Saturday, August 12, 2017


From Religous Dispatches- University of Southern California-

People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch this month published an important report by RD contributor (and PFAW senior fellow) Peter Montgomery, offering a compelling portrait of a group that calls itself POTUS Shield (which also stands for “Prophetic Order of the United States”).

The report itself is required reading for anyone interested in better understanding the contours of the unflinching support President Trump continues to enjoy from right-wing conservative Christians, especially white evangelicals.

I called Peter for some background. What follows is our conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity, about POTUS Shield’s roots in the New Apostolic Reformation, the “unholy alliance” between more traditional religious right groups and the Pentecostal leaders of POTUS Shield, and why, despite Trump’s dedication to demonstrating his moral depravity, these “prayer warriors” still stand shoulder to shoulder with this president.

More here-

Stoics and Christians: a common intuition

From The Church Times-

THERE is an odd set of documents, purportedly written during the first Christian decades, which consists of a series of letters supposedly exchanged by St Paul and Seneca, the Roman senator and tutor to Nero.

They are undoubtedly fabrica­tions. But they bear witness to the most widespread philosophy that the earliest followers of Jesus would have known: Stoicism, of which Seneca was a sophisticated advocate.

Today, Stoic philosophy is under­going a substantial revival. And it’s worth considering how the two relate to each other now, much as some early Christians pondered the question way back then.

There is one thing that all mod­ern Stoics will tell you about their convictions. Stoicism doesn’t mean keeping a stiff upper lip and sitting on feelings. Rather, “it is about acknow­ledging our emotions, re­­flect­­ing on what causes them, and redirecting them for our own good,” as the philosopher Massimo Pigliucci puts it in his new book, How To Be A Stoic (Rider, 2017).

More here-

Lies from the Pit of Hell: The Dangerous Theology of Rev. Jeffress

From Red Letter Christians-

Any preacher who sanctions the use of nuclear weapons is from the pit of hell.

This isn’t a time to be subtle about it. Saying that God has empowered a national leader to use weapons of mass destruction to kill enemies — and many others who would likewise die — for any cause is evidence that the minister is taking his guidance from a very dark source. Nothing of the light of Christ is in the words of one who would say, “God has endowed rulers full power to use whatever means necessary — including war — to stop evil.” Yes, I’m naming Rev. Robert Jeffress.

His claim is the polar opposite of the words of the apostle Paul who echoed Jesus when he wrote, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all” (Romans 12:17). No, “whatever means possible” is not what God permits. That is what hell permits. “Whatever means possible” is what levels entire cities, annihilates civilizations, burns the flesh off children. “Whatever means possible” is not the way to defeat evil; it is the very nature of evil itself.

More here-

Other people’s faith in you

From Christian Century (from 2016 but relevant to tomorrows reading)-

A placard with a quote from Dag Hammarskjöld sits on the corner of my desk at home. I look at it countless times every evening when I’m trying to complete the day’s work. It whispers a penetrating truth about pastoral leadership: “The humility that comes from others having faith in you . . .”

It’s not a complete sentence. But it’s relentless with its reminder that people have faith in me, and the overwhelming humility of receiving that faith, and the . . .

How does any pastor complete that sentence? There is simply the vote of faith and the plummeting humility because you know your limitations far better than those who did the voting at the congregational meeting. And you know the uncertainty about how this ends.

More here-

Friday, August 11, 2017

Priests could be authorised to offer same-sex blessings in New Zealand

From The Church Times-

BISHOPS could authorise individual priests to offer same-sex blessings in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, if a new compromise proposal is taken up.

A working group was set up after the Church’s last General Synod debate about church blessings for gay marriages solemnised in civil ceremonies foundered amid theological differences between the Maori and Polynesian parts of the Church (which backed the reforms), and the European-origin dioceses (which were divided) (News, 20 May 2016).

The small group of one bishop, two priests, and three lay people from all three groupings, or tikangas, of the Church has now reported back. It recommends that the formularies of the Church remain unchanged, but that diocesan bishops be permitted to “authorise individual clergy within their ministry units to conduct services blessing same-gender relationships”.

Those who object to same-sex relationships on theological grounds should have their convictions “respected and protected”, and there must be “immunity from complaint” for any bishop or priest who decided to conduct, or not to conduct, a blessing.

More here-


From The Living Church-

David Goodhew’s recent post “Facing Episcopal Church Decline” tells a familiar story: the Episcopal Church’s numbers are falling fast and, without a turnaround, things don’t look great for the future of the denomination. He looks at figures such as membership, average Sunday attendance, baptisms, and weddings to trace a sobering picture of an institution facing decades of overall decline. Yet, despite many posts from numerous outlets and voices on the subject of TEC’s membership issues, I’ve yet to see anyone discuss at length another, no less important, side of the story: TEC’s impending leadership and experience vacuum.

In the Church Pension Group’s 2015 Church Compensation Report: A National, Provincial, and Diocesan Analysis of Clergy Compensation, we find a rather fascinating breakdown of the Church’s full-time clergy that reflects decades of inadequate development of young leaders.[1] (For clarity’s sake, I have taken the liberty to create tables that omit the data irrelevant to this post, such as average and median compensation figures.)

More here-

New leaders across Central America

From ACNS-

Change is underway among the leadership of the Anglican Church in Central America. Three of its five dioceses are electing new bishops.

The Diocese of Guatamala chose Revd Silvestre Enrique Romero Leon at its Extraordinary Convention in May. Revd Silvestre is married and has three children. He is the son of the Rt Revd Silvestre Romero Palma, a former Bishop of Belize. He has also served in the Diocese of Belize, as well as the Dioceses of Spokane and the Camino Real in the United States. He was also a member of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church. He is currently Rector of St. Peter Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Massachusetts.

The celebration of ordination and consecration of the Coadjutor Bishop is expected to take place in November and the installation as Diocesan Bishop in October 2018, when Bishop Armando Guerra Soria will be retiring.

Change is coming in Costa Rica too, where Bishop Hector Monterroso has left to join the Diocese of Texas. It is one of two dioceses that maintain a companion relationship with Costa Rica.

More here-

Where the Reformation Got it Wrong about the Eucharist

From Faith Forward (Patheos)-

On the night of the last supper of Christ, a weary group of disciples gathered at the table. The gospel writers go out of their way to describe just how inept and clueless they were. No one there had fasted or confessed their sins or had orthodox Christology. They were troubled and filled more with doubt than faith. Their leader, Peter, was about to turn apostate. Judas had already sold Jesus out. I think it’s safe to say that they were all scared for their lives. And over the next twenty-four hours, all of them will reject Jesus. All of them. One will be so desperate to get away he’ll flee naked, a pale body fading in the darkness.

This was not an elite group of the super-faithful. They weren’t even “Christian” in the way that the word is generally used today.

Nonetheless, Jesus stood before them and offered His body and blood in the form of bread and wine. The liturgy that has been passed down in the gospels and in Paul’s letters gives scant commentary on the moment, allowing the power and the mystery of Jesus’ sacrificial language to speak for itself. From day one it was understood as grace. Ultimate grace, even. For as Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13, NRSV).


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Catholic and Anglican leaders and Wodonga evangelical church chief give views on gay marriage postal vote process

From Australia-

THE Catholic bishop for North East Victoria is praying for respectful debate over gay marriage, while his Anglican peer fears a postal vote will be “very destructive”.

Catholic Bishop Les Tomlinson said his church remained committed to wedlock being between a man and a woman but wanted all people treated with “dignity and respect”.

“As the secular society seeks to answer the question as to whether it

Anglican Bishop of Wangaratta John Parkes, who supports gay marriage, said he believed a postal vote was “pretty unsatisfactory”.

“I think the process is not ideal and I fear that the level of campaigning will prove very destructive, especially for young LGBTI people and that causes me great concern,” Bishop Parkes said.

redefines marriage, I pray that we treat each other with respect and not resort to emotive or insulting language or behaviour,” Bishop Tomlinson said.

More here-

Are Most Christians Today Not Really Christians?

From Intellectual Take Out-

Thomas Jefferson was a deist that believed the ultimate value of Christianity was in its ethical teachings.

So he famously created his own Bible by literally cutting and pasting passages from the Gospels that agreed with his doctrine and omitting those passages (such as the miracles and mentions of the supernatural) that conflicted with it.

The creation of Jefferson’s Bible has become something of an archetype of a perennial tendency for Christians to project their own images on to their professed religious faith; to interpret the Christian message as remarkably aligned with their own personal preferences and lifestyle choices.

This point was recently brought home to David Bentley Hart—regarded as one of the greatest religious scholars and English prose stylists today—as he was working on a translation of the New Testament for Yale University Press (which is due out in October).

More here-

Newton the Faithful

From The Wall Street Journal-

The potted history of Isaac Newton’s life is well known. Following a puritanical upbringing, Newton went to Cambridge in 1661, already a mathematical prodigy. As a professor there, he became a champion of the new mechanical sciences and redefined man’s understanding of the physical world with works like “Opticks” and “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica.” This is the Isaac Newton of whom Voltaire said: “Metaphysicians and theologians are much like those gladiators who were obliged to fight hoodwinked. But when Newton worked, with the bandage removed from his eyes . . . his sight pierced to the utmost limits of nature.” This version of Newton’s life is a narrative of scientific triumph, of intellectual light shining in the darkness. It is also gapingly incomplete. Rob Iliffe’s “Priest of Nature” fills in the crucial missing piece: the fact that Newton’s “Christian faith was the most important aspect of his life.”

More here-

California pastor caught in immigration enforcement net

From CNN-

The Rev. Noe Carias shuffles into the cramped room, his face immediately pleasant upon seeing strangers. He's well practiced in his pastoral craft of comforting parishioners.

But the pastor isn't in ministerial clothes. He sits down, wearing a blue prison uniform. Carias' name is printed on a plastic band attached to his left wrist. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer tells Carias he has 20 minutes before he needs to return to detention.

"I think first my lord, Jesus Christ," says the pastor, "then my wife, my children, my church. I think God is going to make a miracle to release me, set me free from this place."

Carias, 42, is being held at the Adelanto Detention Facility, in California's high desert, for crossing the border illegally in the 1990s.

More here-

This Obscure Fishing Book is One of the Most Reprinted English Books Ever Read

From Smithsonian-

“God did never make a more calm, quiet, innocent recreation than angling,” wrote Izaak Walton, born on this day in 1594, in The Compleat Angler.

Although the fish would likely disagree with this assessment, Walton’s fellow fishers clearly see something in the idea: after the Bible and Shakespeare, The Compleat Angler remains one of the most reprinted books in the English language. This is true even though it’s written in the English of 1676, the date of the final edition Walton edited and revised.  Why does it remain so popular?

The Compleat Angler isn’t so much a technical manual on how to fish as it is a book on how to enjoy the countryside and all of its bounty. Essayist William Hazlitt, writing in the 1800s, called it “the best pastoral in the language.”

There were already many manuals about fishing published by Englishmen, literature scholar Marjorie Swann told The Izaak Walton League of America,  on of the country's oldest conservation groups, but “what sets The Compleat Angler apart from these previous how-to books is Walton’s insistence that there’s so much more to being an angler than a technical knowledge of bait and tackle. For Walton, fishing is at once an environmental, social, and spiritual experience.” People still read Walden–why not this?

More here-

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Bishop asks legal team to respond to misinformation

From Ft. Worth-

As you may know, last week the Supreme Court of South Carolina ruled against the former bishop and others attempting to take a diocese out of The Episcopal Church while claiming Episcopal Church property. And while we rejoice with the Episcopalians there, we also hold all involved in our prayers. We, better than most, understand that all litigation takes a toll on all involved.

Our legal team notes that South Carolina was one of the few states cited by the breakaways to justify their actions. But as one South Carolina justice wrote, South Carolina’s new ruling is “consistent with the majority of state court decisions.” The Episcopal Church has prevailed in case after case.

The Fort Worth Court of Appeals will decide our case based on the law and facts. Recently, however, there has been some misleading information put out about how the South Carolina ruling might affect our case here in Fort Worth. So I asked our legal team to address the misstated legal implications in a statement we could share with those interested. They sent the information below in response to my request. They have also filed a detailed filing with the Second Court of Appeals. I am sharing it with you knowing you will read it carefully. As always, please remember that speculation and public comment on litigation are discouraged.

More here-


From The Living Church-

In recent days, there’s been a discussion of the boundaries of orthodoxy in some corners of the evangelical blogosphere. James K.A. Smith, the prolific writer and professor of philosophy at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, kicked off the discussion. Since his opening salvo, there have been a number of responses — by Alastair Roberts, Derek Rishmawy, Alan Jacobs, and others. Here’s the gist of Smith’s argument:

Now, no one for a second can deny that [male-and-female, ordered-to-procreation] views of sexual morality and marriage have been the historic teaching of the church. … But it is surely also worth pointing out that conciliar standards of orthodoxy do not articulate such standards. If the adjective “orthodox” is untethered from such ecumenical standards, it quickly becomes a cheap epithet we idiosyncratically attach to views and positions in order to write off those we disagree with as “heretics” and unbelievers. If “orthodox” becomes an adjective that is unhooked from these conciliar canons, then it becomes a word we use to make sacrosanct the things that matter to “us” in order to exclude “them.” And then you can start folding all kinds of things into “orthodoxy” like mode of baptism or pre-tribulation rapture or opposition to the ordination of women—which then entails writing off swaths of Christians who affirm conciliar orthodoxy.

More here-

‘God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un,’ evangelical adviser says

From The Washington Post-

Texas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, one of President Trump’s evangelical advisers who preached the morning of his inauguration, has released a statement saying the president has the moral authority to take out North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“When it comes to how we should deal with evil doers, the Bible, in the book of Romans, is very clear: God has endowed rulers full power to use whatever means necessary — including war — to stop evil,” Jeffress said. “In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un.”

Jeffress said in a phone interview that he was prompted to make the statement after Trump said that if North Korea’s threats to the United States continue, Pyongyang will be “met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

More here-

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Our prayerful search for the IX Bishop of Bethlehem

From Bethlehem-

Welcome to this site. We invite you to join us in our search for our next Bishop.

We, the nearly 12,000 baptized persons of the Diocese of Bethlehem, welcome all to share in the bread of God's call to be the Jesus Movement in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

We are 60 congregations, a few larger, many small, and some in between. We are found in urban, suburban, and rural contexts. Wherever we are and however we are resourced, we love God, and all of us set our minds and hearts on mission. That mission has life in the communities God has placed us and reaches as far as South Sudan. 

More here-

A Message from the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina

From South Carolina-

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina, having met together with our bishop, The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, in Charleston this day, sends to all of our brothers and sisters of the diocese our love and our greetings in the name of Jesus Christ. We are so profoundly thankful for all who have fasted and prayed for our diocese and our Standing Committee during the past week from across South Carolina, throughout the Anglican Church in North America, and among all the faithful in global Anglicanism.

We have spent this time together in prayer and discussion regarding the decision by the South Carolina Supreme Court last Wednesday. In light of the conflicting opinions issued by the court, we met with the legal counsel for our diocese and have approved a strategy on how we go forward seeking clarity. We want you to know this: the legal process continues. We will be filing a motion for a rehearing from the Supreme Court, the deadline for which is September 1st. We are convinced there are compelling reasons to make this motion. There will be other avenues along with and following that action. 

More here-

What Historians Will Say about Francis

From Commonweal-

A recent column by Ross Douthat in the New York Times (“Pope Francis’ Next Act” July 15, 2017) tags the issue of communion for the divorced and remarried as the “great controversy” of the past two years of the Francis pontificate. He says it has reached “a stalemate,” with Francis on the one side, and “bishops the world over” on the other. Now that Cardinal George Pell has gone to Australia to face sex abuse charges, and Cardinal Gerhard Mueller’s term as Prefect of the CDF has not been renewed, and Cardinal Meisner has died, and Cardinal Angelo Scola has retired from the Archdiocese of Milan, Douthat worries that “resistance to Francis in the highest reaches of the hierarchy” is eroding. What will be the “next act” of the “drama” of this “liberal pope”?

I hope the readers of the New York Times take Douthat’s analysis with a grain of salt. First of all, I think that history will look on Pope Francis’s post-synodal exhortation Amoris Laetitia (2016) as a very modest gesture toward a more humane pastoral approach to marriage, not a great standoff between Pope Francis and his bishops. The kind of flexibility and accompaniment recommended by the Pope is not outside the scope of church teaching. Anxiety about rules-making and rules-keeping has magnified the controversy over communion (something which has always been subject to discernment in the “internal forum”) far beyond its actual weight. All that Pope Francis has done is to affirm that the pastoral people who are exercising faithful judgment and extending mercy in individual circumstances with the divorced and remarried are right to do so. The fact that some prelates are having a hard time with this makes it their drama, not the Pope’s.

More here-

Nashotah Dean Resigns

From The Living Church-

The Board of Directors regrets to announce that it has accepted the resignation of the Very Rev. Steven A. Peay, Ph.D., as Dean and President of Nashotah House. Fr. Peay has served as Dean and President since February, 2015. Fr. Peay notified the Board that his decision to step down is based upon a number of personal factors, including the need to assist full recovery from a recent, non-life-threatening health issue and a desire to facilitate new leadership at the House. The Board, consequently, is delighted that Fr. Peay has accepted an appointment as Research Professor of Homiletics at Nashotah House, effective September 1, 2017, and will remain a member of the House community after he steps down as Dean and President on August 31.
More here-

Archbishop says 'follow your conscience' as South Africa prepares for Zuma vote

From ACNS-

Anglican leaders in Cape Town have joined a coalition of civil society and faith-based communities in calling for South African politicians to “vote their conscience” when the country's parliament debates a motion of no-confidence in President Jacob Zuma this week.

The ruling African National Congress has instructed its members of parliament to vote against the opposition motion but a handful have given notice that they plan to defy the party. The possibility of others joining them was strengthened on Monday when the Speaker announced that she would allow a secret ballot when Parliament votes on the motion. The vote is scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday).

The Right Revd Garth Counsell, Bishop of Table Bay (Cape Town), represented Archbishop Thabo Makgoba at a march on Monday led by the #UniteBehind coalition of faith communities and civil society organisations.

More here-

Struggling to Survive, Congregations Look to Sell Houses of Worship

From The New York Times-

At first glance, the preservation battle over the nearly century-old synagogue on a tree-lined block of West 93rd Street on the Upper West Side of Manhattan looks familiar, even tired. One group wants to save the stately granite building, emphasizing its history, neoclassical architecture and towering stained glass windows. Another group wants to turn it into a high-rise condominium.

But in a twist, it’s the synagogue that is fighting for the change.

Across the city, financially struggling religious congregations, facing dwindling attendance and shrinking donations, are looking for other sources of revenue. Increasingly they are turning to their most valuable asset: location, location, location (and, in some cases, the air above it).

The state attorney general’s office, whose approval is required for all sales of religious properties in New York, received 165 sale petitions in 2016; so far in 2017, it has received 124. The number of petitions has been increasing in recent years, said Doug Cohen, a spokesman for the office.

More here-

Monday, August 7, 2017

Anglican AB Welby concludes Visit to Uganda and Sudan

From Sudan-

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, on Wednesday concluded a visit to East Africa which could help pave the way for a joint peace mission to South Sudan with Pope Francis.

The archbishop has spent five days in Uganda and Sudan, meeting with both religious and government leaders. In Khartoum he preached at a service marking the inauguration of the 39th province of the Anglican Communion. The new independent province of Sudan marks the culmination of a process that began after South Sudan, where the majority of Christians in the region are located, gained independence from its northern neighbour in 2011.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis said he hoped to go on a joint visit to South Sudan with Archbishop Welby, but the planned trip was postponed because of an upsurge in the civil war that erupted in 2013.

Among those accompanying the Anglican leader on this week’s journey was Bishop Nick Baines of the northern English diocese of Leeds. Philippa Hitchen asked him about the visit and about the chances of a joint peace mission by the Catholic and Anglican leaders to war-torn South Sudan.
Bishop Baines notes that after the independence of South Sudan, an internal province was created and that has now become the autonomous province of Sudan, under the leadership of Archbishop Ezekiel Kondo.

He says there are five dioceses in the new province, with the majority of Christians in Khartoum. The four other dioceses have a lot of South Sudanese refugees, especially Kadugli in the contended zone around the Nuba Mountains, where the bishops travelled under heavy security on Saturday.

More here-

Episcopal diocese foundation earmarks $100,000 for suicide prevention

From Wyoming-

The Rev. Doug Wasinger doesn’t remember the date, but he remembers the message. It was startling, like jumping into a cold pool. It was given at the annual convention of the Episcopal Churches of Wyoming. The Right Rev. John Smylie, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming, stepped up to the microphone.

“There is a scourge in Wyoming, and it needs to be addressed,” Smylie said. “It’s called suicide.”

For the past three years, the diocese has promoted a faith-based approach to suicide prevention across the state. The diocese saw those prevention efforts as a calling.

Wyoming continually ranks among the top five states with the highest suicide rate. Why that’s the case isn’t fully understood, but what suicide prevention specialists do know is that the suicide rate falls when communities have a strong support system.

Earlier this year, the Wyoming Legislature cut Wyoming Health Department prevention-related funding by $2 million. In turn, the department was forced to cut funds for community-based suicide prevention services.

More here-

The Radical Origins of Christianity

From The New Yorker-

Kierkegaard relates a chilling parable in “The Sickness Unto Death.” An emperor summons a poor day laborer. The man never dreamed that the emperor even knew of his existence. The emperor tells him that he wants to have him as his son-in-law, a bizarre announcement that must strike the man as something he would never dare tell the world, for fear of being mocked; it seems as if the emperor wanted only to make a fool of his subject. Now, Kierkegaard says, suppose that this event was never made a public fact; no evidence exists that the emperor ever summoned the laborer, so that his only recourse would be blind faith. How many would have the courage to believe? Christ’s kingdom is like that, Kierkegaard says.

The French writer Emmanuel Carrère doesn’t mention Kierkegaard in his latest book, “The Kingdom” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), but the Danish philosopher—the Danish Christian lunatic, one might say—hovers over the book as God’s face is said to have hovered over the waters during the creation of the world. The Kierkegaard whose work is scarred by the great “offense” of Christianity, by its shocking challenge to reason and empirical evidence; who claimed that modern philosophy amounts to the premise “I think therefore I am,” while Christianity equals the premise “I believe therefore I am”; who writes that the best proof that God exists is the circular proof one was offered as a child (“It is absolutely true, because my father told me so”)—that brilliant, mutilated Christian is the unnamed patron of “The Kingdom.” An amazingly various book, it narrates the author’s crises of religious faith in the nineteen-nineties; combines conventional history and speculative reconstruction to describe the rise of early Christianity; deftly animates the first-century lives and journeys of Paul, Luke, and John; and attempts to explain how an unlikely cult, formed around the death and resurrection of an ascetic lyrical revolutionary, grew into the established Church we know today. “Can one believe that such things are still believed?” Nietzsche asked, scornfully. “And yet they are still believed,” Carrère replies.

More here-

Restoration of church, apartment complex reveal value of neighborhood architectural gems

From Chicago-

Today's column is about the fall and rise of two neighborhood architectural gems — a Stick Style church where poet Carl Sandburg once worshipped and an Art Moderne apartment complex that was home to singer Nat "King" Cole, poet Gwendolyn Brooks and music producer Quincy Jones.

These buildings have a lot in common. Each was shaped by an architect known for more high-profile commissions. Each exhibits a style of design rarely seen in Chicago. And last week, Landmarks Illinois, a Chicago-based nonprofit, named both winners of 2017 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards.

The buildings — All Saints Episcopal Church at 4550 N. Hermitage Ave. and the Rosenwald Courts apartments at 4648 S. Michigan Ave. — share something else: Impressive revitalization after a descent into decay.

Completed in 1883, All Saints is thought to be Chicago's oldest wooden church building. The church likely used wood because stone was too expensive — and because its site at that time was outside the borders of Chicago, where wood-frame construction was prohibited after the Great Fire of 1871. Architect John Cochrane, who is credited as a co-designer of Illinois' and Iowa's state capitols, crafted a fine example of the Stick Style, which layered "stick work" boards atop wood wall surfaces, often to express a building's internal structure.

More here-

President Trump's Evangelical Advisers Seek to Tamp Down Vatican Criticism

From Time-

Evangelical advisers of President Trump have requested a meeting with Pope Francis to quell criticism from Vatican allies over the political direction of American Catholics.

The dispute began when two Catholic leaders close to the pontiff accused conservative American Catholics of forming a Christian alliance of "hate" with evangelical fundamentalists when they support Trump.

In July, a prominent Jesuit journal published with the Vatican’s approval criticized conservative U.S. Catholics for joining what it described as the political radicalization of conservative evangelicals.

The authors of the article accuse the groups of seeking a politically expedient alliance to promote a “nostalgic dream of a theocratic type of state” and a “xenophobic and Islamophobic vision that wants walls.” One of the co-authors, Antonio Spadaro, the editor of La Civiltà Cattolica and a person who is close to Pope Francis, has said that the Vatican’s Secretariat of State read and approved the piece.

More here-

Sunday, August 6, 2017

First same-sex wedding deepens Anglican divide

From The Guardian-

The first gay Anglican wedding in Britain took place last week, just a day after the archbishop of Canterbury said the continuing row in the Anglican Communion over same-sex relationships was an “intractable problem”.

The couple, known as “Mark and Rick”, got married on Tuesday at a Eucharist service where the Rev Markus Dunzkofer, of the Scottish Episcopal church, officiated. Dunzkofer, rector of St John’s, in Princes Street, Edinburgh, said “history was made” at the wedding, held in the chapel of a Dalhousie hotel.

Mark and Rick had been together 24 years, he said, and were keen to have a service with holy communion. The couple are from the US, but with strong Scottish connections. A copy of their order of service, posted on Facebook, described the wedding as “the solemnisation of marriage … with the celebration of holy communion”.
More here-

A Letter From Mark Lawrence

From South Carolina-

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

“I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.”  Psalm 16:8
Thursday evening Allison and I returned to Charleston.  We were on vacation with family in California when the South Carolina Supreme Court issued the long awaited ruling.  

Obviously, it was not the favorable ruling we were seeking.  Therefore, we returned home as soon as possible.  Frankly, it is a grievous decision for us on so many levels.  Perhaps you, as do I, have to fight despondency as I consider its many ramifications for us as a diocese, and especially for our congregations and clergy. For make no mistake—if this ruling stands how we carry out God’s mission and the ministries he has given us will dramatically change.  You may already have received from previous diocesan communications , the diocesan website or from local news, the gist of the court’s conflicted 77-page opinion. Therefore, I will not rehearse it here.  My purpose is more personal. 

More here-

Christian: You Are Upset About the Wrong Things

From Patheos-

Sociologist Tony Campolo has been known, when speaking to Christian audiences, to begin by saying something like this:

"I have three things I’d like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don’t give a shit. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact I just said “shit” than you are that 30,000 kids died last night."

When citing this, I have had people prove his very point by responding something to the effect of, “Yeah, I get it, but I still wish he would make his point some other way…” Ummm, that is his point. His point, in my opinion, isn’t really about the children (although it is, obviously); his point is that we (Christians) get upset over the wrong things. Our moral sense of outrage is often misdirected.

The fact that we notice the language, our being offended, before we really register the fact that children are dying, tells us all we need to know. Any focus on a crude term and not on his greater point that children are dying of starvation or malnutrition and that we might be complicit proves his very point. If there was a tiny gasp from the crowd at that word or an awkward silence—such reactions were misdirected. These people were upset about the wrong thing.

More here-

The skeletal remains interred at a German cathedral likely belong to Charlemagne.

From Strange Remains-

In 1988, a sarcophagus that supposedly belonged to Charlemagne, King of the Franks (abt 747-814), was secretly opened.  According to historical records, Charlemagne died of pneumonia in 814, and his body was placed in a sarcophagus in the Aachen Cathedral in Germany.  On Wednesday, after 26 years(!) of research, German scientists announced that the skeletal remains they recovered from the sarcophagus likely belong to the founder of the Holy Roman Empire.

One of the scientists studying the remains, Professor Frank Rühli, said: “Thanks to the results from 1988 up until today, we can say with great likelihood that we are dealing with the skeleton of Charlemagne.”

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From The Living Church-

Ed Watson’s recent post here at Covenant asked, What is preventing a new Oxford Movement in the Episcopal Church today? Watson was responding to a 2012 post by Fr. Robert Hendrickson. Zachary Guiliano then followed up, mentioning a potential missing element: an emphasis on Scripture and personal holiness. However, in the wake of the November election, it seems a question worth revisiting for a fourth time. I am very conscious that I speak as a committed layperson within the Episcopal Church, and therefore not in a position to practice directly what I preach. I believe, however, that what I discuss below should be a necessary part of the conversation.

As a historian, reading both Watson’s and Hendrickson’s posts, I was struck by the extent that their framing, and therefore their definition, of the Oxford Movement was purely theological and liturgical. A revival of the Oxford Movement, by this definition, would consist in asserting the claims of the Church against individualistic trends within society and culture, a renewed adoration of the Eucharist and devotion to the Virgin Mary, and a more sacramental piety.

More here-