Daily Archives: June 21, 2007

A NY Times Editorial: Mr. Bush’s Stem Cell Diversion

The executive order on stem cells issued by President Bush yesterday seeks to reorient research in new directions that may or may not pay off. But make no mistake, it is no substitute for the bill expanding embryonic stem cell research that Mr. Bush vetoed at the same time because it would involve the destruction of microscopic entities ”” smaller than the period at the end of this sentence ”” that the president deems a nascent form of life.

Both the Senate and the House, which passed the embryonic stem cell bill by comfortable but not veto-proof margins, need to summon the strength to override Mr. Bush’s veto, so that important research into possible cures for Parkinson’s, diabetes and other serious ailments can move ahead.

Mr. Bush knows that most Americans support embryonic stem cell research ”” while his political base does not ”” so yesterday he sought to at least blunt their dismay by touting new scientific studies focused on deriving potent stem cells from amniotic fluid, placentas and the skin of laboratory mice. Some of the alternative work is indeed promising. But almost all scientists in the field consider embryonic stem cell research the most promising. It is foolish to crimp that research by withholding federal funds to placate a minority of religious and social conservatives, including Mr. Bush, who deem the work unethical.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Life Ethics, Science & Technology

Christian Reformed Church to Study Kids' Access to Communion

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them,” Jesus told his disciples. But should that include taking Communion?

A lot of people in the Christian Reformed Church think so, but a lot don’t. So now a committee will help the church decide at what age young people should be able to partake of the Lord’s Supper.

The Faith Formation Committee has five years to come up with a statement on when youths should take Communion. At issue: whether children first must make a profession of faith, as now required, or whether being baptized is sufficient.

Those who feel any baptized child should have a place at the table got no support from the CRC’s recent Synod meeting here. Delegates soundly rejected a proposal to allow congregations that freedom while the study is under way.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Eucharist, Other Churches, Sacramental Theology, Theology

'Biblezines’ get 'the word' out

“Biblezines come from contemporary culture ”” what attracts kids,” Artl says, referring to research that includes focus groups. “Are they going to carry around a black leather Holy Bible or will they be more apt in their peer group to carry around a Biblezine? … As it turns out, that worked out very well.”

In theory, that’s a noble idea, says Stephen Chapman, a Duke Divinity School religion professor.

“It’s part of a well-intentioned effort to get the Bible out to people,” Chapman says. “But when the emphasis becomes so much on marketing, the Bible becomes just another commodity in the marketplace and this practice can reinforce a kind of commercialism that is in a deep sense at odds with a lot of what the Bible is trying to communicate.”

On one hand, he says, Biblezines like “Revolve” are great if it’s getting the targeted audience of young girls to read the Bible. But beauty tips and advice about boyfriends? Others are aimed at young boys.

“None of these things is bad but it’s a question in my mind about whether it belongs in the Bible,” Chapman says. “The danger is it can trivialize what Christians and Jews and others would see as a sacred text.”

A personal dislike of Chapman’s is a translation that personalizes biblical text ”” the 23rd Psalm’s “The Lord is my shepherd,” would be, “The Lord is Mike’s shepherd.”

“That just seems so extreme to me ”¦ it would be laughable if it wasn’t so extreme.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

From MSNBC: Journalists dole out cash to politicians (quietly)

The pattern of donations, with nearly nine out of 10 giving to Democratic candidates and causes, appears to confirm a leftward tilt in newsrooms ”” at least among the donors, who are a tiny fraction of the roughly 100,000 staffers in newsrooms across the nation.

The donors said they try to be fair in reporting and editing the news. One of the recurring themes in the responses is that it’s better for journalists to be transparent about their beliefs, and that editors who insist on manufacturing an appearance of impartiality are being deceptive to a public that already knows journalists aren’t without biases.

“Our writers are citizens, and they’re free to do what they want to do,” said New Yorker editor David Remnick, who has 10 political donors at his magazine. “If what they write is fair, and they respond to editing and counter-arguments with an open mind, that to me is the way we work.”

The openness didn’t extend, however, to telling the public about the donations. Apparently none of the journalists disclosed the donations to readers, viewers or listeners. Few told their bosses, either.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Economics, Politics

From the Vancouver Sun: Same-sex unions up for synod debate

The more than 300 delegates to this week’s Anglican General Synod will be deciding whether to follow the lead of Vancouver-area Bishop Michael Ingham, who drew both global praise and censure in 2002 when he first blessed same-sex couples.

With outspoken African Anglican leaders threatening to try to shove the Canadian denomination out of the 77-million-member global Anglican communion, the decisions Canada’s Anglicans make this week are being closely watched.

At a Fraser Valley meeting this month, Ingham told Anglicans he disagreed with the Canadian House of Bishops’ “surprising” vote in May to recommend a further delay, for three years, of a decision over whether to allow same-sex blessings to be approved by local dioceses.

However, the bishops did recommend Anglican priests offer communion to homosexual couples who had undergone civil unions.

Whatever the case, the bishops’ vote is not ultimately binding on delegates to the denomination’s once-every-three-years synod, a governing body with more authority than the bishops alone.

On Wednesday, both Ingham and Stephen Schuh, a gay Anglican from Vancouver, put forward a motion calling on the synod to affirm that it will still be acceptable for him to continue to sanction same-sex blessings in his diocese — no matter what delegates decide this week, probably on Saturday, to do nationally.

Read it all.

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

Some Colleges to Drop Out of U.S. News Rankings

From the New York Times:

The presidents of dozens of liberal arts colleges have decided to stop participating in the annual college rankings by U.S. News and World Report.

The decision was announced Tuesday at the end of an annual meeting of the Annapolis Group, a loose association of liberal arts colleges. After two days of private meetings here, the organization released a statement that said a majority of the 80 presidents attending had “expressed their intent not to participate in the annual U.S. News survey.”

The commitment, which some college presidents said was made by a large majority of participants, represents the most significant challenge yet to the rankings, adding colleges like Barnard, Sarah Lawrence and Kenyon to a growing rebellion against the magazine, participants said.

U.S. News says it provides a valuable service to parents and students in its yearly evaluations, which are based on factors that include graduation and retention rates, assessments by competitors, selectivity and faculty resources. Critics say the ranking system lacks rigor and has had a harmful effect on educational priorities, encouraging colleges to do things like soliciting more applicants and then rejecting them, to move up the list.

“We really want to reclaim the high ground on this discussion,” said Katherine Will, the president of Gettysburg College and the incoming president of the Annapolis Group. “We should be defining the conversation, not a magazine that uses us for its business plan.” The association did not take a formal vote and each college will make its own decision, Dr. Will said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

New Gallup data show confidence in Congress at all time low

From Frank Newport:

Just 14% of Americans have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in Congress.

This 14% Congressional confidence rating is the all-time low for this measure, which Gallup initiated in 1973. The previous low point for Congress was 18% at several points in the period of time 1991 to 1994.

Congress is now nestled at the bottom of the list of Gallup’s annual Confidence in Institutions rankings, along with HMOs. Just 15% of Americans have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in HMOs.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics

Study: Teen Online Chats Largely About Drugs, Sex

From WCBS TV:

Parents who think their teens’ online conversations with peers are innocent may want to reconsider. A new study shows 1 in 10 of their messages discuss drugs or sex.

The messages are posted on common online message boards.

“‘Crunked’ is like the cool way of saying ‘I got drunk,'” said 19-year-old Lucky O’Donnell. “‘Scag’ is one of the harder ones to figure out and that’s heroin.”

O’Donnell knows the risks all too well. He went online to find out where to get cocaine. He’s now in recovery.

“Mostly it was, where are we going to meet up to get it,” he said in reference to scoring some cocaine.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch

Martyn Davie on whether Anglicanism is a confessional Church

From here:

There are a number of points that need to be made…

Firstly, a distinction needs to be made between a ”˜confessing’ church and a ”˜confessional’ church. A ”˜confessing’ church is any church that confesses Christ and the gospel before the world as all Christians are called to do. A ”˜confessional’ church, on the other hand, is a church that adheres to certain specific statements of belief.

Secondly, it is clear that Anglicanism is not only a ”˜confessing’ tradition but also a ”˜confessional’ tradition in the sense that there are specific statements of belief to which the churches of the Communion individually and collectively subscribe. For example, the Catholic Creeds and the three ”˜historic formularies’ (The Thirty Nine Articles, the Book of Common Prayer and the 1662 Ordinal) are accepted as doctrinal authorities by the Church of England26 and for the Communion as a whole the Lambeth Quadrilateral sets out the Anglican understanding of what the visible unity of the Christian Church involves.

In his essay ”˜Where shall doctrine be found?’ in the 1981 Doctrine Commission report Believing in the Church, NT Wright suggests that a ”˜confession’ is a document: ”˜”¦in which the Church says to God, to the world, to itself and to the next generation, ”˜This is where we stand, and what we stand for.’’27 If the term ”˜confession’ is defined in this way it is clear that there is a strong confessional element to the Anglican tradition in the sense that are some documents that are seen by the Church of England and the other churches of the Communion as declaring where they stand and what they stand for.28

The issue of whether Anglicanism is confessional in nature has been confused by a long standing debate about (a) whether the Thirty Nine Articles should be seen as a confession of faith in the same sense as the confessions of faith produced by the Lutheran and Reformed churches during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and (b) whether the Articles have the same status within Anglicanism as, for example, the Augsburg Confession has within the Lutheran tradition or the Westminster Confession has had in parts of the Reformed tradition.

The answer to (a) is that from a historical point of view the Articles should be viewed as one of the confessions of the Reformation period. Much of the material in the Articles came from the Lutheran Augsburg and Wurtemberg confessions, the Articles had the same function as other Reformation confessions (namely to make clear what the Church of England stood for both in terms of its fundamental theology and in relation to specific issues of controversy) and the Articles were regarded as the Church of England’s confessional statement at the time when they were produced.29

The answer to (b) is that the Articles have had a rather different status to that enjoyed by the Augsburg or Westminster Confessions in the Lutheran and Reformed traditions because within Anglicanism the role of the Articles as a doctrinal authority has been balanced by the doctrinal importance that has been given to the liturgy and, in many parts of Anglicanism, to the witness of the Fathers of the first five centuries.

However, acceptance of this latter point does not negate the confessional nature of Anglicanism. It remains the case that there are documents that are seen as declaring, either explicitly or implicitly, what Anglicanism stands for. This in turn means that an Anglican covenant that re-stated where the churches of the Anglican Communion stand and what they stand for would not be alien to the Anglican tradition.

Thirdly, the fact that Anglicans have been willing to say either explicitly through statements of belief or implicitly through the liturgy ”˜This is where we stand and what we stand for’ means that Anglicanism already excludes those who are not able to accept in terms of either belief or practice what Anglicanism currently stands for. Thus someone who cannot make the Declaration of Assent contained in Canon C1530 cannot serve as either an ordained minister or a Reader in the Church of England. Similarly, a church that could not accept one or more of the elements of the Lambeth Quadrilateral could not be a member of the Anglican Communion.

This means that the development of a covenant will not mean a move from a non-confessional to a confessional Anglicanism or from a situation where everyone is accepted to a position where some begin to be excluded. The Anglican Communion is already, in the way just described, a confessional body of churches and, as such, one that upholds certain specific beliefs and practices to which not everyone is able to sign up.

What it might mean, and this is what people are afraid of, is that as the result of the covenant process the confessional basis of Anglicanism will become more detailed, with the forms of acceptable expression of Anglican theology being more precisely defined and the number of things that have to be accepted in order to be Anglican being increased, and that this will mean that some people who are currently part of the Anglican Communion will be forced out.

However, and this is the fourth point in this connection, there is nothing inevitable about a process whereby the development of a covenant leads to a narrower definition of Anglican belief and practice than that which currently exists. The churches of the Communion will decide collectively what the covenant contains in and it is entirely possible (and indeed likely) that what they will decide to do is simply ratify existing statements of Anglican belief and practice without adding to them in any way.

In any event, nothing will be able to be imposed on the Communion without the consent of the churches of the Communion and this means that any attempt to narrow down the confessional parameters of Anglicanism could only succeed if the Communion as whole decided to go in this direction and after a process in which opponents of such a move would have plenty of opportunity to argue their case.

It should also be noted that there is also a concern about exclusion among many conservative Anglicans. They fear that unless what they see as a drift towards unacceptable theological liberalism within Anglicanism is halted by clear theological boundary markers being laid down in an Anglican covenant, such liberalism will become the norm and they will end up being excluded either because of intolerance of traditional Anglicanism by liberal church authorities or because they will be conscientiously unable to remain in churches that deny the basic tents of Christian belief and behaviour.

“Anglicanism is not a confessional church” is one of the many false mantras one hears as almost a liturgical chorus these days from numerous leaders of The Episcopal Church. It is not only false in that it is not accord with our history, as Dr. Davie shows, but it is also contradicted every week in TEC nationwide in the liturgy when those participating in eucharist confess their faith in the Nicene Creed. The question rather is: Anglicanism is a confessing church in what sense? Read it all-KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Identity, Church History, Theology

Andrew Sullivan: The Church's Failure

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Religion & Culture

From the Columbus Dispatch: Only Adam and Eve?

“People certainly recognize that what happens within the Anglican community will be held up either as an example of overcoming your differences or what can happen when you divide,” said Dr. James Childs, a professor of theology and ethics at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Bexley.

“People see the debate and wonder, ‘Is this a world unraveling? Is this a disruption of the natural order? If we affirm this in the church, are we moving toward chaos?’ The answers remain to be seen.”

The governing body of his own denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is not immune. A February announcement that a popular gay minister at Atlanta’s oldest Lutheran church was being removed because he has a partner has renewed discussion about gay clergy members.

The matter is unresolved and is expected to be a focus of a meeting of the Lutherans in August.

The notion that the issue is escalating for many denominations, and that it may lead to unprecedented fracturing of churches, is well-founded, conservative Christians say.

“Individual Christians, Christian families, organizations and entire denominations must decide whether to affirm God’s word or not,” said Melissa Fryrear, director of gender issues for Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian organization.

“The Bible is clear on sexual behavior: It is between one man and one woman, only in marriage. There is no middle ground, and there are no loopholes.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Address to General Synod by Archbishop of York Dr. John Sentamu

In the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25, Jesus was telling his disciples that if you want to meet God face to face, the nearest you are going to come to it on this planet is to look into the faces of your brothers and sisters — and especially your sisters and brothers who have been declared unrighteous, unclean, unacceptable. It isn’t that we find God there; it is that God finds us there.

That is where our faith is nurtured and bears fruit. There, where we expect to meet monsters, we meet God instead. The opportunity to serve God lies there among the prisoners, the naked, the sick, the hungry, who have been reckoned to be least deserving of any service at all.

The vocation of the Anglican Communion is this. As Michael Ramsay said in ‘The Gospel and the Catholic Church,’ the centre of Anglicanism, her primary vocation is to witness to the perpetual passion of Christ’s body which must lead, according to the divine providence, into the heart of the gospel.

Proper penitence and a readiness to go willingly, and perhaps be lifted up, to suffer whatever sacrifices may be necessary for the visible unity of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

For this to happen we must die in order to bear fruit and be messengers of God’s redeeming love. We are called to die to the values of the world — greed for wealth, status and power; as well as our psychological tendencies: our desires and compulsions for success, to be loved, to be held in esteem, to be acclaimed by those in our group, to have, power and control over others. .It’s a call to disarm ourselves, to die to our plans and let God’s plans and ways take hold of us.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007, Church of England (CoE)

Still more from the Anglican Church of Canada's General Synod

The draft agenda is here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007

Anglican Journal Daily Number 1

Read it all from the Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007

Charlie Masters interviewed about Canadian General Synod on 100 Huntley Street Today

Watch it all (starts about 5:30 in).

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