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(WSJ) France Vows to Root Out Islamist Extremism After Beheading of Teacher Samuel Paty

French authorities vowed to crack down on civic groups they said were promoting radical Islam, days after an extremist beheaded a schoolteacher for showing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin on Monday said that 51 associations, including religious schools and mosques, would be visited by security services this week, and a number of them dissolved. Authorities Monday conducted searches targeting 40 suspected extremist individuals and associations, and have opened more than 80 investigations into extremist sentiment expressed online since the attack, officials said.

“We must stop being naive,” Mr. Darmanin said. “There is no reconciliation possible with radical Islam.”

The actions reflect tensions between parts of France’s Muslim community and authorities in the aftermath of the slaying of the teacher, 47-year-old Samuel Paty, in an attack that shocked the nation.

Read it all.

Posted in Education, France, Terrorism, Violence

(BBC) Archbishop of York enthroned in socially distanced service

The Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell becomes the 98th archbishop, taking over from Dr John Sentamu as the second most senior Church of England cleric.

A limited number of people were allowed to attend the socially distanced service, which was streamed online.

Archbishop Cottrell said he was “delighted and humbled” to take up the role.

“I have begun my ministry at a time of huge hardship and challenge and at the moment Covid19 is having a particularly devastating impact in the north,” he said.

“We don’t know how long the current restrictions will be in place. However, the worship and work of the church goes on bringing much needed hope, relief and practical help to the communities we serve.”

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, Church of England (CoE)

(NBC) Wonderfully encouraging story from California–Family’s mission to provide desks for kids in need

“Mitch Couch initially built just one desk for his daughter. After posting a YouTube tutorial, parents needing desks started reaching out, and other volunteers across the country joined in to help build desks for kids in need.”

Watch the whole thing.

Posted in Children, Education, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–What is Real Christian Ministry (1 Thesalonians 1)?

The sermon starts about 18:30 in.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Soteriology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

(Sci Tech Daily) New Blood Test Accurately Predicts Which COVID-19 Patients Will Develop Severe Infection

Scientists have developed, for the first time, a score that can accurately predict which patients will develop a severe form of Covid-19.

The study, led by researchers at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, is published in The Lancet’s translational research journal EBioMedicine.

The measurement, called the Dublin-Boston score, is designed to enable clinicians to make more informed decisions when identifying patients who may benefit from therapies, such as steroids, and admission to intensive care units.

Until this study, no Covid-19-specific prognostic scores were available to guide clinical decision-making. The Dublin-Boston score can now accurately predict how severe the infection will be on day seven after measuring the patient’s blood for the first four days.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Luke

Almighty God, who didst inspire thy servant Luke the physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of thy Son: Graciously continue in thy Church the like love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of thy Name; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Eastern Orthodox Church

Fence me about, O Lord, with the power of Thine honourable and life-giving Cross, and preserve me from every evil.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

To thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in thee I trust,
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Yea, let none that wait for thee be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know thy ways, O Lord;
teach me thy paths.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me,
for thou art the God of my salvation;
for thee I wait all the day long.

–Psalm 25:1-4

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Sunday Food for Thought–Dallas Willard on Discipleship and Living Forever

When Mickey Mantle was dying of diseases brought on by a life of heavy drinking, he said that he would have taken better care of himself had he only known how long he was going to live. He gives us a profound lesson. How should we “take care of ourselves” when we are never to cease? Jesus shows his apprentices how to live in the light of the fact that they will never stop living. This is what his students are learning from him.

–Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy (San Francisco: Harper, 1998), p. 86, quoted by yours truly in the morning sermon

Posted in Christology, Eschatology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Gregorian Sacramentary

May the grace of the Lord Jesus sanctify us and keep us from all evil; may He drive far from us all hurtful things, and purify both our souls and bodies; may He bind us to Himself by the bond of love, and may His peace abound in our hearts.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Now these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

–1 Corinthians 10:10-13

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(SA) How Straight Talk Helped One State, Maine, to Control COVID19

The state of Maine has the nation’s oldest population, with an average age of 45.1 versus 38.5 for the U.S. overall. It is also among the country’s poorest. Fewer than one third of residents hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Yet despite these risk factors, Maine has a remarkably low prevalence of COVID-19: at last count, there have been 5,780 cases (about 430 per 100,000 people), 463 hospitalizations and 143 deaths. The state’s COVID-19 test positivity rate—averaging roughly 0.5 percent—is the lowest in the nation. In comparison, equally rural and far flung North Dakota, with roughly 60 percent of the population of Maine and an average age of 35.5, has suffered 28,244 cases (about 3,700 per 100,000 people), 357 deaths and a test positivity rate of roughly 8.1 percent.

The face of Maine’s successful policy is Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Shah’s rock star status is reflected in his impressive Twitter following, a Facebook fan club and even an electronic road sign on the state’s Route 196 that blinks “In Shah We Trust.” The fact that a self-described “brown guy with a funny name from another state who has been here for 400 days could be viewed as a voice for science,” Shah has tweeted, “speaks more about the character of Maine people than anything else could.” Clearly, that “voice for science” has had a powerful influence. Cell-phone-tracking data indicate that Maine residents have sharply curtailed travel since March. And surveys suggest a general adherence to public health advice on mask wearing and social distancing, even in outdoor spaces such as hiking trails.

Trained in law and economics as well as medicine, Shah takes a broad view of public health that relies on equal parts science, persuasion and empathy. His twice-weekly public radio briefings follow three principles: never shy away from the truth, answer questions directly, and acknowledge the statistics and numbers without overlooking the human element. Our national approach, he says, does not adhere to those principles.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, State Government

(AH) Rodney Hacking–St. Ignatius of Antioch and the Renewal of the Anglican Episcopate

Ignatius offers a fascinating insight into the heart of a true man of God given over to His will. It is tempting to want to leap from his example and vision of episcopacy to its practice within our own Church at this time, but such a leap needs great care. A bishop in the first decade of the second century cannot fairly be compared even to one of 250 years later let alone in the Church of today. The three-fold ministry was still in an early stage of its development. Even though Lightfoot has cogently argued that a case can be made for regarding episcopacy as being of Apostolic direction, and therefore possessing Divine sanction, long years of evolution and growth lay before it. At this stage too the Church across the Roman Empire faced the daily possibility of considerable persecution and martyrdom. That demanded a particular kind of shepherding and witness.

On the other hand a bishop at the beginning of the third millennium might profitably and properly ask (or be asked) whether endless committees and synods are really the way in which their lives are to be laid down for their flock? An institution requires administration, but in the New Testament list of charisms, administrators are quite low in the order of priorities, and of its pastors at this time the Church has other, more pressing, needs. Rather than imposing upon an already disheartened clergy systems of appraisal (mostly copied from secular models of management) it would be good for parish priests to experience bishops as those who were around so much that they could afford regularly to ”˜drop in’ and just be with them. It is hard to expect the parish clergy to make visiting a priority if their fathers in God do not set an example.

In some dioceses the more obviously pastoral role has sometimes been exercised by a suffragan but as more and more diocesan bishops, at least within the Church of England, are being selected from the ranks of the suffragans the temptation is for those who are ambitious to prove their worth more as potential managers than those given to the ”˜Word of God and prayer’ (Acts 6.2). If the communities within which the bishops are to exercise their ministry of unity and care are too large for them to do their work has not the time come to press for smaller dioceses and for bishops to strip themselves of the remnants of the grandeur their office once held and be found, above all, with their clergy and amongst the people, drawing them together into the unity for which Christ gave himself?

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Ecclesiology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Ignatius of Antioch

Almighty God, we praise thy name for thy bishop and martyr Ignatius of Antioch, who offered himself as grain to be ground by the teeth of wild beasts that he might present unto thee the pure bread of sacrifice. Accept, we pray thee, the willing tribute of our lives, and give us a share in the pure and spotless offering of thy Son Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Prayer Manual

O God, Who art man’s sovereign good, and dost seek the love of Thy children: deliver us from sloth in Thy work and coldness in Thy cause; rekindle in us love by our looking unto Thee, and by our waiting upon Thee renew our strength; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Now I know that the LORD will help his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with mighty victories by his right hand. Some boast of chariots, and some of horses; but we boast of the name of the LORD our God. They will collapse and fall; but we shall rise and stand upright. Give victory to the king, O LORD; answer us when we call.

–Psalm 20:6-9

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Churches must challenge the systems that cultivate modern slavery, webinar in Wales hears

Church communities and people of faith must challenge the systems and structures that have allowed modern slavery to become the fastest-growing crime around the world, a panel of international experts and activists told a webinar hosted by the Church in Wales in advance of Modern Slavery Day on Sunday.

The speakers concluded that it had to be about more than raising awareness of something in which services and products used every day were implicated: manufacturing supply chains, casual labour, and sexual and criminal exploitation. Statutory systems were fragmented and not working well, despite the Modern Slavery Act and the introduction of the National Referral Mechanism, they said; “pitifully small” numbers of perpetrators were being brought to justice.

An estimated 40.3 million men, women, and children worldwide are estimated to be trapped in modern slavery, among them potentially up to 136,000 victims in the UK alone. “We are losing the battle,” the former Bishop of Derby, Dr Alastair Redfern, founder of the C of E’s Clewer Initiative on modern slavery, said. He described it as “the sharp end of inequality”. There was a “massively strange silence” among Christian people, he said, in a climate in which consumers wanted cheap goods and claimed rights without responsibilities.

Awareness was not enough, panellists said. Unity was the greatest weapon against trafficking, said Commissioner Christine MacMillan, who is the founder and director of the Salvation Army’s International Social Justice Commission, and chairs the World Evangelical Alliance’s Global Human Trafficking Task Force.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of Wales, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Violence

(Tablet Magazine) American liberalism is in danger from a new ideology–Stop Being Shocked

No one has yet decided on the name for the force that has come to unseat liberalism. Some say it’s “Social Justice.” The author Rod Dreher has called it “therapeutic totalitarianism.” The writer Wesley Yang refers to it as “the successor ideology”—as in, the successor to liberalism.

At some point, it will have a formal name, one that properly describes its mixture of postmodernism, postcolonialism, identity politics, neo-Marxism, critical race theory, intersectionality, and the therapeutic mentality. Until then, it is up to each of us to see it plainly. We need to look past the hashtags and slogans and the jargon to assess it honestly—and then to explain it to others.

The new creed’s premise goes something like this: We are in a war in which the forces of justice and progress are arrayed against the forces of backwardness and oppression. And in a war, the normal rules of the game—due process; political compromise; the presumption of innocence; free speech; even reason itself—must be suspended. Indeed, those rules themselves were corrupt to begin with—designed, as they were, by dead white males in order to uphold their own power.

“The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house,” as the writer Audre Lorde put it. And the master’s house must be dismantled—because the house is rotted at its foundation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Media, Movies & Television, Philosophy, Politics in General, Secularism

A Theological Conversation with Retired South Carolina Bishop C FitzSimons Allison

It covers topics such as grace, justification, guilt and the gospel–Listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–On bishops, creation and the environment

Last week, the Diocese of Oxford posted a video, the first in a planned series of four, in which Olivia Graham, the recently-appointed bishop of Reading, gave a short theological introduction to the reasons why Christians should be concerned about the environment. In it, I think she said some unusual and (it turned out controversial) things:

2.48 The incarnation isn’t a single birth, but it began 14 billion years ago with an event we call the Big Bang. At that moment, God poured Godself into the emerging universe…every particle of it charged with the incarnate presence of God. The whole earth, then, is God’s body, the whole cosmos is incarnational…

3.22 Creation and incarnation are not two separate events, but one process of God’s self-giving and self communication.

4.22 All that happens is sustained and sanctified; every act of evolving nature is an act of God, because every act of nature’s growth is the energy of divine love. Evolution is not only of God, but is God incarnate.

5.00 Can there be any separation between the sacred and the profane?

5.16 Father, we praise you with all your creatures…they are filled with your presence and your tender love.

5.41 Today you [Jesus] are alive in every creature in your risen glory.

I wasn’t really surprised that there was a reaction to this, since anyone who knows a bit of biblical theology will have spluttered into their tea cups. Simply put, it is a central affirmation of Scripture, and of all orthodox theology in the Judeo-Christian tradition, that God is distinct from God’s creation, and should not be confused with it—in striking contrast to a whole range of other religious traditions. The term ‘incarnation’ does indeed mean ‘taking on flesh’, and by implication means that that which is incarnated was not previously embodied. This both means that the incarnation, the coming of the Word of God in human form, was a unique event, is theologically surprising (since God does not have a body), and that it is also something we bodily humans cannot do; our mission can never be ‘incarnational’, since (unlike God) we are have never been unbodied—even if our mission engagement is contextual and takes the form of concrete actions (which are much more helpful terms).

The idea that every act of creation is an act of God is bizarre—are the slaughter of one creature by another, and the previous mass extinctions, all acts of God? I think Stephen Fry’s position, that these are a source of offence to the idea of a loving God, is much more persuasive! Yes, there can be a separation of the sacred and profane; the only time when this separation is finally ended is when heaven comes down to earth in the New Jerusalem at the end of this age. No, all God’s creatures are not filled with God’s presence; if so, then there is no need for redemption. And Jesus is not yet alive in every creature—if so, then we would have nothing to proclaim.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Theology

(WSJ) Pfizer Could Apply for Emergency Use of Covid-19 Vaccine by Late November

Pfizer Inc.laid out a timetable for reaching key milestones in the development of its Covid-19 vaccine that could mean the shots start becoming available in the U.S. before year’s end.

Chief Executive Albert Bourla said Friday the company could start to see from a large study whether the vaccine works by the end of this month and would have data on its safety by the third week of November. If the preliminary results indicate the vaccine can work safely, Pfizer could ask U.S. health regulators to permit use by late November, Mr. Bourla said.

The timetable, which Mr. Bourla provided in a letter posted to Pfizer’s website, suggests the shots could start going into use in late November, or more likely in December, since regulators would probably need some time to review the study data as well as Pfizer’s manufacturing operations.

New York-based Pfizer is developing its vaccine candidate with German partner BioNTech SE.

It is far from certain the vaccine would prove to work safely in the trial now enrolling some 44,000 volunteers. And the timetable could be pushed back for a number of reasons, including if it takes longer than Pfizer expects for study subjects to get exposed to the virus.

Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley and Thomas Cranmer

Keep us, O Lord, constant in faith and zealous in witness, after the examples of thy servants Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and Thomas Cranmer; that we may live in thy fear, die in thy favor, and rest in thy peace; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer of Thanksgiving to Begin the Day from the Iona Books

Most worthy art Thou, O good and gracious God, of all praise, even for Thine own sake which exceedeth all things in holiness. By Thee only we are hallowed and made holy. As our duty continually bids us, we praise Thee for our glorious redemption, purchased for us in Thy dearly beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Give us therefore the Holy Spirit to govern us. And grant that all things that breathe with life may praise Thee; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, Who reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever.

–Frederick B.Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I keep the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved….Thou dost show me the path of life; in thy presence there is fulness of joy, in thy right hand are pleasures for evermore

Psalm 16:7-8;11

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Crux) Kidnapped Christians released in Nigeria

Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a global campaigner for religious freedom, has called for continued prayers for Nigeria after the release of four students and their teacher who were kidnapped in August.

The gunmen also killed one man and burned down a local church during the raid in the northwestern state of Kaduna. On Saturday, the victims were freed.

“We welcome the efforts that led to their release as we were among the organizations calling for action in their case.” said CSW’s Kiri Kankhwende.

“We must continue to pray for Christians and other vulnerable communities in Nigeria. Pray the children of all communities whose lives have been devastated by violence, and for the safety of Christian leaders, who are increasingly being targeted for abduction, and for wisdom and strategy as they lead their congregations at this difficult time,” she told Crux.

Read it all.

Posted in Nigeria, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(Local Paper) South Carolina logs over 1,000 new coronavirus cases as percent positive hovers above 10%

For the first time in over a month, South Carolina logged more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday.

The 1,072 new cases are the highest number of positive tests the state Department of Health and Environmental Control has announced in a single day since Sept. 4, according to records maintained by The Post and Courier. DHEC’s amended data, which includes cases that were reported late, shows the department tallied 1,000 cases Oct. 8.

It’s a marked change from midsummer, when DHEC’s amended data shows the state regularly counted over 2,000 cases per day. Experts warn that cases could swell in the fall as cool weather drives people indoors, but expect masks and social distancing to mitigate the spread.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, State Government

(C of E) ‘Covid is having a profound effect’ – a church taking on mental health issues in its community

A church in the North West of England is pioneering mental health support as reports of mental health issues rise during the Covid-19 pandemic.

St Cuthbert’s Church in Croxteth Park, Liverpool, has seen an increasing demand for what it offers to those with mental health problems.

Speaking ahead of World Mental Health Day 2020, he vicar, the Revd Laura Leatherbarrow, said: “There’s a feeling across the board of people who have never suffered with mental health issues before are now getting anxious – or getting back depression or being diagnosed with depression for the first time.

“I’ve certainly seen Covid having a profound effect on all ages – younger as well as older.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Psychology

(CT) Rebecca Toscano reviews Rich Villodas’s new book–The Antidote to Spiritual Shallowness Isn’t ‘Believing Harder’ but Going Deeper

When I was a kid, I had a recurring nightmare that a loved one in my life was possessed by a demon. Immersed in this dream world, I often thought of Jesus’ words from Matthew 17: “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed,” then “nothing will be impossible for you” (v. 20). This spurred me on to fresh efforts at casting out the demon, but nothing ever worked. In response, I tried conjuring up even more faith from somewhere within myself.

A similar impulse remained throughout my adolescence and early adulthood. Whenever I came to a spiritual or religious difficulty—whether it was trying to break a sinful habit, discerning God’s will, or growing in intimacy in my relationships—my impulse was the same: If I could just believe harder (whatever that meant, I was never sure), then I’d be able to move whatever mountain lay before me.

I’ve learned over time that deepening faith is not just a mental exercise. It requires action. This lesson was recently reinforced by Rich Villodas’s The Deeply Formed Life: Five Transformative Values to Root Us in the Way of Jesus, which invites Christians to penetrate further into the mysteries of our faith, the history and traditions of our global church, our relationships with others, and the reality of our own inner lives.

In the midst of a national pandemic that forces us to cover our faces and mediate our social engagements (including worshiping God) through computer screens, Villodas’s book could not come at a more opportune moment.

As the lead pastor of New Life Fellowship in Queens for seven years, Villodas guides the reader from experience. He leads a flock that is one of the most multiracial Protestant churches in the United States.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

(MIT News) Solar-powered system extracts drinkable water from “dry” air

Researchers at MIT and elsewhere have significantly boosted the output from a system that can extract drinkable water directly from the air even in dry regions, using heat from the sun or another source.

The system, which builds on a design initially developed three years ago at MIT by members of the same team, brings the process closer to something that could become a practical water source for remote regions with limited access to water and electricity. The findings are described today in the journal Joule, in a paper by Professor Evelyn Wang, who is head of MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering; graduate student Alina LaPotin; and six others at MIT and in Korea and Utah.

The earlier device demonstrated by Wang and her co-workers provided a proof of concept for the system, which harnesses a temperature difference within the device to allow an adsorbent material — which collects liquid on its surface — to draw in moisture from the air at night and release it the next day. When the material is heated by sunlight, the difference in temperature between the heated top and the shaded underside makes the water release back out of the adsorbent material. The water then gets condensed on a collection plate.

But that device required the use of specialized materials called metal organic frameworks, or MOFs, which are expensive and limited in supply, and the system’s water output was not sufficient for a practical system. Now, by incorporating a second stage of desorption and condensation, and by using a readily available adsorbent material, the device’s output has been significantly increased, and its scalability as a potentially widespread product is greatly improved, the researchers say.

Read it all.

Posted in Science & Technology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Teresa of Avila

O God, who by thy Holy Spirit didst move Teresa of Avila to manifest to thy Church the way of perfection: Grant us, we beseech thee, to be nourished by her excellent teaching, and enkindle within us a lively and unquenchable longing for true holiness; through Jesus Christ, the joy of loving hearts, who with thee and the same Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer