Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Praying for the martyrs of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan

From The Anglican Planet RSS feed:
Once again the Archbishop of Sudan has issued an urgent appeal in the wake of rampant violence. On Aug. 29, in Wernyol, a town in Southern Sudan, at least 40 men, women and children were killed, including the Ven Joseph Mabior Garang who was shot at the altar during Morning Prayer. Many more were wounded. Garang was Archdeacon of Wernyol and the Archbishop's Commissary in the new Diocese of Twic East. The attackers were reported to be well armed with new automatic weapons, trained and organized and dressed in army uniforms. Consequently in the view of the church, this was not a tribal conflict as commonly reported, but a deliberately organized attack on civilians by those that are against the peace in Southern Sudan.

In an earlier attack in mid-August the Lord’s Resistance Army (a terrorist group) killed three people, including a lay reader. The attackers abducted children from an Episcopal Church building, looted and vandalized a hospital and forced thousands to flee their homes. “These attacks imperil the fragile peace process in Sudan and could be prevented with more international government attention,” said the Most Rev. Dr. Daniel Deng Bul Yak, Archbishop and Primate of the Province of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan. If this violence continues, “there is no hope of conducting free and fair elections in these areas in 2010 and no hope of a fair referendum on Southern secession in 2011.” The Primate urges other governments to make peace in the Sudan a priority and to provide humanitarian assistance to the 39,000 displaced and wounded.

Blessed are you, gracious God,
creator of heaven and earth;
you are glorified in the assembly of your saints.
All you martyrs bless you and praise you,
confessing before the powers of this world
the great name of your only Son.
Therefore we join our voices with theirs,
and with all who have served you in every age,
to proclaim the glory of your name.

Preface of a Martyr, Book of Alternative Services, Canada

Monday, September 21, 2009

Compare and Contrast

I love rotten tomatoes. Not the produce—the website. RottenTomatoes.com is a movie ranking website that aggregates reviews from hundreds of journalists and movie reviewers, and then charts how “fresh” a film is based on the percentage of positive reviews. If a film only racks up 18 percent on the “Tomatometer,” I know it’s probably not worth my time or $20.

The collective wisdom of the masses may be a guide when selecting a movie, but what about when selecting a church? In a day when everything seems driven by polls, rankings, and consumer ratings, we shouldn’t be surprised that a new website has been created to rank churches based on customer—eh, congregational—feedback.

And contrast:
Archbishop of Canterbury: The point is often being confident enough about what you are inviting people into, which is not simply an entertainment but a journey and process of change. ....I went with the family to Taize for a few days in the summer.... one of the things I shall remember for a long time is the sound of 5,000 teenagers being quiet. That was an environment that didn't make any concessions to entertaining anyone. It assumed that if you were there, you wanted to be taken a bit deeper. That's the crucial thing.

Ian Hislop: I remember being told by my teenagers that Church was boring and thinking, good it's meant to be boring. You need a lot more boring in your life and in the middle of it, you'll find something.

ABC: I have to confess that has been in the past one of my regular confirmation sermons. Get used to it. It's not always going to be fun. Life isn't always going to be fun and there's something to be said for sitting things out.

IH: This particularly applies to young people...there is a tendency to assume they have no attention span....

ABC: We set our assumptions and expectations very low.... It's a downward spiral.

IH: Keeping it simple may not be good enough, enriching enough.

ABC: That's right. While I hope that I don't set out to be boring in church - shut up everyone! - I also hope that when I stand up and perform the liturgy, I am doing something that is not just reflecting to them what they already know and what they feel comfortable with. That somehow there is a journey forward to be undertaken. We expect people to grow.... if we don't provide an environment where people grow we only have ourselves to blame. Very often what the Church past and present has been in danger of doing is offering people a thinned down experience whereas I would like to say it is utterly the opposite.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

First Annual Symposium of CISPCR

I have the opportunity to speak on September 26th, at a symposium on pop culture and religion. My address is called “The Power of God Has Broken Our Complacency Like A Bullet in the Side: Notes of Grace and Violence in Popular Culture”, and will range from First Clement, to Flannery O'Connor, Sufjan Stevens, Johnny Cash, Nick Cave, The Wrestler, and even a bit on Joss Whedon.

Come out and join us! The price is right, and I might even buy you lunch.