Friday, July 12, 2013

Anglican Perspective: Wobbly or Winsome?

Canon Phil Ashey
Jul 10, 2013

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, in a recent speech said the following:

"In some things we change course and recognize the new context. Revolutions change culture. In others we stand firm because truth is not set by culture, nor morals by fashion. But let us be clear, pretending that nothing has changed is absurd and impossible."

This statement raises the question, "what beliefs can we, as Christians, in our efforts to evangelize, maintain and what can we allow to be compromised?"

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Scrolling around...July 10, 2013

Feds to Spend $900,000 to Put 'LGBTQ' Teens in 'Transitional Living Programs'
The Department of Health and Human Services through its Administration for Children & Families plans to spend almost $1 million on “transitional living programs” for homeless lesbian, gay, lesbian, transgender and/or questioning (LGBTQ) youth...

Redesigned Window Stops Sound But Not Air, Say Materials Scientists
By exploiting some exotic acoustic techniques, researchers have built a window that allows the passage of air but not sound

White House Has Known For Months Obamacare Implementation Wouldn't Work
...In April, several consultants focusing on the new online marketplaces, known as exchanges, told National Journal that the idealized, seamless user experience initially envisioned under the Affordable Care Act was no longer possible, as the administration axed non-essential provisions that were too complex to implement in time. (Read the story for some examples and commentary.) That focus has intensified lately, as officials announced that they would not be requiring employers to cover their workers next year or states to verify residents' incomes before signing them up for insurance...

Former FISA judge says secret court is flawed
...Robertson said that FISA court judges have been scrupulous in pushing back at times against the government, repeatedly sending back flawed warrants. He also said he came away from his FISA experience "deeply impressed by the careful, scrupulous and fastidious work by the Justice Department" in obtaining secret surveillance warrants.

But he warned that Congress' 2008 reform of the FISA system expanded the government's authority by forcing the court to approve entire surveillance systems, not just surveillance warrants, as it previously handled. Under the FISA changes, "the court is now approving programmatic surveillance. I don't think that is a judicial function," he said.

Robertson said he was "frankly stunned" by a recent Times report that FISA court rulings had created a new body of law broadening the ability of the NSA to use its surveillance programs to target not only terrorists but suspects in cases involving espionage, cyberattacks and weapons of mass destruction.

As the FISA court's role has expanded, Robertson said, the system has failed to add authoritative legal adversaries who could act as effective checks on the government's programs in secret court proceedings...

Military Chaplains Launching Campaign to Protect Religious Freedoms – for Christians
A group of military chaplains is launching a campaign to protect religious freedom in the U.S. Armed Forces – but only for service members of the Christian faith.

The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty said Monday it planned to reach out to Christian members of the military in coming months to inform them of their "constitutionally guaranteed religious liberties." The alliance will connect with those soldiers through its 2,400 member chaplains – which represent nearly half of the total number of chaplains in the military...

Judge blocks new Wisconsin abortion law
A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday evening to block enforcement of a new Wisconsin law that bans doctors who lack admitting privileges at nearby hospitals from performing abortions.

U.S. District Judge William Conley granted the order following a hearing in a lawsuit filed Friday by Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and Affiliated Medical Services. It alleged the requirement would unconstitutionally restrict the availability of abortions in the state, violates the U.S. Constitution's due process guarantee and unconstitutionally treats doctors who perform abortions differently from those who perform other procedures...

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

When prayer is a struggle...

When prayer is a struggle, do not worry about the prayers that you cannot pray. You yourself are a prayer to God at that moment. All that is within you cries out to Him. And he hears all the pleas that your suffering soul and body are making to Him with groanings which cannot be uttered. ...O. Hallesby image 

Scrolling around...July 9, 2013

Love Into Light
Book review: Love Into Light
...The book has several notable strengths that make it a valuable and important contribution to this discussion. One strength is in Hubbard’s approach to homosexuality through a biblical lens. He attempts to diagnosis it accurately using biblical categories and as he does so, he helps show what it is and, perhaps especially helpfully, shows what it is not. He eschews easy labels and easy solutions. Another strength is Hubbard’s pastoral tone and his love for the people he writes for and writes to. It is always clear when a writer knows and loves people who find themselves struggling with same sex attraction and people who are unapologetically homosexual; it is equally clear when a person is writing about a caricature, about people has never met and never loved. A third strength is that the book is anchored in the gospel; from beginning to end, the gospel pervades it all...

Study: People With a Lot of Self-Control Are Happier
...The more self-control people reported having, the more satisfied they reported being with their lives. And contrary to what the researchers were expecting, people with more self-control were also more likely to be happy in the short-term. In fact, when they further analyzed the data, they found that such people's increased happiness to a large extent accounted for the increased life satisfaction...

The IRS Mistakenly Exposed Thousands of Social Security Numbers  Another day, another slipup by the Internal Revenue Service.
The incident involves the unwitting exposure of "tens of thousands" of Social Security numbers, according to a recent audit by the independent transparency and public-domain group The identifying numbers were on the Internet for less than 24 hours after being discovered, but the damage was done. And unfortunately, the data-breach concerns some of the most sensitive types of transactions: Those made by nonprofit political groups known as 527s...

IRS Paying Over 200 Employees to Work Full-Time For Labor Union  The Internal Revenue Service pays over 200 full-time employees not to conduct audits or process tax returns but to work for a federal employees’ union, according to documents released by the agency in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the advocacy group Americans for Limited Government. Forty-three of those employees are earning six-figure salaries, the documents show...

YouVersion Bible App Tops 100 Million Downloads; Releases Series of Infographics
...The free Bible App was among the first 200 apps available on iTunes. Today, there are over 900,000 available on iTunes, which celebrates its five-year anniversary on Wednesday. For three consecutive years, Apple has ranked the Bible App among the top 100 free apps...

America’s Change of Mind on Same-Sex Marriage and LGBTQ Rights   ...But until recently, there had been relatively little research on the responses of religious communities. New studies by researchers such as Andrew Whitehead, reported in the latest issue of the Review of Religious Research, and Gary Adler, who shared his findings in the journal Social Problems, are providing insights into which congregations are more likely to be welcoming to gays and lesbians, and what this means for the future. The studies analyze data from the 2006-2007 National Congregations Study, which asked a series of questions about how welcoming communities are to gays and lesbians in committed relationships.
Some key indicators of congregational attitudes emerged...

California university president apologizes after student ordered to remove cross necklace

University at Buffalo Suppresses Pro-Life Speech
...Earlier this year, UB Students for Life sponsored a debate on the morality of abortion.  UB administrators deemed the event “controversial” and required the group to have UB Police at the event.  When it was all said and done, UB charged the group nearly $650 in security fees.

As is usually the case with university policies regulating “controversial” speech, UB has no guidelines for such a designation and leaves it to the whim of officials, a practice that the U.S. Supreme Court has found to be unconstitutional in other cases. In fact, UB did not assess such fees to another campus group holding a debate between a Christian and atheist in the same building at the same time...

20+ Week Fetuses Aborted at Rate of 30 Per Day; Saves Money for Government-Run Health Care
Unborn babies who have reached at least 20 weeks of age in utero are aborted at a rate of about 30 per day in the United States, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

 The CBO has also concluded that aborting babies at 20 weeks or later in pregnancy saves money for the government-run federal-state Medicaid system.

The CBO made these determinations when doing its official “Cost Estimate” of a federal bill that would prohibit abortions at 20 weeks or later into pregnancy (except in cases of reported rape, incest against a minor or to save the life of the mother)...

2 Girls Killed in Plane Crash Planned to Attend Church Camp
Two girls with plans to attend a church camp, died in the Saturday crash of an Asiana Airlines jet at San Francisco International Airport. According to the Los Angeles Times, "The two victims, Wang Lin Jia and Ye Meng Yuan, were among 35 teenagers who had been scheduled to arrive at the West Valley Christian Church's school Monday."...

New Yorker Cover: Bert and Ernie Snuggle While Watching Supreme Court   ...All these magazines have been reduced to carnival barkers. That's all they are. But instead of pointing out each oddity as an oddity they constantly feature each oddity as the new mainstream. And the New Yorker in and of itself has very little power to influence the culture but as part of the borg-like mentality of the msm, it has a profound effect on the culture. And by profound I mean calamitous...

No Surprise Abortion Activists are Nasty: They’re Defending Unlimited Abortions
...Even after their so-called “victory,” the vitriol, hatred, and mind-boggling words of the abortion supporters were not stifled. They are still out in full force in Austin, and here is a sampling of their tolerance:
•Some of the “lovely Southern ladies” who are part of the mob unwilling to gracefully accept the vote of the legislators sent messages via Facebook and e-mail to state Sen. Donna Campbell (R) and her daughter that read, “I hope you’re raped,” and “I hope your daughter’s raped.” (I wonder how many of these people supported the Violence Against Women’s Act?)
•While pro-life supporters gathered in the Texas State Capitol building and sang “Amazing Grace,” the pro-abortion supporters chanted “Hail, Satan!” I guess they should get credit for admitting who is directing their actions.
•Pro-abortion supporters brought their children to the protest and had them hold up signs with wire coat hangers on them. By the way, these children looked to be about four or five years old, but they probably understood the meaning of the signs, right?
•Not to be outdone by the exploitation of children used in a protest supporting the death of children, another woman had toddlers and elementary school age children carrying signs that said, “Every child a wanted child” and “If I wanted the government in my womb I would f*** a senator!” None seemed to notice the irony that those exploited children were, of course, only the wanted children.
•Two young women authored these ditties: “hoes before embryos” and “republicans cannot defetus!” Where did those young women learn such attitudes and tactics? Planned Parenthood’s comprehensive sex education? “Civility” classes at the local community outreach center?

A.S. Haley: Ah, the Anglican Communion—Again

July 8th, 2013

Finally surfacing again after a long spell of litigation, I came across two blog posts that deserve juxtaposition. Both have to do with the perceived future, such as it is, of the amorphous entity known as "the Anglican Communion." Since I am an Anglican Curmudgeon, it seems fitting to weigh in.

The first post, by the Rev. Canon Mark Harris, follows a theme he has sounded on several earlier occasions. Entitled "GAFCON II: will it spell the end of the Anglican Communion?", it treats the question it poses as purely rhetorical. All churches who remain in communion with the See of Canterbury will remain in the Anglican Communion, Canon Harris says, and neither ECUSA nor the Anglican Church of Canada have any plans to withdraw from that communion. And if the members of GAFCON do so, well -- too bad, but it won't mean the end of "the Anglican Communion."

Contrast to this the second post, by the Rev. Dale Matson, entitled "GAFCON II: a Way Forward for Anglicanism." In contrast to Canon Harris, Fr. Matson views the picture from the standpoint of one who is in ACNA. He sees the group that will be gathering at GAFCON II this next October in Kenya as the true future of the Anglican Communion. While the Archbishop of Canterbury is trimming his Church's sails so as to remain abreast of Britain's popular culture, the Archbishop of Kenya (who heads up GAFCON's Primate Council, and who is hosting the conference) is sailing against the popular winds, and holding fast to traditional Anglican teachings on marriage, priests and homosexuality... the rest

Monday, July 08, 2013

It is a great deal better to live a holy life...

It is a great deal better to live a holy life than to talk about it. Lighthouses do not ring bells and fire cannons to call attention to their shining-they just shine. ...Dwight L Moody image

Macro timelapse

Macro Timelapse

Scrolling around...July 8, 2013

Beautiful Churches Make Holy Churches
We stepped inside and beauty stirred my heart. Worship seemed the only appropriate response. It was clear that an artist had spent months, even years, with tools that chiselled, adorned, and beautified. Each detail, lovingly and carefully carved. In that room, the light glimmered and shone, reflecting the beauty of His handiwork.

The room I'm speaking of was a school gymnasium.

This past Sunday my husband was guest preaching at a church in Toronto that meets in a school, and their corporate worship service is held in the gym. This gym is a large, light room that is clean and pleasant with large windows lining both sides. It is a simple room that would easily go unnoticed.

But inside that unadorned room was the most exquisite church: people of worship and prayer, people honest about sin, people pleading for God’s mercy, people proclaiming God’s glory, people fellowshipping in His grace. Breathtaking! Yes, I stepped into that church and my heart quickened from the beauty around me—the beauty of God’s holy people...lovely-read it all!

News outlets reject pro-life ad for being “too controversial”

35,000 march in Dublin against Irish abortion bill
...Demonstrators from across Ireland, a predominantly Catholic island of 6.5 million, marched for two hours through the capital to Leinster House, the parliament building, where lawmakers next week are expected pass the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill. Speakers demanded that the government put its bill to a national referendum. "Let us vote!" the crowd chanted...

Obamacare backers launch campaign, want moms to convince their youths to get coverage
The Obama administration and its allies need lots of healthy young adults to sign up for insurance this fall to make the president’s health-care law successful.

So they are going after their moms.

They put up Web ads on Facebook and alongside slogans such as “Moms know best: ‘Get yourself health insurance.’ ” They have enlisted the help of parent-activist groups such as Moms Rising, which has already begun mobilizing its vast network of more than 1 million members and 3 million e-mail subscribers on behalf of the health-care law...

Lumen Fidei: Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict Co-Author Encyclical
Pope Francis is a pope of firsts. His first encyclical, which was issued today, is no exception.

Lumen Fidei, the Light of Faith, is the first encyclical in history authored by two living popes. This is because Pope Benedict XVI began the encyclical before his resignation, and Pope Francis took it up and finished it.

A pope’s first encyclical is usually taken as a harbinger of the directions he will take with his papacy, in particular the areas of the Gospel he feels called to emphasize in light of the times in which he is living. However, this encyclical, coming as it does from the minds of two popes, is more of a bridge between the two papacies... Encyclical here

Lumen Fidei: First Thoughts on Interpretation -First Things

Muslim Brotherhood Claims Early-Morning ‘Massacre’
A violent weekend in Cairo was capped by a deadly clash early Monday morning between security force members and supporters of the ousted president. The latest clash comes amid the ongoing debate over whether last week’s military action constituted a coup and should consequently trigger a suspension of U.S. aid...

Egypt's Coptic Priest Killed in Renewed Attacks on Christians after Morsi's Ouster
Masked men shot dead a Coptic priest and other attacks on the minority group were reported in Egypt after the military ousted President Mohamed Morsi, who is from the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood that now appears to be seeking revenge from Christians for allegedly supporting the "coup."

The priest, identified as Mina Aboud Sharween, was shot dead in the coastal city of El Arish in North Sinai Governate on Saturday.

Gunmen, believed to be from the Brotherhood, came on a motorcycle and killed the 39-year-old priest, according to the local news site Egypt Independent...

Female inmates sterilized in California prisons without approval
...At least 148 women received tubal ligations in violation of prison rules during those five years – and there are perhaps 100 more dating back to the late 1990s, according to state documents and interviews.

From 1997 to 2010, the state paid doctors $147,460 to perform the procedure, according to a database of contracted medical services for state prisoners...

Zimmerman and Obama
In the likely event that George Zimmerman is acquitted, it is also likely that there will be explosions of racial violence all over this country. Even in the event of a guilty verdict, it is possible in this emotional situation that there will be violent actions by those on all sides of this tense issue, whether white or black, liberal or conservative. Sensible folks should be frightened for the fate of our nation now as the Zimmerman case dominates so much of the media.

All responsible Americans have a duty to take whatever action they can to head off this looming set of social catastrophes. The lead in this vital effort must be taken by President Obama and by Attorney General Holder in part because they have a duty to ensure domestic tranquility in all such circumstances. However, they both have a special duty in the Zimmerman-Martin matter because their actions have been instrumental in transforming an ordinary local criminal case into a looming national disaster. In the process, they transformed the public image of an ordinary, Hispanic neighborhood watch leader into that of a violent racial hoodlum. As a result, his life, and that of many of his family members, has been placed in severe danger. Yet, we are all victims of the bizarre behavior of our national leaders...

Child abuse apology from Church of England
The Church of England's parliamentary body has apologised to victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Anglican clergy, noting its failure to prevent it and respond effectively.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, said addressing the issue had been "absolutely agonising"...

The new God squad: what Archbishop Welby and Pope Francis have in common
It’s a few weeks after the election of Pope Francis, and a notoriously leaky church source is talking about the revolution to come. The new leader of the faithful is a sharp operator who finds himself surrounded by ‘a medieval court system of hopeless characters, each jealously guarding their own silos of activity. There’s lots of crap people in key positions.’ Meanwhile, away from the court, bureaucrats churn out windy memos. They may not know it yet, but the process of ‘clearing out the weeds’ will start soon — possibly as early as this August.

That might seem over-ambitious, but we’re not talking about the sleepy Vatican. The source is an Anglican cleric and the ‘medieval court’ is Lambeth Palace; the shinypants bureaucrats are mostly in Church House, Westminster, headquarters of the General Synod. And the new man who can’t abide flummery is, of course, the Most Revd Justin Welby, oil executive turned Archbishop of Canterbury.

The similarities between Archbishop Welby and Pope Francis are almost spooky — once you get past the fact that one is an Old Etonian evangelical Protestant and the other a South American Jesuit who prays in front of garlanded statues of Mary. Archbishop Welby was enthroned two days after Francis was inaugurated. That’s simple coincidence, but the other parallels tell us a lot...

Seattleites celebrate Gay Pride Week by proudly beating up a Christian

Christian arrested for calling homosexuality a 'sin' warns of 'real-life thought police'
Tony Miano, 49, a former senior police officer from the US, was held for around six hours, had his fingerprints and DNA taken and was questioned about his faith, after delivering a sermon about “sexual immorality” on a London street.

Mr Miano, who served as a Deputy Sherriff in Los Angeles County, said his experience suggested that the term “thought police” had become a reality in the UK.

He said he was amazed that it was now possible “in the country that produced the Magna Carta” for people to be arrested for what they say...

CNY: Unconventional priest walked on pews, climbed a ladder during church
...Redfield brought the unconventional into church with his sermons, too. It wasn't uncommon for him to do crazy things to make a point. Among his Sunday sermon stunts were walking across the tops of the pews and climbing a ladder.

So many worshippers at Trinity were interested in meditation that when the church was looking for new space to expand its Sunday school, it included a meditation room. The building the church expanded into across the street in 2008 is called the Nancy Simmons Wisdom House, named in memory of the wife of long-time Syracuse University lacrosse coach Roy Simmons Jr. No religious symbols were hung on the walls of the meditiation room so people of all religions would feel comfortable.

Redfield had planned to retire in a few years to study and teach Wisdom Christianity fulltime. But a friend who'd been studying the practice with him died. Her dying wish was that he continue the study they'd been doing, fulltime. The friend, Helen Daly of Bennington, Vt., left Redfield enough money that he could retire earlier than he planned. He declined to say how much she left.

While Wisdom Christianity sounds a bit New Age, it has its roots in ancient practice and has a follower in Redfield's boss, Bishop Skip Adams. Adams said he often practices "centering prayer," which is a combination of meditation and praying in silence. Adams said that Redfield's focus on Wisdom Christianity and his family's decision to raise their children Jewish enriched what he offered as a priest.

"A part of being a really good Christian is being a really good Jew," Adams said....