Saturday, June 2, 2018

Off the Shelf: When WASPs Sting

From National Review-

I’ve been thinking about Protestantism lately. Not so much high-octane Calvinism, which in its present form is a pursuit for bookish men who quite like fractious intellectual argument. That has always attracted me to some degree, but no, I’ve been thinking about something you might call “elite Protestantism” or “Mainstream Protestantism.” A number of things have conspired to remind me that what is often called Progressivism is a mutation of Protestantism.

It started a few months ago when I listened to a First Things podcast in which Michael Doran discussed the theological traditions that inform debates about foreign policy. Doran identifies William Jennings Bryan with a populist-Evangelical tradition of Jacksonian nationalism, and H. L. Mencken with an urbane, Mainstream Protestant or secular tradition of international cosmopolitanism:

The Progressive persuasion conflicts with its Jacksonian counterpart in crucial respects. Though both accord the government a vital role in protecting “the common, everyday fellow,” the deepest concern of the Jacksonian is individual liberty, whereas the Progressive focuses more intently on destroying inequality. The Progressive, moreover, is eager to embrace “collective” initiatives, which in practice means government initiatives. Though some of these will pass muster with the Jacksonian persuasion, the Progressives’ embrace of centralizing government power, even when legitimated in terms of the interests of the common man, often appears as a threat to individual liberty. For the Jacksonian persuasion, the Progressive vision quickly turns into the oligarchy of experts that so troubled William Jennings Bryan.

More here-

Michael Curry v. Robert Jeffress on the biblical view of government

From RNS-

Ah, celebrity! Thanks to his star turn preaching at the recent royal wedding, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, has become the first Mainline Protestant leader in a generation to require criticism from the religious right.

So the other day, Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church Dallas, went on Lou Dobbs to attack Curry for joining other Protestant leaders in promoting a “Reclaiming Jesus” proclamation that protests the policies of the Trump Administration towards the least among us.

“They’re sincere, but they’re sincerely wrong, Lou, about their understanding about what the Bible says about government,” said Jeffress. “Yes, we’re to do what the bishop says and follow the way of love—individually. We’re to love each other, forgive each other, turn the other cheek. But government is never commanded to do that in the Bible. Government is supposed to look out for the protection of its citizens.”

Actually, the Bible does pretty much command the way of love, at least when it comes to caring for the poor. In Leviticus 19:9-10, God ordains this social welfare policy:

More here-

Baptist News Global editor leaving to become Episcopal priest

From Baptist News-

Robert Dilday, editor-in-chief for Baptist News Global and a Baptist journalist for 35 years, is stepping down to become an Episcopal priest. His last official day on the job will be June 5.

Dilday, 62, was managing editor at the Religious Herald in Richmond, Va., 27 years before a 2014 merger with the news service Associated Baptist Press that formed BNG, an independent, faith-based news organization providing original and curated news, opinion and analysis about matters of faith.

Son of one-time Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Russell Dilday, he was confirmed as an Episcopalian in 2016. He explained he did not set out to join the clergy, but after feeling a tug in that direction he entered the structured process for discerning a call in the Episcopal Church in February 2017.

He recently was approved for postulancy, a necessary step toward ordination, which includes service in a parish and a year in an Episcopal seminary.

More here-

Friday, June 1, 2018

Gay cleric in running for Brechin position

From Scotland-

Jeffrey John was the first priest in an openly same-sex relationship to be nominated as a bishop in the Church of England.

Mr John, who is currently the dean of St Albans, has been up for seven previous diocese positions, but each role went to someone else, leading him to make claims of homophobia within the church.

Similarly to other candidates for the Brechin post, Mr John is not allowed to comment ahead of the selection. However, he has previously said his failure to be shortlisted for a Welsh post was “directly related to my homosexuality and/or civil partnership”.

He was favourite to be selected as bishop of Llandaff, but was subjected to a “number of homophobic remarks” during the appointment process before being rejected by bishops, he said.

Episcopalians are looking to replace Nigel Peyton, who retired as bishop of Brechin in July of last year. The church has seven dioceses with Brechin covering Angus and Dundee.

More here-

The Christian church in America: A history of racial intolerance and racism

From Cincinnati-

The division persisted at the start of the civil rights movement when King and former Episcopal Bishop James A. Pike of New York were among the major religious leaders to say, "The 11 o’clock hour on Sunday is the most segregated hour in American life."

It's still that way in Cincinnati. And, says one of the city's most recognizable and senior church pastors, the Rev. Damon Lynch Jr., the racial climate today is more toxic than 50 years ago and racial attitudes both in and outside of the church have hardened. He says too many white ministers and churchgoers still believe whites are superior to African-Americans.

"We've been at this for what seems like forever," says Lynch, who in September will begin his 48th year as pastor of New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Carthage. "The will is just not there for white Christians and white clergy to address racism."

More here-

Bishop Michael Curry, Church Leaders Call Out Trump

From Afro-

On Saturday May 19, a small framed African American preacher stood in St. George’s Chapel adjacent to Windsor Castle and lit a fire to the royal family by preaching about, “The Redemptive Power of Love” days before coming back to the United States to ignite a flame about activism.

Five days after he spoke at the wedding for the Duke and the Duchess of Sussex, the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, the 27th Presiding Bishop and first African American to lead the Episcopal Church in the U.S. led a candle light march to the White House after he spoke at the National City Christian Church.

The sanctuary, foyer and steps of National City were filled as Curry spoke to a standing room only crowd about the redemptive power of love. In a statement, Curry connected his message in England with his work in the U.S.

“ As elders, we view bringing the “Reclaiming Jesus” declaration to the public square as a tangible example of how to live out that way of love,” Curry Said.

More here-

Bishop Michael Curry walks a fine line in the political fray

From RNS-

Michael Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, captivated a global audience earlier this month when roughly 1.9 billion people tuned in to watch the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The Most Rev. Curry’s charismatic, love-centered homily during the service sparked a media blitz that rocketed him to stardom and landed him interviews at virtually every major American news network.

At a time when both political and spiritual matters are often marked by division, the praise for his sermon — which focused on Jesus’ message of love — was a rare moment of unity.

But when Curry ascended to a pulpit again less than a week later (May 24), it was in a very different context. He was standing in the front of National City Christian Church in downtown Washington, where a crowd of more than 1,000 eagerly awaited his short sermon. The event, headed by a bevy of liberal-leaning Christians, was organized to promote a “Reclaiming Jesus” proclamation in which he and various signers declared, among other things, that President Trump’s campaign slogan “America First” was “a theological heresy.”

More here-

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Bishop bikes through Bow Valley on cross-country “pilgrimage”

From Canada-

Anglican Bishop Rob Hardwick is on a cross-country trek to meet and pray with people and to raise money for different charitable causes. Hardwick, a Saskatchewan bishop with Anglican Diocese of Qu’Appelle, cycled through the Bow Valley on Monday. His day began in Radium B.C. in the morning around 8:00 a.m. and he arrived in Canmore at 5:00 in the evening, averaging about 24 km/h along the way he estimated.

“It’s a pilgrimage,” the bishop said. “It’s praying for people and situations and praying, primarily, for unity for healing and reconciliation.”

Hardwick’s journey began at Holland Point Park in Victoria, B.C. on May 19. It is estimated that it will take him 62 days to complete the 7,877-kilometre route to finish in St. John’s, Nfld. on Aug. 1. The trip’s aim to foster unity and reconciliation is within the the Anglican Church of Canada, with Indigenous Peoples, and all who are hurting.

During his trip, Hardwick aims to raise $2 million for different causes. He plans to raise $800,000 to support Indigenous ministries in the Anglican Church of Canada. The remaining $1.2 million is planned for various causes — to help build a medical centre in Muyinga, Burundi, to help construct a home in Regina, Saskatchewan with Habitat for Humanity and to conduct mission work in his home diocese in southern Saskatchewan.

More here-

Salvation Army, Scouts, YMCA, Anglican Church sign on to redress scheme for sex abuse victims

From Australia-

Social Services Minister Dan Tehan made an announcement with representatives of all the organisations in Canberra this morning, as the Turnbull Government continues to build the compensation regime.

The Catholic Church yesterday became the first non-government institution to formally opt-in, joining all states and territories except Western Australia.

Mr Tehan said the four institutions signing on today brought the coverage of the national redress scheme to 80 per cent of survivors.

"I thank the institutions for the leadership they have shown, for owning up to past wrongs, owning up for behaviour that can only be described as despicable and deplorable," Mr Tehan said.

"But [also] for wanting to turn a page, to provide redress and to make sure that the survivors get the justice that they deserve."

The final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse consists of 17 volumes with the Scouts and YMCA referred to in volume 14 among other recreational groups.

Survivors from all institutions will receive up to $150,000 compensation, along with counselling.

More here-

Organizations collecting donations for Ellicott City flood victims

From Baltimore-

St. Peter's Episcopal Church in old Ellicott City is many things to many people these days -- a staging area for residents and business owners to get back on Main Street, and both outside and inside a donation-distribution site.

"Every time we say, 'Oh we need to go get,' it just appears. It's great," said Katherine Schnorrenberg, with St. Peter's Episcopal Church.

Schnorrenberg, a junior warden of the church, said response has been incredible with donations from all denominations.

"(There are) boxes of water bottles and cleaning supplies, and yesterday Ace Hardware dropped off 30 wheelbarrows. There are two left, I will point out, and shovels," Schnorrenberg said.

More donations came in from the Howard County Food Bank in Columbia. Within four hours of Sunday's devastation, more than 51,000 pounds of supplies came in to help flood victims.

More here-

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

GK Chesterton's sainthood cause may soon be opened

From Catholic News Agency-

As an investigation into the life of Catholic apologist G.K. Chesterton nears a close, admirers of the English writer voiced hope that his sainthood cause could soon be opened.

“Chesterton stands up as that saint who contradicts the world in terms of speaking out against a bad philosophy and bad thinking,” said Dale Ahlquist, president of the American Chesterton Society.

“Chesterton is someone who has really contradicted the age. He is in fact a maker of converts. There are hundreds of people who have come to the Catholic faith as a result of encountering G.K. Chesterton, and I’m certainly one of them.”

More here-

Neva Rae Fox Out at 815

From Living Church-

Neva Rae Fox, the chief spokeswoman for the Episcopal Church for more than a decade, apparently left her employment abruptly Wednesday, for reasons that have not been made public.

Senior leaders at the church center did not immediately respond to requests for comment, and Fox could not be reached. Fox’s contact information was deleted on Wednesday or early Thursday from the staff directory and communications office pages on

Lisa Webb, associate officer for public affairs, is now listed as the primary contact for public affairs. She also has not responded to inquiries, and her automatic email reply describes her as “currently unavailable.”

The action comes just days after Fox was in London with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to handle the avalanche of media attention related to his sermon at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The sermon attracted enormous attention around the world, and was the highest-profile event for the church in years. Media coverage of the presiding bishop has been overwhelmingly favorable, and is continuing at a rapid pace.

More here-

Nigeria needs cleansing, says Anglican Bishop

From Nigeria-

The Diocesan, Diocese of Ibadan, Anglican Communion, Most Reverend Joseph Akinfenwa has warned the Federal Government not to take the continued silence of the people over the worsening situation in the country for granted, saying such may be a sign of worse thing to come.

The cleric who traced the history of a similar situation to Ghana noted that the revolution that it led to is also what is required in Nigeria if the country must come alive again.

Bishop Akinfenwa spoke during a sermon at The Cathedral of St. James The Great, Oke-Bola, Ibadan during a special service to commemorate the beginning of the church.

He was outspoken in condemning the various injustices and inequality across the land and the “uncaring way with which the case of security is being handled by the security agencies, which has led to increasing loss of lives across various parts of the country.”

More here-

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Shelters open doors to Ellicott City residents displaced by flooding

From Maryland-

It was a similar story at St. Peter's Episcopal Church where doors opened Sunday night.

"I'm seeing this coming into my Facebook feed, and people are messaging us and I said, 'As soon as I can get to St. Peter's we'll get people there,'" a church member said.

On Monday, people were dropping off supplies like food, fans and tools to help in the cleanup process.

Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton, of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, came from Baltimore to offer support.

"People can just gather for food, for a hug, some people just came in and said, 'I just want to tell somebody what happened,'" Sutton said.

More here-

$280,000 in college scholarships awarded to high school seniors through All Saints’ Episcopal Church

From SE Florida-

All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Jensen Beach presented $280,600 in college scholarships to Class of 2018 seniors from Jensen Beach High School and South Fork High School in Martin County.

The scholarship awards were made in collaboration with the Sirote Charitable Foundation, Henry Sumner LeDuc Fund and DeFiore-Glover Scholarship Fund, all operating under the auspices of the church. This is the second year in a row scholarships presented by All Saints’ Church have totaled more than a quarter-million dollars.

“All Saints’ Episcopal Church is proud to be one of the largest sponsors of graduating seniors in our community thanks to the generous scholarship funds established by and in memory of our parishioners and friends,” said the Rev. Walter Frisby Hendricks III, Rector. “The recipients, who are chosen through a long, careful selection process, are all exceptional young adults and we wish them the very best of success in their college careers.”

All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 2303 N.E. Seaview Drive in Jensen Beach, honored the students during a Scholarship Sunday Service on May 6.

More here-

The Trinity is not our social program(me)

From Psephizo

There are moments of the year which all preachers dread. Perhaps ‘dread’ is too strong a word; but there is a definite sinking of the shoulders as we, once again, think about finding something new to say on the occasion of the major festivals. Christmas and Easter are, of course, the regular challenges—yet in both biblical stories there is so much rich material that finding a new insight or angle isn’t that hard. Where dread really does descend is as we approach Trinity Sunday.

Fortunately for us, there has been a remarkable revival in Trinitarian thinking in the last 70 years or so—so we no longer need to feel like Robbie Coltrane in Nuns on the Run (‘The Trinity is like a clover.’ ‘What, you mean it is green?’). In the opening chapter of his excellent exploration of The Quest for the Trinity, Stephen Holmes traces the shape of this revival. If the scholasticism of the middle ages had made the doctrine of the Trinity speculative and obscure, the rationalism of the 18th and 19th centuries had (in effect) rejected the doctrine as implausible. Karl Barth rejected this rationalist approach, and aimed to reinstate the Trinity as the centre of Christian theology.

More here-

Monday, May 28, 2018

Here’s an explanation of Trinity Sunday (sort of)

From Washington-

The Sunday after Pentecost is called Trinity Sunday in many denominations. It’s the Sunday dedicated to affirming Christian faith in the one and only God made known to us in the three persons of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

When it comes to talking about what Christians believe, nothing is more difficult to explain than the Trinity. How is it possible Christians can believe in one God subdivided into three parts? It just doesn’t make sense. Indeed it doesn’t, and for many reasons.

Years ago I was part of an ecumenical discussion group of budding theologians from various Christian and Jewish traditions. Whenever the Trinity came up, the Jews threw up their hands in exasperation while the Russian Orthodox waved theirs proclaiming it a Holy Mystery. 

More here-

'I pray for Donald Trump, I do': Bishop Michael Curry addresses US divisions

From The Guardian-

Faith leaders working with Bishop Michael Curry to turn his sermons of love into a movement see his invitation to preach at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as a moment of divine intervention.

“God used a royal wedding to have the gospel preached probably to the largest audience at one time,” said Jim Wallis, a progressive Christian leader and a founder of the Reclaiming Jesus movement. “My dear friend Bishop Curry was just being himself in that pulpit. But God made that happen in all kinds of humorous and miraculous ways.” 

For 24 hours after the ceremony at Windsor Castle last week, Curry rivaled Pope Francis as the most recognizable faith leader in the world. He was interviewed by major networks on both sides of the Atlantic. Fans asked for selfies. He was even parodied on Saturday Night Live. 

Then the first African American leader of the Episcopal Church returned home, to embark on a new mission. He wants to address what he and other clergy behind Reclaiming Jesus call “a dangerous crisis of moral and political leadership at the highest levels of our government and in our churches”. 

More here-

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Royal wedding was beautiful, but how about that sermon?

From West Virginia -

When valorizing Whitfield’s rhetorical aptitude, it would have been just as appropriate for someone to have celebrated that of the poem’s author, for nobody in the colonies was as talented a versifier as her.

The 17-year-old author of the poem was so brilliant in composition that, two years after her lyric for Whitfield, a committee of Harvard scholars was convened to interrogate the woman and to deliberate as to whether she was the author of the verse (they concluded that she was).

Their unfounded suspicions were characteristic of the bigotry of the time, for the woman’s last name was “Wheatley” from the Massachusetts family that owned her, and her first name was “Phillis” after the slave ship which stole her from Africa.

Gates calls the example of Phillis Wheatley the “primal scene of African-American letters.” For Gates and other scholars, Wheatley marks the nascent stirrings of the unique, powerful, full-throated American vernacular of black literature, whose voice has indelibly marked not just our writing, but our preaching, our creating, our laughing and our singing.

More here-

Dean of Taranaki Anglican Cathedral resigns after a month

From New Zealand-

The Dean of Taranaki's Anglican Cathedral has resigned after only a month in the post.

The Very Reverend Ross Falconer was appointed as Dean of the Taranaki Cathedral of St Mary in April, and had planned to hold the role until the end of the year while the Anglican Church looked for a permanent dean.

However, Archbishop Phillip Richardson announced on Sunday that Falconer was resigning.

"When Ross came to see me to say that he intended to resign he was very clear that after a month of looking closely at the needs of cathedral life he had come to the view that the skill set required was different from what he could offer, and felt it best to say that sooner rather than later," Richardson said in an email.

"Ross is hugely experienced and I trust his judgement."

This resignation has comes within weeks of the Anglican Church's controversial announcement that bishops could now bless same-sex relationships.

More here-

Christian crowd vows to ‘reclaim Jesus’ from polarized U.S.

From Crux-

Saying that Jesus Christ has been “hijacked” in the name of politics, a large crowd of national Christian leaders and members of their congregations vowed during a prayer service and vigil May 24 to “reclaim Jesus” from those who not only use his name for their political and personal gain, but reject the gentleness, kindness, love of neighbor, the poor and the truth that Christ embraced.

“We believe two things are at stake: the soul of a nation and the integrity of faith,” said the Rev. Jim Wallis, speaking to a crowd that overflowed onto the steps and street outside the National City Christian Church in Washington.

Wallis was one of the organizers of the “Reclaiming Jesus” event, which gathered Baptist, Catholic, Anglican and other Christian clergy for prayer, song and a quiet vigil outside the White House.
Religious leaders at the event spoke of the dehumanization of people around the country based on their race, economic status, immigration status, gender or because of the faith they practice.

More here-

The complex soul of the real Gen. Robert E. Lee

From Indiana-

Soon after the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered to Union forces, Gen. Robert E. Lee wrote to one of his spiritual advisers while wrestling with the pain of this great defeat, but also with a lesson that he had learned.

“God has thought fit to afflict us most deeply. ... How great must be our sins and how unrelenting our obduracy,” wrote Lee to the Rev. William Platt, an Episcopal priest. “We have only to submit to his gracious will and pray for his healing mercy.”

The key, Lee argued, is that the South’s defeat represented the judgment of God. Now it was time to seek true unity, not “a forced and hollow truce. ... To this end all good men should labour.”

More here-

Sometimes, faith helps us find the words for the roller coaster of emotions we're feeling

From North Carolina-

May: the mercurial month. It sweeps in, giving us the short, sweet life of peonies and the sharp sting of bees. Flowers and flash flooding showers. Fifty degrees one day and 90 the next.

It plays havoc with emotions, too. Ever since the calendar turned the corner to May, I’ve been jolting from joy to utter sadness and back again.

Joy: Sitting in the cool predawn of a Wednesday with my infant grandson, Henry, in my lap. In a few hours, he and his mom would be back on a plane, headed home after his first visit to North Carolina.

Either Henry is tone deaf, or my version of “I love you, a bushel and a peck,” is not so hard on a 2-month-old’s ears. In between songs, I told him about the house where we raised his mother, the baby bluebirds who hatched at about the same time as he did, and about all the dogs who lived in this house for the past 30 years. Joy joy joy joy down in my heart!

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