Daily Archives: June 4, 2007

Oliver Thomas: God goes green

I used to marvel at how foolish an organism is cancer. It can’t seem to pace itself. Left to its own devices, it will greedily consume its host until the host dies, thereby causing the cancer’s own premature death.

Then, one day I had an epiphany. We’re like cancer. Unable to pace ourselves, we are greedily consuming our host organism (i.e. planet Earth) and getting dangerously close to killing ourselves in the process.

The difference is that cancer has an excuse: No brain.

Consider that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued one of its most sobering reports to date. The hundreds of scientists and scores of nations participating in the project paint an apocalyptic future of flooding, drought, disease and food shortages. In the face of such a crisis, one might expect people of faith to flock to the cause of protecting the environment. After all, the theological issue appears a simple one. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. The world and all that dwell in it!” proclaims Psalm 24:1. The earth is on loan. God owns it, and we are God’s caretakers or “stewards,” according to the Bible.

Despite all that, and the fact that 90% of us say we believe in God, most Americans appear reluctant to begin making the sacrifices necessary to address global warming. Evangelical Christian leaders in particular seem to be dragging their heels. So, why the hesitation? Why aren’t more Christians trading their SUVs for hybrids, turning down the thermostat and writing letters to Congress?

First, our political loyalties get in the way. Evangelical Christians tend to vote Republican, and party leaders such as the president and vice president have been outspoken in their skepticism about the urgency of the global climate crisis.

Then, there’s money. In the short run at least, it simply costs more to go green. Hybrid cars, fluorescent bulbs and alternative energy sources don’t come cheap. Until substantial government incentives or market forces change that equation, many Americans will opt to save a buck rather than the environment.

There’s also the fact that for many Christians, the Bible appears contradictory on the subject of global warming. Didn’t Jesus say there would be wars and rumors of wars, famine and earthquakes before he could return? Isn’t that exactly what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is predicting? For millions of Christians, the world’s downward spiral into political and ecological chaos may appear a necessary prerequisite to the second coming of Christ.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Climate Change, Weather, Energy, Natural Resources, Religion & Culture

Support Strong for Assisted Suicide as Kevorkian Leaves Prison

As Dr. Jack Kevorkian was released Friday from a Michigan prison after serving eight years for second-degree murder in the assisted death of a man with Lou Gehrig’s disease, new polls suggest his cause retains strong support.

An Associated Press-Ipsos poll released this week showed that 53 percent of Americans believe Kevorkian never should have gone to jail for the assisted suicide campaign he championed in the 1990s; 40 percent supported Kevorkian’s imprisonment.

Just 30 percent of the 1,000 adults questioned agreed that doctors and nurses should do everything possible to save the life of a patient. More than two-thirds said there are circumstances where a patient should be allowed to die with help.

The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, and was conducted from interviews done between May 22 and May 24.

Religion had much to do with people’s answers, according to the AP. Only about one-third of those who attend religious services at least once a week said it should be legal for doctors to help terminally ill patients end their lives. In contrast, 70 percent of those who never attend religious services say doctor-assisted suicide should be legal.

A plurality, 48 percent, said the law should not bar doctors from helping terminally ill patients end their own lives by giving them a prescription for lethal drugs; 44 percent said it should be illegal.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Life Ethics

Religion and Ethics Weekly: Criminalizing the Homeless

Ms. ROWLAND: What has been going on is a concerted attempt to keep disfavored, certain disfavored people out of public parks and reserve them for the use of other people with more means and political power, and that’s fundamentally wrong. It’s unconstitutional.

Mr. HUFF: I’ve been through every shelter and everything in this city to help people, and I didn’t get any help from anybody, okay, until I went to church.

SEVERSON: Cody Huff was himself homeless after getting out of prison for drugs and crime. Now he has a successful business coordinating freight shipments for Las Vegas conventions. Now he hands out McDonald’s food certificates.

Mr. HUFF (to homeless people): We love you guys, man. We’re trying the best we can.

I always tell people don’t give homeless people money, because they’re either going to buy drugs, alcohol, or gamble with it, but if you give them a McDonald’s gift certificate for $5, they can go get a really good meal for that.

(to homeless people): Have you guys run into any church groups out here, the people that feed you? Thank God for those people.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Right there, right now. That’s Gail. That’s Gail Sacco right there.

Ms. SACCO (to homeless people): Okay, I got more in the car. Okay, there’s bananas and apples. Take whatever you need.

In the Bible, there’s at least 300 verses that tell — that God tells us to take care of the poor.

SEVERSON: Gail Sacco and Cody Huff were the primary targets of the city’s ordinance prohibiting feeding homeless in parks. This park is right across from city hall.

Ms. SACCO (giving food to homeless): So if we run out of this, I got more.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch

Latest on blog setup: Archives shaping up

An opportunity to give feedback on the T19 Archive pages… And don’t forget. Any questions or problems? Write us: T19elves@yahoo.com

I think we have the T19 Archives working pretty well now. (They now show only T19 entries, whereas before they were mixing up T19 and Stand Firm entries). Try clicking on the monthly archive links at the bottom of the right sidebar and let us know what you think.

Is the current arrangement clear? useful?

The page design is about as boring as can be, but we can worry about that later… 😉 Right now we’re aiming for content and functionality.

I don’t know if it is possible to include more info along with the title of and link to each post:
— post date?
— author? (e.g. Kendall or elves)
— a short excerpt?

If possible, would you want to see some or all of that information?

If it’s helpful to compare with old T19 Archives, here’s link for April 2007 archives from the old blog

If you can’t get CaNNet to come up, here’s the link to that archive in the Google Cache

Posted in * Admin, Blog Tips & Features

Various Articles on Wycliffe Hall Oxford

An article by Giles Fraser received a response from Richard Turnbull here. Joanna McGrath also has a piece there, and a letter from some members of the Wycliffe community is here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Bishop Ralph Spence's farewell: Bold letter on same-sex blessings

The Right Rev. Ralph Spence may be poised to step down from his post as spiritual head of the Diocese of Niagara but his influence remains strong here at home and across the Anglican Church of Canada.

Spence, who will play a key role at the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference in England next year, is one of two Canadian bishops behind a contentious pastoral letter from Canada’s Anglican bishops on same-sex blessings.

Released shortly after Canadian bishops met with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams at a Niagara Falls retreat house in late April, the letter has drawn howls of protest from both sides in the 20-year-old debate on the legitimacy of blessing same-sex unions.

“We found that a lot of people in the middle really liked what we did and people at either extreme didn’t,” Spence said of the letter he penned with the Right Rev. Patrick Yu, suffragan bishop of Toronto.

“I think that in itself says we’re marching down the right road in trying to get people to speak to each other,” Spence said yesterday.

Read it all and there is more here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Bishop Steenson: Consciences Are Stretched to the Limit

“It seems wise that we identify some principles to guide us in dealing with the problems that will be created should one or more of our congregations attempt to alter their relationship with the diocese and The Episcopal Church,” said the Rt. Rev. Jeffrey N. Steenson, Bishop of the Rio Grande, in a letter to the diocese.

“The effect of losing the active participation of even one or two of our larger congregations would be substantial, and we looked realistically at that scenario,” Bishop Steenson wrote. “Your diocesan leadership certainly does not have its head in the sand about the steps that need to be taken should this occur.”

The fact that the annual meeting of the diocese is scheduled only two weeks after the expiration of the Sept. 30 deadline for The Episcopal Church to respond to the primates’ communiqué increased the desire for some direction among a number of diocesan leaders, according to the Rev. Colin Kelly, rector of Trinity on the Hill, Los Alamos, N.M., and president of the standing committee.

“Our goal is to keep the diocese together,” Fr. Kelly said. “We are basically a healthy diocese and we believe the primates’ recommendations are the best way forward for us. We felt we needed to let Executive Council know how we feel.”

At its meeting in March, the House of Bishops referred the primates’ pastoral council scheme to Executive Council, which is scheduled to meet June 11-14 in Parsippany, N.J., June 11-14–its only meeting prior to the Sept. 30 deadline.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

Putin raises spectre of nuclear war in Europe

President Putin has warned the US that its deployment of a new anti-missile network across Eastern Europe would prompt Russia to point its own missiles at European targets and could trigger nuclear war.

In an exclusive interview with The Times, the Russian leader says: “It is obvious that if part of the strategic nuclear potential of the US is located in Europe and will be threatening us, we will have to respond.

“This system of missile defence on one side and the absence of this system on the other . . . increases the possibility of unleashing a nuclear conflict.”

Russia has been alarmed at America’s plans to install a network of defences in Eastern Europe to shoot down incoming missiles it fears that Iran might launch

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Europe

Australian MPs to debate ban on therapeutic cloning

Church leaders are calling on NSW politicians not to support the overturning of a ban on therapeutic cloning.

A controversial bill to overturn the current ban on stem cell research, also known as Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer, is due to be debated in the lower house of state parliament on Tuesday.

MPs from both sides of politics will be allowed a conscience vote on the legislation, which would allow therapeutic cloning but maintains the ban on human reproductive cloning.

If passed, the legislation would bring NSW in line with the Commonwealth, which overturned a ban on therapeutic cloning in December 2006.

But both the Anglican and Catholic churches are asking MPs to vote against the bill.

Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal George Pell said all members of parliament should reject the cloning of human embryos for experimentation and destruction.

“No Catholic politician, indeed no Christian or person with respect for human life who has properly informed his conscience about the facts and ethics in this area should vote in favour of this immoral legislation,” he said in a statement.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Episcopal Diocese Could try to Evict Rebel Parish In Bristol Connecticut

When Fred Clark married his bride, Claudia, nearly 40 years ago, they stood before the deep blue and purple stained-glass windows that line the stone wall behind the altar at Trinity Episcopal Church in Bristol.

Together they baptized three babies, mourned the death of one of those children – 6-year-old Allison – and celebrated the marriage of another daughter at that same altar.

The church is far more than a place to worship for the Clarks, of course. It is like a second home.

But the Clarks – along with the vast majority of the congregation – have decided to risk their long association with Trinity by voting to split from the Episcopal Church over differences of opinion about Scripture that have manifested themselves in public squabbles over the ordination of gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions.

With Trinity’s decision, the split within the Connecticut Diocese begins to resemble the increasingly contentious struggles going on in other Episcopal dioceses around the United States. It is no longer simply a war of words over theology but a pitched battle over buildings, property and money.

The split has united conservative congregations in the U.S., like Trinity, with like-minded African churches that believe the Episcopal Church’s liberal position on homosexuality goes against the Anglican beliefs inherited from the Church of England.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut, TEC Departing Parishes

The Episcopal Church Continues to Harden its Stance Against Marriage

Ralph Webb commented,

“Bishop Robinson’s allowance of blessing civil unions as a local option””even though such blessings are not required of priests””provides yet another illustration of how the Episcopal Church opposes the traditional definition of marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman.

“It’s tragic that just within the last year, we have seen increasing evidence of a hardening of this position. Some Episcopal Church parishioners, parishes, parachurch groups, and diocesan bishops opposed state marriage amendments upholding the traditional definition of marriage last fall. And this spring, the denomination’s Executive Council passed a resolution urged against future General Conventions being held in states where the marriage amendments are in effect.

“And the tragedy is on full display in the bishop’s phrase, ‘Just like in marriages.’ What’s at stake here is the Judeo-Christian understanding that no other relationship””whether that of cohabiting heterosexual couples or same-sex partners””in which two people commit to living together can approximate marriage or should receive the church’s blessing. That understanding informs the Episcopal Church’s own Book of Common Prayer.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Marriage & Family, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Anglicans debate sexuality

Many conservative Anglicans would agree with Nigerian lay minister Davis Mac-Iyalla that the summer of 2003””when the Episcopal Church approved the first openly gay bishop””left a gaping hole and wrenching pain in their hearts. But not for the same reasons.

For Mac-Iyalla, that summer was when the Anglican Church of Nigeria, in which he was born, baptized and became faithful turned its back on him because he is gay.

“God created me a gay man and put me in the womb of my mother. I was born into the church, baptized and sang in the choir,” Mac-Iyalla told parishioners Sunday at Trinity Church in Highland Park. “Now, the church rises against me when I speak who I am. The church is supposed to be a house of joy, a house of peace. It has become a place of fire.”

As the worldwide Anglican Communion of 77 million faithful spirals toward schism over issues of homosexuality, the leading Nigerian voice has been that of Archbishop Peter Akinola, who believes tolerating gays and lesbians violates Scripture. Akinola and other conservatives in the global communion have severed ties with the U.S. church. Last month, against the wishes of U.S. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Akinola consecrated a new bishop to oversee conservative dissidents on American soil.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Bishop of Reading gives out egg timers to commuters

The Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, Anglican Bishop of Reading, is stopping commuters in their tracks today to hand out egg timers at his local mainline train station with this challenge: take three minutes of silence a day to transform your life.

Bishop Stephen is urging the country to discover what happens when we simply stop and rest, in a passionate plea for the nation to ditch endless ‘to do’ lists, constant streams of emails, and an increasingly ’24/7′ culture.

Instead, by binning instant tea and coffee in favour of traditional methods that create time for reflection during their preparation, appointing a ‘happy hour’ when all televisions and radios in the house are switched off, baking bread, or simply enjoying a lengthy lie-in, the bishop’s book encourages readers to appreciate the need to create pauses in daily life – for our own, and society’s, health and wellbeing.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

Bishop Jim Kelsey Dies in an Auto Accident

I am very sorry to read this news.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

Damon Darlin: More Advice Graduates Don’t Want to Hear

There may be another compelling reason to save and that is that while many aspects of retirement savings are predictable, the big unknowable is health care costs. “If you believe in the logic of the life cycle model, then once you get used to peanut butter, all else follows,” said Jonathan Skinner, a economics professor at Dartmouth College who has studied retirement issues and recently wrote a paper titled “Are You Sure You’re Saving Enough for Retirement?” for the National Bureau of Economic Research. “That’s the assumption that I am questioning: Do people want to be stuck in peanut butter in retirement?”

He said he came to the conclusion that a strategy to reduce retirement expenses “will be dwarfed by rapidly growing out-of-pocket medical expenses.” He noted projections based on the Health and Retirement Study, a survey of 22,000 Americans over the age of 50 sponsored by the National Institute on Aging found that by 2019, nearly a tenth of elderly retirees would be devoting more than half of their total income to out-of-pocket health expenses. He said, “These health care cost projections are perhaps the scariest beast under the bed.”

As Victor Fuchs, the professor emeritus of economics and health research and policy at Stanford University, told me, money is most useful when you are old because it makes all the difference whether you wait for a bus in the rain to get to the doctor’s appointment or you ride in a cab.

“Saving for retirement may ultimately be less about the golf condo at Hilton Head and more about being able to afford wheelchair lifts, private nurses and a high-quality nursing home,” Professor Skinner said.

His best advice for people in their 20s and 30s: maximize workplace matching contributions, seek automatic savings mechanisms like home mortgages and hope “that their generation can still look forward to solvent Social Security and Medicare programs.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly