Daily Archives: August 19, 2007

No Longer Lost, a Refugee Accepts Call to Leadership

About 7,000 miles separate Grace Episcopal Church here, where the Rev. Zachariah Jok Char preaches most Sundays, from the small town of Duk Padiet in Sudan, where he was born.

The tally of the miles started about 21 years ago when Mr. Char was 5 and militias backed by the Sudanese government attacked his town during the civil war in the south. He saw the explosions from the field where he was playing, and he fled. He met other boys who had escaped similar attacks, and they started walking.

“I still remember what I was wearing then: red shorts and a T-shirt,” said Mr. Char, sitting in an empty pew one afternoon at the church. “I didn’t have shoes. Some were naked.”

The orphans, mostly boys, walked more than 1,000 miles to Ethiopia from Sudan over three months, Mr. Char said. Later, they were forced to walk to Kenya. Thousands died. The West called them the Lost Boys.

Those boys are men now, and here and in cities like Atlanta and Burlington, Vt., the 3,800 who were resettled in the United States beginning in 2001 are trying to build lives and weave communities. For many, their Christian faith, often Anglicanism, is at the heart of their efforts.

Even as they struggle with school, work and frequent bad news from home, recent Sudanese immigrants have moved rapidly to establish congregations, often with the help of local Episcopal parishes. For the Sudanese, church is a place where they can be themselves after being Americans all week, where they can hear Scripture in their native language and where they can reconstitute a culture they only began to know as children.

“We want to pray God, God who brought us here,” Mr. Char, 26, said of the formation of the congregation at Grace Episcopal. “It was not a human decision but a God decision that we are here.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry

The Economist: The game is up

THE old-fashioned financial system was like Old Maid, a parlour game once beloved of small children. The banks were like players, dealt hands from a pack of cards, which they swapped among each other. At the end, one player was left holding a lonely queen””a bad debt, if you will””and lost. Over the past few decades the game has changed. Securitisation has snipped the old maid into pieces; new faces, such as hedge funds, have joined the party, enabling the banks to distribute those pieces among a larger number of players. When the game is over, lots of players are left holding small losses instead of one player holding a big one.

During two exceedingly prosperous decades, that theory seemed to work just fine. But the swings in almost all financial markets this month have made dispersed risk suddenly morph into dispersed mistrust. The uncertainty has been magnified by the way that bad risks have become so hard to value. Investors have bought asset-backed securities that use shaky subprime mortgages in America as collateral, but as defaults have risen, the value of that collateral has tumbled.

Read it all and there is more on the Fed’s response there.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Notable and Quotable

“Thank God there are those in the contemporary church who are determined at all costs to defend and uphold God’s revealed truth. But sometimes they are conspicuously lacking in love. When they think they smell heresy, their nose begins to twitch, their muscles ripple, and the light of battle enters their eye. They seem to enjoy nothing more than a fight. Others make the opposite mistake. They are determined at all costs to maintain and exhibit brotherly love, but in order to do so are prepared even to sacrifice the central truths of revelation. Both these tendencies are unbalanced and unbiblical. Truth becomes hard if it is not softened by love; love becomes soft if it is not strengthened by truth. The apostle [Paul] calls us to hold the two together, which should not be difficult for Spirit-filled believers, since the Holy Spirit is himself ”˜the Spirit of truth,’ and his firstfruit is ”˜love.’ There is no other route than this to a fully mature Christian unity.”

–John Stott, The Message of Ephesians (Downer’s Grove, Illinois: InterVarsityPress, 1979), p. 172

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * General Interest, Notable & Quotable

Veterinarian Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald Tells the Story of a man who Brought in his Ailing Pet Spider

Former rock and roll bouncer and current host of Animal Planet’s, Emergency Vets: Interns, Kevin Fitzgerald tells a story here which is side splittingly funny. Listen to it all from Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me (go down to the “Not my Job” segment and begin just past 3 minutes in).

Posted in * General Interest, Humor / Trivia

Archbishop Peter Akinola: A Most Agonizing Journey towards Lambeth 2008

With about seven weeks to go, hope for a unified Communion is not any brighter than it was seven months or ten years ago. Rather, the intransigence of those who reject Biblical authority continues to obstruct our mission and it now seems that the Communion is being forced to choose between following their innovations or continuing on the path that the church has followed since the time of the Apostles.

We have made enormous efforts since 1997 in seeking to avoid this crisis, but without success. Now we confront a moment of decision. If we fail to act we risk leading millions of people away from the faith revealed in the Holy Scriptures and also, even more seriously, we face the real possibility of denying our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The leadership of The Episcopal Church USA (TECUSA) and the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) seem to have concluded that the Bible is no longer authoritative in many areas of human experience especially in salvation and sexuality. They claim to have ”˜progressed’ beyond the clear teaching of the Scriptures and they have not hidden their intention to lead others to these same conclusions. They have even boasted that they are years ahead of others in fully understanding the truth of the Holy Scriptures and the nature of God’s love.

Both TECUSA and ACoC have been given several opportunities to consult, discuss and prayerfully respond through their recognized structures. While they produced carefully nuanced, deliberately ambiguous statements, their actions have betrayed them. Their intention is clear; they have chosen to walk away from the Biblically based path we once all walked together. The unrelenting persecution of the remaining faithful among them shows how they have used these past few years to isolate and destroy any and all opposition.

We now confront the seriousness of their actions as the year for the Lambeth Conference draws near..

Read it all.

Update: Simon Sarmiento has very helpfully provided a more user-friendly version of this document.

Another Update: Stephen Noll has a comment here in response which includes the following:

…In terms of the present crisis, I think he is clear that he sees it has culminating in seven weeks, not at Lambeth 2008. Indeed, he has been quite clear about this for at least 18 months since commissioning “The Road to Lambeth.”

I hope against hope that Canterbury will heed Abp. Akinola’s call and take the necessary disciplinary steps against those who have openly defied God’s Word in Scripture and the fundamental articles of the Communion’s identity. I say “hope against hope” because I fear Rowan Williams does not see the situation with the same eyes. But even beyond his personal views, I think he probably represents the Church of England’s inability to accept the reality that a new day has dawned, not ruled from the Anglo-American centers of power. As I have written elsewhere in “The Global Anglican Communion: A Blueprint,” I do not think the Communion can or should be governed as it has in the past. The sacred “Instruments” themselves are of relatively recent origin and overlapping in authority and function. A Communion Covenant is a good thing, but only if it addresses the issues and structures that have led to the present disruption.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Episcopal Church (TEC), Instruments of Unity, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

'The Wall' Brings a Grim World Back to Life

Peter Sis’ new graphic book for children and adults is called The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain. The book depicts life as Sis saw it while growing up under communist domination in Prague. Sis speaks with Scott Simon.

This is a terrific interview and it sounds like a great book. I visited behind the Iron Curtain in 1977 when I was in high school and hope I never forget what it was really like. Listen to it all.

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

NPR–Size Matters: The Hidden Mathematics of Life

Why do big [animals]… use up energy more slowly?

Three scientists at the Santa Fe Institute, an interdisciplinary institute in northern New Mexico, took up this question a few years ago and discovered that if you compare elephants to lions to housecats to mice to shrews, you discover that heartbeats vary in a precise mathematical way.

The mathematical principal is called Quarter Power Scaling and it is described beautifully in “Of Mice and Elephants: A Matter of Scale,” by New York Times writer George Thompson. But here is the heart of it: Nature goes easy on larger creatures so they don’t wear out too quickly.

After all, an elephant has trillions more cells than a shrew and they all have to connect and communicate and distribute energy and keep the animal going. In a little animal, the job is easier. In a big animal, there are so many more blood vessels, moving parts, longer pathways, there is so much more work to do, the big animal could break down much more quickly.

So Geoffrey West, Jim Brown and Brian Enquist discovered that nature gives larger animals a gift: more efficient cells. Literally.

Listen to it all and note carefully Professor West’s discussion of religion when he discovers the hidden mathematical unity of all of life..

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

Tom Krattenmaker: Should God go to the ballgame?

On Sunday, Christian baseball fans will stream into Dodger Stadium for what is becoming more common fare at professional ballparks across the country — “faith day.”

Following the Dodgers vs. Rockies game, fans with special tickets will gather in a corner of the parking lot for a concert by the Christian rock band Hawk Nelson, an appearance by characters from the “Veggie Tales” Christian television program and testimonials by several devout Dodgers. The purpose, according to event organizer Brent High, is to promote the Gospel of Jesus.

High and his Christian events-promotion company, Third Coast Sports, have been organizing faith days and faith nights around minor league baseball for years. They reached the major leagues last season with three events at Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves, and will be in 10 major league cities this season. The event at Dodger Stadium will be the first in L.A.

These events, which blend religion and commerce, are the product of a partnership between High’s company and host teams. Third Coast undertakes energetic outreach to evangelical churches, getting baseball-loving church members (and, more important, their unconverted invitees) to turn out for the game and a special religious program. Believers nourish their faith and perhaps extend it to others, and teams welcome the typical surge in ticket sales and action at the merchandise and food stands. The result, according to High, “is happy teams, happy churches.”

But not everyone is so happy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Sports

Religion and Ethics Weekly: Genetic Enhancement

LAWTON: Mitchell is genetically predisposed to be short. His mom, Lisa, is 5’3″ and Doug, his dad, is 5’4″. Their doctor projected that Mitchell may not get any taller than 5’1″ and he suggested human growth hormone might help add two or three more inches to that. They decided to try it.

LISA GREENWOOD: For Mitch, there have already been things in his life that he’s wanted to do that he’s been unable to do because he’s too small. I think that parents will always choose the things that will help their kids grow to be happier, more productive adults.

DOUG GREENWOOD: Some with reason and some without reason, you know. I think this has been a reasonable choice that we’ve made.

LAWTON: But as biotechnology advances, some ethicists are raising moral concerns about the extent to which parents may try to make even more radical alterations.

Harvard Professor Michael Sandel is a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics and author of the new book THE CARE AGAINST PERFECTION. He warns of a slippery slope in the drive toward enhancement.

Professor MICHAEL SANDEL (Department of Government, Harvard University): Aiming at giving our kids a competitive edge in a consumer society””that, in principle, is a goal that is limitless. It has””there is no end. In fact, one can imagine a kind of hormonal arms race, or genetic arms race, whether it’s to do with height or IQ, conceivably, in the future.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Theology