Daily Archives: April 22, 2008

Scientology, Hollywood and the path to Washington

Stephen Kent: Well I too was pleasantly surprised by the book, especially given all the sometimes rocky pre-publication publicity it received. What struck me most about the book actually Morton’s discussion about the behind-the-scenes negotiations that went on involving Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Certainly a lot of us who observe Scientology wondered whether Kidman caused a problem for Scientology, because in part, her father is a psychologist, and also in part she never really seemed to be that committed. What I did not realise however was the extent to which the organisation apparently involved itself in that relationship.

Stephen Crittenden: They were there at the beginning, helping to set the marriage up. They were there when the children were being adopted, and they were there at the end when the marriage was falling apart.

Stephen Kent: It’s a very good observation. And it’s the case that many people take on the veneer of a partner’s marriage just for practical purposes and don’t internalise that particular faith, and that seems to be the pattern that Nicole Kidman followed. But of course her relationship with her parents, particularly her father, was going to be an ongoing problem. Scientology’s antipathy towards the mental health profession, psychiatry, but also psychology, is long-standing and well-known.

Stephen Crittenden: And what about Andrew Morton’s statement that Tom Cruise is the No.2 figure in Scientology; was that news to you?

Stephen Kent: I hadn’t thought of it in the way that Andrew Morton framed it, and his framing was something along the lines that Tom Cruise is the No.2 person. Now certainly in an organisational sense, that claim is just not true, but it may be true in the context of the prestige that Tom Cruise has for other Scientologists, and from that standpoint Morton’s statement made a great deal of sense.

Stephen Crittenden: A couple of other things that struck me in Andrew Morton’s book: one is that Tom Cruise appears to have gone through the same step-by-step initiation process that everyone else in Scientology goes through.

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

Church wants community's help to provide meals to poor

Consider what $20 will buy at your local grocery store.

Now consider that for the same $20 you could provide 100 meals to people living in an impoverished country.

Grace Episcopal Church is once again teaming up with Stop Hunger Now to provide 50,000 meals to people in need.

SHN is a nonprofit, international relief organization committed to ending hunger worldwide. The organization provides direct emergency food and other life-saving aid in crisis areas. SHN is headquartered in Raleigh and has provided more than $100 million of aid to more than 55 countries. Grace Episcopal first partnered with SHN in 2006.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

Teen Becomes World's Youngest Professor

While many 18- and 19-year-olds await word from colleges, one of their peers has been accepted to a university ”” as a professor. Just days before her 19th birthday, Alia Sabur was hired to teach cell science at Konkuk University in South Korea.

Listen to it all from NPR.

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

Dan Martins: A Logical Inference from the Fiasco in San Joaquin

Leaving aside the obvious problems with such a claim, let us, for the sake of discussion, simply grant it. One would think that–simply for the sake of appearances, to say nothing of legal strategy–it would then be in 815’s best interests to establish as much continuity as possible between the “new” DSJ–i.e. the one configured at the Lodi convention of March 29 of this year–and the “old” DSJ, that is, the one that was spun off as a Missionary District from the Diocese of California 97 years ago. One would think that it would be in the best interest of the Presiding Bishop and her counsel to be able to credibly say, “Several individuals have left, but the diocese remains. Look: We have retained eleven congregations, including the three largest ones, representing over half of the average Sunday attendance of the diocese. We have retained the most senior clergy, and six of the eight members of the Standing Committee, who have assured us that once Bishop Schofield resigns or is lawfully deposed, they will step in and perform their canonical duty. The Diocese of San Joaquin is still vital, diverse, and financially viable without any outside help.”

The ability to say all of this was within 815’s grasp. But, for reasons that I could only speculate about, they looked a Public Relations gift horse in the mouth and sent it packing. They rejected continuity, and chose instead to confect a new DSJ out of whole cloth, with only a little decorative embroidery from had come before. The fact that there is not the shred of a canonical basis for doing what they have done seems to count for nothing; what’s new is new and what’s done is done. The rule of law has been thrown under the bus of expediency.

The irony in all of this, and the actual point of this post, is that, in rejecting the path of maximum continuity, maximum numerical strength, and maximum credibility in the eyes a watching Anglican world, 815 has undercut its own Prime Directive than “only individuals can leave.” By their actions in electing to start over from scratch, they have tacitly admitted that the Diocese of San Joaquin did, in fact, leave the Episcopal Church. Why else would they have taken such pains to invent a new one–a new one that is every bit as ideologically monochrome as they accuse the old one of being, a new one that has retained not even a vestige of institutional or administrative continuity with the old one, and a new one that is wholly dependent on 815’s financial largesse and will, in effect, be a client diocese for as long as it is allowed to exist?

Apparently, dioceses can leave the Episcopal Church. One just did, and they made a new one to replace it.

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

Canadian Primate asks Archbishop Venables to cancel visit

The Most Revd Gregory James Venables
Rioja 2995,1636 Olivos,
Province of Buenos Aires,
B1636DMG , Argentina

My Brother in Christ:

In this Easter Season I greet you in the name of our risen Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

It has come to my attention that you will be participating in the Anglican Network in Canada conference, “Compelled by Christ’s Love” taking place in Vancouver, B.C., April 25-26,2008. Your visit to Canada is without any reference to or consent from my office or that of the Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster. This represents a breach in what is considered normative in protocol among Primates and Bishops throughout the Communion.

I brought this matter before the House of Bishops meeting in Niagara Falls, Ont., last week. While we recognized that your motivation may be pastoral, there was a strong consensus that your visit at this time will further harm the strained relations between the Anglican Church of Canada and the Anglican Network in Canada.

The Bishops believe that we have made adequate and appropriate provision for the pastoral care and Episcopal support of all members of the Anglican Church of Canada, including those who find themselves in conscientious disagreement with the view of their Bishop and Synod over matters of human sexuality.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone]

Rob Marshall: The Pope has demonstrated the importance of saying sorry

But the one thing which will be remembered above all after the visit of this very different Pope to the United States is the simple word “sorry”. The Holy Father recognised that there was no way he could celebrate the essence of his own faith amongst new friends without first offering a deep and profound apology for previous wrongs- and particularly to the victims of terrible abuse by representatives of his own church in former times.

The protection of children, young people and vulnerable adults is now a massive priority for any organisation working with and for them. And whilst the putting in place of stringent measures to protect children in the future is admirable – we cannot forget those who have suffered terribly in the past and who still bear the scares of previous wrongdoing.

By saying sorry so openly and unequivocally, Pope Benedict’s confession and appeal for forgiveness has obviously rallied many Americans behind him and given millions of Christians a basic reminder of how true repentance can lead to a fresh start. There’s no room for complacency but there’s certainly an opportunity to live out perhaps the most famous prayer of all: forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.

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

In Clinton vs. Obama, Age Is a Great Predictor

Jay Leno recently made fun of a commercial for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, in which she referred to playing pinochle as a child at her grandfather’s lake house in Pennsylvania.

“Pinochle?” Mr. Leno said quizzically to his late-night audience. “Well, that’ll help with the young voters, huh? I mean, come on. What kids aren’t playing pinochle now?”

The joke about the old card game captured a truth about this year’s Democratic primary: Mrs. Clinton has generally bypassed younger voters. And they have bypassed her, flocking instead to her rival, Senator Barack Obama. At the same time, she has attracted older voters, those who grew up in the pre-Internet era and might actually have played pinochle.

In a campaign where demographics seem to be destiny, one of the most striking factors is the segregation of voters by age. In state after state, older voters have formed a core constituency for Mrs. Clinton, who is 60, while younger voters have coalesced around Mr. Obama, who is 46. Age has been one of the most consistent indicators of how someone might vote ”” more than sex, more than income, more than education. Only race is a stronger predictor of voting than age, and then only if a voter is black, not if he or she is white.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Gas Reaches $3.50, With Little Hope for Relief

Gasoline prices surpassed $3.50 a gallon nationwide for the first time and oil jumped to a record on Monday as the long rise of energy prices showed little evidence of giving way to recession fears.

The national average price for regular gasoline is up 22 percent from a year earlier, according to AAA, the automobile club. Some analysts expect it to approach $4 a gallon this summer, when demand is at a peak. Diesel fuel prices reached a record $4.20 a gallon on Monday, on average, compared with $2.93 a gallon a year earlier.

In trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil for next-month delivery settled Monday at $117.48 a barrel, up 79 cents, a new high. Oil prices have more than quadrupled in the last five years, and some analysts say that oil will reach $125 a barrel this year.

The latest rise in energy prices was prompted by reports that a Nigerian rebel group had blown up pipelines in the Niger Delta. An earlier attack on a pipeline, last week, forced Royal Dutch Shell to curtail exports by 169,000 barrels a day.

Because there is little spare capacity worldwide and supplies are tight, slight disruptions in oil production anywhere can push up prices.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources

Chicago Police Probe Rash of Shootings

At least 30 people were shot over the weekend in Chicago. Six died. Authorities point to the usual culprits ”” gang warfare and easy access to guns. Police had just released statistics showing the city’s murder rate fell in March compared to a year earlier.

listen to it all from NPR.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Violence

House of Deputies president asks deputies to discuss covenant draft

(ENS) Episcopal Church House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson has asked diocesan General Convention deputations to find ways to comment to their bishops about the second draft of the proposed Anglican covenant.

Anderson made her request in an April 21 letter emailed to all deputies and first alternate deputies. The full text of the letter is below.

“We are told that the bishops at the Lambeth Conference will not be making a decision on the Anglican covenant, nor will they be ratifying any draft of the covenant,” Anderson wrote, reminding deputies that “the only body with authority to commit the Episcopal Church to an Anglican covenant is the General Convention in which bishops, priests and deacons and lay persons share authority.”

Thus, she wrote, “the input of the clergy and laity of the Episcopal Church is especially important as the Anglican Communion considers the development of a covenant.”

“In the Episcopal Church the belief that God speaks uniquely through bishops, laity, priests and deacons, enables our participatory structure and allows a fullness of revelation and insight that must not be lost in this important time of discernment,” Anderson wrote. “The joint work of the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops is the highest institutional expression of this belief. It is thus crucially important that our bishops go to Lambeth with a sense of where their General Convention deputations (and their diocese) are with respect to the current state of the Anglican covenant.”

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

From The Age: Japan's hunger becomes a dire warning for other nations

MARIKO Watanabe admits she could have chosen a better time to take up baking. This week, when the Tokyo housewife visited her local Ito-Yokado supermarket to buy butter to make a cake, she found the shelves bare.

“I went to another supermarket, and then another, and there was no butter at those either. Everywhere I went there were notices saying Japan has run out of butter. I couldn’t believe it ”” this is the first time in my life I’ve wanted to try baking cakes and I can’t get any butter,” said the frustrated cook.

Japan’s acute butter shortage, which has confounded bakeries, restaurants and now families across the country, is the latest unforeseen result of the global agricultural commodities crisis.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources

LA Times: Lack of skilled workers will lead to fiscal crisis, experts say

With baby boomers preparing to retire as the best educated and most skilled workforce in U.S. history, a growing chorus of demographers and labor experts is raising concerns that workers in California and the nation lack the critical skills needed to replace them.

In particular, experts say, the immigrant workers needed to fill many of the boomer jobs lack the English-language skills and basic educational levels to do so. Many immigrants are ill-equipped to fill California’s fastest-growing positions, including computer software engineers, registered nurses and customer service representatives, a new study by the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute found.

Immigrants — legal and illegal — already constitute almost half of the workers in Los Angeles County and are expected to account for nearly all of the growth in the nation’s working-age population by 2025 because native-born Americans are having fewer children. But the study, based largely on U.S. Census data, noted that 60% of the county’s immigrant workers struggle with English and one-third lack high school diplomas.

The looming mismatch in the skills employers need and those workers offer could jeopardize the future economic vitality of California and the nation, experts say. Los Angeles County, the largest immigrant metropolis with about 3.5 million foreign-born residents, is at the forefront of this demographic trend.

“The question is, are we going to be a 21st century city with shared prosperity, or a Third World city with an elite group on top and the majority at poverty or near poverty wages?” asked Ernesto Cortes Jr., Southwest regional director of the Industrial Areas Foundation, a leadership development organization. “Right now we’re headed toward becoming a Third World city. But we can change that.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Education

Terry Mattingly: A need to cover religion

Some journalists, he said, don’t think that religion matters. Thus, many editors get sweaty palms when it comes time to dedicate time, ink and money to the subject. Few seek out trained, experienced religion-beat reporters.

“The prevailing ethos among most of our editors is that the public square is the province of the secular and not a place for … religious messages to be seen or heard,” said [William] Burleigh in an interview for my chapter in “Blind Spot: When Journalists Don’t Get Religion.” Oxford University Press will publish this book, produced by my colleagues at the Oxford Centre for Religion & Public Life, late this fall.

“As a result,” Burleigh said, “lots of editors automatically think religion is out of place in a public newspaper. That’s what we are up against.”

The key is that this is a journalism problem. Any effort to improve coverage will fail if journalists are, as commentator Bill Moyers likes to put it, “tone deaf” to the music of religion in public life.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Media, Religion & Culture

A Populist Shift Confronts the U.S. Catholic Church

To say she was a practicing Catholic would be an understatement. For years, Maria Aparecida Calazans was a mainstay at her Long Island church, joining dozens of fellow Brazilian immigrants for the Portuguese language Mass on Sunday mornings. She and her husband, Ramon, were married at the church. Their two daughters were baptized there, and every Friday she attended a prayer meeting that she had helped organize.

But six years ago, her husband went to a relative’s baptism at a Pentecostal church in a warehouse in Astoria, Queens, and came home smitten.

The couple made a deal. “We would go to the Pentecostal service on Thursdays and to Mass on Sundays, and then we would decide which one we felt most comfortable with,” Mrs. Calazans said.

Within 40 days, they had given up Roman Catholicism and embraced Pentecostalism, following the path of the estimated 1.3 million Latino Catholics who have joined Pentecostal congregations since immigrating to the United States, according to a survey released in February by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

“I feel whole here,” Mrs. Calazans, 42, said one recent Sunday in the Astoria sanctuary, the Portuguese Language Pentecostal Missionary Church, as she swayed to the pop-rock beat of a live gospel band. “This church is not a place we visit once a week. This church is where we hang around and we share our problems and we celebrate our successes, like we were family.”

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pentecostal, Roman Catholic

Bishop Burton of Saskatchewan to move to Dallas

This is a difficult letter to write but I must let you know that I have submitted my resignation to the Metropolitan of Rupert’s Land effective September 1, 2008. I begin that day a new ministry as Rector of the Church of the Incarnation in Dallas, Texas.

I cannot begin to express my gratitude for the privilege of serving with you these past 17 years, first as Dean and, since 1993, as Bishop. Our sense of call to Texas is a positive one but at the same time I felt that it would be an opportunity for the Diocese to be overseen with a fresh pair of eyes, and to enjoy the excitement and momentum a change of bishop brings.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Parishes