Daily Archives: October 27, 2007

Vienna Divorce Fair Touts DNA Tests, Lawyers for Fed-Up Spouses

Hundreds of Austrians stuck in loveless marriages may lie about their whereabouts this weekend. Instead of pursuing trysts, they’ll be attending a “divorce fair” to plan their return to single life.

At the two-day event in Vienna, fed-up spouses can contract private detectives to spy on philandering mates, hire real estate agents to find a new homes and book vacation packages designed for the newly separated. They can even hire a DNA sampling lab to see if it will really be necessary to pay child support.

“New Beginnings” is the world’s first divorce fair, according to Anton Barz, 37, a wedding organizer who came up with the idea after realizing that half of all unions were doomed.

“Austria’s divorce statistics are shocking,” Barz said in a café near Sigmund Freud’s former home in the Austrian capital. “People get a wedding certificate more easily than a driver’s license and have no idea of the consequences when they crash.”

Around 500 people are expected to attend the fair at the Vienna Marriott Hotel, where 20 vendors — including a local law firm hunting for new clients — will ply them with advice about how to settle their partnership problems.

Austria’s divorce rate rose to 49 percent in 2006 from 29 percent in 1987, according to government statistics released in June.

Read it all.

Update: More here.

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

’55 ”˜Origin of Life’ Paper Is Retracted

Dr. Jacobson conceded that was the case. He wrote in his retraction letter, “I am deeply embarrassed to have been the originator of such misstatements.”

It is not unusual for scientists to publish papers and, if they discover evidence that challenges them, to announce they were wrong. The idea that all scientific knowledge is provisional, able to be challenged and overturned, is one thing that separates matters of science from matters of faith.

So Dr. Jacobson’s retraction is in “the noblest tradition of science,” Rosalind Reid, editor of American Scientist, wrote in its November-December issue, which has Dr. Jacobson’s letter.

His letter shows, Ms. Reid wrote, “the distinction between a scientist who cannot let error stand, no matter the embarrassment of public correction,” and people who “cling to dogma.”

Read it all.

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

Sydney Morning Herald: For Anglicans, A question of staying or straying

“Today in this country, there are few priests I know living in a same-sex relationship. It is hard to measure but my suspicion is that there are many fewer gay people in the church today compared to when I was in my 20s. They seem to have given up on institutional religion and certainly the Christian church.”

David’s story is one of four that was related in an emotional audio presentation to leaders of the Australian Anglican Church this week.

All spoke on the condition of anonymity, their statements read by volunteers. Attendance was compulsory at this “listening process” mandated by the Lambeth Conference in 1998 in its call for dialogue between the church and lesbian and gay Christians.

But as Australia’s Anglican leader, the Archbishop of Brisbane, Dr Phillip Aspinall, lamented this week it has been hard to get cool, rational debate on the vexed issue of homosexuality.

Since the US Episcopal Church consecrated Robinson in 2003, the Anglican Communion has been teetering on the brink of schism. Rival wings of the church are now brawling over the fine details of the US church’s latest promise not to approve any more gay bishops or authorise the blessing of same-sex marriages for at least the next two years.

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen, and his five bishops have not responded to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitation to Lambeth next year, a gathering of church leaders held every decade to plot the global church’s future. At its heart, Jensen says, the gay debate is a contest over the authority and reading of scripture.

“Nobody is saying we should throw gays out of the church,” says Mark Thompson, president of the Anglican Church League, which opposes same-sex blessings and gay clergy because it says homosexual practice is incompatible with Scripture.

“We want gay people to hear about Jesus as we want others to hear about Jesus. The Bible calls on gay people to change their behaviour, just as it calls on me to turn away from temptations, whatever they are,” he says.

Read it all.

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

John Baden–House of Pain: Why Failure Is Important

My banker friend and FREE board member Leon Royer recently wrote: “Too many people (borrowers, bankers, investors and investment bankers) have done too many dumb things for this situation to be resolved without substantial pain disbursed over many folks. No optimistic happy talk will change the curing time; it’s likely measured in years.”

Economist Peter Linneman nailed it more harshly in “Making Sense of the Current Capital Markets Disarray.” He observed: “As for the idiots who lent (often without down payments or documents) to the idiots who bought speculative homes, they deserve to lose. People must understand this simple fact.”

Our pressing danger is not that many folks will go broke, but rather that opportunistic politicians will bail them out and insulate them from past and future folly. We need to find and support those who instead recognize the ecological question: “If correction is not swift, then what will follow?” The longer we wait for a correction, the more massive and painful their suffering — and ours — ultimately must be. That’s the way the world works.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Anglican Essentials Canada on Wikipedia

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces

Father John Zuhlsdorf on some Irish Anglicans who soon may join the Roman Catholic Church

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of Ireland, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

St Mary-le-Bow: Church's historic home in the City

A parish without residents or Sunday services provokes envy in other clergy and puzzlement in lay people. Why should such a parish survive? In fact the churches of the City of London have been subject to repeated review in recent decades. Indeed, after the war a combination of lack of nerve and money, together with Modernist objections, meant that St Mary-le-Bow was nearly not rebuilt. Thankfully, wiser counsels prevailed.

A church such as St Mary-le-Bow has constantly to reinvent itself to reflect the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the culture in which it is embedded. It has to look smart because its constituency ? the financial world of the City ? is used to style almost as much as substance. It needs to direct its sense of the Gospel to those matters that help Christians to make connections between their faith and their work. And for the non-religious, St Mary-le-Bow must continue to assert that the flourishing life of the City of London requires pause, reflection and comment as much as relentless trade and entrepreneurial decision-making.

At St Mary-le-Bow there is today a community of worshippers who offer support and witness to one another, but equally prominent is a desire to minister effectively to institutions ? often the ancient and modern livery companies ? and to contribute to public debate. There is much that Christian wisdom has to say about fair trade, the environment, ethical investment and corporate social responsibility. St Mary-le-Bow encourages public debate from two pulpits ? a liturgical novelty in the postwar church and a tradition of dialogue which goes back to the 1960s, when the then rector wanted the church, innovatively, to communicate its message on the world’s own terms. Since the events of September 2001 in New York, there is today more then ever a powerful need for places where reasonable religion and open debate are espoused; after all, religion can now rock the markets.

Read it all.

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

Historic Preservation Commission postpones decision on St. John's Church

The struggle between preservation and extinction played out at a meeting of the Jersey City Historic Preservation Commission on Monday night.

The object of the struggle: St. John’s Episcopal Church at 120 Summit Ave., a few blocks from the old Jersey City Medical Center.

Earlier this year, a historic preservation group called the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy had filed an application with the Preservation Commission, hoping the structure could get municipal landmark designation. The distinction would protect the building from demolition.

The Conservancy is concerned that the church will be eventually demolished by the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, which currently owns the building.

The Episcopal Diocese closed the church in 1994 after it had served the community for more than 100 years, complaining of a declining congregation and unnecessary costs to maintain it.

At Monday’s meeting, guests heard from a representative for the Landmarks Conservancy and a representative for the Episcopal Diocese.

After two and half hours, the meeting ended with no decision. Instead, the case will continue to be heard at a special meeting of the commission this coming Monday.

Read it all.

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

Mark Vernon on Wonder, Science and Faith

This wonder is different in quality from contemplative wonder, which does not undo but lets be. It involves a conception of science that extends knowledge but admits its limits. Some things are beyond its comprehension and remain intrinsically mysterious. Consciousness, morality and existence itself are obvious candidates – the things that the artistic, religious and moral imagination are so well equipped to ponder.

This difference between intrinsic and contemplative wonder echoes a great divide in the history of science. When the pre-Socratic natural philosophers speculated about the nature of the world, they were contemplating the nature of the gods too: when Pythagoras discovered his theorem it seemed obvious to him to find an altar and sacrifice an ox.

This changed with Francis Bacon, the author of the modern scientific method. He believed that science has the empirical world at its fingertips. Moreover, he thought God had given man the right to unpick and exploit it. “The secrets of nature are better revealed under the torture of experiments than when they follow their natural course,” he wrote.

However, he also knew that this magisterium of experiment did not overlap with the magisterium of religion, which “extends over questions of ultimate meaning and moral value”, in Stephen Jay Gould’s famous formulation.

Read it all.

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

School health centers didn't report underage sex

“When it’s somebody under age 14, it is a crime and it must be reported,” Anderson said. “The health care provider has no discretion in the matter. It’s up to the district attorney to decide.”

Anderson said she contacted Portland officials after she learned that some employees of the health centers, which are operated by the city’s Public Health Division, believed they could decide whether a child’s sexual activity constituted criminal abuse.

In fact, if a child under age 14 was having consensual sex with someone of a similar age, health center employees weren’t reporting it to the proper authorities, said City Attorney Gary Wood.

Anderson said doctors and other health care providers in private practice may falsely believe they have similar leeway, but they must follow the same laws.

“It’s clear that it’s going on all the time,” Anderson said. “Either the law is going to be enforced or it needs to be changed. I don’t think a law should be routinely violated.”

Portland’s six school-based health centers had no formal policy on reporting sexual activity involving students under age 14, said Douglas Gardner, director of Portland’s Department of Health and Human Services.

Gardner said it’s unclear whether any health center employee failed to report suspected cases to the state Department of Health and Human Services, but they did fail to report cases to Anderson’s office.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Sexuality, Teens / Youth

Notable and Quotable

[Peter] SAGAL: A swingers club is in this particular case – and this, I think, is typical of a certain segment of what is called the lifestyle – is a private home that is opened up to carefully vetted couples – couples only – that’s capital C, capital O – for people to come.

This particular place, again, typical, is set up as a kind of private social club. There’s drinks, there’s dancing, there’s conversation. There’s gaming. You want to play poker, a strip poker, anything else. There was a backgammon set. You can hang out. You can be socially. You can be convivial(ph). You can drink your own liquor, of course, because there’s no liquor license. It’s a private accommodation. And…

[Scott] SIMON: And you bring your own bottle…

SAGAL: You bring your own bottle.

SIMON: Like it’s a paint party or something.

SAGAL: Exactly, which you mark with a (unintelligible). And then, if everybody is off a mind, you and anybody who can sense can go off into rooms reserved for the purpose and pursue what everything, anything you want to pursue. It is always understood that this happens with the consent and often participation or at least witnessing of your partner. It is very straightforward.

SIMON: They seem to make a point of separating sex and love.

SAGAL: That is…

SIMON: At least the kind of sex…

SAGAL: …an explicit point. I mean…

SIMON: Yeah.

SAGAL: …this has nothing to do with intimacy. You’re confusing sex with intimacy, said the owner of the club to me, and I – to which my response should have been, well, doesn’t everybody? I mean, isn’t sex intimacy? I mean, isn’t it in fact almost a synonym? And to them it is not.

In a weird way, emotional attachment must be the kind of social disease that can ruin all the good times going on. That would be my supposition. Nina Hartley, the world’s most articulate porn star, who I also talked about in the book…

SIMON: Yeah.

SAGAL: She maintains that the idea of sexual orientation is far, far more complicated than the way we usually mean it – straight or gay. She thinks that it applies to all kinds of different interests, abilities, lack of abilities, enthusiasms, immunities, and I certainly think that this is true of this particular scene, that you have to be of a particular mind. You have to be the kind of person who not only thinks of sex in a particular way but feels it in a particular way, or rather maybe more to the point it doesn’t feel in a particular way to enjoy the scene.

NPR’s Peter Sagal during an interview about his new book The Book of Vice: Very Naughty Things (and How to Do Them).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sexuality

Richard A. Shweder: A True Culture War

Is the Pentagon truly going to deploy an army of cultural relativists to Muslim nations in an effort to make the world a safer place?

A few weeks ago this newspaper reported on an experimental Pentagon “human terrain” program to embed anthropologists in combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan. It featured two military anthropologists: Tracy (last name withheld), a cultural translator viewed by American paratroopers as “a crucial new weapon” in counterinsurgency; and Montgomery McFate, who has taken her Yale doctorate into active duty in a media blitz to convince skeptical colleagues that the occupying forces should know more about the local cultural scene.

How have members of the anthropological profession reacted to the Pentagon’s new inclusion agenda? A group calling itself the Network of Concerned Anthropologists has called for a boycott and asked faculty members and students around the country to pledge not to contribute to counterinsurgency efforts. Their logic is clear: America is engaged in a brutal war of occupation; if you don’t support the mission then you shouldn’t support the troops. Understandably these concerned scholars don’t want to make it easier for the American military to conquer or pacify people who once trusted anthropologists. Nevertheless, I believe the pledge campaign is a way of shooting oneself in the foot.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces

California Residents Face Weeks of Hardships

With the worst of the wildfires dying down, many Southern Californians lucky enough to find their homes still standing could nevertheless face hardships for weeks to come, including polluted air, no electricity and no drinking water.

Power lines are down in many burned-over areas, and the smoke and ash could irritate people’s lungs for as long as the blazes keep burning.

Randy and Aimee Powers returned to this mountain community in San Diego County on Friday to find their home without electricity or water, after fire trucks drained the town’s reservoir.

“It’s better to be at home. We’re going to stick it out and do whatever we have to do up here to survive. We’ll make it through,” said Randy Powers, who joined a half-mile-long car caravan on Ramona’s Aqua Lane.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch

Rochester man elected as Maine Episcopal bishop

Read it all.

Update: There is a lot more here, including this:

The Rochester diocese serves 12,000 members and 52 congregations in upstate New York, where Lane has lived his entire life. The Maine diocese has 17,000 members and 67 congregations.

Lane and his wife, Gretchen, a special education teacher, expect to relocate to Maine in early April. The couple have three grown children and four grandchildren.

“I’m delighted that the convention was so clear about who they want as their next bishop,” Knudsen said after Lane’s election was announced shortly before noon. “Electing him on the first ballot is a clear signal that they are ready to begin their ministry with him.”

She was elected the first female bishop to serve the diocese in November 1997 on the fifth ballot. Knudsen succeeded the Right Rev. Edward C. Chalfant, who went on paid leave in April 1996 after it became public that he had an affair with an unmarried woman. The next month, the statewide Standing Committee asked Chalfant to resign when allegations were made of an abuse of power.

Knudsen will visit family in Europe and rest next fall, then do missionary work in Haiti, she said of her retirement plans.

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

Ed Beaven: Archbishop’s letter divides opinion

A letter sent by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s describing his views over the ecclesiology of the Anglican Communion has provoked mixed reactions on both sides of the debate.

In the letter to the Rt Rev John W Howe, Bishop of Central Florida, (pictured) the Most Rev Rowan Williams said that the diocese, rather than the national church or the province, is the primary ecclesial entity within the Anglican Communion.

This view has angered many liberals in the United States who feel this undermines the position of The Episcopal Church. But observers are divided over the possible implications of the letter. In the meantime Lambeth Palace has issued a clarification stressing that the letter’s contents are simply restating the conventional understanding of ecclesiology and that it is not to be viewed as an ”˜ex cathedra’ utterance.

The Rev Richard Jenkins, Director of the Affirming Catholicism group within the Church of England, said the Archbishop had articulated a ”˜very authentic Catholic theology of the Church which places the centre of mission at the level of the diocese’.

“The diocese is the local church, it’s the ancient model and what the Church of England inherited and it’s what he’s trying to maintain, it’s not anything new.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Theology