Thinking Out Loud

February 19, 2013

Ben Witherington’s Seven Papal Suggestions

I considered this for the link list, but decided it was truly worth a re-blog. You can read it at source at Ben Witherington III’s blog Bible and Culture.  (If you want your comment to be seen by the author, leave it at the source blog, not here.)

I was caught totally off guard. When was the last time a Pope stopped poping while still wearing his Papal slippers? The answer is almost six hundred years ago. No wonder I didn’t realize this could even happen. On further review, shock turned to understanding. A Pope who was PUP (physically unable to perform the job) decided it was time to step down, and hopefully let younger healthier folks do the job. One of the great problems of course with electing Popes is that it has tended to be based on seniority and experience. And this in turn means that old folks who already have their AARP status become Popes. But frankly the job of Pope is too demanding even just physically for almost any 75-85 year old person, and it became so for Pope Benedict.

Benedict, as we now know, had had a pacemaker inserted into his heart recently. He was tired, worn out. I am not referring to world-weariness or even the weariness that comes from fighting things like the scandal of pederasty again and again in the church. I have no say whatsoever over who should be the next Pope, but if I did here is what I would use as criteria:

1) Pick someone over 50 but under 65 for a change. We need a younger person with fresh ideas not to mention someone in the peak of physical health.

2) If you can find someone who is as good and critical a thinker and theolog as Pope Benedict, by all means pick that person;

3) Pick someone who is not so wed to Catholic traditions that have not been part of ex cathedra pronouncements that he would tend to avoid some serious changes— like for example the option of a priest to be married if he did not have the gift of celibacy. This in itself would probably reduce the danger of pederasty considerably.

4) Pick someone who is prepared to continue the ecumenical discussions with Evangelical Protestants, working towards more concordats on faith and praxis.

5) Pick someone who is prepared to continue the process of weeding out superstitious practices and inessential ideas. For example, the recent dropping of the expectation that a good Catholic ought to believe in limbo is a good thing. In short, a more Biblically focused faith, and one less steeped in traditions that do not comport with the Bible (for example Jesus’ descent to the dead) would be a welcome development.

6) Pick a Pope more concerned with protecting his sheep than his shepherds when crisis arises, especially when the crisis is caused by the behavior of the shepherds themselves. Continue to set up accountability structures to protect the young, the innocent, the naive, the poor, and so on.

7) Pick a Pope from somewhere other than Europe. It would be nice to have a North American one for once, considering that English both on the Internet and off of it is the lingua franca of an increasingly global community, society, market.

February 6, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Praise Him In The Hallway

  • Napkin Thelogy: If you can communicate it better with a quick drawing, why not?
  • Just like universities agree to honor some of each others credit courses, four Reformed denominations and the Roman Catholic Church have agreed to honor each others infant baptisms. (For some this confirms that the CRC denomination is not evangelical.)
  • Here’s how some churches look at the issue of copyrights involving music or materials. This example is not a good example, though. 
  • Church planters sometimes are often guilty of reacting to existing trends or conversely, copying existing trends. There are three other factors that can motivate planters, and certain risks and dangers in all five types.
  • When you release a dove ceremonially, it’s not supposed to be attacked by seagulls.
  • Should communion (Eucharist, Lord’s Supper) be done with a common cup or several cups? Actually, that’s not the issue; the real reason I posted this is because it’s a great example of taking Bible study notes.
  • Or this question: Should Churches shift weekend service times to accommodate the Super Bowl game? Perry Noble’s church did.
  • Last week Rachel Held Evans linked to a trio of articles with the common theme, Do Christians idolize virginity? One of the recommended articles is being recommended here as well; the story of a girl who believed that, in her words, I am Damaged Goods.
  • For my local readers who enjoy Robin Mark’s annual visits here each summer, here’s the best version of the John Wesley song I can find. (YouTube audio.) Watched it three times on Saturday.
  • Michael Belote has a very lengthy, heartfelt article on dieting that he then uses as springboard for looking at our spiritual diet. There are some great principles here including this question: Am I using the right fuel in the right amounts? This is a five-star blog post!
  • We’re a bit late arriving at this one, but this February list transcends time. Here are 28 ways to show gratitude that are good anytime. 
  • Wanna start a church in Orange County, California? You’d be in good company, and there are currently 17 churches for sale.
  • A New Jersey pilot credits her faith in God for her and her passenger surviving a crash in the Hudson River.
  • When Michael Hyatt spoke to real estate professionals about social media, he discovered they didn’t know what to post to Twitter or Facebook. Here are his ten suggestions
  • Canadian hockey player Mike Fisher, now with the Nashville Predators, made Brad Lomenick‘s young influencers list for January. Here’s his testimony and a link to his Zondervan-published biography.
  • The Calvinists gotta hate this song; but probably the Arminians are glad they have enough free will to turn off bad church music. Click for The Free Will Song.
  • For something more contemporary… I’ve never been to the blimeycow YouTube channel before, but this take on five-minute instant worship songs, is far too cynical.
  • …Click the images for sourcing from Clark Bunch’s blog (top) and Close to Home (below)…Feel free to add your favorite recent Christian blog links this week in the comments…

Close to Home  02 05 13

December 5, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Wednesday List Lynx

Wednesday List Lynx

Not only these, but there was a link list on Saturday as well. *UPDATE* 8:00 PM — Yes, I know about the PSY parody. We might run it here Friday. Click to watch Farmer Style. *END UPDATE*

Religiously Confusing Sign

  • The lynx is not alone this time: We end today with some book covers which appeared here in a 2008 post dealing with whether or not Fluffy and Fido will be in heaven. These are real books that were available for purchase when the post was written. First we took the Chuck Colson position that argues against animals in the afterlife. Then, four months later, in August, 2008; I was persuaded by the Randy Alcorn position which argues for furry friends, though not resurrected ones. Trust me, you could split a church over this topic…

Animals in the Afterlife

May 14, 2012

Monday Link List

Rejected from the position of Wednesday List Lynx, this one wants to know if a mascot position for a Monday List Lynx is opening up.

Monday?

Because (a) there’s no law against it, and (b) some of these just couldn’t wait!

  • That’s Dr. Gloria Gaither to you, as the southern gospel songstress receives an honorary doctorate in music from Nyack College, a Christian and Missionary Alliance school in New York.
  • Okay, we just lost our younger demographic. So, in the interest of equal time, Hawk Nelson now has a new lead singer.
  • In other music news, here’s 15 Tips for Bloggers from John Newton, the “Amazing Grace” guy and brother to Fig. I hope my family doesn’t notice #14.
  • You don’t usually think of English language Bible commentaries as being tainted by Western culture, but you will upon learning about the Africa Study Bible.
  • The daughter of Teen Mania founder Ron Luce was the only survivor of a weekend plane crash involving five people heading to a youth conference
  • Is it possible that the study saying that religious people are less compassionate is true? Or are they giving more out of moral obligation than emotional response?
  • Here’s a debrief of the movie Courageous; all the movie trivia and hidden details you never knew. And now you know the rest of the story.
  • For those who need to know, here’s a list of all the Christian colleges that have a gay-friendly organizations on or off campus. Is that Wheaton I see on this list? And Biola?
  • Philip Yancey pays the price of frequent mountain climbing in Colorado and undergoes knee surgery. He also explains what they do to make sure it’s the right correct knee.
  • Tony Jones writes, “Catholicism in America seems to continue its quest for irrelevance via misogyny;” and then reblogs a CNN story about a Catholic school that would rather forfeit a championship game than play a team fielding a girl on second base.
  • The proprietors of a Canadian website design company have a background in film production, which creates many different options for churches and Christian organizations.
  • E. Parson Ross isn’t the first person to do this, but her new book on Church Etiquette should be of help to the uninitiated.
  • The 133 member choir, Only Boys Aloud was amazing on Britain’s Got Talent, but this translation of their song’s lyrics shows it was actually a hymn; though the performance is inspiring in any language.
  • Apparently Satan doesn’t want people attending Redemption World Outreach Center in Greenville, South Carolina; or so two billboards in town say.
  • Many more to come — Lord willing — on Wednesday

April 7, 2012

Gender Issues Encroach on Holy Week

While it seems like so much of the usual rhetoric in the Christian blogosphere comes to a halt during Holy Week, or more accurately, Holy Weekend, I’m reminded today that, in a sense, life in the religious world goes on.

The Pope, whose Holy Thursday address should have been more focused on the scripture texts relevant to the season, ended up chastising Catholics in Austria who are trying to push the envelope when it comes to the ordination of women priests; a theme being repeated in other countries as well.

It’s a theme not overlooked by someone I conversed with following the local Good Friday service I blogged about yesterday, as one of the participants, who led in the opening prayer, was the female interim director of the local chapter of Youth For Christ, and is thereby granted acceptance into the clergy club, a luxury not afforded myself when I was lay-pastor of a Church plant in the same town for 18 months during 2006-07.

Actually, she did a good job. A very, very good job. If I can, I’d like to get a copy of her prayer and reprint it here next week. But otherwise, it was a male-dominated affair in what is a male-dominated club. The current flak over the ban on women memberships at the prestigious Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament, is a fairly close parallel.

The speaker yesterday was from the local Salvation Army chapter, and my conversation partner noted that this denomination has full participation for women at all levels of leadership and service. Hers does not, something she finds very difficult to explain to her daughters; but the reality of life in a small(er) town means that options are limited.

Anyway, for Roman Catholics, this is doubly so. Changing from a conservative Baptist church to a female-ordaining Assemblies of God or United Methodist church — I’m guessing those two permit women as elders, board members and sermonizers — just isn’t an option. You don’t have a denominational palette of worship styles; in fact, under the parish system, you really can’t hop over to the Catholic church in the next town, either. You’re stuck.

But there’s always insurrection:

The pope responded specifically to a call to disobedience by a group of Austrian priests and laity, who last year boldly and openly challenged Church teaching on taboo topics such as priestly celibacy and women’s ordination.

“Is disobedience a path of renewal for the Church?,” he asked rhetorically in the sermon of a solemn Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on the day Catholic priests around the world renew their vows.

In his response to the Austrian group, his first in public, Benedict noted that, in its “call to disobedience”, it had challenged “definitive decisions of the Church’s magisterium (teaching authority) such as the question of women’s ordination …”

He then restated the position by citing a major 1994 document by his predecessor John Paul II that stated that the ban on women priests was part of the Church’s “divine constitution.”

You can read the full story by clicking here.

February 1, 2012

Wednesday Link List

Ideas are always welcomed, but I’d especially like to hear from people who are in touch with electic Christian bloggers from outside North America. 

As for the drum kit (above) the blog where I sourced it (click image) says it’s claimed to be the largest drum set in the world by a church in New York state.  Can someone verify this?

  • Okay, I can’t say I’ve read every single word, but this exhaustive article on the subject of tithing is probably the best I’ve seen — author and Canadian financial consultant Leo De Siqueira really poured himself into this — but you have to read  all  three  parts.
  • Despite the popularity of the recent TV series “Big Love” and the current Broadway hit, “The Book of Mormon,” a Reuters special report quotes Mormon leaders admitting that people are currently “leaving the church in droves.” Apparently all the pop-culture attention is a double-edged sword.
  • The news story playing out about an hour down the road from where we live — involving the ‘honor killings’ of four family members — got worldwide coverage this week, and Get Religion looks closely at press coverage both in and outside Canada.
  • A tarp now covers a prayer in a high school auditorium after a federal judge ruled its presence unconstitutional; … a poem a seventh-grader wrote in 1963 that begins with the words “Our Heavenly Father”  Karen Spears Zacharias sees an irony involving the 16-year old who brought the complaint.
  • Jeff Bethke, the guy who did the viral video, Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus (now at 18,000,000 views) is back with Sex, Marriage and Family. “You might share a checkbook and a house, but are you actually friends?”
  • If The Shoe Fits Department: At least one Roman Catholic blogger thought the Bethke video was directed at his denomination, and filmed a response. Then he disabled comments, though a few got through.
  • Call me old fashioned, but you just don’t expect to see “Allah” in a scripture translation project sponsored by Wycliffe Bible Translators.  But before Jack VanImpe is all over this, let’s hear the explanation.
  • If you go to a certain ministry job-finding site, the greatest need right now is for worship pastors. But Jim Greer thinks we’re putting too much emphasis there and advancing the wrong paradigm.
  • Meanwhile, Willow Creek (and former Mars Hill Grand Rapids) worship guy Aaron Niequist as released A New Liturgy. Brad Lomenick introduces the project and its promo video.  If you already know Aaron’s music, check out (and download) Liturgy #2.
  • Pete Wilson sits down with Will, a friend and neighbor, who describes living with the consequences of childhood sexual abuse.
  • When times get tough and the pews get barren, the church gets resourceful, but blogger Josh Rhone thinks they’re taking The MacGyver approach to church.

    Wednesday List Lynx arrives late to the party

  • In the modern church, especially the American megachurch, kids are conspicuously absent, doing their own thing in a Kid Min program.  But that doesn’t fit every situation, hence the need for the Messy Church template.
  • Brett Harrison explains carefully his decision about his tattoo, which, for the record, he didn’t actually get yet.  (Not sure about the one he wants to give his 2-year old,  though.)
  • Kerri Weems offers some fasting recipes.  Wait a minute, I’m confused, isn’t that a contradiction?
  • Speaking of food, while Christianity Today isn’t switching to a format featuring restaurant reviews, they do pay a visit to The King’s Kitchen in Charlotte, NC.
  • Meanwhile, in other part of the galaxy: This is Your Wake Up Call Online is the website of Chief Inspiration Officer, Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie. Research it and get back to me, okay?
  • The graphic below originates with the photoblog Spiritual Inspiration. There are some you can use on your blog or Facebook page which are perhaps better quality than the one I chose, but I was really struck by the quotation.

December 1, 2011

Vatican Approves Crystal Cathedral Purchase

This is the Roman Catholic Church in Garden Grove which would effectively be swapping properties with the Crystal Cathedral over the next three years. More details, interior picture — click here.

The Pope has rubber-stamped the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County’s purchase of the bankrupt Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California.  Again, the OC Register leads the way with coverage of this story:

GARDEN GROVE – The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange received the necessary approval this week from the Vatican to proceed with its purchase of the Crystal Cathedral at $57.5 million, officials said Wednesday.

The Pope’s approval, which came on Monday, is the last hurdle the diocese had to clear before sealing the deal, said Monsignor Douglas Cook, the diocese’s Canon Law expert and rector of Holy Family Cathedral in Orange.

The Vatican’s order giving its blessing to the diocese is known as a “nihil obstat” in Latin, which means “nothing stands in the way.”…

Monsignor Cook said the process to get the Vatican’s approval was long and complex. The cathedral’s purchase had to be voted on by two advisory committees under the Bishop of Orange.

“They voted on it several times because the price kept changing,” he said.

The diocese then sent over a thick dossier detailing its financial plan to purchase the Crystal Cathedral among other things, Cook said.

“The Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy Office then came back to us with some questions they had,” he said. “We sent the answers and shortly thereafter, received the approval.”

Cook said these procedures are in place to make sure there are checks and balances at all levels.

“The Vatican’s role is basically to make sure that we have thought of everything – the rationale and the financial plan – before we undertake something of this magnitude,” he said…

Continue reading at OC Register

Photo: JOSHUA SUDOCK, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

October 22, 2009

Disenchanted Anglican Congregations Invited to Adopt Catholic Brand

When the large Pontiac dealer out on the freeway near my house got dropped by General Motors, it didn’t shut down.   It emerged as a Hyundai dealership and simply carried on business as usual.

With large numbers of Anglican churches frustrated with the issue of ordination of gay clergy, The Vatican is inviting those churches to be rebranded much like my local Pontiac franchise was.

Here’s the lead from writer Cathy Lynn Grossman on the USAToday Religion page:

USA TodayThe Vatican has opened an express lane to traditional Anglicans — unhappy with their own church’s moves toward accepting female and gay bishops — to reunite with the Roman Catholic Church their forefathers left nearly 500 years ago.

In a surprise announcement from Rome, Pope Benedict XVI approved a provision to create a new church entity that will allow Anglicans to join the Catholic Church in a format similar to Ukrainian or Eastern Rite Catholics, keeping their liturgy and married priests, but not married bishops.

The announcement Tuesday stunned many in the 77-million worldwide Anglican Communion, particularly the Church of England, where the Archbishop of Canterbury has wrestled for years with factions that opposed female bishops.

Pope - confessionIt’s a sell job where you want to emphasize the similarities, not the differences:

“Don’t forget, we had 1,500 years of unity with their forebears and today’s Roman Catholics. It’s the same apostolic tradition,” said the Rev. James Massa, head of the interfaith and interreligious affairs for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The move is certainly being seen as born out of pure motives:

Rev. Kendall Harmon, canon theologian for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, saw the Vatican announcement as a global event, “maybe one of Benedict’s biggest moves.

“Rome is trying to find a structural solution to an unbearable pastoral problem,” Harmon said. Vatican leaders “clearly feel that if they don’t intervene now, it will get worse. Their motive is the reunification of Christianity. If Anglicanism wasn’t going to provide a catholic solution, the worldwide church would fracture even more.”

But the move is complicated by The Vatican’s refusal to accept married clergy elevated to the role of Bishop.   This, of course, and the more obvious complication:

Archbishop Robert Duncan, founder and leader of the breakaway traditionalist Anglican Church in North America, issued a statement calling Benedict’s move “a momentous offer,” and he “blessed” those who choose this new path.

However, Duncan spelled out major obstacles between Anglican traditionalists and Rome that still stand. He cited “our historic differences over church governance, dogmas regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary” and the nature of the priesthood.

One leader noted that while Catholics have welcomed Anglicans and former Anglicans in the past, this move ends up in “creating what he called ‘parallel structures’ for entire groups of converts.

You can read the entire USAToday article here.   BTW, the religion page at USAToday is always bookmarked on this blog.

Ottawa Gatineau…For my Canadian readers, here is an analogy I’ve always found helpful.   The conversion of an Anglican to, for example, Pentecostalism, might be compared to someone living in Ottawa who decides to move to Windsor.   It’s all the same province, they keep their driver’s license and their health cards, but it’s a major move — around 800 km — and a complete change of both climate and culture.

The conversion of an Anglican to Catholicism could be compared to the that same person in Ottawa deciding to move to Gatineau.    The moving van might only have a ten-minute drive across the river, but it’s a new province, requiring a new driver’s license and even a new way of looking at common law.   Compared to moving to Windsor, it’s a cakewalk, but at a deeper level it is a much more radical change of address.  Which one is the bigger move?

For Anglicans, the Roman Catholic Church may seem like a comfortable fit but it is, to use the above analogy, “a change in province.”  It might meet some short term needs; there is this huge emotional bonding to multiple levels of ecclesiastic oversight and generations of history; not to mention robes, processions, choirs and liturgies.

But personally, I see disenchanted Anglicans and former Anglicans finding a better long-term fit in another Protestant denomination or in the creation of a new entity.    What works for car dealerships may not work where matters of faith and doctrine are concerned.

COMMENTS:  If you see your ministry as flitting from blog to blog leaving remarks which attack or tear down another denomination, please note those comments will not be posted here.    On the other hand, if you want to actually discuss the finer points of the topic of absorption of some Anglicans into the Catholic Church, or the Catholic church’s decision to make this offer; then those on-topic comments will be published.   You know who you are.

July 31, 2009

Look Out, Coldplay: Pope Benedict is Chartbound

Filed under: Religion — Tags: , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:59 pm

USA TodayThe music industry, hungry for a hit, may have one here as Geffin Records has signed the Pope to record an album of prayers.

USAToday reports:

Pope Album Story USAToday

An album of prayers to Mary? That’s what it says. Mary. Not God. Not Jesus. Not the Holy Spirit. And we know that Mary hears our prayers because of what’s found in … what’s that Biblical book and chapter again? Oh right. There isn’t one. Not even in the Catholic Bible. Not even a hint.

Don’t call this religion Christianity. It’s Marianity.

Click anywhere within the story to open the full page at USAToday Religion.

February 28, 2009

Quebec: Churches On Sale For $1 – And No Buyers

One church seats 1,000, barely 100 people show up on Sunday, and the offering might be $125. The story of increasingly abandoned, barricaded or demolished churches in Canada’s french-speaking province of Quebec made page four of the print edition of today’s Toronto Star.  Churches are being offered for as low as $1, and even at that price, some don’t sell.

The fire sale of Catholic churches in Quebec continues unabated; they are victims of a population that, more than elsewhere in Canada, has turned its back on organized religion… Parishes are facing the prospect of finding no buyers for their churches… [One church official said,] “Even in selling them for $1, it’s happening that no buyer is interested in the churches for sale. This is new.”

In a country where the percentage of people calling themselves Roman Catholic is nearly twice that of neighbouring United States, Catholic stats for this one province zoom even higher.   There’s a reluctance to sell or close parishes because of Catholic doctrine which stresses the rites and sacraments — particularly the baptism of infants and Christian burial of those who pass on — but those doctrines are insufficient to compel regular attendance at mass.   In other words, even though they still consider themselves Roman Catholic when the census taker calls, most don’t have any consideration of attendance at other times, including marriage — Catholics in Quebec are more likely to live together than be joined in Holy Matrimony.   Many have a personal belief-set that is more atheistic or agnostic than Catholic.

saint-eustache-churchThe story describes an activist bishop in the 1950s wanted to make sure that churches were close at hand in the region of Sherbrooke; that region is now seeing a record number of church sales, with twenty-five sold in the last few years.

The Saint Eustache Church, north of Montreal (pictured here — photo taken from the choir loft) possesses world renowned acoustics and is considering a second life as a recording studio.

You can continue reading the whole Toronto Star story here.

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Bonus article

The Eight Things That Destroyed Our Marriage
by Justin Davis

Pete Wilson at the blog Without Wax (see our blogroll) put us on to this series of eight posts in February, 2009 by his friend Justin Davis, and I thought it would be good to have this available as one continuous piece.    It’s now posted here in the “Pages” section of this blog, and will remain up for many months.   You can direct link to it here.

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