Daily Archives: November 26, 2007

Blair 'nutter' fear angers Bishop of Rochester

A bishop has criticised Tony Blair after he said he avoided talking about his religious views while premier because he feared the “nutter” label.
The Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, said he was “sorry” the former prime minister felt unable to talk about his faith.

It would have led to more constructive social policy at home and principled policies abroad, the bishop said.

Mr Blair’s admission comes in the final episode of BBC One’s The Blair Years.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Stephanie Coontz: Taking Marriage Private

Using the existence of a marriage license to determine when the state should protect interpersonal relationships is increasingly impractical. Society has already recognized this when it comes to children, who can no longer be denied inheritance rights, parental support or legal standing because their parents are not married.

As Nancy Polikoff, an American University law professor, argues, the marriage license no longer draws reasonable dividing lines regarding which adult obligations and rights merit state protection. A woman married to a man for just nine months gets Social Security survivor’s benefits when he dies. But a woman living for 19 years with a man to whom she isn’t married is left without government support, even if her presence helped him hold down a full-time job and pay Social Security taxes. A newly married wife or husband can take leave from work to care for a spouse, or sue for a partner’s wrongful death. But unmarried couples typically cannot, no matter how long they have pooled their resources and how faithfully they have kept their commitments.

Possession of a marriage license is no longer the chief determinant of which obligations a couple must keep, either to their children or to each other. But it still determines which obligations a couple can keep ”” who gets hospital visitation rights, family leave, health care and survivor’s benefits. This may serve the purpose of some moralists. But it doesn’t serve the public interest of helping individuals meet their care-giving commitments.

Perhaps it’s time to revert to a much older marital tradition. Let churches decide which marriages they deem “licit.” But let couples ”” gay or straight ”” decide if they want the legal protections and obligations of a committed relationship.

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

Oliver Thomas: Overlooked family values

For Christians, the Bible is explicit about our obligations to our children. “Children are not responsible to provide for their parents but parents for their children,” wrote St. Paul to the Corinthian Church. He went on to assert that one who fails to provide for his family “has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (I Timothy 5:8.) The obligation to pay our lawful debts runs even deeper, going all the way back to the Ten Commandments. Defaulting on one’s debts is at least lying if not stealing.

Yet, Americans appear to be violating both of these great religious teachings at warp speed.

How are we doing it? By continuing to spend more and pay less with our national government. Specifically, we are $9 trillion in debt, with the figure rising at the rate of about half a billion dollars a day. The interest alone on the national debt amounts to more than $230 billion a year, or 8% of the federal budget.

Why is this a moral issue? Because these are real dollars that must eventually be paid back. If not by us, by our children and our grandchildren.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Religion & Culture

Larry Summers: Wake up to the dangers of a deepening crisis

Three months ago it was reasonable to expect that the subprime credit crisis would be a financially significant event but not one that would threaten the overall pattern of economic growth. This is still a possible outcome but no longer the preponderant probability.

Even if necessary changes in policy are implemented, the odds now favour a US recession that slows growth significantly on a global basis. Without stronger policy responses than have been observed to date, moreover, there is the risk that the adverse impacts will be felt for the rest of this decade and beyond.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Mark Russell: Go into the world

I am here, because I have tried to build bridges from my constituency into other parts of the Anglican church. I am here because I want to make a statement that I want to be a fellow pilgrim, a traveler with you. It’s a risky business, people throw rocks at you, they would rather curse at the dark than switch on a light. People like to poke faults, they like to cause rows, but we need to keep taking risks to make peace in our church. It’s the right thing to do. In a world of division and conflict, surely the one place where we ought to overcome difference with love should be the church. Surely we could offer a prophetic message to our world of how to live in diversity.

So I want to encourage you, to actively seek to build new friendships with people you disagree with. When was the last time you met and prayed with someone from a different part of our church. I can go to Spring Harvest and New Wine as a speaker, and hear my friends tut at catholic worship, and the way you guys genuflect and all the liturgy. And I correct them, and say we should rejoice that God is so big he can accept worship from us all. And in the bars, corridors here, I hear the same things being said about the way I worship. I realise many of you have been hurt by folk from my tradition, and that’s wrong. Terrible things have been said, shrill tones used, and people have been bruised. Im sorry for that I really really am.

And I realise some of you would rather have root canal without anesthetic than sing Soul Survivor songs with a full band. But as inclusive church, when was the last time you affirmed the happy clappy evangelical who wants to raise their hands in worship. Would they feel included in your church? These are all important gestures, they are hands of friendship, they build bridges.

And so we sow understanding, and love into our church which seems poisioned with intolerance and misunderstanding. Lets begin to break the walls that divide us.

Unity is not saying that we will always agree with each other, unity is a deeper spiritual concept. Unity allows me to love my brothers and sisters even when I don’t always agree with them. Love allows me to hold difference and diversity. Unity is not uniformity. Unity is generated by the Spirit of God, it cant be manufactured or organised, or strategised. It comes when Gods people seek to live in tune with His Spirit, and to love others as themselves.

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

The Economist: Business and the credit crunch

There are other signs that stress is spreading, though it is not yet at recessionary levels””not least because corporate profits remain at record highs in America, and many firms have taken advantage of the years of plenty to get their balance sheets in shape. Even so, Home Depot recently said that it can no longer afford to continue with its share-repurchase plan. In the most recent survey of banks’ senior loan-officers, 19.2% reported a tightening of lending standards to large and medium-sized firms, up from 7.5% three months earlier, and zero a year ago. Surveys of small companies suggest they are finding it harder to get the credit they need to grow.

Between June 12th and November 19th, the spread in interest rates between high-yield corporate debt and Treasury bonds doubled, from 2.6 percentage points to 5.2, says Ed Altman of New York University. The yield on high-yield bonds has risen to 9.33%, the highest level since 2002 and a sign of growing default risk, even though defaults remain near a historic low.

Mr Altman is especially worried by the large amount of low-quality debt issued in recent years, much of it to finance private-equity deals. Some 42% of high-yield corporate bonds issued since 2003 were rated B- or lower, rising to nearly 50% in the first six months of this year. Moreover, some $160 billion of leveraged loans are coming due next year. Refinancing them may be a struggle in today’s financial markets.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor wades in to embryo research debate with Catholic meeting

The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has begun an unprecedented attempt to block new laws on embryo research by contacting all Catholic MPs in a personal lobbying campaign.

The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, has invited them to a reception next week to discuss in confidence “issues likely to come before the House in the new session of Parliament”.

MPs say that the move signals a shift towards a more outspoken political role for the Church.

They told The Times that the event was the first of its kind and clearly triggered by the current legislation on fertility treatment and embryo research and by further debates on abortion law, which are expected next year.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology

Pope offers prayers for Middle East summit

Pope Benedict XVI today offered prayers for this week’s Middle East summit at Annapolis, saying he hoped the participants would find the “wisdom and courage” needed to bring peace to the Holy Land.

He said he hoped the meeting would relaunch negotiations “to find a just and definitive solution to the conflict which for 60 years has bloodied the Holy Land and provoked so many tears and suffering among two peoples”.

Pope Benedict was speaking at a ceremony at St Peter’s at which he gave 23 new cardinals their rings of office and urged them to work for “peace and unity”, a day after he had given the new ‘Princes of the Church’ their red hats. The Pope last held a consistory to create new cardinals in March last year, when he installed fifteen.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Middle East, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

From the Local Paper: Seeing obesity is believing

Teresa Moore, an associate professor of exercise science at the University of South Carolina, offered this possible explanation to the AP: “You could be out raking leaves, but if you’re eating a high-fat, poor-quality diet, you may still be aggravating the problem.”

Yet if we are to overcome the collective bloating induced by our Thanksgiving day ”” and weekend ”” gorging, we’ll have to do much more than rake our yards. To become healthier requires eating better, and less, and exercising more. Wishful thinking, as perhaps reflected in the survey results, won’t get it done.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

Kendall Harmon: The Joy and Challenge of Not Knowing

“Oh Dad, there is just so much I do not know.”

We dropped our oldest child Abigail off at her first year of College in August. You may remember that my mother died of cancer this past March. It is a year of rites of passage in the family.

Not long ago Abigail was in our den with her mother and me, expressing her anxiety the day before she left to go to school. One thing after another was named, and then it built into a crescendo, which ended with the quote with which I began above. She was so very frustrated with how little she knew about what her future would look like.

Who could blame her? She didn’t know what her roommate’s personality was, what her major would be, who she would end up being friends with, whether she would like her professors, what she would think of Ohio (she is attending Wooster), and on and on and on.

Hold that thought, I said to my daughter. For it was only the day before that I was having my daily devotions and reading in Hebrews 11 when a verse jumped off the page at me:
“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go” (verse 8).

I spent a lot of time thinking about what that verse really meant in Abraham’s own experience. He did not know if he would even make it to the place, he did not know what it would be like when he got there, he did not know how long he would stay, or what the implications for his family would be, and his list, too, was very long. But nevertheless he went in faith, for faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

So instead of not knowing being something to lament, it is something to be embraced. For if we did know all that we want to, we would not need to depend on God but on ourselves, putting us on exactly the wrong road when it comes to discipleship.

It is a shame there is not more preaching on and study of the book of Ecclesiastes these days. Vanity of vanities, the writer says about life. The word in Hebrew is a word used for vapor; no matter how hard he tries, the vapor of what he sees always eludes the writer’s grasp as he tries to fathom it. Life is apparently inscrutable in Ecclesiastes. It is not known how God is working his purpose out.

According to Ecclesiastes life is not so much a problem to be solved as a mystery to be lived. Not knowing is a good thing that drives us back to faith, back to our knees before the one who made Heaven and earth.

So I told my daughter that I was right with her in struggling with not knowing. I didn’t know what exactly would happen the next day, where and how I would ultimately end up serving, how her younger sister would like her new school, whether the Anglican Communion would really have a future as a genuine communion, and my list, too, was very long.

But there is one thing we DO know about the future, I told her. God is there. And the God who holds the future holds us in his hands right now as he calls us to go out in faith in the midst of so many unknowns every single day.

–The Rev. Canon Dr. Kendall S. Harmon is editor of the Anglican Digest and convenor of this blog

Posted in * By Kendall

Robert Munday: What would Gamaliel do?

Bp. Schori has elsewhere expressed the view (also reported here) that, “if all sides in the current debate over sexuality and Scripture could ‘hold their truths more lightly,’ they might yet find a way forward.”

Well, okay, if you want to try holding your “truths more lightly,” here’s a place to start. Let’s assume that Gamaliel is right (and he certainly has been proven right about the beginning of Christianity). These Anglicans are as much a division in the Episcopal Church over a difference in religious views as the early Christians were from the Jews. How about applying Gamaliel’s test to our present situation? How about dispensing with all the lawsuits and, instead, start negotiating settlements with departing Anglican congregations? “For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

Or am I being too biblical?

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts

Bishop Michael Ingham Writes his Clergy

From all sorts of sources, especially email, but also the blogosphere, as for example there–KSH.

To: All Diocesan Clergy
From: Bishop Michael Ingham
Date: November 23, 2007
Subject: Individuals and Groups Leaving the Anglican Church of Canada

Dear Friends in Christ:

By now you will have heard the announcement from Burlington, Ontario, by the Essentials Network of a formal separation from the Canadian Church. You may well be asked about it this on Sunday and for some time to come, so I thought I would offer you my own preliminary reflections on what should be our principal responses.

First, this development, while not unexpected (the signs have been there for several years, see below) is both unwelcome and unnecessary. Unwelcome because it violates both the ancient traditions of our church and also the consistent urgings of Scripture for unity among Christians. Unnecessary because no Canadian Anglican is being compelled to act against their conscience in matters of doctrine or ethics, and so there is no need for ”˜safety’ from ecclesiastical oppression.

Second, Anglicans in this country do not want to see their church at war with itself. The prospect of costly and bitter litigation will rightly be regarded as a waste of the church’s precious resources given for mission. Further, our efforts at evangelism and outreach will be hampered by the media’s coverage of our organization in conflict. People searching for a spiritual home will be wary of involving themselves in a place of turmoil. Sadly, these consequences will be increased by the Network’s announcement.

Third, it has been the cry of every breakaway group that “we haven’t left them ”“ they’ve left us.” Apart from the tiredness of the cliché, it is an attempt to avoid responsibility for personal choices. Every effort has been made, both in New Westminster and across the Anglican Church of Canada, to provide space for genuine differences of conviction on non-essential matters of faith. We have recognized the difficult place in which those of minority opinion find themselves (and there are several minorities, not just one) and have sought to foster mutual respect and mutual support. The vast majority of conservative and traditional Anglicans in Canada understand and accept this, and will stay with their church. This is not, therefore, a conservative breakaway. It is a decision to leave by those who feel uncomfortable with reasonable accommodation within the Body of Christ.

Fourth, the Network blames the church for its own decisions. Let us remember a brief chronology. It was ten years ago in 1997 that we first heard the term ”˜global south.’ This was from the Kuala Lumpur meeting of certain bishops prior to the Lambeth Conference the following year. They issued the “Second Trumpet From the South” stating their intention to be in communion only with those who held their view of human sexuality. At the 1998 Lambeth Conference a well financed and organized lobby succeeded in raising this position to the level of Resolution 1:10, effectively marginalizing a careful statement prepared during the Conference by a broad spectrum of bishops.

We saw the development in North America of groups called the ”˜Anglican Mission in America” and the “American Anglican Council” and the irregular and provocative consecrations, in Singapore in 2000 and Denver in 2001, of ”˜missionary’ bishops to serve in the United States against the wishes of the Episcopal Church. During this time, congregations in the US and Canada were being urged by these groups to withhold financial contributions from the church.

Thus the seeds of this breakaway movement were laid long before same-sex blessings were authorized in New Westminster or a partnered gay bishop was elected in New Hampshire. The attempt now to lay blame for this development on events that took place in our diocese in 2002 and in the US in 2003 is in my view both a denial of history and an avoidance of responsibility.

Lastly, I think we need to respond to the Network’s announcement in several ways.

1. Pray for the unity of Christians, for a spirit of charity towards those with whom we may disagree, and for God’s forgiveness of our mutual failure to honour the prayer of Christ in St. John’s Gospel “that they may be one.”

2. Give particular support to those conservative and traditional Christians who remain with their church and grieve the departure of friends.

3. Teach our members about the genius of Anglicanism and its balance of Scripture, reason and tradition within the boundaries of common prayer.

4. Emphasize in our preaching and leadership the centrality of mission and its priority over ecclesiastical politics.

5. Challenge the false stereotypes that foster polarization ”“ e.g. the ”˜heartless conservative’ or the ”˜unbiblical liberal.’

6. Give thanks that our church, for all its messiness, is honestly and openly facing issues some other bodies cannot.

7. Press forward in ministry and evangelism at the local level.

8. Deepen our study and immersion in Scripture. Place ourselves under the authority of the Christ it reveals. Avoid both an empty relativism and a harsh literalism.

9. Encourage both local media and the non-churchgoing public to understand the deeper roots of this development.

10. Take the ”˜long view’ ”“ i.e. remember the consistent triumph of the Gospel over the historic fragmentation of the church, and the persistence of faith through the failures of human discipleship.

Please remember our diocesan and national leaders in your prayers too. And above all, let’s get on with the normal work of being the church.

Kindest regards,
The Right Reverend Michael Ingham
Bishop

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

Pastor from Nigeria who built megachurch in Ukraine expands reach into U.S.

Nearly every week, new visitors arrive. They want to see the megachurch that was built in the unlikeliest of places by the unlikeliest of men.

The Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God for All Nations was founded 13 years ago by a Nigerian immigrant, Sunday Adelaja, in Kyiv, Ukraine. In a predominantly Orthodox Christian country where racism is pervasive, Adelaja created a Pentecostal church with 30,000 members.

The next stop in his bid for global reach is the United States.

“America is fast becoming a mission ground again,” Adelaja said in a phone interview from Sacramento, Calif., during his latest trip through the country. “We are surprised that the Americans who preached to us, the passion they had is almost already gone.”

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Europe, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Pentecostal, Russia

Victor Davis Hanson Responds to Rowan Williams

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury

A 100 Huntley Street Video report on the Canadian Anglican Essentials Meeting this week

It starts about 6 minutes and 30 seconds in and features an extended interview with Charlie Masters.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone], Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)