South Park – North Park – Golden Hill

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Baptist minister in a Methodist church

Are we witnessing the triumph of evil?
Religion News Service: What happened in the mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, is as real a manifestation of evil as you can find, says Jeffrey Salkin. Which brings him to this week's holiday, Purim.

Not that kind of Methodist: my sojourn as a Baptist minister in a Methodist church
Baptist News Global: UMC's General Conference decision does not reflect the Methodists Jann Aldredge-Clanton experienced decades ago, when they welcomed her and affirmed her pastoral gifts.

Appellate court says tax break for clergy housing is constitutional
Baptist News Global: A federal appeals court on Friday gave its blessing to tax-free housing allowances for clergy, overturning a lower court decision that found the 60-year-old benefit unconstitutional.

Common ground: Episcopal Church of the Holy Apostles and St. Stephen Lutheran Church become one congregation in Arbutus
The Baltimore Sun: Both churches were in financially dicey shape -- not yet about to run out of money but neither able to operate sustainably on their own.

Evangelical approval of Trump remains high, but other religious groups are less supportive
Pew Research: White evangelical Protestants in the United States continue to overwhelmingly support Trump, though other religious groups are more divided in their views of the president

More Catholics, fewer priests

More Catholics, fewer priests: Vatican reports number of Catholics has risen to its highest level in history, but number of priests has declined for first time since 2010
Cerritos College: I’m a flexible Catholic: Cerritos College student explains role of religion in his own life
Stolen sacramental records returned to San Francisco parish: Baptism, communion, confirmation and marriage records dating back to 1873 were in refrigerator-sized safe stolen from St. Dominic Parish on March 12

Religious Freedom Isn’t Just for Christians

Religious Freedom Isn’t Just for Christians
A Supreme Court cruelty reveals how we can love our neighbors.
Ted Olsen
Had Domineque Ray been a Christian, he’d have been executed with a chaplain kneeling by his side, praying with him. But Domineque Ray was not a Christian, and he did not want a Christian chaplain. He wanted his imam present in the execution chamber instead.
At a January 23 meeting, the warden at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama, refused Ray’s request. Ray’s imam, who has ministered at Holman for years, would have to watch the execution with the media. It’s ...
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Free Range Priests solve traditional church problems

"hyperlocal approach" to ministry?

In an era of dying congregations, a counternarrative is playing out in Austin, where churches are being squeezed by the region's population explosion. What can Christian leaders learn from their experience about hospitality and community-building?
Strategy questions
  • How does your church create and nurture connection among people?
  • What would it mean for your church to take a "hyperlocal approach" to ministry?

German Bishops Promote Dissent

The Mosque Attack in New Zealand and Its Consequences

William Kilpatrick

Last week, a man who claimed to be defending Western Civilization killed 50 defenseless worshippers in two New Zealand mosques, thereby betraying every good thing that Western Civilization stands for. A supposed foe of jihad terror, the terrorist adopted the savage tactics of jihadists in order to further his twisted ideology. Whatever he was trying […]

German Bishops Use Abuse Crisis to Promote Dissent

Msgr. Hans Feichtinger

According to a recent study conducted at the University of Ulm (Germany), the number of minors who suffered sexual abuse within the German Church is much higher than previously assumed. In comparison with other countries, however, this is not surprising, and was to be expected. Even more surprising has been another finding in the study: […]

Monday, March 18, 2019

Sympathy, love and integrity in New Zealand

Christchurch: The price we pay for your freedom to hate
Australian Broadcasting Corporation: As the Australian Muslim community reels from the craven hate crime, Sydney lawyer Tamana Daqiq cannot help but wonder: "What if that were us? What if that will be us?"
HuffPost: Islamophobia is a global crisis -- and it's time we view it that way

Jacinda Ardern is showing the world what real leadership is: Sympathy, love and integrity
The (London) Guardian: The New Zealand prime minister has reacted to the Christchurch shootings with steel, compassion and absolute clarity. And she has given us a vision of a better world.

The difficult questions Catholics need to ask after the college admissions scandal
America: As a professor, Cecilia Gonz├ílez-Andrieu is confronted daily by the problematic issue of who has a seat in the classroom and who does not. As a theologian, she is tasked with calling attention to the Christian priorities that should be, must be, different from those of the "marketplace."
The Atlantic: Elite-college admissions were built to protect privilege

How the poor became blessed
Aeon: Greco-Roman gods had no interest in the poor nor was organized charity a religious duty. Christianity was different.

I'm a "church leader" who doesn't really go to church
Christian Century: Adam J. Copeland loves the church. But he says it's harder to love specific congregations.

Will Methodists Recognize the Error of Private Judgment?

Will Methodists Recognize the Error of Private Judgment?

Casey Chalk

Almost four hundred years ago, English Protestants convened at Westminster Abbey to create a new confessional document for the English Church. That document, the Westminster Catechism, became foundational for the Reformed tradition. In that text, the Westminster divines make a remarkable claim regarding the nature of Holy Scripture: All things in Scripture are not alike […]

The Wonders of Things Unseen

Regis Nicoll

In 1977, George Lucas struck box-office gold with the epic-adventure, Star Wars. Mystic luminaries, anthropomorphic androids, light sabers, and computerized special effects captured the imaginations of audiences, young and old alike. But perhaps the most lasting impression on viewers was Obi-wan Kenobi’s Delphic disclosure: “The Force is what gives a Jedi his power… It surrounds […]

Banner in the Sky: One of the Best-kept Secrets in Children’s Literature

Stephen Fitzpatrick

I have a confession to make: when it comes to good literature, especially good children’s literature, I’m a bit of a snob. I’m working on it, but despite my best efforts, my snobbish tendencies tend to come out from time to time. To be fair, I have read a great deal of good literature, I […]

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Catholics questioning their faith

Poll: increasing number of Catholics questioning their faith: Gallup Poll finds that 37 percent of U.S. Catholics say news of sexual abuse of minors by priests has led them to question whether they would remain in the Church
Two turn-arounds at the abortion center: Report from the second and third week of March, 2019
Why build suicide nets?: Fr. Joseph Illo puzzles over California's decision to spend $220 million on suicide prevention while simultaneously legalizing assisted suicide

Friday, March 15, 2019

Settling Things Like a Man

Spirituality Without Humility

I’m late getting articles to you about Lent, but those don’t usually appear until after my deadline. So better late than never. Of course, one doesn’t need to practice Lent to appreciate insights like those found in this piece by John Zahl at Mockingbird.
Today it seems most voices in the Church (at least the one to which I belong) seek to advocate a message about the human self that aligns almost exactly with the shallow philosophies proffered in any issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine. Cue the preacher who interprets loving your neighbor as yourself as being about, well, loving yourself. Under the auspices of “Incarnational” language, the individual is deified. The true self is equated with the divine, and this is assumed to be a profound approach, and not that of every Montessori teacher/college drop-out. God-as-self is the most basic (#Basic) and misleading path in the world. The pursuit of it is the pursuit of self-interest: spirituality without humility. The assumption seems to be: “I must increase so that God might increase.”
Settling Things Like a Man
As I mentioned in a previous link, I’ve been pondering the recent flurry of talk about traditional masculinity being “toxic.” In particular, there is concern about aggressiveness, competitiveness, stoicism, and dominance. I just ran across a constructive piece (versus the previous pieces, which were a bit snarky) by a clinical psychologist (“The Last Place Men Can Settle Things Like Men”) who both recognize the need for men to be in better touch with their emotions and to have constructive outlets for traditional masculine traits—outlets like mixed martial arts. One example:
Actor Ed O’Neill holds a black belt, and entered training to learn to control and channel his youthful aggression. Competitors must be aggressive, in order to win. Aggressiveness is an essential psychological component in the ring, demonstrating one’s commitment. An aggressive attack is a man’s way of announcing his presence and his belief that this moment matters. But men who cannot control and manage their aggression, who cannot temper it and use it, lose quickly. Aggression is merely a tool, and successful fighters learn to use that tool and sharpen it. It is the man who uses the aggression, not the other way around.
When God Settles Things
One of the most troublesome theological trends in the last few decades has been the increasing fondness for universalism—the idea that everyone will eventually be saved. I admit it’s an attractive idea—until you start thinking about what Jesus said about all this. He’s pretty clear about there being a Judgment Day in which those who have willfully and stubbornly rejected God will not enjoy his presence in the next (see Matt. 23–25 for starters). This is a sobering part of the message of Jesus, and one we are called to preach as well, as uncomfortable as it might make us. But as historian Michael McClymond notes in this interview, universalism (one attempt to soften the hard words of Jesus) has never been an idea that has gained much of following, and for good reason.
Hate-Crime Hoaxes on the Rise?
Here is an interesting pair of pieces that came to me independently of one another. The first is an interview about the culture of victimhood. It’s more balanced than the title and source (Spiked) suggests. It’s an interview with a sociologist who became fascinated with hate-crime hoaxes and wondered what was going on.
The second piece is a Twitter thread by a journalist and photographer, listing a number of hate-crime hoaxes he has tracked. I hadn’t realized it was such a phenomenon. I suppose I just hadn’t been paying attention.
Humor for the Committed
I suspect some of you are committed to reading more of the Bible during Lent. And some have given up social media for the season. I don’t want to distract either group, but ... you might want to check out this John Crist video: “If Bible Characters Had iPhones.”
Grace and peace,

Mark GalliMark Galli
Mark Galli
Editor-in-Chief, Christianity Today