Kendall Harmon on July 27th, 2014

The Cameroonian military says members of the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram have abducted the wife of the country’s deputy prime minister in the northern Cameroonian town of Kolofata.

A local religious leader and mayor was also abducted from the same town.

Separately, at least five people in northern Nigeria were killed in a blast – residents suspect Boko Haram.

Boko Haram has stepped up cross-border attacks into Cameroon in recent weeks, as the army was deployed to the region.

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The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to Pope Francis in a plea to prevent the ordination of women bishops from derailing plans for the eventual reunification between the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches.

The Most Rev Justin Welby acknowledged that the vote at the General Synod earlier this month would be a “further difficulty” on the tortuous road towards eventual unity between the two churches which formally separated in the 16th Century.

But in a letter to the Pope and other global church leaders including leading orthodox patriarchs, he asked for prayers for the Church of England, telling them: “We need each other.”

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I think that the boggle line also tells us something about belief. We each of us have what we could call a belief continuum, with taken-for-granted obvious truths at one end (in August, it does not snow in New York City) and whacked-out possibilities at the other (the tooth fairy, a Cubs triumph in the World Series). When we draw a line between the plausible and the ridiculous — our boggle line — I think we become more confident about the beliefs on the plausible side of the line. You are, the boggle line tells you, a sensible, reasonable person. You do not believe in that. So a belief in this — well, a sensible person would take that seriously.

We know already that asserting one kind of belief shapes one’s willingness to commit to another. Benoit Monin, a professor of organizational behavior and psychology at Stanford, and his colleagues have found that when people do something that affirms their lack of prejudice, like disagreeing with blatant racism or expressing willingness, in a laboratory experiment, to hire a black person instead of a white one, that reasonable moral action seems to license them later to express views that seem racist. Seeing yourself as morally reasonable might allow you to make morally risky choices.

So perhaps rejecting the extreme position (I don’t believe in that) might make a less extreme, but still uncertain, commitment seem more plausible. Indeed, you can make a case that this is why heresy is so important. “What people do not believe is often more clearly articulated than what they do believe,” the sociologist Lester R. Kurtz wrote in 1983, “and it is through battles with heresies and heretics that orthodoxy is most sharply delineated.” The sociologists would explain that if this is true, it is because people unite most profoundly in opposition to a common enemy.

Read it all from the NY Times Op-ed.

Listen to it allvia an MP3 file here, and or you listen directly via the link on the page there.

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editors@thinkinganglicans.org.uk on July 27th, 2014

There have been several media reports that Peter Tatchell is again considering “outing” some Church of England bishops who are believed to be partnered homosexuals, this time in connection with the issue of clergy who enter same-sex marriages. This story…

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Vicar of Baghdad’ Canon Andrew White has warned that Christianity in Iraq could be close to extinction. And he has called on the British government to do more to help Christians fleeing Iraq.

Canon White, on a weekend visit to the UK where he visited churches including the Chiswick Christian Centre and The Church of the Ascension in Balham, said numbers in St George’s Baghdad had decreased from 6,500 to 1,000.

Many fled to Mosul, across the river Tigris from the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh. Now they have been forced by ISIS to flee Mosul also, most escaping to Kurdistan.

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“We are disappointed by the decision of the Court and believe that the decision is erroneous,” said Richard Hoskins, chancellor emeritus of the Diocese of Chicago. “We believe that the opinion misunderstands the polity of the Episcopal Church and misapplies the First Amendment. The attorneys representing us in the lawsuit are studying the opinion and will advise the Diocese whether to petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.”

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Controversial comments made by two ministers of the BJP-led Goa government, one wishing for a Hindu nation under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and another claiming India is already one, created an uproar both in the state assembly and across social media Friday.

Minutes after the opposition Congress and an independent legislator staged a walked out demanding a clarification from Co-operation Minister Deepak Dhavalikar for his Thursday’s comments that India would become a Hindu nation if everyone supported Modi, Deputy Chief Minister Francis D’Souza dropped another bombshell, saying India was always a Hindu country and that he was Christian Hindu.

“India is a Hindu country. It is Hindustan. All Indians in Hindustan are Hindus, including I, am a Christian Hindu,” D’Souza, one of the seniormost minority members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Goa, told reporters in the assembly complex.

The ‘Hindu nation’ comments have found backers amongst Hindu right wing groups, but have also been the target of criticism from other politicians as well as civil society commentators on the social media.

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The congregation of a Hamilton church divided by a denominational debate on the proposed blessings of same sex relationships spent yesterday’s services in separate buildings praying for one another.

Around 100 members of West Hamilton Anglican Parish left the Rifle Range Road church last week under the Rev Michael Hewat and his wife Kimberley Hewat’s leadership. The departure came following months of discussion of a controversial motion passed in May by the General Synod of the Anglican Church in New Zealand and Polynesia.

The motion aimed to establish a working group to recommended a process and structure which included a “yet-to-be-developed liturgy for blessing right ordered same-gender relationships”.

The Hewats, supported by 95 per cent of the congregation who attended a special meeting this month, opposed the motion on the grounds that it was contrary to the teachings of the Bible.

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Although we may refer to militants in eastern Ukraine as “pro-Russian separatists,” we are not confused by who, and what, they really are: an extension of the Russian state. They derive their material, political and logistical support from the Putin regime, and their criminal aggression and recklessness reflect the values of their Russian benefactors. Some have suggested that these agents of the Putin regime may have shot the plane down by accident. We do not, and may never, know. But accident or no accident, the blood is on the hands of the men who took such a risk and of the government that encouraged them to do so. Even if they did not intend to kill hundreds of innocent civilians, there is no denying their intent to continue waging a war on behalf of a regime that remains in violation of international law for its illegal occupation of Crimea.

Russia’s aggressive militarism and expansionism are a threat to more than just Ukraine; they are a threat to Europe, to the rule of law and to the values that bind Western nations. Canada will not stand idly by in the face of this threat.

That is why we have taken a strong stand, imposing a broad range of sanctions against those entities and individuals responsible for the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Since the start of the crisis in Ukraine, Canada has imposed sanctions on nearly 150 individuals and entities. Earlier this week we broadened our approach, announcing economic sanctions against key sectors of the Russian economy.

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