Daily Archives: May 15, 2008

McGill buys Anglican Diocesan Theological College

McGill University has bought the Anglican Diocesan Theological College for an undisclosed amount.

“The sale price is between us and McGill University,” college principal John Simons said yesterday. “But all things shall one day be revealed.”

The college says it can no longer afford to maintain the century-old neo-Gothic building on University St. north of Sherbrooke St.

It will however, lease the north wing of the building, known as the Principal’s Lodge, from the university, convert it into a seminary and continue to use St. Luke’s chapel in the building’s south wing, which it will share with McGill as a multi-purpose teaching facility.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canada, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

A Robot Conducts the Detroit Symphony

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has played host to some of the biggest names in the conducting world. But Tuesday night, a different kind of celebrity held the baton at Orchestra Hall. This conductor was short both in stature and on words.

ASIMO is not your typical conductor. It’s gender neutral, stands at a little over 4 feet tall and has no pulse. It’s a humanoid robot that made its conducting debut last night in Detroit.

It walked onto the stage to thunderous applause worthy of Leonard Bernstein.

“Hello, everyone,” it said.

“Hello,” the audience responded.

Then, ASIMO gracefully walked to the center of the stage, bowed and began leading the orchestra in a performance of “The Impossible Dream” from the musical Man of La Mancha.

ASIMO, which stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility, is a robot designed and built by Honda. One of its main goals is to get kids interested in math and science. But Tuesday night, ASIMO took a stab at conducting.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music

ABC Nightline: Christians Promote Holy, Hot Sex in Marriage

More evangelical couples — once embarrassed and prudish about sex — are now leaving their Christian inhibitions at the bedroom door.

For this growing group of younger, more progressive Christians, guilt is out and pleasure is in.

“We discovered that God’s word is holy and hot & filled with invaluable wisdom for our sexual relationship,” says intimateissues.com, one of the most popular Christian Web sites. It is based on a 1999 book by the same name.

The Christian wife has come a long way, baby, as a variety of sex advice books with titles like “Intimacy Ignited,” “Gift-Wrapped by God” and “Satisfy My Thirsty Soul” are emphasizing the earthly as well as the heavenly side of love.

Pastors are sermonizing and sexologists are offering conferences to help couples overcome their guilt about a once-touchy subject. And, they offer new translations of scripture to give biblical clout to their message.

“People carry a lot of guilt from parents who said sex is bad,” said the Rev. Kerry Shook of the Woodlands Church outside Houston. “We help them to have a healthy sex life. One of the things we cover in scripture is how to meet each other’s needs in bed.”

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I will consider posting comments on this article submitted first by email to Kendall’s E-mail: KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Sexuality

Jason Byassee: Reading with the Saints

One Sunday, my Methodist minister wife made a mistake in preparation. She didn’t glance at the assigned psalm text before she stood up, in worship, to lead the church in reading responsively.

Psalm 137 begins innocently enough, beautifully even: “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.” This is the kind of language church people expect from the Bible: pretty, exotic, comforting””in short, religious, in the modern sense of dealing with feelings. But by the end of the psalm things have taken something of a turn: “O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is he ”¦ who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.”

From my pew I watched my wife’s expression change from that of the non-anxious presiding presence they taught us to be in seminary to that of someone who’d just swallowed a frog. Then the organ struck up the doxology, she turned to face the cross, and led the church in praising the God whose Word just blessed the smashers of babies’ heads.

What was that all about?

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Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Serious Deficiencies in Nursing Homes Are Often Missed, Report Says

Nursing home inspectors routinely overlook or minimize problems that pose a serious, immediate threat to patients, Congressional investigators say in a new report.

In the report, to be issued on Thursday, the investigators, from the Government Accountability Office, say they have found widespread “understatement of deficiencies,” including malnutrition, severe bedsores, overuse of prescription medications and abuse of nursing home residents.

Nursing homes are typically inspected once a year by state employees working under contract with the federal government, which sets stringent standards. Federal officials try to validate the work of state inspectors by accompanying them or doing follow-up surveys within a few weeks.

The accountability office found that state employees had missed at least one serious deficiency in 15 percent of the inspections checked by federal officials. In nine states, inspectors missed serious problems in more than 25 percent of the surveys analyzed from 2002 to 2007.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

Victim in California cougar attack refuses to be 'prisoner of the drama'

[Anne] Hjelle was taken by helicopter to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo. After surgery, Hjelle felt helpless as the attack replayed in her mind in an endless loop.

“It was like watching a horror movie,” she said. “Except it really happened to me.”

Her pastor, Phil Munsey of Life Church of Mission Viejo, arrived the next morning and felt the urge to pray for her emotional health, worried that she would be plagued by flashbacks and nightmares.

“As a pastor,” Munsey said. “I prayed for a miracle and received one.”

Her pastor gave her a New Testament verse from 2 Timothy 4:17 to inspire her: “… the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength … And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Science, Religion not in conflict, Roman Catholic bishops say in stem-cell document

The brief policy statement on embryonic stem-cell research that is to come before the U.S. bishops at their June 12-14 meeting in Orlando, Fla., is designed to set the stage for a later, more pastoral document explaining why the Catholic Church opposes some reproductive technologies.

“While human life is threatened in many ways in our society, the destruction of human embryos for stem-cell research confronts us with an issue of respect for life in a stark new way,” says the statement drawn up by the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Although the topic of embryonic stem-cell research has been raised in several broader USCCB documents and has been the subject of testimony and many letters to Congress, there has never been a formal statement on the issue from the full body of bishops, said Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chairman of the pro-life committee, in an introduction to the draft document.

“The issue of stem-cell research does not force us to choose between science and ethics, much less between science and religion,” the document says. “It presents a choice as to how our society will pursue scientific and medical progress.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology, Theology

Foreclosures take toll on mental health

On a brisk day last fall in Prineville, Ore., Raymond and Deanna Donaca faced the unthinkable: They were losing their home to foreclosure and had days to move out.

For more than two decades, the couple had lived in their three-level house, where the elms outside blazed with yellow shades of fall and their four golden retrievers slept in the yard. The town had always been home, with a lazy river and rolling hills dotted by gnarled juniper trees.

Yet just before lunch on Oct. 23, the Donacas closed all their home’s doors except the one to the garage and left their 1981 Cadillac Eldorado running. Toxic fumes filled the home. When sheriff’s deputies arrived at about 1 p.m., they found the body of Raymond, 71, on the second floor along with three dead dogs. The body of Deanna, 69, was in an upstairs bedroom, close to another dead retriever.

“It is believed that the Donacas committed suicide after attempts to save their home following a foreclosure notice left them believing they had few options,” the Crook County Sheriff’s Office said in a report.

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

Peter Darbee: Congress must side with renewable energy tax credits

Out on the sun-drenched plains east of San Luis Obispo, a Palo Alto-based startup, Ausra Inc., plans to build an enormous array of high-tech mirrors spread over 640 acres. Focusing solar rays on miles of water-filled pipes, the installation will heat enough steam to power turbine generators capable of serving the electricity needs of 60,000 homes, at prices that will soon be competitive with traditional forms of energy.

Ausra is only one of several solar pioneers that Pacific Gas and Electric Company and other utilities are supporting with long-term power contracts. Backed in many cases by Silicon Valley venture investors, they reflect the same spirit of innovation that made California a world leader in electronics and information technology.

Along with equally innovative developers of wind, geothermal, and other forms of renewable power, they are on the forefront of finding solutions to the greatest challenge of our times: reducing greenhouse gas emissions to prevent runaway global warming.

But their entrepreneurial efforts may be stillborn if Congress fails to extend vital production and investment tax credits that have nurtured the renewable power industry as it works to implement emerging technology and achieve scale economies.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources

The Bishop of Limerick and Killaloe interviewed on BBC Northern Ireland

His picture is here; listen to the whole interview there.

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

Pamela Dolan: Finding and Forgetting as an Anglican

I am an Episcopalian by personal choice and through the grace of God. My family of origin, as well as my husband’s family, are all Roman Catholic; I can’t emphasize enough the deep respect and gratitude I have for my Catholic upbringing and the ways it has shaped me. Still, for a myriad of reasons I won’t enumerate here, I chose a different path.

So for me personally, why Anglicanism? Being the only Episcopalian on this blog, I feel the need to make the usual disclaimers about speaking only for myself. My entries are just one person’s current, contingent take on what it means to me to be Anglican, so I highly recommend that if your curiosity is piqued you jump in and read more widely.

As a start, one of the clearest definitions of Anglicanism I have read can be found in An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church (Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors). It makes plain some of the traits I so love about our church: its sense of balance and compromise, its ability to respect tradition while celebrating cultural difference, its emphasis on practice and worship over doctrine, its humble recognition that while God is unchanging and perfect the church is not. In addition, we are a church that embraces sacrament, liturgy, adherence to apostolic succession, and the centrality of the historic creeds, and you’ve got a pretty potent mix.

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

Women priests write protest letter to Anglican bishops

Senior clergy who have signed the letter include Canon Lucy Winkett, precentor at St Paul’s and Canon Jane Hedges, steward at Westminster Abbey. Both are women likely to be considered for the episcopate once it becomes possible to consecrate them.

More than 700 women priests have signed it, indicating they are backing the stance.

Canon Winkett told The Times: “We are saying that to consecrate women bishops is right, both in principle and in its timing. We believe now is the time to do it. But the way that it happens is important.

“The Church at large misjudges women if it really believes that we would support the consecration of women bishops at any price. We would regret very much a delay, but regretfully we would rather wait than see discriminatory legislation passed.”

When women were ordained to the priesthood over a decade ago, the Church of England passed an Act of Synod which created “flying bishops” to care for traditionalist parishes. Under that legislation, which will be repealed when women are ordained bishops, parishes can still opt to be cared for by a bishop other than their own diocesan, and to make their churches into “no-go areas” for women priests.

Read it all and a copy of the letter itself is here.

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

John Edwards is Endorsing Barack Obama

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Church Times' Paul Handley Interviews Gene Robinson

But how does the Church change its mind? How does it square inspiration with democracy?

I think it happens over time. And the first person, or the first few people, who articulate a new understanding never meet with particularly positive reactions. It takes time for any kind of consensus to build.

You go back to Acts, and you have Gamaliel talking about the disciples’ teaching in the marketplace, saying: “You know, we ought to give this some time. If it’s not of God, it will go away. And if it is of God, do we want to be opposing it?” I think we’re in the middle of that now. All of us want it to be over, but the fact of the matter is that it’s going to take us some time to settle this.

But didn’t Rowan Williams say to you that the proper way of doing this was to pose the question, take soundings, and convince people before doing the deed?

What I said to Rowan in that meeting was “Yes, wouldn’t that be wonderful? It sounds so orderly, and neat and tidy, when in fact it rarely happens that way.” We find someone taking action and then we think our way backwards to it.

I pointed out to him that in our own country we had 11 women who were uncanonically ordained to the priesthood before we had sanctioned the ordination of women. I wonder how many years it would have taken us (rather than the two years it took us to the next General Convention to approve that) to ordain women had we gone about that in an orderly process. We might still not be ordaining women.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Pope Benedict XVI's Pentecost Homily

I would like to reflect on a particular aspect of the Holy Spirit, on the intertwining of multiplicity and unity. The second reading speaks about this, treating of the harmony of the different charisms in the communion of the same Spirit. But already in the passage from Acts that we have listened to, this intertwining reveals itself with extraordinary evidence. In the event of Pentecost it is made clear that multiple languages and different cultures belong to the Church; they can understand and make each other fruitful. St. Luke clearly wants to convey a fundamental idea, namely, in the act itself of her birth the Church is already “catholic,” universal. She speaks all languages from the very beginning, because the Gospel that is entrusted to her is destined for all peoples, according to the will and the mandate of the risen Christ (cf. Matthew 28:19). The Church that is born at Pentecost is not above all a particular community — the Church of Jerusalem — but the universal Church, that speaks the language of all peoples. From her, other communities in every corner of the world will be born, particular Churches that are all and always actualizations of the one and only Church of Christ. The Catholic Church is therefore not a federation of churches, but a single reality: The universal Church has ontological priority. A community that is not catholic in this sense would not even be a Church.

In this regard it is necessary to add another aspect: that of the theological vision of the Acts of the Apostles in respect of the journey of the Church from Jerusalem to Rome. Luke notes that among the peoples represented in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost there are also “foreigners from Rome” (Acts 2:10). At that time Rome was still distant, “foreign” for the nascent Church: It was a symbol of the pagan world in general. But the power of the Holy Spirit will guide the steps of the witnesses “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8), to Rome. The Acts of the Apostles ends precisely when Paul, by providential design, arrives at the empire’s capital and proclaims the Gospel there (cf. Acts 28:30-31). Thus the journey of God’s Word, begun in Jerusalem, arrives at its goal, because Rome represents the whole world and thus incarnates the Lucan idea of catholicity. The universal Church is realized, the catholic Church, which is the continuation of the chosen people and makes its history and mission her own.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Other Churches, Pentecost, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic