What we do and do not believe

In the NY Times, TR Luhrmann examines the phenomenon of 'boggle lines'--the point at which someone draws the line between what can be accepted into an operational worldview and what seems utterly fantastical. Luhrmann explains that each person's boggle line is different. A person may have no trouble believing God became a mortal being two millennia ago, but may find the prospect of progressive evolution fantastical.

It's also possible that the boggle line is what reinforces to our psyche that we are, in fact, reasonable people--it's what enables faith in the first place. We know what we don't believe so that we know what we do believe, Luhrmann argues.

It might also be because God is unknowable. We see through a glass darkly. Thus Augustine’s echoing cry, at the start of his “Confessions”: “Tell me of thy compassion, O Lord my God, what thou art to me. ‘Say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.’ So speak that I may hear ... Hide not thy face from me.” The long tradition of spiritual literature is full of intense uncertainty about the true nature of a being that can neither be seen nor heard in the ordinary way.

Read the complete article here.

Welby asks the Pope to maintain unity

In the wake of the General Synod's vote to allow the appointment of women to the episcopate in the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury has written to the Pope to ask that this not impede the vital work of Christian unity between the two communions.

The impact of ordaining women to the episcopate has long raised questions about the impact on ecumenical relationships. At several points in the history of the debate, our ecumenical partners have even weighed in with their perspective. Therefore, ++Welby's letter is heartening.

In his letter sent to the Pope and other churches, Archbishop Welby wrote: “We are aware that our other ecumenical partners may find this a further difficulty on the journey towards full communion. “There is, however, much that unites us, and I pray that the bonds of friendship will continue to be strengthened and that our understanding of each other’s traditions will grow.” He added: “It is clear to me that whilst our theological dialogue will face new challenges, there is nonetheless so much troubling our world today that our common witness to the Gospel is of more importance than ever. “There is conflict in many regions of our world, acute poverty, unemployment and an influx of oppressed people driven away from their own countries and seeking refuge elsewhere. “We need each other, as we, as churches empowered by the Holy Spirit, rise to the challenge and proclaim the good news of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and strive for closer fellowship and greater unity.”

Read the whole article here.

National Cathedral commemorates start of WWI

Yesterday, the National Cathedral marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War with a service of atonement. The whole service, said on July 27th, was constructed around the need for repentance for war, and the horrors it inflicts on humanity.

“One hundred years ago, an assassin’s bullet plunges the nations of the world into violence unlike any the world has ever seen,” the service’s litany of prayer begins, before citing the number of dead and wounded, including civilians.

“From the fields of Flanders to the forests of Verdun to the peninsula of Gallipoli, the dead cry out: life and love interrupted; hope and promise laid waste; war, war, and more war. Forgive us!”

The full Huffington Post article is here.

Watch video of service celebrating anniversary of women's ordination


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Edit wars on Wikipedia's religion pages

On Wikipedia, as in others parts of daily life, religion is a contentious topic. For some administrators of the sight who are also people of faith, taking part in Wikipedia presents many difficulties:

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Just Terrorism?

For centuries, Christians have supported "Just War" theory. But what about "Just Terrorism?" Giles Fraser explores this question in his weekly column from the London Guardian:

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The Death of Christian Mosul

As violence in the Middle East flares up, the story of Iraqi Christians suffering from brutal attacks at the hands of ISIS remains less visible in the media. However, as ISIS threatens to wipe out the Christian minority in Iraq, Christian leaders like the Rev. Michael Rogers, S.J. are calling for the Christian community to speak out and put pressure on lawmakers to intervene:

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New church in Brazil rivals and replicates Solomon's Temple

In a country plagued by poverty, a new church has risen to replicate the Temple of Solomon. From the New York Times:

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Some Christian groups decry new comedy 'Black Jesus'

Huffington Post reports:

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Re-imagine the Episcopal Church on October 7

The Task Force to Re-imagine the Episcopal Church (TREC) has released an invitation to attend a live webcast of a churchwide meeting on October 7 at 7:30 PM ET:

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PB Katharine Jefferts Schori: seeking equality and justice for all

jeffertsschori_300_0-1.jpgThe Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori writes in the Huffington Post about equality and the recent rulings against contraception coverage and other women's health issues:

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9 things to know about Israel/Palestine

Vox answers 9 questions about the Israel-Palestine conflict that may help you know what is going on:

Everyone has heard of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Everyone knows it's bad, that it's been going on for a long time, and that there is a lot of hatred on both sides.

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Happiness and Religion

Freakonomics correlates happiness and religious giving.

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Evangelism in nursing home

Religion News Service relates how one church evangelizes at nursing homes:

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Bishop Mariann Budde interviewed about women as bishops

Bishop Mariann Budde was interviewed on the Kojo Nnamdi Show on NPR talking about women in the church on Monday. Partly a response to the Church of England vote on women in the episcopate, but more wide ranging. WAMU has the transcript:

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Across the theological spectrum U.S. Religious Leaders Embrace Cause of Immigrant Children

The New York Times reports that across the cause of immigrant children is not limited to one segment of the religious spectrum.

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40 years as priests - where are they now?

Where are they now? Forty years ago the first women were ordained as priests in The Episcopal Church. Religion News Service reports:

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Episcopalians, start your engines!

St. Martha's Episcopal Church in Papillion, Nebraska have a race team to compete in a Figure 8 competition at the County Fair in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The race will take place this Friday evening.

The race team is made up of The Rev. Ernesto Medina (Stock Car Division), Jammie Hermans Gaffer (PowderPuff Division), and Jeff Stangl (Mechanic Division).

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"The Cross of Bullets"

From a story on The Diocese of Salisbury website:

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A case for "irreverence"

Cindy Brandt explores the virtues of irreverence in Huffington Post:

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Gaza update

Conflict in Gaza continues...

The New York Times reports that, after 15 days of fighting, at least 620 Palestinians and 29 Israelis have died.

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The vanishing of middle class clergy

The Atlantic notes that full-time salaried church positions for clergy are becoming rarer:

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Interview with first woman appointed to Pontifical University

Vatican Insider interviews Franciscan Sr. Mary Melone newly appointed head of the Pontifical University Antonianum. She spoke about theology of women and says more collaboration between men and women needs to happen instead of quotas:

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How to help: kids who cross the border

Ariel Miller, one of our commenters on Episcopal Café, has researched information on how to help the kids on the border who have come from Central America:

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IRS agrees to monitor churches for electioneering

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has agreed to monitor churches for electioneering. Religion News Service has the story:

The settlement was reached Friday (July 18) in federal court in Madison, Wis., where the initial lawsuit was filed in 2012 by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based atheist advocacy group that claims 20,000 members nationwide.

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45 Years Ago: Communion on the Moon

Yesterday marked the forty-fifth anniversary of the first time humanity set foot on the lunar surface. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin stepped off the spaceship and onto the moon, and thus stepped into history.

What is not as widely known, however, is that it is also the forty-fifth anniversary of the first communion service to occur on the moon.

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Reflection on Children at the Border

The Rt. Rev. Susan Goff, suffragan bishop of the Diocese of Virginia, recently returned from a trip to Guatemala. While there, the news of the children migration crisis in the States became apparent.

She posted a reflection about her experiences there on the diocesan webpage.

She writes:

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Inequality in Israel, as humanitarian crisis deepens in Gaza

The ongoing violence in Gaza has been agonizing to watch, even as it fills the front pages, and the A blocks of the news lately.

At the moment, Ha'aretz reports the death toll as encompassing over 500 Palestinians dead, 18 Israelis. Earlier today, the UNRWA has said that the number of Palestinian children in the conflict now surpasses 100, and comprises more than 1/4th of the fatalities. (See here. )

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Executive order protecting LGTBQ will not have religious exemption

Today, President Obama is expected to sign an executive order to ban discrimination of LGTBQ individuals by companies that do government work.
Significantly, it will contain no exemption for religious groups who do not agree with the order.

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How the poor cope with ADHD

According to experts, children from low-income households are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. NBC News Plain Sight has the report here.

Root causes of the migration crisis

Following pastoral letters from Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori and House of Deputies President Gay Clark Jennings, some churches in Episcopal dioceses along the border with Mexico have been working to meet local needs of migrant people. However, in the media, there are many conflicting reports and stories about reasons for the migrant crisis. At Vox, Dylan Matthews features an in-depth interview with Cynthia Arnson, the director of the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars:

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Church history and divorce

As the Roman Catholic Church considers changing its teaching on divorce, and some theological conservatives push back, Lutheran pastor Benjamin Dueholm takes a look at the story of St. Augustine and St. Peter's wife in light of potential changes:

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Children have been coming to America alone since Ellis Island

Mother Jones offers some historical perspective on the issue of unaccompanied minors seeking refuge in the U.S.:

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Upset about Hobby Lobby decision? Knit a brick

The Secular Coalition for America is extending the deadline for its "Knit A Brick" campaign, an effort to protest the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision by creating knit bricks to "rebuild the wall of separation" between church and state. The group is asking supporters to knit or crochet rectangular bricks to be delivered to the Supreme Court, Congress and the White House. The deadline is Aug. 5.

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The religious underpinnings of World War I

From Religion News Service:

As the world marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I — a conflict that left 37 million dead or wounded and reshaped the global map — a number of scholars and authors are examining a facet of the war they say has been overlooked — the religious framework they say led to the conflict, affected its outcome and continues to impact global events today. ...

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Archbishop Welby writes to ecumenical partners about women bishops in the CofE

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has written to ecumenical partners about the General Synod’s decision to allow women to become bishops, emphasizing that churches “need each other.”


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Still a long road to equality

Muriel Porter writes that even with the Church of England opening the door to women bishops this week, there is still much to do. Australian Anglicans, she says, still have a long way to go.

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Flash: We tend to like people who look and act like us

The Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project asked Americans to rate how they feel about different religious groups on a "feelings thermometer." Guess what? We tend to like people who think and act like us.

Pew Research:

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Prayers for the victims of flight MH-17

Canon Mark Collinson, Chaplain of Christ Church, Amsterdam, and Area Dean for The Netherlands (Church of England) is encouraging the prayers of the people of this diocese, following the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17.


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What to do when all the news is bad

With a flood of bad news coming out Israel and Palestine, the Ukraine, Syria and Iraq and, finally, along the U.S.-Mexico border, it is easy to be overwhelmed. How does one cope and stay spiritually engaged when all the news is bad?

Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, who blogs as the Velveteen Rabbi, shares some thoughts:

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The Hospitality Center: "I don't know what we'd do without them"

In three brief years, The Hospitality Center, founded by Deacon Kevin Stewart and the people of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Racine, Wisconsin has become the largest feeding program in the city. Listening to some of the stories in this video makes the Baptismal Covenant come alive.

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Joint PB Nominating Committee releases 2nd essay.

The Joint Nominating Committee for the Next Presiding Bishop has released the 2nd in its series of essays on the Office of Presiding Bishop:

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Almost half of Americans want to deport child refugees

Dara Lind at Vox has the story:

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Sympathy for the Devil, as the Church of England bids him goodbye

Matthew Bell of "The World", a radio program from Public Radio International, has reported one of the more intelligent and balanced stories about the Church of England's decision to "nix any mention" of the devil from its services.

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EPPN: "Support unaccompanied immigrant children"

Episcopal Public Policy Network issued an action statement today:

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"Like a girl" and "Not sorry"

Two recent videos with product ties challenge culture norms:

Lauren Greenfield directed a short video commissioned by Always. "Like a Girl" was seen as a social experiment: and Greenfield wrote about it in The Telegraph.

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How to fix the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Michael C. Dorf thinks the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (the statute cited in the Hobby Lobby case) can be fixed. He writes in Verdict on Justia.com:

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Things the church needs to say and do

"Who wants to devote life and loyalty to a religion that debates trifles and bullies the outsider?"

So asks Tom Ehrich in his latest article for Religion News Service (and picked up by Sojourners). He lists eight things we should say and do.

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Presiding Bishop among 12 women who shaped Christianity

The Telegraph names The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church as one of 12 women who shaped Christianity:

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Gaza hospital needs urgent aid

Episcopal News Service reports on the need for aid to the Anglican Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City:

Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City is appealing for urgent aid as it struggles to provide critical healthcare services to anyone in need following more than a week of Israeli airstrikes targeting Hamas militants.

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