Daily Archives: June 25, 2007
Fire also is a reality check. It uncovers the extent of the progress we have made towards loving and helping our neighbour or it displays the lack of trust among people who live cheek by jowl.
It is deeper than that of course. Why does an all loving God permit such destructive events like the Great Fire to happen, if we really cannot stomach the idea that He dooms the relatively innocent to illustrate a point about the over indulgent. It seems that God is either not loving or falls short of being all powerful.
Here the role of fire in visions of the end-time can help us. Such was the chaos of the obstinately metaphysical 17th century that sensible people recoiled from speculation about the end time. Enthusiasm in religion became suspect. At the end of the 17th century Archbishop Tillotson who had been a City Rector said “Stirring up men’s passions is like the muddying of the waters you see nothing clearly afterwards.” He had a point but the anaesthetising of the Christian community was only too successful. Christians became largely satisfied with the way things were. They gave up looking for a denouement, for what the New Testament calls ”“ The Kingdom.
Ultimately this raised questions about what the Church was for and whether God himself was just a piece of antique cultural baggage. I was in conversation last night with a group of spiritual searchers called Moot, serious and imaginative young people who find the church stale and oppressive. One of them said very reasonably, has the Anglican Church got a vision?
This is the beginnings of the answer which is being given by many Christians in London today. One of the Biblical truths which has been brought to light by the scientific discoveries of the past century is that we live in an unfinished universe. The universe is full of pain and travail as Paul says in his letter to the Romans. It groans in all its parts. It is sufficiently distinct from God both to have the potential of being suffused with love for the Creator but also the potential for disaster, for the fire which destroys but also reveals. We cannot see the future of the human race and the climax of the creation of which we are a part. They are out of our sight with God at the Omega point to which we are travelling.
What we know however as people of faith as we look back over the story so far is that there is disaster but also rescue. There is tragedy but always promise and hope. God as we see him in Jesus Christ, the human face of God, is not a nanny who keeps a tight grip on us lest anything untoward happen. He gives us freedom and has himself accepted the suffering that such freedom entails. God was in Christ full of promise loving the world into loving.
The Christian community is composed of those who have consciously made themselves a part of this story. They are building on the vision of human life that we are given in the life death and resurrection of Jesus. They are called to become his body on earth. They know that happiness and fulfilment does not come by having but by loving. They know that human life flowers not when it looks after number one but when it takes risks for the sake of my neighbour. They know with the ancient writers that we fall alone but we are saved together.
From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
So far, [Katharine Jefferts] Schori is speaking softly, but signaling that there may be a steel fist beneath the velvet glove.
Backed by the national church, the Diocese of Virginia has launched legal action to regain property of the breakaway congregations.
Schori said her approach is to act as the church’s chief pastor, keep dialogue going, and work toward “adaptive solutions” that will “hold us together” despite differences.
“If the pastoral responses fail, and there are attempts to destroy the structure, the way you respond is the structural way, the canonical way,” she said. “When you get out the big guns, the pastoral solution has failed.”
And, in the American way, the faithful may end up fighting it out in civil court.
From the New York Times:
Virtually every aspect of global migration can be seen in this tiny West African nation, where the number of people who have left approaches the number who remain and almost everyone has a close relative in Europe or America.
Migrant money buoys the economy. Migrant votes sway politics. Migrant departures split parents from children, and the most famous song by the most famous Cape Verdean venerates the national emotion, “Sodade,” or longing. Lofty talk of opportunity abroad mixes at cafe tables here with accounts of false documents and sham marriages.
The intensity of the national experience makes this barren archipelago the Galapagos of migration, a microcosm of the forces straining American politics and remaking societies across the globe.
From the New York Times:
The News Corporation, controlled by Rupert Murdoch, and advisers for Dow Jones and its controlling Bancroft family were close last night to agreeing on terms designed to protect The Wall Street Journal’s newsroom independence if the company accepts a takeover bid from Mr. Murdoch, according to several people briefed on the talks.
However, these people cautioned that a deal between Mr. Murdoch and the Bancrofts’ advisers did not mean that either the Dow Jones board or the family, which controls 64 percent of the shareholder votes, would approve the arrangement.
If an agreement on newsroom independence were to be made by the Dow Jones board, the News Corporation and the Bancroft family, the only barrier standing in the way of Mr. Murdoch’s control of The Wall Street Journal would be the selling price.
Mr. Murdoch has offered $60 a share for Dow Jones, which he has long wanted to add to his global media empire, and promises that he will not meddle in the news pages. But the Bancroft family, which has controlled the company for more than 100 years, is wary of his reputation for sensationalism and for interfering in the news operations of his media companies for his own political or financial ends.
Bishop Ingham, however, said the vote won’t make anyone happy. “A majority of people voted in favour. I think everyone’s a loser. Traditional Christians can’t take comfort in the vote and those who want to move on are held back by a small number of bishops. I think we need to look at the composition of the house of bishops and whether it properly reflects the Anglican Church of Canada.” There is a predominance of bishops from rural areas while the Canadian church is predominantly an urban church, he said.
“It was a vote to continue the (worldwide Anglican) Communion conversation and it was a vote of support for those bishops who said we will face difficulty in our dioceses. It puts us in a position of being asked to wait,” said Bishop John Privett of Kootenay.
However, observer Gordon Youngman, of the diocese of British Columbia, said the decision means “the Anglican Church of Canada is effectively paralyzed for the next three years.”
Chris Ambidge, national spokesman for an Anglican group that supports same-sex unions, said the national meeting sent mixed messages to Anglicans across Canada and was confusing to everyone who voted.
“What is wrong with having rights of blessing when you’ve already said it’s OK?” he said. “I just don’t understand that.”
Primate-elect Frederick Hiltz said the vote’s outcome showed that several bishops still want to wait and study the issue further. He said there will be an ongoing conversation about same-sex unions and that it will likely come up again at the next national meeting. Hiltz said the few parishes who were previously granted the right to bless same-sex unions in the church’s New Westminster diocese will continue to do so.
“The reality is we have a very divided Synod over this issue and that’s respective of a very divided church,” he said. “There’s no doubt that many people are disappointed as a result of the vote.”
The split threatens to divide Anglicans on either side, even forcing them to leave or switch churches.
Cheryl Chang, a spokesperson for Anglican Essentials, a group which opposes blessing same-sex unions, called Sunday’s vote a “divisive tragedy” for the entire church.
Although opponents of same-sex unions ultimately won, Chang said doctrine devotees believe blessing same-sex unions contradicts the church’s core doctrine. She said people who love scripture might look to the Catholic Church or other organized religions instead.
A razor-thin majority of Canada’s Anglican bishops yesterday overrode the wishes of their laity and clergy and vetoed a resolution that would have allowed for blessings of homosexual unions.
The bishops’ action will spare the Canadian church from censure by leaders of other branches of the global Anglican Communion, almost all of whom are vehemently opposed to blessing same-sex unions and permitting priests to be in open homosexual relationships.
But it will anger many Canadian Anglicans, particularly in large urban centres, and isolate the U.S. Episcopal Church, which alone in the worldwide Anglican Communion has approved a liturgy for same-sex blessings and appointed an openly gay bishop.
The resolution put to the Canadian church’s triennial general synod, or governing parliament, in Winnipeg, would have permitted blessings of committed same-sex unions in parish churches with the concurrence of the local bishop and “in a manner which respects the conscience of the incumbent [parish priest] and the will of the parish.”
More young people are interested in becoming priests in the Anglican Church after a long-term decline in recruitment, the Archbishop of Brisbane Philip Aspinall says.
Numbers were still low, about eight or nine a year, compared to only one or two, but the new wave of would-be recruits to the clergy were younger, Dr Aspinall told the annual synod in Brisbane on Saturday.
“The average age of those seeking long-term ministry in the church is now down to 33 – 10 years ago we had an ordination in which nobody was under 40,” Mr McDonald said.
He said last year 24 people took part in conferences to consider whether to seek vocations, and of those 21 were invited to enter formal training for various ministries.
“This increase in the number of people inquiring about ordination and entering formation for ordination is very heartening,” Dr Aspinall said.
THE surge of extra American troops into Iraq’s battered capital, which began in mid-February, is at last complete. An extra 21,000 of them are now there, bringing their tally in Baghdad up to 31,000-plus and nationwide to 155,000, the highest troop level since late 2005. Senior American officers say that a third of Baghdad now has a degree of “normalcy”; a third, especially those districts with a sectarian fault-line running through them, is still very violent; and a third is in flux.
Once the Americans have secured Baghdad, so the theory goes, they hope to tackle the so-called “belts” just outside Baghdad, in particular the nearby mainly Sunni towns to the south””Mahmudiya, Latifiya and Yusufiya””encompassing a “triangle of death” where al-Qaeda has been active in an area straddling a blurred line between Sunnis and Shias. By stemming the tide of a sectarian war, the Americans still hope to buttress Iraq’s Shia-led government while giving it a last chance to co-opt a serious Sunni component.
The top American general in Iraq, David Petraeus, who is to report on progress to the American Congress in mid-September, cautions against impatient expectations. He is likely to ask for more time. The commonest guess is that the surge will last at least until next spring and perhaps into the early summer. This week General Petraeus said that counter-insurgency operations sometimes last “nine or ten years” before they bring success””yet it is highly unlikely that a new American administration would consider such a timescale.
In any event, though it is still too early to make firm predictions about the surge, the overall level of violence in Iraq has so far not abated.
Gordon Brown, Britain’s next prime minister, on Sunday promised a foreign policy that recognizes that defeating terrorism is as much a struggle of ideas as a military battle – a lesson he said was drawn from Iraq.
As he took control of the governing Labour Party from Tony Blair, Brown said Britain would “learn lessons that need to be learned.”
Britain’s future foreign policy will “reflect the truth that to isolate and defeat terrorist extremism now involves more than military force,” Brown told a conference of party members in Manchester, northern England.
“It is also a struggle of ideas and ideals that in the coming years will be waged and won for hearts and minds here at home and round the world.”
By the slimmest possible margin in the order of bishops, Resolution A187 which would have allowed dioceses to choose to approve SSBs has been DEFEATED.
The vote was by orders. It only failed by the vote of TWO BISHOPS in the house of bishops.
In Favor / Opposed
Laity 78 / 59 Passed
Clergy 63 / 53 Passed
Bishops 19 / 21 Failed
The original motion:
Resolution Number: A187
Subject: Blessing of Same Sex Unions
BE IT RESOLVED:
That this General Synod affirm the authority and jurisdiction of any diocesan synod, with the concurrence of its bishop, to authorize the blessing of committed same sex unions.
The final amended form of the motion
That this General Synod affirm the authority and juristiction of any
a) with the concurrence of the diocesan bishop, and
b) in a manner than respects the conscience of the incumbent and the will of the parish,
to authorise the blessing of committed same sex unions