Daily Archives: November 2, 2007

Ben Harris: When a movement doesn't pray together

Last month, the Reform movement, the largest synagogue denomination in America, began shipping its long-awaited new prayer book, “Mishkan T’filah” to congregations. More than two decades in the making, “Mishkan T’filah” (literally, “A Dwelling for Prayer”) is billed by its editors as the first prayer book “of the people.” And the people have definitely had a say in its production, having tested out various incarnations at synagogues across the country and at several national conventions. If “Mishkan T’filah” is accepted as the standard prayer text in the movement’s 900 congregations, it could affect how more than a quarter of American Jews pray.

“Mishkan T’filah” replaces “Gates of Prayer,” released in 1975, which in a nod to the movement’s ethos of personal choice contained 10 different worship services from which individuals could choose. The new book offers only one. Its principal innovation is its design, a two-page layout in which each prayer is accompanied by a translation from the Hebrew, a transliteration, a commentary and a “spiritual reading”–all aimed at appealing to multiple orientations within the context of a single service.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(London Times); US bishops face legal action from Episcopal church

Two senior Anglican bishops are facing legal actions from their own church in the US.

In Pennsylvania, the liberal diocesan bishop Charles Bennison has been suspended by the Primate, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, while accusations that he concealed a relative’s abuse of a teenage girl are investigated.

And in Pittsburgh, the conservative diocesan bishop Bob Duncan has been warned that he could face disciplinary procedures under Canon Law over proposals that his diocese seccede from the wider pro-gay Episcopal Church.

Both actions have stunned Episcopalians, who have been left in no doubt that their leader, a formidable woman who was formerly a marine biologist, is determined to take whatever steps necessary, both to stamp out abuse and also to maintain unity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Polity & Canons

Tennessee Town Has Run Out of Water

As twilight falls over this Tennessee town, Mayor Tony Reames drives up a dusty dirt road to the community’s towering water tank and begins his nightly ritual in front of a rusty metal valve.

With a twist of the wrist, he releases the tank’s meager water supply, and suddenly this sleepy town is alive with activity. Washing machines whir, kitchen sinks fill and showers run.

About three hours later, Reames will return and reverse the process, cutting off water to the town’s 145 residents.

The severe drought tightening like a vise across the Southeast has threatened the water supply of cities large and small, sending politicians scrambling for solutions. But Orme, about 40 miles west of Chattanooga and 150 miles northwest of Atlanta, is a town where the worst-case scenario has already come to pass: The water has run out.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Climate Change, Weather, Energy, Natural Resources

Church Times: Primate and rabbis respond to Muslims

In a communiqué, Dr Williams, Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, and Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger said that Christians and Jews should respond jointly to the Muslim letter.

“The ”˜Common Word’, though addressed to Christian Churches, also makes clear its respect for Hebrew scripture in citing directly from the Book of Deuteronomy, and in acknowledging the inspiration that this provided for their understanding of the Qur’anic teaching on the unity and love of God and of neighbour,” they said in the communiqué.

The communiqué also called for the furthering of “universal religious solidarity” by regarding places of worship, Christian, Jewish or those of other faiths, as “sacrosanct and therefore inviolate”.

The three religious leaders said they were “very concerned about the well-being of the ever-increasing number of refugees from Iraq, and the plight of religious minorities, in particular Christian communities in Iraq, and elsewhere in the region”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Islam, Judaism, Middle East, Other Faiths

Anne-Marie Slaughter: U.S. on the Sidelines of Global Trends?

Last week I heard the Singaporean Foreign Minister, a very impressive man named George Yeo, give a twenty-minute address about the rise of Asia and Asia-EU relations in which he did not mention the United States once. Not once.

The occasion was a conference of deans of public policy schools from around the world held at the Lee Kwan Yew School of Government here. To be fair to Minister Yeo, he may have been under the impression that the assembled deans were only from Asia and Europe; hence the focus of his remarks. But regardless, it is a very unusual experience for an American to be sitting listening to the foreign minister of another country, and a very small country at that, talk at some length about major global trends as if the United States didn’t exist.

Unusual, and salutary. After all, many other countries endure that treatment from us.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Globalization

Brian Turner: Requiem for the Last American Soldier to Die in Iraq

At some point in the future, soldiers will pack up their rucks, equipment will be loaded into huge shipping containers, C-130s will rise wheels-up off the tarmac, and Navy transport ships will cross the high seas to return home once again. At some point ”” the timing of which I don’t have the slightest guess at ”” the war in Iraq will end. And I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately ”” I’ve been thinking about the last American soldier to die in Iraq.

Tonight, at 3 a.m., a hunter’s moon shines down into the misty ravines of Vermont’s Green Mountains. I’m standing out on the back deck of a friend’s house, listening to the quiet of the woods. At the Fairbanks Museum in nearby St. Johnsbury, the lights have been turned off for hours and all is dark inside the glass display cases, filled with Civil War memorabilia. The checkerboard of Jefferson Davis. Smoothbore rifles. Canteens. Reading glasses. Letters written home.

Four or five miles outside of town, past a long stretch of water where the moon is crossing over, a blue and white house sits in a small clearing not far from where I stand now. Chimney smoke rises from a fire burned down to embers. A couple spoon each other in sleep, exhausted from lovemaking. One of them is beginning to snore. I want them to wake up and make love again, even if they need the sleep and tomorrow’s workday holds more work than they might imagine.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Iraq War

In Pittsburgh, All eyes on local Episcopal meeting

Episcopalians nationwide are watching as leaders and delegates of the Episcopal Church’s Pittsburgh Diocese converge on Johnstown today to consider separating from their national affiliation.

“It is like my parents are getting divorced,” said Cindy Leap, parishioner at St. Mark’s Episcopalian Church in Johnstown. “I have to pick whether to go with my mommy or daddy.”

A constant struggle over beliefs is deeply affecting local and national congregations, said the Rev. Mark Zimmerman of St. Francis in-the-Fields Episcopal Church near Somerset.

“This is not about the Episcopal Church. There is nobody who is not going to be touched by this,” he said.

“Every major denomination in America is wrestling with this issue. Even though it takes us out of our comfort zone, we have to wrestle with it.

“God is calling us to take a stand.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Episcopal leader warns bishop about expulsion

The head of the Episcopal Church has warned Pittsburgh Bishop Robert W. Duncan Jr. that he will face civil suits and possible expulsion as bishop if a proposed resolution enabling the diocese to leave the denomination passes during today’s diocesan convention.

A diocesan spokesman said the letter from Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, sent by fax to the Pittsburgh Diocese office late Wednesday, was “intended, honestly, to intimidate the convention.”

The 142nd annual convention is being held today and tomorrow in Johnstown.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

Anglican Journal: Schism plans develop after U.S. meeting

The split between liberal and conservative Anglicans grew wider in September as bishops of the U.S. Episcopal Church reaffirmed their denomination’s more-inclusive stance on homosexuality and a breakaway group of bishops moved to form a “new ecclesiastical structure” in North America.

About 150 Episcopal Church bishops met in New Orleans from Sept. 20 to 25, along with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, several primates (national archbishops from other countries) and members of the international Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). At the end of their meeting, the American bishops issued a statement that they said was the best expression of a position on which all present could agree. (Several conservative bishops had left the meeting early.)

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

The Bishop of Utah Writes the PB About the 2008 Lambeth Conference

Received with thanks from the diocese of Utah–KSH.

October 27, 2007

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
The Episcopal Church Center
815 Second Avenue
New York NY 10017-4503

Dear Katharine:

With reference to your letter of October 17 inviting us to comment on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s recent and urgent request of you, The Episcopal Diocese of Utah””Bishop, Deputation, Diocesan Council, Standing Committee and Diocesan Convention””make the following recommendation in the “next steps” part of the request:

We urge you to ask the Archbishop to cancel the Lambeth Conference for 2008.

”¢ The Communion is in such disarray over who recognizes whom, and the participation of “irregularly consecrated” bishops, that little good can come from the fragmented gatherings sure to take place at the Conference, and even attendance at common worship is unlikely.
”¢ We are unclear about the “other issues” being raised around the Communion, although the Archbishop suggests they are “very specific.” Within the constitution and canons of our church we have responded faithfully and courteously to the demands of others, even though questioning their authority to set the conditions of our continued participation in the Communion.
Ӣ We are leery about using the occasion of the Conference to present a Covenant that is exclusionary, that centralizes authority, or that adds to the core doctrine of our faith.
Ӣ The cost of holding the Lambeth Conference under the present circumstances is disproportionate to its benefits, and to the good we can do elsewhere in the mission of the church.
Ӣ Given the disarray we referred to above, we think that a Lambeth Conference in the near future would be disastrous to our public image around the world.

We send you our love and prayers, rejoicing in your strong and grace-filled leadership in these challenging times.


Carolyn Tanner Irish (The Rt. Rev.)
10th Bishop of Utah


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, TEC Bishops

The PA Standing Committee Statement Concerning the Presentment Against Bishop Bennison

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Pennsylvania has issued the following statement with regard to the difficult matters we now face:

Statement Concerning the Presentment and Inhibition Issued Against Bishop Bennison

On Tuesday, October 30, 2007, the members of the Standing Committee and Michael F. Rehill, Special Counsel to the Standing Committee, had a meeting with the Right Reverend F. Clayton Matthews, Bishop for Pastoral Development, Office of Pastoral Development of the Episcopal Church; David Beers, Chancellor to the Presiding Bishop; and his assistant, Mary E. Kostel. At that meeting Chancellor Beers permitted the members of the Standing Committee to read the Presentment against Bishop Bennison which had been issued the prior day, and gave them copies of a draft of the Inhibition which the Presiding Bishop intended to issue with the consent of a majority of the members of the Standing Committee. After a full and frank discussion, all ten members of the Standing Committee gave consent to the Inhibition.

With the issuance of the Inhibition by the Presiding Bishop, pursuant to the Canons of the Episcopal Church and the Canons of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, the Standing Committee will assume the role of Ecclesiastical Authority in the Diocese of Pennsylvania commencing at
12:01 am on Sunday, November 4, 2007.

The Reverend Glenn M. Matis, President of the Standing Committee, made the following statement on behalf of all of the members of the Standing Committee:

We believe that the allegations in the Presentment against Bishop Bennison are profoundly serious and we respect and rely on the work of the Review Committee of The Episcopal Church to have properly and thoroughly investigated these allegations. These allegations were not made by the Standing Committee, but having read the Presentment document carefully and discussed it with Counsel, we felt it incumbent on us to allow the process to go forward as requested by the Presiding Bishop?s office.

We recognize that the Inhibition will greatly expand the role and responsibilities of the members of the Standing Committee. We want to assure the Clergy and people of the Diocese of Pennsylvania that the Standing Committee has and will continue to exercise its canonical responsibilities in the best interests of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Over the next days and weeks, we will be working closely with The Right Reverend F. Clayton Matthews, Bishop for Pastoral Development, Office of Pastoral Development of The Episcopal Church; Judge Michael F. Rehill, Esquire, attorney for the Standing Committee; and diocesan leaders, both lay and clergy, to develop and implement plans for exercising ecclesiastical authority in the absence of a diocesan bishop.

We are humbled as we assume this authority, and we are profoundly aware of our own and the diocese’s grief and sorrow at this time. We ask your prayers for Charles and his family, for the Standing Committee, and for all in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. With faith in Jesus Christ, with assurance of the presence of the Holy Spirit, and with sure reliance on the promises of God that will heal us and make us whole, we pray we may all be drawn together as we face this difficult time. May our hearts and minds be joined in such a way as to make possible the restoration of spiritual health in our beloved diocese, and may we once again become a place of leadership within the Episcopal Church.

Faithfully yours,
The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania

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

Poll: Most OK birth control for schools

eople decisively favor letting their public schools provide birth control to students, but they also voice misgivings that divide them along generational, income and racial lines, a poll showed.

Sixty-seven percent support giving contraceptives to students, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll. About as many ”” 62% ”” said they believe providing birth control reduces the number of teenage pregnancies.

“Kids are kids,” said Danielle Kessenger, 39, a mother of three young children from Jacksonville, Fla., who supports providing contraceptives to those who request them. “I was a teenager once and parents don’t know everything, though we think we do.”

Yet most who support schools distributing contraceptives prefer that they go to children whose parents have consented. People are also closely divided over whether sex education and birth control are more effective than stressing morality and abstinence, and whether giving contraceptives to teenagers encourages them to have sexual intercourse.

Read it all.

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

Archbishop Drexel Gomez: Delay could wreck the Communion

Indecision and delay in responding to the crisis of faith and order over homosexuality will likely wreck the Anglican Communion, the Primate of the West Indies told his diocesan synod last week.

On Oct 22 Archbishop Drexel Gomez told the 107th session of the Diocese of the Bahamas synod gathered at Christ Church Cathedral in Nassau that reform was needed now to save the Communion.“It is clear that the future of the Anglican Communion is unclear at the moment but there can be no doubt that the future shape of Anglicanism will have to undergo significant adjustments if the Communion is to remain intact,” he said.

The adoption of an Anglican Covenant would go a long way towards restoring trust and accountability within the Communion, he said. However, the crisis of gay bishops and blessings could not be paperedover without dire consequences to the integrity of the Church as the consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003 ”˜changed everything,’ he explained.

Archbishop Gomez also said the Communion must also resolve the issue of bishops acting outside their territories and the plight of embattled traditionalists in US and Canadian dioceses and restorecatholic order to the church.

Chairman of the Anglican Covenant Design Group, Archbishop Gomez is considered one of the key international players whose support Dr Williams’ needs to keep the Communion going. The WestIndian primate is not likely to lend his support to the ACC’s attempt to rehabilitate the Episcopal Church, however.

Speaking to The Christian Challenge magazine, Archbishop Gomez said the ACC’s joint standing committee report of Sept that gave the US church a passing grade in complying with the primates’ requests was ”˜was more generous than I feel they should be.’ The Global South coalition of primates is expected to issue a statement this coming week that endorses the position of the African provinces, which held that the New Orleans statement failed to adequately respond to the requests made of the American Church by the wider Anglican Communion.

–This article appears in the November 2nd, 2007, edition of the Church of England Newspaper on page 7

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), West Indies

USA Today: A year before voting, a nation of discontent

Call us the Unhappy States of America.

One year before Election Day 2008, most Americans are dismayed by the country’s direction, pessimistic about the Iraq war and anxious about the economy. Two of three disapprove of the job President Bush is doing. Nearly a year after Democrats took control of Congress, three of four Americans say it isn’t achieving much, either.

In all, 72% of those surveyed in a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Oct. 12-14 say they are dissatisfied with how things are going in the USA while just 26% are satisfied. Not since April have even one-third of Americans been happy with the country’s course, the longest national funk in 15 years.

“Don’t get me wrong, America’s a great country,” says Lori Jones, 46, a medical assistant in Phoenix. But she worries about her family’s finances and prospects for the next generation. “I think we’ve somehow lost our way.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch

LA Times; A 'green' solution for a parched, car-crazy region

To the list of marketing oxymorons — the sunless tan, cheeseless pizza, soap-free detergent — add this: the no-water carwash.

Lisa and Jeff Peri have been peddling Green Earth Waterless Car Wash for only five months but already have gotten some traction, gaining a major local hospital and one of California’s biggest Lexus dealers as customers for their product, which they describe as environmentally gentle.

The Peris’ Inglewood company, which currently goes by the name of its fragrance-free cleaner, also markets a few related products and sometimes will send its employees to wash cars. The entrepreneurs are looking to attract buyers who are sensitive to chemicals in cleaners or concerned about drought, given that washing a car at home uses 80 to 140 gallons of water and running it through a commercial carwash uses 20 to 45 gallons of water.

“We feel like we are doing something life-changing for other people,” said Lisa Peri, 36.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Climate Change, Weather, Economy