Daily Archives: May 25, 2008

Economic toll of health care crisis threatens all, CHA president says

Adding up the economic toll on the nation caused by the health care crisis, the head of the Catholic Health Association urged the United States to “act in its own best interest and in the interest of its people” to solve the problem.

Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity who is CHA president and CEO, spoke on “Health Care Reform That Is Worthy of the American People” May 16 at the City Club of Cleveland.

The club’s prestigious Friday Forum has hosted speakers that include U.S. presidents from Theodore Roosevelt to Bill Clinton, as well as public figures such as Gen. Douglas MacArthur, W.E.B. DuBois, Cesar Chavez, William Jennings Bryant, Rosa Parks, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and many more. The forum airs on a radio network in more than 40 states from Maine to Alaska.

Sister Carol presented what she called “a very ugly picture of what many people in our country are having to cope with.”

With the U.S. spending 16 percent of its gross domestic product on health care and other developed countries spending a median of 8.5 percent, U.S. businesses face “a serious competitive disadvantage,” she said. U.S. firms also pay twice as much for health insurance as their foreign competitors, she added, citing a study by the New America Foundation Program.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Health & Medicine, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

LA Times Poll: Californians narrowly reject gay marriage

By bare majorities, Californians reject the state Supreme Court’s decision to allow same-sex marriages and back a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at the November ballot that would outlaw such unions, a Los Angeles Times/KTLA Poll has found.

But the survey also suggested that the state is moving closer to accepting nontraditional marriages, which could create openings for supporters of same-sex marriage as the campaign unfolds.

More than half of Californians said gay relationships were not morally wrong, that they would not degrade heterosexual marriages and that all that mattered was that a relationship be loving and committed, regardless of gender.

Overall, the proportion of Californians who back either gay marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples has remained fairly constant over the years. But the generational schism is pronounced. Those under 45 were less likely to favor a constitutional amendment than their elders and were more supportive of the court’s decision to overturn the state’s current ban on gay marriage. They also disagreed more strongly than their elders with the notion that gay relationships threatened traditional marriage.

The results of the survey set up an intriguing question for the fall campaign: Will the younger, more live-and-let-live voters mobilized by likely Democratic nominee Barack Obama doom the gay marriage ban? Or will conservatives drawn to the polls by the amendment boost the odds for the presumptive Republican nominee, John McCain?

Either way, the poll suggests the outcome of the proposed amendment is far from certain. Overall, it was leading 54% to 35% among registered voters. But because ballot measures on controversial topics often lose support during the course of a campaign, strategists typically want to start out well above the 50% support level.

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

Christopher Gaul: Memorial Day may have begun with a small, touching moment

But perhaps the most touching story of this special day’s origin comes from Boalsburg, a quaint little village in Centre County, Pa., just off Route 322 a few miles south of Penn State University, in the picturesque foothills of the Alleghenies. It’s only a dot on the map, and a casual driver might drive past it without even being aware that it is nestled there in the rolling valley beneath a coverlet of oaks and pines and cedars ”“ were it not for a plain little marker by the side of the road: “Boalsburg. An American Village ”“ Birthplace of Memorial Day.”

As Herbert G. Moore recorded for the National Republic Magazine in May 1948, the event happened in October 1864.

It was a pleasant Sunday and in the little community burial ground behind the village, the pioneers of colonial times slept peacefully side by side with the recently fallen heroes of the Civil War.

On this day a pretty teenage girl named Emma Hunter and her friend Sophie Keller decided to gather some garden flowers and to place them on the grave of Emma’s father, Dr. Reuben Hunter, a surgeon in the Union Army, who had died only a short while before. And on this same day, an older woman named Elizabeth Meyer elected to strew flowers on the grave of her son, Amos, a private in the Union ranks who had fallen on the last day of battle at Gettysburg, Pa.

And so the two girls and their friend met, kneeling figures at nearby graves…

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

Manya Brachear: Is the Lambeth conference nothing more than a tea party?

[Katharine Jefferts] Schori pointed to the first Lambeth Conference in 1867 convened as a response to “bishops teaching things that other bishops found uncomfortable.” She said there were also issues of bishops overstepping their jurisdiction similar to issues facing Episcopal bishops today.

“We still haven’t sorted that out,” she said. “This gathering, we’ll continue to wrestle with some of the challenges of living together in a complex and diverse and sometimes challenging family. That is God’s gift to us and we celebrate it.”

Steve Waring, who has covered the controversy for the conservative Living Church Magazine, said resolutions are the “bread and butter of the Anglican church gathering since the beginning.” He believes they have been omitted from the agenda because any resolutions at such a tense time could fracture the church.

“It’s quintessentially Anglican to put things off,” Waring said. “There’s always hope that the end of the world could come first.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Lambeth 2008

John Witte, Jr.: The Legal Challenges of Religious Polygamy

century and a half ago, Mormons made national headlines by claiming a First Amendment right to practice polygamy, despite criminal laws against it. In four cases from 1879 to 1890, the United States Supreme Court firmly rejected their claim, and threatened to dissolve the Mormon church if they persisted. Part of the Court’s argument was historical: the common law has always defined marriage as monogamous, and to change those rules “would be a return to barbarism.” Part of the argument was prudential: religious liberty can never become a license to violate general criminal laws “lest chaos ensue.” And part of the argument was sociological: monogamous marriage “is the cornerstone of civilization,” and it cannot be moved without upending our whole culture. These old cases are still the law of the land, and most Mormons renounced polygamy after 1890.

The question of religious polygamy is back in the headlines ”“ this time involving a fundamentalist Mormon group on a Texas ranch that has retained the church’s traditional polygamist practices. Many of the legal questions raised since this group was raided are easy. Under-aged and coerced marriages, statutory rape, and child abuse are all serious crimes. Those adults on the ranch who have committed these crimes, or intentionally aided and abetted them, are going to jail. They have no claim of religious freedom that will excuse them, and no claim of privacy that will protect them. Dealing with the children, ensuring proper procedures, and sorting out the evidence are all practically messy and emotionally trying questions, but not legally hard.

The harder legal question is whether criminalizing polygamy is still constitutional. Texas and every other state still have these laws on these books. Can these criminal laws withstand a challenge that they violate an individual’s constitutional rights to private liberty, equal protection, and religious liberty? In the nineteenth century, none of these rights claims was available. Now they protect every adult’s rights to consensual sex, marriage, procreation, contraception, cohabitation, sodomy, and more. May a state prohibit polygamists from these same rights, particularly if they are inspired by authentic religious convictions? What rationales for criminalizing polygamy are so compelling that they can overcome these strong constitutional objections?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Law & Legal Issues, Mormons, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Return of Latin Mass fills church

When Liz Lennon heard that the Latin Mass was coming back, she had to attend ”” even though she’s now a member of the parish vestry at St. Thomas Episcopal Church.

“I was surprised at how much Latin I remembered,” she said. “… To be here for Corpus Christi ”” that took me back to the days of white dresses and processions and lilies.”

It’s a far cry from services in many Protestant churches today, especially those with contemporary worship.

But among younger Protestants, the trend today is toward recovering the rituals and worship of the primitive church ”” “ancient-future worship” ”” and the Tridentine Mass may serve a similar function for Catholics.

“I think it’s the tradition ”” the heart of who we are, really,” Lennon said. “That’s what we older Catholics came from.

“I guess I’m a sucker for ritual.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Episcopal Church elects Texas bishop

[Andrew] Doyle won the bishop coadjutor seat when he defeated five others for the office, including suffragan bishop Dena Harrison, on the fourth ballot at Christ Church Cathedral in Houston.

Doyle, of Houston, said his victory election indicated that Episcopalians want the local church to reach out to minorities and young people.

“They also want us to grow our congregations,” he said.

Doyle described himself as a moderate in the church controversy over homosexuality.

The American church has been embroiled in a bitter controversy with some parishes and dioceses defecting to Asian, African and South American provinces after the national church approved the 2005 consecration of an openly homosexual bishop for New Hampshire.

“I really am a moderate and I find that I have a lot in common with people all over the spectrum,” he said.

“I think that was part of the reason I was selected .”

He said he would also not celebrate same-sex unions in the diocese.

But he also said he wants to continue “good and healthy” relationships with both the national Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion.

“The bishop of Texas has always been a leader in the national church and in the global church,” Doyle said.

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

Molding ”˜tigers’ into good citizens

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Sports

Energy fears looming, new survivalists prepare

A few years ago, Kathleen Breault was just another suburban grandma, driving countless hours every week, stopping for lunch at McDonald’s, buying clothes at the mall, watching TV in the evenings.

That was before Breault heard an author talk about the bleak future of the world’s oil supply. Now, she’s preparing for the world as we know it to disappear.

Breault cut her driving time in half. She switched to a diet of locally grown foods near her upstate New York home and lost 70 pounds. She sliced up her credit cards, banished her television and swore off plane travel. She began relying on a wood-burning stove.

“I was panic-stricken,” the 50-year-old recalled, her voice shaking. “Devastated. Depressed. Afraid. Vulnerable. Weak. Alone. Just terrible.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources

Business Week: Beyond Blogs

Turned out it wasn’t quite that simple. The magazine article, archived on our Web site, kept attracting readers and blog links. A few professors worked it into their curricula, sending class after class of students to the story. With all this activity, the piece gained high-octane Google juice. Type in “blogs business” on the search engine, and our story comes up first among the results, as of this writing. Hundreds of thousands of people are still searching “blogs business” because they’re eager to learn the latest news about an industry that’s changing at warp speed. Their attention maintains our outdated relic at the top of the list. It’s self-perpetuating: They want new, we give them old.

What to do? Update the old beast, naturally. Early this year, we put out questions on Blogspotting. What needed fixing? Responses streamed in. We called the old sources and contacted some new ones. We annotated the original article, bolstering the online version with dozens of notes and clarifications. That approach works for the Net, with its pop-up windows and limitless space. But for the more cramped confines of the paper magazine, we have to cut to the chase.

So here goes. Three years ago, we wrote a big story””but missed a bigger one. We focused on blogs as a new form of printing press, one that turned Gutenberg’s economics on its head, making everyone a potential publisher. This captured our attention, not least because this publishing revolution was already starting to rattle the skyscrapers in our media-heavy, Manhattan neighborhood. But despite the importance of blogs, only a minority of us participates. Chances are, you don’t. According to a recent study from Forrester Research (FORR), only a quarter of the U.S. adult online population even bothers to read a blog once a month.

But blogs, it turns out, are just one of the do-it-yourself tools to emerge on the Internet. Vast social networks such as Facebook and MySpace offer people new ways to meet and exchange information. Sites like LinkedIn help millions forge important work relationships and alliances. New applications pop up every week. While only a small slice of the population wants to blog, a far larger swath of humanity is eager to make friends and contacts, to exchange pictures and music, to share activities and ideas.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet

The Diocese of Springfield's Leaders Respond to the Presiding Bishops Failure to Follow the Canons

Whereas, by a vote taken on March 12, 2008, members of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church purported to take action deposing the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield and the Rt. Rev. William J. Cox from the ministry of this Church, on the charge that, by affiliating with another Province of the Anglican Communion, they had “abandoned” the communion of this Church; and

Whereas, the process of deposition of a Bishop is an extraordinary one that must be approached in a prayerful manner with full cognizance of and respect for the procedural safeguards created to prevent the abuse of such a process; and

Whereas, the Canons mandate, as one safeguard, that such an action may only be taken by an extraordinary vote, that being “a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote” (Canon IV.9 (b)); and

Whereas, even if all Bishops registered at the March 2008 meeting had voted in favor of the depositions, that number would not have constituted “a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote”, as that number is defined in the first sentence of Article I.1.2 of the Constitution of the General Convention; and

Whereas, the members of the House gathered failed even to take a record of those voting in the affirmative on the issue of these depositions; and

Whereas, no reasoned explanation has been offered for the clearly non-canonical process that was followed; and

Whereas, prior failure to follow appropriate canonical procedure, as has been asserted, is not sufficient justification for these non-canonical actions; therefore

Be it resolved that the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Springfield joins the Dioceses of South Carolina and Western Louisiana in rejecting the purported depositions of Bishops Schofield and Cox; and further

Be it resolved that the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Springfield calls upon the Presiding Bishop, her staff and the House of Bishops to acknowledge publicly that the depositions of Bishops Schofield and Cox were not validly procured, and, should it be their desire to continue to seek depositions in these questionable circumstances, to revisit this issue at a future meeting of House of Bishops, conducting any further proceedings in accordance with the clear language of Canon.

–Approved and adopted, May 22, 2008

–Officially endorsed by The Rt. Rev Peter H. Beckwith, May 23, 2008

–Officially endorsed by Diocesan Council, May 23, 2008

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

In Albany Rules could change for clergy, marriage

The Episcopal Diocese of Albany is weighing changes to local church law that will likely touch off fresh controversy around homosexuality and marriage issues when they come up for a vote next month.

One resolution mandates that only a person who is in a heterosexual marriage or “celibate and abstinent” can be eligible for ordination as a priest or consecration as a bishop. Another holds that only heterosexual marriages can be celebrated or blessed in the diocese — and marriage between a man and a woman is the only kind of union permitted on diocesan or parish property.

Clergy and lay delegates will vote on the proposals during the 19-county Albany Episcopal Diocese’s annual convention June 6-8 in Speculator. The debate comes at a time of renewed national attention to gay marriage in the wake of a California Supreme Court decision allowing it.

Homosexuality has been a flash point in the Episcopal Church since the 2003 consecration of V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire as its first openly gay bishop, a move condemned by the conservative leadership of the Albany Diocese.

Supporters of the proposals counter that they are consistent with traditional church teaching.

“The national church has gone off the rails,” said Torre Bissell, a lay person who runs a diocesan intercessory ministry and has asked on a blog that people pray for passage of both measures.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts

No 'final decision' about Same Sex Unions at Lambeth gathering, says presiding bishop

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori this week said she does not expect up-or-down votes on the role of gays and lesbians in the church at a meeting of global Anglican leaders in England this summer.

The Lambeth Conference, a once-a-decade gathering of bishops from the 38 provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion, will instead be an opportunity for bishops to work out differences in closed-door discussion groups, according to organizers.

”I don’t expect legislation at Lambeth. That’s not why we’re going,” Jefferts Schori said. ”It’s a global conversation. . . . It’s not going to make a final decision about anything.”

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

C. Andrew Doyle Elected Bishop of Texas

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

From KUER: Final Salute

More than 4,000 American soldiers have died in Iraq since the war began in March of 2003. Regardless of the politics, the number serves as a sobering reminder of the human sacrifice of war. In his new book Final Salute, journalist Jim Sheeler chronicles a year with Steve Beck – a Marine Major whose story is chronicled in the article and slide show on the previous blog thread.

Listen to the whole KUER story in which Jim Sheeler is interviewed (a little over 52 minute MP3 file).

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