Daily Archives: August 2, 2007

From the NY Times: Who’s Minding the Mind?

In a recent experiment, psychologists at Yale altered people’s judgments of a stranger by handing them a cup of coffee.

The study participants, college students, had no idea that their social instincts were being deliberately manipulated. On the way to the laboratory, they had bumped into a laboratory assistant, who was holding textbooks, a clipboard, papers and a cup of hot or iced coffee ”” and asked for a hand with the cup.

That was all it took: The students who held a cup of iced coffee rated a hypothetical person they later read about as being much colder, less social and more selfish than did their fellow students, who had momentarily held a cup of hot java.

Findings like this one, as improbable as they seem, have poured forth in psychological research over the last few years. New studies have found that people tidy up more thoroughly when there’s a faint tang of cleaning liquid in the air; they become more competitive if there’s a briefcase in sight, or more cooperative if they glimpse words like “dependable” and “support” ”” all without being aware of the change, or what prompted it.

Psychologists say that “priming” people in this way is not some form of hypnotism, or even subliminal seduction; rather, it’s a demonstration of how everyday sights, smells and sounds can selectively activate goals or motives that people already have.

More fundamentally, the new studies reveal a subconscious brain that is far more active, purposeful and independent than previously known.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Psychology

Church Times: C of E is to ”˜engage positively’ with the global Primates on the Covenant

There were points where the group would be asked to look at its work again. Reservations centred largely on section 6, which sought to articulate the sort of commitments that arose out of an affirmation of the Instruments of Communion.

The task of the Design Group would be to produce at least two more drafts in a process designed to listen to all the points made around the Communion.

For decades, Anglicans had been wondering whether increasing diversity might force the provinces apart, and had asked what held them together. The days of undefined affection were sadly over; “yet this is also not a time when proposals which are brand new could win a broad consensus across the Communion. . .

Read it all..

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

UPDATE: All THREE transcripts of ++Venables' messages

Cherie Wetzel of Anglicans United has very kindly sent us files of all three transcripts of ++Greg Venables’ Bible teachings to the Network Council meeting. Note these transcripts are in some cases more complete than what we posted yesterday.

Monday Afternoon: {filedir_4}Abp_Venables__1.doc
Scripture: Genesis 12. Theme: The Example of Abraham. Leaving his land, giving up Ishmael, willing to give up Isaac.

Tuesday Morning: {filedir_4}Abp_Venables__2.doc
Scripture: Joshua 1. Theme God’s Commission to Joshua.

Tuesday Afternoon: {filedir_4}Abp_Venables__3.doc
Scripture: 1 Peter 4:12; James 1:2; 2 Cor 11:21 ff; Mt. 11:25-30. Theme: Count it all joy.

These are Microsoft Word Documents that you can either open and view online, or download to your computer. Note these files contain only the transcripts of Venables’ teachings. Other commentary on the meetings has been deleted.

Enjoy. And do read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest these wonderful teachings! We’ll post another update when Kevin K. has the cleaned up versions of the audio files posted.

P.S. Yes, Gregory Venables’ official title is Presiding Bishop. I’ve not edited Cherie’s transcripts or her file names where she uses the title Archbishop. Sorry. Better things to do with my time.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Primates, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Biblical Commentary & Reflection, Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone]

GOP presidential candidates fail to appeal to a key constituency

When it comes to the Republican presidential campaign, some conservative Christian voters say they ain’t seen nothing yet.

That is, none of the top-tier GOP candidates is addressing the issues that these Iowans care passionately about, and few exhibit the moral values they want to see in the leader of the free world.

“Morality is the No. 1 issue with me,” said Ken Rogers, 62, of Altoona, a member of Central Assembly of God Church in Des Moines. “If a person can’t live by the Ten Commandments, how can he lead the nation?”

Evangelical Christians have traditionally been a strong factor in Iowa Republican politics. They were credited with helping to push President Bush to victory in Iowa in 2004.

As the Aug. 11 Republican straw poll approaches – the candidates’ first test in the nation’s leadoff caucus state – it’s unclear whether conservative Christians will be able to find a candidate to rally around. Republicans Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee, Tom Tancredo and Tommy Thompson have all worked to appeal to conservative Christians.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

Grace Cathedral to host first writers conference

Teaching authors how to write, sell and promote works toward change is the focus of Grace Cathedral’s first writer’s conference.

“Writing-For-Change,” sponsored by Grace Cathedral and the San Francisco Writers Conference, will be held August 24-25 in the Wilsey Conference Center on the lower level of the 100-year-old San Francisco, California cathedral. Organizers plan to hold the event annually.

Read it all.

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

David Anderson: Why the Archbishop of York got it wrong

Archbishop of York John Sentamu has been quoted as saying, “”¦I haven’t found that in Ecusa (sic) or in Canada, where I was recently, they have any doubts in their understanding of God which is very different from anybody. What they have quarrelled about is the nature of sexual ethics.”

John Sentamu hasn’t looked or listened hard enough. The battle, at least in North America, is over core doctrine and belief: who Jesus is and what authority Holy Scripture has. Although in a brief article there is not ample space for a full-length dissertation on the extent of the problem, let some of the North American and especially Episcopal Church leaders speak for themselves.
In an interview with TIME magazine, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori remarked, “We who practice the Christian tradition understand him (Jesus) as our vehicle to the divine. But for us to assume that God could not act in other ways is, I think, to put God in an awfully small box.” When CNN questioned Jefferts Schori about an afterlife, she opined, “What happens after you die? I would ask you that question. But what’s important about your life? What is it that has made you unique individual? What is the passion that has kept you getting up every morning and engaging the world? There are hints within that about what it is that continues after you die.”

Bishop John Bruno, Diocesan of Los Angeles, in my presence and speaking to a church gathering said Jesus was a savior, his savior, but not the only one and other religions had their own way to God. His predecessor, Bishop Frederick Borsch had said much the same thing, also in my presence, cautioning that people in other religions had their own way to God and should not be evangelized with the Christian Gospel.

Bishop John Spong, retired Bishop of Newark remarked, “I would choose to loathe rather than to worship a deity who required the sacrifice of his son.” From Canada, Bishop Michael Ingham of New Westminster predicted “The next battle will move beyond sexuality to focus on the exclusivity of Christianity and the need to recognize Jesus as a way, but not the only way.” The problem for much of the Episcopal Church leadership is they do not hold an ancient and Anglican view of Jesus Christ.

On the topic of Holy Scripture, the Bishop of Pennsylvania, the Rt. Rev.Charles Bennison has remarked, “We wrote the Bible and we can rewrite it. We have rewritten the Bible many times.” The Episcopal Diocese of Utah stated, “Judgments about ethics by appeal to the Holy Scriptures alone are foreign to our Anglican traditions, which have always included other sources of authority in their deliberations”¦ There is no single biblical morality”¦”

Some may wish to say that these voices are isolated instances but not representative of the core leadership of TEC. The remarks here included are from the Presiding Bishop of TEC, a bishop of one of the largest Episcopal dioceses and his predecessor, a retired senior bishop of TEC, a bishop of a major east coast TEC diocese, and a former dean of the officially established TEC seminary in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Hardly voices on the margin of TEC, their voices and other leaders who have said similar things have gone unchallenged from the main body of the Episcopal Church. Not only that at General Convention 2006, the House of Deputies refused to consider Resolution D-058 which declared the Episcopal Church’s “unchanging commitment to Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the only name by which any person may be saved,” and which acknowledged evangelism as “the solemn responsibility placed upon us to share Christ with all persons when we hear His words, ”˜I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6).”

The Episcopal disdain for absolute and historic beliefs about who Jesus is and what he accomplished, together with views on Holy Scripture that contradict the Anglican formularies is carried over into other areas where liturgy and practice are built on these views. Most of the liberal/progressive Episcopal dioceses tolerate on a wide scale fully open communion to all present, regardless of being baptized or not, and regardless of whether they are Christian, Jewish, agnostic, animist, Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist. There is a pervasive disbelief in sin and the need for atonement, disbelief in the unique and essential person and work of Jesus Christ, the wide spread unease in using the historic Trinitarian formulary or ”˜Lord’ because it is seen as narrow, sexist, and exclusive. Formularies such as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer substitute for Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The mantra of faith for TEC is openness, toleration, inclusiveness, and progression into new ideas and new ways of looking at God. So what about the orthodoxy of the Episcopal Church that Archbishop Sentamu assures us of? One of their own leaders puts it very well. The Very Rev. William Rankin, former Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, remarked about heresy, “Heresy implies orthodoxy, and we have no such thing in the Episcopal Church.”

–Church of England Newspaper, August 3, 2007, page 8

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

The Discussion is Still Going Strong…

The discussion thread on Dr. Ephraim Radner’s resignation from the Network is closing in on 200 comments. You can catch up on it here.

Of particular note: Dr. Radner has left a comment here

This elf also found Terry Wong’s comment here highly worth reading and considering, for a perspective from a Global South leader.

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

Bishop Edward Jones had a compassionate presence

The Rev. Tanya Vonnegut Beck, senior associate for cathedral ministries at Christ Church Cathedral on Monument Circle, said the bishop was extremely compassionate and always available to the priests and laity.
“He remembered your name and also something about you. I don’t know how he did that. He cared about the human condition and he spoke to it. He was very supportive of women’s ordination as priests,” she said.

Beck also recalled “his delightful smile and sparkling eyes. When he walked into a room, he had an exciting presence. You smiled when he came in.”

Read it all.

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

Bishop David Atkinson: Climate and Covenant

The climate is changing, and there is now a very high confidence by an overwhelming majority of scientists that human activity is a significant part of that change. The global atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased markedly since 1750 and now far exceed pre-industrial values. Much of this is due to fossil fuel use, changes in land use, and agriculture.

The effects of global warming are increasingly well known. Changing weather patterns such as hurricanes and floods; the melting of the glaciers; the softening of the permafrost; the melting of the polar ice-caps and the ice on Greenland; more intense and frequent heatwaves; the growth of the deserts and consequent likelihood of famine in some areas; the rise in sea levels; the death of the coral reefs. Countries like the Maldives and Bangladesh may disappear under water. There will be a huge movement of migrants from these countries to more habitable parts of the world.

Climate change is real, is growing, and has potentially very dangerous consequences for the well being of the planet and for human life – and the people most affected will be in the poorest and most disadvantaged parts of the world. There is therefore a strong moral imperative to do all we can to avert the danger, reduce the likelihood of global warming continuing at the present rate, and prepare for its likely consequences. There is a moral obligation also on the present generation not to do things which will significantly damage the planet’s capacity to provide a home for our children and grandchildren. There is a further moral obligation to live within our means. At present rates of energy use and consumption in Britain, we need about three planet earths to sustain our current way of life.

But global warming is changing more than the climate.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Climate Change, Weather, Energy, Natural Resources, Religion & Culture

Philip Turner: An Open Letter to Stephen Noll

6. It strikes me that your remarks about the future of dioceses and parishes within TEC and the Mark Lawrence affair provide an example of just such a prophecy. The fact is, however, we do not know the outcome of that affair. Further, we will not know what the future of what are often called “orthodox parishes and dioceses” will be if the Primates back their admonition with sanctions. I confess I agree that if nothing is done to inhibit TEC’s outrageous claims to autonomy our parishes and dioceses will be picked off one by one. I also believe that we will find ourselves in a state of anarchy within our Communion. The point, however, is that we do not know as yet this particular part of our future under God, and it seems to me rash to think that we do.

7. It is in the light of this remark that I wish to comment on your call to the Network Bishops not to wait for “Windsor Bishops” but to unite under the leadership of Bob Duncan in fellowship with one another and with Common Cause Partners. It is a source of constant sadness to me that the Bishops within our Church who do not support the direction taken by its current structure have often been either too cautious to speak and act or too quick both to declare defeat and to begin constructing what appears to be an escape pod. However, once again you anticipate the future in ways that seem to me uncalled for. Your primary reason for despair is the sad history of attempts to organize among our Bishops a credible opposition to the progressive juggernaut that controls the structures of TEC. This is a sad history indeed, however, its baleful quality has more to do with problems of relationship among these Bishops (many of whom are in the Network) than it does the machinations of the progressive clerisy that governs us. That being said, it remains the case that the Windsor Bishops will meet again in August, all Network Bishops have been invited, and (most of all) these Bishops will face a clear choice. Are they willing to stand and be counted, as neither the Windsor Bishops nor the Network Bishops nor those involved in Common Cause were when last the House of Bishops met? This question means concretely are they now willing to give public support to the proposals made by the Primates; and are they willing themselves to seek ways to address the pastoral crisis of our Church that has provoked the multiplication within our midst of other jurisdictions. In short, the question is whether or not the Windsor Bishops (whose number includes the Network Bishops) are willing in the presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury to show that there is within TEC an alternative presence to its current structure. I am unwilling prematurely to declare all hope for such eventualities to be no more than a chimera.

Read it all..

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Communion Network, Anglican Identity, Ecclesiology, Theology

A Teacher Grows Disillusioned After a ”˜Fail’ Becomes a ”˜Pass’

Several weeks into his first year of teaching math at the High School of Arts and Technology in Manhattan, Austin Lampros received a copy of the school’s grading policy. He took particular note of the stipulation that a student who attended class even once during a semester, who did absolutely nothing else, was to be given 45 points on the 100-point scale, just 20 short of a passing mark.

Mr. Lampros’s introduction to the high school’s academic standards proved a fitting preamble to a disastrous year. It reached its low point in late June, when Arts and Technology’s principal, Anne Geiger, overruled Mr. Lampros and passed a senior whom he had failed in a required math course.

That student, Indira Fernandez, had missed dozens of class sessions and failed to turn in numerous homework assignments, according to Mr. Lampros’s meticulous records, which he provided to The New York Times. She had not even shown up to take the final exam. She did, however, attend the senior prom.

Through the intercession of Ms. Geiger, Miss Fernandez was permitted to retake the final after receiving two days of personal tutoring from another math teacher. Even though her score of 66 still left her with a failing grade for the course as a whole by Mr. Lampros’s calculations, Ms. Geiger gave the student a passing mark, which allowed her to graduate.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

Kendall Harmon: The Killing Power of Strife

They argued so much. That was my overriding impression of the early church when I saw the book of Acts on a movie screen for the first time. All churches have disagreements, they always have. But when the arguing turns to strife, watch out.

Two recent experiences brought this to mind. The first was when something I said was met with criticism (say you are shocked). But it wasn’t the disagreement that surprised me; it was the sharpness of it. There seemed little charity and instead harshness and even enmity. It was out of all proportion to both the words and the context.

The second came when I chose to reascend the great mountain of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Like all truly great works, it always repays greatly upon its rereading.

One scene from The Inferno struck me more than all the others this time. It is a harrowing portrayal of a disagreement gone wrong.
When he gets to near the very bottom of hell, Dante meets a man whose name is Ugolino who tells him his story. He was the city manager of Pisa, placed there by Ruggieri, the archbishop. Ugolino was a Guelf, and Ruggieri was a Ghibeline. The Guelf-Ghibeline battle was literally devouring Italy at the time, and the two formed a secret alliance from opposite sides.

The deal was simple. Ruggieri the archbishop would name Ugolino as city manager of Pisa, and in return Ugolino would undermine the Guelf control of the area from the inside and gain authority for the archbishop. It was a plot to seize power and betray the city of Pisa.

What happened is a devastating story of betrayal, counter-betrayal, and treachery. Almost immediately after Ruggieri gives Ugolino his new position, the archbishop realizes he has made a mistake. He then seeks to undermine the very person he has just named to his new position. Ugolino recognizes what is occurring and retaliates.

The brutal battle gets so bad between them that eventually Ugolino is captured by the archbishop and, along with his descendants, imprisoned in a tower. Then one day, at the time when they normally receive their food, Ugolino hears the door of the room being nailed shut. He now knows he and his offspring will be slowly starved to death.

As time wears on Ugolino starts eating his hands out of hunger, and his offsping offer to allow him to eat them instead. In agony he refuses. After four days, one son throws himself with outstretched hands at his father’s feet begging for help. Ugolino then tells us what happens next:

There he died; and, as thou seest me,
I saw the three fall, one by one,
between
The fifth day and the sixth; whence
I betook me,

Already blind, to groping over each,
And three days called them after
they were dead;
Then hunger did what sorrow could
not do.

What did hunger do? Dante depicts here a man who in total desperation devours his own children’s dead flesh so as to sustain himself just a little while longer. In the context it is clear that as he is eating, his life has become nothing more than focusing on his hatred of, and desire for vengeance upon, the archbishop who betrayed him.

And what is Ugolino doing when Dante meets him in hell? He is gnawing upon the head of Ruggieri. Both men are encased in ice up to their necks.

Beneath every disagreement is the possibility of enmity and strife that can kill. Saint Paul knew that, which is one reason he pleaded for his readers to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” Dante knew it too, which is why he provides his shocking portrayal of Ugolino and Ruggieri in hell.

I am praying that we may relearn it so as not to become encased in icy hearts seeking to devour others.

— The Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall S. Harmon is Canon Theologian of the Diocese of South Carolina and Convenor of this blog

Posted in * By Kendall, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Christine A. Scheller: I'm not sure what to think about church anymore

My home church, which just celebrated its 30th anniversary, is on its sixth pastor, and he is a gem. But the path to him was rocky. We gathered, just 25 of us, in the community room above a firehouse when I was 12 years old. My young father had died suddenly, and my mother had taken it as a sign to get right with the Lord. Running up the stairs every week past shiny red trucks and perfectly aligned yellow coats felt like home.

The founding pastor was a gentle shepherd who communicated peace and safety to this fearful girl. Then a few troublesome congregants ran him off and replaced him with a star who had served with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. What had been a casual, hippy-era church was then infiltrated by old-school Baptists. Tension between traditionalists and innovators gnawed at the ministry.

One day, when I was an 18-year-old new convert and the pastor at the time was 60-something, he took me out evangelizing with him. Afterward, we went back to his house for ice cream. I dished it out, and he suggested I come snuggle with him on the couch. Having seen the unholy mingle with the holy in each of my first two pastors, I should have expected to see it again. Instead, my naiveté continued.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Parish Ministry

Christian Science Monitor: Church giving turns digital

The earliest worshippers brought their gifts to the altar from the tangible fruits of their labor ”“ be it crops, sheep, or cattle. Coins came later, then paper money, followed by checks. Now, as society moves toward an era of “digital money,” houses of worship are scurrying to keep pace with the times.

The collection plate won’t disappear any time soon, but many churches have begun offering electronic-giving options, including automatic deductions from bank accounts and payment by credit or debit card. A few are even experimenting with a “giving kiosk” in the lobby.

This shift away from just dropping cash into the weekly collection got an extra nudge this year from the Internal Revenue Service, which is mandating receipts for charitable tax deductions.

For houses of worship, the main impetus toward electronic giving has been to respond to churchgoers’ changing lifestyles. But churches themselves are benefiting from the regularized giving and the often increased contributions that come with expanded giving options.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

A NY Times Editorial: Credit Card Buyer Beware

The federal agencies that are supposed to regulate the banking and credit card industries have failed utterly to keep pace with deceptive and unfair practices that have become shamefully standard in the business. As a consequence many hard-working Americans who pay their bills are mired in debt ”” and in danger of losing whatever savings they have, and perhaps their homes. Congress, which sat on its hands while the problem got worse and worse, needs to rein in this sometimes predatory industry.

The scope of the problem was laid out in Congressional hearings this spring held by Senator Carl Levin, the Democrat from Michigan. According to testimony, one witness exceeded his charge card’s $3,000 limit by $200 ”” triggering what eventually amounted to $7,500 in penalties and interest. After paying an average of $1,000 a year for six years, the man still owed $4,400.

Read it all.

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