Daily Archives: December 3, 2007

Seattle Parish Offers Astrology Workshop

A three-session course titled “They Followed a Star: Astrology and Christianity as Allies on the Journey” is being taught at St. Andrew’s Church in Seattle this month. The first session is scheduled to be held tonight.

The course is being taught by Dan Keusal, a licensed counselor and astrologer in private practice in Seattle. Mr. Keusal holds a degree in theology from the University of Notre Dame and worked for years as a parish and campus minister.

In a brief description of the course located on an internet website he maintains, Mr. Keusal describes his workshop as a way to “look at how astrology can support and deepen our journeys as men and women of faith.” The course was mentioned in the December issue of Episcopal Voice, the newspaper of the Diocese of Olympia and in the calendar section of the diocesan website. The course is also listed on the parish website.

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

David Domke: Religion as a political weapon

On a July evening in 1980 at the Republican Party presidential convention, Ronald Reagan sent a religious signal that still reverberates throughout American politics.

Before raucous delegates and a national television audience, Reagan was approaching the end of his acceptance speech when he departed from his prepared remarks: “I have thought of something that’s not a part of my speech and worried over whether I should do it.” He paused, then continued:

“Can we doubt that only a Divine Providence placed this land, this island of freedom, here as a refuge for all those people in the world who yearn to breathe free? Jews and Christians enduring persecution behind the Iron Curtain; the boat people of Southeast Asia, of Cuba and of Haiti; the victims of drought and famine in Africa; the freedom fighters in Afghanistan; and our own countrymen held in savage captivity.”

Reagan went on, “I’ll confess that” ”” and here his voice faltered momentarily ”” “I’ve been a little afraid to suggest what I’m going to suggest.” A long pause ensued, followed by this: “I’m more afraid not to. Can we begin our crusade joined together in a moment of silent prayer?” The hall went silent, heads bowed. He then closed with words uncommon at the time: “God bless America.”

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

Waiting for Godot in New Orleans

“IN an instant all will vanish and we’ll be alone once more, in the midst of nothingness.”

When the actor Wendell Pierce spoke these words in performances of “Waiting for Godot” here last month, he really was in the middle of nothingness, or what looked a lot like it.

The performances, by the Classical Theater of Harlem, took place outdoors in parts of the city particularly hard hit by Hurricane Katrina and slow to recover. In the Gentilly section, a gutted, storm-ruined house was used as a set. In the Lower Ninth Ward, where one of the largest black neighborhoods in a mostly black city was all but erased by roof-high water surging through a levee, the intersection of two once-busy streets was the stage.

The streets are empty now, lined with bare lots. A few trees and houses stand far off. Reclamation work by returning homeowners and volunteers is under way. But some residents live in cramped trailers supplied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, here widely despised for its inefficiency. Under the circumstances, Beckett’s words sounded less like an existentialist cri de coeur than like a terse topographic description.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Hurricane Katrina, Theatre/Drama/Plays

ENS: Executive Council committee chairs respond to retired bishops' open letters

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

Vancouver Sun: Its Divorce for the Anglicans

After centuries of rather tense coexistence, serious trouble developed in the last half-century. North American liberal Anglicans proved to be adept at church politics, gained control of the church hierarchy, and promoted a steady stream of theological innovations that assaulted the core beliefs of the conservatives.

Bishop Ingham, for example, has suggested that we should “stop thinking of ourselves as created beings” and stop thinking of Easter as “something understandable.” Perhaps not coincidentally, Anglican membership has declined steadily in North America.

In contrast, the dominantly conservative “Global South” Anglican churches have been growing explosively. More than two-thirds of all Anglicans now come from Africa, Asia or South America. And they are now tasked with mediating the divorce of the North American church.

Can we assign blame in this ecclesiastical divorce? Was one of the parties “unfaithful” (pun unavoidable)? Liberal Anglican spokesman Neale Adams summarizes the liberal vision as: “a big-tent church . . . open to a wide variety of theologies, and we think that’s good.” To my ear, this is a bit like the cheating husband saying, “Ours is an open relationship, embracing a wide variety of extra-marital affairs.”

The liberals seem to be genuinely astonished that anyone would have a problem with this — saying, in effect, “You can teach that Jesus rose from the dead, if you like, but don’t hassle us if we teach that he didn’t.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Global South Churches & Primates

Vulnerable homeowners target of scams

This is painful but important to watch.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market

West Indies Anglican Church maintains stance on homosexuality

The 36th Triennial Session of the Provincial Synod of the Church in the Province of the West Indies has re-committed its support for the official position of the Anglican community concerning homosexual relationships.

In recent times, the church in North America, particularly in the US, has deviated from certain principles the church in the Caribbean still holds dear by embracing homosexual relationships.

The recently concluded synod, which was held in Antigua recently, has also mandated the Standing Committee to commission a teaching manual on human sexuality for use in each diocese.

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

Des Moines Register: Obama and Huckabee Surging

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

The Canadian Primate’s principal secretary misinterprets the Windsor Report

Paul Feheley, Archbishop Hiltz’s principal secretary, defended the pastoral letter by stating that the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) understands that SSBs performed in Bp Ingham’s diocese are permissible under the Windsor Report.

He said the Canadian Church’s interpretation of the Windsor report was the moratorium forbid [sic] any bishop from giving any additional parishes the right to perform same-sex blessings.

In New Westminster, eight parishes were given permission by the diocese, but after the report was released in 2004 no additional parishes were given that authority. Those original eight churches continue to perform the rite.

That defence is difficult to accept for two reasons. First, even if it were true that the Windsor Report (TWR) allows SSBs in New Westminster to continue, why did Primate Hiltz not speak up when the synods of Ottawa, Montreal, and Niagara passed motions calling for SSBs in their dioceses? Why didn’t he say, “Sorry, old chaps, TWR doesn’t allow you to go through with that” (or words to that effect)? If he had, we might be able to give credence to Mr Feheley’s claim that the ACC actually desires to respect TWR.

Furthermore, TWR does not countenance SSBs anywhere in the Anglican Communion. If, for some reason, ACC leaders think that unclear from the text of TWR itself, the primates removed all uncertainty in the Dar es Salaam Communiqué.

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

Vicar: Dire Times For Iraq's Christians

An Anglican clergyman in Baghdad, who has seen his flock murdered and forced into exile by Muslim extremists, says Christians there are worse off now than under Saddam’s rule and are probably suffering more than any time in history.

The Rev. Canon Andrew White, an Anglican priest known as the “Vicar of Baghdad,” speaks to 60 Minutes’ Scott Pelley for a segment on the persecution of Christians in Iraq to be broadcast this Sunday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

“There’s no comparison between Iraq now and [under Saddam],” says White. “Things are the most difficult they have ever been for Christians – probably ever in history,” he tells Pelley, referring to the nearly 2,000 years of Christian history in the area. That’s because White estimates that 90 percent of Iraq’s Christians, once thought to number over a million, have either fled or have been murdered by Islamic extremists during the religious civil war.

Read it all and set your electronic recording device if you have such to record 60 Minutes tonight to catch the full segment on this

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Iraq War

Today's Episcopal Church Statistics Quiz

What is the average pledge per member in a year as of 2006?

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

Frank Rich: Who’s Afraid of Barack Obama?

Now that the Beltway establishment, jolted by the Iowa polls, is frantically revising its premature blueprints for a Clinton coronation and declaring, as Time’s inevitable cliché would have it, that Mr. Obama has “found his voice,” it’s worth looking at some campaign story lines that have been ignored so far. They tell us more than the hyped scenarios that have fallen apart. Indeed, they flip the standard narrative of Campaign 2008 on its head: Were Mr. Obama to best Mrs. Clinton for the Democratic nomination, he may prove harder for the Republicans to rally against and defeat than the all-powerful, battle-tested Clinton machine.

The unspoken truth is that the Clinton machine is not being battle-tested at all by the Democratic primary process. When Mrs. Clinton accused John Edwards of “throwing mud” and “personally” attacking her in a sharp policy exchange in one debate, the press didn’t challenge the absurd hyperbole of her claim. In reality, neither Mr. Edwards nor any other Democratic competitor will ever hit her with the real, personal mud being stockpiled by the right. But if she’s getting a bye now, she will not from the Republican standard-bearer, whoever he may be. Clinton-bashing is the last shared article of faith (and last area of indisputable G.O.P. competence) that could yet unite the fractured and dispirited conservative electorate.

The Republicans know this and are so psychologically invested in refighting the Clinton wars that they’re giddy. Karl Rove’s first column for Newsweek last week, “How to Beat Hillary (Next) November,” proceeded from the premise that her nomination was a done deal. In the G.O.P. debates through last Thursday, the candidates mentioned the Clintons some 65 times. Barack Obama’s name has not been said once.

But much like the Clinton campaign itself, the Republicans have fallen into a trap by continuing to cling to the Hillary-is-inevitable trope. They have not allowed themselves to think the unthinkable ”” that they might need a Plan B to go up against a candidate who is not she. It’s far from clear that they would remotely know how to construct a Plan B to counter Mr. Obama.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Josephine Hicks and John Vanderstar Address Litigation Concerns

We reiterate that the Executive Council has no wish or intention to “level charges” or to “threaten litigation.” But we and the Presiding Officers have a responsibility to protect the assets of The Episcopal Church and to preserve its structure.

That structure, as set forth in the Constitution and Canons, confers on the General Convention the sole authority to make changes in the identity and responsibilities of Dioceses. Unilateral actions by Diocesan leadership that are contrary to the Constitution and Canons should not be tolerated by any active or retired Bishop. We hope and pray that such unilateral actions, and the litigation that these actions trigger, can come to a peaceful end.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Departing Parishes, TEC Polity & Canons

NY Times: A Look Inside the Physician Assisted Suicide debate in Washington State

“This will be my last campaign,” Booth Gardner said. “This will be the biggest fight of my career.” He walked along the lane between the beach of driftwood and his compound of houses. The driftwood clotted the shore; it was the end of summer now, and the cove was still, but in winter massive branches and trunks churn up out of the water of Puget Sound. Bone-white roots clawed at the air on this late afternoon; Gardner’s grandchildren climbed across them. His walk was a vigorous lurch. One foot twisted inward, one knee buckled. His torso keeled slightly with each step. He has Parkinson’s. He was governor of Washington State for two terms in the 1980s and ’90s. He is 71, and his last campaign is driven by his desire to kill himself. “I can’t see where anybody benefits by my hanging around,” he told me, while his blond grandchildren, sticks prodding, explored the water’s edge.

From the beach on Vashon Island, where Gardner spends much of his summers, not far from Seattle, he drove me to the island’s town. His Lexus was cluttered with debris: a crushed soda can, a tattered magazine put out by a local pollster, an old plastic cup from McDonald’s, a torn T-shirt, sunglasses missing a lens. Wearing a gray fleece, he led me into a simple restaurant with rustic décor. Full cheeks and green eyes impish, he chatted with the waitress and tried to start conversations with the people at tables around us. “You’re not having dessert?” he asked a young couple immersed in each other. Almost everyone seemed to recognize him, and almost everyone was friendly ”” he’d been the state’s most popular governor in recent decades. But it wasn’t always clear how interested they were in talking. The young couple gazed back at him, perplexed. It was 14 years since he’d been in office.

“Why do this?” he asked, turning from the other tables toward me. “I want to be involved in public life. I was looking for an issue, and this one fell in my lap. One advantage I have in this thing is that people like me. The other” ”” his leprechaun eyes lost their glint; his fleshy cheeks seemed to harden, his lips to thin, his face to reshape itself almost into a square ”” “is that my logic is impeccable. My life, my death, my control.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics

April Deconick: Gospel Truth

Perhaps the most egregious mistake I found was a single alteration made to the original Coptic. According to the National Geographic translation, Judas’s ascent to the holy generation would be cursed. But it’s clear from the transcription that the scholars altered the Coptic original, which eliminated a negative from the original sentence. In fact, the original states that Judas will “not ascend to the holy generation.” To its credit, National Geographic has acknowledged this mistake, albeit far too late to change the public misconception.

So what does the Gospel of Judas really say? It says that Judas is a specific demon called the “Thirteenth.” In certain Gnostic traditions, this is the given name of the king of demons ”” an entity known as Ialdabaoth who lives in the 13th realm above the earth. Judas is his human alter ego, his undercover agent in the world. These Gnostics equated Ialdabaoth with the Hebrew Yahweh, whom they saw as a jealous and wrathful deity and an opponent of the supreme God whom Jesus came to earth to reveal.

Whoever wrote the Gospel of Judas was a harsh critic of mainstream Christianity and its rituals. Because Judas is a demon working for Ialdabaoth, the author believed, when Judas sacrifices Jesus he does so to the demons, not to the supreme God. This mocks mainstream Christians’ belief in the atoning value of Jesus’ death and in the effectiveness of the Eucharist.

How could these serious mistakes have been made? Were they genuine errors or was something more deliberate going on? This is the question of the hour, and I do not have a satisfactory answer.

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Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture