Daily Archives: May 12, 2008

Anglican Curmudgeon: Who Will Stand Up for What Is Right?

I say “the canon lawyers have been unanimous” that Canon IV.9 must be so read, because every lawyer’s opinion I have seen on the Web reads it that way, while I have yet to read a single legal opinion, signed or otherwise, either on the Web, or published elsewhere, that defends the Presiding Bishop’s reading of the Canon (with the exception of her own recent letter to the House of Bishops, which was presumably written by, or with the help of, her Chancellor, but which she alone signed). There have been some differing opinions about the requirement in the Canon that a vote to depose be approved “by a majority of the whole number of the Bishops entitled to vote”, but there has not been a single dissenting view expressed , with reasons and logic to back it up, that the Presiding Bishop is justified by the Canon in proceeding as she proposes to do.

Read it carefully and read it all.

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

Mary Zeiss Stange: What does Texas church raid say about us?

The dust is more or less settling around the largest child custody case in Texas history. DNA samples and fingerprints having duly been taken, the 463 children removed by Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) from Warren Jeffs’s Yearning for Zion (YFZ) Ranch, near Eldorado, have been trundled off to foster care throughout the state. A few nursing mothers are in group home situations with their infants. The rest of the mothers, for whom supervised visitation with their children is being arranged by CPS, await custody hearings to be held by early June.

Any charges of sexual abuse that ultimately emerge from the ongoing investigation will, of course, deserve the most vigorous prosecution. Meanwhile, the case raises some thorny questions, both about how we as a society regard religious “others,” and about the role anti-cult stereotypes play in public decision-making. These questions center on the treatment of those mothers and children.

Legal experts are divided on the legitimacy of what Barbara Walther, the presiding judge in the case, off-handedly referred to as the “cattle call” that removed those mothers and children from their home on April 3. The closed federal warrant authorizing the raid relied heavily on phone calls, subsequently alleged to be a hoax, from 16-year-old “Sarah.” Flora Jessop, formerly a member of a Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS) community in Utah and now an anti-polygamy activist in Phoenix, had told Texas law enforcement that she had received similar calls from a “Sarah.” Arguably, the raid was spurred more by negative stereotypes about FLDS and members’ practice of polygamy than by a thorough investigation of evidence.

Read it all.

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

From the Local Paper: A School Principal Getting the Job Done

Strong principals typically are seasoned administrators. Moore didn’t have any experience as a principal, but she had a passion for Sanders-Clyde. She grew up in Atlanta and moved here for a College of Charleston minority fellowship to earn her master’s in education.

Moore taught at Sanders-Clyde for four years before moving up to a lead teacher position. She left Sanders-Clyde to work as a master teacher, and for the next few years, she helped low-performing schools across the district improve.

When Sanders-Clyde’s principal retired, Moore applied for the job. Even when she was a teacher at Sanders-Clyde, she knew she wanted to be its principal. It was a small, 200-student school, and she felt connected to the parents and community. She understood what it would take to help its children. It was the only school where she applied for a principal job.

By most every measure, Sanders-Clyde was struggling in 2003 when Moore became its leader.

It was so bad that more than 60 percent of its students weren’t ready for the next grade in English and math. None of its students scored at the highest possible level on the state’s standardized tests.

Its student enrollment dwindled as families abandoned the school. All but a few of Moore’s students lived in nearby government-funded housing.

Despite those challenges, Moore refused to accept that her students couldn’t score as well as the wealthier ones across the Cooper River.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Education

Feds Turn to Churches to Help Welcome Immigrants

Adelino Najarro emigrated from Mexico four years ago. Without a job, he said, life was difficult in his country.

Today, to make a living, he works in a restaurant kitchen. And to improve his English, he goes to church.

Twice a week, Iglesia Forest City in northwest Orlando partners with the local school district to offer English-language classes. On one recent evening, Najarro, 29, was among nearly two dozen Spanish speakers who turned out for class. The church also offers a food bank, speakers on the naturalization process and has plans to offer GED classes.

“We the church are the first contact with the United States,” said the Rev. Santiago Panzardi, the church’s senior pastor and president of the Hispanic Christian Church Association of Central Florida. “The first place they knock is the church.”

Now there’s someone else knocking at the church door–the federal government–but they insist they’re not looking to check immigrants’ legal papers. They’re looking to help.

Read it all.

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

Stanley M. Aronson: We all need a bit of heresy

Julian Huxley once declared that it is the customary fate of new truths to begin as heresies and to end as superstitions. Andre Suares further observed: “Heresy is the lifeblood of religions. It is faith that begets heretics. There are no heresies in dead religions.” They both agreed, however, that last decade’s heresies may become yesterday’s forsaken beliefs, today’s moral majority and tomorrow’s dogma. Is heresy, then, little more than last year’s apostasies and next year’s certitudes? Somehow, given the dire fate of many heretics, there must be more to heresy than being an unfathomable or unfashionable belief.

It may be easier to understand heresy by first defining its character. Certainly there are many things that heresy is not. A pre-adolescent temper tantrum involving the assertion that a toothbrush is useless does not constitute heresy; nor can condemnation of the Beatles be construed as heresy. Heresy, then, must be substantially more than contrariness. The issue must be serious and the heretic response must be earnest; it must stem from one’s soul and it must engender some measure of personal hazard since it is expressed in the face of those, temporarily in the majority, who fervently believe otherwise.

Furthermore, heresy cannot be frivolous. Declaring total allegiance to the New York Yankees in Fenway Park may be suicidal, but not heretical. Nor can the primary purpose of the heresy be solely to provoke an adverse reaction in someone else ”” “getting a rise out of somebody.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

Death Row Rodeo: the Louisiana prison miracle

“He’s the best warden we’ve ever had,” says Jerry Williams, 51, one of hundreds of convicts selling food and handicrafts outside the stadium while an inmate band serenades the visiting public. Williams has served 31 years for murder.

“God always uses a vessel, and God has used Warden Cain,” says Carlwyn Turner, 47, a convicted rapist who is a disc jockey for the only federally licensed radio station in a US prison – the “Incarceration Station”. “Warden Cain has given a lot of guys purpose. That’s what keeps them going,” says Lane Nelson, 53, another convicted killer and “Death Row” correspondent of The Angolite, the prison’s award-winning newspaper.

It is hard to argue with such accolades. Cain, 65, a fervent Christian with a deep Southern drawl and the build of a refrigerator, believes he was sent to Angola to do God’s work, and what he has achieved there in 13 years is little short of a miracle.

He has transformed the most violent maximum security prison in America into its safest. He has turned Angola into a place where families with young children happily consort with convicted killers at the spring and autumn rodeos. He has brought hope where there was only despair.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Prison/Prison Ministry

The Myanmar Cyclone Disaster – A sermon by the Bishop of Shrewsbury

For some people, of course, these events raise questions about whether there can be a God, or if there is a God could he is good. For them it is inconceivable that there could be a God who permits suffering. But nowhere in the Bible; and nowhere in the Christian tradition is it suggested that God is a sort of heavenly puppet master; the sort of god who treats us like robots, who is two steps ahead of us sorting out our lives in front of us.

Faith doesn’t promise us that. Think back to the psalm: ”˜When you travel through the valley of the shadow of death I’ll be with you’. Not ”˜if’, ”˜when’ is what the scripture says.

John Polkinghorne, priest, author and former Professor of Mathematical Physics at Cambridge University puts it like this: God does not bring about everything that happens in the world. Because God is a God of love, he allows creatures to be themselves. That sort of valuable, worthwhile, independent creation has a cost. We see that in the terrible cruel choices of humankind. We also see it in the physical history of the world. Exactly the same bio-chemical processes that enable some cells to mutate and produce new forms of life – the very engine that has driven the amazingly fruitful history of life on earth ”“ will also allow other cells to mutate and to become malignant. You just cannot have one without the other. The tragic fact that there is cancer in the world is not because God did not bother ”“ it is a necessity in a world allowed to make itself.

The freedom that enables me to choose to give generously at the moment to Myanmar, the freedom which enables someone to give their love to someone, to go the extra mile to care; is precisely the same freedom which those rulers in Myanmar are using to stop aid coming in. It is part of the way the world is set up. It’s both a wonderful freedom but a terrible responsibility.

The Christian gospel never says that there will not be suffering or evil. And it does not promise us that we will not go through it. And those of you being confirmed today, this isn’t some sort of talisman which will stop you ever experiencing evil. You and I will experience the same suffering that is the common lot of humanity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Asia, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

White House report links pot, teen depression

Depression, teens and marijuana are a dangerous mix that can lead to dependency, mental illness or suicidal thoughts, according to a White House report being released Friday.
A teen who has been depressed at some point in the past year is more than twice as likely to have used marijuana as teens who have not reported being depressed ”” 25% compared with 12%, said the report by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

“Marijuana is a more consequential substance of abuse than our culture has treated it in the last 20 years,” said John Walters, director of the office. “This is not just youthful experimentation that they’ll get over as we used to think in the past.”

Smoking marijuana can lead to more serious problems, Walters said in an interview.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Teens / Youth

Elfing seriously limited for a few days

Just a note to let readers know that due to travel of one elf and the combination of work pressures and serious “technical difficulties” of a second, our elfing capacity is seriously limited this week (and in fact has been stretched way too thin for 4 or 5 weeks). It looks like I (elf girl) may be restored to normal high speed internet access within 2 – 3 days and so I hope to be able to resume more normal “elfing” then. In the meantime:

1. We please ask our commenters to be particularly careful of what you write. Perhaps a policy of “self-elfing” could be practiced? 😉
2. If you have story ideas, please send them directly to Kendall (his e-mail is linked on the sidebar under the “About the Blog” section).
3. Please be patient with any requests for administrative / technical help or research assistance. It’s honestly likely that I won’t get to look at those for another 2 days, and there is already a big backlog.

Thanks very much for your patience and understanding.

Posted in * Admin

Edwards hints that Clinton give up race for nomination

John Edwards, an influential Democrat and erstwhile candidate for the presidential nomination, cautioned Sunday that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton “has to be really careful that she’s not damaging our prospects” by staying in the contest now that Senator Barack Obama appears to have won it.

With the race rapidly evolving into an expected faceoff between Obama and Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, McCain’s surrogates came out with some of their toughest attacks on Obama on Sunday. Mitt Romney, who lost his fight with McCain for the Republican nomination but now strongly backs him, said Obama was “clearly out of his depth.”

The sides clashed bitterly over Obama’s suggestion that McCain had “lost his bearings” for saying that Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, favored Obama.

While Edwards, of North Carolina, has not endorsed either candidate, he made it clear that he saw little chance that Clinton could manage a come-from-behind victory. “You can no longer make a compelling case for the math,” he said, referring to delegate totals that increasingly favor Obama. “The math is very, very hard for her.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

On a Personal Note: Mother's Day

We took the Mom in our family, Elizabeth, out to dinner this afternoon and then all five Harmons–our oldest just got home from freshman year of College–went to see Iron Man together. We enjoyed it–KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall