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Musings of an Anglican/Episcopal Priest

Category: General Notes (page 2 of 12)

Division: Something to discuss

As I mentioned in the post below, I’ve just started reading Robert Jenson’s systematic theology. In the prologue Jenson makes the following claim, and I’d be interested to hear folks’ response to it:

The Western church in turn divided at the time of the Reformation, and Protestantism has since been notoriously fissiparious. The ecumenical dialogues have, however, revealed only one functioning line of continuing division between the parties of the Western church. It runs between Catholic and Protestant, that is, between the Roman Catholic Church, together with any Protestants who may on a given question side with her, and what is on that question the remainder of the Protestants (p. viii).

I thought this was an interesting way to frame things, and it seems accurate in many ways. Thoughts?

Random connections about giving and love.

Whatever happens,
those who have learned
to love one another
have made their way
to the lasting world
and will not leave,
whatever happens.

–Wendell Berry, Given: Poems, p. 55

Auto linking Bible References, including the Apocrypha

As in other areas of interest, there are many people in the WordPress world who are interested in the study of scripture, who write about it on their blogs and want the ability to automatically link to scripture citations and references without laboriously going to their preferred bible site to manually create a link.

Over the years the WordPress community has offered up several plugins to achieve this.  I’ve used Scripturizer and its successor The Holy Scripturizer myself for a number of years.  The Holy Scripturizer is no longer being developed however, and even when it was being actively developed there were several limitations, at least from my perspective.  Primarily, there were three functions that I could never quite get to work correctly with either of these plugins:

  1. The ability to link to the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible
  2. The ability to display a tool-tip of the NRSV on the site
  3. The ability to cite the books of the Apocrypha, which make up part of the “stepped-canon” of Anglicanism.

One of the other scripture plugins that has been out there for a number of years is the RefTagger from Libronix, the makers of Logos Bible Software (which I highly recommend, especially for you PC users).  The main limitation of RefTagger had been that, unlike the Scripturizer plugins which at least linked to the NRSV text, RefTagger did not even do that, as the NRSV and a number of other version were not an option.

Recently however, I became aware of a change.  RefTagger now links to the site Biblia.com for its scripture references.  Biblia (a nicely designed site by the way) has a number of translations that were not previously available.  In particular it offers the NRSV with Apocrypha.  The RefTagger plugin still did not natively support references to the NRSV, but unlike the Scripturizer plugins, the fix/modification was relatively simple.  I simply added the NRSV to the code as follows:

With that simple change, I solved the problem that has been irritating me for several years and made it possible to reference the NRSV text, with the tool tip functionality and reference the Apocrypha.

I’ve since seen that Biblia.com also has the text of the Cambridge Paragraph Bible (KJV-Apocrypha) so I may be adding that version in at some point, but for right now I’m simply glad to be able to cite all the readings that arise in our lectionary in a version that we actually use in worship.

For example, the first reading from the common of a Theologian or a Teacher:
Wisdom 7:7–14

So folks, if you use WordPress and would like to add this capability to your site, simply download RefTagger and make the adjustments above.

The Associated Press: Most of the unemployed no longer receive benefits

[Note: Staggering to think of the long term consequences of this degree of joblessness over such a long period.]

WASHINGTON (AP) — The jobs crisis has left so many people out of work for so long that most of America’s unemployed are no longer receiving unemployment benefits.

Early last year, 75 percent were receiving checks. The figure is now 48 percent – a shift that points to a growing crisis of long-term unemployment. Nearly one-third of America’s 14 million unemployed have had no job for a year or more.

Congress is expected to decide by year’s end whether to continue providing emergency unemployment benefits for up to 99 weeks in the hardest-hit states. If the emergency benefits expire, the proportion of the unemployed receiving aid would fall further.

The ranks of the poor would also rise. The Census Bureau says unemployment benefits kept 3.2 million people from slipping into poverty last year. It defines poverty as annual income below $22,314 for a family of four.

Read it all via News from The Associated Press.

Above all things, good policy is to be used, that the treasure and monies in a State be not gathered into few hands; for, otherwise, a State may have a great stock and yet starve. And money is like muck, not good except it be spread. This is done chiefly by suppressing, or, at the least, keeping a strait hand upon the devouring trades of usury, engrossing, great pasturages, and the like.

The essays or Counsels, civil and Moral, of Francis Bacon, Henry Morley – Google Books (page 101).

650,000 Americans switched to credit unions last month | ti.me/uC1ZPm (via @TIMEMoneyland)

One in five young adults still lives at home with their parents | http://ti.me/sizmUA (via @TIMEHealthland)

On The Perception of Christ at the time

Sermon prep for Proper 24 (Gospel: Matthew 22:15-22).  Re-reading bits of Christopher Bryan’s Render to Caesar: Jesus, the Early Church, and the Roman Superpower:

Still, for good or ill, as true or false, Jesus would have appeared primarily as a prophet, and as a prophet he proclaimed the imminent coming of God’s kingdom, which evidently meant, for him as for others, that God would fulfill God’s promises and vindicate God’s people (Mark 1:15, 9:1; Luke 11:20).  Naturally, such a proclamation had implications for those who held power in the present age–for masters and slave owners, for administrators and governors, for kings and emperors–since it relativized their power, declaring them accountable for their use of it.  If God reigns, then God reigns over everything, “for you know that you also have a Master in heaven” (Col. 4:1). [emphasis mine] (Bryan, 41)

When Harry Should Avoid Meeting Sally – NYTimes.com

NYTStanley Fish hits on something important here: we all have our objects of “unreflective scorn,” and he’s right, I think, that meeting and knowing them makes it less possible to scorn them.  There’s a profound lesson in reflection on both of those facts.


The German philosopher Jürgen Habermas is a luminary who occupies such a place in my anti-pantheon. I have been throwing verbal brickbats at Habermas for years (I once even called for him to be prevented from writing anymore; I didn’t specify the means), poking academic fun at his slogans (like “ideal speech situation” and “universal pragmatics”) and trumpeting the emptiness of his program to anyone who would listen.

This means that Habermas (along with a few others I will not name) is very important to me. I feel that I couldn’t get along without him. I need him to be there. If he were taken away from me, I wouldn’t know what to do. I’d have to find someone else to be the object of my unreflective scorn. And that would prove difficult, given that Habermas, or anyone else who might fill this slot, has very particular views (the ones I love to hate), and installing a disciple or a simulacrum in his place would not really be satisfying.

{Read it all: When Harry Should Avoid Meeting Sally – NYTimes.com.}

H/t: @craiguffman

Does evil exist? Neuroscientists say no. – Slate Magazine

Augustine argued that evil is a privation of the good.  That does not simply mean that evil is simply a lack of the good, but rather, that the creation/creature has been deprived of the good that is part of the original intent.  In humanity this may mean being formed or educated away from the good.  Holding such a view of evil–that is, that it is not something independent that exerts force, but instead an absence that at a basic level results in decay and loss–means that issues such as those raised in the article below are not as difficult.  The issues relating to free will (or rather, the lack thereof) however are quite a bit more difficult to deal with from any common place perspective, religious or otherwise.

Is evil over? Has science finally driven a stake through its dark heart? Or at least emptied the word of useful meaning, reduced the notion of a numinous nonmaterial malevolent force to a glitch in a tangled cluster of neurons, the brain?

Yes, according to many neuroscientists, who are emerging as the new high priests of the secrets of the psyche, explainers of human behavior in general. A phenomenon attested to by a recent torrent of pop-sci brain books with titles like Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain. Not secret in most of these works is the disdain for metaphysical evil, which is regarded as an antiquated concept that’s done more harm than good. They argue that the time has come to replace such metaphysical terms with physical explanations—malfunctions or malformations in the brain.

Of course, people still commit innumerable bad actions, but the idea that people make conscious decisions to hurt or harm is no longer sustainable, say the new brain scientists. For one thing, there is no such thing as “free will” with which to decide to commit evil. (Like evil, free will is an antiquated concept for most.) Autonomous, conscious decision-making itself may well be an illusion. And thus intentional evil is impossible.

via Does evil exist? Neuroscientists say no. – Slate Magazine.

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