Daily Archives: March 16, 2008

Notable and Quotable (I)

Be sure there is something inside you which, unless it is altered, will put it out of God’s power to prevent your being eternally miserable. While that something remains there can be no Heaven for you, just as there can be no sweet smells for a man with a cold in the nose, and no music for a man who is deaf. It’s not a question of God “sending” us to hell. In each one of us there is something growing up which will itself be hell unless it is nipped in the bud. The matter is serious….

–C.S. Lewis, “The trouble with ‘X’,” in Walter Hooper, ed., God In The Dock (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970), pp. 154-155, quoted by yours truly in this morning’s sermon

Posted in Eschatology, Theology

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: The Clock is ticking for fate of Bishop Duncan

According to an e-mail sent this week from David Booth Beers, the chancellor to the presiding bishop, to about two dozen Pittsburgh Episcopalians representing a spectrum of the diocese, he wrote that the Rev. Jefferts Schori would “poll the House of Bishops in April to see when the House would next like to meet to discuss, among other things, the certification respecting Bishop Duncan. It is not accurate to say that she is seeking approval to proceed; rather, she seeks the mind of the House as to when to proceed.”

The next scheduled meeting of the roughly 300-member House of Bishops is in September.

In January, the Rev. Jefferts Schori warned Bishop Duncan he could be removed from office because of his realignment efforts. His response to her will be made public Monday.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons

Robert Munday: William J. Cox, a Bishop in Christ's one holy catholic and apostolic Church

What had Bishop Cox done that led to his deposition? In June 2005, Bishop Cox ordained two priests and a deacon at Christ Church in Overland Park, Kansas, after he was asked to do so by the Primate of Uganda, the Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi. The following month, Bishop Cox returned to Christ Church and led a service of confirmation.

In April 2005, Christ Church agreed to pay the Diocese of Kansas $1 million over the next 10 years as part of a separation agreement which allowed the congregation to retain its property, and for the clergy to be relieved of their canonical obligations to The Episcopal Church. Christ Church and its clergy subsequently affiliated with the Province of Uganda.

It is important to note that Bishop Cox did not perform acts in any congregation of the Diocese of Kansas without the Bishop of Kansas’ permission. He minstered to a congregation that had left the Diocese of Kansas and had been received into the Province of Uganda. Bishop Cox, as an Anglican Bishop, ministered at the request of an overseas Anglican bishop (in this case the Archbishop and Primate of Uganda) to a congregation that was under his jurisdiction.

In 2006, two bishops””the Rt. Rev. Dean Wolfe, Bishop of Kansas and the Rt. Rev. Robert Moody, Bishop of Oklahoma””presented then Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold with charges that Bishop Cox had violated the Canons of the Episcopal Church. Bishop Griswold forwarded the charges to the Title IV [disciplinary] Review Committee, which determined that there were sufficient grounds to proceed to trial.

Read it all.

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

Business Week Cover Story: Recession Time

How bad will this downturn get? No one can know because we’ve never experienced such a headlong slide in the housing market””and this comes at a time when its current value of $20 trillion accounts for the vast majority of most families’ wealth. Right now most economists expect the U.S. to experience a mild, short recession in 2008. But there is at least a possibility of a steeper decline that the traditional recession remedies””interest-rate cuts here, deficit spending there””won’t be able to handle.

What should be done? For policymakers in Washington””Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and congressional leaders””the sensible course is to insure against the small but scary possibility that things could go very wrong. The potential “insurance policies” are government actions that have a real cost but lessen the risk that a mild recession turns into something worse. The International Monetary Fund endorsed that approach on Mar. 12 as First Deputy Managing Director John Lipsky urged policymakers globally to “think the unthinkable and guard against a downward credit spiral.”

Broadly speaking, policymakers have three options for putting a safety net under the economy. Each has its pros and cons, and the cons become most apparent when the measures are taken to an extreme. That’s why a three-pronged approach that uses each option in moderation may be the best way to go.

Read it all.

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

Tony Clavier on Recent occurrences in the Episcopal Church

I return again to my theme. Who interprets our ecclesiastical law? It is extraordinary to be told that the Presiding Bishop’s Chancellor assures us that the Canons were observed in the matter of the deposition of two bishops this week. In secular society the equivalent would be for the prosecution to assure the court that all was being done in accordance with the law. I leave aside the undoubtedly canonical business of getting, or not getting, the three longest serving bishops to approve of a bill of attainder or of a committee meeting in private signing off on the alleged guilt of the accused.

That there is an overwhelming desire on the part of our bishops to shoot as many admirals as possible on their quarterdecks “for the encouragement of others” is respectably British but questionably Christian. I am often told nowadays that our doctrine and much of our tradition is the fruit of victory. “Winners write history.” Well it would seem obvious that we are in the hands of “winners” now and the history they are writing -may I become modern and wax anecdotal? – is that we make examples of at least one very old man whose wife is in the grips of a terminal disease, look as if we are after another elderly bishop, all in an attempt to “discipline” a bishop who has attempted to run off with the family silver, and perhaps warn two or more others not to do the same or else?

The “or else” is that without any form of trial or judicial hearing a group of persons will vote to declare that such persons have been deposed from the Sacred Ministry, our canonic version of a Bill of Attainder. The wretched bishops are obviously guilty and so “Off with their heads. ” Ah! we say but that means “our” sacred ministry rather than that of the Church Catholic. Yet we are not prepared to say “from the ministry ofthis jurisdiction”. It’s OK to imply it, or merely suggest that we don’t mean that which the language states.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons

Bill Gates Predicts Big Technological Leaps

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) Chairman Bill Gates said Thursday he expects the next decade to bring even greater technological leaps than the past 10 years.

In a speech to the Northern Virginia Technology Council, Gates speculated that some of the most important advances will come in the ways people interact with computers: speech-recognition technology, tablets that will recognize handwriting and touch-screen surfaces that will integrate a wide variety of information.

“I don’t see anything that will stop the rapid advance,” Gates said, noting that technological change driven by academia and corporate researchers continued even after the Internet stock bubble burst in 2000.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology

NY Times Magazine: Why Shariah?

Last month, Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, gave a nuanced, scholarly lecture in London about whether the British legal system should allow non-Christian courts to decide certain matters of family law. Britain has no constitutional separation of church and state. The archbishop noted that “the law of the Church of England is the law of the land” there; indeed, ecclesiastical courts that once handled marriage and divorce are still integrated into the British legal system, deciding matters of church property and doctrine. His tentative suggestion was that, subject to the agreement of all parties and the strict requirement of protecting equal rights for women, it might be a good idea to consider allowing Islamic and Orthodox Jewish courts to handle marriage and divorce.

Then all hell broke loose. From politicians across the spectrum to senior church figures and the ubiquitous British tabloids came calls for the leader of the world’s second largest Christian denomination to issue a retraction or even resign. Williams has spent the last couple of years trying to hold together the global Anglican Communion in the face of continuing controversies about ordaining gay priests and recognizing same-sex marriages. Yet little in that contentious battle subjected him to the kind of outcry that his reference to religious courts unleashed. Needless to say, the outrage was not occasioned by Williams’s mention of Orthodox Jewish law. For the purposes of public discussion, it was the word “Shariah” that was radioactive.

In some sense, the outrage about according a degree of official status to Shariah in a Western country should come as no surprise. No legal system has ever had worse press. To many, the word “Shariah” conjures horrors of hands cut off, adulterers stoned and women oppressed. By contrast, who today remembers that the much-loved English common law called for execution as punishment for hundreds of crimes, including theft of any object worth five shillings or more? How many know that until the 18th century, the laws of most European countries authorized torture as an official component of the criminal-justice system? As for sexism, the common law long denied married women any property rights or indeed legal personality apart from their husbands. When the British applied their law to Muslims in place of Shariah, as they did in some colonies, the result was to strip married women of the property that Islamic law had always granted them ”” hardly progress toward equality of the sexes.

Read it all.

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

Gorda, California: Land of $5 gas

James Willman seems to be a nice enough guy: polite, good-humored and hard-working, pumping gas seven days a week at the Amerigo Gas Station in the tiny Big Sur town of Gorda, about 35 miles north of Cambria.

But at least once a day, Willman said, someone pulls in and starts cursing him.

“They say all kinds of stuff”””˜You ought to be shot,’ or ”˜Where’s your mask?’ ” Willman said. “I’m like, ”˜Hey, I just work here.’ ”

The reason for consumer hostility is that the station is serving up what might be the costliest gas in the land.

This week, as crude oil flirted with $110 a barrel and gasoline prices surged nationwide, a gallon of regular at Amerigo was going for $5.20.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources

From the Sunday Scripture Readings

But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me. Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.

–Pslam 31:14-16

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

From the Do Not Take Yourself Too Seriously department: Popping the Question

This was really very entertaining from NPR–listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Marriage & Family

Peter Steinfels: Resurrection Is Often Misunderstood by Christians and Jews

Five years ago, Bishop Wright, whose important contributions to the scholarly debate over the historical Jesus have emphasized Jesus’ place within Judaism’s expectations for a divine restoration of Israel, published “The Resurrection of the Son of God” (Fortress).

Although both books emphasize resurrection as the final expression of divine power, vindicating those faithful to God’s promises and regenerating all creation, neither is indifferent to the question of the immediate destinies of the departed.

Professors Madigan and Levenson do not think that their explanation of resurrection entails “a disbelief in the immortality of some aspect of the person or in the notion that the departed righteous even now enjoy a blissful communion with God.” And though Bishop Wright can be rather impatient with much of the talk of “souls” and “immortality” and “heaven” thoroughly embedded in Christian prayer and ritual, he has no problem when heaven as a “postmortem destination” is seen as a “temporary stage on the way to eventual resurrection of the body.”

This eventual resurrection, he writes, is not “life after death” so much as “life after life after death.”

Read it all.

Posted in Eschatology, Theology

An Iraqi tells of his long and violent journey to the side of the alliance forces

Still opposed to the US military and increasingly against the Shia-led Government of Iraq, Mr Abdullah dreamt of starting up a fresh resistance. But in late 2007 he was approached by two uncles and a cousin who had joined a new security movement, which was established by Sunni Arab tribes who had turned against al-Qaeda in Anbar province, once the heart of the insurgency. The concept ”“ arming local people and charging them with security for their neighbourhood ”“ appealed to Mr Abdullah even though the group’s members, which number at least 90,000, were under the payroll of the US military.

“I started to feel that the Americans were better than the Iraqi Government at that moment. I still look at them as occupiers. My feelings towards them have not changed. But my main concern is to stop the Iraqi people’s suffering,” he said. Agreeing to help to set up branches of the so-called Awakening movement in Samarra and other towns north of Baghdad, Mr Abdullah attended his first meeting with the US military just over a week ago ”“ something that he had resisted for months.

“When American soldiers turn up I feel very sad for myself, my country and the fact that I have to sit down and deal with them. I feel like wolves are eating my flesh during the meeting,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Iraq War

The Economist: Central banks Plugging holes

The biggest danger is excessive expectations. Liquidity provision, however artful, is not a magic bullet for the credit crunch. It alleviates panic and buys time, but does not eliminate the underlying losses, get rid of the uncertainty about who holds them, or prevent the inevitable credit tightening that will follow.

And the bad news is far from finished. As foreclosures and falls in house prices accelerate, estimates of likely losses on mortgage-backed securities, now around $400 billion, are still rising. The credit contraction these losses will spawn has hardly started. Yet the economy is already in recession. That is not official, but the latest jobs figures, which showed private-sector employment falling in each of the past three months, leave little doubt that the economy is contracting. More mortgage losses will result as joblessness spawns foreclosures, along with higher defaults on everything from credit cards to corporate loans.

There are some bright spots. Banks are limiting the scale of the squeeze by raising new capital, over $100 billion so far””though they could raise more. The downturn is being cushioned by still-strong global growth (see article). George Bush’s fiscal stimulus package will soon add a short boost. But, all told, recession suggests the credit problems will get worse before they get better. The Fed’s sandbag strategy will help ward off disaster, but it won’t shore up a sagging economy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Christopher Howse: The city lost in the sands

In 1896, when two scholarly papyrus-hunters, Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt, arrived at the same spot, now called el-Behnesa, they found the village depopulated for fear of Bedouin raids, with nothing to show for the departed glory but a single Corinthian column. “A thousand years’ use as a quarry for limestone and bricks had clearly reduced the buildings to utter ruin,” wrote Grenfell. The most prominent features nearby were some low hills, the dumps where rubbish had accumulated long ago. And here the papyrologists struck gold – or rather manuscripts.

There were seams of fragmented papyrus buried in the sandy soil in little drifts, preserved by the dry desert climate. Some held lines of Greek poets that had been lost to the world. More detailed the daily lives of the Greek-speaking citizens of this ancient Roman territory on the banks of the Nile. Others reflected the growth of Christianity that had so impressed the fourth-century pilgrim. In all there were 500,000 papyri, and they are still being deciphered and published. The 72nd volume has been printed, and 40 more are expected.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Church History, Middle East

Pondering the Comments and One of Today's Threads

Does it strike any of you as it does me what a model thread we have this morning on the HOB vote canonical question? We have reappraisers and reasserters, we have questions and disagreements, but no venom, no sidetracking, and no personal attacks.

My dilemma is how to get all threads to be like this one. Suggestions are welcome….–KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet