Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Is the Sky Falling?

I had the interesting experience recently of being interviewed by Fr Colin Chapman for Priest Pulse, which he hosts with Fr. Benjamin Gildas, regarding my contribution to the volume Growth and Decline in the Anglican Communion, 1980 to the Present. You can find a record of our discussion here.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

From dying suddenly and unprepared, Good Lord, deliver us

Image result for tree of life synagogue pittsburgh

We are overly accustomed these days to news of violent death, not merely in Kabul and Damascus but in Chicago and London, yet when it strikes a community with which one has great familiarity it takes on a peculiar resonance. Yesterday, in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighbourhood, eleven people died in a shooting at Tree of Life synagogue, past which I often walked between 2004 and 2011.

It is sobering how even places of worship can no longer be assured that their sanctuaries are inviolate (something with which Christians - and those of other faiths - in Africa and Asia have long been familiar). "Am I my brother's keeper," demands Cain of his heavenly Father when confronted with the murder of his brother Abel, already knowing the answer. Today we weep with those weep, but we are also called in the weeks and months ahead to strive to redeem that which has fallen so short in our common life. This tragedy further serves to remind us of the fallen and sinful nature of our humanity.

I append the English text of the Mourner's Kaddish, the acknowledgment of the gathering in of souls by the One who first provided them. 

Glorified and sanctified be God's great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.

May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.

Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

He who creates peace in His celestial heights, may He create peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Tragedy of "Repeal the Eighth"

My political views are such a curious blend (by contemporary standards) of moderate liberalism on matters economic and solid conservatism on matters cultural (and had I had a vote to cast in the 2016 US presidential election, it would not have been for the current incumbent) that I rather doubt they are comprehensible outside the Rust Belt (and by no means all of those in it).

Ireland's recent abortion referendum, however, disturbs me, though not so much the result (which was generally expected) as the manner in which it has been treated by the winning side. While a consistently pro-life stance (on capital punishment, euthanasia and abortion) is certainly a minority position in much of the developed world, it is still saddening to see so many treating this result as something akin to Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. What the vote signals is that a majority of the population believe that the unborn child has an inferior status relative to the mother and treat this as a "progressive" development. I could better understand someone who declared this to be the least worst option (and doubtless some supporters of repeal fall into that category) but this is far from the story that the news media promote.

It is noteworthy, too, how many British politicians are now speaking in terms of bringing Northern Ireland 'into line' with the Irish Republic. Few seem interested in a referendum (which they might lose) but rather in taking advantage of the power vacuum to impose "choice." I note the presence of Sir Vince Cable in their ranks, clearly demonstrating that Tim Farron was wise to give up the leadership. Gone are the days when the Liberal Party could encompass David Steel (the author of the 1967 Abortion Act) and David Alton (the battling pro-life Liberal from Liverpool). Today to be a Liberal Democrat seems to involve going with the cultural status quo.

The irony of the contemporary world is that we are willing to spend untold sums on premature baby units to save the 'wanted', but also willing to condemn the 'unwanted' healthy unborn to death. Even as absurd (to me at least) sums are spent on IVF and surrogacy for gay couples, so many children remain in council care desperately awaiting fostering or adoption. There is much wrong with contemporary culture, some of it is the product of actions by so-called conservative politicians, but those who consider themselves part of the liberal mainstream should take a hard look at what that mainstream has wrought.

Repeal the Eighth is no part of the solution; it's part of the problem!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Go forth upon thy journey, Christian soul!

And so Billy Graham passes from this earthy plane of existence to a heavenly one. Doubtless, he would echo Dwight L. Moody:

"Some day you will read in the papers, 'Billy Graham of Montreat is dead.' Don't you believe a word of it!

At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now;
I shall have gone up higher, that is all,
out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal --
a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint;
a body fashioned like unto His glorious body.
I was born of the flesh in 1918.
I was born of the Spirit in 1934.
That which is born of the flesh may die.
That which is born of the Spirit will live forever."
Few 20th century evangelists have had such a profound impact on the global stage.