Daily Archives: May 16, 2008

Bolder Tactics Divide Cuba's 'Ladies in White'

In Cuba, 75 dissidents were arrested five years ago, most of whom are still in prison. Some of their wives formed a group called “Ladies in White” and have had demonstrations at their church every Sunday. A smaller number of them acted on their own last month, using bolder methods, attracting the attention of Cuban officials.

It is a difficult question–what is the best way to oppose a dictator? Listen to it all from NPR and see what you think.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Politics in General

A Don Wright Political Cartoon

Go here, then click on the cartoon for today, then scroll back to the cartoon for May13th. LOL.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, Humor / Trivia, US Presidential Election 2008

Agnieszka Tennant: A Christian Writing Festival Invites Nonbelievers, Too

Late last month, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon made a somewhat unlikely appearance at the biennial Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College here. The author of “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” (2007) — in which the protagonist discovers that an evangelical cabal in the U.S. has launched a holy war between Muslims and Jews in Israel in order to hasten the Second Coming — found himself addressing a crowd of devoted Christians.

In some ways, the Dutch Reformed Calvin College is as homogeneous as the names of its professors (many of which end in -inga, and -einstra). Catholics are not allowed to teach there; neither are members of most other Protestant denominations. Faculty members are required to sign three confessional creeds — the Heidelberg Confession, the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt — which include the doctrines of predestination (God has predetermined all events) and election (God has chosen some to be saved from eternal damnation and others not).

One could speculate that adherence to these doctrines could foster a certain apathy toward matters in the outside world. (“I can’t do anything to change the course of events, so why bother?”) But there is another major theological tenet that the folks at Calvin hold dear: the belief that the Gospel not only saves souls upon death but redeems minds and bodies in the here and now.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Poetry & Literature, Religion & Culture

Church Times: Tax evasion costs the lives of the poor, says Christian Aid

Transnational companies, many of whom have their headquarters in Britain, are legally and illegally withholding billions in taxes from some of the poorest countries in the world, Christian Aid says.

The money would be more than enough to meet all the UN Millennium Development Goals, states the development charity’s report, Death and Taxes, which was launched on Monday at the start of Christian Aid week. It estimates that 1000 children die each day from causes that the lost revenue could have alleviated.

Companies argue that they have a legal duty to minimise or avoid tax. But the report says that, although tax avoidance is legal, responsible companies should not seek aggressively to avoid the taxes that are needed to pay for the essential welfare services and infrastructure in developing countries.

Illegal tax-evasion schemes, such as transfer mispricing and false invoicing, account for $160 billion a year in lost revenue, it says. This figure reflects the research of Raymond Baker, a senior fellow at the US Center for International Policy. Donations from countries and aid agencies are “peanuts” compared to the wealth that has left poor countries in tax evasion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Theology

Reuters–Americans want choice to end life: poll

Most Americans believe the choice to end one’s life is a personal decision and that physician-assisted death should be legal, according to a new survey.

More than 80 percent of adults questioned in the poll by Knowledge Networks said the right to die should not be decided by the government, church or a third party, yet only 50 percent of Americans over 60 and less than 25 percent of younger people said they have a living will.

“People put that off. They’re in denial and they have their heads in the sand,” said Dave Bunnell, editor-in-chief of ELDR magazine, which commissioned the poll.

read the whole thing.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry

Statement from the Episcopal Bishop of Los Angeles on Yesterday's Court Ruling

Today’s Supreme Court decision on same-gender relationships is important because it reflects our baptismal vow to “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being” and our commitment to justice and mercy for all people.

The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles has been a leader in working for the rights of all people in the State of California, and that work is honored in today’s ruling. The canons of our church, under “Rights of the Laity” (Canon 1:17.5), forbid discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, disabilities or age. We affirm equal rights for all.

We will continue to advocate for equality in the future and will do so at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, which will meet in Anaheim in 2009.

I celebrate and give thanks for this decision of the court and look forward with joy and excitement to a future of justice and mercy for all people in the State of California and the Episcopal Church.

To paraphrase St. Paul, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, gay nor straight in Jesus Christ our Lord.

–(The Rt. Rev.) J. Jon Bruno is Bishop of Los Angeles

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, TEC Bishops

Christian Challenge: The Search For An Anglican Future

In another action that drew charges of canonical impropriety, Schori recently called and oversaw a convention in California that purported to continue or reconstitute the TEC Diocese of San Joaquin and accept as temporary shepherd former Northern California Bishop Jerry Lamb – despite the possibly void deposition of Bishop Schofield.

This action was clearly a precursor to TEC’s move in late April to file a lawsuit claiming the property of the seceded diocese – though the Dar es Salaam communiqúe called for an end to a resort to lawsuits among opposing Anglican parties. The suit, which is focused on direct holdings of the diocese rather than individual parish properties, names Bishop Schofield as the primary defendant, as trusteeship of the property of the San Joaquin diocese is vested in the bishop, under California law.

Meanwhile, there has been an uptick in litigation against individual parishes seeking to leave TEC for reasons of theological conscience. Unlike her predecessor, Frank Griswold, Bishop Schori rejects the idea that a diocese may negotiate a financial settlement allowing a departing congregation that intends to remain Anglican to keep its church property. That she is pressing her view, and that the national church is now more actively joining in court battles, with the help of Schori’s ubiquitous Chancellor, David Booth Beers, is evident in reports of church property disputes across the country. (See more in the latest issue’s “Focus” section.) Adding insult to injury, the P.B. recently defended her church’s litigiousness by comparing the faithful who seek to retain parish property to child abusers. In both cases, she said, “bad behavior” is involved that must be confronted.

The question of Schori’s own “bad behavior” was, however, the subject of a memo that was circulating at deadline among a consortium of church leaders. Prepared by an attorney, the memo concluded that sufficient legal grounds exist for bringing Schori to ecclesiastical trial on 11 counts of violating TEC regulations. The memo was not optimistic, though, that the current political and legal climate in TEC would allow a presentment of the P.B. to go forward.

Read the whole long article.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Latest News, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts

Bell ringer in church tower accident

A bell ringer broke his collarbone after becoming entangled in a rope at the top of a church tower.

Tony Merry was hoisted 3ft off the belfry floor when the rope caught his trousers. Stuck fast in the cramped upper reaches of St Mary’s Church in Charlbury, Oxfordshire, he had to be rescued by firefighters and paramedics. They used a pulley to lower him through a trap door 15ft above ground and down on to a stretcher below.

Recovering at home yesterday, Mr Berry, 58, said: “Nothing like this has ever happened before ”“ it gave me a real shock. I think a bunch of keys got caught in the rope and I was pulled about 3ft off the floor. The shock made me black out and I lost consciousness and fell to the ground and bashed my shoulder. The paramedics gave me morphine to help with the pain and then I was conscious throughout the rescue.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

ACI–“Come, Let Us Reason Together” — The Future of a Useful Covenant

After Dar es Salaam, a representative of the progressive position on sexuality encouraged the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church to ”˜fast’ for a season from involvement in Communion affairs. That was sage counsel. The alternatives are simply keeping people close to the presenting issue without giving them any genuine way forward.

Our plea is then for the adherents of a new teaching in sexuality, and a principled view of Anglicanism as a worldwide federal reality, to take courage and move forward, and detach from an understanding of both of these issues, theological and ecclesiological, with which they disagree. There is no reason for this action to be the cause of any negative judgment whatsoever, and every reason for it to be applauded as principled, courageous, and a sign of consistent belief and consistent commitment. It is unclear why this view of the way forward is not enthusiastically embraced, as a principled commitment to a specific understanding of the Gospel and its demands.

It has become clear that mutual subjection in Christ, within a worldwide catholic Communion, is not a priority for certain American Episcopalians; it may also not be so for some Anglicans with opposing views, though their opposition emerged in the context of provocation. We see no reason whatever to contest this view or argue for its deficiency. Its logic is clear and time has allowed that to emerge with clarity. Can we not then allow for a different view to go its own way, and so find a resolution that belongs to the logic of ”˜ecumenical relationships’? The Anglican Communion is not some kind of ultimate good, necessary for salvation, and indeed it is seen to be a hindrance for many within The Episcopal Church.

Let that reality sound forth, and let those within this same church exhibit the kind of keen commitments to Communion, commitments they believe are consistent with what it genuinely means to be an Anglican in the United States, express them and move forward on that understanding.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Identity, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

One Iraqi Veteran's Remarkable Story

Heartwarming to the point of tears for me–watch it and see what you think.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Iraq War, Military / Armed Forces

Californians leading the way to consumer bust

As it did when the housing bubble began to burst, California is leading the way in the next leg: a consumer bust.

Squeezed by rising unemployment, inflation in food and energy costs and plunging home values, Californians are cutting back on spending. Besides causing woes for state and local government, the cutback is giving California’s economy another knock and makes further job losses, home repossessions and banking problems more likely.

The figures are pretty bad. The median home price has fallen by 29 percent in the year to March, according to the California Association of Realtors, and repossessions are increasing.

Unemployment hit 6.2 percent in March, up 1.2 percentage points from the same month last year.

But most important, in the 10 months to the end of April, sales tax receipts in California are actually down in absolute terms. Gasoline tax receipts are essentially flat. When you factor in that there would have been considerable inflation during the period, and that some essentials like gasoline would have risen sharply in cost, the picture is clear: Californians are tightening their belts.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Zimbabwe's rulers unleash police on Anglicans

The parishioners were lined up for Holy Communion on Sunday when the riot police stormed the stately St. Francis Anglican Church in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. Helmeted, black-booted officers banged on the pews with their batons as terrified members of the congregation stampeded for the doors, witnesses said.

A policeman swung his stick in vicious arcs, striking matrons, a girl and a grandmother who had bent over to pick up a Bible dropped in the melee. A lone housewife began singing from a hymn in Shona, “We will keep worshiping no matter the trials!” Hundreds of women, many dressed in the Anglican Mothers’ Union uniform of black skirt, white shirt and blue headdress, lifted their voices to join hers.

Beneath their defiance, though, lay raw fear as the country’s ruling party stepped up its campaign of intimidation ahead of a presidential runoff. In a conflict that has penetrated ever deeper into Zimbabwe’s social fabric, the party has focused on a growing roster of groups that elude its direct control ”” a list that includes the Anglican diocese of Harare, as well as charitable and civic organizations, trade unions, teachers, independent election monitors and the political opposition.

Anglican leaders and parishioners said in interviews that the church was not concerned with politics and that it counted people from both the ruling party and the opposition in its congregations.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Africa, Zimbabwe

Woman is indicted in Missouri MySpace suicide case

A federal grand jury on Thursday indicted a Missouri woman for her alleged role in perpetrating a MySpace online hoax on a 13-year-old neighbor girl who committed suicide.
Lori Drew of suburban St. Louis was charged with one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to obtain information to inflict emotional distress on the girl.

Drew allegedly helped create a false-identity MySpace account to contact Megan Meier, who thought she was chatting with a 16-year-old boy named “Josh Evans.”

Megan hanged herself at home in October 2006 after receiving cruel messages, including one stating the world would be better off without her.

Drew has denied creating the account and sending messages to Megan.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Law & Legal Issues

Archbishop Henry Orombi Responds to the Presiding Bishop

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
The Episcopal Church USA
815 Second Avenue
New York, NY

Dear Bishop Katharine,

I received word of your letter through a colleague who had seen it on the internet. Without the internet, I may never have known that you had written such a personal, yet sadly ironic, letter to me.

Unfortunately, you appear to have been misinformed about key matters, which I hope to clear up in this letter.

1. I am not visiting a church in the Diocese of Georgia. I am visiting a congregation that is part of the Church of Uganda. Were I to visit a congregation within TEC, I would certainly observe the courtesy of contacting the local bishop. Since, however, I am visiting a congregation that is part of the Church of Uganda, I feel very free to visit them and encourage them through the Word of God.

2. The reason this congregation separated from TEC and is now part of the Church of Uganda is that the actions of TEC’s General Convention and statements of duly elected TEC leaders and representatives indicate that TEC has abandoned the historic Christian faith. Furthermore, as predicted by the Primates of the Anglican Communion in October 2003, TEC’s actions have, in fact, torn the fabric of the Communion at its deepest level.

3. May I remind you that the initial reason the Lambeth Commission on Communion was appointed was because of unbiblical decisions taken by TEC in defiance of repeated warnings by all of the Anglican Instruments of Communion. The Windsor Report was produced and accepted in amended form by the Primates at our meeting in Dromantine, Northern Ireland, in February 2005. It is, therefore, quite ironic for you to be quoting the Windsor Report to me. Nowhere in the Windsor Report or in subsequent statements of the Instruments of Communion is there a moral equivalence between the unbiblical actions and decisions of TEC that have torn the fabric of our Communion at its deepest level and the pastoral response on our part to provide ecclesiastical oversight to American congregations who wish to continue to uphold the faith once delivered to the saints and remain a part of the Anglican Communion. Your selective quoting of the Windsor Report is stunning in its arrogance and condescension.

4. You and your House of Bishops rejected outright the Pastoral Scheme painstakingly devised in Dar es Salaam, and to which you agreed. You have, therefore, left us no choice but to continue to respond to the cries of God’s faithful people in America for episcopal oversight that upholds and promotes historic, biblical Anglicanism.

5. An important element of the Dar es Salaam agreement was the plea by the Primates that “the representatives of The Episcopal Church and of those congregations in property disputes with it to suspend all actions in law arising in this situation.” This was something to which you gave verbal assent and yet you have initiated more legal actions against congregations and clergy in your short tenure as Presiding Bishop than all of your predecessors combined. I urge you to rethink, suspend litigation and follow a more Christ-like approach to settling your differences.

Finally, I appeal to you to heed the advice of Gamaliel in Acts 5.38ff, “Leave these [churches] alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop [them]; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

Yours, in Christ,

The Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi
ARCHBISHOP OF CHURCH OF UGANDA.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops

A BBC Radio Four Sunday Programme Audio Segment on the Start of Life Question

One of the most important and disputed pieces of recent legislation is being debated in the House of Commons. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill is hugely complex, reflecting the newest developments in embryology but some of the oldest questions, such as “when does human life begin?” and “does every child need a father?”. The different faith organisations in this country all have concerns about this bill, but also disagree among themselves. Dr Lee Rayfield, Anglican Bishop of Swindon and immunologist, and Dr Usama Hasan, an Imam who is also a scientist, talked to Sunday.

Listen to it all (a little over seven and one half minutes).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture