Saturday, September 16, 2017

Survey finds most people who call themselves Anglican never read the Bible

From Premier-

Most people who call themselves Church of England Christians never read the Bible. That is one of the findings of a survey commissioned by the Church of England to help revamp its evangelism efforts.

Figures show that 60 per cent of self-declared followers of the Church admit they never read the Bible. Meanwhile, 36 per cent say they never attend church and one in three says they never pray.

The figures from ComRes survey show that many who claim to be Christian do not actually take part in many of the activities normally associated with the faith.

While 51 per cent of those who took part in the survey said they were Christians, only six per cent of those polled read the Bible, prayed and attended church at least once a week. Those who said they were followers of the Church of England were the least observant.

Rachel Jordan, the Church's national mission and evangelism adviser told Premier the survey has given the Church a real sense of the scale of the task ahead.

More here

More ructions in Anglican church over same-sex marriage

From South Africa-

The furore over the Anglican church’s decision to reject same-sex marriage looks likely to intensify, with its Pretoria region the latest to voice its unhappiness with the decision.
The matter was an issue of heated debate among delegates during the three-day conference that began on Thursday. Pretoria region is among the biggest regions in South Africa.

Current political and economic crises in the country, including state capture and corruption, as well as social problems, were also raised at the conference.

The dissent by Pretoria comes almost a year after the Anglican Church of Southern Africa decided that it would not allow bishops to “provide prayers of blessing to be offered for those in same-sex civil unions”. Following that resolution during a debate in Ekurhuleni, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba expressed his disappointment at the move, saying he was “deeply pained by the outcome of the debate”.

“I was glad I wear glasses or the synod would have seen tears. I wanted to be anywhere but in the synod hall - I wished I was quietly home in Magoebaskloof,” he said at the time.

More here-

St. Peter's bones? Maintenance worker makes surprising discovery

From Catholic News Agency-

During routine restoration of a nearly 1000 year-old church, a worker discovered bone fragments in clay pots – which may belong to St. Peter, three other popes, and four early Church martyrs.

“There were two clay pots which were inscribed with the names of early popes – Peter, Felix, Callixtus and Cornelius,” the worker told Italian television channel Rai Uno, according to the Telegraph.

“I'm not an archaeologist but I understood immediately that they

The existence of the bone fragments has been known for centuries, but they had never been found. Inside the church of Santa Maria in Cappella, a stone inscription recorded the remains, indicating that the relics where kept alongside a piece of fabric taken from the dress of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

were very old. Looking at them, I felt very emotional.”

More here-

Episcopal Relief & Development Responds to Urgent Needs in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Irma

From Relief Web-

Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting emergency relief efforts in Culebra and Vieques, two islands in Puerto Rico devastated by Hurricane Irma. In partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Puerto Rico, the organization is providing approximately 600 people with temporary housing, medical care, food and meal delivery, clothing, home repairs, water and first aid supplies.

“These islands are among the most highly impacted by Hurricane Irma,” said Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Vice President of Programs. “We’re very concerned about the most vulnerable people, especially the older population, and families with small children.”

The island of Puerto Rico avoided a direct hit from Irma. However, thousands are still without power, and this may continue in the weeks and months ahead, particularly in more remote areas. Culebra and Vieques, located off the east coast of Puerto Rico, were the hardest hit; the governor of Puerto Rico has declared both islands as disaster areas. Roughly 30 to 35 homes were badly damaged and destroyed in Culebra, which has an estimated population of 1,800. Many families live in wooden or partially wooden homes, which left them most vulnerable to the powerful winds and rains of the storm. Power systems as well as cell and internet services are down. Most of the population remains without running water and with limited food supplies.

More here-

Shape of Indigenous church on the table at Pinawa meeting

From Anglican Journal-

About 70 Anglicans from across Canada are gathering in Pinawa, Man., this weekend for a major consultation on the nature of the planned Indigenous Anglican church.

In what Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has said will likely be a “challenging but fascinating conversation,” about 60 Canadian Anglicans, clergy and lay, plus about 10 staff from the office of General Synod, are meeting for a series of talks September 15-17. There is a roughly equal number of Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants; all have been chosen for the interest they’ve shown over the years in the Indigenous church, says co-chair and Council of General Synod (CoGS) member Randall Fairey.

The meeting is both for looking back on progress that has been made so far toward an Indigenous Anglican church and for discussing in more detail what such a church would look like, Fairey says.

More here-

Friday, September 15, 2017

How Many Churches Does America Have? More Than Expected

From Christianity Today-

An estimated 30,000 congregations shut their doors in the United States from 2006 to 2012. Yet a recent study finds good news for churches overall—including the lowest closure rate of any American institution.

According to a recent paper published by sociologist Simon Brauer in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, the number of religious congregations in the United States has increased by almost 50,000 since 1998. A key reason: growth in nondenominational churches.

Using the National Congregations Study (NCS) conducted in 2006 and 2012, he estimates the number of congregations in the US increased from 336,000 in 1998 to a peak of 414,000 in 2006, but then leveled off at 384,000 in 2012.

Brauer’s estimate is more reliable—statistically speaking—than previous estimates that used other methodology; however, his model “relies on samples of individuals and not the organizations themselves,” so there is still a range of variation around the “best bets,” he told CT. Thus, the loss of 30,000 churches is not statistically significant (as it falls within the model’s confidence interval of 95%).

More here-

Massachusetts Catholic, Episcopal bishops urge Congress to act on DACA reform

From Massachusetts-

Catholic and Episcopal bishops in Massachusetts issued separate statements calling on Congress to remedy President Donald Trump's recent move to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The program, instituted by executive order under President Barack Obama in 2012, allows some 800,000 young people brought to the United States illegally as children to remain here without fear of deportation and be able to work and pursue an education. Trump announced Sept. 5 he will end the program unless Congress agrees to enact it into law within six months.

The president met with Democrattic leaders on Wednesday night to craft a deal.

In a letter issued Wednesday, the commonwealth's Catholic bishops called the DACA program "successful since its inception" and said its "children and young adults are innocent of any wrongdoing" and "should not be punished for living in the United States of America."

More here-

Marriage Rites: Extend, Adopt, or Punt

From The Living Church-

The Episcopal Church Task Force on the Study of Marriage has reported on its latest meeting.

The Task Force on the Study of Marriage, meeting August 28-30 in Salt Lake City, UT, continued its work as directed by the 2015 General Convention. The Task Force reviewed the work completed to date, made decisions for completing work needing additional attention, and planned its final report to the 79th General Convention, due December 1.

The task force is shifting into the portions of its mandate to “report and make recommendations to the 79th General Convention” and “provide educational and pastoral resources for congregational use on these matters that represents the spectrum of understandings on these matters in our Church.”

The task force is drafting resolutions for the consideration of the 79th General Convention, including the following:

More here-

Thursday, September 14, 2017

GAFCON accuses church official of 'provocative, inaccurate and misleading' comments

From Premier-

GACFON, the worldwide conservative group of Anglicans, has hit back at the secretary general of the Anglican Communion after he claimed the Archbishop of Nigeria had reneged on his decision to "walk together" with other Primates who he disagrees with on the issue of sexuality.

Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon was speaking after Archbishop Nicholas Okah said he would not be attending the upcoming Primate Conference because of his perceived lack of progress on the subject.

Archbishop Josiah said he was saddened by the actions of the Nigerian church leader.

Next month, leaders from the 39 Anglican provinces will meet in Canterbury at the request of Justin Welby (pictured above, left).

It'll be the first meeting of its kind since the January 2016 meeting where the US Episcopal Church was disciplined over its decision to allow clergy to conduct same-sex marriages.

More here-

Christians beat FEMA, and in so doing, tame Big Government

From The Washington Post-

Faith-based groups — Christian nonprofits, specifically — have been busy bees of late, providing more aid to hurricane victims than even FEMA, the federal agency that’s supposed to swoop to the scenes of natural disasters, assess the situation and speed the recovery and rebuilding process.

Just goes to show: Where charity exists, government is not needed.

Look at this, from the Daily Caller: “Faith-based relief groups are responsible for providing nearly 80 percent of the aid delivered thus far to communities with homes devastated by the recent hurricanes.”

The piece cited USA Today, which ran a headline: “Faith groups provide the bulk of disaster recovery, in coordination with FEMA.”

Imagine that. When disaster strikes, it’s Americans — specifically, Americans of faith — who lend the quickest hands, who provide the most assistance.

More here-

Faith Groups Provide the Bulk of Disaster Recovery, in Coordination with FEMA

From Sojourners-

If you donate bottles of water, diapers, clothing, or any other materials to hurricane victims in Texas or Florida, your donation will likely pass through the hands of the Seventh-day Adventists before it gets to a storm victim. That’s because the Adventists, over several decades, have established a unique expertise in disaster “warehousing” collecting, logging, organizing, and distributing relief supplies, in cooperation with government disaster response agencies.

Likewise, the United Methodist Committee on Relief is known for its expertise in “case management.” After the initial cleanup — where the Methodists have work crews helping pull mud out of houses — the church sends trained volunteers into the wreckage to help families navigate the maze of FEMA assistance, state aid programs, and private insurance to help them rebuild their lives. UMCOR also trains other non-profits to send their own case managers into the disaster zone.

In a disaster, churches don’t just hold bake sales to raise money or collect clothes to send to victims; faith-based organizations are integral partners in state and federal disaster relief efforts. They have specific roles and a sophisticated communication and coordination network to make sure their efforts don’t overlap or get in each others’ way.

More here-

After Montana church vandalized with swastika, parish responds with pink hearts, messages of love

From ENS-

Hate symbols showed up seemingly overnight as graffiti on the sign in front of St. James Episcopal Church in Bozeman, Montana. By the next morning, on Sept. 10, parishioners had reclaimed their sign with messages of love.

The center of the sign, where someone scribbled a swastika in black, is now covered with hope-filled words scrawled on pink paper hearts that were stuck to the sign as the congregation poured out of the Sunday service at St. James.

“We respond to hate with love,” St. James Episcopal Church proclaimed in a Facebook post on Sept. 10 that shows the sign blanketed with the hearts.

More here-

Is The Apocalypse Coming? No, It Isn't!

From NPR-

The Sign, a documentary directed, shot and produced by Josh Turnbow and Robert Dvoran and set to air Thursday, addresses whether the end of days is coming this month, as some biblical literalists predict.

The "sign" in the title refers to an alignment in the sky peaking on Sept. 23, whereby Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter will be around the constellations of Virgo and Leo, together with the sun and moon. Sept. 23 is when Jupiter leaves Virgo after being there for a while.

According to Revelation 12, some say, this is when the end comes, after much turmoil and destruction:

"A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who "will rule all the nations with an iron scepter." And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.

More here-

Damnation, American style: How American preachers reinvented hell

From Salon-

Among the many congratulatory letters George Washington received after assuming the presidency was one from “the Convention of the Universal Church, assembled in Philadelphia.” “SIR,” it began, “Permit us, in the name of the society which we represent, to concur in the numerous congratulations which have been offered to you.” The letter reassured the president that “the peculiar doctrine which we hold, is not less friendly to the order and happiness of society, than it is essential to the perfection of the Deity.” One of its signers, Universalist minister John Murray, had known Washington since serving as a chaplain in the Revolutionary War. The minister and his second wife, Judith Sargent Murray, had even stopped to dine with the Washingtons on their way to the Convention. Thanks in large part to their efforts, universal salvation was no longer an obscure creed espoused by a scattered few. Now the Convention sought to establish Universalism as a recognized, socially responsible faith.

Washington responded favorably. “GENTLEMEN,” he began, thanking them for their well-wishes, “It gives me the most sensible pleasure to find, that in our nation, however different are the sentiments of citizens on religious doctrines, they generally concur in one thing: for their political professions and practices, are almost universally friendly to the order and happiness of our civil institutions. I am also happy in finding this disposition particularly evinced by your society.” Such affirmation of the Universalists’ civic friendliness, from none other than the first president of the newly United States, must have gratified the Convention. They were well aware that other Protestant clergy, especially the Calvinists, disdained their “peculiar doctrine.”

More here-

Hipster Priest Consecrates Fresh Batch Of Seasonal Pumpkin Spice Eucharist

A little humor to start the day-

Just in time for the start of Fall, local hipster priest Fr. Kale Adams announced this morning that he has consecrated his first batch of Pumpkin Spice Eucharist.

Although the seasonal pumpkin flavor of Jesus’ body has been condemned by the Vatican, Fr. Adams has told his parishioners that they’re not sheep, but rather, “free souls that can’t be contained by the man or the Vatican.”

“Pumpkin Spice Eucharist allows me to express myself and my love for JC in ways you wouldn’t believe,” Adams told EOTT as he sat down to finish knitting a cover for his iPad. “And listen, to all those establishment bishops in Rome,  I was consecrating before it was cool. And that’s why my parishioners dig me and why so many of them have returned to the Church in the first place. You gotta give them what they want. And what they want is Jesus…Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, with a flawless blend of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and ginger.”

At press time, Fr. Kale Adams is trying on his brand new hemp vestments.

More here-

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Priest caught using a dead parishioner’s Blue Badge for parking

From I News-

A priest who was caught fraudulently using a dead parishioner’s Blue Badge has been fined and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work. Father William Haymaker, 63, of Suffolk Road in Bexhill was given a 12-month community order with a requirement to carry out the unpaid work and ordered to pay £3,700 in costs after a hearing at Hove Crown Court on Monday. Haymaker, who is part of St Paul’s Anglican Parish in Bexhill, was caught in December 2015 parking his car in a disabled bay in the town using a Blue Badge belonging to a woman who had died two months earlier. The priest, who appeared at court with his official clerical dog The Venerable Mr Piddles, had been found guilty of the offence in March although sentencing was delayed for several months.

Read more at:

A Puzzling Editorial

From The Living Church-

As committed ecumenists, we would like to thank The Living Church for its attention to the proposed full communion agreement between the Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church [“Slightly Less than Full Communion,” June 18]. Faith and Order ecumenism is a part of our churches’ lives that continues in obscurity most of the time, but then becomes prominent when a particular fruit of the work reaches the time for harvest. As noted in your editorial, formal discussions between Episcopalians and Methodists have been in process for over 50 years. The timing of this agreement has nothing to do with theological struggles going on in either church, but rather with the maturity of the discussion into its final documentary and emerging relational form.

Some have questioned if the timing is proper, considering how our denominational bodies currently have different policies regarding LGBTQ inclusion. It bears remembering that at the time Called to Common Mission was agreed with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), our churches were in different places with respect to LGBTQ inclusion. Others have worried about what the United Methodist Church may look like after a 2019 special convention on these matters. Yet if the churches were to wait for a time in which neither was facing a matter of division or conflict — and this is the case with all ecumenical conversations between and across churches — no movement forward into shared life of any kind would be possible.

More here-

‘Christian America’ Dwindling, Including White Evangelicals, Study Shows

From Sojourners-

The future of religion in America is young, non-Christian, and technicolor.

Almost every Christian denomination in the U.S. shows signs of growing diversity as white Christians, once the majority in most mainline Protestant and Catholic denominations, give way to younger members, who tend to be of different races, according to a study released Sept. 6 by the Public Religion Research Institute.

And American evangelicals — once seemingly immune to the decline experienced by their Catholic and mainline Protestant neighbors — are losing numbers and losing them quickly.

Americans are also continuing to move away from organized religion altogether, as atheists, agnostics, and those who say they do not identify with any particular religion — the group known as the “nones” — hold steady at about one-quarter [24 percent] of the population.

More here-

A Reflection from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

From The Episcopal Church- (with video)

The Presiding Bishop’s reflection follows:

Whether it is the pain of the events of August 12 in Charlottesville, or Hurricane Harvey, or Hurricane Irma, or wildfires in the West, or an earthquake in Mexico, there’s been a lot of pain, a lot of suffering and hardship. In times like these, it’s easy to grow weary. It’s easy to be tired.  And it’s easy to be downcast, and to give up. What can I do?

There’s a passage in the Book of Hebrews, in the Tenth Chapter, which says this:

Recall those earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to abuse and sometimes persecution, and sometimes just being partners with those who were so treated. For you had compassion . . . so do not abandon your confidence; it brings great reward. For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

More here-

Priests-in-training to be given glossaries because they struggle to understand the Book of Common Prayer

From The Telegraph-

Priests-in-training are to be given glossaries to help them understand the Book of Common Prayer for the first time because they struggle to decipher the language.

The Prayer Book Society, which gives out free copies of the 17th century book to first-year students in theological colleges, will this year also include a key to some of its more old-fashioned words and phrases.

The list includes definitions for words such as "eschew" meaning abstain from, "concord", for an agreement between people, and "froward", meaning perverse or contrary. 

Some of the included words could cause confusion to young ordinands due to more modern definitions, such as magnify - which in a 17th century sense means not to make something appear larger than it is, but to glorify or praise greatly.

"Meet" means not to encounter someone, but rather "appropriate or fitting".

More here-

Harvey, Irma, Jose … and Noah

From The New York Times-

Is there anything we can learn from hurricanes, storms and floods?

People have been asking that question for thousands of years, and telling stories that try to make sense of natural disasters. These flood myths are remarkably similar to one another.

A researcher named John D. Morris collected more than 200 of them, from ancient China, India, Native American cultures and beyond. He calculates that in 88 percent of the tales there is a favored family. In 70 percent, they survive the flood in a boat. In 67 percent, the animals are also saved in the boat. In 66 percent, the flood is due to the wickedness of man, and in 57 percent the boat comes to rest on a mountain top.

The authors of these myths are trying to make sense of vast and powerful forces. They are trying to figure out what sort of world they live in. Is it a capricious world, where cities are destroyed for no reason? Or perhaps it’s a just but merciless world, where civilizations are wiped out for their iniquity?

More here-

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Could Father Mychal Judge Be the First Gay Saint?

From Slate-

Nearly three decades later, Judge is best known as the fire department chaplain who died on Sept. 11, 2001, after rushing into the north tower of the World Trade Center to help. His life quickly took on an almost mythic stature. A documentary crew’s camera found him praying in the lobby of the north tower, wearing a white helmet reading “F.D.N.Y. Chaplain.” (Firefighters would later present the helmet to Pope John Paul II.) A story spread that he had died not just in the north tower but while administering the last rites to a firefighter who was hit by a jumper. A striking Reuters photo of first responders carrying Judge’s body out of the dust has been referred to as a “modern Pietà” and has been turned into sculptures in crystal and bronze. By 2002, New York City had renamed his stretch of West 31st Street “Father Mychal F. Judge Street” and christened a public ferry the Father Mychal Judge. In New York, hundreds of firefighters and others participate each September in a Stations of the Cross–style procession that retraces Judge’s journey between the Church of St. Francis on West 31st Street and the World Trade Center. Speaking at Judge’s funeral on Sept. 15, 2001, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said simply: “He was a saint.”

More here-

‘Engendering opposition is a sign of being effective.’

From Time (with video)-

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, spending lots of time in the mountains and the islands in Puget Sound just fascinated with the wonders of creation. I was quite convinced that I wanted to be a scientist. Having a sense of the wonder of the world around us and the great diversity and the health that diversity signals translates into human communities as well. Being formed as a scientist prepared me in an unusual way to work in human community; being willing to have a hypothesis and test it and not assume that I know the answer going in has been very helpful.

The Bible says many things about women’s roles. And the reality is, everybody cherry-picks. We all look for the pieces that affirm what we already believe. If we’re faithful, we keep looking and hopefully we encounter things that confront us, that challenge us and that might transform our view of the role of every human being.

More here-

A Letter from Dean Kelly Brown Douglas

From EDS-

It is with excitement that I join you as dean as we begin this new season of our life together as EDS at Union. I am humbled by the opportunity to serve this historic institution that has given so much to seminary education, the church and the world. The EDS legacy is strong, and we are all thankful for those whose sacrifices of labor and love have made it possible for us to carry forth this educational mission of ministry.

Today, visionary and transformative theological education is more important than ever before. The nation, the world and indeed the church, need leaders who embody the kind of priestly humility, prophetic vision and principled witness that can address the complicated social and moral challenges of our day. EDS at Union will be a place that nurtures this kind of leadership, and I commit to you that our seminary will be the institution that is really taking on the work of social justice and dismantling racism at the core of the Jesus Movement that our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry urges us to embrace.

More here-

Monday, September 11, 2017

Australia gay marriage debate highlights church divisions

From Australia-

As Australia prepares for a contentious postal vote on legalising gay marriage, fierce divisions have emerged within the church, with many Christians disregarding traditional religious views as outdated.

Although attitudes to same-sex marriage vary across denominations and congregations -- and even between the pulpit and the pews -- many Australians view the church as the greatest source of resistance to such unions.

"I think it is really bad news for the church that it is seen as taking this exclusive, judgemental, unloving stance toward a significant part of the Australian community," Reverend Margaret Mayman, minister of the Pitt Street Uniting Church in Sydney, told AFP.

"There is obviously a huge gap between the leadership of some denominations and the people in the pews," she said.

More here-

Gathering of Episcopal bishops comes to Fairbanks

From Alaska-

A worldwide assembly of Episcopal bishops will come to Alaska for the first time this month for a series of meetings and blessings in Fairbanks and Interior villages.

Rt. Rev Mark Lattime, the Bishop of Alaska, said in an interview this week that he’s been inviting his fellow bishops to Alaska since he became bishop seven years ago. He learned last year that the House of Bishops had chosen Fairbanks for its fall 2017 meeting.

“This is a historic event,” he said. “I have been extending the invitations, sort of tongue in cheek, not expecting anyone to ever take me up on the offer. But with the new presiding Bishop Michael Curry, he said, ‘Sure, we’re going to come.’ So here they come.” 

About 128 bishops and about 78 of their spouses are scheduled to be in Alaska on Sept. 21-26 for one of the body’s twice-yearly meetings. The assembly will include meetings, services and trips to eight Interior bush communities.

More here-

St. James Episcopal vandalized, neighbors respond with messages of love

From Montana-

The St. James Episcopal Church on the corner of West Olive and Tracy was vandalized late last night.

Neighbors of the Church alerted Rev. Gregory Smith earlier today that the number '666' and a swastika had been drawn on the Church's welcome sign.

Those same neighbors later covered up the vandalism with hearts and messages of unity and love. Some read, 'Bozeman you are better than this' and 'We are one.'

Rev. Smith said that despite these symbols of hate, the focus at St. James will remain the same.

"It will absolutely not affect our policy at St. James of welcoming everyone who wants to be part of our Church, and we're not afraid, we're not going to be scared by this. But I do think it's important that the community knows that this is happening," Rev. Smith said.

The Church has filed a report with the Bozeman Police Department.

More here-

Instruments of Communion: The Primates’ Meeting, the ACC, and their predecessors

From The Living Church-

One reason why the issues that have divided Anglicans over the last 50 years have proved so difficult is that they stir up ecclesiological questions. Which body or bodies (if any) have moral authority to speak on behalf of the Communion to its individual churches? What deference (if any) should be accorded to their pronouncements?

The 1997 Virginia Report commented positively on the ACC as including laypeople, but noted that its existence “raises questions,” whereas the Primates’ Meetings “have an inherent authority by virtue of the office which they hold as chief pastors.” It emphasized the bishop’s role as “one who represents the part to the whole and the whole to the part, the particularity of each diocese to the whole Communion and the Communion to each diocese.” In 2008 the Windsor Continuation Group observed, “Not all believe that a representative body is the best way to express the contribution of the whole people of God at a worldwide level.

More here-

Update from the Bishop of Cuba

From Cuba-

I am writing to you before there is no electricity here in Havana, it is twelve noon. The weather is deteriorating, the boardwalk is flooded. All night and dawn, the north coast. Many villages were slaughtered. We have news of Esmeralda, near to Cayo Romano in the province of Camaguey. The damage was enormous in the houses, as well as in agriculture. Many families are housed and the Civil Defense is working tirelessly in service to the people, as well as the Institute of Meteorology giving constant information by all means of how the trajectory is and urging them to continue with the discipline and responsibility that characterizes the Cuban people in all parts. Already brigades are being moved from the western electricians and all staff to the affected region.

The other places where we have communities are Camaguey, Esmeralda, Gloria, Manati, Tabor, Jiqui, Chaparra, Puerto Padre, San Manuel, Moron, Ceballos, Ciego de Avila, Florida, Florence and Perea. Surely it is expected in Santi Spiritus, Santa Clara, Rhodes, Cienfuegos, that there are many gusts of wind and abundant rain. Now there is a lot of work. As soon as something is cleared, on Monday or Tuesday I will go to those places carrying some food. And all that you can. We are also making an emergency plan to collect clothes and blankets, sheets and carry them.

More here-

Sunday, September 10, 2017


From Comment-

As a high school student, I went through a brief and rather misguided period of fascination with the spiritual disciplines. In practice, my discipline of choice was most often that of silence. Being naturally a quiet sort of student, holding my tongue was no great burden to me, and as I fancied myself following in the footsteps of ancient Christians, my shyness and tendency to retreat inside myself seemed to take on a weighty and pleasing spiritual significance.

Thinking back on this high school practice while reading Kyle Bennett's Practices of Love: Spiritual Disciplines for the Life of the World, I realized with an embarrassed sort of horror that throughout all those stretches of pious silence I had never really paid any special attention to listening. If anything, the weightiness of my own discipline cultivated a disdain for the shallow conversation around me, and I'm sure I barely paid attention to the day's petty lessons on differential equations and the Meech Lake Accord that had, no doubt, been carefully prepared. In this way, I think it is safe to say that I was doing the spiritual disciplines wrong.

More here-

The dangers of the great American unchurching

From The Week-

Americans are abandoning religion in droves.
That's the clear takeaway from two crucially important polls released earlier this week — one from the Public Religion Research Institute and another from the Pew Research Center.

The Pew poll shows that since 2012 the share of Americans who describe themselves as "spiritual but not religious" has surged from 19 percent to 27 percent, while the share of those who call themselves "religious and spiritual" has declined from 59 percent to 48 percent. That's a dramatic change for a mere five years, and it builds on longer-term trends.

The PRRI poll, which is far more ambitious, places the Pew findings in a broader context, showing that white Christians now comprise less than half of the population; that the relative size of the white evangelical Protestant, white mainline Protestant, and white Catholic populations is declining rapidly; that 24 percent of the country is religiously unaffiliated; that the share of young people (aged 18-29) in that unchurched group is 38 percent; and that nearly all of the growth in the numbers of the religiously unaffiliated has taken place since the early 1990s, when their share of the population consistently averaged a comparatively paltry 8 percent.

More here-