Daily Archives: August 14, 2007
Financial difficulties and drastic changes in the role of the Christian church in society are prompting the leaders of the 11 seminaries connected with the Episcopal Church to reconsider theological education.
The seminaries’ Council of Deans has met three times this year already, twice more than its normal annual meeting, to discuss issues facing the seminaries. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori joined the deans in their March and June meetings.
The Very Rev. Ward Ewing, dean and president of the General Theological Society (GTS) and convener of the Council of Deans, said the deans have realized that because of financial restrictions faced by all the seminaries, “every seminary can’t provide everything for everybody.” Thus, they are exploring how to develop “the kind of coalition so that each seminary becomes a gateway to the resources of all the seminaries.”
The deans’ goal is not simply to improve and strengthen their own seminaries, Ewing said.
“The seminaries exist primarily as servants for the Church,” he said, and are called work together to “provide the resources of the seminaries for the whole Church” so that the seminaries are seen as “adding value to the leadership of the Church.”
From the online Wall Street Journal:
Shares were already lower, but selling in all three indexes picked up after CNBC reported that Sentinel Management Group, a money market fund manager, had asked to halt investor redemptions, suggesting its investors were in a “panic.”
Sentinel’s action “was a pretty drastic thing,” said Stephen Carl, head trader at Williams Capital. The news stirred up the fears about the spreading impact of trouble in the credit markets and alternative investments that have dogged Wall Street for weeks. “It’s just more of the same,” Mr. Carl said.
As you may have heard, we had a preliminary hearing on Friday, August 10, in court, at which the court heard arguments on our demurrers and pleas in bar. (Our demurrer asserted that even if everything The Episcopal Church claims is true, they still would have no case. The plea in bar argued that vestry members are immune from suit for actions taken in an official capacity as volunteers).
After extensive argument over the plea of statutory immunity, the court was prepared to rule but suggested that the parties work out an agreement. After recess, the Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church agreed to dismiss all of the vestry members and rectors as defendants without prejudice and the individuals agreed to honor any determination of the court regarding the plaintiffs’ property claims, subject to their rights of appeal of any adverse ruling.
“We are appreciative that after all these months, our volunteer vestry members and our pastoral leadership are no longer named defendants in lawsuit filed by the Diocese and The Episcopal Church,” said Tom Wilson, Senior Warden of The Falls Church, and Chairman of the Anglican District of Virginia Board of Directors.
As to the ownership of the property, the court stated that it was making a very narrow ruling. The court found that, at this preliminary stage in the litigation, the complaints filed by the Diocese and The Episcopal Church state a sufficient claim to an interest in the property for those claims to proceed to trial where The Episcopal Church and the Diocese will have to put on actual evidence to support their allegations. The court emphasized that it was not making a determination as to any rights, but simply that the complaints alleged enough to get The Episcopal Church and the Diocese past a preliminary motion to dismiss.
However, before those claims proceed to trial, the court has scheduled a hearing later this year to determine whether or not the claims filed by the Virginia churches under the Virginia Division Statute preempt the property claims of The Episcopal Church and the Diocese. If the court rules in favor of the churches under the Virginia Division Statute, that finding will be dispositive (which means that there would be no reason to proceed with the property claims made by the Diocese and The Episcopal Church).
What does all of this mean? Our legal team will be parsing every sentence of Judge Bellows’ rulings for some time, but we should keep in mind that these are preliminary skirmishes in a long battle. Since football season is about to begin, I can’t help but use a couple of analogies”¦
Our demurrer was, frankly, a long shot. Our legal team has told us that, as a practical matter, it is very rare for a judge to dismiss an entire case at this preliminary stage, particularly one with such national visibility. But it was worth a try. Think of it as a long incomplete pass.
We can think of the plea in bar as a touchdown ”“ very good news, but it is still the first quarter of the game. And we must remember that our trustees are still named as defendants, although no claim of personal liability is asserted.
We still have a long way to go, and we still need prayer! We appreciate your support, encouragement and prayer throughout this process.
Anglican District of Virginia
A year after her controversial election as presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, Katharine Jefferts Schori is still hopeful tensions within the denomination and the worldwide Anglican Communion can be resolved.
“I think as a Christian you have to live in hope of reconciliation always,” Jefferts Schori said during a brief stop in Corvallis at the beginning of a weeklong vacation.
“If we can get people to get out of a face-saving mode and refocus on the mission of the church, I think we can learn to live together and stay one body.”
The typical 1970s family is headed by a working father and a stay-at-home mother with two children. The father’s income is $38,700, out of which came $5,310 in mortgage payments, $5,140 a year on car expenses, $1,030 on health insurance, and income taxes “which claim 24% of [the father’s] income,” leaving $17,834, or about $1,500 per month in “discretionary income” for all other expenses, such as food, clothing, utilities and savings.
The typical 2000s family has two working parents and a higher income of $67,800, an increase of 75% over the 1970s family. But their expenses have also risen: The mortgage payment increases to $9,000, the additional car raises the family obligation to $8,000, and more expensive health insurance premiums cost $1,650. A new expense of full-time daycare so the mother can work is estimated at $9,670. Mother’s income bumps the family into a higher tax bracket, so that “the government takes 33% of the family’s money.” In the end, despite the dramatic increase in family income, the family is left with $17,045 in “discretionary income,” less than the earlier generation.
The authors present no explanation for why they present only the tax data in their two examples as percentages instead of dollars. Nor do they ever present the actual dollar value for taxes anywhere in the book. So to conduct an “apples to apples” comparison of all expenses, I converted the tax obligations in the example from percentages to actual dollars.
In fact, for the typical 1970s family, paying 24% of its income in taxes works out to be $9,288. And for the 2000s family, paying 33% of its income is $22,374.
Although income only rose 75%, and expenditures for the mortgage, car and health insurance rose by even less than that, the tax bill increased by $13,086 — a whopping 140% increase. The percentage of family income dedicated to health insurance, mortgage and automobiles actually declined between the two periods.
Crisis of Doubt is an impressively researched, clearly written, and forcefully, even polemically, argued work of scholarship. Moreover, Larsen is careful not to overplay his hand. Despite supplying an appendix of some thirty additional names of erstwhile secularists who found some sort of religion, he acknowledges that reconversion from secularism was not exactly rampant in Victorian Britain. He is also careful to show that his seven converts did not necessarily return to an impeccably conservative form of evangelical Protestantism. In fact most embraced fairly conservative positions on important Christian doctrines, but many held a more flexible view of biblical inspiration, and most remained radical in their social and political orientations. Reconversion did not mean capitulation to the religious or political status quo, and old radicals lived on in new Christian clothes.
By suggesting that the “crisis of doubt” within Victorian secularism was a more common and powerful reality than was the “crisis of faith” among the Victorian intelligentsia, Larsen is hoping not only to correct an exaggerated emphasis on the Victorian crisis of faith but also to show the intellectual robustness of Christianity in the 19th century. Challenging the notion that there was an inevitable and inexorable slide towards Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach,” Crisis of Doubt argues that the tide of faith could come in as well as go out. In that sense the book also acts as an important counterpoint to intellectually sloppy versions of secularization theory.
Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi will consecrate two American priests fleeing the liberal US church over a gay clergy crisis.
Nzimbi will consecrate Bill Atwood and Bill Murdoch on August 30, as assistant bishops in the province of Kenya.
This latest move will create more conservative African outposts amid the liberal American mainstream, which sparked off the divisions by its consecration of gay bishops.
“We are not undermining anybody’s authority. We are saving a situation of people who so much need us,” Nzimbi told Reuters in response to criticism that African bishops were violating church rules.
Ugandan Archbishop, Mr Henry Orombi, also supported the decision.
“In Uganda, we have provided a home for refugees from Congo, Rwanda and Sudan,” said Orombi, who is consecrating John Guernsey of Virginia on September 2. “Now, we are also providing a home for ecclesiastical refugees from America,” he added.
“He’s young,” says Bishop John, “he’s enthusiastic, and he’s a highly respected parish priest. Not only does he have my full confidence, he has the trust and confidence of his colleagues. I am very pleased.”
Ross Bay was born and raised in Papatoetoe, and went to Papatoetoe High School before starting his working life at the Bank of New Zealand. After his theological training, he served a stint as an assistant priest at the Cathedral from 1990 to 1992, under Dean John Rymer.
That experience gave him a glimpse of the role the Cathedral can play as the mother church to Anglicans in this city, and to Anglicans in the wider Auckland diocese.
Fifteen years later, Ross sees that task as more important than ever.
“There’s an increasing trend,” he says, “towards ”˜congregationalism’ in the Anglican Church ”“ that is, for individual parishes to do their own thing without a sense of being part of something much bigger. The Cathedral can really draw the Church together, and be the heart of the diocese.”
There may be little progress on political goals crafted in America, to meet American concerns, by politicians who have a cushion of 200 years of democracy. Washington might as well be on the moon. Iraqis don’t respond well to rules imposed from outside their acknowledged authorities, though I have many times seen Iraqi Police and Army of all ranks responding very well to American Marines and soldiers who they have come to respect, and in many cases actually admire and try to emulate. Our military has increasing moral authority in Iraq, but the same cannot be said for our government at home. In fact, it’s in moral deficit because many Iraqis are increasingly frightened we will abandon them to genocide. The Iraqis I speak with couldn’t care less what is said from Washington but large numbers of them pay close attention to what some Marine Gunny says, or what American battalion commanders all over Iraq say. Some of our commanders could probably run for local offices in Iraq, and win. To say there has been no political progress in Iraq in 2007 is patently absurd, completely wrong and dangerously dismissive of the significant changes and improvements happening all across Iraq. Whether or not Americans are seeing it on the nightly news or reading it in their local papers, Iraqis are actively writing their children’s history.
will almost certainly hit the grim total of 400 executions this month, far ahead of any other state, testament to the influence of the state’s conservative evangelical Christians and its cultural mix of Old South and Wild West.
“In Texas you have all the elements lined up. Public support, a governor that supports it and supportive courts,” said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center.
“If any of those things are hesitant then the process slows down,” said Dieter. “With all cylinders working as in Texas it produces a lot of executions.”
Texas has executed 398 convicts since it resumed the practice in 1982, six years after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a ban on capital punishment, far exceeding second-place Virginia with 98 executions since the ban was lifted. It has five executions scheduled for August.
“Twenty years after the 1987 film ”˜Wall Street’ popularized the catch-phrase ”˜Greed is good,’ this new wave of insider trading cases suggests that the ends-justify-the-means ethos that gripped Wall Street in the 1980s has returned.”
Consider yourself an astute judge of modern culture if ethical and moral faux pas seem more pronounced these days. Unethical decisions, some with legal consequences, have been prominent in business, sports, political and entertainment news. Dan Rather. Britney Spears. Tom DeLay. Martha Stewart.
A study of 21,500 undergraduates that was released last fall by the Center for Academic Integrity found that 74 percent of business majors admitted cheating. Right behind were engineering students at 73 percent, followed by science majors with 71 percent.
Sneaking a tuna sandwich into a theater may seem insignificant compared to out-and-out lying and cheating at the academic level. Of course, the tuna sandwich caper happened before Johnson, once a researcher at UC Davis, became a pastor.