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From the Morning Bible Readings

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Now I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who receives circumcision that he is bound to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love. You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine; and he who is troubling you will bear his judgment, whoever he is. But if I, brethren, still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? In that case the stumbling block of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would mutilate themselves! For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another take heed that you are not consumed by one another.

–Galatians 5:1-15

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Premiere CN) ‘The Church needs to wake up’, says youth charity as average age of Christians is over 50 for first time ever

For the first time in census history, the average age of people who identify as a Christian in England and Wales is over 50.

New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals the median age of people who describe themselves as “Christian” in 2021 was 51, an increase from 45 in the 2011 census.

Those who identified as “Christian” had the oldest average age out of the main religions in the country, with Muslims having the youngest average age of 27.

Danny Webster, director of advocacy at the Evangelical Alliance told Premier he thinks the way people label themselves has a lot to do with the way the figures have panned out.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Religion & Culture

(BBC) Nigeria’s cost-of-living crisis sparks exodus of doctors

Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, is in the process of introducing new banknotes for the first time in more than 20 years. The move is an attempt to reignite confidence in the currency, the naira, which is under severe pressure. With inflation at more than 20%, people are struggling to cope with the rising cost of living. It is leading to the largest exodus of young professionals in years.

“Imagine going to the grocery store one day, and everything has tripled in price? How do you even cope? You have a family at home. What do you cut out of the budget?” Oroma Cookey Gam tells me by Zoom, her face incredulous.

The fashion designer left Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos, with her young family a year ago for the UK capital, London. Her husband and business partner Osione, an artist, was granted a Global Talent visa, which enables leaders in academia, arts and culture, as well as digital technology to work in the UK.

She says it had become too expensive to raise their young family in Lagos. “Our money was buying us less and less. We weren’t able to pay our bills, we weren’t able to do normal things that we were doing.”

Oroma studied law at the UK’s University of Northumbria and moved back to Nigeria almost 20 years ago, keen to use her degree to help develop her country. Along with Osione, she eventually set up This Is Us, a sustainable fashion and lifestyle brand that uses local materials and artisans, including cotton grown and dyed in northern Nigeria.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Nigeria, Personal Finance

(NYT Op-ed) Ross Douthat–Be Open to Spiritual Experience. Also, Be Really Careful.

For the stringent materialist, everything I’ve just described is reasonable as long as it’s understood to be playacting, experience hunting, artistic experimentation. Only when it becomes serious does it offend against rationality.

However, stringent materialism is itself a weird late-modern superstition, and the kind of experimentation I’m describing is actually far more rational than a life lived as though the universe is random and indifferent and human beings are gene-transmission machines with an illusion of self-consciousness.

Yes, plenty of New Age and woo-woo practices don’t make any sense or lead only unto pyramid schemes; there are traps for the credulous all over. But the basic pattern of human existence and experience, an ordered and mathematically beautiful cosmos that yields extraordinary secrets to human inquiry and supplies all kinds of wild spiritual experiences even in our allegedly disenchanted age (and even sometimes to professional skeptics), makes a general openness to metaphysical possibilities a fundamentally reasonable default. And this is especially true if you have no theological tradition, no religious upbringing to structure your encounter with the universe’s mysteries — if you’re starting fresh, as many people nowadays are.

But precisely because an attitude of spiritual experimentation is reasonable, it’s also important to emphasize something taught by almost every horror movie but nonetheless skated over in a lot of American spirituality: the importance of being really careful in your openness and not just taking the beneficence of the metaphysical realm for granted.

Read it all.

Posted in Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

(Gallup) More Cite Gov’t as Top U.S. Problem; Inflation Ranks Second

More Americans name the government as the nation’s top problem in Gallup’s latest poll, which encompassed the rocky start of the 118th Congress’ term. With high prices persisting, inflation remains the second most-cited problem (15%), and amid elevated tensions about the southern U.S. border, illegal immigration edged up three percentage points to 11%. Mentions of the economy in general fell six points, to 10%, the lowest reading in a year.

The poll’s Jan. 2-22 field period included the four-day, 15-vote process in which Republicans, who now hold a slim majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, ultimately elected Kevin McCarthy to be Speaker of the House. Revelations about classified government documents from 2009 to 2017 found in President Joe Biden’s private office and home also surfaced while the poll was in the field. Although mentions of the government as the nation’s top problem rose six points this month to 21%, job approval ratings of Biden (41%) and Congress (21%) remained flat.

The government ranks as the top problem for both Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (24%) and Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (18%). Inflation and immigration are each cited by 18% of Republicans, while mentions of inflation (11%), the economy in general and race relations (9% each) trail the government among Democrats. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to view unifying the country and the environment as top problems.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Economy, Politics in General, Sociology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Brigid of Kildare

Everliving God, we rejoice today in the fellowship of thy blessed servant Brigid, and we give thee thanks for her life of devoted service. Inspire us with life and light, and give us perseverance to serve thee all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end.

Posted in --Ireland, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Henry Alford

O thou who in the days of thy humiliation didst command the winds and waves, and they obeyed thee: Do thou so dwell within us, that we may be safe from all dangers, and steadfast in all temptations; and evermore keep us in thy peace, for thy holy name’s sake.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Tell me, you who desire to be under law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, the son of the free woman through promise. Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written,

“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear;
break forth and shout, you who are not in travail;
for the children of the desolate one are many more
than the children of her that is married.”

Now we, brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now. But what does the scripture say? “Cast out the slave and her son; for the son of the slave shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” So, brethren, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.

–Galatians 4:21-31

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Premier) Sean Doherty–8 reasons why the CofE’s same-sex unions blessing proposals won’t work

I have been fully involved with the Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith process since it began. As an Anglican ethicist, I was invited to be a member of the theology and ethics working group, one of several groups set up to resource and inform the project. After the LLF resources were produced, I became a member of the Bristol diocese LLF reference group, and led an LLF course at Trinity College Bristol, where I am the principal.

I have participated in good faith in the process, trusting that this was an opportunity for people across the Church to work together to try to find a way forward that was “founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology and the Christian faith as the Church of England has received it”, as the Archbishop of Canterbury put it when launching the project in 2017.

But this is not just an academic matter for me. I also write as one of the minority of LGBT people who believe that the current teaching of the Church is true and good for us and should not change. (You can find out more about my story here).

Following the LLF process, the bishops of the Church of England have now published proposals for prayers for couples in committed relationships, including same-sex couples. The Church of England’s General Synod will soon be voting on whether or not to welcome the bishops’ proposals.

As a member of that Synod, I am not able to welcome them as they currently stand, and I want to share my concerns about the proposals. I do this in a spirit of genuine dialogue. There may be things I have misunderstood or overlooked, and I hope I can be corrected where I am wrong.

My concerns are as follows….

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NBC) A Colorado hiker amazingly survives a 200-foot fall

Here is the NBC blurb–‘Colorado hiker Ruth Woroniecki plunged 200 feet in California’s San Gabriel Mountains and had to hike with a broken neck to reach the rescue helicopter. NBC News’ Steve Patterson has more details on the extraordinary story.’

Watch it all and note the faith reference at the end.

Posted in * General Interest, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

The Latest Edition of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

“Threats to Religious Freedom in the U.S.” with
Dr. Paul Marshall, February 14

Dr. Paul Marshall, Wilson Distinguished Professor of Religious Freedom at the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University will be offering  a public lecture at St. Philip’s Church, Charleston on “The Biblical & Theological Roots of Religious Freedom” at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, February 14. All are invited to attend, and to have the opportunity to meet the cohort of participants in the 10th  Anglican Leadership Institute. Learn more.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Media, Parish Ministry

Remembering Sam Shoemaker on his Feast Day-the importance of soul surgery

We have no respect for a surgeon who goes in but does not cut deeply enough to cure nor a patient who backs out of an operation because it may hurt; yet people can go through their whole lives attending church, listening to searching exposures of human sin, without ever taking it to themselves, or meeting anyone with skill and concern enough to lay the challenge right in their own laps.

Experiment of Faith (New York: Harper&Row, 1957), p.22 (emphasis mine)

Posted in Church History, Pastoral Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Samuel Shoemaker

Holy God, we thank thee for the vision of Samuel Shoemaker, who labored for the renewal of all people: Grant, we pray, that we may follow his example to help others find salvation through the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.Holy God, we thank thee for the vision of Samuel Shoemaker, who labored for the renewal of all people: Grant, we pray, that we may follow his example to help others find salvation through the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Leonine Sacramentary

Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord our God, that in whatever dangers we are placed we may call upon thy name, and that when deliverance is given us from on high we may never cease from thy praise; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Brethren, I beseech you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong; you know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first; and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. What has become of the satisfaction you felt? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me. Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? They make much of you, but for no good purpose; they want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. For a good purpose it is always good to be made much of, and not only when I am present with you. My little children, with whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you! I could wish to be present with you now and to change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.

–Galatians 4:12-20

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Archbishop Welby calls for prayer ahead of historic joint visit to South Sudan

The Archbishop of Canterbury will be visiting South Sudan with Pope Francis and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland from 3rd to 5th February.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has urged people to pray for the people of South Sudan ahead of his historic joint visit to the country with the Pope and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

The Archbishop said the church leaders are making their Pilgrimage of Peace to South Sudan “as servants” to “amplify the cries of the South Sudanese people” who continue to suffer from conflict, flooding and famine.

The Archbishop will be visiting South Sudan with the Holy Father, Pope Francis, and the Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields from 3rd to 5th February. The unprecedented Ecumenical Pilgrimage of Peace is part of the Pope’s Apostolic Journey to the DRC and South Sudan which begins on Tuesday 31st January.

During the South Sudan visit the three church leaders will meet the country’s political leaders, hold an open-air ecumenical prayer vigil for peace and meet with people displaced by the conflict.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, --Scotland, --South Sudan, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Relations, Pope Francis, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Violence

Monday Food for Thought–CS Lewis on the Importance of memory from the Horse and his Boy

As the Lion seemed to have finished, Jill thought she should say something. So she said “Thank you very much. I see.”

“Child,” said Aslan, in a gentler voice than he had yet used, “perhaps you do not see quite as well as you think. But the first step is to
remember. Repeat to me, in order, the four signs.”

Jill tried, and didn’t get them quite right. So the Lion corrected her and made her repeat them again and again till she could say them perfectly. He was very patient over this…

But long before she had got anywhere near the edge, the voice behind her said, “Stand still. In a moment I will blow. But, first, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs.

–C S Lewis The Horse and his Boy, cited by yours truly in yesterday’s sermon at the early service (emphasis mine)

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Poetry & Literature, Theology

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–Why is God bringing an Indictment against his people and what can we learn from it (Micah 6:1-5)?

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Scripture

(Washington Post) $5.4 billion in covid aid may have gone to firms using suspect Social Security numbers

The U.S. government may have awarded roughly $5.4 billion in coronavirus aid to small businesses with potentially ineligible Social Security numbers, offering the latest indication that Washington’s haste earlier in the pandemic opened the door for widespread waste, fraud and abuse.

The top watchdog overseeing stimulus spending — called the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, or PRAC — offered the estimate in an alert issued Monday and shared early with The Washington Post. It came as House Republicans prepared to hold their first hearing this week to study the roughly $5 trillion in federal stimulus aid approved since spring 2020.

The suspected wave of grift targeted two of the government’s most generous emergency initiatives: the Paycheck Protection Program, known as PPP, and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, dubbed EIDL. Started under President Donald Trump — and managed by the beleaguered Small Business Administration — the roughly $1 trillion in loans and grants aimed to help cash-strapped companies stay afloat financially during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, The U.S. Government

([Yesterday’s Sunday London] Times) How do we stop the robot takeover? Oxford dons have a plan

On a dank Friday night in Oxford, an ambassador from the Vatican addresses a gathering of philosophers. The location is St Luke’s Chapel, its walls crisp and whitewashed, its glass windows stained. The father ponders Aristotle’s insights on the good life.

But for the invocation for audience members to tweet about the event, this might be a scene from the 15th century. Yet the subject matter under discussion could not be more contemporary: robots and what to do about them.

Father Paolo Benanti, the speaker, is the Pope’s adviser on artificial intelligence. His urgent message to the assembled boffins, fellows of the newly created Institute for Ethics in AI at Oxford University, is that we are in danger of becoming an “algocracy”, a society ruled by algorithms. “We must recognise how order is made, how power is shifted by these new tools,” Benanti pleads. “What rights do we want to sacrifice in the name of efficiency?”

These questions posed by Benanti are anything but academic. Much of our life, from what books we buy to what news we consume, is already heavily influenced by algorithms. But the past two years have seen a quantum leap in the quality and sophistication of artificial intelligence. We have entered what many experts are now describing as a golden age of AI.

Read it all(subscription).

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Church of England

God our creator,
who in the beginning
commanded the light to shine out of darkness:
we pray that the light of the glorious gospel of Christ
may dispel the darkness of ignorance and unbelief,
shine into the hearts of all your people,
and reveal the knowledge of your glory
in the face of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no better than a slave, though he is the owner of all the estate; but he is under guardians and trustees until the date set by the father. So with us; when we were children, we were slaves to the elemental spirits of the universe. But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir.

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were in bondage to beings that by nature are no gods; but now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days, and months, and seasons, and years! I am afraid I have labored over you in vain.

–Galatians 4:1-11

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Prayers for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina This Day

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Henry Alford

O Lord, who alone canst cast out the evil passions and desires of the soul: Come among us, we pray thee, and by thy mighty power subdue our spiritual enemies, and set us free from the tyranny of sin. We ask it in thy name and for thy glory.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

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

–Psalm 24:7-10

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Taking A Few Days fully to Drink in the Mere Anglicanism Conference

You may read more all about it there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Apologetics, Theology

Could Advanced AI ‘kill everyone?’; some Oxford researchers say yes

Advanced artificial intelligence (AI) could “kill everyone” and should be regulated like nuclear weapons, experts have warned.

Superhuman algorithms that outperform mankind are on the way and may present just as much threat to humans as we posed to the dodo, researchers from Oxford University told MPs at the Science and Technology Select Committee.

The committee heard how advanced AI could take control of its own programming if it learned to achieve its goals in a different way than originally intended.

Doctoral student Michael Cohen said: “With superhuman AI there is a particular risk that is of a different sort of class, which is, well, it could kill everyone.

“If you imagine training a dog with treats it will learn to pick actions that lead to it getting treats, but if the dog finds the treat cupboard it can get the treats itself without doing what we wanted it to do.

Read it all.

Posted in Science & Technology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Timothy and Titus

Almighty God, who didst call Timothy and Titus to do the work of evangelists and teachers, and didst make them strong to endure hardship: Strengthen us to stand fast in adversity, and to live godly and righteous lives in this present time, that with sure confidence we may look for our blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Frank Colquhoun

Lord Jesus, who in thy tender love didst stretch forth thy hand and touch the leper who came to thee for cleansing: Grant us a like compassion for all who claim our help, and a willingness to identify ourselves with them in their need; for thy sake who wast made sin for us, and who art our righteousness and our salvation, now and for ever.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

A Psalm of Asaph. The Mighty One, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. Our God comes, he does not keep silence, before him is a devouring fire, round about him a mighty tempest.

–Psalm 50:1-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture