Saturday, 24 April 2010

Foreign Office forced to apologise to Pope after officials' wrote mocking memo about 'Benedict' brand condoms

The Government has been plunged into a major diplomatic storm after Foreign Office officials circulated an offensive memo mocking the Pope's forthcoming visit to Britain.

In the document, staff who were asked to propose ideas for the 'ideal' visit suggested Benedict XVI could launch a new range of 'Benedict' condoms or back a Miss Developing World beauty contest.

Sources in Rome said the document also proposed that the Pope might sing a duet with the Queen to raise money for charity. The pair are due to meet during the Pontiff's visit in September. Read more  

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Thursday, 22 April 2010

“Light for the Nations” – GSE4 Day 3 Report, 21st April 2010

The Global South-to-South Encounter entered into its third. What does it mean for the Churches in the Global South to be a “Light for the Nations?

The day started with Archbishop Robert Duncan presiding at Holy Communion. In his homily, Abp Peter Jensen reminded us that we, who are “deeply, truly and permanently loved” are truly free. We do not “go our own way” to find freedom, but we come to Jesus, the bread of life. Assistant Bishop Rennis Ponniah, led the Bible Study, sharing from Isaiah 42:1-9. Bp Ponniah emphasized the vital need for a fresh vision of the Church. The scope of the Church’s ministry has to include the bringing forth of God’s justice in society, by modeling covenantal relations and by teaching society the keeping of God’s moral law. The nature of the Church’s presence is as a servant to the world’s needs; Anglican ministers are not celebrities, but celebrants. Finally, Bp Ponniah once again reminded us to look to the Holy Spirit as the source of the Church’s power, to give us an indefatigable constancy to do God’s work every day. Read more
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Global South to South encounter: Thematic Address 3: “Light for the Nations” - Rev Dr Paul Swarup

We started by looking at the covenant with Abraham where Yahweh had promised Abraham that he would be a blessing to the nations. We noticed in Gen 18:19 that God had called Abraham in order that he would direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord, by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord would bring about for Abraham what he has promised him. Election, Ethics and Mission are directly related to each other. If we have been called as the Covenant Community then we are called to lead ethical lives so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ would reach the ends of the earth. Even though God’s call was to a particular person in a particular period in a particular location, the purpose was for the universal blessing of humanity. Through Abraham the nation of Israel was to fulfill the role of a Servant and be a blessing to the nations, but Israel miserably failed in her mission. It is Jesus the suffering Servant who eventually fulfilled the role of a Servant and brought blessing to the nations by his life, death and resurrection. After the resurrection of Jesus, the early Christians carried on this work of being a light to the nations as they shared the good news of Jesus from Jerusalem to the uttermost parts of the earth.

Now, the Global South believing community has the same ethical challenge before it. We are the descendents of Abraham by faith in Jesus. We too are called to keep the way of the Lord. If we walk in the way of the Lord – by following the instruction of the Lord – in other words God’s word is to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths. Scripture has to be our guiding factor in our decision making.

If we pursue justice – that is if we seek course correction – if we act as a plumb line showing where the wall has gone off plumb then we would be acting as the light to the nations. We can only be a light to the nations by doing justice – by this we are calling people to be accountable. Peter proclaims to the Jews in his encounter with Cornelius that he was proclaiming Jesus whom God appointed judge of the living and the dead. The resurrection of Jesus is the beginning of the final putting-to-rights of all human injustice. In the light of the Resurrection, the Covenant Community must never stop reminding the world's rulers and authorities as well as its own rulers and authorities that they themselves will be held to account, and that they must do justice and bring wise, healing order to God's world ahead of the day of the Lord’s coming. Read more
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Monday, 19 April 2010

The Video That Ended a Career

When it comes to incriminating videos these days, the one of Bruce K. Waltke might seem pretty tame. It shows the noted evangelical scholar of the Old Testament talking about scholarship, faith and evolution. What was incriminating? He not only endorsed evolution, but said that evangelical Christianity could face a crisis for not coming to accept science.

"If the data is overwhelmingly in favor of evolution, to deny that reality will make us a cult ... some odd group that is not really interacting with the world. And rightly so, because we are not using our gifts and trusting God's Providence that brought us to this point of our awareness," he says, according to several accounts by those who have seen the video. Those words set off a furor at the Reformed Theological Seminary, where Waltke was -- until this week -- a professor. (The seminary is evangelical, with ties to several denominations.)

The statements so upset officials of the seminary that Waltke had to ask the BioLogos Foundation, a group that promotes the idea that science and faith need not be incompatible, to remove it from its Web site (which the foundation did) and to post a clarification. The video was shot during a BioLogos workshop. But even those steps weren't enough for the seminary, which announced that it had accepted his resignation. Read more
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Sunday, 18 April 2010

Binge-drinking: What happened to our sense of shame?

... none of this properly explains why so many people are prepared to set out for a night’s boozing utterly determined to get so drunk they will no longer be in control of themselves and remain utterly unashamed by it. Which takes me back to where I started: the absence of shame.

That’s the big change, isn’t it? We seem no longer to be as constrained by the social mores as we once were.

We want to let it all hang out. Everything. Grief is a public commodity and no longer a private emotion. It may have started with the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, but it’s come a long way since.

You wonder about our sense of dignity when a supermarket has to ban its customers from shopping in their nighties. And when “housemates” on Big Brother are happy to be viewed having sex. And when you are as likely to hear the sort of foul language in the park that would once have been restricted to the football terraces.

Maybe the new shamelessness is connected to what some perceive as a breakdown in discipline in so many areas, especially schools. The reluctance to respect authority converts easily into a reluctance to respect each other and, ultimately, to respect ourselves. Read more
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