Daily Archives: June 17, 2007

A Seattle Episcopal Priest says: "I am both Muslim and Christian"

From the Seattle Times:

Some religious scholars understand Redding’s thinking.

While the popular Christian view is that Jesus is God and that he came to Earth and took on a human body, other Christians believe his divinity means that he embodied the spirit of God in his life and work, said Eugene Webb, professor emeritus of comparative religion at the University of Washington.

Webb says it’s possible to be both Muslim and Christian: “It’s a matter of interpretation. But a lot of people on both sides do not believe in interpretation. ”

Ihsan Bagby, associate professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky, agrees with Webb, and adds that Islam tends to be a little more flexible. Muslims can have faith in Jesus, he said, as long as they believe in Mohammed’s message.

Other scholars are skeptical.

“The theological beliefs are irreconcilable,” said Mahmoud Ayoub, professor of Islamic studies and comparative religion at Temple University in Philadelphia. Islam holds that God is one, unique, indivisible. “For Muslims to say Jesus is God would be blasphemy.”

Frank Spina, an Episcopal priest and also a professor of Old Testament and biblical theology at Seattle Pacific University, puts it bluntly.

“I just do not think this sort of thing works,” he said. “I think you have to give up what is essential to Christianity to make the moves that she has done.

“The essence of Christianity was not that Jesus was a great rabbi or even a great prophet, but that he is the very incarnation of the God that created the world…. Christianity stands or falls on who Jesus is.”

Spina also says that as priests, he and Redding have taken vows of commitment to the doctrines of the church. “That means none of us get to work out what we think all by ourselves.”

Redding knows there are many Christians and Muslims who will not accept her as both.

“I don’t care,” she says. “They can’t take away my baptism.” And as she understands it, once she’s made her profession of faith to become a Muslim, no one can say she isn’t that, either.

Read the whole article.

Update: A previous thread on this story (an interview with Anne Redding in the Diocese of Olympia “Episcopal Voice”) is here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Islam, Other Faiths, TEC Parishes, Theology

Washington Post: More U.S. Episcopalians Look Abroad Amid Rift

The Anglican archbishop of Rwanda was first, then his counterpart in Nigeria. Now Kenya’s Anglican archbishop is taking a group of U.S. churches under his authority, and Uganda’s archbishop may be next.

African and, to a lesser extent, Southeast Asian and Latin American prelates are racing to appoint American bishops and to assume jurisdiction over congregations that are leaving the Episcopal Church, particularly since its consecration of a gay bishop in New Hampshire in 2003.

So far, the heads, or primates, of Anglican provinces overseas have taken under their wings 200 to 250 of the more than 7,000 congregations in the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of Anglicanism. Among their gains are some large and wealthy congregations — including several in Northern Virginia — that bring international prestige and a steady stream of donations.

The foreign influx is a consequence of the rift in the 2.3 million-member U.S. church, and explanations of what it’s really all about depend on what side of that divide you’re on, said the Rev. Ian T. Douglas, a professor of world mission and global Christianity at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass.

“It can either be read as the next step in a grand plan to replace the Episcopal Church, or it can be read as a splintering of the conservatives and a competition for who is going to be the real leader of disaffected U.S. congregations,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

Christ Church Midland to worship at home again

Stasney and Jacobs say the building is just the first phase in what they see as a growing project.

“If we grow the way we expect that we will grow … in three to five years, we will be overcrowded,” Jacobs said. “We are excited about it.”

[Ugandan Bishop Dunstan] Bukenya, who Stasney said traveled 8,000 miles to bless the church, was pleased with the project.

“I want to thank Father Jon (Stasney) and his team for producing that wonderful facility,” he said. “When a church is built, it is meant to nurture people … I hope it will be a center for growth here in the city.”

Though Stasney was excited about the new building, inhabiting it has come with a price — a non-monetary one.

In the two years it took to raise the money and construct the facility, Stasney said his congregation has been embraced by, and cooperated often with, the Midland church community.

“When we were ‘on the streets’ with nowhere to go, we were taken in immediately by Mid-Cities Church,” he said. “They gave us office space.

“Midland Classical Academy offered us space to worship (and) St. Stephen’s offered us space and loaned us two wooden crosses, a small altar and wooden pew chairs.”

Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity become the church’s homes for weddings, funerals and other church functions, he said, while other churches such as True-Lite Christian Fellowship, First Methodist and First Presbyterian also offered support and supplies.

Donations have come in from across the state and beyond, he said, with sizable donations coming in from as far away as Virginia.

“We’ve been very well supported,” he said. “It’s been a time of work and fellowship.”

Read it all.

Note also the parochial data of the Christ Church Midland Episcopal parish here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

Executive Council Decision Critized by the Diocese of Quincy

From the Peoria Journal-Star:

The dioceses of Quincy, San Joaquin, Pittsburgh and Fort Worth were singled out, said the Rev. Jan Nunley, deputy director of the denomination’s communications office, “because they (the dioceses) had passed amendments that had basically said if there was disagreement between the diocese and The Episcopal Church, that they no longer acceded to our constitution and canons.”

“What (the resolution) simply said is those amendments to those constitutions . . . are null and void,” Nunley said.

She said the changes referred to had been made within the past three years.

However, Bishop Keith Ackerman as well as retired Quincy Bishops Edward MacBurney and Donald Parsons and diocesan chancellor Tad Brenner said the diocese hasn’t changed its constitution since at least 1993. The constitution states that the diocese “accedes” to the national constitution “contingent upon the continuing consent of the diocesan synod.”

Ackerman said the council’s actions have no real teeth anyway.

Read it all.

Update: Episcope has more on this here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons

Episcopalians decline to stop noncelibate gay unions or clergy

From Religion News Service:

The church’s 40-member Executive Council, which is headed by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, also declined a proposal from Anglican archbishops to create a separate church structure for conservatives who reject her leadership.

The panel, meeting in Parsippany, N.J., questioned overseas archbishops’ power to “impose deadlines and demands upon any of the churches of the Anglican Communion or to prescribe the relationships within … our common life.”

The Executive Council declined to give a “yes or no, up or down decision,” to all of the archbishops’ demands, said the Rev. Lee Alison Crawford, a council member and rector of St. Mary’s Parish in Northfield, Vt.

But Crawford said the council provided “a strong affirmation that the Episcopal Church is not going to go backward from the commitment to our (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) brothers and sisters.”

Last February, primates — or top archbishops — in the worldwide Anglican Communion demanded Episcopalians pledge to stop consecrating gay bishops, halt blessings for same-sex unions and cede some authority to oversees Anglicans to minister to disaffected U.S. conservatives. The U.S. church was given a deadline of Sept. 30 or face “consequences.”

Generally, the Executive Council is charged with making decisions for the 2.2 million-member church between its triennial General Conventions. On Thursday, the council said the archbishops’ demands could only be considered at General Convention — next scheduled for 2009 — thus essentially putting off the primates’ demands.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007

Man in wheelchair takes ride on semi's grille

A young man has quite the story to tell after his wheelchair got lodged in the grille of a semi truck, which pushed the chair and the man inside for five miles down a road.

Muscular dystrophy forced Ben Carpenter, 22, of Alamo into a wheelchair eight years ago. He was on one of his twice-weekly outings, this time in Paw Paw around 4 p.m. Wednesday.

As he crossed Red Arrow Highway in front of a semi truck, he didn’t make the traffic light. The truck driver apparently didn’t see Carpenter and a collision occurred, causing the wheelchair’s handles to become lodged in the truck’s grille.

Carpenter remembers the sound. “Kind of like train cars coming together, something like that,” he told 24 Hour News 8.

Unable to hear Carpenter’s cries for help over the hum of the diesel engine, the truck driver continued down Red Arrow Highway at speeds of approximately 50 mph.

“It was fast, I know that. Faster than this chair was made to go,” Carpenter said.

“I was thinking, the cars keep going by and nobody bothered to stop.”

Read it all and if you have time listen to the 911 calls.

Posted in * General Interest

The Economist Cover Story: Biology's Big Bang

NATURE is full of surprises. When atoms were first proved to exist (and that was a mere century ago), they were thought to be made only of electrons and protons. That explained a lot, but it did not quite square with other observations. Then, in 1932, James Chadwick discovered the neutron. Suddenly everything made sense””so much sense that it took only another 13 years to build an atomic bomb.

It is probably no exaggeration to say that biology is now undergoing its “neutron moment”. For more than half a century the fundamental story of living things has been a tale of the interplay between genes, in the form of DNA, and proteins, which the genes encode and which do the donkey work of keeping living organisms living. The past couple of years, however, have seen the rise and rise of a third type of molecule, called RNA.

The analogy is not perfect. Unlike the neutron, RNA has been known about for a long time. Until the past couple of years, however, its role had seemed restricted to fetching and carrying for DNA and proteins. Now RNA looks every bit as important as those two masters. It may, indeed, be the main regulator of what goes on in a cell””the cell’s operating system, to draw a computing analogy””as well as the author of many other activities (see article). As important, molecular biologists have gone from thinking that they know roughly what is going on in their subject to suddenly realising that they have barely a clue.

That might sound a step backwards; in fact, it is how science works.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology

Some Buyers Grow Web-Weary, and Online Sales Lose Steam

From the New York Times:

Has online retailing entered the Dot Calm era?

Since the inception of the Web, online commerce has enjoyed hypergrowth, with annual sales increasing more than 25 percent over all, and far more rapidly in many categories. But in the last year, growth has slowed sharply in major sectors like books, tickets and office supplies.

Growth in online sales has also dropped dramatically in diverse categories like health and beauty products, computer peripherals and pet supplies. Analysts say it is a turning point and growth will continue to slow through the decade.

The reaction to the trend is apparent at Dell, which many had regarded as having mastered the science of selling computers online, but is now putting its PCs in Wal-Mart stores. Expedia has almost tripled the number of travel ticketing kiosks it puts in hotel lobbies and other places that attract tourists.

The slowdown is the result of several forces. Sales on the Internet are expected to reach $116 billion this year, or 5 percent of all retail sales, making it harder to maintain the same high growth rates. At the same time, consumers seem to be experiencing Internet fatigue and are changing their buying habits.

John Johnson, 53, who sells medical products to drug stores and lives in San Francisco, finds that retailers have livened up their stores to be more alluring.

Read it all.

Update: Don Surber has more here.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet

Bishop Ingham to Presiding Bishop: Learn From Canadian Mistakes

From The Living Church:

When Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams visits the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church in September, meeting planners should learn from scheduling mistakes made in preparing for Archbishop Williams’ visit with the Canadian House of Bishops last spring, according to the Rt. Rev. Michael Ingham, Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster and the Canadian observer to Executive Council.

Executive Council is meeting June 11-14 in Parsippany, N.J. Bishop Ingham addressed a plenary session of council June 13.

“I think there was a design flaw,” Bishop Ingham said. “I don’t know who prepared the schedule, but we did not give [Archbishop Williams] a chance to ask us questions.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC)

From The Vancouver Sun: His house divided

There is an aura of stripped down, straightforward African directness about Rev. Ed Hird.

Sitting in short pants on this humid day in the spartan hallways of a former North Vancouver public elementary school that now houses his congregation, the Canadian leader of a breakaway Anglican faction talks about how liberating it feels to serve under the authority of the conservative Archbishop of Rwanda, Emmanuel Kolini.

After endless emotional battles within the Vancouver-area diocese of New Westminster over what Hird considers its appalling and sinful decision in 2002 to sanction the blessing of homosexual relationships, the spunky priest and his congregation said goodbye two years ago to the Deep Cove Anglican sanctuary in which they’d worshipped.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces

Anglican Kenyans name U.S. bishop

From the Washington Times:

Mr. Atwood has been active overseas for years as the head of the Ekklesia Society, a mission and development organization. As chaplain for international affairs for the Argentina-based Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, he has been a behind-the-scenes player at gatherings of the world’s Anglican archbishops.
Mr. Atwood said he was told last month during a visit to Nairobi that his name was up for suffragan bishop and informed June 5 that the Kenyan House of Bishops had approved him. He said the 6-million-member Kenyan church decided to establish its own outreach on American soil because of a few differences — it allows the ordination of women — with other Africans.
“These people are currently under Kenyan bishops now and they don’t want to surrender the distinctives of the Kenyan church,” Mr. Atwood said. “It has magnificent liturgies people are loving and using. People are not chess pieces to move around on a board.”
Episcopal officials have complained bitterly about African bishops establishing footholds on their territory. Foreign bishops, however, say they wish to offer sanctuary to beleaguered conservatives.
“We are wasting a lot of time with this,” Archbishop Nzimbi said of the infighting. “We want to preach the Gospel; that’s why Kenya wants someone in the United States.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

Peter Cook: Removing Barriers

From The Living Church:

So irreconcilable are the forces that alienate humanity from itself, that only God can finally remove barriers that divide men or divide nations, and that man needs to receive from within the heart of God “one new man in place of the two” (a truly new humanity). The wonder of such reconciliation is that it appears within the human heart only at God’s initiation, and often in the face of human hostility. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received our reconciliation” (Rom. 5:10f.).

When the NT talks about this human experience of godly reconciliation, whether in relationship with God himself, with fellow Christians, as God’s gift of social harmony, or as a gospel for struggling humanity, what is presupposed is that full reconciliation is possible only when the human heart is healed, or man is recreated into the image (likeness) of God. As Paul puts it in 2
Corinthians: “(We are a new creation) All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation” (5:18f.).

One thing that is very obvious when one looks seriously at scriptural terms which still enjoy usage in current culture is the depth differential that scriptural terminology has compared to its popular usage. This is particularly true of the term “reconciliation.” In no way can human notions of “accommodation” or “toleration” mine the depths of a serious Christian understanding of reconciliation.

To content oneself with the mere surface findings of human understanding is like a mining engineer in search of precious metal being content with findings at ground or surface level (with strip mining), as opposed to mining at depths that reach into the mother lode itself. “Reconciliation” properly mined from its scriptural depths brings truth that touches the very heart of human experience, whether material, emotional, mental or spiritual.

If reconciliation is what we truly want in our Christian experience, in our Christian fellowship, in our Communion, then it is down to those scriptural depths that we will need to dig for understanding.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The New York Times Obituary for Ruth Graham

Ruth Bell Graham was born on June 20, 1920, to Presbyterian missionaries in northern China. Her father, Dr. Lemuel Nelson Bell, ran the Presbyterian hospital in Qingjiang; her mother was the former Virginia Leftwich.

In his 1979 book, “Bill Graham: A Parable of American Righteousness,” Marshall Frady wrote that when Ruth was a child, she “used to pray every night that the Lord would let her be a martyr before the end of the year,” and that she would be “captured by bandits and beheaded, killed for Jesus’ sake.”

Ruth was sent to what is now North Korea in her high school years and then, at 19, to Wheaton College, near Chicago. Her dream was to become a missionary in either China or Tibet. But her plans changed when she met Billy Graham, who was also a student at Wheaton.

“I have just met a wonderful girl,” Mr. Graham wrote to his mother, as quoted by Mr. Frady. “Her name is Ruth Bell. She looks a little like you and even her voice sounds like you. This is the girl I am going to marry.”

She was an attractive young woman who wore lipstick, she later explained, because “Mother had always hoped we wouldn’t look like the pickings out of a missionary barrel.”

“It didn’t seem to me a credit to Christ to be drab.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Parish Ministry

The South Carolina Lowcountry overdue for a big wallop

From the front page of the local paper, the Charleston, S.C., Post and Courier:

When it comes to hurricanes, statistically speaking, our time is up.

That’s what the National Hurricane Center in Miami said in a recent recalculation of “return periods,” the average number of years between major hurricanes.

Using historical data, the hurricane center said Charleston should expect a Category 3 or higher hurricane every 15 years.

Hugo slammed into South Carolina 18 years ago.

“We’re slightly overdue,” said Jon Jelsema, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Charleston.

The study, titled “The deadliest, costliest, and most intense United States Tropical Cyclones from 1851 to 2006,” shows which cities are likely to get walloped the most.

Miami tops the list with a return period of just nine years; Cape Hatteras is second at 11 years.

Ugh. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Climate Change, Weather

Canadian Anglicans gather as threat of schism looms

From Canwest News Service:

Whatever they may believe, one theologian says at the heart of all the wrangling about sexuality is a more profound disagreement over 400-year-old Anglican doctrine.

“The debate around the blessing of same-sex unions really is a discussion on whether the Bible is the word of God still today or not,” says Rev. Charlie Masters, director of Anglican Essentials, a group of conservative Anglicans. “This is why the (global leaders) of the Anglican Communion have been so strong in their dealing with both the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church of the United States.”

For gay and lesbian Anglicans, however, the same-sex issue is itself a core question, and some say if the church rejects the idea, significant numbers of clerics in Canada will simply perform blessings anyway, creating the conditions for schism.

That in turn could lead to debilitating rounds of litigation, as priests and parishes on either side of the dispute battle in the courts over Anglican properties and financial assets.

Chris Ambidge, who leads the Toronto chapter of Integrity, a group of gay and lesbian Anglicans, acknowledges that same-sex couples could simply get married outside the church, or transfer their worship, as many already have, to more welcoming denominations such as the United Church.

But Ambidge says many couples have personal allegiances to local Anglican churches, and have a real need for public recognition of their relationships in their own parishes.

“Why are we asking for church ‘blessings’ in a country where we can already be legally married?” Ambidge says. “Because there’s a pastoral emergency – there are Christians who are getting older, who want to be married in church, but who are willing to settle for blessings now, and the church needs to minister pastorally to them.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)