Daily Archives: December 17, 2007

Second Lambeth Conference a blow to Williams

Conservative Anglican leaders are secretly planning a meeting next summer for the hundreds of bishops expected to defy the Archbishop of Canterbury by boycotting the Lambeth Conference, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

The unprecedented event will be widely seen as an “alternative Lambeth”, further damaging Dr Rowan Williams’s hopes of averting a formal schism over homosexuals.

Aides of the Archbishop said that any such gathering, which is due to be held just before the official conference, would be perceived as a symbol of division and would send out a “negative” message.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Global South Churches & Primates, Lambeth 2008

El Bohemio News–A Church in Conflict ”“ Update ”“ An Allegation of Manipulating The Vote

The [ENS article by] Schjonberg… goes on to state that Canterbury never endorsed such a plan leaving the reader with the impression that Bishop Schofield might have released false information in order to influence the delegates’ votes in favor of secession. A closer inspection of the facts, however, does not support such a damning implication and clearly vindicates Bishop Schofield.

The statement attributed to Bishop Schofield (“According to well-informed sources, the Archbishop of Canterbury has been fully informed of the invitation of the Province of the Southern Cone and described it as a ”˜sensible way forward’”) is not something the Bishop invented. Rather it echoes a London Times article of November 9, 2007 by Ruth Gledhill, the Times Religion Correspondent.

When I asked Canon Jim Rosenthal of the Anglican Communion Press Office about the Times article and about Dr. Williams’ position as laid out in the ENS article, he responded in a tersely worded statement that “There is no endorsement from Dr Williams on the matter. Bishop Venables is keenly aware of this as well.” Canon Rosenthal did not, however, respond to the substance of the Times article or address the issue of possible informal discussions having taken place between the Archbishop of Canterbury and Archbishop Venables of the Southern Cone regarding the problems of the Episcopal Church and its dissident orthodox dioceses.

Archbishop Venables, responding to a question from El Bohemio News as to whether he had discussed the issue of alternative oversight with Dr. Williams, released the following statement through the press office at the Diocese of San Joaquin: “We neither sought nor claimed the endorsement of the Archbishop of Canterbury. We [Abp Venables] did however share our plans with him and would not have wished to proceed without doing so.” It would be hard to believe that this “sharing” of plans did not include some attempt on the part of both Dr. Williams and Archbishop Venables to resolve the crisis in the best way possible.

Read it all.

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

Tom Krattenmaker: The real meaning of Christmas?

Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, told The New York Times that he of all people celebrates Christmas. “I detest Jingle Bells, White Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and the obscene spending bonanza that nowadays seems to occupy not just December, but November and much of October, too,” he said. Even so, he added, “so divorced has Christmas become from religion that I find no necessity to bother with euphemisms such as, ‘Happy holiday season.’ ”

You could spend all day sorting out the causes of this separation of Christmas from its higher purpose, but few could dispute Dawkins’ assessment. British though he is, he is spot-on about Christmas in America when he indicts the “spending bonanza” that has come to characterize the season. Who does not feel the pressure to buy, buy, buy as the calendar moves past Thanksgiving into the gift-purchasing ”” er, Christmas ”” season?

Bring on the Advent Conspiracy, a new movement led by idealistic young Christians to confront what it calls the “scandal” of Christmas commercialism.

“Christ,” according to the Advent Conspiracy website, “tends to get overlooked at Christmas.” This may resonate with Christians who resent crass “Xmas” references in storefront advertisements, but the Advent Conspiracy is not out to plaster “Christ” all over malls. Rather, to remedy the removal of faith from the holiday, conspiracy organizers are calling on Christians to give fewer material gifts and more of themselves ”” do-it-yourself photos or poems, for example, experiential gifts such as a special father-and-son outing or donations of time or money.

Judging from its quick growth, the upstart Advent Conspiracy has struck a chord. Launched last year by Rick McKinley, an emerging church leader in Portland, Ore., the conspiracy has attracted more than 700 churches from 17 countries, with thousands of people signing up through its website.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

On Facebook, scholars link up with data

Facebook’s network of 58 million active users and its status as the sixth-most-trafficked Web site in the United States have made it an irresistible subject for many types of academic research.

Scholars at Carnegie Mellon used the site to look at privacy issues. Researchers at the University of Colorado analyzed how Facebook instantly disseminated details about the Virginia Tech shootings in April.

But it is Facebook’s role as a petri dish for the social sciences ”” sociology, psychology and political science ”” that particularly excites some scholars, because the site lets them examine how people, especially young people, are connected to one another, something few data sets offer, the scholars say.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Education

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori Interviewed by Runner's World Magazine

The difference between running and delivering a sermon or leading a flock is …
I might come at it in terms of similarities than in terms of differences. Similarities: there’s some preparation, but most of the work happens when you’re doing it. There’s training to get ready, but most of the work and ministry happens in the middle of it.

You said you like to run on trails. Anything interesting that might have happened in the woods?
Well, you get to see animals if you’re not too noisy. Deer and rabbits and birds and turkeys

Where is the most beautiful or inspiring place you’ve run and what made it so?
I’ve been a couple times in the last few years to Healdsburg, California. There’s a retreat center there where I’ve been to meetings. The places where the trails go in the coast range there are quite beautiful.

Do you have a favorite Bible passage that inspires you to get out and run?
There’s a wonderful passage in the Psalms that says, “Beautiful are the feet of one who brings good news.”

Do you have any favorite pre- or post-run meal?
Well, back in the days when I was training for things, a good, long Saturday-morning run was followed by a refrigerator-drawer omelet. Everything that’s in there in terms of vegetables and leftovers.

And cheese?
Absolutely.

What do you like the most and dislike the most about running?
Well, it’s hard work, but you feel great afterwards, or even in the midst of it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, Sports

An NPR piece on the San Joaquin Diocesan Decision

An Episcopal diocese in central California voted Saturday [December 8th] to split with the national church over disagreements about the role of gays and lesbians in the church.

Clergy and lay members of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin voted 173-22 at their annual convention to remove all references to the national church from the diocese’s constitution, according to spokeswoman Joan Gladstone.

The Fresno-based congregation is the first full diocese to secede because of a conservative-liberal rift that began decades ago and is now focused on whether the Bible condemns gay relationships.

David Steinmetz, professor of the History of Christianity at Duke University, talks to Andrea Seabrook about the rift.

Listen to it all and please note for the record that it is Bishop Martyn Minns, not Mims.

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

The Bishop of Central Florida Writes his Clergy

Via email:

My Dearly Beloved Brothers and Sisters,

Most of this letter was written two weeks ago, but I did not believe it was timely to send it. I think that the Protocol has now been adopted by the Diocesan Board it may be right to do so.

Not a single one of you has asked the question: “Bishop, why are you allowing these rectors who want to ‘disaffiliate’ the space to pursue their objectives? They are clearly in the process of abandoning the communion of this Church. Why are you not moving against them by inhibition and deposition?”

Here is my answer to the unspoken question: I am deeply sympathetic to any who believe that the current leadership of The Episcopal Church has greatly compromised the “doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them.” And I am extremely reluctant to discipline those who, for conscience sake, are finding they MUST “disaffiliate.”

I believe that many of our clergy and lay leaders have attempted to be completely loyal to our received heritage, and have tried to reform a Church that is in many ways errant. And they have finally concluded that such reformation is not going to be successful. They want to “protect” the members of The Episcopal Church entrusted to them from any further spiritual incursions against them.

I am not convinced we have come to a point of no return. But I understand why they may believe we have done so. I believe it is still possible to be a faithful parish, or a faithful diocese, within The Episcopal Church. And I am still eager to hear what the Archbishop of Canterbury has to say about all of this.

Some of our people have expected and hoped that I would attempt to “lead the Diocese out of The Episcopal Church.” (They are, frankly, deeply disappointed in me!)

I do not believe that is possible, though I recognize that some of our Bishops are attempting to do precisely that. I do not think they will be successful. They can leave, and they can take any number of clergy and laity with them. They can affiliate with some foreign jurisdiction such as the Southern Cone.

But there will be a remnant who will NOT want to leave, and that remnant will constitute the continuing Diocese of Pittsburgh, San Joaquin, Fort Worth, etc.

I expect that millions of dollars will be spent in lawsuits that will ultimately fail as far as those who wish to leave are concerned. And I cannot be part of that.

Nor can I be part of litigation against those who, for conscience sake, believe they must leave The Episcopal Church. These are faithful brothers and sisters who only want to remain true to what we have always been: orthodox Anglican Catholic Christians.

We have spent two months (four meetings, approximately twelve hours) attempting to craft a Protocol (a page and a half) which is finally in place – to deal with those who wish to “disaffiliate.” This Protocol does not spell out the whole process. It merely brings to the threshold of being able to deal with those congregations. I want to state again my gratitude for the prayers of so many, and my particular gratitude for the members of the Board, the Standing Committee, the Special Task Force, and especially our Chancellors. We could not pay them for the time they have invested on our behalf!

The Protocol does not guarantee success. If the leaders of some congregations offer unreasonable proposals, and we cannot possibly accept them, and if I and the Board offer counter proposals that these leaders cannot accept…there is no guarantee whatsoever that somebody may not do something that the other side will find litigious. I believe that nobody wants to go there. But we may not be able to avoid it.

The Church of the New Covenant attempted to transfer title to a separate non-profit 501 (c)(3) corporation, and forced our hand four years ago. We had to file suit, and we did so. Something like that could occur again. I pray it does not.

On one level, I think the honorable thing those who wish to “disaffiliate” would be to simply walk away.

That is what happened at St. John’s, Melbourne, and Shepherd of the Hills, Lecanto. And it appears that is what is about to happen at St. Edward’s, Mount Dora.

But, on another level, I believe that there is a validity to the argument of some who wish to ‘disaffiliate” that it is they who have been faithful, while the national leadership of The Episcopal Church has increasingly abandoned the very heritage we have all sworn to protect.

So, I want to try to work with these brothers and sisters if it is at all possible. (It may not be.) We have received proposals from three of these congregations so far. In all honesty, I do not think any of the three are realistic. But now that the Protocol is in place, we can begin to discuss these proposals.

Each church’s situation is unique, and each will have to be dealt with on its own merits. My life, since October 18, has been totally consumed with all of this, and I can tell you there is not a shred of joy in any of it. (Ernie [Bennett]’s, too.)

I will attempt to keep you apprised of where we are as this process unfolds.

My warmest regards in our Lord,

(And yes, you may post off the list so long as you post the whole thing.)

–(The Right Rev.) John W. Howe is Bishop of Central Florida

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Central Florida

Tariq Ramadan: on Islaam and a case of selective hearing

My condemnation – as well as those of many other Muslim scholars around the world – has apparently not been heard. In Western countries as well as in Islamic countries, we witness a kind of selective hearing. People are invited to listen only to what apparently comforts their prejudices or suits some ideological agenda.

This polarization is dangerous because it engenders enmity. Our world needs more courageous, but also more consistent, voices. The reason why voices such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s are not heard in Islamic countries is not because she raises irrelevant questions (some of her arguments are indeed very relevant) but because her criticisms appear to be obsessive, excessive and unilateral. It is as if she wants to please the West and, yes, the West is pleased. But the Muslims are deaf to her voice.

The future belongs to those who are able to consistently exercise self-criticism in the name of shared universal values and not because of blindly belonging to the artificial construct of “Western” or “Islamic” civilization, or because of a hidden ideological agenda.

All betrayals of faith and principles must be denounced with the same energy: those of the Muslims when they kill or imprison innocent people, as well as those of democratic Western societies when they illegally invade another country, or use torture or extraordinary renditions. It would be good, indeed, to hear more often these non-selective – and non-selected – voices

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Tim Hames–Iraq – the best story of the year

Yet none of this should detract from what has been achieved in Iraq so unexpectedly this year. First, the country will now have the time to establish itself. A year ago it seemed as if American forces would have been withdrawn in ignominious fashion either well before the end of the Bush Administration or, at best, days after the next president came to office. This will not now happen. The self-evident success of the surge has obliged the Democrats to start talking about almost anything else and the calls to cut and run have abated. If the US Army remains in Iraq in strength, continuing on its present path, then deals on a constitution and the division of oil revenues between provinces will be realised.

Secondly, the aspiration that Iraq could be some sort of “beacon” in the region is no longer ridiculous. It will never be Sweden with beards, but there has been the development of a vibrant capitalist class and a media of a diversity that is unique in the region. Were Iraq to emerge with a federal political structure, regular local and national elections and an economic dynamism in which the many, not the few, could share, then it would be a model.

Finally, Iraq in 2007 has illustrated that the words “intelligent American policy” are not an oxymoron. The tragedy is that the approach of General David Petraeus could and should have been adopted four years ago in the aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s enforced departure. One prominent American politician alone has spent that time publicly demanding the extra soldiers which, in 2007, have been Iraq’s salvation. That statesman is John McCain. Is it too much to hope (let alone predict) that he will reap his reward at the polls in 2008?

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Iraq War

NY Times Magazine Letters: Death in the Family

Here is one:

In his opening paragraph, Daniel Bergner (Dec. 2) describes Booth Gardner walking along the beach, his grandchildren exploring the water’s edge. Gardner says, “I can’t see where anybody benefits by my hanging around.”

I’m sorry he must struggle with Parkinson’s. However, rather than admitting defeat and withdrawing quietly from life, he could transform his disease into a means whereby his grandchildren can explore the depths of their own strength and love for one another.

My aunt lived for decades with the increasing limitations of Parkinson’s. During those years my uncle carried her from room to room, fed her, strained to understand her words. Her journey was difficult, but in the end her greatest gift to her family was a deeper appreciation for the human spirit.

Scott T. Hunsicker

Read them all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Theology

A Pastoral Letter from the Bishop of San Joaquin Read in Parishes Today

Via email:

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ, our one and only Lord and Savior. By an overwhelming majority of nearly 90% (173 to 22), our Annual Convention voted Saturday, December 8th, to uphold the authority of Holy Scripture and thereby preserve our place in the worldwide Anglican Communion and with the See of Canterbury by realigning our Anglican identity through the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of the Americas under the Most Rev. Gregory Venables, Archbishop and Primate.

This historic and momentous decision by our Annual Convention was the culmination of The Episcopal Church’s failure to heed the repeated calls for repentance issued by the Primates of the Anglican Communion and for the cessation of false teaching and sacramental actions explicitly contrary to Scripture.

However, we are no longer operating under the looming shadow of this institutional apostasy because our Annual Convention wisely and prayerfully accepted the gracious invitation for sanctuary from the Southern Cone. Under a plan developed with their House of Bishops and ultimately discussed between Archbishop Venables and a number of other Primates and Bishops we were offered hope by the Southern Cone. I wish to emphasize that Convention’s action is not a schism over secondary issues but a realignment necessitated by false teaching as well as unbiblical sacramental actions that continue to take place in The Episcopal Church. As our new Archbishop so succinctly put it: “Christianity is specific, definable and unchanging. We are not at liberty to deconstruct or rewrite it. If Jesus was the Son of God yesterday then so He is today and will be forever.” After our Annual Convention voted to accept the invitation from the Southern Cone, the first words to the Diocese of San Joaquin from our new Archbishop were these: “Welcome Home. And welcome back into full fellowship in the Anglican Communion. “But whatever things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. But no, rather, I also count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them to be dung, so that I may win Christ and be found in Him; not having my own righteousness, which is of the Law, but through the faith of Christ, the righteousness of God by faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death; if by any means I might attain to the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained either were already perfect, but I am pressing on, if I may lay hold of that for which I also was taken hold of by Christ Jesus. My brothers (and sisters), I do not count myself to have taken possession, but one thing I do, forgetting the things behind and reaching forward to the things before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” [Philippians 3:7-13]’ Your Father in God. ++ Gregory” The orders of all Diocesan clergy have been recognized by the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone and appropriate certificates have already been issued. A period of discernment for those who request it and agreed to by the bishop has been provided for those clergy who desire more time to consider whether or not to accept the invitation welcomed so heartily by the majority of Convention.

Likewise, all parishes will be given a similar discernment period. No one is being asked to act against his conscience. Surely, if there is one outstanding mark of this recent decision to realign with the Southern Cone it is freedom from oppression and threat. As your Bishop, I would ask you to treat those in the minority with graciousness and love and keep them in your prayers. It is a difficult time for all of us. We have to deal with a turn of events that no one wanted. For the majority who travel with the Diocese, however, nothing will change. The familiar ways in which you worship, your clergy, the Book of Common Prayer, Hymnal, lectionary and place of worship will all remain the same with one notable exception. In the Prayers of the People, “Gregory our Archbishop” is to appear where the Prayer Book offers intercession “For N. our Presiding Bishop”.

Among those things that will remain the same is the solid teaching of the word of God free from worldly compromise, giving priority to your spiritual well being, faith, and salvation along with a future in the Anglican Communion. You may well discover, too, what it is like to witness to your faith without having to apologize for or feel embarrassed by the decisions of a Church over which you had no control. All of this has been assured by the courage of your Annual Convention, which – in turn – could have done nothing without Archbishop Gregory Venables and his Province of the Southern Cone going before us first and by their taking the bold step of faith they did on our behalf. We shall be forever grateful to them and trust that we will prove as much a blessing to them as they have been for us.

While there may be a degree of uncertainty over the future of our material possessions, we are not to despair. We all know there are no guarantees in this life, only the next. Time and again God has provided us with what we have needed to do His work for the advancement of His Kingdom and the building up of His Church. Why would we question whether the One who identifies Himself as “the same yesterday, today, and forever” change now?

Faithfully yours, in our Lord Jesus Christ,

–(The Rt. Rev.) John-David Schofield is Bishop of San Joaquin

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

Andrew Sullivan: The new face of America

Last week was a horrible one for Hillary Clinton. Her husband had thrown a wrench into her campaign to become president of the United States by declaring that he’d been against the Iraq war from the beginning – a transparent fib that reminded many Democrats of the pathological lying of the 1990s.

Two Clinton campaign staffers were then caught sending out e-mails warning that Barack Obama, her main rival for the Democrat ticket, was a closet Muslim. And one of her campaign co-chairmen raised the issue of Obama’s past drug use – something Obama had dealt with candidly years ago. Clinton was forced to apologise and her aide resigned. Grassroots Democrats were appalled at the descent into nastiness. It suggested desperation in the Clinton camp.

But everything came to a head in last Thursday’s Iowa debate between the Democratic candidates. Obama was asked by the moderator how he could claim to represent change on foreign policy when he had so many former Clinton administration officials advising him. Hillary burst into desperate laughter. “I’d love to hear him answer that,” she cackled. Obama paused, then fired: “Well, Hillary, I’m looking forward to having you advise me as well.” The audience erupted. In one moment, the Alpha Female ceded authority to the Alpha Male.

The Washington media are taken aback by Obama’s surge in the polls. They dismissed him months ago, buying into the notion that a Clinton presidency was inevitable. But they can’t ignore the facts in the key states: in Iowa, Obama is slightly ahead and has the organisational edge. In New Hampshire, Clinton’s double-digit lead has suddenly evaporated. In South Carolina, black voters have begun to switch en masse to Obama. It’s still far from over – and no one should discount Hillary Clinton – but the momentum is suddenly his.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Is the U.S. economy in recession? Five Experts Give Their Views

Martin Feldstein says in part:

Because monthly data for December will not be available until next year, we cannot be sure whether the economy has turned down. The measure of personal income for October suggests that the economy may have peaked and begun to decline, but the data for employment and industrial production in November and for sales in October show continued growth.

My judgment is that when we look back at December with the data released in 2008 we will conclude that the economy is not in recession now. There is no doubt, however, that the economy is slowing. There is a substantial risk of a recession in 2008. Whether that occurs will depend on a variety of forces, including monetary policy and a possible fiscal stimulus.

Read it all and the others as well.

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

A BBC Radio Four Audio Segment on San Joaquin

The Episcopal Church in the United States has said it is disappointed that a diocese in California has become the first to leave the Church in protest at its support for gay rights. San Joaquin, which is based in Fresno, last night voted overwhelmingly to secede. The row which has split the worldwide Anglican communion began in 2003, when the Episcopal Church consecrated the first openly gay bishop. Roger was joined on the phone by Mark Pinsky; religion writer and correspondent for the Orlando Sentinel.

Things get a bit muddled here, as the pronunciation of the diocese is not correct and Mr. Pinsky speaks of a diocese in Quincy, Massachusetts, whereas he means the one in Quincy, Illinois. In any event, listen to it all.

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

Matthew Dutton-Gillett: The ABC on the ABCs of Communion

Paradox is the stock and trade of the kingdom of God. Perhaps when Jesus invites us to take up our crosses, he is inviting us to take up the burden of paradox: an instrument of death that is for us a symbol of life. Obedience to that call is called in the Scriptures “perfect freedom” ”“ yet another paradox.

For us to choose the way of paradox as Anglicans/Episcopalians, in the context of the Archbishop’s definition, would be to choose to see one another as being faithful even though that faithfulness does not look the same. It would be to acknowledge the faithfulness of the Archbishop of Nigeria and the faithfulness of the Bishop of New Hampshire ”“ and the faithfulness of those they represent. Though I disagree with him on almost everything, can I see Archbishop Akinola as standing under the authority of Scripture and seeking to be obedient to his understanding of it? Am I able to acknowledge the authenticity of his sacramental ministry and share the Eucharist with him? Am I able to see that, in the context of Nigeria, his preaching may indeed constitute Good News for the vast majority of his people? And is someone who feels about the Bishop of New Hampshire the way I feel about the Archbishop of Nigeria able to do the same?

There is no question that to walk this way of paradox is hard. My mind cries out, “They can’t both be right! There is only one Truth!” But my heart and spirit are not quite as sure as my mind. As St. Paul pointed out, we see as in a mirror, darkly, so long as we are in this present life. Each of us is possessed of cloudy vision, only able to glimpse the partial ”“ and only in those rarified moments of mystical exaltation to catch a brief glimpse of the whole.

Read it all.

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