Daily Archives: November 22, 2007


People in the early twenty-first century seem to struggle to be thankful. One moving story on this topic concerns a seminary student in Evanston, Illinois, who was part of a life-saving squad. On September 8, 1860, a ship called the Lady Elgin went aground on the shore of Lake Michigan near Evanston, and Edward Spencer waded again and again into the frigid waters to rescue 17 passengers. In the process, his health was permanently damaged. Some years later he died in California at the age of 81. In a newspaper notice of his death, it was said that not one of the people he rescued ever thanked him.

Today is a day in which we are to be reminded of our creatureliness, our frailty, and our dependence. One of the clearest ways we may express this is to seek to give thanks in all circumstances (Philippians 4:6).

I am sure today you can find much for which to give thanks: the gift of life, the gift of faith, the joy of friends and family, all those serving in the mission field extending the reach of the gospel around the world, and so much else. I also invite you to consider taking a moment at some point today to write a note of thanksgiving to someone who really made a difference in your life: possibly a teacher, a coach, a mentor, a minister or a parent. You might even write to the parish secretary, the sexton, or the music minister in the parish where you worship; they work very hard behind the scenes.

”“The Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall S. Harmon is the convenor of this blog and takes this opportunity to give thanks for all blog readers and participants and to wish everyone a blessed Thanksgiving

Posted in * By Kendall

A Thanksgiving Psalm

1 Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is seemly. 2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. 3 He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. 4 He determines the number of the stars, he gives to all of them their names. 5 Great is our LORD, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure. 6 The LORD lifts up the downtrodden, he casts the wicked to the ground. 7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God upon the lyre! 8 He covers the heavens with clouds, he prepares rain for the earth, he makes grass grow upon the hills. 9 He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens which cry. 10 His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man; 11 but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.

12 Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion! 13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your sons within you. 14 He makes peace in your borders; he fills you with the finest of the wheat. 15 He sends forth his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. 16 He gives snow like wool; he scatters hoarfrost like ashes. 17 He casts forth his ice like morsels; who can stand before his cold? 18 He sends forth his word, and melts them; he makes his wind blow, and the waters flow. 19 He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and ordinances to Israel. 20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his ordinances. Praise the LORD!

–Psalm 147:1-20

Posted in Uncategorized

On Giving Thanks

One day near the middle of the last century a minister in a prison camp in Germany conducted a service for the other prisoners. One of those prisoners, an English officer who survived, wrote these words:

“Dietrich Bonhoeffer always seemed to me to spread an atmosphere of happiness and joy over the least incident, and profound gratitude for the mere fact that he was alive”¦ He was one of the very few persons I have ever met for whom God was real and always near”¦ On Sunday, April 8, 1945, Pastor Bonhoeffer conducted a little service of worship and spoke to us in a way that went to the heart of all of us. He found just the right words to express the spirit of our imprisonment, and the thoughts and resolutions it had brought us. He had hardly ended his last prayer when the door opened and two civilians entered. They said, “Prisoner Bonhoeffer, come with us.” That had only one meaning for all prisoners”“the gallows. We said good-bye to him. He took me aside: “This is the end; but for me it is the beginning of life.” The next day he was hanged in Flossenburg.”

Posted in Uncategorized

Open Thread II: For What are you Particularly Thankful on Thanksgiving 2007?

Posted in Uncategorized

Open Thread I: How, Where and with Whom are you Spending Thanksgiving this year?

Posted in Uncategorized

'Positive Response' from Canterbury for Fort Worth

Bishop Frank Lyons of Bolivia, a guest at the Diocese of Fort Worth’s annual convention, told delegates and visitors that Archbishop Gregory Venables had “received a positive response” from Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams last September when he informed Archbishop Williams that his province would likely extend a formal invitation to Fort Worth and other U.S. dioceses.

Read it all.

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

Military chaplains: An Army captain keeps tough soldiers in touch with their softer side

At Forward Operating Base Salerno, weekly briefings of the support battalion are down-to-earth, nuts-and-bolts affairs. Inside air-conditioned metal shipping containers, surrounded by aerial photographs marked “SECRET,” soldiers report on risk assessments, mission accomplishments, and the operational needs of the 500 soldiers here who keep the war machine running.

Capt. Shareen Fischer ”“ clad in tan and green fatigues, hair pulled tight in a no-nonsense bun ”“ clutches her Power Point remote as she admonishes the leaders of the men and women of Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie companies to be prepared.

For Mother’s Day.

The troops, Captain Fischer says, “can start thinking right now what they are going to say either to their mom or to the mother of their children.” Because she will be coming around with her camera to tape the next video she sends back home to families.

Her tone may be mil-speak, but her message is Hallmark. And nobody so much as blinks. The woman, after all, is their chaplain. Her soldiers work out the logistics of supporting small bases scattered across southern Afghanistan, getting fuel, food, and equipment to them ”“ and Chaplain Fischer supports the support troops.

For Fischer this means hours of listening, counseling, and using her camera to bridge lives that are worlds apart ”“ a healing, nurturing presence in the midst of a war in which the casualties can be relationships with partners and families back home.

While her work might seem soft in a world of weapons and tactics, there is hard evidence that it contributes to the overall strength of the military.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces, Religion & Culture

US Economic Gloom Brings New Dollar Low

The dollar sank to a new low against the euro Wednesday on pessimism about the American economy and speculation that Washington will cut interest rates again.

The euro spiked to $1.4856 before retreating slightly to $1.4829 in afternoon European trading. It broke the $1.48 mark for the first time on Tuesday, when it settled at $1.4815 in late New York trading.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Friday Mornings at the Pentagon

Over the last 12 months, 1,042 soldiers, Marines, sailors and Air Force personnel have given their lives in the terrible duty that is war. Thousands more have come home on stretchers, horribly wounded and facing months or years in military hospitals.

This week, I’m turning my space over to a good friend and former roommate, Army LTC Robert Bateman, who recently completed a yearlong tour of duty in Iraq and is now back at the Pentagon.

Here’s LTC Bateman’s account of a little-known ceremony that fills the halls of the Army corridor of the Pentagon with cheers, applause and many tears every Friday morning. It first appeared on May 17 on the Weblog of media critic and pundit Eric Alterman at the Media Matters for America Website….

You need to take the time to read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces

In Aiken, South Carolina, the Blessing of the Hounds continues a Thanksgiving tradition

The Aiken Hounds were established in 1914 by Thomas Hitchcock Sr. and his wife Louise Eustis Hitchcock. They were recognized by the Masters of Foxhounds Association of America in 1916.

“It’s a nice brisk walk to the Memorial Gate,” said Knox McLean. “It’s what everyone loves to do on Thanksgiving day.”

The pageantry of the hunt, the riders dressed in their formal attire, the clean horses and clean hounds are parts of the ceremony the public really enjoys, said Knox McLean.
The hounds will be receiving their annual bath on Wednesday, courtesy of the Aiken County Pony Club, said Knox McLean.

“The riders will dress formal, and the leather will be clean, everything will be spit and polish,” said Knox McLean.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Parish Ministry

Herbert Guerry: Litigating the Christ Church Savannah mess is a lose-lose proposition

Just when I was about to commend our Episcopal Bishop of Georgia for his moderate stance in agreeing that our orthodox friends over at Christ Church continue to hold services on the property during the dispute over its ownership, I read that, contrary to Biblical warnings against Christians going to court with fellow Christians, he has decided to litigate his differences with Christ Church.

His initial position was especially to be commended because The Episcopal Church’s (TEC’s) Presiding Bishop and other radical TEC bishops have been quick to urge the very strongest measures against those parishes that leave TEC.

Our bishop, of course, is not one of the radicals, some of whom now so reinterpret classic Christian doctrine that, even though they dress up in traditional garb and recite a somewhat familiar sounding liturgy, they are, in fact, like the pagan priests of the late Roman Empire whom Gibbon so devastatingly described as, “Viewing, with a smile of pity and indulgence, the various errors of the vulgar, they digilently practiced the ceremonies of their fathers, devoutly frequented the temples of the gods; and sometimes condescending to act a part on the theater of superstition, they concealed the sentiments of an Atheist under sacerdotal robes.”

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

John Tierney: Are Scientists Playing God? It Depends on Your Religion

Now that biologists in Oregon have reported using cloning to produce a monkey embryo and extract stem cells, it looks more plausible than before that a human embryo will be cloned and that, some day, a cloned human will be born. But not necessarily on this side of the Pacific.

American and European researchers have made most of the progress so far in biotechnology. Yet they still face one very large obstacle ”” God, as defined by some Western religions.

While critics on the right and the left fret about the morality of stem-cell research and genetic engineering, prominent Western scientists have been going to Asia, like the geneticists Nancy Jenkins and Neal Copeland, who left the National Cancer Institute and moved last year to Singapore.

Asia offers researchers new labs, fewer restrictions and a different view of divinity and the afterlife. In South Korea, when Hwang Woo Suk reported creating human embryonic stem cells through cloning, he did not apologize for offending religious taboos. He justified cloning by citing his Buddhist belief in recycling life through reincarnation.

When Dr. Hwang’s claim was exposed as a fraud, his research was supported by the head of South Korea’s largest Buddhist order, the Rev. Ji Kwan. The monk said research with embryos was in accord with Buddha’s precepts and urged Korean scientists not to be guided by Western ethics.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Life Ethics, Science & Technology

Professor James L. Crenshaw's Retirement Lecture

How far we have come from the wisdom saying in Prov 25:2 that God’s glory is to conceal a matter while a king’s glory is to search it out? Once that human task was democratized, like the move to make room in heaven for the Pharaoh’s subjects too, the touch became truly reciprocal. For nearly forty-three years, I have explored the implications of the human initiative in a silent universe. Like Karl Rahner, I have found divine silence to be a compelling reason for a determined search to discover God’s presence through insights provided by biblical sages. I, for one, am eternally grateful that these wise men and women did not abandon reason for faith, as important as faith is to knowledge, but tried to the best of their ability to actualize a reciprocating touch that even Michelangelo did not envision when depicting the origin of humankind.

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Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Microsoft closes pro-anorexia websites

Microsoft has abruptly closed down four “pro-anorexia” websites in Spain following a complaint that they were endangering the lives of teenage girls.

The websites, which offer tips such as “take up smoking” and “if your stomach rumbles, hit it”, were accused of teaching teenagers how to starve themselves.

Internet companies usually wait for a court order before closing any sites that they host. But Microsoft acted swiftly after complaints from a Catalan watchdog that several blogs on its Live Spaces community glorified starvation as a lifestyle choice.

Such sites worship “thinspirational” celebrities such as Victoria Beckham and refer to “my friend Ana” instead of anorexia to avoid discovery by parents.

Read it all.

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