msiyW— STMUP - IUP (@stmup) June 24, 2016
Of old thou didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They will perish, but thou dost endure; they will all wear out like a garment. Thou changest them like raiment, and they pass away; but thou art the same, and thy years have no end.
There are better and worse reasons for voting to leave and voting to remain. Thus, it is the responsibility of evangelicals to find the best in the arguments they disagree with.
There is a danger when Christians try to play a trump card, such as: “My case is better for missions”; “my case is better for defending Christian freedoms”; “my case enables me to love my neighbor”; “my case frees us from secular un-Christian institutions.” These arguments try to shut down debate. You can love your neighbor and want to vote to leave. And you can believe the EU is a deeply secular institution often intolerant towards Christians, and still believe that membership is best.
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Nearly 200 people who fled Boko Haram attacks have died of malnutrition and sickness in a single camp in northeastern Nigeria in the past month, the medical charity Doctors Without Borders said on Thursday, describing a “catastrophic humanitarian emergency.”
In the camp, which sits on the outskirts of the largely ruined Nigerian city of Bama, the charity said that the local authorities reported five to six people dying every day.
“We have been told that people, including children there, have starved to death,” Ghada Hatim, the group’s head of mission in Nigeria, said in a statement.
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For more than thirty years now I have been an observer and sometime participant in what I will here call the conservative Episcopalian mess. The departure of more orthodox Episcopalians from an apostatizing mainstream headed by weak and clownish English archbishops and astoundingly aggressive heretics in North America, contained no real surprises, for this is the predictable fruit of religious liberalism hatched upon an ignorant, passive, and venal laity, that we have seen in other major Protestant churches, and from which modern Roman Catholicism, especially under a Nice Pope, is unlikely to be much of a refuge.
What I have found somewhat surprising, I suppose because my knowledge of the ecclesial geography was not very deep early on, was what a hard time conservative Anglicans have had getting their act (literally) together. Now to be sure, my “geographical” knowledge has increased over the years, so that I understand quite well that “conservative” applies to a number of incompatible or barely compatible attitudes....
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
All that is not eternal is eternally out of date.
--C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1960), p.137
Our engagement in the world in an anxious age is made possible by our confidence in the gospel in a pluralistic society where people have profoundly different beliefs. We won’t always be able to persuade those around us that our beliefs are right and theirs are wrong. Indeed, some of our most important beliefs stem from contested premises that others do not share. But recognizing the existence of these disagreements should not prevent us from holding to what is ultimately true. Our beliefs can be true, and we can hold these warranted beliefs confidently even though others reject them. For this reason, recognizing the social fact of difference should not be mistaken as relativism. To the contrary, a greater awareness of our distinctiveness that comes from confidence in the gospel can encourage us to work to strengthen the social fabric for the good of others.
This kind of posture is what one of us has called “confident pluralism.” As Christians, we can engage with the pluralism around us because our confidence lies elsewhere. We can acknowledge genuine differences in society without suppressing or minimizing our firmly held convictions. We can seek common ground even with those who may not share our view of the common good.
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We are told too, with the gun of moral blackmail held to our temples, that Europe's strategic order will unravel if we pick at the EU thread, but this an evasion. The EU is unraveling already because the status quo is intolerable and a failed currency project is sapping its credibility. It is far from self-evident that this supranational venture should be saved in anything like its existing form.
There are certainly grave threats to the world economy, but none have anything to do with Brexit. China's latest mini-boom is already topping, and nobody knows whether the Communist Party has reached the limits of its $28 trillion experiment with credit.
We are seven years into this global cycle and signs of ageing are too obvious to ignore, not least the collapse in US bond yields to depression levels. "More Economic Signs Point to a US Recession", warned a front-page headline across the Wall Street Journal this week. The labour market has buckled. Car sales have slipped. Business investment and profits are both falling....But whether we vote Leave or Remain will not change any of this. All we can do when the next global recession hits is to fall back on Britain's tested institutions and our own elected Parliament to protect us. The EU certainly can't.
Read it all from the Telegraph.
O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of all his wonderful works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his presence continually!
First, we might well offer a prayer of thanksgiving that we live in a democratic society, where our vote really counts, and where we can freely and safely exercise it. A vote is a valuable commodity!
Second, we might well offer a prayer for wisdom, as we make our decision. This is the kind of decision usually delegated to Parliament alone. The referendum gives us a sense of the vital and life–changing decisions with which we entrust our politicians, and on which we often comment from the safe distance of not having to make them ourselves. Now it is our turn.
Third, we might intercede with God that his sovereignty would reign above all other sovereignties in this knife–edge of a vote.
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In 2001 the churches in Europe jointly and boldly pronounced in Charta Oecumenica a support for a process destined to bring Europe closer together. Churches in the same document stated that “without common values, unity cannot endure.” Now, 15 years later, we find ourselves in a situation in which increasingly vocal political parties and groupings argue against further political and economic integration on our continent. What seemed a logical position 15 years ago seems less evident today. Rather, we see a growing body of opinion that has lost faith in the promise of a united Europe, that distrusts political elites, and that would like to renationalise policies....
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Reflecting on the forthcoming vote, we recognise the historic nature of this referendum and its implications for future generations. The outcome will have consequences for the future not only of the United Kingdom, but for Europe and for the world.
In our view, three things are essential:
• that we pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit;
• that we all inform ourselves of the arguments on both sides of the debate;
• that we each exercise our vote with a view to the common good of all.
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“For the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place; and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing; and he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’
He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you, and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last.”
...[Bp Nwokolov] said, “There is a gross imbalance in political appointments in the state. Anglican faithful in the state are shortchanged and marginalised from occupying government positions.
“It’s incumbent on the current administration in the state to strike a balance as well as adopt the principle of equity and fair play in political appointments in order not to relegate any section of the state to the background.”
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There will be many here who have worried. Those who will go to their surgeries and worry their friends and families. There are the worries, the anxieties, the deep concerns, around our nation – from different views, but anxieties about its future.
And there are the deep and profound anxieties that are lived out daily by those to whom Jo went in Syria, in Darfur and in so many other places, and where she gave her love, as well as in her own constituency.
The promise is that when all is in the hands of God, our deepest anxieties – even our anxieties about the future of our nation, about its stability and about all that makes it what it has been – even those are overcome by the peace of God, which dispels anxiety, brings hope and enables us above all, at the end of all things, to draw together in the confidence that not only our lives but our history is in the hand of God. That not only our joys – the joy of the life that gave joy – but also our sorrows at their lowest are kept and held by God, who will bless us and bless you; who will bless each life in this nation as we turn to him in our need.
May God’s blessing rest upon us. Amen.
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In many ways disagreement is healthy. It shows that people really care about things, and perhaps disagreement is an inevitable corollary of all change: it’s often about who has to change, the cost of change, and who has to pay it.
But disagreement can also be divisive, destructive and dangerous to our health, both individually and collectively. It can disguise the many things we do agree about; it can distort people’s understanding of what being a Christian means; and it can dismay and divert those who would otherwise join us.
If disagreement is inevitable then we have to learn to do it better. This suggests finding ways that enable us to understand fully what we disagree about, and why.
These notes set out some ways to help us turn debate and confrontation into dialogue, empathy, shared understanding and the commitment to love each other even when – perhaps especially when – we are deeply opposed.
Read it all (15 page pdf).
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“Who thought we’d ever see Bible and spammers together in a sentence? At first blush, it sounds like a good idea, since God’s Word doesn’t return void. But . . . the overwhelming clutter of media today desensitizes people. Our challenge in a digital culture is to develop strategies for making sure the message cuts through and actually gets noticed.”
~Phil Cooke, author, Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media
“When we throw biblical phrases to the winds, we invite people to supply their own context rather than the biblical one. Without the context of an imprisoned Paul, confident that God is able to use even his imprisonment to advance the gospel, the phrase ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ can become a claim to support pretty much anything one wants to do.”
~Frank Thielman, author, Philippians: The NIV Application Commentary
Read it all.
Europe's growing army of robot workers could be classed as "electronic persons" and their owners liable to paying social security for them if the European Union adopts a draft plan to address the realities of a new industrial revolution.
Robots are being deployed in ever-greater numbers in factories and also taking on tasks such as personal care or surgery, raising fears over unemployment, wealth inequality and alienation.
Their growing intelligence, pervasiveness and autonomy requires rethinking everything from taxation to legal liability, a draft European Parliament motion, dated May 31, suggests.
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In 1990, Neuhaus was invited by the Christian Century to contribute to an ongoing series called "How My Mind Has Changed...."
He catalogued his frustrations: the betrayal of the Civil Rights movement by the rise of identity politics; the abandonment of the poor to a failed War on Poverty and the devastations of the Sexual Revolution; the disparagement of patriotism and the natural family; and most worrisome, acceptance of the lethal logic of Roe v. Wade. "I experienced the illiberality of certain liberalisms," he reflected. But if readers expected a political conversion story, they would be disappointed. Neuhaus instead pointedly reaffirmed his commitment to the liberal tradition. Mourning the "lost dignity of liberalism," he expressed hope that religious believers would remain committed to "modernity's greatest political achievement."
This is advice we do well to remember and heed, especially those of us tempted to opt out of the "civilizational circle" by declining participation in democratic debate. The advances of secular liberalism might seem unstoppable, but they are not. They depend entirely on the credibility of the claim that religion and religiously informed moral judgment are incompatible with open deliberation. Neuhaus dedicated his life, in word and deed, to refuting this assertion. His goal was not to replace liberal politics with political religion. It was to replace an unsustainable arrangement of moralities in conflict with a common morality whose deliberations could draw on transcendent meanings.
Read it all (my emphasis).
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So while it is true that, in the wake of Orlando, or of Jo Cox's murder, or of some future atrocity that lies before us, talk is not enough, we won't be in position to act in some life-giving or productive way until we learn to do two things. First, we must interrupt the simplistic branding of the atrocities that confront us, which only personify both victims and perpetrators in unhelpful ways, while fuelling our own sense of self-righteous rage. Second, we need to learn again what to do with the justified anger that erupts within us as we face the injustices and violence that surround us. Such powerful emotions have to be directed somewhere outwards, yet without merely being vented at targets of convenience. Doing that only expands the dominant cycles of mythic violence.
As we struggle to learn such difficult lessons, we need to find a way to regain confidence that another's wrath trumps our own, so that the concept of justice can be defined according to something beyond our own immediate personal preference.
We might not all be able to imagine this in the traditional imagery of the Psalms, or through the concept of the divine, but we all nonetheless must find a way to imagine it. Any other response to Orlando or to the murder in West Yorkshire falls short of what these victims demand of us.
Read it all.
The stage has been set for... [an] al Qaeda resurgence in Nigeria. One potential strategy for the group would involve building up a new pro-al Qaeda jihadi network in Nigeria that is designed to eclipse Boko Haram or pry away its members. To this end, AQIM could try to unite its Fulani members in Mali with Fulanis in Nigeria under a charismatic figure like Amadou Koufa, the leader of the Massina Liberation Front, an AQIM-created Malian faction that counts many West African Fulanis among its ranks. This could achieve a unified AQIM framework that stretches from Mali to Nigeria, allowing the group to exploit the grievances of Muslim Fulani herdsman, who have long felt abandoned and exploited by the governments of both countries.
Al Qaeda might also choose to negotiate directly with the leaders of friendly Boko Haram elements like the splinter group Ansaru, which could serve as a vehicle for sparking mass defections from Boko Haram. Although the top Ansaru commander, Khalid al-Barnawi, was arrested earlier this year, there are still key figures within the splinter group who maintain high-level contacts with AQIM and al-Shabaab, such as Mamman Nur, who masterminded the 2011 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Abuja. The task of prying away Boko Haram’s foot soldiers might be made easier by Shekau’s alleged flight to Libya, together with a key cadre of Islamic State loyalists, after facing increased pressure from the Nigerian-led regional military coalition.
Should Boko Haram ultimately turn its back on the Islamic State, it would send an enormous shockwave through the global jihadi movement. The Nigerian militant group is by far the highest-profile organization to leave an existing terrorist network to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State. If it were to suddenly cut ties with the Iraq- and Syria-based caliphate, it would send a powerful message to other al Qaeda affiliates toying with the idea of Islamic State membership: Baghdadi’s caliphate is a dying brand. But as brutal as it is, the Islamic State’s implosion would not herald an overall diminishment of the global jihadi threat. On the contrary, it would underscore that an even thornier problem remains: Al Qaeda, during its time under the radar, has become an even more formidable foe.
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What then shall we say about Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now to one who works, his wages are not reckoned as a gift but as his due. And to one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness. So also David pronounces a blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works:
“Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;Is this blessing pronounced only upon the circumcised, or also upon the uncircumcised? We say that faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness. How then was it reckoned to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received circumcision as a sign or seal of the righteousness which he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised and who thus have righteousness reckoned to them, and likewise the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but also follow the example of the faith which our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not reckon his sin.”
The referendum has lit the blue touchpaper on a "debate" which is almost entirely undefined in its scope. As we have seen over the past weeks, everything and anything can be dragged into the campaign - which has been used by many as a proxy for every grievance they might have about politics and the political process.
So, we have been in a game with no game plan and no rules of conduct.
What has happened is detrimental to politics and the political process. Both sides have used misleading figures and information to conduct an argument that has been more like a childish spat in the playground than a measured examination of the issues. The electorate have been fed with ever more cooked statistics and exaggeration. It's virtually impossible for the average voter to discover some facts....
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For example, we need to think and plan for what ministries and leadership our churches, chaplaincies and fresh expressions need (including how to give effect to the decision to increase the number of ordinands by 50% by 2022).....
And we need to expect God to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, that he will take us to places and people that we cannot yet conceive and in ways we may not yet understand. We hope that every diocese will seek to articulate their own narrative of hope, informed by their context, enriched by all that God has been doing and continues to do, and confident of God’s promises for the future. We hope that every parish will similarly look honestly and prayerfully at how and where God has been leading and where he may be taking us next. As the writer of Lamentations says:
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness
Renewal & Reform is built on hope. And hope is a very, very good thing.
Read it all.
Whether in this referendum or in politics in the coming years, the task of the church is to be incarnate. Politicians of all stripes are sons and daughters of God. They are created in his image, and are given authority by the Creator of all things.
We must be present. It was what Jo Cox was doing when she was killed. She was present in her community; she was listening to those who elected her; she was serving on the front line. That’s a place of mission if ever I saw one.
The church should be a place of reconciliation and of healing. It should be a place where battling sides can come together, and where disagreement is not final.
And evangelical Christians should be the first to step up to serve in politics in a world that has never needed leadership as much as it does today.
Read it all (my emphasis).
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Our leaving the EU after 43 years of membership would in effect be a divorce. We entered into a contract when we acceded to the Treaty of Rome on 1 January 1973, and now we want to exit the contract. Divorce is a tragic reality in our modern world, and it happens for all sorts of reasons, but that does not make it God’s ideal. On the contrary, he wants us to do everything we can to honour the contracts we freely enter into. ‘When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said’ (Numbers 30:2). The leave camp argues that the EU has morphed into an undemocratic monolith which is a totally different beast from the loose ‘Common Market’ which we joined in 1973. But this a specious argument. As a nation we signed up to the rules of the club (including its voting rules and their amendment over the years) and we have put our name on those treaties (particularly Maastricht in 1992 and Lisbon in 2007) which created today’s EU. If a marriage is struggling, our first duty as Christians is to work to save it, not to rush headlong for the exit. So too should be our attitude to membership of the EU.
As I say, many Christians will take a different view from mine. But what is clear is that our membership of the European Union has a moral and theological dimension as well as an economic and political one. Christians must consider this dimension before they cast their vote on 23 June.
Read it all and it can be found elsewhere also.
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We need to swap the Romantic view for a tragic (and at points comedic) awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will (without any malice) do the same to them. There can be no end to our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for.
This philosophy of pessimism offers a solution to a lot of distress and agitation around marriage. It might sound odd, but pessimism relieves the excessive imaginative pressure that our romantic culture places upon marriage. The failure of one particular partner to save us from our grief and melancholy is not an argument against that person and no sign that a union deserves to fail or be upgraded.
The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the “not overly wrong” person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.
Read it all.
5. “Everything happens for a reason”
No. It just doesn’t.
Evil has no reason. It is anti-reason. And anti-love.
Read it all.
I will sing of thy steadfast love, O LORD, for ever; with my mouth I will proclaim thy faithfulness to all generations. For thy steadfast love was established for ever, thy faithfulness is firm as the heavens.
Behind closed doors and in groups of up to 20, bishops, priests and lay members will discuss their views on homosexuality when General Synod, the church’s parliament, meets in York from July 8.
David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s adviser organising the “shared conversations”, admitted that they would not prevent a split within the church over...[same-sex marriage], but said that clerics should be judged on “how we fracture”.
To that end, the church has produced a manual entitled Grace and dialogue: shared conversations on difficult issues, which says that the debate over sexuality is damaging the Church of England and putting off those who might consider joining.
Read it all (subscirption only)
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip.
--Psalm 66: 8-9
...the story of how celebrated Harvard scholar Karen King, author of books such as The Gospel of Mary of Magdala, was duped really gets thick. It involves East Germany, BMW brakes, porno films, antiquities scholarship, and an academic fitting the evidence to her prejudices. Really, it’s a story worthy of Werner Herzog. I’m not giving away too much when I say that the papyrus is clearly a fake and proves nothing about Jesus’s marital status.
The Catholic Church puts an enormous amount of emphasis upon marriage. Isn’t this odd for a tradition that was founded upon the teachings of a celibate Messiah? What could celibates know about marriage and sexuality?
Most Catholics have probably heard a millions versions of these questions from people with smug looks on their faces. It is the sort of look that says “I’ve caught the simpletons in a massive contradiction. Let’s watch them squirm.”
My preliminary surveys indicate some, not all, Catholics might be surprised that the perfectly orthodox (small “O”) answer to this question is that there’s nothing odd about the Catholic obsession with marriage, because Jesus is married as well. No, I’m not talking about Swedenborg’s The Delights Of Wisdom Pertaining To Conjugial Love where people get married in heaven. This is different and decidedly not heterodox.
Read it all (from Patheos) and take special note of Addison Hart (yes, the brother of David Hart) and his new book The Woman, the Hour, and the Garden: A Study of Imagery in the Gospel of John.
I reminded [Walter Fritz] that I was a journalist; I wrote fact, not fiction. Nor could I accept favors from the subject of a story. But I was curious: What role would the Walter Fritz character play in this hypothetical book, whose underlying ideas, after all, would be entirely his? He gave me a quizzical look. “I wouldn’t have a role in it,” he said.
He wanted, that is, to be the invisible hand.
As I walked back to my car, I realized with something like a shudder that Fritz had hoped to lure me into a trap from which my reputation might never recover. I knew enough about his dealings with King and Laukamp to recognize all the signs: the request for secrecy, the strategic self-effacement, the use of other people for his own enigmatic ends.
Fame and fortune would rain down on me, he’d promised. All I had to do was lower my guard and trust him with all the important details.
This is a really important piece--take the time to read it all.
Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan; and large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.
And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery.”
The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is not expedient to marry.” But he said to them, “Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.”
Read the response of a number of South Carolinians to the massacre including former Charleston Mayor (10 term) Joseph P. Riley Jr.
Their hearts and minds were full of grace, always searching for ways to more fully live the life that God was leading them to. They met each week at Bible study.
Those nine people attending the Wednesday Bible study at Mother Emanuel AME opened their doors and hearts to a man that was full of racial hate and bigotry and he took their lives.
On this anniversary, our minds turn again to those whose lives were touched by those nine beautiful people — their families, co-workers, friends and members of the community.
We also remember the survivors, and pray that they all find peace and comfort in our thoughts for them.
Through the leadership of the families, this remarkable community showed the world what the grace of forgiveness and community solidarity can do. What manifested itself worldwide was an outpouring of love.
We would expect nothing less than this from our outstanding community.
There are two important ways we can act together at this time of great sadness to honor the memory of the Emanuel Nine.
First, we cannot rest until a responsible handgun law is passed, at the very least eliminating the loophole that allowed Dylann Roof to purchase a gun legally.
Second, we must work hard to support the construction of the International African American Museum on one of the most sacred sites of African-American history in this hemisphere. This museum will teach the untold story of the inhumane practice of slavery and the remarkable endurance and contributions of those who were brought here. The museum will honor the Emanuel Nine, and the goodness of their lives will instruct countless people in the years to come.
The nine lives taken at Mother Emanuel AME touched each one of us. We will continue to remember them and their courage and sacrifice for the rest of our days.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Death / Burial / Funerals Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch History Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * South Carolina * Theology Eschatology Ethics / Moral Theology
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With antibiotics and fluids, Bennie improved dramatically and was taken off the ventilator several days later. That same night, though, a massive stroke paralyzed his entire left side, and he went back on life support. We quickly administered clot-busting medicine, and he rallied again, remarkably regaining movement of his left arm and leg. The following day, the intern reported, “His delirium has cleared, and he’s mouthing words around the endotracheal tube despite his wicked aspiration pneumonia.”
I sensed an unexpected window of opportunity. We revisited Bennie’s life goals in light of what had happened and spoke directly about the big picture. With his children looking on, I held Bennie’s hand and looked him in the eyes. Choosing my words based on what I knew about his background and the family’s expectation of miracles, I said, “Bennie, just like tobacco plants eventually wither and wilt, so do we. You have improved in some ways, but overall you are very weak. How can we serve you best?”
The next morning, Laura and Len were upbeat, which confused me since Bennie looked weaker than ever. They pointed to words on a whiteboard in the room, explaining they were Bennie’s goals, “Stable vital signs. Baptism.”
Read it all.
A prayer vigil was held last night in St Peter’s, Birstall, after the murder of Jo Cox, MP for Batley and Spen, outside her constituency advice surgery in the West Yorkshire town.
The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, and the Bishop of Huddersfield, the Rt Revd Jonathan Gibbs, took part in the service, which was attended by about 300 constituents, as well as fellow MPs, among them Yvette Cooper, Naz Shah, Dan Jarvis, Rachel Reeves, and Mary Creagh.
Bishop Gibbs told mourners that the attack on the 41-year-old mother of two had left people “overwhelmed by shock, grief and a sense of loss.
“We are here for each other, and I know and I hope and I pray that we will be here for each other in the days ahead,” he said. “’Jo grew up in this community, she loved this community and she served this community. And, in the end, she gave her life for this community.”
Read it all.
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Dost thou work wonders for the dead? Do the shades rise up to praise thee?...Is thy steadfast love declared in the grave, or thy faithfulness in Abaddon? Are thy wonders known in the darkness, or thy saving help in the land of forgetfulness?
Q: What message do you have, as a national religious leader, for LGBT people — especially young LGBT people?
A: There are a lot of us who want to make sure they are treated with respect — that they’re given every opportunity to live their full lives, that they’re as precious in the eyes of God as anyone who has ever been made. That would be the bottom line I want all people to understand, but specifically those who are going through this kind of struggle or this kind of cultural transition right now.
Q: Do you think the LGBT community in Orlando feels comfortable at your church and other conservative evangelical churches?
A: I hope so. We have several gay couples and gay people who go to our church, but we specifically don’t address a lot of sexual issues in the worship service. We talk about vulnerable populations, we talk about service, we talk about following Christ. I would hope they would be comfortable in a congregation like ours — but I don’t know. You’d have to ask them. We certainly want them to be.
Q: Do you believe there will be any reassessment or rethinking of positions on doctrine or theology in light of this tragedy?
A: We won’t in all likelihood change the way we interpret Scripture.
Read it all from RNS.
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The shooter who killed 49 people at an Orlando LGBT nightclub used Facebook to threaten “Islamic State vengeance”, critique US attacks in Syria and research the locations of Florida police offices, a US senator has reported.
Omar Mateen, 29, used the social media network before and during the attack on Pulse nightclub, the deadliest mass shooting in US history, posting what is described as “terrorism-related content” and searching for “Pulse Orlando” and “Shooting”, Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson revealed.
Read it all from the Independent.
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Are there political implications to much of what takes place at an SBC gathering? Of course there are. You'd have to be blind not to see that. However, it is just as important to listen to the debates about WHY the convention takes some of the stands that it does.
It was nice of AP, in a piece containing very few attributions for quotes from real people, to note that the SBC has not changed its doctrinal stand on the moral status of sexual acts outside of marriage. It would have been nice, however, to have allowed readers to see a few quotes from actual Southern Baptists describing why they supported one type of action for the powerful people who lead the Disney corporation, yet another set of actions for the LGBT victims of a hateful act of terrorism.
Once again, journalists do not have to AGREE with the theological content of these arguments and decisions. But it is inaccurate, flawed, biased journalism to ignore the religious content of these kinds of events. By the way, this happens when journalists cover liberal, "mainline" Protestant events almost as often as it happens with coverage of doctrinal conservatives.
Read it all.
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Yousuf told CBS that he knew there was a door behind the panicked crowd, but people were too overwhelmed to unlatch it.
“And I’m screaming, ‘Open the door! Open the door!’ ” Yousuf said. “And no one is moving because they are scared.”
If they did not act, they could be targeted by the gunman, who could have appeared at any moment. They were a few feet from relative safety. Yousuf told CBS that there was “only one choice.”
“Either we all stay there and we all die, or I could take the chance of getting shot and saving everyone else, and I jumped over to open that latch and we got everyone that we can out of there.”
It was a simple act of heroism, but it may have been one of the most decisive actions that took place that morning. Asked how many people left through that exit, Yousuf told CBS that he estimated as many as 60 or 70.
Read it all.
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I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall ever be in my mouth.
But what we need most is not declarations of the undoubted meaning of the catastrophe, but lament. We need not commentary, but poetry.
The causes of this kind of calamity lie not simply with a lack of the adequate laws, or with the blaming or this or that group. What hidden rage could possibly cause an individual to murder without compassion or sorrow fifty of his fellow creatures? It cannot be reduced to one simple strand. It is, like most evil, absurd.
We want to generalise - to read the event in the light of cultural themes that are familiar to us - when what happened is filled with hideous and strange particularities.
What the word "tragedy" allows us to do is to sit in the dust bewildered at what has happened; to recognise that others are in agony, and that as human beings, we have been spared that agony not because we are virtuous, but because - this time - our group wasn't in the frame.
The sixteenth century poet Sir Phillip Sidney wrote of tragedy that it
teacheth the uncertainety of this world, and upon how weake foundations guilden roofes are builded.
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Read it all.
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Coffee drinkers have gotten some good news.
Twenty-five years after classifying coffee as a possible carcinogen leading to bladder cancer, the World Health Organization’s cancer research arm has reversed course, saying on Wednesday that coffee is not classifiable as a carcinogen.
The organization also said that coffee has no carcinogenic effects on other cancers, including those of the pancreas and prostate, and has even been seen to reduce the risk of liver and uterine cancers.
The agency is finally joining other major research organizations in those findings. Numerous studies in recent years have shown no conclusive link between cancer and coffee and have actually shown protective benefits in certain types of cancer.
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During this meeting the Committee substantially completed a daily devotional resource called Grace upon Grace: Voices around the World. This book will be available late in 2016, in both hardcopy and online as a PDF-file. It is intended to assist Lutherans and Anglicans to commemorate together the
500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation. This material illustrates the constant need for all churches be open to reform and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This is a six-week daily devotional resource, with contributions by Anglicans and Lutherans; men and women; lay and ordained from
around the world.
The themes are:
• God’s mission in the world (Mission Dei)Each day has its own theme, a Scripture passage and a reflection. In addition, there is a Eucharistic liturgy, inviting Anglicans and Lutherans to worship together. It is the Committee’s hope that this resource will be used by Anglicans and Lutherans in joint groups as well as by individuals. Above all, it is an encouragement for us to pray for and with one another.
• Liberated by God’s Grace
• Salvation – not for sale
• Human beings – not for sale
• Creation – not for sale
• Freed to serve (Diakonia)
Read it all.
What if I told you it’s possible to get a free theological education online? It’s well known that one can get a degree online these days; more and more schools are making their courses available on “virtual campuses.” They include the same lectures you would hear in the classroom—just recorded and posted online. Applying for school online has become a viable option, especially for those whose current walk in life makes them unwilling or unable to move across country to be on campus.
But let’s say you don’t want to actually enroll in a program and dish out the money for a degree. (Maybe you already have another degree, or are in the workforce, or ministry). Can you still get a theological education for free? You sure can: many Christian colleges and seminaries have posted classes to download for free on iTunes U. So much so, you can build your own curriculum rivaling the amount of classroom time it would take to actually go to school. At the end of your studies you won’t get a piece of paper to hang on the wall and show your friends, but you will learn a lot that God will be able to use for your ministry.
Read it all.
Policies for bringing wrongdoing to light at the Episcopal Church Center are out of date and require revision for the protection of employees, according to an audit committee report delivered June 9.
The report, presented during a meeting of Executive Council’s Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission, marks the first time since a misconduct scandal broke in December that the church has publicly acknowledged a problem in its systems for uncovering misconduct.
“There needs to be an update to the whistleblower policy and a procedure put in place,” committee member Nancy Koonce said as she presented a report of the audit committee, which met last week in New York City.
Read it all.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. "Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. "Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the man by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.
The prospect of Britons voting to leave the EU next week fuelled global market upheaval on Tuesday, with investors rushing for safety and sending the UK currency and stocks to their lowest levels in months.
The accelerating shift, which came after a trio of opinion polls showed Leave leading by significant margins, was most marked in government bonds, where a series of records were smashed as cash flowed into the relative security of sovereign debt.
German 10-year Bunds traded with interest rates below zero for the first time after Japan’s benchmark fell to a new low of minus 0.185 per cent. The UK’s 10-year gilt yield recorded a new low, and the 30-year bond dropped below 2 per cent for the first time.
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What is going on? There is an honorable, decent case for Britain to stay in the union. The problem for the Remain camp is that no one has been making it.
Throughout the campaign, the Remainers have highlighted “experts” from bodies like the International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Bank of England, which all think that Britain should stay. They talk of being “shut out” of the room where decisions are made in Brussels.
These warnings sound like the neuroses of career politicians, not the concerns of the public, who see things very differently. Ordinary voters are weighing what is best for National Health Service hospitals and public services. By making the case from a political elite’s perspective, the Remain campaign has alienated, even antagonized, voters.
Instead of advancing arguments, Remainers have resorted to a campaign of exaggeration and intimidation. Vote to leave, they suggest, and food prices will rise. Farming will fold, science will suffer, financiers will flee. Trade will tumble, there will be a global recession. And World War III, apparently.
Far from persuading people, these confected claims come across as hectoring and supercilious.
Read it all from todays NYT op-ed page.
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Some people receive constant reminders on their smartphones: birthdays, anniversaries, doctor’s appointments, social engagements. At work, their computers prompt them to meet deadlines, attend meetings and have lunch with the boss. Prodding here and pinging there, these pop-up interruptions can turn into noise to be ignored instead of helpful nudges.
Something similar is happening to doctors, nurses and pharmacists. And when they’re hit with too much information, the result can be a health hazard. The electronic patient records that the federal government has been pushing — in an effort to coordinate health care and reduce mistakes — come with a host of bells and whistles that may be doing the opposite in some cases.
What’s the problem? It’s called alert fatigue.
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U.S. Sen. Tim Scott got the first call about 9 on a Wednesday night a year ago. A deputy sheriff told him there were reports of a shooting at Emanuel AME Church in his hometown of Charleston.
Scott’s first thought was to check in with his friend the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the church’s pastor.
“I remember picking up the telephone to call Clementa to see what was happening, and it’s probably my last text that I have to him,” Scott said.
Sitting in his office on Capitol Hill, Scott pulled out his phone and scrolled through his messages – all the way down to June 17 of last year.
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I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old,
things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us.
We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders which he has wrought.
He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children;
that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments....
The revelation that the 29-year-old man who opened fire on Sunday in a gay nightclub had dedicated the killing to the Islamic State has prompted a now-familiar question: Was the killer truly acting under orders from the Islamic State, or just seeking publicity and the group’s approval for a personal act of hate?
For the terror planners of the Islamic State, the difference is mostly irrelevant.
Influencing distant attackers to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State and then carry out mass murder has become a core part of the group’s propaganda over the past two years. It is a purposeful blurring of the line between operations that are planned and carried out by the terror group’s core fighters and those carried out by its sympathizers.
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At a high school in Florida, students watched the horrors of Sept. 11, 2001, unfold on live TV. When the second hijacked airliner slammed into the World Trade Center’s south tower, the class sat in stunned disbelief. But one student, a classmate recalled, “started jumping up-and-down cheering on the terrorist.”
That was sophomore Omar Mateen, according to one of the accounts from former students in Stuart, Fla., remembering 9/11 and the reaction by the student who, nearly 15 years later, would carry out the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
The recollections of Mateen’s actions could not be independently verified, and the memories could be clouded by the years that have passed. But similar versions were detailed in separate interviews. As the snapshot in time, the recollections appear to offer yet another stitch in the wider tapestry of Mateen’s life and views before Sunday’s rampage, which included his pledge of loyalty to the Islamic State during a call to police during the standoff.
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Suppose that a great commotion arises in the street about something, let us say a lamp-post, which many influential persons desire to pull down. A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached upon the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, “Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good - ” At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down. All the people make a rush for the lamp-post, the lamp-post is knocked down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their unmediaeval practicality. But as things go on they do not work out so easily. Some people have pulled the lamp-post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil. Some thought it not enough of a lamp-post, some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted to smash something. And there is war in the night, no man knowing whom he strikes. So, gradually and inevitably, to-day, to-morrow, or the next day, there comes back the conviction that the monk was right after all, and that all depends on what is the philosophy of Light. Only what we might have discussed under the gas-lamp, we now must discuss in the dark.
Let the reader understand.
For those who think the idea of the Crusade is one that spoils the idea of the Cross, we can only say that for them the idea of the Cross is spoiled; the idea of the cross is spoiled quite literally in the cradle. It is not here to the purpose to argue with them on the abstract ethics of fighting; the purpose in this place is merely to sum up the combination of ideas that make up the Christian and Catholic idea, and to note that all of them are already crystallised in the first Christmas story. They are three distinct and commonly contrasted things which are nevertheless one thing; but this is the only thing which can make them one.
The first is the human instinct for a heaven that shall be as literal and almost as local as a home. It is the idea pursued by all poets and pagans making myths; that a particular place must be the shrine of the god or the abode of the blest; that fairyland is a land; or that the return of the ghost must be the resurrection of the body. I do not here reason about the refusal of rationalism to satisfy this need. I only say that if the rationalists refuse to satisfy it, the pagans will not be satisfied. This is present in the story of Bethlehem and Jerusalem as it is present in the story of Delos and Delphi; and as it is not present in the whole universe of Lucretius or the whole universe of Herbert Spencer.
The second element is a philosophy larger than other philosophies; larger than that of Lucretius and infinitely larger than that of Herbert Spencer. It looks at the world through a hundred windows where the ancient stoic or the modern agnostic only looks through one. It sees life with thousands of eyes belonging to thousands of different sorts of people, where the other is only the individual standpoint of a stoic or an agnostic. It has something for all moods of man, it finds work for all kinds of men, it understands secrets of psychology, it is aware of depths of evil, it is able to distinguish between ideal and unreal marvels and miraculous exceptions, it trains itself in tact about hard cases, all with a multiplicity and subtlety and imagination about the varieties of life which is far beyond the bald or breezy platitudes of most ancient or modern moral philosophy. In a word, there is more in it; it finds more in existence to think about; it gets more out of life. Masses of this material about our many-sided life have been added since the time of St. Thomas Aquinas. But St. Thomas Aquinas alone would have found himself limited in the world of Confucius or of Comte.
And the third point is this; that while it is local enough for poetry and larger than any other philosophy, it is also a challenge and a fight. While it is deliberately broadened to embrace every aspect of truth, it is still stiffly embattled against every mode of error. It gets every kind of man to fight for it, it gets every kind of weapon to fight with, it widens its knowledge of the things that are fought for and against with every art of curiosity or sympathy; but it never forgets that it is fighting. It proclaims peace on earth and never forgets why there was war in heaven.
This is the trinity of truths symbolised here by the three types in the old Christmas story; the shepherds and the kings and that other king who warred upon the children. It is simply not true to say that other religions and philosophies are in this respect its rivals. It is not true to say that any one of them combines these characters; it is not true to say that any one of them pretends to combine them. Buddhism may profess to be equally mystical; it does not even profess to be equally military. Islam may profess to be equally military; it does not even profess to be equally metaphysical and subtle. Confucianism may profess to satisfy the need of the philosophers for order and reason; it does not even profess to satisfy the need of the mystics for miracle and sacrament and the consecration of concrete things.
There are many evidences of this presence of a spirit at once universal and unique. One will serve here which is the symbol of the subject of this chapter; that no other story, no pagan legend or philosophical anecdote or historical event, does in fact affect any of us with that peculiar and even poignant impression produced on us by the word Bethlehem. No other birth of a god or childhood of a sage seems to us to be Christmas or anything like Christmas. It is either too cold or too frivolous, or too formal and classical, or too simple and savage, or too occult and complicated. Not one of us, whatever his opinions, would ever go to such a scene with the sense that he was going home. He might admire it because it was poetical, or because it was philosophical, or any number of other things in separation; but not because it was itself. The truth is that there is a quite peculiar and individual character about the hold of this story on human nature; it is not in its psychological substance at all like a mere legend or the life of a great man. It does not exactly in the ordinary sense turn our minds to greatness; to those extensions and exaggerations of humanity which are turned into gods and heroes, even by the healthiest sort of hero-worship. It does not exactly work outwards, adventurously, to the wonders to be found at the ends of the earth. It is rather something that surprises us from behind, from the hidden and personal part of our being; like that which can some times take us off our guard in the pathos of small objects or the blind pieties of the poor. It is rather as if a man had found an inner room in the very heart of his own house, which he had never suspected; and seen a light from within. It is as if he found something at the back of his own heart that betrayed him into good. It is not made of what the world would call strong materials; or rather it is made of materials whose strength is in that winged levity with which they brush us and pass. It is all that is in us but a brief tenderness that is there made eternal; all that means no more than a momentary softening that is in some strange fashion become a strengthening and a repose; it is the broken speech and the lost word that are made positive and suspended unbroken; as the strange kings fade into a far country and the mountains resound no more with the feet of the shepherds; and only the night and the cavern lie in fold upon fold over something more human than humanity.
--–The Everlasting Man (Radford, Virginia: Wilder Publications, 2008 paperback ed. of the 1925 original), pp. 114-116
Thirty years ago, a British newspaper took an unscientific survey of current and former intelligence agents, asking them which fictional work best captured the realities of their profession. Would it be John Le Carré, Ian Fleming, Robert Ludlum? To the amazement of most readers, the book that won easily was G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday, published in 1908.
This was so surprising because of the book's early date, but also its powerful mystical and Christian content: Chesterton subtitled it "a nightmare." But perhaps the choice was not so startling. Looking at the problems Western intelligence agencies confront fighting terrorism today, Chesterton's fantasy looks more relevant than ever, and more like a practical how-to guide.
Read it all.
"After Sunday’s attack in Orlando, as Christians we must speak out in support of LGBTI people, who have become the latest group to be so brutally targeted by the forces of evil. We must pray, weep with those affected, support the bereaved, and love without qualification.
The obligation to object to these acts of persecution, and to support those LGBTI people who are wickedly and cruelly killed and wounded, bereaved and traumatised, whether in Orlando or elsewhere, is an absolute call on our Christian discipleship. It arises from the unshakeable certainty of the gracious love of God for every human being.
Now, in this time of heartbreak and grief, is a time for solidarity. May God our Father give grace and comfort to all who mourn, and divine compassion to us all."
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...there is one particular prayer that Jesus teaches and models. I’m not enough of a world religion scholar to know if it is unique to Christianity, but it is remarkable part of Christian faith and life. It’s the prayer of Stephen as he was stoned and of Jesus on the Cross: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
It is one way we obey Jesus’ command to love enemies, even murderous ones—whether they target us or those with whom we sympathize.
This struck me afresh recently as I recited an Eastern Orthodox prayer of intercession. In the litany of petitions, this one jumped out at me: “Lord, we pray… for those who hate us and those who love us.”
In the Orthodox tradition, this prayer is to be said every evening.
Read it all.
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A bird flew out at the break of day
From the nest where it had curled,
And ere the eve the bird had set
Fear on the kings of the world.
The first tree it lit upon
Was green with leaves unshed;
The second tree it lit upon
Was red with apples red;
The third tree it lit upon
Was barren and was brown,
Save for a dead man nailed thereon
On a hill above a town.
That night the kings of the earth were gay
And filled the cup and can;
Last night the kings of the earth were chill
For dread of a naked man.
‘If he speak two more words,’ they said,
‘The slave is more than the free;
If he speak three more words,’ they said,
‘The stars are under the sea.’
Said the King of the East to the King of the West,
I wot his frown was set,
‘Lo, let us slay him and make him as dung,
It is well that the world forget.’
Said the King of the West to the King of the East,
I wot his smile was dread,
‘Nay, let us slay him and make him a god,
It is well that our god be dead.’
They set the young man on a hill,
They nailed him to a rod;
And there in darkness and in blood
They made themselves a god.
And the mightiest word was left unsaid,
And the world had never a mark,
And the strongest man of the sons of men
Went dumb into the dark.
Then hymns and harps of praise they brought,
Incense and gold and myrrh,
And they thronged above the seraphim,
The poor dead carpenter.
‘Thou art the prince of all,’ they sang,
‘Ocean and earth and air.’
Then the bird flew on to the cruel cross,
And hid in the dead man’s hair.
‘Thou art the son of the world.’ they cried, `
‘Speak if our prayers be heard.’
And the brown bird stirred in the dead man’s hair
And it seemed that the dead man stirred.
Then a shriek went up like the world’s last cry
From all nations under heaven,
And a master fell before a slave
And begged to be forgiven.
They cowered, for dread in his wakened eyes
The ancient wrath to see;
And a bird flew out of the dead Christ’s hair,
And lit on a lemon tree.
--G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
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