Daily Archives: September 6, 2007

Marriage Brokering Booms in Vietnam

In Vietnam, an increasing number of young women are now marrying foreigners through marriage brokers. Last year, more than 10,000 Vietnamese women married men from South Korea alone. But the marriages are often ploys for cheap labor and abuse.

Listen to it all from NPR.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Marriage & Family

New Episcopal Bishop in Olympia brings wit to the job

“I’m going to give it attention,” [Greg] Rickel said. “I want to discern the differences between the covenant and what’s actually on the ground.”

Rickel is an optimistic man. St. James was turned into a flourishing multicultural congregation, 40 percent African-American, 40 percent white and 20 percent Hispanic.

He was active in interfaith relations, and has trained as a presenter in Al Gore’s effort to slow global warning.

“It’s a stewardship issue,” Rickel said. “We are caretakers of God’s creation. The church has a role to be stewards of the resources that God has given us. It’s an issue of faith.”

The new bishop brings wit to the job. Brought up a Methodist, he attended a Catholic high school in Little Rock, whose principal tried to interest him in becoming a Roman Catholic priest.

“I told him, ‘I like girls. I think the pope is sometimes silly. And I don’t like it at communion when you send me to the end of the row.’

“He replied, ‘You sound like a damned Episcopalian.’ ”

Read it all.

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

Chuck Collins Writes His Parish

Dear Christ Church family,

I am writing to inform you about an important matter. The upcoming House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans (September 19- 25) is one of the most important meetings in the history of the Episcopal Church. Weighing in the balance is whether the Episcopal Church will walk with the Anglican Communion or choose to walk away from our Anglican heritage. It’s perhaps the last opportunity for the Episcopal Church to choose “communion” over “independence.” No one expects overnight changes from this meeting, but the House of Bishops actions (or failure to act) will determine the future of the Episcopal Church.

Nineteen “Windsor Bishops,” of whom Bishop Lillibridge is an active member, met a few weeks ago. I have high hopes that their presence at the House of Bishops meeting will be known and recognized, if for nothing else as a minority group of bishops (there are about 120 diocesan bishops in all) who are committed to be constituent members f the Anglican Communion by agreeing to follow the directives of the Windsor Report and the Tanzania Communiqué. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will interrupt his sabbatical to meet with the bishops gathered in New Orleans for the first part of their time, along with the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and representatives of the Anglican Consultative Council.

There is still much that isn’t clear. For example, it’s not clear if moderate uncommitted bishops will join the nineteen in support of traditional values. It’s not clear if the meeting with the Archbishop will impact the invitations to attend Lambeth 2008 (if at all). If it doesn’t impact the invitations as they stand, a number of Global South Primates have already said they will not be attending. It’s unclear how Canterbury will lead: with his personal sympathies, or with the will of the wider Communion that overwhelmingly upholds what the Bible teaches about marriage and sex? And it’s not clear what kind of solution will be offered by the Primates for oversight of churches and dioceses for whom it would be a violation of conscience to continue as Episcopalians.

Even though there are many unknowns, there are some things that are clear at this point. First, there is no indication that Episcopal Church leaders (House of Bishops and our Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori) will change their direction back to traditional and biblical values. And they seem largely unfazed by the possibility of severing our tie to the Anglican Communion. This was evident by their rejection of portions of the Primate’s Communiqué at the last House of Bishops meeting. Secondly, Bishop Lillibridge has repeatedly told the diocese that he will continue to uphold the values and principles of the Windsor Report that uphold traditional Christianity. We have a bishop who courageously stands against the tide for the things that are most important to us and to the people of the Diocese of West Texas. Thirdly, it seems that the different groups and personalities that make up the conservative wing of the Episcopal Church will argue and bicker among themselves, not understanding that different churches have had to respond differently because of different circumstances. And lastly, for the traditional-minded churches and dioceses who feel that they have been pushed off the back of the boat, the Primates will not leave us to drown but will provide some means for us to connect to the Anglican Communion. It’s clear that one of the results of the realignment will be to rethink the way we do dioceses and provinces.

Even though this is an unprecedented time in the life of the Episcopal Church, I couldn’t be prouder of our vestry and people who have stood strong for our core values and for the historic Christian faith. Because we have been principally rather than politically led, we’ve had a clear path to follow. It has demanded more from our vestry and staff in terms of prayer, study and surrender. We love the institutional church in which many of us have come to know Christ and have called home for many years, but we have an even greater commitment to the doctrinal foundations that have always defined what the church believes. Unity that is institutional and not doctrinal is not unity at all (John 17:17).

Bishops Lillibridge and Reed continue to be strong supporters of the Windsor Report and the recommendations therein. I have asked for a Service of Prayer for the Episcopal Church and the House of Bishops. I hope everyone will come. We will celebrate Holy Communion and pray for our bishops on the day their meeting starts in New Orleans. Our vestry members have agreed to each take a day during the House of Bishops meeting to concentrate their prayers for Bishop Lillibridge and Bishop Reed. Please join us in pleading to God for the Episcopal Church.

ALMIGHTY God, giver of all good things, who by thy Holy Spirit hast appointed divers Orders of Ministers in thy Church; Mercifully behold this thy servant, now called to the Work and Ministry of a Bishop; and so replenish him with the truth of thy Doctrine, and adorn him with innocency of life, that, both by word and deed, he may faithfully serve thee in this Office, to the glory of thy Name, and the edifying and well-governing of thy Church; through the merits of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen. (1928 Prayer Book)

With gratitude for God’s mercy,

–The Rev. Chuck Collins is rector, Christ Church, San Antonio, Texas

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Legal groups putting God on the docket

Whether they like it or loathe it, most Americans recognize the American Civil Liberties Union as a constitutional watchdog. Far fewer know of the American Center for Law and Justice, a leader in the flourishing field of Christian legal advocacy that may be less famous but is no less determined to see its views prevail in the nation’s courts and, ultimately, its culture.

The best-financed and highest profile of these conservative Christian legal groups, the ACLJ, headed by aggressive chief counsel Jay Sekulow, has led the way in transforming the complaints of the religious right from raucous protests on the courthouse steps to polished presentations inside the highest courts in the land.

These cases cover a broad range of religious issues, from defending a Texas high school’s practice of prayer at football games to an Illinois pharmacist’s right not to dispense drugs that violate his religious beliefs. Most aim at establishing precedent and all revolve around the conviction of the ACLJ and its colleagues that religious freedom, particularly that of Christians, is under attack by those who want to expunge all religious reference from public life.

Founded by televangelist Pat Robertson in 1990, the ACLJ has an annual budget of $35 million and employs about 130 people, including 37 lawyers, around the world, Sekulow said.

“They’re a very, very significant player in constitutional law, particularly regarding the 1st Amendment,” said Barry Lynn, executive director of the non-profit Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who often has crossed swords with Sekulow.

Sekulow, he said, “had this very clever idea of using what might be called religious arguments in the past and transforming them into free-speech arguments. So children who want to engage in religious speech in a public school are engaging in a free-speech right, not a free-exercise-of-religion right.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Luciano Pavarotti RIP

It is everyone’s loss–simply an incredible voice.

Update: NPR has links to 7 recordings.

Another update: Anthony Thomasini has an appraisal in the New York Times which includes this:

But no one ever mistook the voice of Luciano Pavarotti. There was the warm, enveloping sound: a classic Italian tenor voice, yes, but touched with a bit of husky baritonal darkness, which made Mr. Pavarotti’s flights into his gleaming upper range seem all the more miraculous.

And it wasn’t just the sound that was so recognizable. In Mr. Pavarotti’s artistry, language and voice were one. He had an idiomatic way of binding the rounded vowels and sputtering consonants of his native Italian to the tones and colorings of his voice. This practice is central to the Italian vocal heritage, and Mr. Pavarotti was one of its exemplars.

For intelligence, discipline, breadth of repertory, musicianship, interpretive depth and virile vocalism, Mr. Pavarotti was outclassed by his Three Tenors sidekick and chief rival, Plácido Domingo. But for sheer Italianate tenorial beauty, Mr. Pavarotti was hard to top. That was certainly the position of his longtime manager, Herbert Breslin, who combined his own promotional savvy with his chief client’s vocal greatness to produce the moneymaking phenomenon that was Mr. Pavarotti’s career. Call it Pavarotti Inc.

“Nobody in the tenor world has Luciano’s sound, that Italian sound,” Mr. Breslin told Manuela Hoelterhoff for her wonderful 1998 book “Cinderella & Company.” “Domingo,” he added, “would have to go pray in 17 churches in Guadalajara to find that sound.”

And remember: His father was a baker and his mother worked in a cigar factory. As a young man, Pavarotti sold insurance to pay for voice lessons. May that be a word for all in leadership who are tempted to judge others potential too hastily and not see as God sees. When Fred Astaire made his first screen test at MGM it is alleged the following memo was written: can’t act, slightly bald, can dance a little–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music

Archbishop Peter Jensen's plan to drive home Bible message

EVERY family in Sydney would be given a free Bible under an ambitious plan by the Anglican Church to revive a 19th-century tradition of door-to-door distribution of the word of God.

In an increasingly secular society, it could no longer be assumed that most people had read the Bible, or had one in their home, the Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, said.

Dr Jensen lamented that knowledge and ownership of the Bible – Christianity’s chief evangelistic weapon – is in serious decline, especially among young people

The Bible giveaway – termed Connect09 – will be proposed by the Archbishop at the opening of the Sydney diocese’s annual synod later this month. If endorsed by diocesan representatives, the project will be timed for 2009, the 50th anniversary of the first Billy Graham Crusade, at which Dr Jensen and his brother, Phillip, the Dean of St Andrew’s Cathedral, converted to Christianity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Hartford Courant: Poll Finds Gender Gap In Beliefs, In Church Attendance And In Practice

Kay Bartel and her husband, Fred, went to church every Sunday after they married.

She joined church groups, organized church events and volunteered for church projects.

He put $5 in the offering plate.

“That was the extent of his religion,” said Rocky Hill resident Kay Bartel, a 70-year-old Protestant whose husband died in 2000. “He never did do anything else.”

Bartel and her husband reflect a persistent, nationwide difference in how women and men view the role of religion in their lives – a difference confirmed in a recent poll of Connecticut residents for The Courant. Thirty percent of women, including Kay Bartel, ranked their religious beliefs as “extremely” important in their lives compared with 22 percent of men in the telephone survey conducted last month by the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut.

A significantly larger percentage of women than men also reported attending religious services at least once a week and praying every day, according to the poll, which included the responses of 225 men and 263 women. The margin of sampling error is 4.4 percentage points.

“It’s a nationwide phenomenon that women tend to be more spiritual than men,” said Monika McDermott, research director of the center.

This “religion gender gap” has baffled experts for decades.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

Stephen Rankin: The Enigma of Corinth

In the spirit and tradition of St. Paul, Clement (Bishop of Rome) wrote to the church at Corinth in order to deal with a problem. That problem? Schism. Some fifty years after Paul’s letters, in which he pleads with them to avoid party strife, Clement writes to exhort them for the exact same thing. Ouch! Imagine it: A whole generation lived and died in the Corinthian church, expe-riencing “church” as broken, full of strife and hostility. Hmm.

I’m thinking about Corinth because of General Conference. Delegations are meeting to get ready. In nine months they will gather in Ft. Worth, TX. The tension is already building. We are dealing with the scuttlebutt on various kinds of tactical and contentious matters: “What do you think of the Connectional Table?” “What will happen if the United States becomes a Central Conference?” “Will the homosexuality vote split the church?” What about the Commission on the Study of Ministry recommendation to go another four years?

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Ecclesiology, Methodist, Other Churches, Theology

A London Times Editorial: iPod Therefore I Am

Steve Jobs’s Apple took over from Sony, creator of the Walkman, in conjuring up indispensable products we hadn’t realised we even needed until he presented them to us all in an iconically cute white plastic shell. Apple spawned stylish computers that didn’t require a degree in applied mathematics just to open up a new document; portable music players that could store every great song ever recorded, and also some Simply Red; video iPods; and mobile phones that add spice to keeping in touch.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology

Vicar faces church court for 'lying, bullying and spitting at churchwarden'

A senior Church of England vicar has been accused of being a “bully and a liar” and of spitting at one of his churchwardens, in a rare ecclesiastical court sitting in London.

The Rev Tom Ambrose, 60, vicar of St Mary and St Michael in Trumpington, near Cambridge, is accused of bringing his once “thriving parish” to breaking point. Church wardens resigned, volunteers left and Dr Ambrose ignored the parochial church council, the tribunal was told.

Dr Ambrose told members of the congregation who did not agree with him to leave, sent hate e-mails and made personal attacks on “opponents” during sermons, it was claimed.

Dr Ambrose was once regarded as one of the Church’s leading communications strategists. He also gained a reputation when, about ten years ago, he knocked down a cornered thief in Newmarket, standing over him until the police arrived.

Read it all.

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

Peter J. Surrey: The Future Priest””New and Improved

Recently, there has been considerable speculation as to what type of person would make an excellent priest. Who is best equipped to serve with distinction, the church in troubled times? Given that we are always faced with changing conditions, what is the best human model to seek as a candidate for the priesthood?

To many, including myself, these are among the most important questions facing the Anglican Communion. To some, the best would be an entrepreneurial candidate who can provide more innovative approaches to the future. Others believe the need is for people with a MBA orientation. Such candidates might bring fiscal stability, management and marketing skills to the church. Others, concerned with poverty and injustice, want socially conscious individuals who can speak to the great social ills of our day. These potential clergy would have advanced social and people skills, making them potential agents of social change.

All of these positions have merit and should be examined. Yet to many of us who have been ordained for a long time, there is a hesitation about fully accepting any of them. There are time-tested verities that go with the priestly vocation and of which all people should be aware. These truths are found in the Bible. We must not lose the core of our belief in an effort to create a new and improved priest.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Parish Ministry

US News and World Report: Islam Vs. Science

Almost every standard world history textbook celebrates Islam’s golden age of science. Between the ninth and 13th centuries, Muslim scholars not only translated the great works of Greek medicine, mathematics, and science but also pushed the frontiers of discovery in all of those areas. They improved and named algebra, refined techniques of surgery, advanced the study of optics, and charted the heavens. Then, toward the end of the 13th century, something mysterious happened: The scientific spirit seemed to die almost completely.

Today, most predominantly Muslim countries benefit daily from the fruits of science and technology, and most of the leaders of these nations at least pay lip service to the importance of scientific education. Arab analysts, in recent U.N.-backed reports on the deplorable state of human development in 22 Arab countries, have consistently called for more robust support for “knowledge acquisition” as a crucial step toward catching up with other regions of the world.

Yet according to the distinguished Pakistani scientist Pervez Amirali Hoodbhoy, chair of the physics department at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, the news from the Islamic world is not very encouraging. And if his report in the August issue of Physics Today is accurate, it seems that not only science but the critical reasoning that undergirds it is in a precarious state.

Hoodbhoy marshals an array of data to demonstrate that the commitment to real scientific study and research in Muslim nations still lags far behind international averages.

For example, the 57 nations of the Organization of the Islamic Conference can boast only 8.5 scientists per 1,000 population, while the world average is 40.7. Of the lowest national producers of scientific articles in 2003, half are members of the OIC. The OIC countries spend about 0.3 percent of their gross national product on research and development, in contrast to the global average of 2.4 percent.

Read the whole piece.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Other Faiths, Science & Technology

Remarks by the Rt. Rev. John Guernsey at his Consecration in Uganda

(Church of Uganda News)

Remarks by the Rt. Rev. John Guernsey
At his Consecration as a
Bishop in the Church of Uganda
On 2nd September 2007
St. James Cathedral, Mbarara, Uganda

Mukama Asiimwe! Mukama Asiimwe! [Praise the Lord!]

I want to thank the Archbishop and the Bishops of the Church of Uganda for this surprising call. When I first came to Uganda in 1989, little did I know that one day I would become a priest in North Kigezi Diocese ”“ what a blessing that has been! ”“ and then be consecrated a bishop in the Church of Uganda. But God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways!

I give thanks and praise to the Lord Jesus Christ who saved me when I was a young boy. I was born to Christian parents, but by the grace of God I came to understand that the faith of my parents was not enough. I needed to turn to Jesus Christ for myself. I put my trust in Him and I was born again, and by His mercy I have walked with Him ever since.

There are now 33 Church of Uganda congregations in the U.S. I want you to know of the profound gratitude which these churches have for the protection offered by the Church of Uganda. We praise God for Archbishop Orombi and the House of Bishops, who have paid a high price as they have stood firm for the Gospel and reached out to love and care for faithful Anglicans in America. And now they have taken this step of providing a bishop there in the U.S. to give oversight to these parishes on behalf of their bishops here in Uganda.

As I begin this ministry, the Lord has impressed upon me three priorities, three hallmarks of the Church of Uganda ministry in the U.S.

The first priority is prayer. Jesus said in John 15, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” Everything we do must flow from an intimacy with Jesus Christ born out of prayer. It is in prayer that we are nourished in relationship with the Savior. It is in prayer that we hear the Shepherd’s voice so that we may follow Him. It is in prayer that we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to do His work. Everything we do must be rooted in prayer.

The second priority is mission. “As the Father has sent me,” Jesus said, “so I send you.” Our churches in America are committed to the truth and authority of the Scriptures, but we can only truly claim to be faithful to the Bible if we are missionary churches. We must proclaim Jesus””both His unconditional love and acceptance, and also His transforming power to set us free and make us new. He heals all our brokenness. He redeems all our sin. That is the Good News we share.

I thank God for the East African Revival, which has brought salvation and transformation to countless thousands not only here in this region, but throughout the world. I pray that the fire and fruit of revival will come to the United States, where so many are lost and are, as the Apostle Paul said, “without hope and without God in the world.” And I especially pray that we will be faithful in reaching young people, equipping and empowering them to do the work of ministry in the next generations.

The third priority is unity, the true unity which is found only in the person of Jesus Christ. We have too often seen in the U.S. a counterfeit unity around human institutions. But it is in Jesus, the only Savior, the only Lord, that we unite as sinners saved by grace.

Archbishop Orombi has made clear that in the U.S. the Church of Uganda seeks to join with all the faithful to build a biblical, united missionary Anglicanism in America. We are deeply thankful for the partnership in the Gospel which we have with the Provinces of the Global South. And I praise God for the courage and humility of Bishop Bob Duncan of Pittsburgh, who boldly leads the orthodox Anglicans in America and who points us to Jesus, whose shed blood makes us one.

The verse which the Lord gave to me many years ago for my life and ministry is 2 Corinthians 4:5: “We preach not ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” May the ministry of the Church of Uganda in the United States always be a ministry of servanthood, seeking only to glorify Jesus Christ.

All praise and honor be to Jesus, this day and always.

Mukama Asiimwe!

Posted in Uncategorized

'New Al Qaeda plot to blow up planes on September 11' smashed

The arrests come a day after Danish police conducted raids and took eight young Muslims into custody whom they suspect of plotting a bomb attack and having links with al Qaeda. No direct link has yet been established between the two plots.

Federal prosecutor Monika Harms said the three suspects had bought 700kg (1,500lbs) of hydrogen peroxide to make massive bombs. She said: “We have prevented what we believe would have been the worst terror attacks ever on German soil”.

She declined to name specific targets but said the suspects had an eye on institutions and establishments frequented by Americans in Germany, including discos, pubs and airports.

Citing unnamed security sources in Berlin, the broadcaster Suedwestfunk said Frankfurt International Airport and US Ramstein Air Base were among targets.

Joerg Ziercke, the head of Germany’s federal crime office, said the men had a “profound hatred of US citizens”.

German security sources have reportedly said the men belonged to the Islamic Jihad, an Egyptain terrorist group that merged with al Qaeda in 2001.

Wolfgang Bosbach, an MP with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, said the plot may have been timed to coincide with the anniversary of the 2001 atrocities in the US.

Franz Josef Jung, the defence minister, said: “The attacks were planned for the near future. They presented a real threat to life.”

Read it all. I do not know about you, but I have tried to pray regularly for those invovled in national security and antiterrorism work. It is important–KSH.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Terrorism

Kendall Harmon: A Statement to be Condemned without Reservation

I was very disgusted, upset and saddened to read the statement of Bishop Isaac Orama as quoted by the News Agency of Nigeria in a UPI story who, (if he is quoted accurately, and I am assuming that he is) said that persons involved in same sex behavior “are insane, satanic and are not fit to live.”

It was the Primates of the Anglican Communion who said at Dromantine:

We also wish to make it quite clear that in our discussion and assessment of the moral appropriateness of specific human behaviours, we continue unreservedly to be committed to the pastoral support and care of homosexual people. The victimisation or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship (vii).

They were quite right to say so, and to call us to a such good standard during a stressful time. By that standard, the statement from the UPI story utterly fails.

It is, however, worse than that. We are all in the global village now, like it or not, and the world is indeed flat. So what we say needs to take seriously the resonances that it may bring out in contexts other than our own. There could hardly be a worse statement in a Western context than to say of ANYONE that he or she is “not fit to live.” It immediately brings to mind the Nazi language of Lebensunwertes Leben (“life unworthy of life”) and in flood images and activities too horrendous and horrific for any of us to take in even at this historical distance from the events themselves.

These words are to be utterly repudiated by all of us–I hope and trust–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)