Daily Archives: July 24, 2007

Scott Gunn on the Question of the Validity of Virginia's Episcopal Consents

In her posting, Jan [Nunley] says that there are “90 possible” elections affected by defective consents. Let’s suppose in the past it didn’t matter so much, because our church was in a difference place. But in the Lawrence debacle, we were all quoted chapter and verse on why the canons matter. Frankly, I agree with this rigid canonical adherence, but it has to be the same, in all cases, no matter what. It’s only fair. It’s only just

Now we’re told it was about signatures. Of course, it’s hard to see why we insist on the signature portion of the canons, but we look past the textual requirements. I’m also not sure the claim on the importance of signatures is valid. These days, electronic “signatures” in lots of forms are considered equivalent with ink signatures, in lots of situations. The Living Church is reporting that South Carolina was told not to use the “short form” in its consents. Fine. But why wasn’t Virginia told the same thing?

In all elections since the South Carolina election, it seems to me that it is important to ensure that there is adherence to the canons. If we’re tossing out one election because of defects, I think we need to toss out others as well. I am not saying that Virginia’s election should be tossed out, or that the ordination was irregular. I am saying that an “oops” should emanate from 815, and in the future we should follow the canons precisely. If the canons are no longer deemed adequate, there’s a little project to work on before GC 2009.

It seems to me what we heard “law, law” in the case of South Carolina. And we’ve heard “Gospel, Gospel” in other cases. Let’s have law and Gospel in all cases, balanced appropriately. Why am I writing about this budding controversy? Well, I think how we handle these conversations has to do with how we’ll handle other, more difficult issues. When the response from church leadership to all this is, “Let’s don’t and say we did, shall we?” it hardly seems to respect the dignity of those who find this situation challenging. Much better would be a straightforward, official explanation of why canons are applied particular ways at particular times. I’d like this problem to go away. And I’d like to avoid this particular conversation in the future.

Read it all.

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

David Yount: The addiction we consider a virtue

Among false slogans, none can beat the one wrought in ornamental iron over the gates of Auschwitz: “Work Makes You Free.” It was the first thing that slave laborers saw as they entered the death camp. Once inside, a million of them died from starvation, exhaustion, and in the furnaces.

Despite that dramatic lesson, workaholism reigns as our nation’s worst addiction. The Center for Work-Life Policy reports that 45 percent of U.S. executives not only work more than 60 hours a week but meet at least five other criteria, such as being on-call 24 hours a day, meeting changing deadlines, and responding to demands across several time zones.

In the past, such workers were known as “wage slaves.” Today, they employ euphemisms to justify their addiction to work, explaining themselves as “ambitious,” “driven,” and “energetic.”

Ironically, as addictions go, workaholism is still considered by many to be virtuous. Two-thirds of Americans claim they love their jobs. Job satisfaction rises to 76 percent world-wide.

But the costs are severe and unsustainable. Two-thirds of executives complain that they get too little sleep. They admit to overeating and drinking, and neglecting exercise.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch

Pope Calls the Holy Spirit the great Unknown

Benedict XVI’s message for World Youth Day 2008 presents the Holy Spirit to young people and the world as the “great unknown.”

The Pope’s message is a reflection on the theme he chose for the event to be held in Sydney, Australia, next July: “You Will Receive Power When the Holy Spirit Has Come Upon You; and You Will Be My Witnesses.”

“The common thread of the spiritual preparation for the appointment in Sydney is the Holy Spirit and mission,” explains the papal message, published in Italian and French by the Vatican press office. Translations into other languages are forthcoming.

The message continues: “Therefore it is important that each one of you young people, in your communities and with your educators, reflect on this protagonist in the history of salvation which is the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of Jesus.

“There are many Christians for whom he remains the ‘great unknown.'”

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

$100 Oil Price May Be Months Away, Say CIBC, Goldman

The $100-a-barrel oil that Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said would prevail by 2009 may be only a few months away.

Jeffrey Currie, a London-based commodity analyst at the world’s biggest securities firm, says $95 crude is likely this year unless OPEC unexpectedly increases production, and declining inventories are raising the chances for $100 oil. Jeff Rubin at CIBC World Markets predicts $100 a barrel as soon as next year.

“We’re only a headline of significance away from $100 oil,” said John Kilduff, an analyst in the New York office of futures broker Man Financial Inc. “The unrelenting pressure of increased demand has left the market a coiled spring.” New disruptions of Nigerian or Iraqi supplies, or any military strike against Iran, might trigger the rise, Kilduff said in a July 20 interview.

Higher prices will increase revenue for energy producers from Exxon Mobil Corp. to PetroChina Co., while eroding profit at airlines including EasyJet Plc and railroads such as Union Pacific Corp. The U.S. and other oil-importing nations risk accelerating inflation, while higher energy costs threaten to restrain growth.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources

One-Man Play Explores Specter of Slavery

Daniel Beaty is the star and author of a one-man play called Emergence-See! In it, a sunken slave ship from the past ”” with its cargo of bones and chains ”” magically surfaces alongside the Statue of Liberty in present-day New York Harbor.

The play portrays the response of 43 different characters ”” old, young, male, female, straight and gay, all of them black ”” to this puzzling event. Their reactions to the suddenly inescapable memory of slavery vary dramatically.

Beaty stands 5 feet 11 inches tall. But as he changes characters, he swells into a bigger man, slumps into the size of someone smaller, and shrinks into a child. He recites poems that he has written, and he sings like a trained opera singer ”” which he is.

Listen to it all from NPR.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Theatre/Drama/Plays

A Global South Steering Committee update and info (Updated)

Read it all.

Update: July 25
The Global South Anglican website has been updated to provide the details of those not in attendance at the recent London meeting.
Please see also GS Secretariat member Terry Wong’s comment below for further clarification.
Thank you Terry!

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Global South Churches & Primates

U.S. Is Seen in Iraq Until at Least ’09

While Washington is mired in political debate over the future of Iraq, the American command here has prepared a detailed plan that foresees a significant American role for the next two years.

The classified plan, which represents the coordinated strategy of the top American commander and the American ambassador, calls for restoring security in local areas, including Baghdad, by the summer of 2008. “Sustainable security” is to be established on a nationwide basis by the summer of 2009, according to American officials familiar with the document.

The detailed document, known as the Joint Campaign Plan, is an elaboration of the new strategy President Bush signaled in January when he decided to send five additional American combat brigades and other units to Iraq. That signaled a shift from the previous strategy, which emphasized transferring to Iraqis the responsibility for safeguarding their security.

That new approach put a premium on protecting the Iraqi population in Baghdad, on the theory that improved security would provide Iraqi political leaders with the breathing space they needed to try political reconciliation.

The latest plan, which covers a two-year period, does not explicitly address troop levels or withdrawal schedules. It anticipates a decline in American forces as the “surge” in troops runs its course later this year or in early 2008. But it nonetheless assumes continued American involvement to train soldiers, act as partners with Iraqi forces and fight terrorist groups in Iraq, American officials said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Iraq War

Reformed Episcopal Church welcomes Walking to Emmaus consultation

Bishops from 22 dioceses in the United States and 29 dioceses in Africa joined the congregation of Madrid’s Iglesia Episcopal de España for a Eucharist on July 22. Joining the Rt. Rev. Carlos Lozano Lopez, bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church of Spain, at the altar were the primates of Burundi, Central Africa, Congo, and Southern Africa, as well as the primate of Brazil.

During the two-hour liturgy, based on the ancient Mozarabic Rite, the bishop welcomed three new honorary canons: Dr. Eliseo Villa and the Rev. Dr. Anthony Ball, International Office, Lambeth Palace, London; and the Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper, rector of Trinity Church Wall Street, New York, were installed by the dean, the Rev. Susan Buell. The service was mainly in Spanish with English translation.

Read it all.

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

John McNeil: Believing without Belonging a sign of the Times?

Figures from various denominations highlight one of New Zealand’s unexplored mysteries ”“ the gap between religious adherence in the five-yearly census and actual church attendance.

Recent statistics from the Presbyterian Church show a total attendance at Sunday services over the past year of 37,714 people ”“ just under 10 per cent of those who said they were Presbyterians in the 2006 census. Approximately a quarter of the attendees were under 13 years.

The Catholics put attendance at 17 per cent of the census figures, probably the highest rate of the mainstream denominations, while Anglicans are thought to score about 15 per cent.

If these numbers hold true for other denominations, a depressingly small proportion of New Zealand’s total population attend church – possibly between 5 and 10 per cent.

However, research indicates the actual attendance figures are higher than this.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

David F. D'Amico: Is Culture an Ally or Enemy of the Church?

The relationship of church to culture is a fascinating study that has caught the attention and analysis of serious scholars during the last generation. Ever since the “Word of God became flesh,” God has been interested in humans of different cultures throughout biblical history.

On occasion the church has been an ally or an enemy of culture. St. Paul wrote the Corinthians letters to deal with the challenges their culture presented to the church. Pastors, lay persons, ordinary human beings live in a culture and, depending on different perceptions of reality that guide them, adapt or reject the prevailing culture.

In a recent issue of Missiology, devoted exclusively to the treatment of “Mission and Contemporary Culture” (April, 2007), there are lucid expositions of the theme that challenge the reader and the serious student of Missio Dei.

One article worthy of consideration is “Church responses to culture since 1985,” by Professor Eddie Gibbs of Fuller Theological Seminary. He asserts: “The assumption of Western societies that immigrant groups would be gradually assimilated in the cultural melting pot are being challenged by those groups who ‘colonize’ in order to defend their religious-based values, some of them adopting a defiant stance in relation to the host culture.”

As an astute observer, clergy person, scholar and author, Gibbs analyzes the last half of the 20th century and the first years of the 21st. His analysis is very enlightening.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

Bishop Edwin Barnes: For a Free Diocese

Bishop Edwin Barnes puts forward what may be the simplest of all the options for a structural solution for orthodox Anglicans to keep everybody happy and not frighten the liberal ascendancy

Clergy and others have been responding generously to my request for help in making proposals on the Governance of our future province. Some proposals have been modest, others more sweeping; but none has struck me as so comprehensive and simple as that from Fr Lawrence MacLean, our man in Florence. Since what he proposed needs a little fleshing out and explanation, please do not hold against him anything that follows; the brilliant idea is his, the pedestrian details are mine. Whenever we try to explain a ”˜free province’ or a ”˜third province’ to those in the liberal ascendancy, difficulties are at once asserted. You cannot have overlapping jurisdictions in the Church of England, they will say. The diocesan bishop will never relinquish any of his power to another bishop, they insist.

Parallel episcopates

Well, there is a diocese of the Church of England where parallel episcopates not only exist, but are celebrated. It is called the Diocese of Europe. The bishop of the Lusitanian Church, based in Lisbon, introduces himself saying, ”˜I am the Bishop of Portugal’. We are in full communion with him and his church. Similar rather more realistic churches exist elsewhere through Europe. Who can fail to know that we are in communion through the Porvoo agreement with most of the Scandinavian Lutheran churches? They have bishops with ancient sees, and seem to find no difficulty in surviving, despite the existence of our Bishop in Europe. More remarkable still, there is the Convocation of American Churches in Europe. Under their bishop, Pierre Welté Whalon, they are fully a part of TEC (the Episcopal Church, whose presiding bishop is the Most Revd Dr Katharine efferts Schori). The Convocation, it says, is ”˜a multinational, multiracial, multilingual and multicultural communion within the European Union ”“ a mirror image of the multinational, multiracial, multilingual and multicultural Episcopal Church in the USA.’ No doubt Bishop Geoffrey Rowell, Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe, would claim something similar for his diocese ”“ though in this case relating to England and the Archbishop of Canterbury. So within the Anglican Communion there is at least one diocese which is perfectly happy to co-exist with another Anglican diocese.

Boundaries

Then what about the cure of souls? ”˜Receive this cure, which is both mine and yours’ says the diocesan on licensing a new priest in charge. It sounds grand, and harks back to the time of the first Elizabeth, when there were penalties for non-attendance at church, and the priest claimed the right to enter any home in his parish. The bishops might not yet realize it, but it is not like this any more. In theory, England is a place where every person has a parish church and a pari sh priest to care for him, and every parish church is bound to a diocese. Yet many bishops happily encourage clergy to ”˜plant’ churches in neighbouring parishes, whether the priest there is content for this to happen or not. So if clergy are forced to concede the rights of other priests to minister across parish boundaries, surely in justice the same should be the case for bishops? The whole notion of parish boundaries is fast disappearing. Why then such a fuss about diocesan boundaries?

The solution

So, what of the diminution of the power of a diocesan bishop when another bishop cares for priests in his diocese? The greater part of that power was conceded with the Act of Synod; the Provincial Episcopal Visitor has the pastoral and sacramental care of those who want it. What remains is mere legalism; and in any case, when bishops start claiming power over their clergy we cannot help remembering Jesus’ retort to Pilate, ”˜You would have no power unless it had been given to you.’ In short, there is a perfect solution for a free diocese already in existence. It is for parishes in England which have asked for extended episcopal care to have that care administered by the Bishop in Europe. The Diocese in Europe would become an entirely orthodox diocese; and, without moving any buildings or altering any boundaries, liberal clergy and congregations in Europe could ask for the oversight of the Bishop of the Convocation of American Churches. Instead of having to find friendly African or Southern Cone bishops to care for them, orthodox parishes and dioceses in the USA could associate themselves with the Bishop in Europe. He, no doubt, would make provision for them by appointing if necessary bishops who would work with him in caring for such congregations. He might also licence the English PEVs as Suffragans of Europe; and what a happy solution it would be if the Bishop of Fulham were to be reunited with the bishop whose former title was Bishop of Fulham and Gibraltar. Such a development would fit our Anglican ethos ideally. Reformation, not revolution. No great new organization; the Diocese of Europe already has its seats on General Synod, and its relations with the other English dioceses, besides being on good terms with Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox throughout Europe. Best of all, the enlarged diocese would be understood perfectly by the Catholic hierarchy in Rome. Our talk of ”˜free provinces’ has frightened our fellow Anglicans at home, who think a province too grandiose, and has confused our Catholic friends on the continent. A diocese is a better solution; since a diocese constitutes, for the Catholic Church, a ”˜particular church’. Such a church would be capable of entering into conversations with other churches, whilst retaining the highest possible degree of fellowship with others in the Anglican Communion. In mathematics, the simplest solution is called an elegant solution. Dare we hope that our Church will think this an elegant solution to the present predicament?

An earlier article of mine in New Directions, about dual membership of churches, has drawn a good deal of comment, most of it favourable. It would be a great help to those of us working on the question of Governance, if readers could send suggestions by email or letter to me. Little think-tanks can dream up great solutions; but any solutions have to be workable.

–From the July 2007 edition of New Directions

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

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Sees Membership Decline

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America saw a slight drop in membership in 2006, continuing a trend of decline of more than a decade.

The total of baptized members at the end of 2006 was 4,774,203, a 1.6 percent decrease from the 2005 total of 4,850,776, denomination officials said.

The denomination has lost about 466,000 baptized members in the last 16 years, said the Rev. Lowell G. Almen, ELCA secretary. In 1990, there were 5,240,739 members.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches

All Too Common has a Question for Anglicans

What is the point? I have been racking my brain lately asking myself”“and others”“this question, desperately trying to find a sound answer. What is the point of remaining in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury? Reading articles such as this one brings this question again to the forefront of my mind. What is the point?

We should recognize as many Catholic bishops as possible (i.e., to “be in communion” with them), but schism occurs when major differences arise (usually accompanied by sin on at least one side) such that the Church can no longer recognize “catholicity” in the other. In the case of the Episcopal Church, “impaired” or even broken communion exists between many of the orthodox bishops and the heterodox bishops, and from an ecclesiological perspective, many of the sees are vacant (hence the need for missionary efforts from the Global South). Of course, the heterodox have no concept of Catholic ecclesiology, so they view this as “boundary crossing” which is patently absurd, considering they have no concept of much of anything Catholic. But I digress. The question I have been pondering is, what is the point of being in communion with Canterbury?

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Identity, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Theology

Time Magazine: A Boost for the Book of Jeremiah

By confirming the historical accuracy of a tiny detail, a two-inch clay tablet long in the possession of the British Museum has given ammunition to those who believe that the Bible ”” specifically, in this case, the book of the prophet Jeremiah ”” is history. That, at least, is what the believers are claiming.

The tablet itself is certainly genuine. On July 10 the Museum announced that a Viennese expert working his way through thousands of similar clay documents in its possession translated one dating from 595 B.C that described a gift of 1.7 lbs. of gold to a Babylonian temple by a “chief eunuch” named Nabu-sharrussu-ukin.

A museum official called it “a world-class find.” What makes the ancient but seemingly mundane receipt significant is that the book of Jeremiah in the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) mentions the exact same official ”” though under a different transliteration, Nebo-Sarsekim, and a different title, chief officer, as accompanying the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar when he marched against Jerusalem in 587.

Read it all.

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Noah Feldman: Orthodox Paradox

I have spent much of my own professional life focusing on the predicament of faith communities that strive to be modern while simultaneously cleaving to tradition. Consider the situation of those Christian evangelicals who want to participate actively in mainstream politics yet are committed to a biblical literalism that leads them to oppose stem-cell research and advocate intelligent design in the classroom. To some secularists, the evangelicals’ predicament seems absurd and their political movement dangerously anti-intellectual. As it happens, I favor financing stem-cell research and oppose the teaching of intelligent design or creationism as a “scientific” doctrine in public schools. Yet I nonetheless feel some sympathy for the evangelicals’ sure-to-fail attempts to stand in the way of the progress of science, and not just because I respect their concern that we consider the ethical implications of our technological prowess.

Perhaps I feel sympathy because I can recall the agonies suffered by my head of school when he stopped by our biology class to discuss the problem of creation. Following the best modern Orthodox doctrine, he pointed out that Genesis could be understood allegorically, and that the length of a day might be numbered in billions of years considering that the sun, by which our time is reckoned, was not created until the fourth such “day.” Not for him the embarrassing claim, heard sometimes among the ultra-Orthodox, that dinosaur fossils were embedded by God within the earth at the moment of creation in order to test our faith in biblical inerrancy. Natural selection was for him a scientific fact to be respected like the laws of physics ”” guided by God but effectuated though the workings of the natural order. Yet even he could not leave the classroom without a final caveat. “The truth is,” he said, “despite what I have just told you, I still have a hard time believing that man could be descended from monkeys.”

This same grappling with tension ”” and the same failure to resolve it perfectly ”” can be found among the many Muslims who embrace both basic liberal democratic values and orthodox Islamic faith. The literature of democratic Islam, like that of modern Orthodox Judaism, may be read as an embodiment of dialectical struggle, the unwillingness to ignore contemporary reality in constant interplay with the weight of tradition taken by them as authentic and divinely inspired. The imams I have met over the years seem, on the whole, no less sincere than the rabbis who taught me. Their commitment to their faith and to the legal tradition that comes with it seems just as heartfelt. Liberal Muslims may even have their own Joe Lieberman in the Minnesota congressman Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress.

The themes of difference and reconciliation that have preoccupied so much of my own thinking are nowhere more stark than in trying to make sense of the problem of marriage ”” which is also, for me, the most personal aspect of coming to terms with modern Orthodoxy. Although Jews of many denominations are uncomfortable with marriage between Jews and people of other religions, modern Orthodox condemnation is especially definitive.

Read it all.

Update: Jewcy has a Q and A with Noah Feldman here.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Judaism, Other Faiths