22 April 2012

America’s ‘angriest’ theologian faces lynching tree

America’s ‘angriest’ theologian faces lynching tree, by John Blake (CNN, 21 April 2012) 

When he was boy growing up in rural Arkansas, James Cone would often stand at his window at night, looking for a sign that his father was still alive. Cone had reason to worry. He lived in a small, segregated town in the age of Jim Crow. And his father, Charlie Cone, was a marked man. Charlie Cone wouldn’t answer to any white man who called him “boy.” He only worked for himself, he told his sons, because a black man couldn’t work for a white man and keep his manhood at the same time. Once, when he was warned that a lynch mob was coming to run him out of his home, he grabbed a shotgun and waited, saying, “Let them come, because some of them will die with me.” 
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12 April 2012

The Wisdom of Women Written Out of History

The wisdom of women written out of history, by Bettany Hughes (The Guardian, 10 April 2012)

The female of the species is more deadly than the male, cautioned Rudyard Kipling. Given Kipling's love of mythology and prehistoric studies, he should perhaps have added "and smarter". Because of all deities of wisdom across the globe and through known time, the massive majority – 97% – were (or are) female. Mankind, for the vast span of human experience, has worshipped at the shrine not of the god, but the goddess, of wisdom.

Flesh-and-blood women, it seems, have managed to draw strength from this fact. Women were often accepted as the prime educators in their communities, but individuals also exploited the currency of sacred wisdom with surprising results. Religion is an easy target for accusations of repression and misogyny, but achievement in the sacred and therefore socio-political sphere was often an option for women, thanks not to brawn, but to brain.
Link: The wisdom of women written out of history

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03 April 2012

Finch's Cultural Exchange

Finch's Cultural Exchange, by Damien Hansen (Today Tonight, 26 March 2012)

For many, suburban pockets like Bankstown in Sydney, or Coburg in Melbourne, are like countries within a country, with their own rules, their own dress code and their own language. But now one person has been welcomed in and granted access to seek out the truth of this culture, and dispel the urban myths. That person is former Miss Universe Australia, TV star and model, Rachael Finch.
Link: Finch's Cultural Exchange

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Children in the Liturgy

Children in the Liturgy, by Louis Weil

The Revd. Dr. Louis Weil is the James F. Hodges and Harold and Rita Haynes Professor Emeritus of Liturgics at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California.

Children are startlingly direct in engaging signs. I knew one child, an extraordinary child named Sean, just two in his father's arms. His parents hadn't decided yet whether to let him have communion, but as I placed the sacrament in his father's hand, Sean reached out to me and said, "I want Jesus too." As a rule I don't give the sacrament to a child until the parents approve, so I blessed Sean and afterwards talked to his parents. When I had talked to them before they had said, "We need some sign that he knows what he's doing." This time I said, "Well, if you want a sign, I think you've been given a sign." The next Sunday, we made Sean a communicant.

Children experience something on a deep level, not heavy-handed or didactic but very direct, from observing adults. Adults' reactions are profoundly important. By their reactions adults share, subtly but directly, in the formation of the attitudes of the children. What I remember from my childhood experiences in the synagogue are the great dramatic acts in the liturgy, the carrying in of the Torah, for example, and the effect those acts had on others in the congregation.

I'm eager NOT to impose a liturgy basically designed for children on the adult community. Some special occasions may present reasons for offering children's liturgies, but in general I want us to create a liturgy which is inclusive in broader sense. In fact, we ought not to lose sight of the elderly at the other end; interestingly, they pose some of the same questions that children do. But for now, let's focus on the children.
Link: Children in the Liturgy

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Children at the Table and Open Communion, or, the Agape Restaurant

Children at the Table and Open Communion, or, the Agape Restaurant (All Things Necessary, 26 March 2012)

One of the unexpected elements of moving from worshipping in the context of the Episcopal Church to the Church of England is a different approach to the Eucharist. This has been more a difference of emphasis than of importance, but I think it points up divergent ecclesiologies between the two churches.

This experience of difference is felt most strongly for me at the local parish church my family attends. Two things stand out for me (keeping in mind that I came to the Episcopal Church about 15 years after the introduction of the 1979 BCP). First, the Eucharist is not celebrated as the primary service every week. Rather, once a week there is a type of Morning Prayer that is labelled ‘All Ages Worship’ and includes ‘family’ oriented songs and prayers. In practice, this is geared for those ten and under. That there could be a primary service without Eucharist reveals the broader approach to worship in the Church of England where there is more need to encompass a wider set of worship practices than one finds in the Episcopal Church.

But why no Eucharist at the All Ages Worship? Because it is not normal practice in the Church of England to communicate children. The norm is for children only to receive communion after confirmation. In 2006 regulations were introduced to permit diocesan bishops to allow parishes to communicate baptized prior to confirmation. Now about 15% of parishes do this as a regular practice.
Link: Children at the Table and Open Communion, or, the Agape Restaurant

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Christoph Schoenborn, Austrian Cardinal, OKs Gay Man For Parish Council

Christoph Schoenborn, Austrian Cardinal, OKs Gay Man For Parish Council (Huffington Post, 3 April 2012)

Austria's cardinal has overruled one of his priests and is allowing a gay Catholic to serve on a parish council. Florian Stangl lives in a registered domestic partnership. The 26-year-old was overwhelmingly elected to the council recently, but it was overruled by the priest – a decision initially backed by the archdiocese. Such councils include lay people and discuss local church and parish affairs. Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn changed his mind over the weekend after hosting Stangl and his partner for lunch, declaring Stangl to be "at the right place." Despite his close ties to his one-time professor, Pope Benedict XVI, Schoenborn has voiced an open mind to such taboo issues as priestly celibacy.
Link: Christoph Schoenborn, Austrian Cardinal, OKs Gay Man For Parish Council

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