Saturday, October 7, 2017

Saving Calvin from Clichés

From Commonweal-

In the spring of 2010 I was teaching in the Politics department at the University of Virginia when the novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson delivered a series of lectures in Charlottesville. I was able to join her and a few others for lunch after one of her talks, and the conversation inevitably turned toward her distinctive, highly sympathetic reading of John Calvin’s work.

For years Robinson had tried to rehabilitate Calvin, switching out the image of a dour, severe, and authoritarian religious zealot for one that emphasized his debt to Renaissance humanism and classical learning. Her Calvin was democratic and liberal-minded, a brilliant reformer who viewed the world with rapturous wonder. Far from delivering us to the iron cage of modern life, Robinson’s Calvin posited that the world was suffused with God’s glory—there was nothing “disenchanting” about his theology at all. She unfolded these arguments in a number of essays, especially those collected in The Death of Adam (1998), and in her novel Gilead (2004), with its narrator, a Protestant minister named John Ames, describing Calvin in ways rather similar to Robinson. “Calvin says somewhere that each of us is an actor on a stage and God is the audience,” Ames notes at one point. “That metaphor has always interested me, because it makes us artists of our behavior, and the reaction of God to us might be thought of as aesthetic rather than morally judgmental in the ordinary sense.... I suppose Calvin’s God was a Frenchman, just as mine a Middle Westerner of New England extraction.”

More here-

The Church We Need Now

From Plough-

This year’s five-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation comes just as Christianity is undergoing what may prove to be its biggest recalibration since the fourth century. Christendom, the system in which Christianity shaped Western laws and society as the majority religion, has been shaky since the Enlightenment. Now it’s in its death throes, felled by secularization, consumerism, and the sexual revolution. For better or worse, Christians must learn to be a minority. There’s no better time than now to recall Karl Barth’s admonition: “The church must always be reformed.” What is the reformed church we need now?

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther famously affixed his Ninety-Five Theses to a Wittenberg church door in a brazen challenge to the authority of the pope in Rome. His action ended up sparking a religious conflict that would plunge the continent into a century of war between Catholics and Protestants. Out of the bloodshed, so runs the story, modernity was born.

More here-

Presiding Bishop's message from the Primates Meeting

From The Episcopal Church- (video)

At the conclusion of their meeting, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry offers a reflection on the actions and discussions of Primates of the Anglican Communion.

Primates conclude Canterbury meeting ‘renewed in their ministry’

From ENS-

A positive spirit has swept through the precincts of Canterbury Cathedral this week as primates from most of the Anglican Communion’s 39 provinces gathered to address issues of common interest, with many saying they feel renewed in their ministry.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, attending his second Primates Meeting, spoke about his sense of the meeting being a “holy convocation.”

“We concluded our time together washing each other’s feet, following the teaching and the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” Curry said in a video message to the church.

“This wasn’t just a meeting. This was not just a gathering. This was, as a friend of mine often says, a holy convocation. We gathered in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and we did our work together in agreement and disagreement, following and in his spirit.”

More here-

Friday, October 6, 2017

Open to Opposition

From Commonweal-

The heat that a group of conservative academics generated by publicly accusing Pope Francis of heresy this summerin a letter they released September 23 is warming up the Catholic environment for dissent. And in the end, the pope’s patience with critics like these could do a lot to reform the culture of the church. It is one more way Francis is sculpting the church that the Second Vatican Council envisioned.

I doubt it’s what his tradition-minded antagonists intended as they launched a publicity campaign against the pope over passages  in his document Amoris laetitia (The Joy of Love) that urge a more merciful approach to divorced Catholics. Nonetheless, they’ve taken up Vatican II’s call for the laity to speak up from areas of their competence—“permitted and sometimes even obliged to express their opinion on those things which concern the good of the Church,” as Lumen Gentium (37) puts it.

The conservative academics have posted to the web a carefully defined basis for their dissent:

More here-

The Evolution of King Arthur Updated on October 15, 2016

Fro Letter Pile-

King Arthur is perhaps the most well-known subject in Anglophone literature. Not many other legends that originated over a millennium ago are still told as frequently and with such gusto today. But, what really makes Arthurian legends so different from other heroic epics is its dynamic ability to evolve.

The tales of Arthur and his knights have been innovated by virtually every new storyteller who told them. New characters were added over time. And, in some cases completely independent myths were grafted into the realm of Camelot.

Because of the way this group of tales lends itself to innovation, Arthurian Legend does not stagnate but remains vibrant and meaningful to every subsequent generation.

The Earliest Sources for King Arthur

Many of us have had the annoying circumstance of being seated next to someone who feels it’s their job to point out every time a Hollywood film departs from historical accuracy, or when the film contradicts the original book.

Well, if you ever hear one of these nitpickers asserting that a King Arthur film “isn’t historically accurate” or “that’s not what happens in the book,” you can promptly ask them “which part of undocumented history do you mean?” or “to which book are you referring?” King Arthur does not have one original source, but many!

More here-

People of faith have duty to fight climate crisis: Indigenous Bishop

From National Observer-

Thankfully, I am not alone.

This month, during the Season of Creation, tens of thousands of Christians across the globe are committing to healing our relationship with the Earth and those with whom we share it.

We have a long way to go. Among the many worrisome effects of climate change is the recent development of large craters in the permafrost in places like Fort McPherson, N.W.T. and others regions in our far North. These craters, which are hundreds of meters across, are caused by unusually warm weather persisting year after year. Across the Arctic, the quick, deep thawing of permafrost disturbs the surface of the Earth and poses challenges like buckled roads and unsettled foundations.

Permafrost has been melting and refreezing for millennia. But as we burn fossil fuels that make the earth warmer, the layer of permafrost in our far North is melting more quickly than ever.

This is a distortion of our rightful role as protectors of creation. And for people around the world, the melting permafrost could unleash a deadly domino effect.

More here-

Martin Luther Passionate reformer

From Christianity Today-

In the sixteenth century, the world was divided about Martin Luther. One Catholic thought Martin Luther was a "demon in the appearance of a man." Another who first questioned Luther's theology later declared, "He alone is right!"

In our day, nearly 500 years hence, the verdict is nearly unanimous to the good. Both Catholics and Protestants affirm he was not only right about a great deal, but he changed the course of Western history for the better.

Thunderstorm conversion

Martin was born at Eisleben (about 120 miles southwest of modern Berlin) to Margaret and Hans Luder (as it was locally pronounced). He was raised in Mansfeld, where his father worked at the local copper mines.

Hans sent Martin to Latin school and then, when Martin was only 13 years old, to the University of Erfurt to study law. There Martin earned both his baccalaureate and master's degrees in the shortest time allowed by university statutes. He proved so adept at public debates that he earned the nickname "The Philosopher."

Then in 1505 his life took a dramatic turn. As the 21-year-old Luther fought his way through a severe thunderstorm on the road to Erfurt, a bolt of lightning struck the ground near him.

More here-

Rise in Glory: Bp. Walmsley

From The Living Church-

The Rt. Rev. Ian Douglas, Bishop of Connecticut, announces the death of a predecessor, the Rt. Rev. Arthur E. Walmsley:

I write with sad news. Our dear friend and bishop, the Rt. Rev. Arthur E. Walmsley, 12th Bishop Diocesan of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, died peacefully at his home in Deering, New Hampshire early this morning. Bishop Walmsley had been struggling with a bad case of pneumonia for the last few weeks. He had recently returned home from the hospital and was being cared for by his loving wife and companion in ministry, Roberta. He was 89 years old.

… Arthur, together with Roberta, cared deeply for the clergy and their families in Connecticut as pastor and counselor.

More here-

Bishop of B.C. takes side in fish-farming dispute

From Anglican Journal-

Logan McMenamie, bishop of the diocese of British Columbia, is calling on the federal and B.C. governments to shut down fish-farming operations on traditional territories of the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw First Nation, one of the province’s Indigenous peoples.

According to a news release released by the diocese Tuesday, September 26, McMenamie travelled to Gilford Island, one of the islands between Vancouver Island and the mainland, to meet with the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw chief and council Sunday, September 24. He told them “the diocese of British Columbia honours the First Nations’ right to decide who enters their traditional territories,” and called on both the federal and provincial governments to revoke the permits of aquaculture companies operating on these territories.

More here-

Tyndale's Betrayal and Death

From Christianity Today-

By 1535, several englishmen had been or were engaged in the hunt for William Tyndale, under orders either from King Henry VIII, Sir Thomas More, or Bishop John Stokesley of London. These agents were hunting all over Europe, but only one of them actually succeeded in ferreting out the elusive Tyndale and bringing about his demise: a devious ne’er-do-well named Henry (or Harry) Phillips.

Henry Phillips arrived in Antwerp during the early summer of 1535. He came from a wealthy and therefore notable English family, and his father, Richard, had been three times a member of parliament and twice high sheriff. In addition, Richard Phillips held the lucrative post of Comptroller of the Customs in Poole Harbor.

Henry Phillips was the third and last son in the family, and in 1533 he registered at Oxford for a degree in civil law. And being a man of some ability, he was apparently well-set to gain a good position and follow a respectable life.

More here-

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Redeeming the Bible From American Evangelicalism

From Patheos-

We go to an Anglican church now. Every Sunday, worship is infused with the words of the Bible, with singing, with teaching and listening.

And lately, it’s become apparent to me that I’ve really been avoiding the Bible, this book that stood at the front of everything my entire childhood.

In college and in the years following, the images given to me of God, of Jesus, of the Bible, crumbled along with the patriarchal lens through which I saw them.

And so, I’ve avoided the words of the Bible.

I’ve been confused by them.

Often, I no longer trust them, because they leave the aftertaste of patriarchy.

They leave the aftertaste of a colonized faith, one that I grew up in and am now slowly trying to disconnect from. I was the worship leader for the FCA. I was at every True Love Waits Rally, every retreat.


Anglican Church penalises Scottish arm over gay marriage

From Yahoo-

The Anglican Church on Tuesday disciplined its Scottish branch for deciding to allow same-sex couples to get married in its churches.

The Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) voted in June to change its law on marriage, removing the reference to it being between a man and a woman.

As a result the first gay wedding in a UK Anglican church took place last month in Edinburgh, according to British media reports.

But while the SEC followed through with its decision -- which included a conscience clause for those ministers who do not want to officiate same-sex nuptials -- it was also prepared for the consequences.

"I recognise that this decision is one that has caused some hurt and anger in parts of the Anglican Communion," said Bishop Mark Strange, head of the SEC, at a meeting of Anglican leaders at Canterbury Cathedral in southeast England.

More here-

Diocese of South Carolina Announces Schedule for Mediation

From South Carolina-

Today the Diocese of South Carolina (Diocese) announced the schedule for mediation of the ongoing litigation with The Episcopal Church (TEC).

"In a pre-mediation meeting today with Judge Joseph Anderson, it was determined that mediation would be conducted November 6-8 in Columbia, South Carolina. Both State and Federal cases will be addressed by the mediation. Confidentiality will be expected from all parties concerning these discussions."

The Diocese also provided the following list of additional details:

In 2012, the Diocese of South Carolina, along with 50 of its congregations voted by an 80% margin to disassociate from The Episcopal Church. In a complicated and sharply divided ruling consisting of five separate opinions, the S.C. Supreme Court appeared to rule on August 2 this year that parishes which had "acceded" to the national church are subject to a trust interest in their property by (TEC).
Conclusion to today's Reply in Support of Motion to Recuse: "The depth of Justice Hearn's connection to this case warrants her disqualification pursuant to Canon 3E to ensure the promotion of public confidence in the integrity of the Court and in this decision. Justice Hearn should recuse herself and the Court should vacate her opinion."

More here-

The Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation: Joint message

From Radio Vatican-

The Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation is being marked today September 1 and has special importance in this its third year.

It is a Joint Message which was released on Friday morning from Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who for the first time are writing together on Themes of the Day, inviting all the faithful and men of good will to prayer and to reflect on how to live in a simple and solid manner, responsibly using earthly goods.

The Day of Prayer for the Creation of the Creation was instituted by Pope Francis in 2015. The Orthodox Church has commem

orated the Day since 1989. 

Below find the English Language translation of the Joint Message from Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

More here-

Santa Claus's tomb may have been uncovered beneath Turkish church

From The Guardian-

Turkish archaeologists have dashed the hopes of millions of children by claiming to have uncovered the likely burial place of Saint Nicholas.

Surveys have uncovered an intact temple and burial grounds below St Nicholas church in the province of Antalya, where he is believed to have been born, archaeologists told the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet.

“We have obtained very good results but the real work starts now,” said Cemil Karabayram, the director of surveying and monuments in Antalya. “We will reach the ground and maybe we will find the untouched body of Saint Nicholas.”

Revered for his gift-giving and aid to the poor, the 4th-century saint gave rise to the legend of Santa Claus.

In recent years, the church in Demre district in Antalya, near his birthplace, has been restored and draws many visitors. Demre is built on the ruins of Myra, the city where Saint Nicholas, revered by many denominations in Christianity, is believed to have lived.

More here-

Why ‘thoughts and prayers’ is starting to sound so profane

From The Washington Post-

It’s become a sort of twisted American ritual: A lone white male shooter opens fire on a crowd of people. Americans cry out for someone to do something and are met with shoulder shrugs, mumblings about “the price of freedom” and assurances that the people elected to protect them are sending their “thoughts and prayers.”

Politicians have managed to make a once benign, if not comforting, phrase sound almost profane.

It’s not that there is anything wrong with praying for those who are suffering. In fact, if you are a religious believer, it’s an imperative. I’m not in the camp that dismisses prayer as superstitious mumbo-jumbo embraced only by the unenlightened. I’m a person who prays and who has been prayed for and knows its power.

But it’s not enough. Nor is it what we hire politicians to do. We elect them to fix problems, enact policies and keep us safe.

Instead, we have elected officials — many of them self-described conservative Christians who also happen to take money from the National Rifle Association — using cries for “thoughts and prayers” as some sort of inoculation against responsibility or action when it comes to gun violence.

More here-

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

St. Francis and the Sultan: An encounter of peace between Christians and Muslims

From Aletia-

In the midst of the Crusades, the Sultan of Egypt Malek al-Kamil (nephew of Saladin) declared that anyone who delivered him the head of a Christian would be rewarded with a Byzantine gold piece. Fighting had been fierce and the Sultan wanted to put a definitive end to the conflict. By August 1219 his armies succeeded in defending the stronghold of Damietta, killing about 5,000 crusaders in the process.

Then came St. Francis of Assisi.

St. Francis and Br. Illuminatus boldly went across the battle lines unarmed and were quickly captured by the Sultan’s army and badly beaten. However, the soldiers spared their lives and brought them before the Sultan.

St. Bonaventure described the encounter, writing, “The sultan asked them by whom and why and in what capacity they had been sent, and how they got there; but Francis replied that they had been sent by God, not by men, to show him and his subjects the way of salvation and proclaim the truth of the Gospel message. When the sultan saw his enthusiasm and courage, he listened to him willingly and pressed him to stay with him.” It is said that Francis greeted the Sultan with the greeting, “May the Lord give you peace,” similar to the traditional Muslim greeting of, “Assalam o alaikum” or “Peace be upon you.” This surprised the Sultan who was quickly enraptured by Francis’ holiness.

More here-

Anglicans sanction Scottish Episcopal Church over same-sex marriage

From The BBC-

The Scottish Episcopal Church is to be excluded from ecumenical and leadership roles in the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

The decision follows the SEC's vote to begin marrying same-sex couples.

The Most Rev Justin Welby set out the decision in a news conference mid-way through a week-long meeting of Anglican primates in Canterbury.

He said: "There were a lot of expressions of disappointment, strong feelings from many of the provinces."

The archbishop said the consequences were agreed unanimously. He said he felt "very sad" about the decision.

More here-

Those bells tolling in Portland echoed nationwide gesture against gun violence

From Oregon-

The bell inside the Cathedral Church of St. Luke on State Street rang out at noon Tuesday. A dozen people – most in their 60s or 70s or older – bowed their heads and clasped their hands in silence. Outside, walkers who breezed past noted the sound and looked up toward the church but didn’t stop.

The bell continued to ring for an uncomfortable length of time, each toll of the bell representing a victim of Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas – the deadliest in modern U.S. history.

“It is discouraging,” said Bishop Stephen Lane. “There is a feeling that nothing can happen that would motivate us as a people to change. But we want to give hope. Things are dire, but they are not hopeless.”

More here-

Homosexuality and Catholic evangelization: “The Dorothy Day Way”

From Aleteia-

In his exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis expresses a constant danger evangelists must keep in mind: “There are times when the faithful, in listening to completely orthodox language, take away something alien to the authentic Gospel of Jesus Christ, because that language is alien to their own way of speaking to and understanding one another. With the holy intent of communicating the truth about God and humanity, we sometimes give them a false god or a human ideal which is not really Christian” (paragraph 41).

This can be seen clearly in some discussion among Catholics when it comes to homosexuality and the gender issues that dominate the news. As statements of fact, it’s hard to find fault with Catholic teaching; the Church is correct to point out that the complementarity of man and woman expresses God’s creative plan for human happiness. Christ reminds us of this plan in the Gospels, and his teaching is unchangeable.

But repeating facts is not the same as being helpful, and often the problem rests in how we repeat the facts of man and woman. Too often our words deal with these topics in the abstract with no regard for the conflicting feelings that some persons may experience.

More here-

What does it mean to bless?

From The Living Church-

Many parishes offer a Blessing of the Animals service on or near the Feast of St. Francis on October 4. On St. Blaise Day, February 3, you can have your throat blessed during the Mass. Some parishes also offer an annual Blessing of the Backpacks during the week before school begins. What do these blessings actually accomplish? What is the difference between a blessed pet or an unblessed pet, a blessed throat or an unblessed throat, a blessed backpack or an unblessed backpack?

As with other types of prayer, in some ways asking what a blessing does is to miss the point. Prayer is not primarily a means to an end. As Fr. Matthew Olver has said about the liturgy, prayer does not mean anything. Rather, it is something. It is an end unto itself. It is in and through prayer that we spend time with God. Asking about the cash value of that time would be like asking about the cash value of watching a movie with your spouse or throwing a ball around with your child. Its value is relational, not practical.

More here-

Wimbledon station commuters flee train in 'Bible' panic

From The BBC-

Passengers forced open the doors on a busy rush-hour train and climbed on to tracks after becoming "panicked" in the carriage.

It happened outside Wimbledon station in south-west London at 08:30 BST as a man apparently began reading lines aloud from the Bible.

Commuters became scared when the man also began saying "death is not the end", a passenger said.
Rail power lines were cut as passengers "self-evacuated", police said.

Trains on the route were disrupted for nearly 12 hours, but are now running normally.

Ian, who was on the train, said the man's Bible-reading led to a "commotion" and a "crush".

He said someone then asked the man to stop speaking "as he was scaring people" and "the guy stopped and stood there with his head down".

More here-

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Anglican church faces punishment after making history with UK's first same-sex church wedding

From The Independent-

The first same-sex wedding in an Anglican church in the UK has gone ahead despite the threat of punitive sanctions against the church body that gave the ceremony the go-ahead.

Alistair Dinnie and Peter Matthews made history by becoming the first gay couple to tie the knot after the Scottish Episcopal Church, which runs St John’s Church in Edinburgh, voted to overturn rules stipulating that marriage must be between a man and woman.

In June, members of the Scottish Episcopal Church general synod voted overwhelmingly to allow its churches to hold same-sex ceremonies.

More here-

Roberts: Phoenix loses one of its best first responders

From Arizona-

Phoenix has lost one of its best first responders.

The Rev. Carl Carlozzi – Father Carl to anyone who knew him for more than five minutes – died Sunday after a yearlong battle with esophageal cancer.

Father Carl baptized my first child when he was rector at All Saints Episcopal Church in Phoenix. But that’s not why I’m writing about him.

Father Carl died of the same cancer that took my father, which makes it personal. But that’s not why I’m writing about him.

Father Carl called me now and then to encourage me when I was writing about controversial topics he knew would bring out the screamers. But that's not why I'm writing about him.

Father Carl was that rarest of men – a priest who devoted his life to the rescue of people when they needed it most.

'You see how fragile life is'

This is a guy who was working in one of Arizona’s largest and wealthiest Episcopal churches in 1993 when he felt the call to become a volunteer chaplain. For the next nine years, he would volunteer his services, on call 24/7, to the Phoenix Fire Department before leaving the pulpit to take on the job full time.

More here-


From Jake Owensby-

No words adequately express the horror of the shootings in Las Vegas. News stories report body count and hospitalizations in an attempt to convey the incomprehensible magnitude of the violence.

The number of the dead and wounded could describe a pitched battle in Afghanistan or, long ago, in Vietnam. Nearly sixty dead. Over five hundred in need of medical treatment.

But of course, this wasn’t a battle fought on foreign soil. This was a country music concert. On American soil. And the attacker was an unremarkable American citizen who possessed a personal arsenal. Of automatic weapons. As he so dreadfully demonstrated, weapons designed to kill human beings in large numbers very efficiently.

We don’t yet know why the killer opened fire from his 32nd floor hotel room. But we are reeling from the savagery of his actions and the random senselessness of the deaths. He indiscriminately maimed and murdered scores of complete strangers who were out on the town for nothing more than a rowdy good time.

One of Ann Lamott’s favorite prayers seems most appropriate to me right now: Help, help, help! Help us O God in our grief and our fear and our utter confusion. Help us to find a better way to live in community. Help us to find tranquility in our hearts, peace on our streets, and love of our neighbor. Give repose to the dead, healing to the wounded, and comfort to the sorrowful.

More here-

Isaac Newton was a fierce critic of the Trinitarian corruption of Christianity: Priest of Nature reviewed

From The Spectator-

John Calvin believed that human nature was a ‘permanent factory of idols’; the mind conceived them, and the hand gave them birth. Isaac Newton acquired a copy of Calvin’s Institutes when he went up to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1661 as a teenager. By the time he was a mature man, however, Newton’s determined effort to strip the mind of superstitious superfluities had far outstripped the austere predestinarian of Geneva. As a Fellow of Trinity, and Lucasian Professor of Mathematics from 1669 onwards, Newton was obliged to subscribe to the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England. It was noted that, most unusually for a Cambridge academic at this period, he refused to take Holy Orders. In addition to his public work as a mathematician and physicist, Newton undertook work which was, perforce, utterly secret. This was his re-examination of Christian doctrine from its historical foundations. Had this work been made public, he would have been forced to resign all his public and academic positions. For he had come to the conclusion, by the time he reached maturity, that the central doctrines of Christianity, as outlined in the Creeds and the Articles, were monstrous idolatries, inventions, Satanic perversions of true religion. Above all, he excoriated Athanasius for persuading the Council of Nicaea to adopt the plainly, as Newton would see it, idolatrous view that Jesus had been the divine Second Person of the Trinity.

More here-

Monday, October 2, 2017

Statement from Bishops United Against Gun Violence Following the Las Vegas Shooting

From Bishops Against Gun Violence-

We share in the grief and horror of people across our country and, indeed, around the world in the wake of last night’s mass shooting in Las Vegas. We have spoken with our Bishops United Against Gun Violence colleague and brother in Christ, Bishop Dan Edwards of the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada, and we have offered him and the people of Nevada our prayers and promises of assistance. 

We stand in solidarity with the diocese and the people of Nevada as they cope with this massacre.
It has become clichéd at moments such as these to offer thoughts and prayers. But as Christians, we must reflect upon the mass killings that unfold with such regularity in our country. And we must pray: for the victims, for their loved ones, for all who attended to the victims in the immediacy of the shooting, for the first responders who do so much to mitigate the awful effects of these shootings, and for the medical personnel who will labor for many days to save the wounded. We must also enter into the sorrow of those who are most deeply affected by our country’s cripplingly frequent outbursts of lethal gun violence. We must look into our own hearts and examine the ways in which we are culpable or complicit in the gun violence that surrounds us every day.

And then, having looked, we must act. As Christians, we are called to engage in the debates that shape how Americans live and die, especially when they die due to violence or neglect. Yet a probing conversation on issues of gun violence continues to elude us as a nation, and this failure is cause for repentance and for shame. It is entirely reasonable in the wake of mass killings perpetrated by murderers with assault weapons to ask lawmakers to remove such weapons from civilian hands. It is imperative to ask why, as early as this very week, Congress is likely to pass a bill making it easier to buy silencers, a piece of equipment that make it more difficult for law enforcement officials to detect gunfire as shootings are unfolding.

More here-

Francis of Assisi: A gospel way of life

From Thinking Faith-

The figure of Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) has always captured the imaginations of people from all walks of life: Christians and Muslims, royalty and prime ministers, rich and poor, intellectuals and workers, philosophers and theologians, poets and novelists, artists and filmmakers, historians and sociologists, peacemakers and environmentalists, people of all religions or none. Now, for the first time, we have a pope that has chosen the name ‘Francis’.

Shortly after his election, Pope Francis was asked why he had chosen this name. He replied that during the conclave he was seated next to his friend, the Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes. When it became clear that the cardinals had elected Jorge Mario Bergoglio to be pope, Cardinal Hummes embraced his friend and said: ‘Don’t forget the poor!’ It was at that moment that the newly-elected Pope thought of St Francis of Assisi who was, he said ‘a man of peace, a man of poverty, a man who loved and protected creation.’

These were priorities in Francis of Assisi’s life. While he bore witness to the whole gospel, he tended to emphasise those aspects of it that were least understood or practised in his day, some of which continue to be neglected today. If we look at his life, we can see many reasons why his name has been taken by a pope who has said: ‘How I would love a Church that is poor and for the poor.’

More here-

Presiding Bishop delivers message from Anglican Communion primates on Las Vegas, Nevada shooting

From ACNS (with video)-

Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry and the primates of the Anglican Communion prayed to honor the victims of the shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada.

More than 50 people were killed and more than 500 were injured in a shooting on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday evening, marking the worst mass shooting on American soil.

The primates have gathered at Canterbury Cathedral for their Oct. 2-6 meeting.
Statement from the primates

The following is a statement from the primates of the Anglican Communion to Bishop Dan Edwards of the Diocese of Nevada.

We were greatly distressed to learn of the dreadful events in Las Vegas last night. The scale of the loss of life and the numbers of injured is truly shocking. We are sending our deepest condolences to you and to the people of your diocese – in particular, the people of Las Vegas.

More here-

Stoicism, Platonism, and the Jewishness of Early Christianity

From Oxford University Press-

The last few decades have taught us that speaking of Stoicism, Platonism, and Judaism as constituting a single context for understanding Early Christianity is not a contradiction (Stoicism and Platonism here; Judaism there), but rather entirely correct. The roots of Christianity are obviously Jewish, but in the Hellenistic and Roman periods Judaism itself was part of Greco-Roman culture, even though it, too, had its roots way back in history before the arrival of the Greeks. Thus the borderline between Judaism and the Greco-Roman world that has been assiduously policed by theologians speaking of Early Christianity has been erased. Similarly, the borderline between Greco-Roman ‘philosophy’ and Jewish and early Christian ‘religion’ has been transgressed. Hellenistic Jewish writers like the author of the Wisdom of Solomon (around 30 BCE) and Philo of Alexandria (ca. 30 BCE-45 CE) unmistakably drew quite heavily on both Platonism and Stoicism to express their Jewish message. 

The same has been argued––with special emphasis on Stoicism––by the present writer for the Apostle Paul and (most recently) the Gospel of John. And the Platonic colouring of another New Testament text, the Letter to the Hebrews, has been known for a long time. Thus Early Christianity no longer stands in opposition to Greco-Roman ‘philosophy.’ On the contrary, they belong in the same pool, at the same time as Early Christianity also retains its Jewish roots.

More here-

Old South Church puts a $19 million price on sunlight

From The Boston Globe-

Old South Church has put a price on sunlight:

$19 million.

That’s how much the historic Copley Square church wants developer Boston Properties to pay as compensation for shadows a planned tower at Back Bay Station would cast on the 142-year-old church, potentially causing moisture damage to masonry and darkening stained-glass windows.

It’s the latest example of development colliding with city landmarks and the complex interplay of shadows on open spaces.

That’s how much the historic Copley Square church wants developer Boston Properties to pay as compensation for shadows a planned tower at Back Bay Station would cast on the 142-year-old church, potentially causing moisture damage to masonry and darkening stained-glass windows.

It’s the latest example of development colliding with city landmarks and the complex interplay of shadows on open spaces.

More here-

If bishops want to face racism, own your own complicity, theologian says

From Crux-

Following the racial ugliness on display recently in Charlottesville, Virginia, America’s leading Catholic expert on African-American theological ethics, and perhaps the country’s best-known black Catholic priest, says the Church still has a long way to go to live up to the U.S. bishops’ own 1979 declaration that racism is a “radical evil.”

“If indeed it is a radical evil, then where’s the evidence for that in our Catholic concern? Where is it in our Catholic catechesis? In our Catholic seminary formation?” asked Father Bryan Massingale, who teaches at Fordham University in New York.

“If we really believe this is a radical evil, then it calls for a radical response,” Massingale said. “That’s what we haven’t seen, unfortunately, in the Catholic Church in the United States.”

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Church of England Resurrects Tradition to Attract Millennials

From Church Leaders-

In the past we’ve touched on the delicate balance that churches must maintain while appealing to millennials without pandering or changing theology. But what if we’re focusing our efforts in the wrong places?

What if the loud music and fog machines are actually clouding the Holy Spirit and preventing people from connecting with God? What if, instead of adapting to a modernized culture with our church services, we kicked it old school? Like, really old.

Well, that’s exactly what the Church of England is doing. Despite growing secularism in the country, the church has seen attendance grow over the past several years with the help of a centuries-old liturgical tradition: Evensong. Choral Evensong is an evening prayer service that is delivered mostly through song, offering a restful, reflective time to worship God and pause from the busy-ness of life. The choir performs live and is often highly skilled and well-trained.

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Evolution of Angels: From Disembodied Minds to Winged Guardians

From National Geographic-

"There is lots of interesting theology about angels, and in some ways we've kind of lost the knack for that," said John Cavadini, chair of theology at the University of Notre Dame.

"We tend to think of angels as things that we'd find in a Hallmark card," Cavadini added. "But many people, especially in antiquity, were very interested in them"—in what they might look like, how they might organize themselves, how they behave.

In the Bible angels served as envoys of God—angelos being Greek for "messenger." Other than that, the scriptures leave a lot of room for interpretation.

"There isn't a lot of detail, and that's the fascinating thing," said Ellen Muehlberger, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at the University of Michigan.

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Don’t wait on history

From The Living Church-

If you’re an Episcopalian, take a moment and remember what the church was like when you first entered it. It doesn’t matter whether you were born into it in the days of the 1928 Prayer Book, “the Republican Party at Prayer,” and the glory days of baby booms and full pews, or if you’re a relative newbie, finding a compelling home in the Anglican tradition in the last few years.

No matter how long you have been an Episcopalian, the culture (if not also the canons and liturgies) of this church is more radically heterodox now than when you came in. The pace of change has not slackened, but increased; even widespread success has not kept radical heterodoxy from pushing the Episcopal Church ever further to the theological and cultural left in America, seemingly knowing no fear of committing heresy or apostasy.

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