Pew: Non-religious people see conflict between science and religion. Religious people don’t.

Religion / SOSc

New Pew study on the perceived levels of conflict between science and religion in American culture:

While 59 percent of U.S. adults say they saw science and religion in conflict, that drops to 30 percent when people are asked about their own religious beliefs.

It turns out that the most highly religious were least likely to see conflict.

And those who said they saw the most conflict between the two worldviews in society are people who personally claimed no religious brand, the “nones,” according to the report.

So – it appears that Rowan Williams response to Richard Dawkins is more true than expected. People are rejecting a God that most religious people don’t believe in either.

Source: Do science and religion conflict? It’s all in how you see it | The Christian Century

How quantum theory helps us understand intercession


Christianity Today on whether prayers make an external difference:

This means that at the macro level as well as the micro, the idea that the world is fixed and predictable is just wrong, and that arguments against an interventionist God don’t work. So, Wilkinson says, chaos might give “space for God to work in unusual and specific ways within the scientific description of the world”. Again, he quotes John Polkinghorne, who says that chaos means that the world is open to the future: “This means that we can pray and God responds by working in the openness of a chaotic system.”

Source: What God does when we pray: How quantum theory helps us understand intercession | Christian News on Christian Today

Lucas Mix: Toward a definition of Life

Religion / Science / SOSc

My friend Lucas Mix, who is Warden of the North American Chapter of the Religious Order of which I am a member is working on a definition of “life” – a project which is taking on new significance now that we have found water on Mars…

He writes in introduction to a series of posts he’s planning:

I would like to suggest five prominent approaches to how we model life. I do not claim these five ways are exclusive or exhaustive. Rather they are five well worn paths that many have taken in search of the meaning of “life.” Specific models – such as Aristotle’s nutritive soul or Schrodinger’s delayed entropy – can be assessed by the work they do in each approach. Often they will have been designed with one approach in mind and be very successful in that way. Often they will then be appropriated by thinkers to do work in another approach – with mixed success.

Each of the approaches comes associated with a focusing question or two that highlights what I see as a central concern. I hope to better identify the place of these various approaches in specific conversations – for example scientific origin-of-life research or Catholic environmental ethics – as well as global conversations on the definition of life. I will return to these questions at the end with my own concerns – how to search for life in space and how to build healthy relationships between individuals and communities. First though, I hope to improve communication between a wide variety of people with a wide variety of concerns by talking about what may be at stake for them – and for all of us – as we discuss “life” together.

Read more at the source: Lucas’s Weblog | An Ecclesiastical Peculiar

David Hart: No one is making a serious argument to support their atheist stance.


David Bentley Hart in First Things on the present state of Atheism:

In the course of writing a book published just this last year, I dutifully acquainted myself not only with all the recent New Atheist bestsellers, but also with a whole constellation of other texts in the same line, and I did so, I believe, without prejudice. No matter how patiently I read, though, and no matter how Herculean the efforts I made at sympathy, I simply could not find many intellectually serious arguments in their pages, and I came finally to believe that their authors were not much concerned to make any.

Source: Believe It or Not by David Bentley Hart | Articles | First Things

Why we must create a non-abusive online experience


Umar Hague argues convincingly that social media has not fulfilled its promise because it has allowed a culture of abuse to flourish. And that has driven people away – abuse turned Facebook into something it didn’t start out to be and abuse is threatening to end Twitter.

He ends the essay thus, calling for companies to focus on the abuse of others at least as much as they focus on serving up advertisements:

Can we create a better web? Sure. But I think we have to start with humility, gratitude, reality — not arrogance, privilege, blindness. Abuse isn’t a nuisance, a triviality, a minor annoyance that “those people” have to put up with for the great privilege of having our world-changing stuff in their grubby hands. It will chill, stop, and kill networks from growing, communities from blossoming, and lives from flourishing.

Do read it all, it’s worth your time.

It’s the pilgrimage, it’s the struggle to understand, that transforms us.


A rabbi once told me that God hides the truth from us and expects us to use our minds, the reason that God gifted us at our birth to uncover the truth. I find it fascinating that we have this itch in us to make sense of what is probably, ultimately, unsensible. It’s the pilgrimage, it’s the struggle to understand, that transforms us.  It’s not the answer.

More here.

Ways to think about cars — and implications for congregations…

Religion / Web/Tech

Benedict Evans asks us to consider the full implications of the coming revolution in automobiles: the self-driving car. If you think Uber is a disruptive force in transportation, just think about the implications of these sorts of vehicles on something as mundane as parking your car in the city:

[I]f your car doesn’t need to wait for you where you got out, then city-centre car parks disappear and retail gets remade (such of it as survives the shift to ecommerce, of course). No more worrying about parking. If you don’t need to worry about parking yet can be driven there directly and affordably, how much travel shifts from public transport to cars? How many people visit a busy central area they might previously have avoided for that reason (the West End of London, for example)? But then, where does that car go afterwards  – does it drop you off for dinner and drive off to a cheap carpark, or does it spend the next few hours driving other people around for a fee? The more autonomous cars there are, the more appealing on-demand becomes. Quite where the second-order effects end up is hard to predict – for example, where does it leave public transport if routes start emptying out, and what does that mean for people on very low incomes? What does it do to cycling?

via Ways to think about cars — Benedict Evans.

How many urban congregations struggle with having adequate parking for members? (Most every one of the congregations I’ve led has had that issue.) What would be different in the life of the congregation if people were able to easily come and go as they wanted?

On the right use of tech in ministry

Blogging / Web/Tech

Saw this over on Pastor Adam Copeland’s blog:

Luther, centuries before, wrote about the tools of the day as articles through which we should show love to our neighbors.

In this light, my iPhone becomes a tool for faithful living. It’s unusual for me to go more than a few hours without using my phone. I use it for directions, and daily to search for information about our world. I my phone to text message friends. I use it to tweet and check-in with my network on Facebook. I use it to LOL and type condolences.

Together with my MacBook, my iPhone is the main tool with which I live, work, and serve God. 95% of my written communication happens with the help of my iPhone and MacBook, and I communicate for a living. It’s my vocation.

In so many ways, we can use smartphones to serve God and neighbor. To text love. To advocate with hashtags. To tweet the gospel. To chronicle justice. To snap joy. To spread good news.

via Pastor, Bless My iPhone | A Wee Blether.

There’s more on his blog site and you should read it all. But the key point he’s making is one that I haven’t seen many others making; personal technology is revolutionizing the way clergy do ministry. That’s something likely both good and bad, but to this date it seems like it’s also an unexamined truth.

I’m glad some folks are thinking about it. We probably all need to be more intentional about working through the implications for the way we share the Gospel today.

Pray for the victims and shooter. Only the Gospel can end the violence.

Current Affairs

There was another shooting in a crowded public space late this week. This time it was in a movie theater in Lafayette Louisiana. Once again the shooter, John Houser, a white man with a criminal record and a history of mental illness and violence had a legally purchased handgun. And he had a hatred of “liberals”, a fascination with Neo-Nazism and a distorted understanding of the Gospel.

As the New York Times reports:

Mr. Houser believed that women should not work outside their homes, and “had a lot of hostility toward abortion clinics,” Mr. Floyd said. He was the sort of person who believed “that all the trouble started when they took Bibles out of school and stopped prayer.”

On Twitter, antigovernment discussion boards, and other forums online, a person using the names Rusty Houser, J. Rusty Houser, and John Russell Houser praised the Westboro Baptist Church, whose members, driven by a loathing of gays, stage protests at military funerals; Timothy J. McVeigh, who bombed a government building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168; and even Adolf Hitler. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist and antigovernment groups, said the posts were all from Mr. Houser.

The authorities on Friday outside the Grand movie theater in Lafayette, La., where a gunman opened fire on Thursday night. Several times, he described the United States as a “financially failing filth farm” that deserved to collapse, and would do so soon.

Sadly there is every reason to expect that there will be more opportunities to consider why it is that we as a people allow men like this to legally purchase the tools they need to kill children and our neighbors.

But in this moment, the Episcopal Bishop of Western Louisiana Jake Owensby, in whose diocese this latest shooting happened, asks us to pray for the victims, and because Our Savior commands it, to pray for the shooter as well.

He writes on his blog Pelican Anglican:

“My heart and mind—probably much like your own—are reeling with the specific horror and agony of the Lafayette shootings. Nevertheless, I am also mindful that these shootings join what seems like an endless stream of senseless violence across our country.

This is not the time to outline a detailed Christian response to our epidemic of violence. But there is space to name it for what it is: an epidemic. The medicine for this epidemic is the Gospel. And that Gospel teaches us to be peacemakers.

We followers of Jesus are not helpless in the face of violence. But we must take the risk to ask how we contribute—in many cases unconsciously and unintentionally—to a cultural addiction to violence. And we must have the courage to take the risky steps and to make the difficult changes to overcome violence with the peace that passes all understanding.”

I imagine Mr. Houser thought he understood the Gospel. He didn’t. He perverted it and then used it to justify violence against people he found “troubling” to his understanding of how the world should work. It’s time for those of us who struggle to follow the teachings of Jesus to stop standing by as people to twist the Gospel to their own purposes, to justify violence, destruction and death.

Pray for shooter. Pray for the victims. Believe in the Gospel. It is the only hope we have for the healing of the World.

General Convention Day 3 – a new PB, a march, and it’s time to “git up!” because we ain’t dead yet

General Convention

Perhaps you heard that we elected a new Presiding Bishop yesterday?

That was pretty big news. The first African-American Presiding Bishop in the history of the Episcopal Church, the first YDS-Berkeley seminary grad in that office, and the first, first ballot election in a very long time.

You know what else? It’s also the first time in a long time that the election wasn’t about finding a way to hold the various factions of the Episcopal Church together. This election turned out to be a long and thoughtful conversation about how to git going, get moving, start preaching and quit fearing. All four candidates talked about that, and that was the focus of those of us who cast ballots at St. Mark’s Cathedral. “Which of these four would the lot fall upon to lead us out into the world proclaiming the power of resurrection?” And the lot fell on Michael Curry.

11692512 10152927852561931 9024816737202357910 n

If you haven’t met him yet, find a way. He radiates joy. And it’s infectious. He lights you up with the Holy Spirit so that you light up a room too.

And then after a big deep breath yesterday, this morning we all got up, put on vestments and walking shoes and marched through the streets of Salt Lake City, in a state where to more people are killed each year by guns than by auto accidents, and called for an end to this epidemic of gun violence. I haven’t walked in something like this in years. It was powerful. It was a moment of proclamation. It was a reminder to all of us of the power we have to proclaim “the power of the Holy Trinity is greater than the power of the violence, guns and despair.”

11538154 10152927437056931 5622585378255449080 oThe morning Eucharist was electric. Presiding Bishop Katherine preached with a power and an intensity I’d not heard her use before. She told us that we, like the woman who overcame the shaming and the finger wagging because of her hemorrhage of blood, and drew near to take Jesus hem and be healed, needed to stop listening to the finger waggers, realize we’d been healed and start shouting the Good News.

It was one of the sermons that make you realize you had been thinking about things wrong all along. And suddenly, in a flash of insight, you realized that God loves you, in spite of your flaws, and that God has a plan for you and expects you to get to it. And there are no more excuses for not getting to it.

When the sermon goes up online I’ll try to remember to link to it. Keep an eye on my twitter feed in the short term. And if you find it, give it a listen. It’s really worth it.

And then back to legislative sessions. But today they felt a little different. Sure, it was still the regular grinding of minutia and reports, but it felt like it all had a purpose in a larger context. And that’s exciting.

If nothing else, I’m praying we come home from Salt Lake City renewed and energized in a way we haven’t been in a very long time in the Episcopal Church. And it’s about time. The world has need of Jesus’ power. And we are being sent out to proclaim it.