Archive for May, 2011

The Associated Press (AP) reports on the Muslim-Israeli tensions resulting from the excavation of Jewish historical sites.

John Piper examines the doctrinal orthodoxy of megachurch pastor Rick Warren in a very interesting interview between the two. See the video of the discussion here.

Over at the Gospel Coalition, Nancy Guthrie answers a question she often receives in her teaching ministry: “What Do You Mean When You Talk About Christ in the Old Testament?

Christianity Today reports on the ways Christian microfinance ministries are responding to the broader corruption and scandals in the microlending industry.


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Christianity Today has a symposium of evangelical money managers discussing the question “What’s Wrong with Credit Card Debt?”  The right use of money, the proper understanding of stewardship, and the best way to manage our physical resources is something the church has continually struggled with over the centuries.  From indulgences designed to build massive and shockingly expensive cathedrals in the Middle Ages to credit card and mortgage debt designed to fund Big Hairy Audacious Goals in the age of the Baby Boomers, the church has always struggled to apply the biblical teaching on money and stewardship in its various contexts. Take some time to read (or re-read!) John Pryor’s “money” articles, “The Recession as a Moral Crisis…and the Role of the Church in Its Recovery” and “The Wealth Generating Aspects of Generosity?”  Then offer your own comments here on the church and the issue of money.

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India is currently experiencing a “gendercide,” realized after a 2011 census showed 12 million girls were aborted in the last three decades due to patriarchal social system that privileges males. The worst aborters were wealthy, upper class Indians who could afford sonograms and abortions — which shows, as in the Western world, that abortion is a tool of convenience for the upper classes rather than an aid to the poor.

N. T. Wright made some odd comments about American Christians when discussing Rob Bell’s understanding of hell in his book “Love Wins.” He thinks Americans are obsessed with hell, an incongruity compared to America’s wealth and its history of warfare — his exact quote is “There’s something quite disturbing about that [America’s obsession with hell], especially when your nation and mine has done quite a lot in the last decade or two to drop bombs on people elsewhere and to make a lot of other people’s lives hell.”  Wright’s exegesis is always good and edifying, but anytime he offers his political opinions (and especially when he mixes his politics with his exegesis) he comes off quite daft.

The ordination of The Rev. Brian Morelli, Jordan Easley, and John Wagner took place this past Saturday. Take some time to listen to God’s growing of his church.

Anglican TV provides an interview with Archbishop Greg Venables, who discusses the state of the Anglican Communion.

Heavyweight Catholic theologian George Weigel reflects on the “just” death of Osama bin Laden.

Television producer Mark Brunett is developing a mini-series of dramatic stories on the Bible, to be shown on the History channel.

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Rick Hamlin explains the duties of military chaplains and why they’re vital to the military and the kingdom of God.

Matthew Dickerson, in an accessible and informational piece over at Christianity Today, shows how our theories on the End of Days shape the way we live and think in our earthly home.

The blog Stand Firm has posted an interview with theologian Francis Chan on his new book “Erasing Hell.”

The Catholic bishops of England and Wales announced they are re-instituting the practice of “meatless Fridays,” that penitential rite where Catholics discard the “ways of the flesh” by avoiding flesh — literally — every Friday. Elizabeth Scalia celebrates the news, arguing meatless Fridays help sublimate the ego to God and church.

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First, be sure to read the sixth installment of Douglas Dobbins’ excellent “Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer.”

Anglican Curmudgeon provides an exegesis of Sunday’s Gospel reading, from John 14:1-14, exploring how Episcopal Archbishop Katherine Jefferts Schori‘s interpretation of these verses hastened the departure of some Episcopal churches to join the burgeoning Anglican movement.

Rod Dreher, reflecting on the failed doomsday prophecy of Harold Camping, provides a smart and deeply personal reflection on the longing for utopia. We’ve purposely avoided the hullabaloo surrounding the silly prediction of a false prophet, but Dreher’s piece is well worth promoting for the sake of God’s coming kingdom (the real one).

Most anthropologists believe agriculture slowly gave rise to cities, writing, art, and religion. But in a provocative piece by Charles C. Mann at National Geographic, we learn that new evidence from the Göbekli Tepe excavation site in Turkey shows that worship may have been the spark that ignited civilization.

If anyone isn’t tired of more reviews of Rob Bell’s Love Wins, philosophy professor Jim Spiegel shows the logical fallacies in Bell’s discussion of Hell.

Finally, some church news:  The Rt. Rev. John Guernsey was elected bishop of the new Anglican diocese in Virginia.

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The blog Treading Grain as posted a video of biblical scholar D. A. Carson discussing “What the Church in America Needs.”

Bored with the Book of Common Prayer? The blog Confessions of a Carioca has some advice, based on the verses in II Timothy 4:3-4.

Ready for a C. S. Lewis College? Northfield Seminary is undergoing a complete renovation, including core curriculum and, yes, changing its name to C. S. Lewis.  Since we already have the C. S. Lewis Bible, then it makes sense to have a C. S. Lewis college. Who wants to bet their creative writing classes will be called Inklings 101?

Pitzer College in California has started a brand new degree program called “secular studies.”  It’s probably only natural, after the banishment of theology and the marginalization of religious studies in colleges, to start seeing programs in secularism and atheism. Although, as Alan Jacobs comments in The Wall Street Journal, perhaps the academic study of secularism is a sign of the decline of secularism itself. We shall see!

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A report released by researchers at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice entitled “The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010,” claims that the Catholic sex abuse crisis was not caused by homosexuality, celibacy, or pedophilia, but external social factors stemming from the social revolution in the 1960s and 1970s, along with poor oversight by the bishops. It’s too early to see how this report will be received or what effect it will have, but it seems rather baffling to claim that the sexual abuse by the priests was not caused by homosexuality or pedophilia. While the report may be using the technical definitions of the two categories, classifying them as an orientation or psychological persuasion, it seems the most important factor to consider here is not the orientation or psychological profile of the priests but the end result of their actions. A person who steals is a thief, no matter their identity or orientation.

It also seems like a cop-out to blame the abuse on the “society” that produced the sexual revolution. “Society” is so big and ambiguous it’s nearly impossible to get justice or assign specific blame, and it comes off as pathetic excuse — it’s hard to imagine a abuser-priest, sitting before the throne of God, and saying, “Yes, I’m sorry, but I was really struggling with the 1960s.”

More helpful is the analysis concerning the insufficient oversight and accountability by the bishops. The report states that the church functioned in much the same way as the law enforcement cultures that allow high incidences of police brutality. Because the church had no effective centralized authority, with each diocese an authority unto itself, bishops were not subject to enough oversight in a way that promoted proper crisis management.

Whatever the case, the researchers have provided a service to the global church, providing us with helpful reminders that risk management is incredibly important to the work of the church.

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First, be sure to read another “Theology from the Smallest” post from catechist Christine Sherratt. This time she reflects on a child’s understanding of Jesus as the Light of the world.

Mark Challies, over at Christianity Today, provides a theological analysis of emerging technologies in the interview “Christianizing the Social Network.”

Ian Carstairs, over at his blog Science and Religion, asks a provocative question in light of Stephen Hawking’s rejection of the afterlife: “Do Atheists Have a Soul?

Daryl Hart discusses the decision by the PCUSA to remove the “fidelity and chastity” language from its constitution (effectively allowing the ordination of gay and lesbian people), lamenting that the work of theologians Karl Barth and Reinhold Niebuhr didn’t move the Reformed churches in a biblical direction.

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Eastertide in Atrium 1 is the season in which we think further about the great events of the Resurrection. We consider how we welcomed Easter at the service of the Great Vigil, and how the Paschal Candle that now graces our church was lit and brought forward to shine all these days. We think further about Jesus’ words we’ve discussed throughout the year:  “I am the Light of the World.”

Yesterday all the children were very busy with lessons and individual work. Some “built” Jerusalem, others worked out the names and locations of the cities and regions of the land of Israel, and still others listened again to what happened in the Upper Room. I spent the morning talking with children about the gifts of Baptism. We considered carefully what the priest says and does with the water, the candles, and the chrism. What does it mean to say, “Receive the Light of Christ?”

One child and I pondered how all the little lights of the baptized people come from the Paschal Candle. If the candles went out, would the Light be gone? How could this light be shared by so many? He revealed some of his thinking when he looked at the Paschal Candle and said, “Oh, I get it. This is God’s Light.”

But it was only while I was ironing a shirt this morning as I headed out the door that I realized once again the children had led us further in our contemplations. When I ‘d asked some of the older children to choose a book to read at the morning’s end, they laid We Three Kings [i] on the prayer table. I’ve always been intrigued that children connect Easter to Christmas, but this was a new twist: the Magi?

The book lays out the verses of the hymn with beautiful illustrations. And when we came to the page of the chorus, I heard the words again for the first time: O Star of wonder, Star of Light, Star with royal beauty bright, westward leading, still proceeding: Guide us to Thy Perfect …


Now as I write these words on the morning commute, I can lift my eyes to glimpse the marsh and think back on these things. I think about the Magi coming to visit the Holy Family, and their gifts. That makes me think about the women who came to visit Jesus at the Tomb, and what they brought. Did they bring myrrh? What did they find? I can think about the many ways the Light of God is revealed to those with eyes to see. And I give thanks again for the gift of children and how they really do lead us.

[i] Spirin, Gennadii. We Three Kings. New York : Atheneum Books for Young Readers, ©2007.

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The primates of GAFCON have announced their plans for another international meeting of the leaders of the Anglican church. They also plan to open offices in London and New York to strengthen communication with Western churches.

Within the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Archbishop Robert Duncan has appointed The Rev. Charles Montileaux as Archdeacon with the purpose of ministering to the Sioux Indians of South Dakota.

Yesterday, the big news was astrophysicist Stephen Hawking’s comment that the afterlife was a “fairy-tale” that people invented to helped get them through the night. Carl Olson, over at Insight Scoop, has a response entitled “What the pope might say to Stephen Hawking if the two had a chat.

Rod Dreher has a fascinating article on paranormal activity and its relation to orthodox Christianity, where he wonders how to balance “ghosts,” “poltergeists,” and “visitations” with his Christian beliefs.

Elizabeth Scalia offers another thoughtful piece over at First Things, this time on the presumptions of art and artists.

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