Daily Archives: August 28, 2007

From the No Comment Department

BEIJING ”” Police in China’s capital said Tuesday they will start patrolling the Web using animated beat officers that pop up on a user’s browser and walk, bike or drive across the screen warning them to stay away from illegal Internet content

Posted in China

Integrity Responds to List of Candidates for Bishop of Chicago

(Press Release)

“The big news today is that discernment has trumped discrimination in the Diocese of Chicago,” said Integrity President Susan Russell. “The inclusion of the Very Rev. Tracey Lind on the list of five extraordinarily qualified candidates for Bishop of Chicago is a bold step forward and a sign of hope and encouragement not only to LGBT Episcopalians but to the whole church. Her experience and leadership make her an excellent candidate and Integrity applauds the Diocese of Chicago for not allowing the forces advocating bigotry over ability to dominate their nomination process.

It is long past time for the Episcopal Church to acknowledge that B033 — the 2006 resolution designed to prevent the election of a gay or lesbian bishop — has failed in its attempt to balance the unity of the Anglican Communion on the backs of the LGBT faithful. There is no turning back on the full inclusion of the baptized into the Body of Christ — only moving forward into God’s future as an Episcopal Church committed to mission and ministry, to unity in diversity.

Integrity extends congratulations to all the candidates, any one of whom will make a fine bishop for the Episcopal Church. The Diocese of Chicago’s diverse list of qualified candidates is a sign of the end the ‘season of fasting’ at the expense of the vocations of gays and lesbians in the Episcopal Church and the whole church should rejoice and be glad in that!

(The Reverend) Susan Russell, President

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

Chicago Standing Committee announces nominees for bishop

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

France's Sarkozy raises prospect of Iran airstrikes

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Monday a diplomatic push by the world’s powers to rein in Tehran’s nuclear program was the only alternative to “an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran.”

In his first major foreign policy speech, Sarkozy emphasized his existing foreign policy priorities, such as opposing Turkish membership of the European Union and pushing for a new Mediterranean Union that he hopes will include Ankara.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Europe, Iran

Glynn Cardy Reflects on the model of the church as a ship

Archbishop Helder Camara once wrote:

“Pilgrim: when your ship, long moored in harbour, gives you the illusion of being a house; when your ship begins to put down roots in the stagnant water by the quay: put out to sea! Save your boat’s journeying soul, and your own pilgrim soul, cost what it may.”

There are some churches that resemble houses, and some that resemble ships. One well-known hymn, Christ is Made the Sure Foundation, suggests the church is like a house and Christ the cornerstone. With sure biblical foundations the church will be rock-solid, able to withstand the storms of change and doubt. If one considers the church to be more like a ship than a house, however, then the Bible ceases to be a brick to fortify your structure but is spiritual food for the journey. The traditions of the church cease to be rules to keep but helpful hints to guide. God too changes.

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Posted in Ecclesiology, Theology

More than 160 children who died in the early 1900s are embraced by church

When he heard the question — “Do you want to know where the others are buried?” — Aristotle Flessor knew the mystery that haunted his family was far greater than he imagined.

It wasn’t just his sister-in-law who was buried in an unmarked grave in Evergreen Park more than 70 years ago, but 160 other young children had graves, mostly unmarked, there as well, a cemetery worker told him.

Stunned, Flessor took that information back to his friends at Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Palos Hills. And, together, they worked to erect a monument in honor of the dead, calling it “A Child of God Memorial.”

Flessor, who first inquired about his relative three years ago, didn’t live long enough to see the monument, which is set to be unveiled at 10 a.m. Saturday at Evergreen Cemetery and Mausoleum.

But a longtime friend and fellow parishioner, Frank Manta, carried on his work, visiting the cemetery and learning the names of the children. Manta, with a group of supporters, including Flessor’s brother, Lee, raised about $52,000 for the monument: a 6-ton black granite marker that stands more than 7 feet high.

The monument bears the names of the deceased and includes a statue of Christ with two small children.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry

Debate over same-sex marriages simmers for Canadian Anglicans

Davies-Flindall has not always felt strongly in favour of same-sex blessings. She started “with the question” and soon associated advocating for this issue with her humanitarian work through the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund.

“I hear stories of people who feel deeply about a church they think of as their own, but don’t feel accepted in it,” she said. “People said ‘I love this

church but I can’t stay.’ It made me understand that I need to look more seriously at the argument.”

The issue is around same-sex blessings rather than same-sex marriage because when it first arose, the latter was not legal in Canada, Oulton said. Same-sex blessings involves the church blessing a civil union that was legalized elsewhere. The issue has affected many Protestant denominations, he said.

Oulton will not say if he is for or against same-sex blessings, only that the church should proceed “very carefully.” Any movement needs broader consensus, he said.

“The push is very divisive at this stage of the game,” he said. “My feeling is that we need to continue to have the conversation. It’s trying to sort out the mind and will of God, which is complicated at the best of times.”

He also felt that people were frustrated with the votes at General Synod.

“I don’t think we did what we were asked to do at all,” he said. “People were very frustrated. I really believe it’s critically important we encourage diverse people with diverse viewpoints to stay at the table.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Chicago Tribune: As home loan market tightens, mounting credit card debt could spur new crisis

It’s not just a problem for the working poor, credit counselors say. Many middle- and upper-class households have come to view credit card debt as a reality of modern life.

“The psychology about carrying credit card debt has changed. What used to be a shame is just an additional way to buy stuff, and stuff is the operative word here,” said Catherine Williams, vice president of financial literacy at Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Chicago.

Freda Price, a divorced mother of two in Bethlehem, Pa., is trying to get her credit card debt under control. Five years ago, Price had a $49,000 mortgage and no significant credit card balances. But she now is struggling with $100,000 in mortgage and credit card balances because she has refinanced and used the cards to pay for attorneys in a long-running dispute over child custody with her ex-husband.

Price is close to hitting the maximum borrowing limit on her four credit cards, which are consuming about $300 a month in minimum payments. She finds herself charging gas and groceries on the cards, which she doesn’t like.

“The sad thing is I never had any of this debt before,” she said. “I have to pay the minimum because I can’t afford much more.”

Price’s credit cards also are preventing her from saving for retirement. She is contributing only 1 percent to her 401(k) plan even though her insurance company employer matches up to 3 percent.

“I’m just between a rock and a hard place. I pack my lunch. I get the newspaper at the house. We don’t go out to eat. We don’t do much of anything,” said Price, 51. “I was always very thrifty, but I don’t know where else to cut.”

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

In reality, breaking up doesn’t feel that bad

“On average, people overestimate how distressed they will be following a breakup,” Finkel said in a telephone interview.

The nine-month study involved college students who had been dating at least two months who filled out questionnaires every two weeks. They gathered data from 26 people ”” 10 women and 16 men ”” who broke up with their partners during the first six months of the study.

The participants’ forecasts of distress two weeks before the breakup were compared to their actual experience as recorded over four different periods of time.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Psychology

Samuel Wells Reviews Tom Wright's Evil and the Justice of God

Woody Allen famously pointed out that the problem is not that God doesn’t exist, but that he is an underachiever. The philosophical tendency for at least the past three centuries has been to assume that the human estimation of God is more significant than the divine estimation of humanity. And “evil” names the extent to which, in human estimation, God’s purposes have invariably been found wanting.

In a lucid treatment of this perennial conundrum, N. T. Wright argues that pondering the “problem of evil” is an activity that displaces us from the business of implementing the healing, restorative justice of God. The problem of evil is philosophically located in theoretical analysis of an inherently distant God””that is, the deist God of the Enlightenment. By contrast, Wright engages with the scriptural God, revealed through narrative rather than theory and addressed through lament, obedience, discipleship and faith rather than through dispassionate analysis””in short, the God of Jesus Christ. Christ’s death and resurrection, the promise and embodiment of forgiveness, and the hope of God’s final victory make the people of God a people who bring into the present a reconciliation that is assured in the future.

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

Reuters: Africa gives refuge to traditional U.S. Anglicans

“We are not invading other people’s territory as such but preaching the gospel, the way it was brought to us, the way it is written,” [kenyan Archbishop Benjamin] Nzimbi said.

And he said the only way to bridge the schism was for the liberal churches to repent: “The way we can have one understanding is through repentance, that is the key word.”

The primate denied the Africans were motivated by monetary gain to consecrate American priests.

“It is not a question of finances,” Nzimbi said. “Here in Africa we are used to living under difficult situations and we are not ready to compromise because of finances. No.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

Brian Douglas: Paul Zahl's Eucharistic Theology

[Paul] Zahl however does concede that “the presence of Christ’s absence is found within the works of love” (Zahl, 2000: 37). He describes this as:

“an unseen presence within the historic absence that is in fact more tangible and more universal than of the symbolic or objective substitutes we have criticized as being insufficient, unworthy, and autonomous in relation to God’s will. There is only one ”˜form’ of the unseen presence of his absence that persists in every age and time. The form of his absent presence is the form of love” (Zahl, 2000: 37).

It seems that this ”˜form of his absent presence’ as love is not seen as objectifying human activity since its source is God rather than the actions of people. Love, as Zahl portrays it, comes from God as grace which forms the human person to resemble Christ’s love. For Zahl this is a work of grace and not works. He says that: “the works of love derive from prior grace. The works of love since A.D. 29 are pressed and stamped with the image of Christ’s life from 4 B.C. to A.D 29.” (Zahl, 2000: 39). It is these works of love that Zahl sees as the presence of Christ in the world.

Zahl’s work is useful that it helps to establish that there is both a Protestant and a Catholic face of Anglicanism. It is less useful though in the way Zahl seeks to analyse these faces. His dependence on party position and overly simplistic treatments of persons and the philosophical underpinnings of their work limits the usefulness of his contribution. Zahl’s work however, does serve to illustrate a trend among some Anglican Evangelicals, that is, to dismiss any notion of realism, through the sacramental principle or sacramental mediation of grace, and to type-cast and exclude any moderate realist notions in connection with the Eucharist as by definition immoderate in nature.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Eucharist, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Joseph Nieman: A great failure to live into a strategy for the mission of Christ in Western Michigan

The failure leading to the sale of the cathedral lies with the lack of a serious commitment to evangelism. There is no growth strategy into which the cathedral would fit. Such a strategy has little to do with the current inflammatory issues of homosexuality or church polity. Rather the inability of the people in the pews to speak convincingly about three key questions resulted in a great silence about the mission of The Episcopal Church.

The first question about which people should speak with friends and neighbors is simple: Why Jesus? Why do people need and benefit from a personal relationship with the risen Lord? Can we share with them how that leads to “the peace of God which surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7)? Can we demonstrate both in word and deed how that relationship has changed our lives?

The second question also is simple: Why the Church? Why do Christians need to assemble together? Why is it not possible to be a faithful Christian alone? Can we speak convincingly about how our participating in congregational life strengthens and expands our faith? It is in the assembly of disciples that we learn to love one another as Christ has loved us, that we learn to forgive one another 70 times seven, that we learn to pray and worship as our Lord taught us to do, and that we learn to serve one another and persons in need like good Samaritans.

Third: Why this church? Why The Episcopal Church and this particular congregation? The diversity of the congregations, the search for meaning in relationship to crucial questions of life and culture, the significant exposure to scripture in the lectionary, community and world service in Christ’s name, the awesome nature of good worship with joyful hymns of praise ”“ these are but a few of the reasons why this church.

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

David Harsanyi: Charter school merits imitation, not resentment

When Cesar Chavez Academy opened its doors seven years ago, enrollment was 240. Today the number stands at 1,100.

Other things have changed as well. These students – most of whom are Latino kids from low-income neighborhoods – are now some of the highest achievers in the entire state.

Lawrence Hernandez, founder of the school, says 3,000 students are on the waiting list to attend.

That there’s a single kid on that waiting list is a travesty.

The U.S. Department of Education will honor Cesar Chavez Academy for its success in closing the achievement gap among Latino students.

The school was one of six charter schools nationwide to be recognized. It was one of only two picked to be featured in a documentary about successful schools to air nationwide Sept. 18 on PBS.

In Colorado, Cesar Chavez already has a sterling reputation. High marks come from nearly every corner of the educational establishment. Incredibly, this success comes, according to Hernandez, by operating with 40 percent less money per student (after paying for their own building and other expenses) than the typical public school does.

With all this success, one wonders why Cesar Chavez Academy, and similar schools, are constantly struggling to overcome barriers laid in their way by local and state governments.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

Financial Times: Credit-card defaults on rise in US

US consumers are defaulting on credit-card payments at a significantly higher rate than last year, raising the prospect of problems in the stricken US subprime mortgage market spreading to other types of consumer debt.

Credit-card companies were forced to write off 4.58 per cent of payments as uncollectable in the first half of 2007, almost 30 per cent higher year-on-year. Late payments also rose, and the quarterly payment rate ”“ a measure of cardholders’ willingness and ability to repay their debt ”“ fell for the first time in more than four years.

Analysts at Moody’s, the rating agency, said the trend could be related to the slowdown in the US property market and a fall in the number of borrowers rolling their mortgage debt into new and cheaper home loans.

“The combination of higher interest rates and a softer real estate market diminished the attractiveness of mortgage refinancings in which many borrowers reduced their more expensive credit-card debt by drawing on the equity in their home,” Moody’s said.

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