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On the Road to Damascus: An Eyewitness Report
By Antonio C. S. Rosa
May 22, 2013
I participated, May 1-11, 2013 in the Mussalaha International Peace Delegation to Lebanon-Syria alongside fellow TRANSCEND member Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, from Ireland, and 15 others from eight countries. Keenly aware of my responsibility, especially to my newly made Syrian and Lebanese friends left behind, I shall try to report, describe, make sense of what I saw, heard and experienced; also offer views and insights based on interviews. However, this report will take more than one article.
First impressions first: the people, the civil society, women, men, the youth, elderly, children, workers, the Arab street, as it is called. It was disconcerting coming into the country for the first time knowing what I thought I knew and seeing a calm, positive demeanor in people, which could well be misconstrued as apathy, yet exhibiting expectant, concerned, awaiting eyes and facial expressions. After some time I noticed a striking absence of anger or negative excitement in the air; people going about their daily business as if nothing was happening, as if life were normal. No cries for revenge against their many external aggressors, no fists in the air, no demonstrations against a dictator, no pleading or denouncing slips of paper passed to me surreptitiously by nervous, fearful hands. Eye contacts revealed seriousness, curiosity, kindness, hope, hospitality, happiness in seeing strangers. No public laughs or smiles though. Heavy hearts do not allow for such frivolities. Syrian people are suffering, they are sad, stuck, against the wall, being victimized for which they bear no responsibility. They just don't know why they are being threatened, attacked, killed, tortured, and humiliated so viciously from so many fronts. The concept of proxy war is alien to them even though they are at its core. Fear of violence can be more psychologically and emotionally damaging than the real thing. Understandably, they are afraid of talking in public and being later identified and targeted by jihadists.
The First Word in BSA Now Stands for Betrayal
By Rick Scarborough and Robert Knight
May 24, 2013
Yesterday was a dark day for America. Delegates to a national Boy Scouts of America (BSA) meeting in Texas apparently voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to validate homosexuality among boys. We are outraged.
This is a betrayal of the highest magnitude. It's a betrayal of the boys in the Scouts' care. It's a betrayal of trusting parents. It's a betrayal of a 103-year-old institution that has molded millions of boys into men. It's a betrayal of truth and honor.
Finally, it's a betrayal of God, in Whose name the organization furthered the priceless worth of being morally straight.
Don't Cheat the Prophet
Sic et non
By William G. Witt
May 17, 2013
(Second of three essays)
The beginning of G.K. Chesterton's Napoleon of Notting Hill refers to a game called "Cheat the Prophet." In this game, the players listen attentively to wise predictions about the future. "They then go out and do something else."
In the current mess that is the Anglican Communion, none of us knows what the future holds, although some things can be predicted with some accuracy. For example, it was predicted in 2003 that if the Episcopal Church were to elect as bishop a man living in a same-sex relationship that the unity of the Anglican Communion would be threatened. And that has certainly happened. Probably no one predicted the way that it has happened, as a kind of slow-motion schism.
A Church with a Future
(or, Why There's Nobody Under 30 in Your Church and What to Do About It)
By Brian Brown
Special to Virtueonline
May 22, 2013
Much has been made of the Millennial generation (today's twenty-somethings) with regard to its religious affiliation...or lack thereof. Depending on which study you consider, as many as 82% of people under 30 don't attend church regularly. One famous statistic claims that 75% of young people today lose their faith in college. Certainly, if you visit a mainline church you won't see many young adults in the pews. And the megachurches appear to have gutted Christianity in their frantic effort to make it appeal to young people.
But others dispute these apparent trends. A recent article on The Atlantic's website suggests that whatever might be "wrong" with young people, it's just because they're young-they'll grow out of it. And after all, whatever New Life and Saddleback are selling, they seem to be moving a lot of product.
EM = 'Equal' Marriage = Delicious Doublespeak
By Lisa Severine Nolland, PhD
May 21st, 2013
This bill, which claims to be about 'equality', is actually anything but 'equal'. In fact, in a stroke of genius à la Orwell, terms are deployed to manipulate public opinion and ensure certain outcomes. The process is rushed and truncated, with those with other views ridiculed and marginalized. Winning is what counts. On closer inspection, however, the terms used mean either something rather different or the complete opposite. 'Equal' marriage is the one thing SSM is not.
Archbishop of Myanmar: "God kept me from committing suicide"
By ACNS staff
May 19, 2013
The Archbishop of Myanmar, Stephen Than Myint Oo has revealed that, during his time in prison, he planned to kill himself and that it was God's intervention that stopped him.
In the latest Anglican World magazine, Archbishop Stephen tells journalist Mark Brolly that 30 years ago, after two years imprisonment by the ruling military junta, he prepared to end his life.
Why we must Care
A letter from Bishop John Guernsey
May 19, 2013
The murder trial of the Philadelphia abortionist, Dr. Kermit Gosnell, has been of great interest and deep concern to me. I wish I could say it had captured the attention of the nation, but, as you may know, it was largely ignored by the media. (The executive editor of the Washington Post said he hadn't been aware of the story.) The trial was sickening, not because of the filth in the clinic, not because of the body parts of fetuses in jars, not because of the reprehensibly irresponsible medical care which caused the death of 41-year old Karnamaya Mongar of Woodbridge, VA. The trial wasn't sickening because it showed something exceptional, but because it showed what abortion is and does.
Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill
Church of England cannot support the Bill
Church of England
May 18, 2013
The House of Commons will consider the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill at Report Stage and Third Reading on Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st May.
A Church of England briefing for MPs in advance of the Bill's Second Reading was published in February. That briefing summarised the principled reasons why the Church could not support the Bill and included a detailed Q&A on some of the more commonly asked questions (and misconceptions) about the impact of the legislation on the Church of England. It can be seen here.
The Worst Sermon Ever? The Presiding Bishop Explains Away Paul and the Female Slave
THE UNDERGROUND PEWSTER
May 15, 2013
While vacationing paying a pastoral visit to Curaçao this past weekend (on my dime?), our Presiding Bishop delivered what may be her worst sermon ever. I suspect she did not study my blog post from 3 years ago which I reposted this Sunday about the missing verses from the lectionary selections for Sunday: Revelation 22:12-14,16-17,20-21 (See RCL and the Abbrevelation of John) for amongst other misinterpretations she said, "The reading from Revelation pushes us in the same direction, outward and away from our own self-righteousness, inviting us to look harder for God's gift and presence all around us. Jesus says he's looking for everybody, anyone who's looking for good news, anybody who is thirsty. There are no obstacles or barriers - just come. God is at work everywhere, even if we can't or won't see it immediately."
Confusion (among Amateur Canonists) about California Ruling
By A.S. HALEY
THE ANGLICAN CURMUDGEON
May 13, 2013
Now comes a task I would rather not face, given that I count many non-canon lawyers who are bloggers on Episcopal matters at least as colleagues, if not as personal friends. But in the wake of my commentary on the recent St. James ruling, a host of lay would-be canonists have rushed in to assure everyone that the ruling is not as bad as it is, or that it does not really say what it says. The latest comes from the estimable Father Haller, but he and others have also been contributing to the comments on other blogs. (Note that no one has seen fit to come here and question me directly.)
Please Mr. Keller this is not the time for philosophical niceties over gay marriage
By Julian Mann
Special to Virtueonline
May 13, 2103
One hopes he was misquoted but London Times columnist Tim Montgomerie does not invent quotes. In an article entitled 'The Bible Belt is becoming a force of good', he quotes 'influential New York pastor' Tim Keller as saying: "You can still believe homosexuality is a sin and still believe that same-sex marriage should be legal."
That quotation comes in a disturbing section in Mr Montgomerie's article: "Let's start with one of the great moral causes of our time: gay marriage. The majority of American Christians still oppose this civil right (sic) but opinion is changing among younger churchgoers: 44 per cent of evangelicals (sic) under the age of 30 favour allowing gays and lesbians to marry. Some take this view because they see nothing wrong with homosexuality. Others support same-sex marriage laws because they don't believe it is right to impose their own religious views on others." He then quotes Mr Keller as representing the latter tendency.
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PEOPLE OF THE AUCKLAND DIOCESE
By Bishop Ross Bay
May 10, 2013
Greetings to you all.
You may already be aware of an issue involving myself as Bishop of Auckland appearing as the Defendant in a Human Rights Review Tribunal hearing this week.
The process has been a testing time for many, especially those directly involved in the case. Please appreciate that it is inappropriate for me to enter into extensive discussions about the case while the Tribunal is still considering its decision. It is expected that the Tribunal will be deliberating for some time before delivering its findings.
Why a Liturgical/Sacramental Church
By Fr. Ron Gauss
Special to virtueonline
May 11, 2013
When I look around at the People of God gathered together (the Church) every Sunday, I never know who will be there.
There are many varied reasons for individuals not being at the gathering of God's people commonly called the Church. Illness, vacations, family requirements, baseball/football games, too early, too late, I was out late last night, too boring, or I am just not interested.
When I first became a believer in Jesus (to many a Christian), I travelled two hours to get to church. It was a liturgical church, but not like Bishop Seabury Anglican Church. It was a liturgical Church because it was a public service that followed a bulletin (ritual). We gathered, had an opening prayer, sang another hymn, heard a sermon, prayed, sang a closing hymn, and went home. Wasn't very exciting, but it was something that I believed the Lord commanded.
Ten Signs of Hope for a Declining Church
By Chuck Lawless
May 7, 2013
The question didn't surprise me, but I wasn't ready with an answer. I was a young church consultant, and the church's leadership team had several questions. The one for which I had no answer at the time was, "What characteristics have you seen in churches that seemed to be dying, but that experienced growth after a consultation?" After many more years of consulting, here is my answer today.
The leader is preaching the Bible. Numerical growth can occur without preaching the Word, but genuine personal and congregational transformation doesn't happen apart from the Word. The struggling churches I've seen experience healthy change have been led by leaders who preach the Word. They don't compromise on this task, knowing that the Word still changes lives.
Somebody is praying. Sometimes it's the leader, and sometimes it's another church member - but somebody is beseeching God to help the church turn around. I've met church members who prayed daily for their church for years, and they never wavered in that commitment. Consistent prayer is a confession we can't change a church's direction apart from the power of God.
Vulnerability and Change
by Bob Ragan
May 6, 2013
Twenty-five years ago I had my last homosexual encounter with a former lover. It was the first week of January 1988. This significant event came after I had rededicated my life to the Lord in August of 1987. At that point in my life, I had lived for 11 years as a gay-identified man. During the second week of that January, I broke my silence and shared my past with my church family. Only my pastor had known of my history. During the third week of January, I was visiting a church in Atlanta and heard about Regeneration Ministries. The next week, I visited with Alan Medinger at the Regeneration office in Baltimore. I walked into my first Regeneration meeting in Northern Virginia during the first week of February 1988 and my life has never be the same.
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