Saturday, December 16, 2017

Proposed Catholic hospital mega-merger

Proposed Catholic hospital mega-merger assessed by Church officials: Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives and San Francisco-based Dignity Health proposed merger would include 139 hospitals, employ 159,000 people, and have combined revenues of $28.4 billion

FCC’s decision to end Internet regulation likely will mean less free porn: Moving forward, internet service providers will be able to control what consumers have access to, which could put an end to — or at least severely slow down — the free availability of copious amounts of pornography

Churches worth driving to: St. Brendan Church, Bothell, Washington

Friday, December 15, 2017

Catholic San Francisco Dec 14. 2017

Catholic San Francisco
Read the Dec. 14 issue online
Mary and the Christ Child are depicted in a 1997 painting by Elizabeth Wang. The feast of the Nativity of Christ, a holy day of obligation, is Dec. 25.

Embrace the holy mess of Christmas

Embrace the holy mess of Christmas
Families aren't perfect--but neither is Christmas.

My father hates Christmas. We have a picture of him lying on my parents' couch, wrapped up in a blanket, wearing both a Santa hat and a look of utter mournfulness.

For most of my childhood and young adulthood, this was something to tease him about. How could you hate Christmas? What part of gift giving and receiving, good food, and family is not to like? How could anyone not like the music, the celebration, the candles, and the hushed holiness of the Midnight Mass?

Last year, though, I started to understand where my dad was coming from.

I'm not sure what the tipping point was. Perhaps it was how the dog that my husband and I had just adopted the week before took an instant dislike to my father and tried to nip at his toes whenever she got the chance. Or perhaps it was how Amazon cancelled--without notification--the order containing the vast majority of my parents' Christmas gifts to us kids. Or maybe it was that a couple days later at our celebration with my mom's extended family, we spent two days in a house with four dogs and more than 30 people (including 10 kids), which resulted in the assorted hurt feelings and spats that can only happen among a group of people who love each other and know exactly what buttons to push to hurt each other. Or maybe it was just the exhaustion of celebrating five different Christmases with five different family configurations within 10 days.

I'm reassured when I remember that this chaos is nothing unique to my own family. My husband and I may bemoan the thought of a 12-hour car ride with two animals, but then I think of Mary, nine months pregnant and forced to travel for hours for census registration, the equivalent of renewing your license at the DMV. Or later when she and Joseph fled to Egypt, a journey not much different in length from my yearly pilgrimage from Chicago to New York, but via foot and with a newborn baby. 

When Joseph announced the news of Mary's pregnancy to his parents, I suspect they weren't exactly thrilled that he was going to marry her anyway. "But an angel told me it's OK!" was perhaps not the most reassuring thing to hear your son say in that situation. 

Who owns the Dead Sea Scrolls?

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Who Are These Evangelicals?

The Unsafe God
I cannot avoid linking to this interview, "Why Is God Not Nice?" As a writer of Christian spirituality, I am known for exploring the depths of grace, but I earned my wings with my first substantial book, Jesus Mean and Wild: The Unexpected Love of an Untameable God (Baker, 2008). When I read through the Gospel of Mark one night, I was shocked by the number of passages in which Jesus comes across as anything but compassionate. I started wondering how we might understand these passages in light of the overarching truth that God is love. Neither my book nor God Is Not Nice: Rejecting Pop Culture Theology and Discovering the God Worth Living For by Catholic theologian Ulrich Lehner is original. Many writers have tried to understand this aspect of God's nature. C. S. Lewis did that in the figure of Aslan in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, in which Mr. Beaver says of Aslan, "'Course he isn't safe. But he's good." In an era which is tempted by sentimentalism, in which God is little more than a divine therapist, we can't be reminded too often of the unsafe, not nice, "mean," and wild God who loves us in all sorts of surprising ways.
The Christmas Touch
"Why You Need to Touch Your Keys to Believe They're in Your Bag" points indirectly to the miracle of the incarnation, which we celebrate with the birth of Jesus:
Contrary to the proverbial expression that "seeing is believing," it is touch that secures our epistemic grip on reality. Everyday situations show that touch is the "fact-checking" sense. Salesmen know it well: if a client hesitates to buy a product, handing it over for her to touch is likely to seal the deal. We all like to feel our wallets in our bags, even when we just put them there.
Author Nigel Warburton then goes on to explain why touch is so important to us: "Touch brings us reassurance and certainty [and that] might run deep into what more broadly constitutes our subjective feelings of confidence." This suggests one reason we of flesh and bones have confidence in Jesus Christ: To paraphrase John 1:14 in the KJV: The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, touching us and we him—and thus "we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father," and we were thus convinced he was full of grace and truth.
Who Are These Evangelicals?
There is a lot of confusion about the term evangelical these days, to say the least. One reason is that different groups use the term narrowly, based on what they're interested in. This article gets at some of this and suggests that how the secular media understands evangelical and how we understand ourselves is strikingly different.
The Most Productive Hour of the Week
Time to start pondering those New Year's resolutions, which are all about getting things done. Recent studies show that we get the most done at 11 a.m. on Mondays. The rest of the week we're slacking, relatively speaking! So set your alarms.
Grace and peace,
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Mark Galli
Editor in Chief, Christianity Today
P.S. In case you missed my editorial on the Alabama special election, which also includes an analysis, and yes, critique, of the way Christians left and right have handled themselves in the public square in the last 18 months, here it is.

I am the mountain

The black women who voted in Alabama deserve more than your gratitude.
America: Black women are the real "values voters," but they cannot be expected to continue to save white people from the poor choices they make, Anthea Butler says.

I am the mountain
Bearings: Chanequa Walker-Barnes explores her complicated relationship with Stone Mountain and its Confederate carving.

After Trump and Moore, some evangelicals are finding their own label too toxic to use
The Washington Post: On Fuller Seminary's campus, as in other major evangelical institutions, debate over the term has bubbled to the forefront, especially among younger members of the faith.

Jerusalem -- for Christians, Jews and Muslims -- is both a city and an idea
The (London) Guardian: It's the object of overwhelming projection, a place of dreams and longing. There can be no political peace there until Jerusalem the golden is understood, Giles Fraser says.

Some new nonprofits take off, others flop -- and nobody knows why
The Conversation: To learn why some new nonprofits prosper when others do not requires dealing with the fact that everyone has trouble remembering things the way they happened.

A Letter to the Church from R.C. Sproul (1939-2017)

Christmas and Cricket: Rediscovering Two Lost C. S. Lewis Articles After 70 Years
"A Christmas Sermon for Pagans" is quintessential Lewis at the height of his renown. "Cricketer's Progress" is more of a mystery.
Stephanie L. Derrick
Would you imagine that, with all of the cataloging technologies we have working around the clock, one could still discover unknown articles by a very well-known author? While doing research for my PhD, I discovered two such articles by C. S. Lewis. Although published in the 1940s, these articles have been overlooked ever since and don't appear in the many lists of his works. The thrill of discovery has brought home a few points (of encouragement) in a time when it sometimes seems as though all the stones have been overturned. continue reading >>

Friends of Zion's Christians?
Overtures by US evangelicals to Arab churches tested by Trump's Jerusalem decision.
Johnson Amendment Repeal Removed from Final GOP Tax Bill
Trump promise to let churches make political endorsements blocked by Senate rule.
How Cancer Shattered My Illusion of Control
I acted like I was master of my fate. I was a mist.
Died: R. C. Sproul, Reformed Theologian Who Founded Ligonier Ministries
Late PCA leader influenced generations of Christians by filling the gap "between Sunday school and seminary."
The Exchange
A Letter to the Church from R.C. Sproul (1939-2017), His Theology, and His Work in the Gospel
A faithful servant has entered into the joy of his master.
Should Christians Care if America's Embassy Is in Jerusalem?
What is the significance of Israel's capital for believers today?

The Bashfullness of Sin

The Bashfullness of Sin

Fr. John A. Perricone

Beware the disguises of sin. Its guise of choice is the brash and loud ugliness, atrocity, wantonness and ruin that makes our skin crawl. While this serves as splashy spectacle, it captures few. Its most effective tactics are never so meretricious. Sin is normally a shy and bashful thing. It operates with consummate legerdemain, more […]

Joy and the Rosary

Paul Krause

In this season of the Church calendar the Rosary should loom large for every Catholic. Nativity imagery will abound at all churches depicting the birth of Christ in the manger. But the importance of Mary within the story of the incarnation of Christ is something that is deeply important which is, of course, captured through […]

The Sanctification Gap

Two Marvelous Truths Help Me Say No to Sexual Sin
As a same-sex-attracted woman married to a man, I was struggling to ward off temptation on my own power. Then God showed me I didn't have to.
Rachel Gilson
In October of this year I had the privilege of publicly sharing my story of coming to Christ from a background of same-sex attraction and atheism. The response to that story was deeply personal for many. A great number of readers; some straight, most not; wrote to ask me about what my married life looked like now. Specifically, how did I live with an attraction to women that had not been taken away, while following Christ and married to a man? This piece is an attempt to show how God has met me in this. continue reading >>

Speaking Out
Yes, 100 Christian Kids Are Being Raised by Muslim Families. Here's the Actual Problem.
The real threat to foster children in the UK (and the US) lies within our own hearts.
Under Discussion
Should the Lord's Prayer Be Changed?
Experts weigh in on the Pope's recent choice to support a change to the wording "lead us not into temptation."
The Exchange
How #BlackWomen Saved Evangelicalism
For Black Christians, sexual harassment and assault are as much of a gospel issue as abortion.
Michael Wear's Uneasy Call to Politics
Obama's former director of faith outreach left the White House frustrated but hopeful.
Pastors Who Have Flamed Out, Traded Down, Or Stayed Strong
We seldom�celebrate consistency, integrity and humility as much as we should. But those are the character traits that make for real ministry success.
The Exchange
The Sanctification Gap
The call to die is really a call to experience life the way we were meant to.

Alabama fallout: Does character count?

Alabama fallout: Does character count?
Religion News Service: If anything decisive can be said about the Alabama race, it's that African-American Christians, who also very often consider themselves evangelical, turned out in force.
Quartz: Two maps explain the racial history behind Alabama's senate vote

The urgent, lonely, relevant, humbling, joyful, experience of being a newly ordained priest
America: Brendan Busse never wanted to be a priest. But here he is. Newly minted Father Brendan, and still wondering how he got here.

The Luther legend
The New Republic: The idea that one man brought about the Protestant Reformation obscures a much longer history of dissent, Marilynne Robinson says.

Nobody is laughing at the Religious Left in 2017
Think Progress: Trump and the Religious Right have made the Religious Left unavoidable.

Is the new way to give a better way to give?
The Atlantic: Donor-advised funds are gaining popularity, but charities may be losing out.