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Prayers for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina This Day

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Church of England

Gracious Father,
by your Holy Spirit revive your Church in our day,
and make her holy, strong and faithful,
for your glory’s sake
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen (edited slightly).

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well.” And immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had been done to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

–Mark 5:25-34

Posted in Theology: Scripture

South Carolina Anglican laywoman Julie Grant’s new book on grief

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Laity, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Jeremy Taylor

O God, whose days are without end, and whose mercies cannot be numbered: Make us, we beseech thee, like thy servant Jeremy Taylor, deeply sensible of the shortness and uncertainty of human life; and let thy Holy Spirit lead us in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Church of England

Lord God,
your Son left the riches of heaven
and became poor for our sake:
by your Spirit when we prosper save us from pride,
when we are needy save us from despair,
that we may trust in you alone;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen (slightly edited).

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Beth-za’tha, which has five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed. One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked. Now that day was the sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the sabbath, it is not lawful for you to carry your pallet.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me said to me, ‘Take up your pallet, and walk.'” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your pallet, and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews persecuted Jesus, because he did this on the sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working still, and I am working.” This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but also called God his Father, making himself equal with God.

–John 5:1-18

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Gafcon Chairman Foley Beach’s August Letter on the partial Lambeth Gathering

I am writing to you regarding last week’s [partial] Lambeth [gathering (and hereafter-ed.)] as this is on the minds of many Anglicans around the world.  Over the last couple of decades, Lambeth [gathering] organizers and events like these have routinely mixed heresy and orthodoxy; treating both positions as equally valid. The clear teaching of Scripture is treated as one of many valid options with no accountability for those Provinces who depart from the Bible.  I wish I could be writing to you and sharing that the recent Lambeth [gathering] was different, but it was not. Before the Lambeth [gathering], Archbishop Henry Ndukuba (Nigeria), Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba (Uganda) and Archbishop Laurent Mbanda (Rwanda) wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury that they were not attending the [gathering] “because the Anglican Communion has failed to address with remorse and repentance the issues that necessitated their absence at the 2008 Lambeth [partial] Conference.”  Retired Archbishop Mouneer Anis eloquently named the problem, “The Anglican Communion cannot deal with the brokenness of the world if she herself is broken.”

Sadly, rather than being a source of healing and unity, the Lambeth [gathering] compounded the problems. The Lambeth [gathering] was filled with confusion, and what that means for global Anglicanism has just begun to be felt.  The Canterbury Communion is broken, not just metaphorically, but literally, as those in attendance could not in good conscience all share Holy Communion.  The Primates of Brazil, Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, North America, Rwanda, and Uganda, and many bishops from all over the Anglican Communion in the Gafcon movement did not attend the Lambeth [gathering] because to do so would violate their consciences. However, we respected the decision of our brother Primates whose consciences led them to go to Lambeth and contend for the Gospel and the Holy Scriptures.  The power of their presence magnified the power of our absence.

Archbishop Justin Badi (South Sudan) and Archbishop James Wong (Indian Ocean) of Gafcon and the Global South Fellowship of Anglicans admirably led the orthodox cause for biblical theology and morality in the midst of a situation in which the balance of institutional power was stacked heavily against them.  I commend them for differentiating themselves from the false teaching of the Canterbury Communion and for not partaking of Holy Communion with unrepentant bishops living in immorality. It was also helpful that they reminded the [gathering] that we have not agreed to walk together no matter how many times the Archbishop of Canterbury says otherwise.  At the end of the [gathering], these orthodox leaders in attendance provided a communique of their experience at the meeting, and for all those who care about the future of global Anglicanism, I commend it for your reading. The Canterbury Communion has ceased to be a place where communion can be shared and has devolved into something more akin to a federation or association of Provinces with a common history and incompatible theologies and moral….[theology].

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Latest News

(BBC) Kenya elections: Long wait for Raila Odinga and William Ruto in poll count

Kenya’s vote counting system has not been hacked amid a tense wait for results of Tuesday’s presidential election, a top poll official has said.

“Nothing like that has happened. It is misinformation,” said the electoral commission’s CEO Marjan Hussein Marjan.

Social media has been awash with allegations that fake results have been uploaded as the count is verified.

Media tallies show the two leading candidates – Raila Odinga and William Ruto – are neck and neck.

But it is only the electoral commission that can declare the winner – and it has seven days to do so.

“We anticipated that people would try to hack our systems… we assure the whole country that our systems are actually secure,” Mr Marjan told reporters on Friday afternoon.

Read it all.

Posted in Kenya, Politics in General

(PS) Richard Haas–Xi Jinping’s Guns of August

….the focus on Pelosi’s visit is misplaced. The important question is why China responded not just by denouncing the trip, but with import and export bans, cyberattacks, and military exercises that represented a major escalation over anything it had previously done to punish and intimidate Taiwan.

None of this was inevitable. The Chinese leadership had options. It could have ignored or downplayed Pelosi’s visit. What we saw was a reaction – more accurately, an overreaction – of choice. The scale and complexity of the response indicates that it had long been planned, suggesting that if the Pelosi trip had not taken place, some other development would have been cited as a pretext to “justify” China’s actions.

China’s increasingly fraught internal political and economic situation goes a long way toward explaining Xi’s reaction. His priority is to be appointed to an unprecedented third term as leader of the Communist Party of China; but the country’s economic performance, for decades the principal source of legitimacy for China’s leaders, can no longer be counted on as growth slows, unemployment rises, and financial bubbles burst. Xi’s insistence on maintaining a zero-COVID policy is also drawing criticism domestically and reducing economic growth.

Increasingly, it appears that Xi is turning to nationalism as a substitute. When it comes to generating popular support in China, nothing competes with asserting the mainland’s sovereignty over Taiwan.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Foreign Relations, Politics in General

(NYT front page) Arctic Warming Is Happening Faster Than Described, Analysis Shows

The rapid warming of the Arctic, a definitive sign of climate change, is occurring even faster than previously described, researchers in Finland said Thursday.

Over the past four decades the region has been heating up four times faster than the global average, not the two to three times that has commonly been reported. And some parts of the region, notably the Barents Sea north of Norway and Russia, are warming up to seven times faster, they said.

One result of rapid Arctic warming is faster melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which adds to sea-level rise. But the impacts extend far beyond the Arctic, reaching down to influence weather like extreme rainfall and heat waves in North America and elsewhere. By altering the temperature difference between the North Pole and the Equator, the warming Arctic appears to have affected storm tracks and wind speed in North America.

Read it all.

Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Florence Nightingale

Life-giving God, who alone hast power over life and death, over health and sickness: Give power, wisdom, and gentleness to those who follow the example of thy servant Florence Nightingale, that they, bearing with them thy Presence, may not only heal but bless, and shine as lanterns of hope in the darkest hours of pain and fear; through Jesus Christ, the healer of body and soul, 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 Godly Prayers in the 1559 Book of Common Prayer

O Almighty and merciful Lord, who givest unto thy faithful people the Holy Spirit as a sure pledge of thy heavenly kingdom: Grant unto us this same Spirit, that he may bear witness with our spirit that we be thy children and heirs of thy kingdom; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

–‘Certaine Godly Prayers To Be Used For Sundry Purposes’ which may be found in its traditional form there.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

After the two days he departed to Galilee. For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast, for they too had gone to the feast. So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Caper’na-um there was an official whose son was ill. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Jesus therefore said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way. As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was living. So he asked them the hour when he began to mend, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live”; and he himself believed, and all his household. This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.

–John 4:43-54

Posted in Theology: Scripture

The Latest Edition of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

St. David’s, Cheraw, Holds First Service in New Worship Space

St. David’s, Cheraw, held their first eucharistic service in their new worship space (Wesley United Methodist Church) this past Sunday. Bishop Lawrence gave an uplifting sermon on faith and hope. “It was such a celebration of faithful Christians!” says Rector, Jason Varnadore. “We were joined in person by others in the diocese and in prayer by others in the state, country and world.”

The above photo was taken in the new worship space on July 31 following St. David’s final service in the historic building. After that service they held a covered dish supper—and then marched through town to their new place of worship! “We sat in the sanctuary, prayed, then broke out in the Doxology,” said Varnadore.

Read it all.

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

(Economist) How to prevent a war between America and China over Taiwan

America and China agree on very little these days. Yet on the subject of Taiwan, at least in one regard, they are in total harmony. The status quo surrounding the self-governing island, which China claims and whose thriving democracy America supports, is changing in dangerous ways, say officials on both sides. War does not look imminent, but the uneasy peace that has held for more than six decades is fragile. Ask them who is at fault, however, and the harmony shatters.

That much is clear from the crisis triggered this month by a visit to Taiwan by the speaker of America’s House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. She was well within her rights, but her trip was provocative. It infuriated the Chinese Communist Party. One of Ms Pelosi’s predecessors had visited the island in 1997, but China’s top diplomat claimed that American “saboteurs” had wrecked the status quo. After Ms Pelosi left, China fired missiles over the island and carried out live-fire drills that encircled it, as if it were rehearsing for a blockade.

Since the previous stand-off in 1995-96, America, China and Taiwan have all grown uneasy with the ambiguities and contradictions—the status quo, if you will—on which peace precariously rests. China, especially, has bared its teeth. If the world is to avoid war, it urgently needs to strike a new balance.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., China, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Taiwan

(CT) Younger Pastors More Likely to Say They Struggle With Mental Illness

Lifeway Research study explores US Protestant pastors’ experiences with mental illness and how well their churches are equipped to respond to those who need help.

A majority of pastors (54%) say in the churches where they have served on staff, they have known at least one church member who has been diagnosed with a severe mental illness such as clinical depression, bipolar, or schizophrenia.

Most of those pastors had experience with a small number of members: 18 percent say one or two and another 18 percent say three to five. Fewer pastors say they’ve known 6-10 (8%), 11-20 (5%) or more than 20 (6%). Around a third (34%) say none of their church members have been diagnosed with a severe mental illness, while 12 percent don’t know.

“There is a healthy generational shift occurring as younger and middle-aged pastors are much more likely to have encountered people in church with severe mental illness than the oldest pastors,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research.

Read it all.

Posted in Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Psychology

(NYT Op-ed) David Wallace-Wells–Europe’s Energy Crisis May Get a Lot Worse

I don’t think many Americans appreciate just how tense and tenuous, how very touch and go the energy situation in Europe is right now.

For months, as news of the Ukraine war receded a bit, it was possible to follow the energy story unfolding across the Atlantic and still assume an uncomfortable but familiar-enough winter in Europe, characterized primarily by high prices.

In recent weeks, the prospects have begun to look darker. In early August the European Union approved a request that member states reduce gas consumption by 15 percent — quite a large request and one that several initially balked at. In Spain, facing record-breaking heat wave after record-breaking heat wave at the height of the country’s tourist season, the government announced restrictions on commercial air-conditioning, which may not be set below 27 degrees Celsius, or about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In France, an Associated Press article said, “urban guerrillas” are taking to the streets, shutting off storefront lights to reduce energy consumption. In the Netherlands a campaign called Flip the Switch is asking residents to limit showers to five minutes and to drop air-conditioning and clothes dryers entirely. Belgium has reversed plans to retire nuclear power plants, and Germany, having ruled out the possibility of such a turnabout in June, is now considering it as well.

Read it all.

Posted in Energy, Natural Resources, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Clare of Assisi

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us, we pray thee, from an inordinate love of this world, that, inspired by the devotion of thy servant Clare, we may serve thee with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Lionel Edmund Howard Stephens-Hodge (1914-2001)

Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that as a tree is known by its fruit, so we may be recognized as thy children by our obedience to thy will. Help us to put away all hypocrisy and self-seeking, that we may truly set forth thy glory and extend thy kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

When he summoned a famine on the land,
and broke every staff of bread,
he had sent a man ahead of them,
Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
His feet were hurt with fetters,
his neck was put in a collar of iron;
until what he had said came to pass
the word of the Lord tested him.
The king sent and released him,
the ruler of the peoples set him free;
he made him lord of his house,
and ruler of all his possessions,
to instruct his princes at his pleasure,
and to teach his elders wisdom.

–Psalm 105:16-22

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Telegraph) Rhine close to running dry in German energy nightmare

Germany’s Rhine river will become impassable for barges carrying coal, oil and gas later this week, in a devastating blow to factories upriver.

Levels at Kaub, a key point along the waterway west of Frankfurt, are predicted to fall to below 40cm on Friday, according to the German Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration.

At that chokepoint, the river becomes effectively impassable for many barges, which use the Rhine to move a range of goods including coal, oil and gas.

Water levels will then fall further to 37cm on Saturday, officials warned.

The river runs from Switzerland through France and Germany to the Netherlands, where it joins the North Sea.

Read it all (registration or subscription).

Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Germany, Science & Technology

(Church Times) Bishop Dyer is suspended from duty in Aberdeen & Orkney

The Bishop of Aberdeen & Orkney, the Rt Revd Anne Dyer, has been suspended from duty, it was announced on Wednesday, after two formal complaints alleging misconduct were made.

An official statement from the Scottish Episcopal Church said: “Due process will now follow, through the clergy disciplinary canon. . . The suspension will be kept under regular review. It does not constitute disciplinary action and does not imply any assumption that misconduct has been committed.”

The Bishop of Edinburgh, Dr John Armes, will serve as Acting Bishop of the diocese during this suspension, in addition to his normal duties.

Bishop Dyer’s tenure has been troubled since early in her time in office. She is the first woman bishop in the Scottish Episcopal Church, and was elected by the College of Bishops after the diocese failed to agree a candidate….

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, Ethics / Moral Theology, Scottish Episcopal Church

(TLS) Rhodri Lewis reviews Helen Hackett’s new book ‘The Elizabethan Mind’

As the second Elizabethan age drifts towards its close, Gloriana’s subjects sit uneasily with themselves – distanced from the senses of cultural, social, political, religious and even existential security that earlier generations could, it sometimes seems, take for granted. One of the many virtues of Helen Hackett’s new book is to remind us that, grim as all of this may be, there is little new under the sun.

Although Hackett is a professor of English, The Elizabethan Mind is a work of cultural and intellectual history. In it she reconstructs the nature and scope of the human mind as the sixteenth century understood them. Her source materials are what the early moderns referred to as “poetry” and what she calls “literature”: fictional writing in all its forms. As such, she has written a literary history too – one in which she juxtaposes the canonical and extra-canonical (the translator Anne Lock, the poet Isabella Whitney and the autobiographer Thomas Whythorne, among too many others to list) to illuminating and persuasive effect. But there is no disciplinary inwardness here. It is just that, as Hackett explains, “for the Elizabethans … it is arguable that greater advances were made in understanding the mind through literature than through science”.

By the end of this book the claim seems more than merely arguable. This is partly thanks to Hackett’s compendiousness, but chiefly because she shows that early modern works of literature were capable of grasping a problem theoretical accounts of the human mind worked hard to obscure: amid a range of competing and ostensibly authoritative explanations for the origins and nature of human cognitive power, it was all but impossible to determine which ones were true. In 1611 John Donne famously claimed that “new philosophy calls all in doubt”, but in 1599 Sir John Davies had already channelled a century or more of learned opinion in declaring that “All things without, which round about we see, / We seeke to know, and have therewith to do: / But that whereby we reason, live, and be, / Within our selves, we strangers are theretoo”. Hackett makes it clear that the early modern English had no need of Galileo to feel dazed and confused by their place in the world.

The concluding two chapters are marked by a change in focus. Rather than early modern beliefs about what the mind is or could be said to be, their subject is one of the things that it does – and that the early moderns helped it to do better. That is, the form of applied cognition that we call writing. One chapter looks at the experimental forms of selfhood made possible through autobiography, sonnet sequences and prose fiction such as Sidney’s Arcadia; Hackett is especially strong on the Christian inflections of writing the mind, as the pious subject seeks introspectively to write his or her way to cognizance of having been touched with grace. The last chapter turns to Hamlet. It was Matthew Arnold who first proposed that, in the play’s soliloquies, we observe “the dialogue of the mind with itself”. Hackett is interested both in the dynamics of this dialogue, and in the ideas that it seeks to articulate. If she sometimes treats the soliloquies as if they can be abstracted from the dramatic whole of which they are a part, her approach never feels gratuitous. She needs Hamlet to do certain things in rounding out her history, and she ensures that it does them.

One surprise is that Hackett largely overlooks the debate about the boundary between human beings and, to borrow a phrase, beasts that want discourse of reason. After Vesalius had demonstrated that there was nothing distinctive about the anatomy of the human brain (no special place for the rational soul), this dividing line came to look ever more porous. Montaigne could amuse himself with the notion that his cat was playing with him because he knew that only one of them would be writing essays about their time together; because only one of them enjoyed the liberating benefits of language and Christian belief as Montaigne construed them. Others were less sure of the exceptionalism with which the human condition was conventionally framed. Lear’s anguished “Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life / And thou no breath at all?” is a fine case in point; Descartes’s cogito (like his bête machine) is another.

As it stands, The Elizabethan Mind is an outstanding achievement: broad-ranging, intelligently synthetic and written in unflaggingly lucid prose.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Books, History, Psychology

(BBC) Loire Valley: Intense European heatwave parches France’s ‘garden’

The Loire Valley is known as “the Garden of France”. But the garden is withering.

France’s worst drought since records began has turned lush vegetation into arid fields of brown crops, shrivelling under what is now the fourth heatwave of the year.

In Vincent Favreau’s vegetable farm, where he produces food for a hundred families in the area, the parched earth has stunted the growth of the cabbages. His potato plants are burnt out, producing just half the crop of a normal year.

“Either the vegetables will die of thirst, or they won’t develop enough during this crucial period of growth,” he said, sifting through the dry soil, which he hasn’t been able to water since restrictions came in two weeks ago.

“With this heat and wind, we can’t compensate for what the sun is evaporating. I’ve never seen something like this in my twenty-two years here. If it doesn’t rain within two months, it’ll be a disaster.”

Read it all.

Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, France

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Laurence, Deacon and Martyr

Almighty God, by whose grace and power thy servant Laurence didst triumph over suffering and didst despise death: Grant, we pray, that we, steadfast in service to the poor and outcast, may share with him in the joys of thine everlasting kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Saint Alcuin

O King of glory and Lord of valours, our warrior and our peace; Who hast said, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world,” be Thou victorious in us Thy servants, for without Thee we can do nothing. Give us both to will and to perform. Grant Thy compassion to go before us, Thy compassion to come behind us: before us in undertaking, behind us in our ending. And what shall I more say, unless that Thy will be done, Who dost will that all men should be saved? Thy will is our salvation, our glory, and our joy.

–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

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists murmured against the Hebrews because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the body of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole multitude, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Proch′orus, and Nica′nor, and Timon, and Par′menas, and Nicola′us, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands upon them.

And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.

And Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyre′nians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cili′cia and Asia, arose and disputed with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Then they secretly instigated men, who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” And they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place, and will change the customs which Moses delivered to us.” And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

—-Acts 6:1-15

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(TLS) Nat Segnit–Our new Gilded Age–Exploring the strange world of the modern rich

Again and again, Knowles’s stories attest to a money machine devoted to nothing but its own perpetuation. She cites “no less a figure than UK Financial Services Authority Chairman Adair Turner”, who has described banks as engaged in “‘economically and socially useless activity’.” Big finance is a closed system designed by bankers to redistribute money among themselves. And to what end? The way Knowles tells it, having loads of money is not much fun at all. Jean-Paul Sartre described being rich as an “inherently nervous condition”; the plutocrats Knowles meets, along with their stay-at-home wives and spoilt children, are paranoid, bored or prima donna-ish to the point of mental breakdown. A Colombian woman who organizes VIP services in top-end London hotels tells Knowles that she once had to turn down a request to refloor a suite with turf: “the guest was bringing their dog and the dog would only use the toilet on real grass”.

Money begets purposelessness, particularly in the case of inherited wealth. An assistant to a billionaire’s son notes the “suffocating vacuity” and “emptiness” of lives spent making social occasions – invariably with other, identically aimless members of the super-rich – “last and shape the day”. Parties become an entirely recursive – and exhausting – means of establishing and maintaining one’s status. The spectre of transactionality – are they just after my money? – engenders a profound isolation, entrenched by security arrangements that are as extensive as they are largely absurd. London is not Iraq or Afghanistan. Former SAS soldiers are hired to drive the super-rich to their hair appointments or to carry out “pre-location sweeps” at fancy restaurants. “Spontaneous travel” is discouraged because it causes “severe security concerns”. Like so much in the world of the UHNWIs, security is self-perpetuating, seemingly provided for no other reason that, apart from propelling the CEOs of the security companies to UHNWI status themselves, it stands as a marker for the vast wealth it purports to protect.

Private tutoring operates in much the same way….

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Personal Finance & Investing

(UMNS) Some large Texas Methodist churches vote on disaffiliation

Texas has long been a stronghold of The United Methodist Church in the U.S., boasting the most annual conferences (five) and ranking at the top in number of local churches and prevalence of megachurches.

But this summer has seen many traditionalist congregations in the state weighing whether to leave the denomination.

On Aug. 7, in votes taken within hours of one another, The Woodlands Methodist Church and Faithbridge — both large, traditionalist churches in suburban communities north of Houston — chose to disaffiliate.

The Woodlands Methodist is among the denomination’s very largest churches, ranking fourth in membership and second in worship attendance in 2018. The church is known for its ties to Good News, a longtime traditionalist caucus within The United Methodist Church that has opposed same-sex marriage and ordination of [non-celibate] LGBTQ people.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture