Daily Archives: February 18, 2008

More Anglican congregations decide their future

Seven Anglican congregations voted this weekend to accept the episcopal oversight of Bishop Donald Harvey, Moderator of the Anglican Network in Canada, under the Primatial authority of Archbishop Gregory Venables and the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. Most churches accepted this option with decisive majorities.

What this means is that these congregations are requesting spiritual care from and will come under the authority of Bishop Harvey and Archbishop Venables, rather than their former Anglican Church in Canada diocese and bishop who are walking away from established Christian teaching and globally recognized Anglican doctrine.

Today, six churches voted to accept Bishop Harvey’s spiritual care….

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces

A BBC Radio Four Audio Report: Uganda will not Attend the Lambeth Conference

Herewith the BBC blurb:

The Anglican Church of Uganda has announced that its bishops will not be attending this year’s Lambeth Conference, the meeting of worldwide Anglicanism that takes place once a decade. The Ugandan bishops cited what they called the “crisis” over homosexuality. The most Reverend Henry Orombi, the Archbishop of Uganda, talked to Sunday.

Stefan Stern writes about business and management issues for the Financial Times. In a recent column he turned his attention to the challenges facing the Archbishop of Canterbury. He discussed his take on the Anglican ‘brand’.

Listen to it all (just under 9 minutes).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Lambeth 2008

Missile-ready China warns U.S. against plan to destroy spy satellite

In response to a U.S. plan to shoot down a malfunctioning spy satellite, China has warned against threats to security in outer space, without mentioning its own successful anti-satellite missile test last year.

The Chinese government also stopped short of linking the planned U.S. strike with Beijing’s repeated calls for a complete ban on space weapons.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said the Chinese government was highly concerned about the U.S. plan, Xinhua, the state-run news agency, reported late Sunday, noting that the target satellite was loaded with toxic fuel.

Liu also urged Washington to fulfill its international obligations and avoid threatening security in space and that of other countries, Xinhua quoted him as saying, without elaborating.

“Relevant departments of China are closely watching the situation and working out preventative measures,” Liu said.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China

To have and to hold … for 83 years and counting

Eight decades after heading down the aisle, a White Bear Lake couple may be headed for the Guinness Book of Records.

Clarence, 101, and Mayme Vail, 99, celebrated their 83rd anniversary Sunday, possibly making them the longest married couple alive in the United States.

Married in 1925, they almost didn’t make it to their 25th anniversary. When Clarence became critically ill with tuberculosis in 1948, Mayme made a promise to God that if her husband survived, she would attend mass every day — a promise she kept until last year when health issues forced them to move into an assisted-living center.

Make sure to enjoy the rest and the picture as well.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Marriage & Family

Andrew Ferguson on John McCain's Economic Team

You probably have your own favorite, which is fine, but for my money the most revealing moment of the presidential campaign (so far!) came during the last debate among the Republican candidates, on January 24. Ron Paul briefly alighted on our fragile planet and challenged John McCain, if elected, to abolish something called the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, which Paul seems to think rivals the Trilateral Commission and the Knights Templar for sinister nefariousness. McCain didn’t answer Paul’s question, but on the more general matter of how he would make economic policy, he did say this:

But I as president, as every other president, rely primarily on my secretary of the Treasury, on my Council of Economic Advisers, on the head of that. I would rely on the circle that I have developed over many years of people like Jack Kemp, Phil Gramm, Warren Rudman, Pete Peterson and the Concord group. I have a process of leadership, Ron, that is sort of an inclusive one that I have developed, a circle of acquaintances and people that are supporters and friends of mine who I have worked with for many, many years.

Notice that phrase “people like.” What makes it odd is that those people aren’t like each other at all, at least when it comes to their economic views. A couple of them, if you put them in the same room, would set off an intergalactic explosion like the collision of matter and antimatter.

One adviser, Jack Kemp, is the man who talked Ronald Reagan into embracing supply side economics in the 1970s, which launched the Reagan boom of the 1980s. He’s the world’s bubbliest advocate of tax cuts, dismissing the traditional Republican fixation on balanced budgets as “root canal” economics. Another adviser, Peter Peterson, is root canal economics. He’s a dour Jeremiah who called the Reagan boom a “mad, drunken bash” and thinks steep tax increases on income, gasoline, tobacco, and alcohol, on top of a 5 percent consumption tax, are necessary to put the government’s finances in order. He and Rudman run the Concord Coalition, an advocacy group that regards the federal government’s budget deficit as the country’s foundational economic problem.

Let’s stipulate that a president should seek advice from a wide assortment of counselors. And McCain’s list may very well reveal a refreshingly nonideological approach to policy making that will prove popular in our post-partisan era of change, the future, causes-greater-than-your-self-interest, hope, and so on. Then again, it might reveal something else. You can’t help but wonder…

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, US Presidential Election 2008

Italian bishops condemned for urging actors to shun sex scenes

A row has erupted over “Vatican interference” after the Italian Synod of Bishops appealed to actors to exercise their consciences and refuse to take part in “vulgar and destructive” erotic scenes in films.

The appeal follows public condemnation by the bishops of an explicit sex scene in Caos Calmo, starring the Italian actor and director Nanni Moretti, which has just been released. In the film, directed by Antonello Grimaldi, Moretti plays a television executive who experiences a mid-life crisis after the death of his wife in the course of which he has a torrid affair with a woman he saves from drowning.

Father Nicolò Anselmi, head of the youth section of the Italian Bishops Conference, said that Moretti was normally noted for his “idealistic and sensitive” films. But the “gratuitous” sex scene with Isabella Ferrari, his co-star, would have an undesirable effect on the “impressionable young” since it was shown without any context involving love or tenderness.

Franco Zeffirelli, the film and opera director, said: “The Church is full of pedants who have lost all sense of proportion.” It was a “fourth-rate” film that did not merit the publicity generated by the bishops’ intervention.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Movies & Television, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Sexuality

Irwin Stelzer: Don’t cave in to bankers who plead for more

But that’s not how the executives of big companies see things. Jurgen Hambrecht is chief executive of BASF, a giant manufacturer with sales of more than €50 billion (£37 billion), garnered by selling hundreds of thousands of products to a wide variety of industries. He told the press that he does not foresee an American recession, and that “I am glad to say that business in general does not show the panicking approach of the financial industry . . . I am sleeping well at night.”

Hambrecht is not alone. Executives at General Electric, Honeywell, Procter & Gamble, Kraft Foods and the ultimate owner of this paper, News Corp, are among the many who claim their businesses have never been better, that sales and profits are up, and that bookings are strong. The more cautious add “so far”.

If the economy is indeed stronger than high oil prices, housing woes, and slower job growth would lead us to believe, and if inflation is the looming threat that it increasingly seems to be, perhaps policymakers would do well to turn a deaf ear to the bankers who clamour for “more”. Better to stand pat until recent rate cuts and the new stimulus package take effect later this year.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

The Mayor of Toledo Sends the Marines Home and Takes a pounding

Also featured in this morning’s sermon by yours truly was this sad story from the Toledo Blade:

Editor’s note: Seldom in the modern history of The Blade’s Readers’ Forum have we received as many letters on a single subject as we did on Mayor Carty Finkbeiner’s dust-up with the U.S. Marine Corps reservists from Michigan. As a result, we’re devoting today’s entire op-ed page to the controversy. The anti-Carty letters far outweighed those in the mayor’s favor. Here’s a sample:

As the proud parents of a Purple Heart veteran of the Iraq War, we were dismayed and disgraced by Mayor Carty Finkbeiner’s decision to send a company of Marines packing, rather than allowing them to use an old, largely deserted downtown building for training. Even more troubling is his inability to acknowledge his mistake.

Carty, here’s a bulletin for you: America is at war. Maybe you’re not willing to make the slightest sacrifice for that effort but these young men and women are each prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country. We should be welcoming the opportunity to prepare them for just the sort of combat that is occurring in Iraq.

Our son was wounded during just such an episode of urban warfare – going door to door to root out insurgents. Others in their unit, the ill-fated Lima Company based in Columbus, were not even so “fortunate” – 26 of the 160 who were deployed never returned.

We’re fortunate as Toledoans and Americans that since 9/11 we have not had to experience the terror in the streets that is commonplace in Iraq. Allowing our Marines to train in our streets should induce comfort, not fear.

Jim and Diana Burkhardt

Ashbrook Drive

Also, check out the picture and the many stories here.

Update: sill more painful reading here.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces

Kosovo declares independence

As about 30,000 euphoric ethnic Albanians swarmed through the streets, Kosovo’s leader on Sunday declared independence from Serbia in a ceremony intended to cap a long and bloody struggle for national self-determination.

The proclamation of what hopes to be Europe’s newest country – a decade after a civil war that killed 10,000 people and years of limbo under United Nations rule – marks the final dismemberment of the former Yugoslavia 17 years after its dissolution began.

It brings to a climax a showdown between the West – which argues that Slobodan Milosevic’s brutal subjugation of Kosovo’s majority ethnic Albanians negated Serbia’s moral and legal claim to rule the territory – and Belgrade and its ally Moscow, which counter that Kosovo’s independence is a reckless breach of international law that will spur other secessionist movements around the world.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Europe

The Economist: Defining the limits of exceptionalism

The Church of England uses ancient canon laws to govern the use of church property and its internal workings. But like the monarchy, it knows that the way to retain some vestigial authority is to give up most powers that could be controversial.

What has upset the old equilibrium, say law pundits in several countries, is the emergence all over the world of Muslim minorities who, regardless of what they actually want, are suspected by the rest of society of preparing to establish a “state within a state” in which the writ of secular legislation hardly runs at all. The very word sharia””which at its broadest can imply a sort of divine ideal about how society should be organised, but can also refer to specific forms of corporal and capital punishment””is now political dynamite.

That has rendered controversial some things that were once well accepted, like the existence of arbitration services which lighten the burden of the state by providing an alternative arena in which disputes can be settled. As Maurits Berger, a Dutch specialist on Islam and the law, points out, most English-speaking countries have a tradition of dealing with family law through arbitration””voluntary procedures to whose outcome the parties are bound. (Things are different in continental Europe, where the nearest equivalent is non-binding mediation services.)

The Canadian province of Ontario is the clearest case of an English-speaking place where fear of Islam made religious arbitration untenable. An uproar began in 2003 when Syed Mumtaz Ali, a retired Ontario lawyer, said he was setting up a sharia court to settle family law disputes for Muslims. Such arrangements were allowed by the province’s 1991 Arbitration Act and could carry the force of law.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Jonathan Chaplin–Law, Faith and Freedom: a critical appreciation of Archbishop Williams’s lecture

It was already quite clear in the Archbishop’s lecture that he was not advocating a system of ”˜parallel’ courts or jurisdictions as exist in countries with arrangements known as ”˜legal pluralism’, such as India, Malaysia or Israel. Such a system assigns an official religious group identity to citizens and thereby requires them to have matters such as marriage, divorce or inheritance adjudicated under the relevant religious courts empowered to rule on them (including Islamic and Christian ones). It is occasionally possible to appeal successfully against such rulings to the civil courts but it is a costly business unavailable to many. (See Martha Nussbaum, ”˜Religion and Women’s Equality: The Case of India’, in Nancy Rosenblum, ed., Obligations of Citizenship and Demands of Faith: Religious Accommodation in Pluralist Democracies, Princeton, 2000, 335-402.) In my view such systems unacceptably infringe the civil liberties of citizens, although for political reasons it is not possible simply to legislate them away. Much of the criticism of Archbishop Williams (including Lord Carey’s article in The Sunday Telegraph, 10 February) seems to have been directed at this sort of arrangement, but it is not what he suggested.

Nor did he give the remotest succour to the idea that Islamic penal law might be countenanced in the UK, and it is fanciful to suggest that it ever could be. However, it is obviously understandable that those who live in, or who have suffered under or fled from, or who campaign against, officially Islamic states, almost all of which are dreadfully oppressive, would be alarmed at any suggestion of ”˜recognising Sharia law’ in the UK. The Archbishop may have given a flattering portrait of what ”˜Sharia law’ means in practice, but nothing at all in what he actually said justified such an interpretation.

What he actually referred to was not ”˜parallel jurisdictions’ but ”˜supplementary jurisdictions’. The model he seemed to be pointing towards (with regrettable imprecision, we now see) is something like a system of private arbitration, available to those who consent to use it, and made accountable by being accorded some sort of public recognition.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Dreams stifled, Egypt's young turn to Islamic fervor

The concrete steps leading from Ahmed Muhammad Sayyid’s first-floor apartment sag in the middle, worn down over time, like Sayyid himself. Once, Sayyid had a decent job and a chance to marry. But his fiancée’s family canceled the engagement because after two years, he could not raise enough money to buy an apartment and furniture.

Sayyid spun into depression and lost nearly 40 pounds. For months, he sat at home and focused on one thing: reading the Koran. Now, at 28, with a diploma in tourism, he is living with his mother and working as a driver for less than $100 a month. With each of life’s disappointments and indignities, Sayyid has drawn religion closer.

Here in Egypt and across the Middle East, many young people are being forced to put off marriage, the gateway to independence, sexual activity and societal respect. Stymied by the government’s failure to provide adequate schooling and thwarted by an economy without jobs to match their abilities or aspirations, they are stuck in limbo between youth and adulthood.

“I can’t get a job, I have no money, I can’t get married, what can I say?” Sayyid said one day after becoming so overwhelmed that he refused to go to work, or to go home, and spent the day hiding at a friend’s apartment.

In their frustration, the young are turning to religion for solace and purpose, pulling their parents and their governments along with them.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths

Worth a careful rereading: William Wantland on the Communion of the Unbaptized

Much has been said and written in recent months about “open communion” for all Christians, and even for unbaptized persons. Of course, those who advocate this idea of hospitality do so in all good conscience. However, such actions are really spiritually dangerous, and not permitted in the Episcopal Church.

First, as to unbaptized persons, Canon I. 17. 7 states, “No unbaptized person shall be eligible to receive Holy Communion in this Church.” This simply continues the declared teaching of the Church Catholic at least since the second century, as set forth in the Didache: “Do not let anyone eat or drink of your eucharist except those who have been baptized in the name of the Lord.”

The basis for this principle is found in Chapter 11 of St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians: “Therefore, whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body” (vs. 27-29).

Reference to St. Paul’s admonition is found in the Exhortation in the Book of Common Prayer:

But if we are to share rightly in the celebration of those holy Mysteries, and be nourished by that spiritual Food, we must remember the dignity of that holy Sacrament. I therefore call upon you to consider how Saint Paul exhorts all persons to prepare themselves carefully before eating of that Bread and drinking of that Cup.

For, as the benefit is great, if with penitent hearts and living faith we receive the holy Sacrament, so is the danger great, if we receive it improperly, not recognizing the Lord’s Body.

Finally, the 1979 General Convention adopted specific guidelines for non-Anglicans receiving communion in the Episcopal Church (Resolution No. A43). That resolution gives five conditions for the reception of Communion by non-Anglicans:

”¢ They shall have been baptized ”¦ and shall have previously been admitted to the Holy Communion within the Church to which they belong.
”¢ They shall examine their lives, repent of their sins, and be in love and charity with all people ”¦
”¢ They shall approach the Holy Communion as an expression of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ ”¦
”¢ They shall find in this communion the means to strengthen their life within the Christian family ”¦
”¢ Their own consciences must always be respected as must the right of their own church membership to determine the sacramental discipline of those who ”¦ make that their spiritual home.

Further, the resolution commended the Commentary on Eucharistic Sharing by the Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations as the pastoral context for the interpretation of these standards.

That commentary warns against any idea of “open communion”: “If local circumstances present a pastoral need for a public invitation, it should not in any way be coercive, nor should it be in terms of an ”˜open communion’ applied indiscriminately to anyone desiring to receive communion.”

In the words of an editorial [TLC, Sept. 19], “To welcome nonbelievers and those who are not baptized to receive communion is not an act of hospitality but of disrespect both for them and for the Blessed Sacrament itself.” It is also a repudiation of scripture, ancient tradition, canons and General Convention action.

”“The Rt. Rev. William C. Wantland is the Bishop of Eau Claire, retired. He lives in Seminole, Okla. The preceding Reader’s Viewpoint originally appeared on page of the December 26, 2004 issue of THE LIVING CHURCH magazine, an independent weekly serving Episcopalians. The Reader’s Viewpoint article does not necessarily represent the editorial opinion of THE LIVING CHURCH or its board of directors.

(This originally appeared in an older version of the blog here).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Baptism, Episcopal Church (TEC), Eucharist, Sacramental Theology, TEC Conflicts, Theology

Presbyterian court: Churches must obey rule on gays

Presbyterians may disagree with their church’s ban on ordaining noncelibate gays and lesbians, but they must follow the rules, according to the Louisville-based denomination’s highest court.

The decisive ruling means that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will allow no exceptions to the ban, ending the expectations of some that a controversial policy adopted in 2006 would allow regional governing bodies flexibility in enforcing the tenet on homosexuality.

The constitution gives “freedom of conscience” to disagree with church law, which restricts ordination to singles living in “chastity” or those living in “fidelity” in a heterosexual marriage, the court ruled.

But the constitution “does not permit disobedience to those behavioral standards,” according to the court, known as the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission.

“The fidelity and chastity provision may only be changed by a constitutional amendment,” it said. Unless that happens, everyone “must adhere to it.”

Conservative groups applauded the decision.

“The (Presbyterian Church U.S.A.) is still one body that follows one set of clear standards for its officers,” said the Louisville-based group Presbyterians for Renewal. “”¦ Nothing has changed.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Presbyterian, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

NY Post: Obama Robbed in New York?

Barack Obama’s primary-night results were strikingly underrecorded in several districts around the city – in some cases leaving him with zero votes when, in fact, he had pulled in hundreds, the Board of Elections said yesterday.

Unofficial primary results gave Obama no votes in nearly 80 districts, including Harlem’s 94th and other historically black areas – but many of those initial tallies proved to be wildly off the mark, the board said.

In some districts getting a recount, the senator from Illinois is even closer to defeating Hillary Clinton.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008