Daily Archives: July 16, 2007

Leading conservative: West Newbury rector to become bishop

The Rev. William Murdoch, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church, was an early and sharp critic of the 2003 ordination of an openly gay man as bishop of New Hampshire. Next month, Murdoch will become a bishop himself, in a conservative Anglican group that is embracing congregations dissatisfied with the Episcopal church’s position on homosexuality and other issues.

Murdoch says the current crisis in the Episcopal church has deep roots that extend beyond the ordination of gay clergy, an issue at the center of a growing global divide in the worldwide Anglican communion, of which the Episcopal Church is a part. Murdoch blames what he terms a “lack of clarity” from Episcopal leaders on the direction of the church.

But he’s clear in the direction he’d like for himself and his parish. It includes remaining part of the worldwide Anglican communion, made up of nearly 80 million members in 38 regional or national churches, but not necessarily the Episcopal church.

On Aug. 30, Murdoch and an Episcopal priest from Texas will be consecrated suffragan bishops by the Anglican Church of Kenya’s Provincial Synod, to provide oversight for congregations in the U.S. that place themselves under Kenyan jurisdiction.

Murdoch will remain rector of All Saints Church even as he takes on this nationwide role.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Communion Network, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

From the London Sunday Times: Viagra nation

Clearly, the drug’s effect is highly individual. And there is growing concern that for some users it may be psychologically addictive. In America, Jerry Springer was one of the first to go public with a claim of dependency on Viagra, and more recently the lurid evidence in the trial of the murderers of the 66-year-old Earl of Shaftesbury included allegations that his addiction to a combination of Viagra and testosterone had turned him from a kindly old man into a compulsive “dragueur”, prowling the ritzy clubs of the Côte d’Azur in search of high-class prostitutes. The party that led to the death of Stuart Lubbock at the home of the disgraced Michael Barrymore also involved Viagra. And in the US, a rise in HIV in elderly men has been attributed to it, though Pfizer has so far resisted demands for safe-sex warnings on packaging.

Raoul Felder, a New York divorce lawyer, claims to have dealt with over 100 “viagramony” divorces. Rates of sexually transmitted disease in pensioners are increasing in affluent retirement communities where invigorated elderly men finding themselves shunned by their elderly wives are picking up prostitutes. “You get them cruising the red-light area looking for prostitutes and contracting venereal diseases,” says Felder. “Not surprisingly, that too leads to divorce.”

Warning–the content of this article may not be suitable for some blog readers. For those interested, read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Sexuality

Alden Hathaway: Distractions Hinder African Outreach

For 10 years I have been going to East Africa, taking solar equipment to electrify homes and schools, orphanages, offices, hospitals, clinics, and whole villages in the rural hinterlands of Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. I have 10 years of experience leading teams of American young people and African youth into the bush to install the equipment and to witness what a transformation electricity makes in the lives of people and the development of their communities.

On our first mission trip, we went to the verge of the impenetrable forest to install small solar units in two cinderblock houses the government had built for some resettled pygmies. These strange little people sang, “You came all the way from America to bring us the light. ”˜Tukutendereza Jesu’.”

Over those years we have seen and done a lot….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

In Europe God is (Not) Dead

From Saturday’s Wall Street Journal

In Europe, God Is (Not) Dead
Christian groups are growing, faith is more public.
Is supply-side economics the explanation?
July 14, 2007; Page A1


Late last year, a Swedish hotel guest named Stefan Jansson grew upset when he found a Bible in his room. He fired off an email to the hotel chain, saying the presence of the Christian scriptures was “boring and stupefying.” This spring, the Scandic chain, Scandinavia’s biggest, ordered the New Testaments removed.

In a country where barely 3% of the population goes to church each week, the affair seemed just another step in Christian Europe’s long march toward secularism. Then something odd happened: A national furor erupted. A conservative bishop announced a boycott. A leftist radical who became a devout Christian and talk-show host denounced the biblical purge in newspaper columns and on television. A young evangelical Christian organized an electronic letter-writing campaign, asking Scandic: Why are you removing Bibles but not pay-porn on your TVs?

Scandic, which had started keeping its Bibles behind the front desk, put the New Testament back in guest rooms.

“Sweden is not as secular as we thought,” says Christer Sturmark, head of Sweden’s Humanist Association, a noisy assembly of nonbelievers to which the Bible-protesting hotel guest belongs.

After decades of secularization, religion in Europe has slowed its slide toward what had seemed inevitable oblivion. There are even nascent signs of a modest comeback. Most church pews are still empty. But belief in heaven, hell and concepts such as the soul has risen in parts of Europe, especially among the young, according to surveys. Religion, once a dead issue, now figures prominently in public discourse.

The full article is here.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Religion & Culture

Cheney pushes Bush to act on Iran

The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favour of military action before President George Bush leaves office in 18 months, the Guardian has learned.

The shift follows an internal review involving the White House, the Pentagon and the state department over the last month. Although the Bush administration is in deep trouble over Iraq, it remains focused on Iran. A well-placed source in Washington said: “Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military

Ezra Klein: Land of the overworked and tired

THE MOST astonishing revelations in Michael Moore’s “Sicko” have nothing to do with healthcare. They’re about vacation time. French vacation time, to be precise.

Sitting at a restaurant table with a bunch of American ex-pats in Paris, Moore is treated to a jaw-dropping recitation of the perks of social democracy: 30 days of vacation time, unlimited sick days, full child care, social workers who come to help new parents adjust to the strains and challenges of child-rearing. Walking out of the theater, I heard more envious mutterings about this scene than any other.

“Why can’t we have that?” my fellow moviegoers asked.

The first possibility is that we already do. Maybe that perfidious Michael Moore is just lying in service of his French paymasters. But sadly, no. A recent report by Rebecca Ray and John Schmitt of the Center for Economic and Policy Research suggests that Moore is, if anything, understating his case. “The United States,” they write, “is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation.” Take notice of that word “only.” Every other advanced economy offers a government guarantee of paid vacation to its workforce. Britain assures its workforce of 20 days of guaranteed, compensated leave. Germany gives 24. And France gives, yes, 30.

We guarantee zero. Absolutely none. That’s why one out of 10 full-time American employees, and more than six out of 10 part-time employees, get no vacation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy

Stephen Noll Joins the Blogosphere

Good for him.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Blogging & the Internet, Church of Uganda, Episcopal Church (TEC)

An Open Letter to the Executive Council: Where is the Money Coming From?

[sent to the HOB/D listserv and posted on various blogs, including Stand Firm, where this elf first saw it]

Where is the Money Coming From?

An Open Letter to the Executive Council

July 14, 2007

Dear Council Members:

We, the undersigned, protest the recent actions of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church. Leveling charges and threats of litigation at four dioceses of the Episcopal Church constitutes an outrageous example of exacerbating rather than reconciling the divisions in this church.

The Episcopal Church is already involved in expensive lawsuits in Los Angeles, Virginia, Florida, San Diego, New York and elsewhere. Now the Executive Council is threatening even more legal action against four dioceses who affirm their membership in the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. They are trying to keep unity in their dioceses by declaring in their constitutions that they will abide by the doctrine and practice of the Historic Catholic Church and to Holy Scriptures.

Many formerly faithful Episcopalians, congregations and individuals have chosen to depart and affiliate elsewhere, including many who have gone to other Anglican Provinces. Some of you might not care about this tragic daily hemorrhaging of the life blood of the Episcopal Church, but we grieve over it. And, we, in the name of the living God, declare that by litigation you may win possession of some buildings and land, but you will never get the people back by the most potent litigation that money can buy. The Episcopal Church has the capacity to bankrupt and destroy all of the congregations and dioceses that dare to meet the Episcopal Church in court. But that will not get the people back. We would like to know, where the money is coming from in order to conduct this litigation, especially in view of the fact that the program budget is being reduced because insufficient funds are being received from dioceses.

We ask you, our Executive Council, to make a public report of how much money the Episcopal Church has spent in recent years on court costs and attorney fees in these extensive litigations. In what budget is it accounted for? Has any income from trust funds been used to support these litigations? How much and from which funds? How much compensation has the law firm of the Episcopal Church’s chancellor, David Beers, received, for servicing this litigation? An open and transparent disclosure is crucially important to avoid speculation, rumors and consequent distrust of the Episcopal Church.

+Maurice M. Benitez, Bishop of Texas, Retired
+ C.F. Allison, Bishop of South Carolina, Retired
+Alex D.Dickson, Bishop of West Tennessee, Retired
+ William C. Wantland, Bishop of Eau Claire, Retired

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

Pastor's Plight Shows Burden of Student Debt

The bill is aimed at helping borrowers like Dan Lozer. Twenty-five years ago, Lozer borrowed $15,000 in student loans to attend divinity school. He has paid back much more than that, yet he still owes nearly twice as much.

Lozer has never been paid more than $25,000 a year.

In his job, he counsels cash-strapped parishioners. He works at a soup kitchen, and he buries the souls of those who died with nothing in the pauper’s cemetery by the river.

Lozer, too, knows he will die in debt.

By the time Lozer was supposed to begin repaying his student loans, he was only earning minimum wage. His student-loan bills were nearly half his income. He couldn’t pay them, so he fell into default.

He has been there ever since. Because he was in default, the government could garnishee his wages, seize his tax refunds, even take his Social Security checks. It means he can’t borrow money for a house or a car.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Of Disparate Faiths, but of Like Mind on Dress Code

From yesterday’s New York Times, page B5:

On a Saturday morning in September 1987, Eric Stern stood before the congregation of a Queens synagogue, chanting the Torah part for his bar mitzvah. His passage spanned several chapters of Deuteronomy and was notable for containing 74 of the 613 commandments that govern observant Jewish life.

One verse stipulated that a woman should never wear male clothing, or vice versa, or else be “abhorrent” in the eyes of God. The rule forms one strand in the fabric of biblical statements and Talmudic commentaries that espouse and indeed hallow a concept of modesty, known by the Hebrew word “tznius.”

About the same time that Mr. Stern was intoning the religious dress code, a teenage girl, Tahita Jenkins, was learning the same concept from the same passage a few neighborhoods away in Far Rockaway. Ms. Jenkins, though, happened to be an African-American Christian, and her Pentecostal church imbued her with the belief that, among other things, a woman should never wear pants.

While Ms. Jenkins gave over to that particular temptation a few times in high school, she stuck with long skirts all through her studies in technical college and jobs with a bank, hospital, grocery store and three bus companies. Only when she was hired as a New York City bus driver two months ago did her attire become an object of controversy, leading to her dismissal.

The dismissal, in turn, brought her to Mr. Stern, who is now her lawyer, and to a seemingly unlikely partnership that is, on closer inspection, altogether logical. The common bond of Orthodox Jew and Pentecostal Christian is a belief in the right of a devout person to dress according to religious belief, without the risk of being fired.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture

Episcope does some Follow up on former Porn actor New York Times Article posted Yesterday

…but hold it just a minute there, folks. Haven’t we heard this trope before? About a guy named McGreevey? And remember how that ended–much ado about nothing?

Well, it turns out that’s what we’ve got here: some incredibly sloppy reporting that’s frankly unworthy of the venerable New York Times.

Your epiScope editor, who spent her youth as a reporter when Woodward and Bernstein were the heroes, decided to track down what really happened by talking to Mr. Boyer’s rector, the Rev. Hank Mitchel–which is more than reporter Waxman managed to do. Let’s go through the story, bit by painfully distorted bit.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Pornography

Richard Kew: The Jesus Way and the Chaos in the Episcopal Church

Like many others, during the last several years I have wrestled over what is the appropriate and godly way to respond to the crisis that has enveloped all of us in the Episcopal Church. Like many, I have explored a variety of options in terms of action and attitude, and come away dissatisfied. Sometimes it seems almost impossible to maintain a balanced commitment to revealed truth, countering error, reconciliation, grace, forgiveness, the unity of the church, and biblical moral and ethical values. I can’t think how many times I have wished that there were some simple formula that could be readily applied.

For many years I have bought and read everything Eugene Peterson writes, for there are few theologians who marry, as he does, careful scholarship, perceptive pastoral insight and an abiding and tested commitment to catholic values of the faith. So, a couple of months ago I picked up Peterson’s latest extended essay on pastoral theology, The Jesus Way.

I started into it thinking it would give me helpful insights into my own personal discipleship, which it has, but it has also given me clues to help me address this thorny ecclesiastical controversy in a manner that is worthy of my Lord. Certainly, Peterson does not come up with those illusive easy answers, but identifies patterns of believing and being from the Scriptures, the life of Christ, and his contemporaries that if taken seriously have the capacity to begin the process of breaking the present impasse.

And impasse it is, with none of the actions of any side within going anywhere other than digging us ever deeper into the mire. While fudging the issues before us is not going to be a solution, neither is the hand-to-hand combat which we are treated to each day. It occurs to me that Eugene Peterson’s insights might help us find our way out of this dark jungle of our own making.

Read it all.

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

Study: Less sex, more condoms among teens

From the Associated Press:

Fewer high school students are having sex these days, and more are using condoms. The teen birth rate has hit a record low.

More young people are finishing high school, too, and more little kids are being read to, according to the latest government snapshot on the well-being of the nation’s children. It’s good news on a number of key wellness indicators, experts said of the report being released Friday.

“The implications for the population are quite positive in terms of their health and their well-being,” said Edward Sondik, director of the National Center for Health Statistics. “The lower figure on teens having sex means the risk of sexually transmitted diseases is lower.”

In 2005, 47 percent of high school students ”” 6.7 million ”” reported ever having had sexual intercourse, down from 54 percent in 1991. The rate of those who reported having had sex has remained the same since 2003.

Thirty-four percent of the students reported having had sex during a three-month period in 2005. Of those, 63 percent ”” about 3 million ”” used condoms. That’s up from 46 percent in 1991.

The teen birth rate, the report said, was 21 per 1,000 young women ages 15-17 in 2005 ”” an all-time low. It was down from 39 births per 1,000 teens in 1991.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sexuality, Teens / Youth

Episcopalians' struggle comes to Fort Worth

From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

Area residents will get a close-up look this month at the decades-long rift that is continuing to tear apart the 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church.

About 80 representatives of the Anglican Communion Network, of which Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker is a leading member, will meet July 30-31 in Bedford at St. Vincent’s Cathedral.

The network — formed three years ago by Episcopal members appalled by church actions such as the 2003 consecration of openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire — likely will be a sounding board for more attacks on leadership of the U.S. church.

The Rev. Ryan Reed, dean of the Bedford cathedral, said network representatives will discuss how to work more closely with other conservative Anglican groups. Archbishop Greg Venables, a conservative who leads the Anglican province that includes Venezuela and Bolivia, is the main speaker. Some sessions are not open to the public, but general gatherings are open.

The Anglican Communion Network and similar conservative groups contend that the American church no longer represents those abiding by the historic faith.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Communion Network, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

Emptying Nest Eggs, Not the Nests

From yesterday’s New York Times, page B1:

“It’s a gift we can give them now,” said Mrs. Riccardi of Hillsdale, N.J. “If we can bite the bullet now, it will help them later.”

This gift is not a couple of $20 bills tucked into a holiday or birthday card. It is more like an allowance that extends past adolescence, often into the 30s. It pays for housing, bills and other expenses. In fact, research shows that financial strings to the parents’ wallets are never really severed.

And this has financial specialists, researchers and sociologists on the fence. Some people argue that repeated parental handouts cause children to reach financial maturity later in life than they should. Others say that in the long run, parents actually give their children a leg up.

But this head start could cause a setback for many parents. Though paying a child’s rent might not break the bank, over time, it can slowly chip away at the parents’ retirement fund or leisure money.

“The sooner parents cut off ties, the sooner they learn to do it on their own,” said Suze Orman, financial columnist and author of the book “Young, Fabulous and Broke.”

The common practice of ending financial obligation after their children graduate from high school or college is gone. Parents are carrying their children longer, pouring in thousands of dollars a year ”” if not tens of thousands ”” to their college graduates.

Thirty-four percent of adults 18 to 34 receive financial assistance from their parents, according to a study by the Institute of Social Research at the University of Michigan and published in “On the Frontier of Adulthood.”

During this time parents can expect to pay on average $38,340 helping their children transition to adulthood. That is roughly $2,200 a year.

“While parents are more able, than in the past, to provide assistance ”” some are overextending themselves,” said Robert F. Schoeni, an associate professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan and a co-author of the study.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Economy, Marriage & Family