Weekend Roundup

Here’s some interesting reading for your weekend.


> The CofE House of Bishops has issued some Pastoral Guidance on homosexual ‘marriage’:

Following their meeting on February 13th 2014 the House of Bishops of the Church of England have today issued a statement of Pastoral Guidance on Same Sex Marriage.

The statement comes as an appendix to a pastoral letter from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York addressed to the clergy and people of the Church of England.

The text of the letter and the statement is here.

> But, they have banned gay priests from ‘marrying’.

… While insisting that traditional doctrines remain unchanged, they added that they recognise that same-sex relationships contain some of the same “virtues” as marriage, upheld by the Church for centuries…

Good grief! Do they have any idea how convoluted, confusing and false this sound?!

> Fr Dwight Longenecker: Anglican Church in Meltdown.

> And while on the subject of confusion (gender-wise), I see Facebook users are to have 50 different gender options from which to select!

> Whatever happened to the Gospel? Good question.

One thing you can always bank on is this: if we preach a wishy-washy gospel, we will end up with wishy-washy Christians. If we proclaim an anaemic message from the pulpits, we will end up with anaemic believers in the pews. If radical discipleship is not taught in our churches, we will not have radical Christian disciples.

One of the greatest tragedies of the Christian church in the West today is that we have lost the gospel. Yes, we have lost the gospel…

> The Episcopal Church (USA) Annual Litigation Summary 2014 is here. Shocking!

Carl Reid> Now in some former-Anglican news: Fr Carl Reid moves from Ottawa to Vancouver Island.

The announcement of Fr. Carl Reid’s upcoming move to Vancouver Island to assist in the Ordinariate there is a great boost to our western brothers and sisters in the Catholic Personal Ordinariate in Canada. While the people of Ottawa will miss his firm and steady leadership both in the parish and in the wider community, at the same time they are thankful that Fr. Carl has worked so well with his colleagues Fathers Hayman and Cooper to ensure a seamless transition.

A faithful pastor to the Ottawa Ordinariate community, Fr. Carl has seen the Parish of the Annunciation through many tests which have brought them safely into full communion with the Holy See over the past few of years.

As a pioneer of the Ordinariate in Canada, we all have much to thank him for. The fledgling missions spread across the country are now poised to welcome more people into full communion from Anglican, Lutheran and Protestant backgrounds as well as many baptized but unconfirmed Catholics who are beginning to look to Ordinariate churches as a way back into the worldwide Catholic family.

By the end of this year, the Ordinariate in North America will have around 100 clergy along with thousands of lay members and with more each month. The upcoming round of voting on issues of doctrine and discipline in various liberal Protestant groups will move many more to seek a way into the unity ensured by the magisterium of the Catholic Church. Ordinariate congregations are well suited to many of those seeking communion with the wider Church while bringing their love of English liturgy, music and pastoral patrimony.

Along with ministry to students and young families, many of the Ordinariate congregations have quite a youthful look compared to the congregations that people have come from. Our commitment to the New Evangelization reaches out to people of all ages and backgrounds.

Fr. Reid will bring his energy and experience to fresh challenges while leaving a growing parish in Ottawa. A heartfelt thank you to him and to Barbara, along with best wishes and prayers as they prepare for the move and a new life and ministry (as well as gardening) on the Pacific Coast. May the road rise to meet them.

> Still with the Ordinariate, Another Pastoral Provision Community has joined.

God’s not dead

> Of course He is not! A new movie coming out:

> Speaking of movies, I see Rick Warren and some other Christian leaders want to rent out theaters for the ‘Son Of God’ premiere:


Christian leaders, including megachurch pastor Rick Warren, plan to rent every screen in numerous multiplex theaters across 10 cities for the premiere of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s upcoming Jesus film, “Son of God,” on Feb. 27.

The unusual move reflects the confidence Christian leaders have in Burnett and Downey’s work in the wake of “The Bible,” a hit miniseries on the History channel.

The “Son of God,” an adaption from “The Bible” series, opens in theaters nationwide Feb. 28.

Many religious leaders are citing the movie as a natural opportunity to evangelize. Warren may have a vested interest in the film, since he wrote a curriculum tied to the movie and published by LifeWay Christian Resources.

Cinemark Theaters is scheduling a few large-scale buyouts on Feb. 27, said James Meredith, head of marketing and communications.

“The interest level for meetings, events, screenings and buyouts seems to be on par with that of major blockbuster, tentpole or franchise movies,” said Meredith…

Biblical Archaeology etc.

> Searching for Biblical Mt Sinai:

Where is Mt. Sinai? At a recent colloquium in Israel, an international group of scholars debated the question. At the center of the debate was Har Karkom, a mountain ridge in the Negev Desert that archaeologist Emmanuel Anati believes to be the Biblical Mt. Sinai. Or could Mt. Sinai be in Saudia Arabia, where Moses was thought to have fled after escaping Egypt?

Biblical Mt. Sinai has never been identified archaeologically with any scholarly consensus, though several sites have been considered…

> ASOR has a fine archaeological round up of the week.

If you missed anything from the ASOR facebook or twitter pages this week, don’t worry. We’ve rounded up some of this week’s archaeology news into one convenient post. If we missed any major archaeological stories from this week, feel free to let us know…

> They (ASOR) also have Remembering King David:

James Tissot, David Sees Bathsheba Bathing.

Why didn’t the biblical authors present a more flattering image of King David, and why did they make his stories so complex?

> Should unprovenanced cuneiform tablets be published?

> Watch N. T. Wright on Paul and the Faithfulness of God: A Conversation about Preaching.

> The Biblical site, Beth Shemesh, features here.

Beth Shemesh is an Israelite site located 12 mi. west of Jerusalem in the Sorek Valley where it exits from the Hill Country of Judah into the Shephelah.


> More ‘Christ At The Check Point’ hypocrisy: In the shadow of death.

… I approached a certain “Christ At The Checkpoint,” (CATC) a Christian conference held in Bethlehem. I wanted the opportunity to speak and honour the memory of my murdered, Christian friend. The conference prides itself on being ecumenical and draws a mixed audience of western Christians and Palestinians. One protagonist of the conference is an Israeli Arab. I hoped that the seeming openness of the CATC towards Israelis coupled with the fact that Kristine was a Christian would grant me a platform. I was declined on the grounds, “there is no space” bizarrely concluding, “this is not what the Lord wants.”

I suspect that I was refused because the CATC manifesto does not allow a voice like mine to be heard…

The Times of Israel has more.


When you find Christ [in the heart], you are satisfied, you desire nothing else, you find peace. You become a different person. You live everywhere, wherever Christ is. You live in the stars, in infinity, in heaven with the angels, with the saints, on earth with people, with plants, with animals, with everyone and everything.

When there is love for Christ, loneliness disappears. You are peaceable, joyous, full. Neither melancholy, not illness, nor pressure, nor anxiety, nor depression nor hell. When Christ enters your heart, your life changes. Christ is everything. Whoever experiences Christ within himself, experiences ineffable things––holy and sacred things. He lives in exultation…

> Source


> Divorce – A Form of Child Abuse.

> Religious people are more likely to feel they’re addicted to porn, according to a new study.

Feel like you’re addicted to porn? Your religion could have something to do with your answer…

Message In The Snow

Cheers up entire hospital:

If only all cancer patients were lucky enough to have a family like this surrounding them.

On Monday, Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center took to their social media accounts with the hope of solving a mystery uncovered by one of their nurses: a message written in the snow covering the top of the hospital’s parking garage over the weekend.

The message reads “HI MOM GOD BLESS U!” with a smiley face inside the “O” of “MOM.”

rush hospital

The hospital presumed the message was intended for a Rush patient and they were correct. The Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday afternoon the message had been written out in the freshly fallen snow by the 14-year-old son, brother and husband of Sharon Hart, a Bolingbrook, Ill. woman undergoing chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia that day.

Hart told the Tribune her son had called her after stomping out “HI MOM” and that her husband and brother added the rest later, intending to write “GOD BLESS YOU ALL” but running out of room.

“I’m glad so many people got to see the message and that it touched so many,” she told the paper. “It shows how big God is.”

It brought so many smiles to our doctors and nurses – and patients as well,” Rush spokeswoman Deb Song said, according to ABC News.

One of those nurses was Angela Washek, who first caught a look at the heartwarming message early Sunday and snapped the photo that has since spread throughout the country.

“No matter how cold it gets, there is always a message of warmth if we just open our eyes to see it,” Washek said via the hospital’s Facebook post.

“Sometimes we only see the bad side in healthcare. We don’t get to see the good that we do sometimes,” she tol DNAinfo Chicago.

Where Do You Live On This Map…

of the Internet?

Do you live near Googolplex Gulf, by the MS-DOS Sea, or closer to the South Datastream? Or do you spend more of your time on eBay Island? Click the zoom button at bottom left to see more of this incredibly detailed map, which depicts these places and more. Read more.


Syria’s Archaeological Sites Ravaged by Bombing, Looting

Discovery has the sad news:

When Asma al-Assad, the British-born wife of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, received an honorary Ph.D. in archeology in 2004 from the prestigious University of Rome “La Sapienza,” she stressed that such knowledge should be used “to foster mutual respect for what human societies have achieved over the millennia across the globe.”

Awarded for her role in the development of historical and archaeological studies and the preservation of the Syrian heritage, the degree was handed to al-Assad amid the ruins of the fabled ancient city of Ebla. The ceremony changed for the first time the University’s 700-year-old tradition which required the honorary degree to be given inside the city of Rome.

Ten years later, Asma is banned from traveling to all EU member states except the U.K, while bombing and looting have ravaged most of her country’s precious archaeological sites.

According to UNESCO, the U.N. cultural, education and science arm, illegal excavation in the past three years has spread everywhere, from Ebla, the site where Asma received her honorary Ph.D., to the ancient Sumerian city of Mari.

Apamea, a city founded in 300 B.C. by one of Alexander the Great”s generals, which boasted one of the longest and widest colonnades in the ancient world, “is completely destroyed by thousands and thousands of illegal diggings,”  Francesco Bandarin, assistant director-general for culture at the agency, warned at a news conference last week.

“A site has a value not only for the monuments that are destroyed but also for the values of the objects in the ground,” Bandarin said. “When this is lost, the scientific value of the site is clearly, clearly compromised,” he added.

To curb the destruction, the European Union gave UNESCO 2.5 million euros ($3.4 million) last week for a program aimed at fighting looting as well as raising awareness on Syria’s endangered cultural heritage…

… Syria’s cultural heritage is unique. As Asma al-Assad remarked in her acceptance speech of the doctorate, it’s a land where “those essential human attributes — culture, society and civilization — first flourished.”

Along with Mesopotamia, the country echoes the main advances made by humankind such as the birth of the first villages and what is believed to be the world’s first alphabet. Ironically, it is also here that archaeologists found the first evidence for the use of chemical weapons.

Over four millennia, Syria’s valleys and deserts have witnessed everything from Biblical civilizations, Roman conquerors and Christian Crusaders. The result is an abundance of unique monuments which include Roman cities, castles and forts, medieval Islamic markets, palaces, mosques and cathedrals.

“The country has tens of thousands of archaeological sites, not all of which have been recorded or even discovered yet. Before the crisis, new sites were being discovered all the time,” Emma Cunliffe, Global Heritage Preservation Fellow Postgraduate Researcher at Durham University, and author of “Damage to the Soul: Syria’s Cultural Heritage in Conflict,” told Discovery News…

Rest here.


Methodists In Crisis Over Gay Marriage, Church Law


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The dispute among United Methodists over recognition of same-sex couples has lapsed into a doctrinal donnybrook, pitting clergy who are presiding at gay weddings in defiance of church law against proponents of traditional marriage who are trying to stop them.

Since 2011, Methodist advocates for gay marriage have been recruiting clergy to openly officiate at same-sex ceremonies in protest of church policy. In response, theological conservatives have sought formal complaints against the defiant clergy, which could lead to church trials. One scholar has warned that Methodists are “retreating into our various camps” instead of seeking a resolution over an issue the church has formally debated since the 1970s.

“At this point, we have kind of come to the place where we know what the brute facts are,” said Matt Berryman, executive director of Reconciling Ministries Network, which advocates for gay and lesbian Methodists. “Most folks, after 40 years of trying legislative solutions, realize they won’t work. The way forward is to claim what we know to be true. And we’re going to continue doing it in an aggressive way.”

The intensity of the conflict was laid bare over the last several months, when the church tried, convicted and defrocked Frank Schaefer, a Pennsylvania pastor who presided at the wedding of his son to another man. Berryman said the case galvanized Methodists advocating for recognition of gay marriage, increasing donations to the group and traffic on Reconciling Ministries’ online sites. Schaefer has since been traveling the country giving talks and sermons on gay acceptance.

Opponents have also stepped up their organizing. Through statements, videos and conference calls, a theologically conservative Methodist movement called Good News has been pressing church leaders to act when church law, contained in the Methodist Book of Discipline, is violated. “When people choose to break the covenant that holds us together, there has to be some accountability,” said the Rev. Rob Renfroe, Good News’ president.

Last month, a new Methodist group formed called the Wesleyan Covenant Network to support theologically conservative Methodists and keep them from leaving the denomination…

Read on here.


Russia Church Shooting

Christian Science Monitor:

On Sunday, a 24-year-old man attacked a Russian Orthodox cathedral in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, a city on the Sakhalin Island in the Pacific. A nun and a parishioner were killed and six others were wounded.

A man employed as a private security guard opened fire Sunday in a cathedral on Russia’s Sakhalin Island in the Pacific, killing a nun and a parishioner and wounding six others, investigators said.

Law enforcement officers detained the 24-year-old man at the scene and were trying to determine why he had attacked the Russian Orthodox cathedral in the city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, the Federal Investigative Committee said in a statement. The man worked for a private security firm in the city and was armed with a rifle. His name was not released.

Concerns about security in Russia are especially high because of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, but there was no apparent connection to the games. Sakhalin Island is about 7,500 kilometers (more than 4,500 miles) from Sochi.

The six parishioners who were wounded were hit in the legs and their lives were not in danger, state news agency RIA Novosti reported, citing the regional archbishop.

The gunman entered the cathedral shortly after a service had ended and began shooting at parishioners and religious icons on the wall, priest Viktor Gorbach said in a telephone interview with the LifeNews cable television channel.

He said not too many people were left in the cathedral and some managed to flee, but the nun and a male parishioner tried to stop the attacker and were killed. The priest said the man, who also destroyed a cross, expressed his hatred of the church.

In Moscow, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church honored the dead as heroes.

“Those who died today, they in any case died in the temple of God,” Patriarch Kirill said after a service in a Kremlin cathedral, the Interfax news agency reported. “They tried to prevent that person from defiling our sacred place. They died as heroes, as soldiers on the front line.”

Kirill said the attacker may be mentally ill or may have been influenced by those who speak ill of the church.

The Russian Orthodox Church has been criticized by those who oppose its resurgence and symbiosis with the Kremlin under President Vladimir Putin.

Russian television showed footage of mourners laying flowers and lighting candles outside the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk cathedral.


Have We Lost the Battle?

…Is it actually relevant in a modern world and should a Christian fight for his or her right to visibly exercise their faith in the secular world?

Some Christian writers, bloggers, and would-be spokesmen have suggested that we have lost the sexual battles and need to get over it and move on: lost on the pre-marital sex issue, lost on the multi-divorce-remarriage issue, lost on the homosexual-bisexual-transgender issues, and certainly the homosexual marriage issue as well. The advocates of this position point to the changes both in culture and law that are taking place in Europe and North America, and these advocates seem to take the Anglo-centric view that what Europe and North America do is of course superior to what other continents, nations, cultures and peoples might think, believe or practice. The truth is, until very recently the entire Christian church family agreed on moral standards for individuals, family and marriage, and the battle for the Judeo-Christian understanding of marriage and family is anything but lost on a global basis. While many western denominations are rapidly declining in attendance and vitality, non-western Christian churches are booming…

Read on at the American Anglican Council.

A Day in the Life of a Railway Chaplain

In Britain:

Railway Vicar Dr Richard Cook at Manchester Airport train station

My nickname, among those I work with as a railway chaplain, is the “Flying Vicar”. Being an ex-railwayman myself, I take it as a compliment. Usually my former colleagues can be depended on to come up with something so much worse.

Why “flying”, I’ve often asked? “Because you’re here, there and everywhere,” they reply. And that just about sums up the 37-hour week I’m contracted to do, plus the many extra hours I put in each and every week. I roam all over the place, from my home base in Preston, covering the whole north-west railway region.

I am one of 22 railway chaplains working for the Railway Mission. It was set up in 1881 to support everyone involved in the railways, but especially the staff. We are funded now by the train operating companies.

Our motto is “Meeting People, Meeting Needs”, and that is exactly what we do. If I were to say, “what shape is a church”, most people would draw something square or rectangular or cross-shaped. But I’d draw a circle. It’s what the Lord says: “Go ye out into all the world.” The church isn’t a building. It is about being there, being available, saying to people in times of trouble, “You’ve got a friend.”

I’ve a lot of ground to cover…

Rest here.


The Art of Confession In an Age of Denial

Christians begin worship with an invitation to confess their sins. This might seem rather grim, but in fact it represents a gloriously counter-cultural testimony to the "admit nothing" world.Christians begin worship with an invitation to confess their sins. This might seem rather grim, but in fact it represents a gloriously counter-cultural testimony to the “admit nothing” world.

Read the post ABC’s Religion and Ethics here.


Faith Rising in East, Setting in West?

Europe and Christianity.

If I asked you to describe the state of Christianity in Europe, you’d probably answer “not good.” And there’d be ample reason to do so. Most of us are familiar with the depressing statistics regarding church attendance in Western Europe and Scandinavia.

But there is more to Europe than Britain, France, and Sweden. And in Central and Eastern Europe, a different story is being written.

More here.



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