• Book Reviews 23 hours ago

    Surprised by Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues

    Surprised by Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues

    by Michael Parker
    by N.T. Wright HarperOne. New York. 240 pages As with any controversial author who has written scores of books, readers must be choosey. With N.T. Wright, a New Testament scholar and former Anglican Bishop, a dauntless reader might plunge directly into his multi-volume “Christian Origins and the Question of God.” For the more wary and time-pressed, however, there are a number of good popular alternatives that would serve as better entrées to his work. “Surprised by Hope” is probably the best systematic introduction to his thought, but “Simply Jesus” or… continue reading...
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  • Outlook Features 23 hours ago

    Presbyterian lessons from the Vietnam War

    by Rick Nutt What is the legacy of the Vietnam War for Presbyterians? Did we learn any lessons that help us address present international conflicts and prepare to respond to future conflicts? August 7 marked 50 years since the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the beginning of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. Presbyterians found themselves caught up in the debate over the war and experienced the deep turmoil that beset the nation as a whole. Like most people in the United States, Presbyterians generally supported the nation’s war effort in… continue reading...
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  • Outlook Features 2 days ago

    Yazidis and Christians forced to flee their homes in Iraq: A conversation with Jonah Salim

    Yazidis and Christians forced to flee their homes in Iraq: A conversation with Jonah Salim

    by Leslie Scanlon
    Jonah Salim It’s difficult news to comprehend: ISIS militants in Iraq forcing Yazidis (an Iraqi religious minority) and Christians to flee their homes, whole families running for their lives to Mount Sinjar in the northern part of the country, with some who did not escape being lined up and killed. There are also reports of women and young girls being held separately – transported from their families by bus and truck, reputedly in an effort to coerce them to convert and become the wives or sexual conquests of Iraqi militants.… continue reading...
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Surprised by Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues

Surprised by Scripture

by N.T. Wright HarperOne. New York. 240 pages As with any controversial author who has written scores of books, readers must be choosey. With N.T. Wright, a New Testament scholar and former Anglican Bishop, a dauntless reader might plunge directly into his multi-volume “Christian Origins and the Question of God.” For the more wary and time-pressed, however, there are a number of good popular alternatives that would serve as better entrées to his work. “Surprised by Hope” is probably the best systematic introduction to his thought, but “Simply Jesus” or “How God Became King” would do too. “Surprised by Scripture,” a collection of 12 papers and addresses, is a good choice as well for the uninitiated because it covers, from a variety of angles, the issues that most concern this prolific and protean author. Also helpful from an American perspective is that eight of the chapters were originally addressed to U.S. audiences and so reflect our special concerns. Wright’s bête noir, … [Read more...]

Presbyterian lessons from the Vietnam War

by Rick Nutt What is the legacy of the Vietnam War for Presbyterians? Did we learn any lessons that help us address present international conflicts and prepare to respond to future conflicts? August 7 marked 50 years since the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, the beginning of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. Presbyterians found themselves caught up in the debate over the war and experienced the deep turmoil that beset the nation as a whole. Like most people in the United States, Presbyterians generally supported the nation’s war effort in the beginning. It was widely accepted that the war was the result of North Vietnamese communist aggression; therefore, the nation had an obligation to defend freedom in South Vietnam and the rest of Southeast Asia. However, it was not long before the division of public opinion showed itself in the churches and resulted in General Assembly statements seeking to balance that division. The 1966 UPCUSA assembly held that the United States … [Read more...]

How Kent Brantly survived Ebola: Intense medical care — and prayer

(RNS) An American doctor treated for Ebola, Kent Brantly, was discharged from Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital Thursday (Aug. 21). Another American aid worker, Nancy Writebol, was discharged Tuesday (Aug. 19). “God saved my life,” said Brantly, looking gaunt, at a press conference Thursday, at which the room applauded his appearance. He thanked his medical team and the millions of people around the world praying for his recovery. “Please do not stop praying for the people of West Africa.” Bruce Ribner, medical director of the hospital’s infectious disease unit, said Brantly will go to an undisclosed location with his wife and children after the press conference. Brantly and Writebol, a volunteer with SIM USA, were flown to Emory from West Africa in early August and were treated in the hospital’s specialized unit. Ribner said the hospital performed extensive blood and urine tests on both patients and consulted with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before … [Read more...]

Can we gather at the table?

LOUISVILLE (PNS) For the past twelve years, The Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have been engaged in bilateral dialogue as part of their participation in Churches Uniting in Christ. While still struggling to reach full reconciliation of their ordained ministries, the two churches did reach an agreement for PC(USA) teaching elders and Episcopal priests to administer Holy Communion in each other’s churches with special permission. This agreement was approved by the 218th General Assembly (2008), (with ratification by the presbyteries in 2009) and the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2009. The churches have continued in dialogue between 2010 and 2014. An interim report was presented to the 221st General Assembly (2014) authorizing a continuation of the dialogue through 2018. The continued dialogue will addresses issues related to expression of ordered ministries at the local level (congregation/diocese); continued embodiment of episcope … [Read more...]

Yazidis and Christians forced to flee their homes in Iraq: A conversation with Jonah Salim

Jonah Salim

It’s difficult news to comprehend: ISIS militants in Iraq forcing Yazidis (an Iraqi religious minority) and Christians to flee their homes, whole families running for their lives to Mount Sinjar in the northern part of the country, with some who did not escape being lined up and killed. There are also reports of women and young girls being held separately – transported from their families by bus and truck, reputedly in an effort to coerce them to convert and become the wives or sexual conquests of Iraqi militants. For many, this is a surreal reality gleaned from news reports from far across the world. For Jonah Salim, these are stories he hears firsthand in nightly phone calls with his aunt and other relatives. Salim, who in 2009 became the first Iraqi to become a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has family immediately affected by the crisis – including his parents, now in Kurdistan, and his widowed aunt, who helped to raise him and who he considers like a … [Read more...]

Hunger in America: 1 in 7 rely on food banks

LORTON, Va. (RNS) When Mary Smallenburg, 35, of Fort Belvoir, Va., opened a package from her mother to find cereal and ramen noodles, she burst into tears. Without it, she wouldn’t be able to feed her four children. “It got to the point where I opened my pantry and there was nothing. Nothing. What was I going to feed my kids?” Smallenburg said, adjusting a bag of fresh groceries on her arm. Smallenburg’s family is one of 50 military families that regularly visit the Lorton Community Action Center food bank. Volunteers wave a familiar hello as she walks in the door. “None of what we have been through has been expected,” Smallenburg said. Three of her four children have special needs, and her husband is deployed in Korea. “The last few months, actually, coming here has been a godsend.” Nationwide, 25 percent of military families — 620,000 households — need help putting food on the table, according to a study by Feeding America, a network of 200 food banks. “The results are … [Read more...]