Daily Archives: May 17, 2008

Canterbury Calling: Archbishop on the Phone for Lambeth

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams’ Pentecost letter to the bishops of the Anglican Communion was not the anticipated communication in which he reportedly would ask bishops to predicate their attendace at the Lambeth Conference this summer upon their willingness to accept the recommendations in the Windsor Report.

A spokesman said Archbishop Williams had modified his plan to write to bishops whose stated positions ran contrary to the colleagial gathering of equals he envisions for Lambeth. Instead, Archbishop Williams has been in telephone contact with a number of bishops, asking that they honor the integrity of the meeting, the spokesman told The Church of England Newspaper.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth 2008

Gay rights campaigners to protest at Rochester Cathedral

Campaigners are staging a demonstration outside Rochester Cathedral today against the Bishop of Rochester’s stance on gay rights.

The protest has been planned to coincide with International Day Against Homophobia (Idaho) and will see members of the county’s gay community gather at the cathedral from noon.

Ray Duff, one of the organisers, said: “Dr Michael Nazir-Ali has regularly opposed gay rights measures; for example, adoption by gay and lesbian partnerships.

“He has himself received threats because of his conversion from Islam to Christianity. Lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) people fully condemn such threats unreservedly.

“Thus, we, the LGBT community in Kent and the UK, will urge the bishop to now extend his support and sympathy to the LGBT community, who have suffered for centuries because of Church homophobia.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Science, Symbolism Mix in Army Mortuary Training

Inside Mifflin Hall at Fort Lee, Va., 11 students gather in a room that could pass for a pre-med class. A model skeleton stands on wheels in one corner; a partially dissected plastic torso rests on a table in the rear. The instructor, Sgt. 1st Class Alisa Karr, begins the lesson with a review of the body’s bones.

But these soldiers are not studying anatomy to become medics. They are learning to care for the dead.

When these 11 students graduate from training at the U.S. Army’s Mortuary Affairs Center, they will earn the title 92M ”” military code for mortuary affairs specialist. Some of those who have volunteered to work with the dead will serve at collection points in Iraq and Afghanistan; others will work in the port mortuary at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. They will help recover, identify and prepare the remains of fallen soldiers.

The 92Ms have cared for the majority of the more than 4,500 military casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. They operate under a code of conduct that’s part scientific and part symbolic….

I happened to catch this story this week during a run via NPR’s story of the day podcast–very worthwhile I thought; see what you make of it.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Death / Burial / Funerals, Iraq War, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry

ABC Nightline: A Family Farm in the Midst of Suburbia

Is it neat, or is it slightly odd that in this Los Angeles community — it’s called Pasadena — a suburban mix of nice restaurants and well-tended front lawns, there is a home wedged in with the other houses where the entire front yard is edible?

It’s true. At 631 Cypress Avenue, there is not one thing that cannot be eaten. Nothing. Kale, chives, pepper, pinapple, guava, Swiss chard, even edible flowers along the side of the house, and into the back yard.

It is Jules Dervaes’ fifth of an acre. His little family farm, in the midst of American suburbia, his way of breaking free without really going anywhere.

“We eat rich, I’m telling you,” said Dervaes. “And the way we live, it just seems like something you would dream of.”

The “we” he speaks of are his kids, who grew up on the farm. Three out of four of them have stayed on into their 20’s and 30’s, and they don’t have other jobs either because what they don’t eat, they sell.

Read it all or watch the video (link here).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Marriage & Family

Pope restates gay marriage ban after California vote

Pope Benedict, speaking a day after a California court ruled in favour of same-sex marriage, firmly restated on Friday the Roman Catholic Church’s position that only unions between a man and a woman are moral.

Benedict made no mention of the California decision in his speech to family groups from throughout Europe, but stressed the Church’s position several times.

“The union of love, based on matrimony between a man and a woman, which makes up the family, represents a good for all society that can not be substituted by, confused with, or compared to other types of unions,” he said.

The pope also spoke of the inalienable rights of the traditional family, “founded on matrimony between a man and a woman, to be the natural cradle of human life”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology

Lunch with the FT: Desmond Tutu

In the few years since Mandela has retired from official engagements, the former Archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Peace Laureate and outspoken flayer of duplicitous politicians, has taken his place as South Africa’s moral conscience. Everyone wants to catch his eye or exchange a few words with him or prompt his famous giggle, and Tutu himself is the first to admit likes the attention.

The waitress takes our order and we both opt for grilled Cape salmon, the great cleric having changed his mind on the oxtail. At first Tutu seems pretty much unchanged since I last interviewed him a decade ago. Then, as head of the commission, he had the emotionally and physically taxing responsibility of wading through, in a series of public hearings between 1996 and 1998, the barbarities of apartheid.

He also had to make hugely sensitive decisions on granting amnesty for crimes, and on assessing the respective weight of human rights violations committed for or against such an inhumane system, a balancing act that infuriated both the African National Congress and white rightwingers. Then, towards the end of the assignment in 1997, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and yet the dynamic force of his personality helped to carry the country and himself through those difficult days, just as it had in the worst days of apartheid.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Provinces

In Illinois, Qurans given out for free

As Marcia Macy chatted with her dog walker in the driveway of her Wheaton home Thursday, a young Muslim man passed her and hooked a plastic bag containing a Quran on her doorknob.

Unlike most religious solicitors, the man didn’t try to speak with her or engage her in debate. He simply left her a 378-page paperback English translation of the holy book of Islam.

“I’d read it just to see what it says, but I believe in Jesus, not Allah,” said Macy, a longtime Christian. “They have a right to do it . . . but I feel pretty strong in my faith.”

If Macy reads the text, she will have fulfilled the goal of the Book of Signs Foundation. The Addison-based Muslim organization says that since July it has distributed more than 70,000 free English Qurans to homes in the Chicago area and another 30,000 around Houston.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Other Faiths

Josephine Tovey: Don't blame the agony aunts for sexualising your children

Note: please be cautioned that this may not be appropriate for certain blog readers.

Group readings of Dolly Doctor at high school are an Australian rite of passage. Most teenagers know exactly how to flip from the cover of the magazine straight to the sex and body advice column at the back. In schoolyards across the country, girls, and sometimes boys, can be found nervously giggling at the questions but eagerly awaiting the answers. “Is my period normal?”, “What’s a wet dream?” and “Can I get pregnant the first time?”

But now it is adults who are gasping at what they read. Dolly Doctor and its counterpart in Girlfriend magazine came under scrutiny last month at the Senate’s inquiry into the sexualisation of children in the contemporary media environment. The inquiry was set up to address parents’ growing concerns about their children’s exposure to sexual material via advertising, pop culture and the internet, and the rendering of them into sexual objects.

But in focusing on these magazine Q&A columns, the inquiry has taken a strange turn. Several senators, particularly the Tasmanian Liberal Stephen Parry, argued they were not appropriate reading material for younger teens. In particular, sexual questions were cause for alarm.

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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, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Blogging & the Internet, Children, Sexuality, Teens / Youth

The Rev. Dr. Justyn Terry Named Dean and President of TESM

The Trinity School for Ministry Board of Trustees announced today that the Rev. Dr. Justyn Terry has accepted an enthusiastic call by the board to become the new Dean and President, succeeding the Rt. Rev. Dr. John H. Rodgers, Trinity’s second Dean and President, who left retirement to serve as Interim Dean/President beginning in August 2007.

Chairman of the Board of Trustees the Rev. Canon David Roseberry said, “The Lord has blessed us indeed, as Justyn will assume the awesome responsibility of Trinity’s vital role as a bearer of an orthodox evangelical witness in North America.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Bee Wilson: Is the world’s food system collapsing?

Michael Pollan writes that the food business once lamented what it called the problem of the “fixed stomach”””it appeared that demand for food, unlike other products, was inelastic, the amount fixed by the dimensions of the stomach itself, the variety constrained by tradition and habit. In the past few decades, however, American and European stomachs have become as elastic as balloons, and, with the newly prosperous Chinese and Indians switching to Western diets, much of the rest of the world is following suit. “Today, Mexicans drink more Coca-Cola than milk,” Patel reports. Roberts tells us that in India “obesity is now growing faster than either the government or traditional culture can respond,” and the demand for gastric bypasses is soaring.

Driven by our bottomless stomachs, Roberts argues, the modern economy has reduced food to a “commodity” like any other, which must be generated in ever greater units at an ever lower cost, year by year, like sneakers or DVDs. But food isn’t like sneakers or DVDs. If we max out our credit cards buying Nikes, we can simply push them to the back of a closet. By contrast, our insatiable demand for food must be worn on our bodies, often in the form of diabetes as well as obesity. Overeating makes us miserable, and ill, but medical advances mean that it takes a long time to kill us, so we keep on eating. Roberts, whose impulse to connect everything up is both his strength and his weakness, concludes, grandly, that “food is fundamentally not an economic phenomenon.” On the contrary, food has always been an economic phenomenon, but in its current form it is one struggling to meet our uncurbed appetites. What we are witnessing is not the end of food but a market on the brink of failure. Those bearing the brunt are, as in Malthus’s day, the people at the bottom.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Dieting/Food/Nutrition

The Bishop of Rochester’s statement about the demonstration planned against him on May 17

I acknowledge and respect the equal dignity of all – regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation. There is no place for the harassment or persecution of anyone for whatever reason.

We are thankful that in this country there is freedom of meeting and expression for all.

The Bible and the Church teach that the proper expression of our sexuality is in the context of marriage. This has to do with God’s purposes in creating us, respect for persons and the importance of the family as a basic unit of society.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Law & Legal Issues, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Chasing Utopia, A Family Imagines No Possessions

Like many other young couples, Aimee and Jeff Harris spent the first years of their marriage eagerly accumulating stuff: cars, furniture, clothes, appliances and, after a son and a daughter came along, toys, toys, toys.

Now they are trying to get rid of it all, down to their fancy wedding bands, although finding takers has been harder than they thought. Chasing a utopian vision of a self-sustaining life on the land as partisans of a movement some call voluntary simplicity, they are donating virtually all their possessions to charity and hitting the road at the end of May.

“It’s amazing the amount of things a family can acquire,” said Mrs. Harris, 28, attributing their good life to “the ridiculous amount of money” her husband earned as a computer network engineer in this early Wi-Fi mecca.

The Harrises now hope to end up as organic homesteaders in Vermont.

“We’re not attached to any outcome,” said Mrs. Harris, a would-be doctor before dropping out of college, who grew up poverty-stricken in a family that traces its lineage back through the Delanos and President Franklin D. Roosevelt to a Mayflower settler, Isaac Allerton.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

Oil Tops $127 but Saudi Arabia Declines to Increase Production

As oil soared to a record-high $127 a barrel on Friday, Saudi Arabia’s leader rebuffed appeals by President Bush to increase oil production, saying they did not see enough demand to warrant increased output.

“The Saudi government has reiterated their policy that Saudi Arabia is willing to put on the oil market whatever oil is necessary to meet the demand of Saudi Arabia’s customers,” said Bush’s National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.

Bush made the plea as U.S. motorists suffer rapidly rising prices at the pump, soaring to a record average of $3.787 for a gallon of regular gas, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report. The average a year ago was $3.114. Bush made a similar unsuccessful appeal to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah in January.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil producer and a member of OPEC, the Organization of the Oil Exporting Countries, which controls more than 40 percent of the world’s crude oil supply. Saudi Arabia’s oil minister Ali al-Naimi said in South Korea on Thursday that the record oil prices are a result of turmoil in financial markets, not from a shortage in supply.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources

Different Californians React Differently to Supreme Court Ruling

The Supreme Court’s ruling is a “frightening departure” from long-held norms about marriage and family, said Richard J. Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena.

“I am saddened that people are comparing this favorably to the historic decision in California that reversed the ban on interracial marriages,” Mouw said by e-mail. “That courageous decision was a wonderful step forward in the cause of justice. This verdict is not that at all. It undermines what many of us firmly believe is the very foundation of a healthy social order….”

The Rev. Susan Russell of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena said she is thrilled that her church, which has been blessing same sex unions for 15 years, will soon be able to offer official wedding rites.

“It is a very exciting day,” said Russell, who had her union with her partner blessed at All Saints last year. But she acknowledged the continuing efforts to outlaw same-sex weddings.

“It is not the end of the story by any means,” she said, noting the court’s decision means homosexual persons are entitled to equal protection under law. “But it is a huge step nonetheless.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Sexuality