Daily Archives: November 28, 2007
The Primates have returned a vote of no confidence in the Episcopal Church. Lambeth Palace reports that a majority of primates have rejected the conclusions of the ACC/Primates Joint Standing Committtee (JSC), and have told the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams the Episcopal Church has failed, in whole or in part, to honor the recommendations of the Windsor Report and the Primates’ Dar es Salaam communiquÃ©.
The majority rejection of the JSC report comes as a blow to Dr. Williams’ hopes to avert a showdown between the liberal and conservative wings of the Communion. It also marks an unprecedented repudiation of the competence and judgment of the central apparatus of the Anglican Consultative Council.
Following the publication of the positive assessment by the JSC of the actions of the New Orleans meeting of the US House of Bishops, Dr. Williams wrote to the primates asking “How far is your Province able to accept the JSC Report assessment that the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops have responded positively to the requests of the Windsor Report and those made by the Primates in their CommuniquÃ© at the end of their meeting in Dar es Salaam?”
Of the 38 primates, including the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, Lambeth Palace reported it had received 26 responses, and no reply from 12. Of the 26, 12 stated they could accept the JSC’s findings, 12 stated they rejected the JSC’s findings, while three offered a mixed verdict, and one said it was continuing to review the matter.
From the USS Kearsarge: U.S. Marine Corps helicopters began delivering emergency supplies Monday to survivors of a deadly cyclone along the southern coast of Bangladesh in a joint relief operation.
Helicopters from the USS Kearsarge, detached from the 22nd Marine Expediationary Unit (MEU) began delivering 5,000 water containers to remote areas of Dublar Char, Bagherat and Barguna, the most devastated districts in the Nov. 15 cyclone that killed some 3,200 people.
Marines will also deliver food and other supplies, help set up water purification plants, and provide medical care to victims in the coming days, Bangladeshi army officials said.
“Our first priority is get food, water and clothes to the survivors,” said Gen. Moeen U. Ahmed, the chief of army staff, after meeting U.S. officials.
The couples who choose abortion and sterilization may not save the planet, but they’re saving the gene pool a mess o’ trouble by purging their DNA from the mix. The Darwin Awards folks, who honor those who improve the species by accidentally removing themselves from it, will have to create a new category: People Too Narcissistic To Procreate.
Far be it from me to suggest that people must have children to be content or to contribute to life on Earth. But abortion should never be confused with a selfless act. It is clearly the ultimate and most-vivid expression of the opposite.
Raising children is quantifiably the most persistently unselfish act known to mankind, as millions of veterans of sleepless nights will attest. Parenthood is when “I” takes a backseat to “thou” — when the infant-self submits to adulthood so that the real infant gets a necessary turn at the well of self-importance.
A court hearing between the Anglican District of Virginia and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia for rights to 11 church properties has ended for now.
The week-long trial, presided over by Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Randy L. Bellows, began Nov. 13 and concluded Nov. 20, with Bellows taking the case under advisement.
Last January, two of Fairfax County’s oldest Episcopal churches, the Falls Church and Truro Church, made national headlines by leading a secession of 11 parishes, including the Church of the Epiphany in Oak Hill, from the Episcopal Church.
As worshipers walk into Central Park United Methodist Church, Bob Swoverland usually pulls one of them aside and asks him or her to help serve communion. One day he felt moved to ask Karen (last name withheld) to help. As he remembers, “Normally, I’ll just ask anybody, but when she came in it was like God grabbed me by the collar.”
Swoverland recalls what came next. During the testimony portion of that Sunday’s worship service, Karen confessed for the first time that years earlier she had killed a woman while driving drunk. She had served five years in a Minnesota prison as her punishment, and then, despite promises to herself and others, she began drinking again. She spent two more years in a county workhouse. “The judge told me I was a menace to society,” she recalls.
Hundreds of hospice providers across the country are facing the catastrophic financial consequence of what would otherwise seem a positive development: their patients are living longer than expected.
Over the last eight years, the refusal of patients to die according to actuarial schedules has led the federal government to demand that hospices exceeding reimbursement limits repay hundreds of millions of dollars to Medicare.
The charges are assessed retrospectively, so in most cases the money has long since been spent on salaries, medicine and supplies. After absorbing huge assessments for several years, often by borrowing at high rates, a number of hospice providers are bracing for a new round that they fear may shut their doors.
One is Hometown Hospice, which has been providing care here since 2003 to some of the most destitute residents of Wilcox County, the poorest place in Alabama.
The higher the percentage of residents in a state who say they can’t afford health care, the greater the prevalence of serious depression and the higher the suicide rate in that state, suggests a report released to USA TODAY.
The state-by-state analysis also links fewer suicides to more adults receiving mental health treatment, greater availability of psychologists and psychiatrists, and “parity” laws requiring equal insurance coverage for physical and mental illness.
The report doesn’t prove that lack of care causes depression or suicide, says senior author Tami Mark of Thomson Healthcare. “But it suggests we should be monitoring mental health care and comparing outcomes,” she says.
Mark used federal data on mental health and state databases to develop a “depression index,” ranking states and the District of Columbia on seriousness and prevalence of depression, as well as suicide rates.
When we seek to resolve disquieting passages in the Bible, are we saying that life with God can involve no ambiguities, no times of darkness or absence, no times of difficulty or challenge? Are we suggesting that we would prefer the story of God and God’s people to be a triumphalist narrative of prosperity, where the voiceless and the marginalised have no place, and the abandoned are an embarrassment?
What kind of Christian hermeneutic are we talking about if we say that God cannot be present among the silent, the battered, the rejected; that the voice of God simply cannot be speaking there? Surely, from our collective experience, it is in these places that we should be pricking up our ears and waiting expectantly? In short, I believe it is vital for us to explore a hermeneutic that refuses to skip over the difficult and challenging or awkward passages of the Bible, just as in the Inclusive Church we are hopefully committed to refusing to skip over those who can be made to feel like the difficult, challenging or awkward members of the people of God; a hermeneutic which resists avoiding passages because they are painful for us to hear, just as we are committed to hearing all people’s stories, no matter how uncomfortable they might make us feel.
In reading the disquieting passages of the Bible, the vital question is ”˜where is the voice of God in this place?’ And it is important to begin with the recognition that it may not always be straightforward to perceive God’s voice within the pages of the Bible (just as it is not always straightforward to discern God’s voice within life). One of the great modern fallacies proliferating today is that we can assume that God speaks opaquely within the Bible. There is little within tradition to suggest this. As good Anglicans (!), we may be keen to affirm Article VI of the 39 articles: ”˜Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation’. But as that important Anglican voice Richard Hooker stresses, affirming this belief does not mean that we must act like those who (quote) ”˜grow unto a dangerous extremity as if Scripture did not contain all things in that kind necessary, but all things simply’. God’s voice will not always be simple to discern within the pages Bible. Indeed, if we are to look at the Bible itself, it suggests nowhere that the ”˜voice of God’ will be easy to locate and interpret: rather it frequently suggests the opposite.
Westminster Abbey will hold its first ever Jewish-Christian service next weekend with a joint celebration of the festivals of Advent and Hanukkah.
Rabbi Mark Solomon of the liberal St John’s Wood Synagogue and the Abbey’s Canon Robert Reiss will do readings that will be interspersed with songs and carols from both faiths, and the lighting of candles.
The service, organised with the help of the Council of Christians, takes place next Sunday evening and is open to all members of the public.
Canon Reiss said: “Hanukkah and Advent occur at the same time of the year and both involve the lighting of candles. Westminster Abbey is very happy to respond to a suggestion from the Council for Christians and Jews that this joint event should take place, which will give an opportunity of representatives from both faiths to learn and understand of one another’s practices and, it is hoped, to share in the celebration of the light that flows from God.”
Some Republican presidential candidates are breathing easier because of the news on stem-cell research, and some religious leaders are proclaiming a truce in their conflict with scientists. But I wouldn’t bet on any longterm peace, for a couple of reasons.
First, despite the breakthrough in producing stem cells without using embryos, researchers will continue working with embryos. Some still believe it’s the most promising approach for stem-cell therapy, as Nature reports. Shoukhrat Mitalipov, the scientist who reported the first creation of stem cells from cloned monkey embryos (the other big stem-cell news this month) says that the embryos is the only “perfect reprogramming machine” and is confident that this method of producing stem cells will be the first to show therapeutic value.
Second, no matter what happens with stem-cell research, there are lots more areas of conflicts between religion and biotechnology ”” and lots of religious leaders, politicians and bioethicists ready to fight. Leon Kass, the former chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics, recently gave a lecture at the Manhattan Institute in which he listed some of the threats to our “human nature” coming from biotechnology: cloning, genetic engineering, organ swapping, mechanical spare parts, performance-enhancing drugs, computer implants into brains.
Sometimes when Asma Haidara, a 12-year-old Somali immigrant, wants to shop at Target or ride the Minneapolis light-rail system, she puts her Girl Scout sash over her everyday clothes, which usually include a long skirt worn over pants as well as a swirling head scarf.
She has discovered that the trademark green sash ”” with its American flag, troop number (3009) and colorful merit badges ”” reduces the number of glowering looks she draws from people otherwise bothered by her traditional Muslim dress.
“When you say you are a girl scout, they say, ”˜Oh, my daughter is a girl scout, too,’ and then they don’t think of you as a person from another planet,” said Asma, a slight, serious girl with a bright smile. “They are more comfortable about sitting next to me on the train.”
Scattered Muslim communities across the United States are forming Girl Scout troops as a sort of assimilation tool to help girls who often feel alienated from the mainstream culture, and to give Muslims a neighborly aura. Boy Scout troops are organized with the same inspiration, but often the leap for girls is greater because many come from conservative cultures that frown upon their participating in public physical activity.
Eric S. Broida wants to trade up. He has been eyeing a multimillion-dollar house near his Pacific Palisades home and thinks it might be a bargain. Eventually, that is.
The 4,600-square-foot house has languished on the market for six months. The sellers have cut the asking price several times, slashing it from $4.6 million to $3.6 million.
When the price falls by an additional $400,000 or so, Broida will be ready to pounce.
“There is nowhere to go but down from here,” said Broida, a leasing broker for office space. “I know it in my gut.”
Few would argue. Southern California home prices have fallen for five straight months, according to data released this month, and are now down 12% from their peak last spring and summer.
For most of this decade, skyrocketing home values were a frequent topic whenever people gathered along soccer sidelines or at backyard barbecues. But the conversation has taken an about-face, noted Jeff Vendley, a Ventura mortgage broker who is trying to sell two Oxnard town houses he bought in 2004 and 2005.
Now, he said, people are wondering, “How low we can go?”
The Episcopal Church. American Anglicans have changed their name several times. Each change of nomenclature marks a shift in ecclesiology. Though the Anglican church was established in some states before the revolution (as Presby-terianism was in others), the Protestant Episcopal Church came into existence within a Republic which had outlawed the notion of ecclesiastical establishment. Not that you would have noticed.
PECUSA adopted, in 1790 a constitution which mimicked that of the United States, and set about the task of being, not an Established Church, but the Church of the Establishment. The name located American Anglicans on the smorgasbord of denominations: ‘Protestant’ in common with the then majority in its repudiation of Rome, but over against the majority in retaining a form of ‘Episcopal’ organisation. It is a moot point how ‘episcopal’ the American Church is (in some dioceses the bishop does not even have a vote in the diocesan convention); but bishops had become for the American Church a badge of identity.
The Protestant Episcopal Church claimed a proud roll of founding fathers and later presidents among its members. It slowly developed a self-image as the ‘natural’ church of the well-heeled intelligentsia, as recent statements by Katherine Schori go to show. And as American influence in the world grew with the informal imperialism of the period after the First World War, so ECUSA (by now its Anglo-catholic wing had managed to jettison the word ‘protestant’) expanded with it. The church followed the multinationals.
The recent change of name to ‘The Episcopal Church’ marks a new departure. The emphasis is now on the international nature of the denomination – a fact which Mrs Schori emphasises at every opportunity. As the American Church distances itself from the rest of the Communion, so it increasingly asserts itself as a global alternative to it.