Daily Archives: December 4, 2007

Episcopalians, Other Christians Ask Muslims for Forgiveness

Seven bishops and other Episcopal leaders joined with a number of influential Christian leaders in signing a letter asking Muslims to forgive Christians. The letter with signatures recently appeared as a full-page advertisement in The New York Times.

“Muslims and Christians have not always shaken hands in friendship; their relations have sometimes been tense, even characterized by outright hostility,” the authors said. “Since Jesus Christ says, ”˜First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye’ (Matthew 7:5), we want to begin by acknowledging that in the past (e.g. in the Crusades) and in the present (e.g. in excesses of the ‘war on terror’) many Christians have been guilty of sinning against our Muslim neighbors. Before we ”˜shake your hand’ in responding to your letter, we ask forgiveness of the All Merciful One and of the Muslim community around the world.”

Last month 138 Muslim scholars, clerics and intellectuals sent a letter titled “A Common Word Between Us,” seeking common ground between the two faiths. The letter was hand delivered to many Christian leaders including Pope Benedict XVI, the Orthodox Church’s Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew 1 and all the other Orthodox patriarchs, and to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the leaders of protestant churches worldwide. Archbishop Rowan Williams has already responded to the letter in a joint communiqué written with several prominent Jewish rabbis.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Church launches Facebook cards

THE CHURCH of England is taking advantage of the boom in social networking on the internet by launching a range of Christmas cards for users of the popular website Facebook.

A selection of cards blessed by the Church are hoped to take Facebook by ”˜snowstorm’ this year, offering Christians the opportunity to share their faith with their friends through the website. The virtual cards, based on religious themes, can be sent on with a personalised message and are freely available to any of the seven million active users in the UK registered on the website.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE)

LA Times: In divorce, even the environment pays a price

If you thought divorce was bad for the kids, you should see what it does to the environment.

A study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science found that the resource inefficiency of divorced households resulted in an extra 73 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity use in the U.S. in 2005 — about 7% of total home use.

“Turning on the light uses the same energy whether there are two people or four people in the room,” said lead author Jianguo Liu, an ecologist at Michigan State University.

The extra electricity generation spews more carbon dioxide into the air, exacerbating global warming.

“If you don’t want to get remarried, maybe move in with somebody you like,” said Liu, who just celebrated his 20th wedding anniversary.

Other potential solutions include polygamy, communal living or roommates.

“I’m just a scientist trying to present the facts,” Liu said. “I’m not promoting one way or another.”

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources, Marriage & Family

An interesting look back: JI Packer on Calvin the Theologian

John Calvin’s theology arrests attention at the outset on two accounts: it has been extraordinarily influential, and it has been extraordinarily maligned.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Other Churches, Presbyterian, Theology

Bishop Johnson’s letter to the Clergy in Toronto

As you know from the media, the Essentials Network met last week in Burlington to prepare for a formal separation from the Anglican Church of Canada. Please note that this is the “Network” branch of Essentials, and it is clear to me that it is not the intention or desire of the majority of those who are involved in the mainstream of the Essentials movement itself. (ed: divide and conquer?)

I am saddened but not surprised by this development. I do understand that some people may choose to leave their denominational tradition because they feel led to a different path. I, myself, left the denomination of my birth and early development to become an Anglican ”“ and I have never regretted that decision. What I cannot countenance is a primate and province of the Anglican Communion in another part of the world claiming missionary jurisdiction here, not as another denomination but in competition as the “real” Anglican Church. A few clergy who have relinquished voluntarily their orders in the Anglican Church of Canada, or will soon do so, are actively engaged in this. This is not acceptable.

It is our standard practice, and it is clearly set out in canon law, that no cleric who voluntarily relinquishes the exercise of ministry, for whatever reason, can function in any capacity until restored by the diocesan bishop to whom he or she relinquished. No bishop, priest or deacon who is not canonically resident in this diocese is permitted to function within the Diocese without both the invitation of the parish incumbent and either my licence or informal permission.

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

Chris Suellentrop: Mitt Romney’s J.F.K. Moment?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

Former Episcopal Bishop Jeffrey Steenson was received into the Catholic Church

Check it out.

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

Presiding Bishop sends letter in advance of San Joaquin Diocesan Convention

As with previous letters to other disaffected bishops, the correspondence with Schofield notified him that such a step would force Jefferts Schori to act to bring the diocese and its leadership into line with the mandates of the national Church.

“You have been clear that you feel your views are dismissed or ignored within the Episcopal Church, yet you have ceased to participate in the councils of the Church. It is difficult to have dialogue with one who is absent,” Jefferts Schori wrote. “”¦The Church will never change if dissenters withdraw from the table. There is an ancient and honored tradition of loyal opposition, and many would welcome your participation.”

The first of the letters was sent to Bishop Robert Duncan of the Diocese of Pittsburgh on October 31. A second letter was sent to Bishop Jack Leo Iker of Fort Worth on November 8.

San Joaquin’s diocesan convention, meeting December 7-8, is set to consider second readings of four constitutional changes that implicitly reject property and other canons of General Convention.

Schofield, who was traveling at the time the letter was sent, has not yet issued a response, according to the Rev. William Gandenberger, Canon to the Ordinary in the Diocese of San Joaquin.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin

Jeff Jacoby: The sky isn't falling

THE MAIL brings the new issue of Commentary, the cover of which announces: “Crime, Drugs, Welfare – and Other Good News.” An arresting title, that, and for a moment you wonder if it is meant sardonically. But no: Authors Peter Wehner and Yuval Levin, scholars at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, are playing it straight. On crime, drugs, welfare, and an array of other social problems, they bring tidings of comfort and joy.

more stories like thisStart with crime. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, both violent crime and property crime are at their lowest levels since 1973. Even lower in some places: New York City, it was reported a few days ago, is expected to have fewer than 500 homicides this year, the lowest number since the early 1960s. Contrast that with 1990, when New York recorded 2,245 homicides.

Teenage drug use has fallen by 23 percent since the 1990s, and by more than 50 percent for certain specific drugs, such as LSD and ecstasy.

Welfare? The US caseload has dropped a remarkable 60 percent since 1994 – as much as 90 percent in some states.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch

NY Times: Vulnerable Democrats Fret About Clinton Ticket

Nancy Boyda, a Democrat who ran for Congress in this district last year, owed her upset victory partly to the popularity of the Democratic woman at the top of the ticket: Kathleen Sebelius, who won the governor’s seat. Now, with a tough re-election race at hand in 2008, Ms. Boyda faces the prospect that her electoral fate could be tied to another woman: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Mrs. Clinton is a long way from winning the Democratic presidential nomination, and over the last few weeks has struggled to hang on to the air of inevitability that she has been cultivating all year. But the possibility that she will be the nominee is already generating concern among some Democrats in Republican-leaning states and Congressional districts, who fear that sharing the ticket with her could subject them to attack as too liberal and out of step with the values of their constituents.

And few incumbent Democrats face a greater challenge next year than Ms. Boyda, whose district delivered almost 60 percent of its votes to President Bush in 2004.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

West Indies Anglican Synod outlines regional concerns

Speaking at the Cathedral Church of St. John, the Archbishop stated that the Church is being challenged to work and witness in an increasingly secular environment that is diametrically opposed to the truth of the Gospel.

He observed that in all the territories of the region when the Church attempts to bring a faith perspective in the public domain, she is usually greeted with hostility and disdain. He expressed grave worry that there is a tacit convention that public affairs are no business of God and so God is kept at a safe distance of private opinion and voluntary associations.

He exhorted the Province to assess its missional task in light of the current consensus, which seriously impairs the wholeness of life in our society. He then called on the Church to face the future with confidence and hope, rooted not in our ingenuity, but grounded in the Lord of the Church.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, West Indies

Ephraim Radner and David Reed: Canada is not the United States

In 2003, after TEC’s General Convention gave consent to Gene Robinson’s episcopal election, some conservatives began to use the term “realignment” with respect to the Anglican Communion. At the time, it seemed to refer to a movement ”“ not yet fully en route ”“ to forge a common witness to the Scriptural commitments of Anglicanism, that would draw together the Communion’s organs of discipline and mission in a newly integrated manner. This would, some hoped, isolate the Episcopal Church’s own wayward developments from the rest of the Communion, offer godly pressures for reform, and provide conservative Episcopalians with a clearly defined Communion basis for their own local witness. “Realignment” was, in what seems to have been the Archbishop of Canterbury’s suggestive understanding, a “confessional” movement within the Communion.

The term “realignment” has taken on a new meaning, however, over the past few years. It now seems to denote for many the erection of new hierarchical structures among Anglicans, separate from, independent of accountability to, and out of communion with a range of other existing Communion entities and persons. Instead, these structures claim a more local or individualized form of accountability, as in a congregational polity now lifted into an ”˜episcopal’ frame of reference. These new structures of “realignment” are ones through which provincial, episcopal, and local oversight is offered, through which ministry is ordered, through which discipline is effected, and through which resources are shared, apart from the Anglican Communion’s already established organs of ecclesial life, including, in some cases. Some have called this “realignment” a “new Reformation”; others (rather contradictorily) have seen it as a step to reunion with Rome; others have stressed its provisional nature (though without explaining how the erection of new orders of ministry and discipline can, in the nature of the case, be provisional).

We can argue as to the wisdom and the theological and moral appropriateness of this new reading of “realignment” and its practical outworking. Indeed, the argument has been going on for several years already. But it is worth noting, apart from such debate and purely as a factual matter, that the new understanding of Anglican realignment has yet to be accepted by many who are its purported objects of concern. The factual matter of observation may also, of course, inform substantive questions themselves.
There has been, for instance, a grand announcement made recently that the Anglican Church in Canada was itself in the process of becoming a part of this new “realignment”. Two retired Canadian Anglican bishops were “received” by the Province of the Southern Cone (in South America), and this South American-based province invited Canadian Anglican congregations to leave the Canadian church and join them. Ordinations in Canada are planned, and new structures being set up to provide this South American-Canadian alternative Anglican church to function alongside the current Anglican Church of Canada. All of this, indeed, follows the multiple models of “realignment” already set up the United States, where several African Anglican Provinces (Rwanda, Nigeria, Uganda, and Kenya) have their own hierarchical and disciplinary structures in place within America, ordering the life of American Anglican congregations and clergy, supervising the flow of resources, and engaged, from afar, in disciplinary and legal matters.

Despite the much-publicized announcement of this Canadian “realignment”, however, to this point only two congregations, both of them not members of the Anglican Church of Canada, have agreed to participate. The Canadian “Network” of conservative Anglican congregations who have expressed a willingness to listen to this invitation numbers 16 congregations, half of whom come from a single conflicted diocese (New Westminster), and none of whom as yet have agreed to “realign”.

There are, of course, Canadian Anglicans who may be interested in this realignment; some of them may be waiting for the next set of plans to unfold; some are reflecting; some are getting ready to move. Perhaps soon. We may well see several more congregations join up. But we will not see a large proportional number, despite the fact that, in Canada, even longer than in the US, conservative Anglicans have been struggling with the challenge of bishops, synods, teachings, and disciplinary practices that they believe to be seriously at odds with the Gospel. And why is that?

It is not because the evangelical stakes are not as high in Canada as in the United States. It is not because Canadian Anglicans who love the Scriptures and the Lord of the Scriptures and the Church of this Lord, are not as astute as their American counterparts, or as brave, or as faithful. It is not because they do not realize that leaders and synods within their church have, in fact, crossed the line of Communion teaching and commitment. One may wish to judge the value of the differences in question; but even refraining from such judgment one can and ought to point out that Canada is not the United States, within Anglicanism as much as in anything.

 Canadian Anglicans have long lived in a rapidly secularizing culture. They recognize the dangers of meeting the atheism and hopelessness of a secular and fracturing social and moral environment through the witness of Christian fragmentation.

 Canadian Anglicans are already bound by the habits of “commonwealth”, and the virtues of “communion”, understood in this historically-informed Anglican fashion are well-rooted in their practice.

 Canadian Anglicans are schooled, if not in a religious way nonetheless in a real way, in the life of loyalty.

 Canadian Anglicans already know the tremendous cost of legal battles, having endured and suffered from the Residential School litigation and settlements, and they don’t have as much money available for such battles as their U.S. counterparts. They also know, from this and other experiences, the heart of moral hypocrisy that so evidently and powerfully lurks within the lives of institutions and their reformers both.

 Canadian Anglicans are aware that their identity as a national church is fragile due to Canada’s vast geography and tendency to regionalism, their small numbers as a church, and far fewer material resources than their neighboring Episcopal Church. Many of their parishes are small and scattered throughout Canada’s large rural areas. To leave the larger Canadian church is a luxury that only a very few urban parishes could afford. For most conservative Anglicans, realignment means isolation.

If Anglican “realignment” has a positive meaning for conservative Canadian Anglicans, it will probably be in terms of its earlier meaning. Realignment, then, will probably be embraced in terms of the confessional witness that sows its seed, maintains its integrity, suffers its resistance, and gives of itself within the bonds of common life as they can best be lived within the conscience of charity and truth that Christ’s Spirit has so long afforded His Church among those who earnestly seek it. This will not come easily, to be sure. It will require greater explicit organization and commitment. Individuals who have stood in the shadows will be called to step forward. The endurance of hard words will need to be borne. There is the threat of discouragement, of lagging energies, of disaffection even.

There is also a very special concern in the cultural context unique to Canada. In Canada, the particular danger must be faced that the conservative immigrant, ethnic, and Native Anglican congregations and their leaders will be affected more than anyone (a problem the more homogeneous U.S. church has not had to face.) Yet whatever the new structures and provinces and bishops and clergy and discipline that are established within Canada by Anglicans from elsewhere in the world, it is fair to say that the vast majority of faithful Canadian Anglicans will choose a different path.

All this represents straightforward observation. It may prove inaccurate as time moves forward, or it may prove a point of permanent distinction. God alone knows. The fact that Canada is not the United States, however, has enormous implications in the struggle for the witness of global Anglicanism. Indeed, only the United States is the United States ”“ and even there, many widespread assumptions are not what they seem. Understanding the distinctions, especially where the Gospel is concerned, will do much to protect other parts of the Communion from the distinctive morass of American turmoil, whose realignments have, as yet, proved easier to multiply than to order.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone], Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, Theology

The Advice Goddess Catches a Wall Street Journal Story on the Mortgage Metdown that I missed

In Granada Hills, Calif., Natalie Brandon is fighting to keep the three-bedroom ranch house she bought in 1985 for $105,000. Mrs. Brandon, 51, does medical billing for doctors; her husband is a dispatcher for a local gas utility. Last year, she got a $625,500 mortgage from Argent, now owned by Citigroup. Her 7.99% interest rate isn’t set to rise until next June, but she already is behind on payments.
Over the past five years, she has refinanced her home five times, each time taking out cash and paying prepayment penalties. Last year, all she had to do to refinance was state that she and her husband earned a combined $100,000. She says she used the proceeds to pay off $30,000 owed on her white Lexus.

This year, she says, their income fell after she suffered a short-term disability. Mrs. Brandon figures if she sold her home today, she wouldn’t get more than $450,000 — what a nearby home sold for in foreclosure.

She has tried for months to get her loan modified, and missed her June and September payments. Last month, Damien Gutierrez, a Citi Residential home-retention manager, offered to fix her interest rate at 6% for 40 years, she says. One week later, she says, he said he was authorized only to offer her a five-year fixed rate. Earlier this month, Citigroup offered her a six-month trial at 6%, saying it would extend the modification to three years if she keeps up with her payments, she says. Mr. Gutierrez didn’t return calls seeking comment.

Read the rest here.

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

Thomas Forsyth Torrance RIP

Read it all. He came to Regent College, Vancouver, when I was a student there from 1982-1984, and spoke on the importance of having and cultivating a theological instinct. I still remember it–KSH.

(Hat tip: CS)

Posted in Theology

British Justice minister warned over anti-gay speech

THE BISHOP of Liverpool has challenged the necessity of the proposed amendment to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill criminalising anti-gay speech. Speaking in the House of Lords on Nov 12, Bishop James Jones stated that current laws were sufficient to deal with problems of homophobic behavior.

Last month the Justice Secretary, Jack Straw (pictured), announced plans to amend the Criminal Justice Bill, extending the protections against hate speech provided to religious and racial groups to homosexuals.

Bishop Jones told Parliament that while it was ”˜essential to protect vulnerable groups in society from malicious and harmful attacks,’ it must also be asked ”˜whether the existing public order law is being enforced effectively and equitably before introducing new offences.’

“As we found in the debates on incitement to religious hatred, the offence of incitement brings all kinds of uncertainties about the boundaries of acceptable speech and behaviour. Any new offence will have to balance protection against freedom of expression, so that hateful and inflammatory behaviour towards particular groups is distinguished from controversial argument, for example, about sexual ethics,” Bishop Jones said.

Read the whole article.

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