Daily Archives: April 13, 2008

Geoffrey Rowell: We need faith, and reality points us to a belief in God

The poet-priest R. S. Thomas asked why God appeared so frequently in his poems, responded simply: “I believe in God.” Pressed about what sort of God he meant, Thomas replied: “He’s a poet who sang Creation and He’s also an intellect with an ultra-mathematical mind, who formed the entire Universe in it. The answer is in a chapter of Augustine’s Confessions where it says, ”˜They all cried out with one voice, He made us’.”

For the Christian this God does not remain unknown, but has revealed Himself to us in Jesus Christ, in the characteristic way in which persons make themselves known to us, not as ideas and abstractions, not as collections of atoms and molecules, or the patterns of energy of sub-atomic particles, but as persons with a capacity for love and relationship. Love always involves both faith and hope. Without this trio there would be no human life as we know it.

That reality points us to the God who made us, and whose being and action the Christian creeds confess, as one who is a communion of love, and life, and relationship, the source of our being, the ground of our knowing, the goal of our living. To say Credo ”” I believe ”” is to open ourselves to the deepest possibility of our lives. As the great preacher St John Chrysostom said: “Let us then draw Him to ourselves, and invite him to aid us in the attempt, and let us contribute our share ”” goodwill, I mean, and energy. For He will not require anything further, but if He can meet with this only, He will confer all that is his part.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

For the West, many tough calls on China

As the Dalai Lama begins a contentious two-week visit to the United States and the Olympic torch continues its tortuous journey across six continents toward Beijing, the 2008 Games, already tarnished, have become a political as well as an athletic spectacle, with vying theories of human rights and how best to promote them.

Groups devoted to causes as diverse as press freedom, Falun Gong, Tibet and autonomy for Uighur Muslims in China’s far west have used the Games as leverage to highlight issues that had been relegated to advocacy chat rooms during most of China’s long economic boom.

Aggressive street demonstrations in London, Paris and the United States, and mounting calls for President George W. Bush and other world leaders to skip the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in August as a show of protest against China’s internal policies, have produced a nationalist backlash in China. There, both the leadership and ordinary people resent what many see as a plot to disrupt the Games and damage China’s image as a rising power, which the Olympics once seemed likely to burnish.

Politics has not intruded on the Games to this extent since Soviet bloc countries boycotted the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles in retaliation for a United States-led boycott of the Moscow Games in 1980, after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Sports

Pope Benedict XVI Ready to Meet America

Next up for Pope Benedict XVI, a welcoming nation that wants to get to know him.

Benedict’s first trip to the United States as pope begins Tuesday – a five-day visit to Washington and New York, including a speech at the United Nations. Anyone expecting strident speeches from the man once called “God’s rottweiler” for his role defending Roman Catholic doctrine will be disappointed.

Benedict will deliver an unwavering message that society needs religious values, but this intellectual pontiff will do it in the most positive way possible. After making relatively little headway in his efforts to re-ignite the faith in Europe, America’s roughly 65 million Catholics seem anxious to hear him.

“He has a way of helping us see what the Gospel and what the Catholic faith tradition asks of us that is challenging and not frightening,” Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl, Benedict’s host in the first leg of the five-day trip, told The Associated Press.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Still more from Michel Quoist: There are two Loves Only

“There are two loves only, Lord,
Love of myself and love of you and of others,
And each time that I love myself, it’s a little less love for you and
for others, It’s a draining away of love,
It’s a loss of love,
For love is made to leave self and fly towards others.

Each time it’s diverted to myself, it withers, rots and dies.

Love of self, Lord, is a poison that I absorb each day;
Love of self offers me a cigarette and gives none to my neighbor;
Love of self chooses the best part and keeps the best place;
Love of self indulges my senses and supplies them from the table of others;

Love of self speaks about myself and makes me deaf to the words of others;
Love of self chooses, and forces that choice on a friend;
Love of self puts on a false front; it wants me to shine, overshadowing others;
Love of self is self-pitying and overlooks the suffering of others;
Love of self advertises my ideas and despises those of others;
Love of self thinks me virtuous, it calls me a good man;
Love of self induces me to make money, to spend it for my pleasure, to hoard it for my future;
Love of self advises me to give to the poor in order to ease my conscience and live in peace;
Love of self puts my slippers on and ensconces me in an easy chair;
Love of self is satisfied with myself; it gently rocks me to sleep.

What is more serious, Lord, is that love of self is a stolen love. It was destined for others; they needed it to live, to thrive, and I have
diverted it. So the love of self creates human suffering.
So the love of men for themselves creates human misery.
All the miseries of men,
All the sufferings of men;
The suffering of the boy whose mother has slapped him without cause and that of the man whose boss has reprimanded him in front of the workers. The suffering of the ugly girl neglected at a dance, and that
of the woman whose husband doesn’t kiss her anymore.
The suffering of the child left at home because he’s a nuisance and that of the grandfather made fun of because he’s too old.
The suffering of the worried man who hasn’t been able to confide in anyone and that of the troubled adolescent whose worries have been ridiculed;
The suffering of the desperate man who jumps into the canal and that of the criminal who is going to be executed, The suffering of the unemployed man who wants to work and that of the worker who ruins his health for a ridiculous salary.
The suffering of the father who piles his family into a single room next to an empty house and that of the mother whose children are hungry while the remains of a party are thrown into the garbage,
The suffering of one who dies alone, while his family, in the adjoining room, wait for his death, drinking coffee.

All sufferings,
All injustices, bitterness, humiliations, griefs, hates, despairs, All
sufferings are an unappeased hunger, A hunger for love.
So men have built, slowly, selfishness by selfishness, a disfigured world that crushes them;
So the men on earth spend their time feeding their self-love,
While around them others with outstretched arms die of hunger.
They have squandered love.
I have squandered your love, Lord.

Tonight I ask you to help me to love.
Grant me, Lord, to spread true love in the world.
Grant that by me and by your children it may penetrate a little into all circles, all societies, all economic and political systems, all laws, all contracts, all rulings; Grant that it may penetrate into offices, factories, apartment buildings, movie houses, dance halls;
Grant that it may penetrate the hearts of men and that I may never forget that the battle for a better world is a battle of love, in the service of love.

Help me to love, Lord, not to waste my powers of love, to love myself less in order to love others more and more, That around
me, no one should suffer or die because I have stolen the love they needed to live.

Son, you will never succeed in putting enough love into the heart of man and into the world, For many and the world are hungry for an infinite love, And God alone can love with a boundless love.
But if you want, son, I give you my Life,
Draw it within you.
I give you my heart, I give it to my sons.
Love with my heart, son,
And all together you will feed the world, and you will save it.”

–Michel Quoist, Prayers (English translation of the 1963 French original, Avon Books, 1975, pp. 100-104)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

Episcopal Communicators consider intersection of politics and religion, real and virtual worlds

[The Rev. Matthew] Moretz told the conference that people who operate in the virtual world of the internet’s social-networking sites are not opting out of reality. They experience real social interaction and real emotional reactions. They experience community, he said.

“We should be embracing this social fact,” Moretz said, arguing that both lay and ordained Episcopalians can preside over these new “gathering[s] of humanity” in ways that can show what it means to be the body of Christ in new places.

“The story is the same but the territory is new,” he told conference participants, alluding later during a workshop to the way that St. Paul used the infrastructure of Roman roads to spread the Gospel.

Moretz suggested that communicators who want to operate as people of faith in what he called the frontier territory of the internet must have an online persona that is authentic and points to “the real you” so that they can bring a sense of being places of stability on the web.

“Our gift to these other worlds is our integrity,” he said.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Episcopal Church (TEC), Media

America @ $100/Barrel: How Long Will the Oil Last?

These days everyone is worried about oil. The primitive black goo has been linked to climate change, economic disruption and other problems, but make no mistake: We still need oil, and lots of it. Not only is American demand rising””this year it’s expected to top 21 million barrels per day””but ascendant economies in India and China have developed huge appetites for the stuff. The stark reality is that the supply is finite. “Peak oil” theorists argue that production is already maxed out, meaning imminent shortages and sharper price spikes; more optimistic experts believe that day is 20 to 30 years away. Both camps agree that the task ahead is twofold: Develop new supplies while learning to stretch existing reserves.

There has not been a major find on U.S. soil since Prudhoe Bay in 1968, which means most major exploration has moved to the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, where drilling and production are difficult and expensive. Last year, a Chevron-led consortium announced the discovery of the Jack field, 270 miles off Louisiana. It may hold 15 billion barrels, which would more than double domestic reserves. “The technology that is being brought to bear is phenomenal,” says energy writer Robert Bryce, author of Gusher of Lies. “What we are seeing today in offshore drilling is the terrestrial version of the space program.” Bryce is among those pushing to open offshore leases along the East and West coasts currently under federal moratorium but estimated to hold as much as 19 billion barrels of oil and 86 trillion cu. ft. of natural gas.

Tapping vast unconventional sources that don’t flow to the surface is also hugely challenging. The oil sands of Alberta, Canada, contain 175 billion barrels of proven reserves””the largest in the world outside Saudi Arabia””but the oil costs as much as $15 per barrel to produce, compared to $2 for Saudi crude.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources

Living Church: Conservative Dissent Wears Down Texas Priest Stan Gerber

The situation became untenable at Good Shepherd, Fr. Gerber said, after the House of Bishops’ meeting in New Orleans last September. In October, a majority of the vestry insisted on having the congregation participate in a discernment process over its future. Instead of the more-typical 40-day process, Fr. Gerber said he and the diocese worked out a lengthier version that originally was supposed to last beyond the election of a bishop coadjutor next month. A parish referendum scheduled to occur April 13-20 was terminated early, Fr. Gerber said, after the diocese insisted on knowing which way he intended to vote.

Fr. Gerber said he anguished over his decision, which was made even more difficult because he believes he was treated fairly by the diocese and because of the many friendships he has built during 19 years of ordained ministry. Good Shepherd dedicated a $2-million parish hall on Palm Sunday. Fr. Gerber said the diocese offered to provide the parish temporary financial assistance if the loss of members and income after the vote put the Episcopal congregation at risk of default on the mortgage payments.

In the end, Fr. Gerber said he realized he had more in common theologically with Anglicans outside The Episcopal Church than he did with those inside it. Instead of a parish referendum and more consultation, he and the diocese have agreed on a short announcement during Sunday services about the new congregation. St. Timothy’s Anglican Church will hold its first service the following Sunday in a nearby high school auditorium.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Departing Parishes