Daily Archives: December 20, 2007

Kendall Harmon: Questions and Answers

Q & A topics include:

– The Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter to Bishop Howe of Central Florida
– How Rowan Williams could get the majority of people to Lambeth
– What is the worst form of leadership
– What Wesley and Whitefield have to do with “differentiation” and “structural relief”
– Myths about the Episcopal church

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

Executions in U.S. Decline to 13-Year Low, Study Finds

The number of executions in the United States has declined to a 13-year low, according to a study by a research group that has been critical of the way the death penalty is applied.

The 42 executions recorded in 2007 are the fewest since 1994, when there were 31, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, which compiled the report and released it Tuesday. In 1999, there were 98 executions, the highest number since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976.

The group attributes the decline to numerous factors, including public sentiment over innocence and fairness, but most notably the decision by the Supreme Court on Sept. 25 to hear a challenge to the constitutionality of lethal injection, causing a de facto moratorium on executions.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Capital Punishment

At 71, Physics Professor Is a Web Star

Walter H. G. Lewin, 71, a physics professor, has long had a cult following at M.I.T. And he has now emerged as an international Internet guru, thanks to the global classroom the institute created to spread knowledge through cyberspace.

Professor Lewin’s videotaped physics lectures, free online on the OpenCourseWare of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have won him devotees across the country and beyond who stuff his e-mail in-box with praise.

“Through your inspiring video lectures i have managed to see just how BEAUTIFUL Physics is, both astounding and simple,” a 17-year-old from India e-mailed recently.

Steve Boigon, 62, a florist from San Diego, wrote, “I walk with a new spring in my step and I look at life through physics-colored eyes.”

Professor Lewin delivers his lectures with the panache of Julia Child bringing French cooking to amateurs and the zany theatricality of YouTube’s greatest hits. He is part of a new generation of academic stars who hold forth in cyberspace on their college Web sites and even, without charge, on iTunes U, which went up in May on Apple’s iTunes Store.

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

Tracey Lind: A new way in the wilderness

What did they go out to the wilderness to see: a man in camel’s hair? What did they go out to the wilderness to hear: a voice crying: Prepare the way of the Lord? What did they go out to the wilderness to taste: locusts dipped in wild honey? What did they go out the wilderness to smell: sweet dusty earth? What did they go out to the wilderness to feel: the sun, the wind, and the dry desert air? Why do any of us go to the wilderness? What do we hope to find? I suppose we go to the wilderness to find ourselves, and hopefully, to find and be found by God.

And often when we get there, we are, in the words of Alfred Delp, “shaken and brought to the reality of ourselves.” No wonder, the scriptures take us to the wilderness in Advent, and then again in Lent. God wants to shake and awaken us to the reality of ourselves, and then fill us with hope and expectation for an uncertain but emerging future.

This morning, we hear from two great spiritual guides of the wilderness: Isaiah and John the Baptist. Isaiah, the prophet of the eighth century BCE, spoke of “a shoot from the stump of Jesse” upon which the Spirit of God would rest. He wrote of that branch growing out of a chopped down tree, a remnant people full of hope and promise for the future who would wear the girdle of righteousness and the belt of faithfulness. Some eight hundred years later, the gospels recall another prophet, a righteous and faithful man who lived in the wilderness and wore such a girdle and belt. He spoke of an axe lying at the very root of the tree, cutting it down and throwing its bad fruit into the fire.

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

'Change abortion law' –Victoria Anglican leaders back review

LEADERS of central Victoria’s Anglican churches have echoed calls from their Melbourne diocese to support the decriminalisation of abortion.

An all-woman taskforce from the state capital’s diocese has made a submission to the Victorian Law Reform Commission, which is reviewing abortion laws.

In it, the taskforce has said abortion remains a serious moral issue, but it should not remain a matter for criminal law.

“In our view, public acceptance of the reality of abortion, including acceptance of the practice among women of diverse religious communities, indicates that a change in the law is timely.”

Anglican Dean of Bendigo, the Very Reverend Peta Sherlock, told The Advertiser yesterday it was important to make a distinction between decriminalisation and legalisation.

“To want an abortion is not a crime for somebody who is in need – I think it’s a no-brainer,” she said.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics

Sayeeda Warsi: Whatever our background, we can celebrate Christmas

ALTHOUGH it is the most exhausting month of the year, I find December strangely reassuring. You know what you are going to get; Christmas trees, carols, angels, shopping fatigue, overspend on your credit card and now it seems, stories that “Christmas is cancelled”.
The Nativity play falls foul of the latest over-zealous health and safety law and some well-meaning council re-titles the season “Winterville”.

Or there is the change to the substance of the celebration to one that includes all faiths and none; with readings from the Bhagavad-Gita alongside “The God Delusion”.

But, now some left-wing think tank has suggested we down-grade Christmas for fear of offending religious minorities. Well, as a Muslim, I am only offended that a secular think tank should presume to know what offends me. So it was time to speak out.

But the equally predictable reaction to these stories, of denial or hysteria, obscures what is an interesting question: why should we keep Christmas? In a multicultural and religiously pluralistic society, why should we all “down tools” to celebrate, or at least recognise, a mono-confessional festival? Also obscured is the negative and rarely asked question: why shouldn’t we keep Christmas?

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

Impose a carbon tax, churches urge minister

A number of B.C. churches are urging Finance Minister Carole Taylor to include a carbon tax in the next budget, saying such a measure would help save God’s creation — the planet Earth.

“Climate change is a moral issue because the way we care for creation ties into how we respond to God’s creativeness,” Rev. Kenneth Gray, chair of the environment committee of the Anglican Diocese of B.C., said Wednesday.

“We support a transitional and progressive tax strategy, which forces heavy polluters and heavy consumers of fossil fuels to change their way of operating.”

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Posted in Uncategorized

Why Time Magazine Chose Putin as Their Man of the Year

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Europe, Russia

Huckabee Stands by Christmas Ad

The ad, which is airing in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, shows Huckabee in front of a Christmas tree as he says, “Are you about worn out by all the television commercials you’ve been seeing, mostly about politics? Well, I don’t blame you. At this time of year sometimes it’s nice to pull aside from all of that and just remember that what really matters is the celebration of the birth of Christ and being with our family and friends.”

Huckabee is courting evangelical voters and other religious conservatives in his bid to win the Iowa caucuses Jan. 3. In Texas for a fundraiser, he said the ad was a harmless holiday greeting even though it excludes other religions.

“If we are so politically correct in this country that a person can’t say enough of the nonsense with the political attack ads could we pause for a few days and say Merry Christmas to each other then we’re really, really in trouble as a country,” Huckabee said.

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

CEN: Archbishop's warning to conservatives

The 2008 Lambeth Conference will craft an Anglican Covenant that will set the boundaries of Anglican Church order and discipline, the Archbishop of Canterbury has stated in his Advent letter to the Primates.

But these parameters will not include gay bishops or blessings, Dr. Rowan Williams wrote on Dec 14 in a 4500 word theological tome/political manifesto outlining the ordering of Anglicanism.

The Advent letter will satisfy neither wing of the Communion, as liberals will be outraged at his rejection of the “prophetic” gay agenda, while conservatives will take umbrage that while he acknowledges the problems created by the gay agenda, Dr. Williams will not take action to correct it, preaching continued dialogue and conversation.

Dr. Williams told the primates there was “no consensus” on the merits of the American Church’s response to the Windsor Report and the Primates’ communiqués. The call for clarification had not been met, and had resulted in further questions about the Episcopal Church’s understanding of the nature of the episcopate and its views of its place within the wider catholic church.

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

Huckabee and Giuliani tied in 2008 Republican race

Mike Huckabee has surged into a virtual tie with front-runner Rudy Giuliani in the national 2008 Republican presidential race two weeks before the first contest, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.

Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas whose campaign has caught fire in recent weeks, wiped out an 18-point deficit in one month to pull within one point of Giuliani, 23 percent to 22 percent.

Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton’s national advantage over second-place rival Barack Obama shrunk slightly to eight percentage points as the races for the White House tightened in both parties. Clinton had an 11-point edge last month.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

U.K. Muslims Support Keeping Christ in Christmas

Muslim leaders join the U.K. Commission for Equality and Human Rights in urging Britons to enjoy Christmas, and not worry about offending non-Christians. The urging comes amid reports of schools cancelling nativity plays in order not to offend Muslims and students of other religions.

Listen to it all from NPR.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths

ACI: Description and Comments on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s 2007 Advent Pastoral Letter

About what situations is the Archbishop here concerned? The context of the proposal ”“ ”˜unanswered questions’ with respect to NOLA ”“ indicates that the main issue is TEC’s (and perhaps other churches’) relationship with the Communion: how far does her claim as ”˜Anglican’ go when in fact her teaching and practice have clearly departed from the Communion’s? However, the mention of Windsor’s recommendations and extra-jurisdictionally ordained bishops, also indicates that the Archbishop is aware that various responses to TEC’s clear departure from Communion teaching and practice has also obscured the character of Anglican identity more broadly and of common authority. These issues must also be addressed, rather than allowed to further dissipate a common mind. The Archbishop recognises ”˜much unclarity’ over ”˜who speaks for the Communion?’ and says this needs resolution ”˜urgently’: ”˜the people of the Communion need to be sure that they are not placed in unsustainable and damaging positions by any vagueness as to what the Communion as a whole believes and endorses, and so the issue of who represents the Communion cannot be evaded”¦Not everyone carrying the name of Anglican can claim to speak authentically for the identity we share as a global fellowship’.

This last concern, which is surely a weighty one, faces into the current dissolution of the Communion’s ”˜common voice’ through a host of unilateral decisions that clearly affect teaching and discipline both. Not only are churches like TEC and certain bishops and dioceses in Canada knowingly moving ahead with innovations that run counter to everything that Anglicans have together articulated and decided, but in doing so they are wittingly undercutting the very notion of common identity, character, authority, mission, and concern. Those responding to these actions have, in their turn, if with a certain reactionary rationale, ended up moving forward in ways that do not represent common decision-making within the Communion and that may, in fact, further the dismantling of Anglican identity. To pursue such destructive innovations unilaterally, and still call oneself ”˜Anglican’ has put into question the very notion of Anglicanism itself as a divinely called church within the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church into which we are called to grow with other Christians.

The group that the Archbishop proposes offer recommendations about this challenge, as it affects several churches and the Communion as a whole (including how Lambeth Conference may operate) cannot be some judicial tribunal. Nor, however, can it be a repeat of the Panel of Reference that, despite careful work, has been unable to direct any major conflicts it has examined towards fruitful resolution. It appears that the Archbishops himself, given his own role as the articulator of the Communion’s mind, and gatherer of her chief pastors, has accepted his role as moral leader for the Communion especially in this time of crisis. He will, again, seek to bring concrete recommendations before the council of Anglicanism’s bishops for the sake of the Communion’s common ordering. This is yet another indication that the Archbishop has decided that the Lambeth Conference must be a truly conciliar decision-making body for the Communion.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, Same-sex blessings, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

John Allen: The Vatican’s Relative Truth

POPE BENEDICT XVI has offered a couple of recent previews of what’s likely to be his core message to the United Nations next April, the projected highlight of his first visit to the United States. Last Tuesday, the pontiff released the text of his annual statement for the Vatican’s World Day of Peace, raising typical papal concerns like poverty and disarmament, but also a defense of the family based on heterosexual marriage and, in the section reflecting Benedict’s budding environmentalism, a reminder of human supremacy over the animal kingdom.

Ten days earlier in Rome, Pope Benedict offered a more targeted message in a meeting with Catholic nongovernmental groups that work with the United Nations, delivering a stern warning against the “bitter fruits” of “relativistic logic” and a “refusal to admit the truth about man and his dignity.” Given the titanic battles the Vatican has waged against certain United Nations agencies over abortion and birth control, his comments were quickly spun by the Italian press as a major papal “attack” ahead of next year’s General Assembly address.

But if the pope’s words have fed expectations of a “High Noon”-style showdown, they are likely to be dashed. Benedict had no intention of making an anti-United Nations jeremiad. Like every pope since the birth of the United Nations in 1945, Benedict supports robust global governance, in a fashion that has long bewildered neoconservative critics of the United Nations in the United States and elsewhere. If there was anything remarkable in what he said, it’s only that the Vatican’s public-relations crew still hasn’t found a way to keep the pope from making cosmetic missteps that distract attention from his message.

While the Vatican may have its differences with United Nations agencies over sex, it also sees the organization as the lone realistic possibility for putting a human face on international politics and economics ”” what Pope John Paul II called a “globalization of solidarity.”

Moreover, Benedict undeniably has a point about relativism.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Globalization, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

A woman cancels a Hawaii trip when her mom dies. The carrier charges her $225

Ugh.

Posted in * Culture-Watch