Daily Archives: December 16, 2007

Stockton Record: Episcopal split in California has some historical precedent

There are some topics – politics and religion – that families often find uncomfortable to discuss.

Matters of faith also can split a church and its denomination.

Just ask members of the 47 parishes in 14 counties that make up the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

They voted overwhelmingly on Dec. 8 to disassociate themselves from the Episcopal Church USA.

A third touchy topic, sex, prompted the breakup.

The split can be characterized as a contrast between conservative and liberal points of view. Or it can be viewed as a dispute between biblical authority and church tradition and modern interpretations and changing world views.

It’s the first such secession in the United States, although dioceses in Pittsburgh, Quincy, Ill., and Fort Worth, Texas, have taken initital steps in the same direction.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin

The Religion Report Interviews Archbishop John Sentamu

Stephen Crittenden: Welcome to the program.

The great early 20th century sociologist, Max Weber said there were three pure types of leadership and authority. There were traditional leaders, legal or bureaucratic leaders, and charismatic leaders. I don’t think there’s much doubt that the most charismatic religious leader on the world stage today is the Ugandan-born Anglican Archbishop of York, John Sentamu who we interviewed on The Religion Report earlier this year. You may have seen him on the News earlier this week cutting up his clerical dog-collar in protest against the oppressive regime of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.

John Sentamu surprised his host and audience during the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, when he pulled out a pair of scissors and cut up his dog-collar, vowing not to wear it again until Mugabe is ousted.

John Sentamu: This is what I wear to identify myself that I’m a clergyman. Do you know what Mugabe has done? He’s taken people’s identity and literally, if you don’t mind, cut it to pieces; this is what he’s actually done, and in the end there’s nothing. So as far as I’m concerned, from now on, I’m not going to wear the dog collar until Mugabe’s gone.

Andrew Marr: My goodness. Archbishop, that is a dramatic gesture and everybody will observe it. Are you going to carry on talking to the Prime Minister here, are you going to go and talk to the South Africans and continue to make these points?

John Sentamu: I have been writing and I’ve been talking, and in the long run, we need a world voice, and I hope that what Gordon Brown has done by not going, pressure now will be put on Mugabe. See, there was an expectation that humanitarian United Nations group would visit every part. The areas, a friend of mine has just returned from there, and he said it’s just so awful. People don’t know where their next meals will come from. But of course Mugabe and his clique are living wonderfully. I’ve suggested the Prime Minister doesn’t understand why Britain doesn’t have a intra-section Instead of having an embassy; why all the world don’t do the same thing, what they did to Libya at one point. Is it because this happens to be a black person? Because what is going on for me there is this pernicious self-destructing racism. A white man does it, the whole world cries; a black person does it, there is a certain sense, ‘Oh this is colonialism’. I’m sorry, I don’t buy this. Africa and all the world have got to liberate Africa from this man to slavery, and this colonial mentality whenever there’s anything, you blame somebody else instead of yourself.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

LA Times–Anglican Archbishops: no consensus on Episcopal Church

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, in a long-awaited message to the global Anglican Communion he heads, said Friday there was no consensus among Anglican leaders on whether the Episcopal Church had met demands that it stop consecrating openly gay bishops and authorizing same-sex blessings.

In an Advent letter released Friday, Williams said just more than half of the fellowship’s top bishops and archbishops had responded positively to recent pledges from the Episcopal Church to roll back its relatively liberal positions on homosexuality and the Bible.

But for the rest of the Anglican leaders surveyed around the world, the promises made by Episcopal bishops were “inadequate,” the archbishop wrote. In a September meeting in New Orleans, the bishops pledged to “exercise restraint” in consecrating openly gay bishops and said they would not authorize official blessings for same-sex couples.

Williams, who is struggling to keep his fractious global fellowship from splintering, said he planned to ask professional mediators to help guide discussions between the Episcopal Church’s leadership and conservative dissidents in the United States and abroad.

“We have no consensus . . . ,” Williams wrote in the letter largely devoted to the crisis affecting the communion. “All of us will be seriously wounded and diminished if our communion fractures any further.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

NY Times: Obama Showing New Confidence With Iowa Sprint

Senator Barack Obama is seeking to capitalize on a moment of opportunity in the weeks before the Iowa caucuses to challenge Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s long dominance of the Democratic field, and in doing so, he now faces intensified questions about his vulnerabilities in a general election.

These days, Mr. Obama spends less time acknowledging Mrs. Clinton as he speaks to Iowans. But he finds himself at the center of a fusillade of criticism from his rivals, including an assertion by former President Bill Clinton that to elect Mr. Obama would be to “roll the dice” for America ”” a comment that validates the political threat Mr. Obama poses.

Mr. Obama, in an interview on Friday, addressed the shift in sentiment about his prospects of beating Mrs. Clinton in Iowa and holding her off in New Hampshire and other states that follow. “A month ago, I was an idiot,” he said. “This month, I’m a genius.”

The campaign of Mr. Obama, which slogged uncertainly through a period in the late summer and fall, alarming contributors who feared that he might have missed his moment, is now brimming with confidence as he delivers a closing argument to Iowa voters. His speeches are noticeably crisper, his poise is more consistent and many supporters say they no longer must rely upon a leap of faith to envision him winning the nomination.

With one week remaining before the campaign pauses for Christmas, Mr. Obama is dashing through a 22-city tour from the Mississippi River in the east to the Missouri River in the west, rushing to lock in voters before a holiday interlude. His organization faces its greatest test yet: turning enthusiasm among many grass-roots Democrats into widespread support at the caucuses on Jan. 3 in precincts that will decide the outcome, particularly rural areas where his support still remains uneven after 10 months of campaigning.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Bill Clinton Interviewed by Charlie Rose

“Really, really interesting, that I’ve heard Sen. Obama a dozen times making some fairly derisive comment about Hillary…saying, you know, she had a decades old plan to be president…repeating this total canard that…totally fabricated account from an anti-Hillary book…as if it was something bad that he didn’t have a decades-long president…so on their website they put reports that he had been planning to run for president…and they put this thing when he was in kindergarten that he planned to run for president..but the Obama people got the press on their side…”

Rose asked Clinton whether he was nervous about the state of the campaign.

“Well, no. Let me back up. In January, when on New Years Day, she said she was finally going to try and do this… I said I’ll make you a prediction…allt he press will say you will coast to the nomination….I think you will have a difficult time getting nominated, and if you are nominated, you’ll win the general election handily…..[HRC asked why]…you’ll have to run in Iowa, which is the single most difficult state…but Sen. Edwards has a well-earned, huge cadre of support in Iowa because he’s worked it for seven years…Sen. Obama is next door, that matters.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Worth a Careful Revisit–Michael Watson's General Convention 2006 is non-compliant to Windsor

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

New York Times Letters on the Baseball Scandal and the Mitchell Report

Here is one:

Once upon a time, some 60-odd years ago, I was a baseball fan. It was a time when we called baseball players “heroes,” before we really knew the definition of the word. And yet, fielders showed up for every game, pitchers occasionally pitched complete doubleheaders, and all were available to sign autographs free for kids after the game was played.

As television came upon the scene, so did money ”” big time! This changed America’s pastime forever.

No longer did the average players earn 50 or 60 times the wages of ordinary Americans, but were being paid much more ”” almost 1,000 times the pay of an ordinary worker. By that time, my interest in the game started to wane.

It should be no surprise to anyone still interested in baseball today to witness the expected results of the Mitchell report on steroid use. Why did players use these substances? For money ”” to hit the ball farther, to throw a ball harder, to run a little faster or to negotiate a better contract after their improved performance.

I abandoned the game with the baseball strike in 1994, when both sides minimized the impact on fans of the game in pursuit of wealth and greed. I do not regret my decision to leave what was once a wonderful game.

James D. Cook

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sports, Theology

A Washington Post Profile on Mike Huckabee: A Higher Power

When he climbed out of the car at Fort Robinson that morning in June 1972, Mike Huckabee found himself surrounded by 1,200 other high school juniors, each a leader in his Arkansas home town, each primed for an election. Several were carrying posters touting their platforms. Others were handing out cards.

Then as now, Huckabee didn’t have the campaign apparatus of his peers. The 16-year-old arrived at Boys State, a prestigious and civic-minded youth camp run by the American Legion, from the small southwest Arkansas town of Hope with nothing but a suitcase and a gift for oratory.

By week’s end he was its brightest star, elected governor in a landslide. He left Boys State with a network of high-achieving new friends who were eager to hitch their futures to his. And he’d soon have a letter from Gov. Dale Bumpers encouraging him to consider a career in public service.

It was a heady triumph for a teenager who already harbored big ambitions. But it wasn’t enough — not yet — to lure him from his chosen path: preaching the word of God.

Three days after Boys State, Huckabee and two buddies from Hope piled into a car and headed to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, where they joined 80,000 other teenagers at Explo ’72, the first worldwide gathering of evangelical youth. Time magazine dubbed it “the Jesus Woodstock.” There, Huckabee spent six days learning from the Rev. Billy Graham and Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, how to lead others to the Lord.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

Leslie Baynes: The unsubtle atheism of Philip Pullman's books

The main problem with “His Dark Materials,” however, is not the atheism per se but rather its mindless dogmatism. There is no such thing as an open-minded Christian in the series. Take this quote from “The Amber Spyglass”: “I met an angel. . . . She said that all the history of human life has been a struggle between wisdom and stupidity. She and the rebel angels, the followers of wisdom, have always tried to open minds; the Authority and his churches have always tried to keep them closed.” To be fair, Mr. Pullman himself noted in a 2000 interview that this one-sided portrayal is “an artistic flaw,” but there it is nonetheless.

The polemic against religion starts quietly enough in the first book, which introduces Mr. Pullman’s truly brilliant gift to fantasy literature, the personal daemon. A daemon is not a demon but more like Socrates’ daimon, a sort of guardian spirit that accompanies a person throughout his life. In “His Dark Materials,” a daemon is an outward manifestation of a person’s soul in animal form. Children’s daemons change to match their mood or suit their purposes (say, from a moth to a wildcat), but they settle into a fixed form at puberty. This change is the crux of the entire series; that is, the series is about growing up.

There couldn’t be a more time-honored general theme for children’s books, but Mr. Pullman seemingly found at least part of the impetus for his work in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series. Mr. Pullman’s hatred of those books–he says he doesn’t mind some of Lewis’s other works, especially “The Screwtape Letters”–is no secret. “One girl [in the Narnia books] was sent to hell because she was getting interested in clothes and boys,” he noted in 2002. Actually, Susan was getting interested in “nylons and lipstick,” arguably less important than clothes and boys; nor was she “sent to hell.” Instead she, unlike her three siblings, remained alive on Earth in the last book of the series. While Susan wasn’t “saved,” she certainly wasn’t damned. As Lewis wrote to a child concerned about Susan’s fate, “perhaps she will get to Aslan’s country in the end–in her own way.” Growing up was not the problem.

In “His Dark Materials,” however, the church condemns growing up, particularly sexual awakening. “That’s what the Church does, and every church is the same: control, destroy, obliterate every good feeling,” claims a character in “The Amber Spyglass.” In Mr. Pullman’s world, the church by extension condemns the growth, life and freedom of the soul itself. So strongly does this church want to “save” children from autonomy and the resultant possibility of choosing sin, that it literally cuts them away from their daemons, destroying their souls.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Books, England / UK, Religion & Culture

A New Emphasis for the Ministry: Management Skills

For the last four years, Wendy Samuels has worked in a remote village in Jamaica for Mustard Seed Communities, a Roman Catholic nonprofit group that helps disabled children.

The work is both rewarding and heartbreaking. But some of the most difficult moments came as she managed well-meaning staff members who did not always do their jobs properly.

“If someone is not performing their job, how do you deal with it when there is still so much to be done?” Ms. Samuels said. “I kept wondering, How do you manage persons in a third-world country who work for a charitable organization?”

The quest for an answer led Ms. Samuels to Boston College, a Jesuit institution here, where she is one of seven students in a new graduate program intended to teach management principles to leaders of churches and religious nonprofit agencies.

The program was born out of the idea that the Roman Catholic Church needs employees who can both minister to the faithful and ensure that organizations and churches are managed well.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic

Making right of a wrongful conviction

Really inspiring stuff.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues

Michael Hopkins: The Archbishop's Credibility Gap and the Destruction of Anglicanism

The Archbishop completely objectifies, makes passive, “the community of believers,” which, for this Anglican, is about as far from Anglicanism as one can get.

The other problem is his final sentence in that paragraph.

Radical change in the way we read cannot be determined by one group or tradition alone.

That is Roman Catholic Theology pure and simple, and it’s is simply hogwash. At the very least it begs the question, what is “radical change.” I defy the Archbishop to prove that the ordination of Bishop Gene Robinson is a “radical change” in the reading of Scripture by Anglican standards. He ought to have at least asked the question rather than made the pronouncement.

Here’s the other problematic paragraph:I acknowledge that this limitation on invitations will pose problems for some in its outworking. But I would strongly urge those whose strong commitments create such problems to ask what they are prepared to offer for the sake of the Conference that will have some general credibility in and for the Communion overall.

Earth to Archbishop, the credibility of the “instruments of communion” are already shot, literally, to hell. To be fair to him, this did not begin on his watch, but on his predecessors at the previous Lambeth Conference. The very reason Lambeth 1.10 cannot be “ the only point of reference clearly agreed by the overwhelming majority of the Communion” is that 1.10 had and has no credibility because of the process at which it arrived. I would also defy the Archbishop to give actual evidence outside the Primates Meeting that the statement is actually true. It is not true simply because he “repeatedly” says it is true.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth 2008, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Fulcrum Response to the Rowan Williams' 2007 Advent Letter

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Posted in Uncategorized