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A Prayer to Begin the Day from The Daily Service

God our Father, who hast created us in thine own image, with a mind to understand thy works, a heart to love thee, and a will to serve thee: Increase in us that knowledge, that love and that obedience, that we may grow daily in thy likeness; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–W. E. Orchard, The Daily Service (Revised Edition); A Book of Public Worship; Divine Service (OUP, 1919 original)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the morning scripture readings

O God, thou art my God, I seek thee,
my soul thirsts for thee;
my flesh faints for thee,
as in a dry and weary land where no water is.
So I have looked upon thee in the sanctuary,
beholding thy power and glory.
Because thy steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise thee.
So I will bless thee as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on thy name.

–Psalm 63:1-4

Posted in Theology: Scripture

An Ad Clerum on Missions from Interim Pittsburgh ACNA Bishop Martyn Minns

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

It was 1985, and our 18-year-old daughter Helen was transferring through Miami International Airport on her way back home to Lafayette, Louisiana, from a short-term mission trip to the Dominican Republic. She had been there leading a team of young people from our church, including our 16-year-old daughter Catherine and our 14-year-old son Jon, as part of a World Servants project. They had worked in a remote village with dirt roads and no running water. In two weeks they had built a simple church structure using concrete block and had also led a Vacation Bible School for the children of the community. It had been hard work, but they were thrilled by all that they had accomplished, and the villagers were overjoyed.

As she walked through the busy airport, Helen spotted “Charlotte” and a group of her old friends from high school. After the usual squeals of delight, Charlotte explained that they were on their way home from a week in Paris, where they had visited various museums and enjoyed many of the delights of that wonderful city. She asked Helen what she had been doing and looked appalled when our daughter described her two weeks of manual labor in the Dominican Republic.

“Why would you ever do such a thing?” Charlotte asked.

Short-term missions are not exactly new, but they have always been somewhat controversial….

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Missions

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Vincent

Almighty God, whose deacon Vincent, upheld by thee, was not terrified by threats nor overcome by torments: Strengthen us, we beseech thee, to endure all adversity with invincible and steadfast faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spain, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory

O Christ, to whom all authority is given both in heaven and earth: Transform our wills, cleanse our hearts, and enlighten our minds; that all our thoughts and desires being made obedient to thy pure and holy law, we may grow up in all things unto thee, and present ourselves a living sacrifice, to the praise and glory of thy name; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and ever.

The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: Services of Praise and Prayer for Occasional Use in Churches (New York: Oxford University Press, 1933)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;

To the end that [my] glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

–Psalm 30:11-12 (KJV)

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) House of Bishops announces move to increase ethnic diversity at meetings

At least ten clergy of UK minority-ethnic / global-majority heritage (UKME / GMH) will be present at meetings of the House of Bishops within months, after its Standing Committee agreed a plan to address its lack of ethnic diversity.

Of the 53 places in the House of Bishops, only four are currently occupied by UKME/GMH bishops. Under plans agreed by the Standing Committee of the House on Thursday it will “ensure that at least 10 can be present, either as members as of right; as suffragan bishops appointed as participant observers, or as priests elected as participant observers”, a statement from Church House said.

“In addition to the four existing UKME/GMH members of the House, the plan will involve three further suffragans (two of whom were recently nominated as bishops) being invited to join the House as participant observers. There would also be three priests elected by serving UKME/GMH clergy.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology

(Economist leader) Momentum is building for war in Ukraine

The first world war became inevitable once mobilisation orders had been issued in Berlin, argued A.J.P. Taylor, a British historian. The complexities of early-20th-century railway timetables, upon which troop movements then depended, made any alteration virtually impossible. Modern armies do not suffer the same constraints. But as Russia sends more and more units to Ukraine’s borders, a grim momentum is building.

Last week’s diplomacy yielded nothing. Some of Vladimir Putin’s demands are impossible for nato to accept, as he well knew. (Essentially, he wants nato never to admit new members, and to remove its forces from any country Russia threatens.) On January 19th President Joe Biden said that he expects Russia to “move in” on Ukraine.

On January 14th hackers sabotaged Ukrainian government websites, getting them to display a poster of the Ukrainian flag and map crossed out, and warning Ukrainians to “be afraid and expect worse”. Over 100,000 Russian troops are massed on Ukraine’s eastern border, with field hospitals and fuel dumps. “Battalion tactical groups” have arrived in Belarus, a Kremlin client state north of Ukraine, in apparent preparation for a two-front attack that would divide Ukrainian forces and menace the capital, Kyiv. Only a trigger is lacking, and America says it has evidence that a “false flag” operation is planned to allow Russia to claim its men had been attacked by Ukraine. The odds of war seem perilously high.

Read it all (registration).

Posted in Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

The Church of England restricts investment in climate laggards

The Church of England’s National Investing Bodies (NIBs) are delivering on their 2018 commitment to General Synod to engage with and disinvest from high carbon emitting companies that are not making progress to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement by 2023.

Twenty companies have made climate-related changes to stay off the Church’s restricted list since 2020.
Following extensive engagement efforts by the NIBs, nine companies made changes to meet the 2021 hurdles. As a result they stayed off the restricted list for a further year, while 28 companies that did not meet the latest climate hurdles were restricted.

These actions are part of the NIBs’ commitment to transitioning their portfolios away from companies that are unwilling to act and align their businesses with the Goals of the Paris Agreement. The climate hurdles were set by the NIBs using Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI) data. Additional exacting hurdles will come into force in 2022 and 2023.

The NIBs are founding members of TPI and are investor engagement leads in the Climate Action 100+ (CA100+) global engagement initiative. As long-term investors, the NIBs will continue to engage with companies to meet their climate objectives and build alliances with like-minded investors to engage with company boards and executives.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Stock Market

(BBC) Stanwick man uses 72-year-old toaster every day

A man who uses his 72-year-old toaster every day said he was embracing the spirit of the wartime generation.

Jimmy James, from Stanwick, in Northamptonshire, said the toaster was manufactured in December 1949 and given to his parents as a wedding present.

The 69-year-old said it only needed repairing once every six or seven years.

Mr James said: “I was brought up by the wartime generation and encouraged to repair things and not throw them away.”

He inherited the Morphy Richards pop-up toaster after his father’s death in 1993.

The machine generally needs repairing “once every six or seven years”, he said.

Read it all.

Posted in Dieting/Food/Nutrition, England / UK, History, Marriage & Family

(FT) Gillian Tett om why we need to watch trucking costs fully to understand the US inflation problem

When America’s Bureau of Labor Statistics released data this month showing that consumer price inflation had surged to 7 per cent, many investors were shocked. No wonder: this marks the fastest jump since 1982.

But here is another number that should spark concern: 17 per cent. That was the annual inflation rate for overall trucking costs last month, according to a (deeply buried) section of the bureau’s data. For the long-haul trucking sector, the number was even scarier: 25 per cent.

That is bad news for business — and consumers — given that almost three-quarters of freight in America is moved by trucks. Or to put it another way, if you want to understand what lies behind that scary 7 per cent inflation number, don’t just track raw material, energy or cross-border shipping costs; watch those oft-ignored truckers too.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Federal Reserve, Travel

A nifty London Times profile on Diocesan Registrar for Chester and Blackburn, Lisa Moncur

On Boxing Day Lisa Moncur received a call from a vicar asking for help to arrange a special marriage licence for someone who was terminally ill. She has also been called on to deal with a badger whose industrious digging had uncovered human remains in a churchyard.

It was all part of her varied work as the Church of England’s diocesan registrar for both Chester and Blackburn. Registrars are personally appointed by the diocesan bishop and must be a qualified solicitor and a communicant in the Church of England.

Moncur was appointed to the diocese in Chester in 2016, and in Blackburn last year, after 20 years working as a commercial property solicitor. In that previous role, Moncur says, “I got up and knew what each day would look like” — but as a diocesan registrar she never knows what to expect and “there is never a dull day”.

Her job is to provide advice and support on ordinations, consecrations, confirmations, baptisms, marriages and burials as well as general legal advice to clergy and parishes, maintaining diocesan and parochial records, and advising on parish trusts.

Read it all (requires subscription).

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Agnes

Almighty and everlasting God, who dost choose those whom the world deemeth powerless to put the powerful to shame: Grant us so to cherish the memory of thy youthful martyr Agnes, that we may share her pure and steadfast faith in thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord, 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 William Bright

We beseech thee, O Lord, to perfect within us the work of grace which thou hast begun; grant us always to think, speak and do what is pleasing to thee; and keep us from falling back into the sins we have repented of; that we may live as in thy presence, and finish our lives in thy fear; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Epiphany, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture readings

‘But I trust in thee, O Lord,
I say, “Thou art my God.”
My times are in thy hand’

–Psalm 31:14-15a

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Premier) The Bishop of Ripon speaks up against government plans to abolish BBC licence fee

A bishop from the Church of England has spoken out about government plans to abolish the BBC licence fee.

Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, the Bishop of Ripon has praised the Corporation’s role in developing greater understanding of religion.

Dr Hartley is a Chair of the Sandford St Martin Trust that promotes ‘excellence in broadcasting about religion ethics and spirituality.’

She has expressed deep concern about Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries statement about possibly abolishing the licence fee after 2027.

Dr Hartley, issued a statement on the Sandford St Martin Trust website, she said: “It is with concern that we at the Trust have read reports that the BBC is to be hit by a funding freeze and that the culture secretary Nadine Dorries is anticipating the abolition of the licence fee after 2027.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Movies & Television, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) ‘Eco dioceses’ all round in race to reach 2030 goal

All 42 dioceses in the Church of England have signed up to become “eco dioceses” as part of their commitment to reaching carbon net zero by 2030.

Under the Eco Dioceses scheme, developed by the charity A Rocha UK, churches and dioceses are awarded bronze, silver, or gold status, depending on actions taken to improve their environmental footprint.

The development was welcomed by the Bishop of Norwich and lead bishop on the environment, the Rt Revd Graham Usher. He said: “Having every diocese sign up is a statement of intent from all of us as we take seriously the need to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss today.

“A Rocha UK’s Eco Church and Diocese scheme is a great tool, which enables local churches at every level of their climate justice journey to engage with environmental issues. We know that climate change and biodiversity loss impact us all — especially the world’s poorest countries….

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(PRC) One-in-Ten Black People Living in the U.S. Are Immigrants

The Black population of the United States is diverse, growing and changing. The foreign-born segment of this population has played an important role in this growth over the past four decades and is projected to continue doing so in future years.

Roughly 4.6 million, or one-in-ten, Black people in the U.S. were born in a different country as of 2019, up from 3% in 1980. By 2060, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that this number will increase to 9.5 million, or more than double the current level (the Census Bureau only offers projections for single race groups).

Between 1980 and 2019, the nation’s Black population as a whole grew by 20 million, with the Black foreign-born population accounting for 19% of this growth. In future years, the Black immigrant population will account for roughly a third of the U.S. Black population’s growth through 2060, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

The Black immigrant population is also projected to outpace the U.S.-born Black population in growth. While both groups are increasing in number, the foreign-born population is projected to grow by 90% between 2020 and 2060, while the U.S.-born population is expected to grow 29% over the same time span.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Immigration, Race/Race Relations, Sociology

(Guardian) Chemical pollution has passed safe limit for humanity, say scientists

The cocktail of chemical pollution that pervades the planet now threatens the stability of global ecosystems upon which humanity depends, scientists have said.

Plastics are of particularly high concern, they said, along with 350,000 synthetic chemicals including pesticides, industrial compounds and antibiotics. Plastic pollution is now found from the summit of Mount Everest to the deepest oceans, and some toxic chemicals, such as PCBs, are long-lasting and widespread.

The study concludes that chemical pollution has crossed a “planetary boundary”, the point at which human-made changes to the Earth push it outside the stable environment of the last 10,000 years.

Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Science & Technology

(BBC) The Bishop of Plymouth, Nicholas McKinnel, to retire in August

The Bishop of Plymouth has announced that he is to retire in August.

The Right Reverend Nicholas McKinnel, said “after 42 years of ordained ministry, now seems a good time to hand over my responsibilities and to have more time for the family and other interests”.

Rev McKinnel, who is married and has four children and nine grandchildren, has been Bishop of Plymouth since 2015.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Fabian

Almighty God, who didst call Fabian to be a faithful pastor and servant of thy people, and to lay down his life in witness to thy Son: Grant that we, strengthened by his example and aided by his prayers, may in times of trial and persecution remain steadfast in faith and endurance, for the sake of him who laid down his life for us all, Jesus Christ our Savior; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Church of South India

Almighty God, the giver of strength and joy: Change, we beseech thee, our bondage into liberty, and the poverty of our nature into the riches of thy grace; that by the transformation of our lives thy glory may be revealed; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Epiphany, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Now the whole earth had one language and few words. And as men migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Ba’bel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

–Genesis 11:1-9

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Guardian) Winchester college society was cult-like, finds report into child abuse

A cult-like evangelical Christian society at a leading private school allowed a powerful and charismatic barrister to groom and sadistically abuse boys with impunity, an investigation has found.

Members of the Christian Forum at Winchester college “showed signs of what would today be described as radicalisation”, said a 197-page review commissioned by the elite school into abuse carried out by John Smyth QC.

The school’s then headteacher, John Thorn, was informed of the abuse in 1982 but did not report it to police. Smyth moved to Zimbabwe, where he abused “as many as 90 boys, possibly resulting in the death of one”, the report said.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Violence

(Economist) China’s birth rate continues to fall

Despite the recent efforts of its government, China’s birth rate is falling. According to data released on January 18th by the National Bureau of Statistics, there were 10.6m births in 2021, 1.4m fewer than the previous year. For five consecutive years population growth has slowed, and last year the number of deaths, at 10.1m, approached the number of births, suggesting that the population may soon start to shrink.

This is a headache for the Chinese Communist Party. Its leaders worry that an ageing population and shrinking workforce will dent the country’s economic growth. After decades of a one-child policy designed to limit population growth, the government has tried to change gear. In 2016 couples were allowed to have a second child for the first time in more than 35 years—and last year the limit was upped to three. The government now tells its people, particularly women, that it is their patriotic duty to have more children. There are plenty of inducements to encourage more energetic procreation, too, including more state-funded childcare and better protection against workplace discrimination for women. Employers often illegally ask women about their childbearing plans in job interviews; some even force female recruits to sign contracts promising not to have children for several years.

Read it all (registration).

Posted in Children, China, Marriage & Family

(Local Paper front page) Staff shortages persist at South Carolina restaurants as COVID19 surges. Some owners see a path forward

Ask most local restaurateurs, and they’ll tell you that staff shortages have been hampering Charleston restaurants for the past five to 10 years.

The COVID-19 pandemic turned the problem into a crisis, and the omicron variant reminded restaurateurs how ongoing staffing struggles, coupled with positive cases, impact daily operations.

In Charleston, King Street’s Monza Pizza Bar has been closed since Nov. 6 “due to acute staffing shortages.” Smallish places like The Pass, a 647-square-foot sandwich shop, have changed operations to limit guest interactions. In Beaufort, a sign from the city’s hospitality association cautions patrons that local small businesses are extremely short staffed.

In the first week of January in the Charleston area, Chasing Sage, Jackrabbit Filly, Berkeley’s, Wild Olive, Estadio and Home Team BBQ, among others, closed for at least one day due to COVID-19 concerns or to give overworked employees extra time to decompress.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Corporations/Corporate Life, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(Economist) Altos Labs–A $3bn bet on finding the fountain of youth

Startups come and startups go. But few startups start with $3bn in the bank. Yet that is the fortunate position in which Altos Labs finds itself. Though preparations for the launch of what must surely be a candidate for the title of “Best financed startup in history” have been rumoured for months, the firm formally announced itself, and its modus operandi, on January 19th. And, even at $3bn, its proposed product might be thought cheap at the price. For the alchemy its founders, Rick Klausner, Hans Bishop and Yuri Milner, hope one day to offer the world is an elixir of life.

Others have tried this in the past. In 2013 an outfit called Calico Life Sciences was set up under the aegis of Google (now Alphabet), with Larry Page, one of that firm’s founders, as an interested party. It has yet to generate a product. In the same year Craig Venter, who ran a private version of the human genome project, and Peter Diamandis, who started the X Prize Foundation, got together to launch Human Longevity, though they subsequently fell out. That company, too, has gone quiet. And there are a string of other hopefuls in the field, many with billionaires like Dr Milner and Mr Page lurking in the background. Indeed, there are rumours, which Altos will not confirm, that Jeff Bezos is one of its investors—for the prolongation of life is a field that seems particularly attractive to the man (and it usually is a man) who otherwise has everything.

Read it all (registration).

Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Science & Technology

(Plough) Erika J. Ahern–Divorce Wrecks Children’s Lives Too

Just after Christmas 2021, Honor Jones, a senior editor at the Atlantic, published “How I Demolished My Life: A Home-Improvement Story.” It’s a self-portrait of a mother who, while wrangling with kitchen renovation plans, decides she doesn’t want a new kitchen.

She wants a divorce.

Jones spends the next three thousand perfectly manicured words trying to justify her decision to break up her family. She displays all the self-congratulatory bravado of middle-aged white women who read Henrik Ibsen’s Doll’s House or Oscar Wilde’s A Picture of Dorian Gray for a high school literature class and then imagine themselves forever in the role of Brave Protestor of Victorian Oppression.

Jones describes her marriage, which produced three children who are still young, as her cage. Her imperfect suburban home is, to her, an icon of her imprisonment.

She doesn’t like the “chaos” of her house and, even with the help of sensible Luba, her hired cleaning woman, she finds the lived-in quality of a home with children irksome.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Wulfstan

Almighty God, whose only-begotten Son hath led captivity captive and given gifts to thy people: Multiply among us faithful pastors, who, like thy holy bishop Wulfstan, will give courage to those who are oppressed and held in bondage; and bring us all, we pray, into the true freedom of thy kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, England / UK, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Bill Braviner

Make us adept, Lord,
at reading the signs
of your working among us;
help us to be unencumbered
by the priorities and possessions
of the world;
rather help us to be free
for the purposes and promises
of your kingdom,
that we may always be ready
to follow your call.

–The Rev. Bill Braviner is a Vicar and Diocesan Disability Adviser in the Diocese of Durham, UK

Posted in Epiphany, Spirituality/Prayer