Daily Archives: August 10, 2007

In Dusty Archives, a Theory of Affluence

For thousands of years, most people on earth lived in abject poverty, first as hunters and gatherers, then as peasants or laborers. But with the Industrial Revolution, some societies traded this ancient poverty for amazing affluence.

Historians and economists have long struggled to understand how this transition occurred and why it took place only in some countries. A scholar who has spent the last 20 years scanning medieval English archives has now emerged with startling answers for both questions.

Gregory Clark, an economic historian at the University of California, Davis, believes that the Industrial Revolution ”” the surge in economic growth that occurred first in England around 1800 ”” occurred because of a change in the nature of the human population. The change was one in which people gradually developed the strange new behaviors required to make a modern economy work. The middle-class values of nonviolence, literacy, long working hours and a willingness to save emerged only recently in human history, Dr. Clark argues.

Because they grew more common in the centuries before 1800, whether by cultural transmission or evolutionary adaptation, the English population at last became productive enough to escape from poverty, followed quickly by other countries with the same long agrarian past.

Read it all.

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

Lutheran church out to tackle biblical illiteracy

On Tuesday, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America waged a war on illiteracy. But it didn’t tackle the challenge of how to read words. The group addressed the challenge of how to understand and interpret The Word, otherwise known as the Bible.

The five-year Book of Faith initiative is intended to boost study of the Bible throughout the 4.8 million-member church. It is also a response to church research that shows 32 percent of Evangelical Lutherans believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God, which is not the position of the Evangelical Lutheran church.

“In our culture, particularly around issues of immorality, the prevailing understanding tends to be a literal understanding of Scripture, which is not a Lutheran understanding,” said Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Brad Wilcox: Evangelicals, Iowa, and the Future

Tomorrow, as Republicans from around the Hawkeye State gather to vote in the Iowa Straw Poll, one group will undoubtedly exercise an outsize influence on the poll’s outcome: evangelical Protestants. Motivated in large part by their concern with the state of American families, evangelicals have played an important role in Republican presidential politics in Iowa since 1987, when they helped Pat Robertson win the poll in an upset.

In 2004, an unprecedented 78% of evangelicals voted for President Bush. The close relationship between Mr. Bush and evangelicals has fueled an intense backlash. In books like Kevin Phillips’s “American Theocracy” and James Rudin’s “The Baptizing of America,” moderate Republicans and liberal Democrats have charged that the president and the Republican Party are now in the thrall of religious radicals intent on imposing their conservative social values on the rest of the nation.

But does their “pro-family” agenda really stem from evangelicals’ desire to change the behavior of others? There are at least three reasons that evangelicals are concerned about issues like abortion, sexual promiscuity and marriage. First, most obviously, evangelicals subscribe to a traditional form of the Christian faith that views the Bible as a literal and authoritative guide to family life.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

Internet is becoming as lawless as the Wild West, report peers

The internet has become a playground for criminals in which highly specialised gangs steal money from bank accounts, according to a Parliamentary report published today.

A huge underground economy is making a living from e-crime, which fuels the perception of the internet as a lawless “Wild West”, the peers report said.

Millions of pounds are being lost by banks around the world as a result of online banking fraud, including £33.5 million lost by British banks last year.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Economy

Father Jake on Mark Lawrence's Reelection

Having read some of his writing, and followed some of the stories about him, I do not see any comparison between Mark Lawrence and Don Armstrong as being valid. Lawrence seems to be a good priest. Very conservative, yes. Network even. And there is a good possibility that eventually SC will leave TEC, and Lawrence will go with them. But that is not an absolute. I see no reason to give that diocese an extra push, do you?

But, leaving or not leaving is speculation. Looking at the facts as presented, I cannot see any solid reasons why Mark Lawrence won’t get the consents this time. I’ll be very surprised if he does not.

Read it all.

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

An email from my cousin about my Mother's Memorial Service

“Dear Harmon Boys…Girls, too:

What a glorious celebration was had by all last Sunday. I could see Mary Ann tapping her feet and clapping to that fabulous Dixieland jazz. All the wonderful tributes…one felt that no one could say enough in praise of our beautiful cousin. I, too, remember that she always had her lipstick on. So many wonderful memories. We were blessed to have known and loved her.

We arrived home with no further tire trouble….

Please do not forget that your Woodstock cousins are expecting all of you to come by and visit any time but especially on special occasions. As you know we have room for you at Frenchfield…no need for a hotel.

Thank you again for a memorable weekend.”

Posted in * By Kendall

To Romania by rail: a bishop's green example

Blessed are those who leave no carbon footprints – that has been the public view of the Bishop of London, and he has now lived up to his vow of not indulging in air travel for a year by declaring that he will take the train to Romania to attend a clerical conference.

It was unclear how many of the Church of England delegation would accompany the Rt Rev Richard Chartres on the 36-hour rail trip to Sibiu for the Third European Ecumenical Assembly next month.

The bishop took a “gold” pledge not to fly anywhere for 12 months after pronouncing that flying was potentially a “symptom of sin”.

His next family holiday, he said, would be in Devon. His office, however, had to cancel his attendance at a seminar in northern Norway because it would have been impossible to get there any other way than by air.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Energy, Natural Resources

Massachusetts Episcopal diocese settles lawsuit

A group of former Episcopalians from Attleboro has agreed to return an undisclosed amount of money to the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts to settle a lawsuit alleging that the group, who broke away to protest the denomination’s approval of an openly gay bishop, took cash and property belonging to the diocese.

The lawsuit was one of several around the country between Episcopal dioceses and departing members in an escalating dispute over the ownership of parish property. Conservatives have charged that the denomination is using a nationwide litigation campaign to intimidate them; diocesan officials say they are simply trying to protect their patrimony.

In Massachusetts, where the courts in the past have repeatedly ruled that parish property in hierarchical denominations belongs to the denominations, the two sides decided to settle just five weeks after the litigation was filed.

Neither side would disclose the details, but both said that the departing parishioners, now worshiping as All Saints Anglican, returned a handful of books and some money to their former parish, All Saints Episcopal, where the diocese is trying to establish a new congregation of people who remain loyal to the Episcopal Church USA.

“Both sides were looking for a way to move on,” said John F.D. Jacobi III, the lawyer for the breakaway parishioners. “There was a legitimate difference of opinion, which we resolved, and both sides felt that it was fair and equitable.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts

Virginia Episcopal bishop publicly deposes three area clergy

[The Rev. Clancy] Nixon of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Ashburn echoed Oakes. “It’s a little bit like saying, ‘You can’t quit; I’m firing you.’ I quit a year and a half ago,” Nixon said. “The only thing this does is that it says I can’t have the same benefits that other priests do or other health care and pension benefits.

“He has the power to do that and that bothers me, yeah. I wish he hadn’t felt it necessary to do that. We were partners in ministry for many, many years, and I don’t see the need for him to deprive me of assets. What’s up with that?”

Nixon said Ashey of South Riding was not on the list because he was the first priest to leave.

“Lee dealt with him under a different canon. That one deprived him of his orders in one step. Lee received such poor press for that, he decided to go another route with the rest of us,” Nixon said.

“I wish they would stop suing my friends,” he added. “It’s ridiculous. We had a long process worked out over years and at the last minute the bishop pulled the plug.”

Read it all.

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

US public sees news media as biased, inaccurate, uncaring

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Media

Outreach Magazine: Church in the City

A wonderfully encouraging article from Outreach Magazine (a sister publication of Christianity Today) about two New York City churches committed to multiplication and seeing the church impact the culture:

For all the wonders of New York City, the South Bronx still has a long way to go. As the country’s poorest congressional district, it is home to gang leaders, pimps and others””like Tyrone””whose main interest is simply finding a way to survive.

As a teenager, Tyrone found his identity in a gang named the Neighborhood Gangsters, and his future, like that of so many of his peers, seemed to be a dead-end street. Then one week, he went with a relative to Friday Night Live, a monthly, large-scale outreach hosted by a new, youth-oriented church named Infinity. Tyrone liked the hip-hop music, even though the words were about God. After the music, the pastor, Dimas Salaberrios””who had grown up a few miles away in Jamaica, Queens””spoke with relevance and passion about Jesus Christ.

Tyrone put his faith in Christ that night, but was still uncertain about his future. Quitting a gang could mean a death sentence, but he didn’t have to explain this to Salaberrios, who already understood the problem. Salaberrios boldly contacted the gang’s leader, asking that Tyrone’s family not be punished because of his decision. Today, Tyrone serves on Infinity’s security team, is discipled through a fellowship group and is being groomed for leadership by Salaberrios.

Tyrone’s story is common for Infinity, which began four years ago through Bible studies and community building, and formally launched in November 2006.

“Our No. 1 goal and priority is to get Christ into kids’ lives,” says Salaberrios. He also believes that God has used Infinity’s presence to reduce the murder rate to almost zero in the Bronx River Projects””a complex of nine high-rise towers which is home to almost 20,000 people as well as the new church.

Infinity’s story of success, however, can’t be told without also telling the story of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, located less than 10 miles away in Manhattan. Launched 18 years ago, Redeemer is now spiritual home to 5,000 of the city’s young professionals. […]

In an overwhelmingly secular community, Redeemer’s unique worship settings””including jazz and classical music””diverse makeup and [Tim] Keller’s intellectual preaching style have all resonated among the area’s mostly non-Christian young professionals. In fact about 15% of attendees in any given year don’t yet identify themselves as followers of Christ.

“Growth in itself though is not a goal for the church””evangelism is,” says Keller. That’s why Redeemer became a multiplying church.

“We know the only way to increase the number and percentage of Christians in a city is to plant thousands of new churches, and the only way to change the culture is to increase the number of churches engaged in it,” Keller explains.

So in 1994, Redeemer planted its first two churches, one in Greenwich Village (lower Manhattan) and another in the suburbs, both affiliated with its Presbyterian Church in America denomination. In the 13 years since, Redeemer has planted more than 100 churches””the majority non-Presbyterian””directly or in partnership with other churches, in New York City and other cities.

Enter Infinity. Thirty-three-year-old Salaberrios had fully committed his life to Christ when he was 21””a year after Redeemer planted its first two churches””and began to hold evangelistic rallies for hundreds of kids through Youth for Christ in New York City (YFC; yfc.net). But he noticed that when young people accepted Christ, local churches didn’t receive them as they were. Street manners, tattoos and baggy clothing were considered unacceptable “Sunday best.”

“I kept thinking to myself, ‘What are we going to do with all these kids who are coming to Christ?’ ” Salaberrios relates. “Romans 2:29 talks about circumcision of the heart. It’s not about changing a dress code, but making church relevant.”

Church, culture, relevancy and contextualization””Salaberrios and Keller were speaking the same language, even though their target groups were unmistakably different.

The full article is here.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelism and Church Growth, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Theology, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

Letter of thanks from Bishop Ben Kwashi

Anglican Mainstream has posted a letter of thanks by Bishop Ben Kwashi of Jos, Nigeria, expressing his thanks to all who supported his family following the recent attacks on them.

Dear Fellow Pilgrims,

Today is one of the days in the last eight days that there is clear evidence that your prayers for me, Gloria, the family and the diocese is being answered. I have gathered strength to be able to write this letter to thank each one of you for taking up and sharing our pain with us, for all your mails and phone calls, but most importantly, for praying to the Lord to assist us in our trials. We ourselves have been on our knees for our Korean brethren who have been held hostage by the Talibans in Afghanistan and we are also praying for the people in Darfur ”“ Sudan, Congo and the entire Middle-east region.

It is fairly clear that the unwanted visitors who came to our house on the 24th of July 2007 about 2:00am were clear about their target: they came in with a ladder, sledge hammer, digger and other weapons .They came specifically to the back door, and spent at least 20 minutes before finally breaking in. This gave us some time to call for help. They had a fair idea where my bedroom was, broke the door and met me on my knees praying. They told me that they had come for me and that I should come with them. The rest is what you all know: God intervened, for even though they took me out to the place where they were to carry out their plan, the Lord changed their minds. They brought me back to my bedroom where God’s final victory was demonstrated, as I knelt to pray and read from the Bible Psalm 124 waiting for my death; a little while later Gloria joined me and we were praying together; about 10 minutes later they were gone. They took away valuables, all our cell”“phones, laptop. jewellery and left behind massive destruction.

This letter is to appreciate you all for your prayers, for your support, care and concern. We are living in difficult times all around the world, and we must ensure that our faith in Jesus Christ is firmly rooted and grounded in the word of truth, the scripture, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Read it all here. (And please DO read it all. The best part is the final section which we’ve not posted here.)

For background on the attack and the attempt on Bp. Kwashi’s life, read here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Religious Freedom / Persecution

DVD's of ++Venables' Bible studies available as an Anglican TV fundraiser

Kevin Kallsen of Anglican TV is making Apb. Venables’ bible teachings from last week’s Network Council meetings available on DVD. Proceeds will support Anglican TV’s ministry. Details here.

Or if you’re not in the market for a DVD, but want to support Anglican TV, read here to find out about Kevin’s funding needs for a possible trip to Africa to record the consecrations of bishops-elect Atwood and Guernsey.

Posted in * Resources & Links

Anglican Churches Petition California Supreme Court

Received via email:

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – – Three California Anglican churches today announced the filing of petitions with the California Supreme Court to settle a church property dispute case that affects countless churches and their members throughout California. The three churches are St. James Church in Newport Beach, All Saints’ Church in Long Beach, and St. David’s Church in North Hollywood.

In July 2007, the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division Three, reversed the Orange County Superior Court’s prior ruling that the three former Episcopal churches, which ended their affiliation with the national denomination in 2004, did not forfeit their property by changing their affiliation to another Anglican church. This division of the appellate court broke with nearly thirty years of California church property law applying “neutral principles” (i.e., who holds the deed, who bought or donated the property, and whether the local church ever agreed to turn over the property), and instead ruled that denominations can take over local church property by simply passing an internal rule – even if the local church is separately incorporated, bought and maintained the property, and never consented to the rule.

“Californians respect property rights, and no one, especially a big church bureaucracy, should have the right to confiscate someone else’s property just by passing a rule. For nearly thirty years, and based on U.S. Supreme Court precedent, California courts have respected the property rights of church members who have bought and maintained their property,” said Eric C. Sohlgren, legal spokesman. “By turning the clock back to cases from the 1800’s, the court’s opinion has given big institutional churches a power greater than eminent domain, and thrown this area of law into turmoil and uncertainty. California courts, religious corporations and church members are now left with a patchwork of conflicting court decisions governing ownership of church property,” Sohlgren said.

St. James, All Saints’ and St. David’s, as the sole property owners, never agreed to relinquish their property to the Episcopal Church upon changing their affiliation, and they have consistently maintained that they have the right to use and possess the property they have owned and maintained for decades.

“We are asking the Supreme Court to intervene and declare explicitly that California courts are to apply neutral principles of law in resolving church property disputes,” Sohlgren added.

The churches also seek the Supreme Court’s guidance on a California statute which allows courts to expedite cases where people are sued for exercising their free speech rights, known as the anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) statute. The statute subjects to early scrutiny cases filed by large private interests to deter individuals from exercising their political or legal rights to free speech or to petition the government. Attorneys for the three churches argued that The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Los Angeles are large, wealthy and powerful religious organizations that sought to stifle these fundamental rights when church members spoke out about their disagreements with the Episcopal Church, including through the act of disaffiliation itself.

* * *

A Brief Recap

The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles brought lawsuits against St. James, All Saints’ and St. David’s Anglican Churches and their volunteer board members in September of 2004. Subsequently, the national Episcopal Church intervened into the lawsuits against the three local church corporations and their volunteer board members.

On August 15, 2005, the Honorable David C. Velasquez of the Orange County Superior Court ruled in favor of St. James against the complaint brought by the Diocese of Los Angeles. In October 2005, Judge Velasquez issued a similar ruling in favor of All Saints and St. David’s. The Diocese of Los Angeles appealed the rulings to the California Court of Appeal.

In August 2005, the Complaint in Intervention filed separately by the national Episcopal Church (“TEC”) was still pending in the Orange County Superior Court.

In Fall 2005, the Court granted the three Churches’ challenges to TEC’s original Complaint in Intervention, but gave TEC an opportunity to amend the Complaint (but only if it could do so in good faith). TEC filed a First Amended Complaint in Intervention, which rehashed many of the church-rule arguments the Court had already rejected in prior rulings. The three local churches filed another challenge (called a demurrer) asking the Court to dismiss the First Amended Complaint without further leave to amend on the ground that even if all of the factual allegations were true, they did not state a legal wrong under California law. TEC also appealed that ruling to the California Court of Appeal.

In July 2007, the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division Three, in an opinion authored by Presiding Justice David G. Sills, reversed the Orange County Superior Court’s prior ruling that three church corporations which disaffiliated from the national denomination did not forfeit their property. This division of the appellate court broke with nearly thirty years of California church property law, and Division Two of the Fourth Appellate District, by ruling that general churches can take over local church property by simply passing an internal rule – even if the local church is separately incorporated, bought and maintained the property.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles, TEC Polity & Canons

"This is the way to do it" — an amicable Presbyterian church split

David Fischler, an EPC pastor and blogger has an encouraging story of a church split “done right.” We Episcopalians can only dream of reading such stories. Sigh.

This Is the Way to Do It

The congregation of Middle Sandy Presbyterian Church in Homeworth, Ohio has been dismissed to the EPC by the Muskingum Valley Presbytery with its property and without the necessity of a payoff. Instead, the congregation agreed to honor its mission commitment to the presbytery for the remainder of the year and to take a “love offering” for the presbytery. According to a press release issued jointly by the church and the presbytery:

In a time when church disputes often generate animosity and public suspicion, we believe God worked among us to seek a better way. On April 21st, the Muskingum Valley Presbytery appointed an Administrative Commission to respond to the request of the congregation Middle Sandy Presbyterian Church in Homeworth, Ohio, to be dismissed to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Representatives of the congregation and the presbytery worked together to develop an agreement which will move forward the ministry of Jesus Christ”¦.

In keeping with traditional Presbyterian practice of making decisions through ordered processes which seek God’s guidance, a Commission elected by the Presbytery met with the Middle Sandy Session in a time of Bible study, prayer, and listening so that together they might discern how God’s mission could best be accomplished. The groups mutually agreed that they were led by the Holy Spirit to focus on furthering the mission of Jesus Christ rather than on claims of being right or wrong.

Subsequently, a small group of representatives of each party worked out terms of mutual agreement which concluded with the dismissal of Middle Sandy Presbyterian Church to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church on July 12, 2007.

The full entry is here.

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