Daily Archives: November 21, 2007

Notable and Quotable

[Steven] Van Zandt has a way to counter all this, at least where music is concerned. He’s drawn up a high school music curriculum that tells American history through music. It would introduce students to Muddy Waters, the Mississippi Sheiks, Bob Dylan and the Allman Brothers. He’s trying to use music to motivate and engage students, but most of all, he is trying to establish a canon, a common tradition that reminds students that they are inheritors of a long conversation.

And Van Zandt is doing something that is going to be increasingly necessary for foundations and civic groups. We live in an age in which the technological and commercial momentum drives fragmentation. It’s going to be necessary to set up countervailing forces ”” institutions that span social, class and ethnic lines.

Music used to do this. Not so much anymore.

David Brooks in today’s NY Times.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music

USA Today: San Francisco approves ID cards that exclude gender

Next year, San Francisco will issue municipal identification cards showing the usual name, birthdate and photo.

What the card won’t include: gender.

When other cities considered issuing ID cards without regard to legal status, the debate was over illegal immigrants. In San Francisco, where the Board of Supervisors approved such an ID on Tuesday, transgender activists added gender to the discussion.

“Transgender” is a broad term for people who do not identify with their birth sex. Those who refer to themselves as transgender include cross-dressers and transsexuals.

“The card really makes gender a non-issue,” says Kristina Wertz, legal director of the Transgender Law Center in San Francisco.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sexuality

Living Church: Trial Portion of Virginia Case Ends Early

The trial phase of the case involving 11 Virginia congregations where the majority voted to leave The Episcopal Church last year ended Nov. 20, a day ahead of schedule, after lawyers for both sides agreed not to call an expert witness on Wednesday.

A decision is unlikely before late January, however. Yesterday Fairfax Circuit Judge Randy I. Bellows requested submission of all closing arguments in writing no later Jan. 17. The schedule calls for lawyers for the 11 congregations to submit their closing brief by Dec. 21. The diocese and national church then have until Jan. 11 to respond, with lawyers for 11 congregations required to submit their reply no later than Jan. 17.

The dispute, which includes two Colonial Era churches and property worth tens of millions of dollars, began last year after the Diocese of Virginia contested a legal filing made by the 11 congregations with the Commonwealth of Virginia stating that a division had occurred. Under an 1867 Virginia law, the local congregation is entitled to decide “by majority vote” which side they wish to join. Majorities at the Episcopal congregations had voted to leave the diocese and affiliate with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a missionary branch of the Anglican Church of Nigeria.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

RNS: Evangelicals Shift Toward Acceptance on Divorce

When Pentecostal power couple Randy and Paula White recently announced they were headed to divorce court, the most remarkable part of the reaction was that there wasn’t much reaction at all.

For increasing numbers of clergy, a divorce no longer generates the kind of career-killing hue and cry of decades ago, in part because plenty of people in the pews have experienced divorce themselves.

The shifting views on divorced clergy reflect a growing concession among rank-and-file conservative Christians that a failed marriage is no longer an unforgivable sin.

For many evangelical Christians, the line seems to have shifted from a single acceptable reason for divorce — adultery — to a wider range of reasons that some say can be biblically justified.

“I am probably one of those evangelicals who would say it would be three A’s for me,” said Chris Bounds, a theologian at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Ind. “Abuse, abandonment and adultery.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Other Churches

An Open Letter to the Diocese of Southwest Florida from Bishop John Lipscomb

November 20, 2007,
Dear Friends in Christ,

I have communicated to the Presiding Bishop my request to be released from my ordination vows and the obligations and responsibilities of a member of the House of Bishops. I have taken this step in order to be received into the Catholic Church. Through a long season of prayer and reflection Marcie and I have come to believe this is the leading of the Holy Spirit and God’s call to us for the next chapter of our lives. We are grateful to our brother in Christ, the Most Rev. Robert N. Lynch, the Bishop of St. Petersburg, for his openness to our request and for his prayerful support.

I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home where I was given the gift of a deep love for the Lord Jesus Christ and a reverence for God’s revelation of his love and redemptive purpose in the Word written, as well as the Word made Flesh. I was blessed to be brought into the family of the Episcopal Church 40 years ago. I have a deep love for the sacramental life, most especially the Eucharistic sacrifice through which God continues to pour his grace into our lives in the Word that needs no words.
I will be forever grateful for the opportunities I had to serve this faith community as a deacon and priest. I am most grateful for the opportunity you, the people of the Diocese of Southwest Florida, gave me to serve as your bishop and to participate in the life of the Anglican Communion. You made it possible for me to share in the mission of God that can never be bound by geographical or political barriers.

I believe God is now calling us to continue our ministry to serve in the healing of the visible Body of Christ in the world. I am convinced our Lord’s deepest desire is for the unity of the Church.

Marcie and I will never have the words to express to you the depth of our gratitude for the support you gave us during my medical leave and for the joyous celebration of the ministry you allowed us to share with you that brings to a close my ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church. We will pray for the continued health and vitality of the Diocese of Southwest Florida.

The following prayer by Thomas Merton speaks more eloquently than we can find possible at this moment. Marcie and I have experienced an abundance of God’s grace throughout our lives, and we continue to trust God in the future, which continues to unfold for us:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Roman Catholic, TEC Bishops

Washington Times: Episcopal trial weighs concept of division

Lawyers and witnesses tangled yesterday over whether disaffected Episcopal congregations can be considered part of the 77-million-member worldwide Anglican Communion in the fourth day of a lawsuit at the Fairfax County courthouse.

Ian Douglas, a professor at the Episcopal Divinity School, a seminary in Cambridge, Mass., repeatedly testified that the Anglican Communion is a “family of churches,” and therefore, not divisible into factions.

“We”re not a global church,” he said. “It”d be hard to create a division because it presupposes an intact whole.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

Town may criminalize online harassment

The tragedy of Megan Meier will take another twist Wednesday night when officials in her home town vote on whether to make online harassment a local crime.
Meier is the 13-year-old suburban St. Louis girl who met a cute 16-year-old named Josh Evans last year on the social networking site MySpace. They became close, but suddenly he turned on her, calling her names, saying she was “a bad person and everybody hates you.” Others joined the harassment ”” the barrage culminated in Megan’s Oct. 16, 2006, suicide, just short of her 14th birthday.

Weeks later, Megan’s grieving parents learned that the boy didn’t exist ”” he’d been fabricated by a neighbor, the mother of one of Megan’s former friends. The girls had had a falling out, police say, and she wanted to know what Megan was saying about her daughter.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Law & Legal Issues, Teens / Youth

Father George Rutler on Archbishop Rowan Williams

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Posted in Uncategorized

'Full-blown schism' in church, Anglican bishop of Westminster says

The Anglican Bishop of New Westminster says the division over homosexuality in the Canadian church is now “a full-blown schism” and a conservative Anglican faction has hinted at an announcement this week on the formation of a breakaway body.

Right Reverend Michael Ingham, whose Greater Vancouver diocese became the first Anglican jurisdiction to formally authorize the blessing of same-sex unions, reacted forcefully to a retired Newfoundland bishop’s intention to come into the diocese and ordain priests who oppose the blessings.

Diocesan turf-poaching is the biggest bureaucratic sin in the decentralized Anglican Communion, the world’s third largest Christian church. Authorizing same-sex blessings may represent a theological difference of opinion, but one bishop taking his episcopal authority into another bishop’s diocese is clearly a schismatic act.

Bishop Ingham also warned 10 priests in his diocese who are pastors of conservative parishes that he will discipline them if they take part in the ordinations planned by retired bishop Don Harvey.

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

Vermont Public Radio: Episcopal leaders set goals to eradicate poverty

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

The Bishop of Vermont's Diocesan Convention Address

Finally, I want to add to our Diocesan photo album an affirmation that we are part of a larger family, with a larger photo album. As members of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, we currently find ourselves in a place of challenge and some anxiety, due in large part to theological and ecclesial disagreements with regard to human sexuality. We have been in similar places before. Part of what is different this time is the reality of globalization, the challenge of information management and the pace with which we carry on conversations across the internet.

For example, I keep shaking my head and wondering how did the Windsor Report, a report that started out as a committee report, become in such a short time the sacred text and standard of “right” moral and ecclesial behavior that it is for many today! In my judgment, calls to be “Windsor compliant” are premature at best; and do a disservice to our Anglican heritage of faithful engagement with one another around complex issues and to the special Anglican charism of the via media, the middle way.

On this day when we remember in our liturgical calendar the great Anglican theologian, Richard Hooker, we would do well to take to heart the words of the collect appointed for his commemoration. “Grant that we may maintain that middle way, not as a compromise for the sake of peace, but as a comprehension for the sake of truth.” As noted in the recent publication, Communion Matters, from the Theology Committee of House of Bishops: “Comprehension for the sake of truth has served us well. Perhaps it is our unique and essential charism as a Church.”

In the spirit of that heritage, I will continue to labor for a church that is welcoming and inclusive of all in every aspect of its life, governance and ministry. In particular, this means that I will continue to champion the justice ministry toward full inclusion of gay and lesbian persons in our church, including their full access to all orders of ministry and the liturgical blessing of the church on the committed, life long relationships of gay and lesbian couples.

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

Living Church; No Agreement Yet on Central Florida Departure Protocol

Following a joint meeting of the standing committee and diocesan council, the Rt. Rev. John W. Howe, Bishop of Central Florida, announced Nov. 15 that they were unable to agree upon a protocol for congregations desiring to secede from The Episcopal Church.

The rejected proposal would have permitted a departing congregation to purchase church property from the diocese provided that they made adequate provision for those members who desired to remain Episcopalians and participated in a parish discernment process devised and supervised by the diocese.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Central Florida

NY Times: Denial Makes the World Go Round

For years she hid the credit card bills from her husband: The $2,500 embroidered coat from Neiman Marcus. The $900 beaded scarf from Blake in Chicago. A $600 pair of Dries van Noten boots. All beautiful items, and all perfectly affordable if she had been a hedge fund manager or a Google executive.

Friends at first dropped hints to go easy or rechannel her creative instincts. Her mother grew concerned enough to ask pointed questions. But sales clerks kept calling with early tips on the coming season’s fashions, and the seasons kept changing.

“It got so bad I would sit up suddenly at night and wonder if I was going to slip up and this whole thing would explode,” said the secretive shopper, Katharine Farrington, 46, a freelance film writer living in Washington, who is now free of debt. “I don’t know how I could have been in denial about it for so long. I guess I was optimistic I could pay, and that I wasn’t hurting anyone.

“Well, of course that wasn’t true.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Psychology

Judge Overrules Objections During Virginia Episcopal Church Trial Testimony

Fairfax Circuit Judge Randy I. Bellows overruled all objections by lawyers representing the Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church during morning testimony by bishops Martyn Minns and John Guernsey on Nov. 14. Paul Julienne, a member of the vestry at Truro Church, Fairfax, and the Diocese of Virginia’s reconciliation commission, also testified on the second day of what is expected to be a six-day trial.

The Diocese of Virginia brought suit after the majority at 11 Virginia congregations voted to leave The Episcopal Church. Most of the congregations subsequently affiliated with the Anglican Church of Nigeria. All Saints’, Woodbridge, the parish where Bishop Guernsey served as rector for more than 20 years, affiliated with the Anglican Church of Uganda. The diocese is seeking eviction of the breakaway Anglican congregations and court recognition that it lawfully holds title to the properties which are worth tens of millions of dollars.

Bishop Minns testified first, responding to questions for about 30 minutes for lawyers representing the breakaway congregations. He was then cross-examined by lawyers for the diocese and national church for about 20 minutes. Bishop Guernsey testified next for about 20 minutes with 10 minutes of cross examination.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

For Democrats, Iowa Still Up for Grabs

The top three Democratic presidential contenders remain locked in a close battle in Iowa, with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) seeing her advantages diminish on key issues, including the questions of experience and which candidate is best prepared to handle the war in Iraq, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News Poll.

Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) draws support from 30 percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa, compared with 26 percent for Clinton and 22 percent for former senator John Edwards (N.C.). New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson received 11 percent. The results are only marginally different from a Post-ABC poll in late July, but in a state likely to set the tone for the rest of the nominating process, there are significant signs of progress for Obama — and harbingers of concern for Clinton.

The factors that have made Clinton the clear national front-runner — including her overwhelming leads on the issues of the Iraq war and health care, a widespread sense that she is the Democrats’ most electable candidate, and her strong support among women — do not appear to be translating on the ground in Iowa, where campaigning is already fierce and television ads have been running for months.

At the heart of the Democratic race has been the dichotomy between strength and experience (qualities emphasized by Clinton, Richardson, and Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware and Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut in their appeals) and the ability to introduce a new approach to governing (as Obama and Edwards have promised to do).

Iowa Democrats are tilting toward change, and Obama appears to be benefiting from it.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008