Daily Archives: May 29, 2008

A BBC Audio Segment on Self-Deception

Why our brains convince us our decisions were right, even when the facts may suggest we were wrong.

Listen to it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Philly's Black Muslims Increasingly Turn to Polygamy

Polygamy in the U.S. is not limited to remote enclaves in the West or breakaway sects once affiliated with the Mormon Church. Several scholars say it’s growing among black Muslims in the inner city ”” and particularly in Philadelphia, which is known for its large orthodox black Muslim community.

No one knows exactly how many people live in polygamous families in the U.S. Estimates from academics researching the issue range from 50,000 to 100,000 people.

Take Zaki and Mecca, who have been married for nearly 12 years. In their late 20s, they live in the Philadelphia suburbs, have a 5-year-old son and own a real estate business.

Zaki also has something else: a second wife.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Marriage & Family, Other Faiths

Thomas Friedman: Truth or Consequences

Imagine for a minute, just a minute, that someone running for president was able to actually tell the truth, the real truth, to the American people about what would be the best ”” I mean really the best ”” energy policy for the long-term economic health and security of our country. I realize this is a fantasy, but play along with me for a minute. What would this mythical, totally imaginary, truth-telling candidate say?

For starters, he or she would explain that there is no short-term fix for gasoline prices. Prices are what they are as a result of rising global oil demand from India, China and a rapidly growing Middle East on top of our own increasing consumption, a shortage of “sweet” crude that is used for the diesel fuel that Europe is highly dependent upon and our own neglect of effective energy policy for 30 years.

Cynical ideas, like the McCain-Clinton summertime gas-tax holiday, would only make the problem worse, and reckless initiatives like the Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep offer to subsidize gasoline for three years for people who buy its gas guzzlers are the moral equivalent of tobacco companies offering discounted cigarettes to teenagers.

I can’t say it better than my friend Tim Shriver, the chairman of Special Olympics, did in a Memorial Day essay in The Washington Post: “So Dodge wants to sell you a car you don’t really want to buy, that is not fuel-efficient, will further damage our environment, and will further subsidize oil states, some of which are on the other side of the wars we’re currently fighting. … The planet be damned, the troops be forgotten, the economy be ignored: buy a Dodge.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources, US Presidential Election 2008

A Vicar's hope over Iraq hostages

On the first anniversary of the abduction of five Britons in Iraq, a vicar helping the negotiations revealed he is “the most hopeful” he has been of finding them alive.

Canon Andrew White, dubbed the Vicar of Baghdad, spoke to the Western Mail yesterday to mark the passing of a year since the kidnapping on May 29, 2007.

The families of all five men ”“ two of whom are from Wales, two from Scotland and a Lincoln computer expert ”“ are expected to speak out publicly today for the first time since the men were abducted outside the Finance Ministry in Baghdad’s notorious Sadr City suburb.

They have recorded a video message to be broadcast this afternoon to mark the anniversary.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Iraq War

Anglican Curmudgeon: The Bishop Stacy Sauls Memorandum Refuted (I)

Read it carefully and read it all.

By request, here is an apparently working link to the full text of the Sauls’ memorandum. PDF File here

You can also read the document and Brad Drell’s commentary over at Brad’s blog should you have trouble opening PDF files. Here’s Brad’s blog links:
Sauls memorandum
Brad’s commentary

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

Anglican Journal: Huron says yes to same-sex blessings

The diocese of Huron’s annual synod, or governing convention, voted on May 26 to ask the bishop to give clergy permission to bless same-sex marriages, “where at least one party is baptized” and to authorize an appropriate rite.

The margin in favour was 72 per cent in both clergy and lay houses (97 clergy in favour, 36 against; 227 lay people in favour, 87 against).

The diocesan bishop, Bruce Howe, said he “gave concurrence” to the motion based on the large percentage in favour, but he added that he intended to consult with other bishops before acting on the vote.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Church In Bristol Settles Dispute With Episcopal Diocese

In the end, former members of Trinity Church in Bristol decided it wasn’t worth the fight.

The parishioners have settled their legal dispute with the Episcopal Diocese by agreeing to relinquish their historic church home. In return, both the diocese and the national Episcopal Church will withdraw their lawsuit against Trinity’s priest and its leaders.

The diocese took legal action last year after the congregation defected from the Episcopal Church in a theological dispute and aligned itself with a more conservative Anglican group, but refused to leave the property.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut

New York to back same-sex unions from elsewhere

Governor David Paterson has directed all state agencies to begin to revise their policies and regulations to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, like Massachusetts, California and Canada.

In a directive issued on May 14, the governor’s legal counsel, David Nocenti, instructed the agencies that gay couples married elsewhere “should be afforded the same recognition as any other legally performed union.”

The revisions are most likely to involve as many as 1,300 statutes and regulations in New York governing everything from joint filing of income tax returns to transferring fishing licenses between spouses.

In a videotaped message given to gay community leaders at a dinner on May 17, Paterson described the move as “a strong step toward marriage equality.” And people on both sides of the issue said it moved the state closer to fully legalizing same-sex unions in this state.

Read it all.

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

Impact Group Wows at Oscars, Uplifts at Home

Earlier this year, at the Academy Awards, a group of singers took the stage at the Hollywood Kodak Theater and gave a performance that blew the audience away.

The song was called “Raise It Up” and Impact Repertory Theatre, a group of young singers, writers and dancers based in the New York City neighborhood of Harlem, delivered a powerhouse performance, fusing a soulful sound with unabashed energy.

The song, much like the group’s performance, had not gone unnoticed and was nominated for best song after the group appeared in the 2007 movie “August Rush.”

Watch it all from ABC Nightline (the link is on the page you will be taken to by clicking–in the video box to the left) [a little over 8 minutes long].

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music, Teens / Youth

A Harlem Church marks 200 years of service

Watch it all–very encouraging.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Other Churches, Parish Ministry

Washington Times: In Virginia Episcopalians want law voided, property back

A Civil War-era law being used to allow a group of conservative Episcopalians to desert the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia with millions of dollars worth of property is on trial today at the Fairfax County courthouse.

Attorneys for the diocese and the national Episcopal Church, along with representatives of other mainline denominations, will argue that Virginia’s 1867 “division statute” is unconstitutional.

The statute was enacted to allow congregations that dissented with their denominations over slavery and secession to leave with their property. It is being contested by the diocese and the national Episcopal Church. Protestant denominations such as Methodist, Lutheran, African Methodist Episcopal, Worldwide Church of God, Presbyterian and Church of the Brethren have filed friend-of-the-court briefs.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

In The Huron Diocese the recent vote surprises some; Local bishop still considering same-sex issue

It has divided parishioners and brought congregations to court. But a landslide vote in favour of allowing Anglican churches in the Huron Diocese, including churches in Brant and Norfolk counties, to bless same-sex unions has taken many by surprise.

Everett Lampman, 69, former warden and parishioner of St. John’s Anglican Church in Simcoe, said times are changing and sometimes religion has to change.

“Let the Lord have the ultimate decision,” he said. “At first I didn’t think it was right, but I did some reading about it and know some (gay) people and they are no different than you or me.”

Lampman said he was surprised to hear 70 per cent of the elected Anglican delegates and lay people voted in favour of blessing same-sex unions at the annual synod this week.

The decision still requires the approval of Bishop Bruce Howe, head of the Diocese of Huron.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Sydney Pollack, Filmmaker New and Old

Sydney Pollack’s career as a director blossomed in the 1960s and ’70s, but in many ways he was a throwback to an earlier era in American movies.

The story of the New Hollywood, dominated by a wild bunch of ambitious, iconoclastic would-be auteurs, is by now overgrown with nostalgia and legend-mongering, but Mr. Pollack’s place in that legend suggests continuity rather than upheaval. The vitality of motion pictures has always been sustained by craftsmen with a modicum of business sense and the ability to tell a good story. Mr. Pollack, who died on Monday at 73, was never (and never claimed to be) a great innovator or a notable visual stylist. If he could be compared to a major figure from the Old Hollywood, it would not be to one of the great individualists like Howard Hawks or John Ford, who stamped their creative personalities onto every project, whatever the genre or the level of achievement. Mr. Pollack was more like William Wyler: highly competent, drawn to projects with a certain quality and prestige and able above all to harness the charisma of movie stars to great emotional and dramatic effect.

Just about any film by Robert Altman or Martin Scorsese, for instance, will be immediately and primarily identifiable as such, no matter who’s in it. But if you think of “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?,” you’ll remember Jane Fonda, so desperate and defiant and sad as she pushes herself through a Depression-era dance marathon. “Tootsie” is Dustin Hoffman’s movie. “This Property Is Condemned” will conjure up Natalie Wood and Robert Redford, oddly cast but nonetheless generating Southern Gothic heat in an overripe Tennessee Williams scenario. And it is Mr. Redford who defines Mr. Pollack’s oeuvre nearly as much as the director himself. Over nearly 25 years, from “This Property Is Condemned” to “Havana,” they worked together on westerns (“Jeremiah Johnson,”); love stories both sweeping (“The Way We Were”) and intimate (“The Electric Horseman”); paranoid thrillers (“Three Days of the Condor”); and high-toned literary adaptations (“Out of Africa.”)

My favorite scene in all the movies is Mr. Pollack and Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie arguing over the latter’s skill and demeanor in playing a tomato. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Movies & Television

Christian Science Monitor: the 2008 Presidential Race has got Religion–is that Good?

There was Mitt Romney’s speech to try to dispel concerns about his Mormon faith. There was Barack Obama’s denunciation of certain beliefs of his longtime pastor. Last week it was John McCain’s turn to cut himself off from two controversial preachers whose endorsements he had once sought. And throughout the presidential primary season, there have been candidate forums on religious beliefs, plus eager courting of evangelical Christians, Catholics, and other faith groups.

Are religion and faith playing an appropriate role ”“ or an inappropriate one ”“ in the 2008 presidential campaign? So far, it’s some of both, say those who’ve been monitoring the campaign.

There’s no arguing that religious speech is more prominent than ever this election season. That’s in part because Democratic candidates, traditionally reluctant to discuss religious views out of privacy concerns, have warmed to the topic in recognition that many voters want an understanding of how a president’s religious convictions might influence him or her in office.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

Pittsburgh Standing Committee Statement on Threatened Deposition

From here:

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is saddened to learn the Presiding Bishop and her chancellor will continue to press for the deposition of our Diocesan Bishop, Robert W. Duncan, Jr. for the Abandonment of Communion at the September 2008 House of Bishops Meeting. Although we recognize the authority of the Episcopal Church to discipline and remove its ministers for violations of its canons, we believe Canon IV.9, Sec.1 has been misapplied and Canon IV.9, Sec.2 has been misinterpreted in this instance.

Should our Diocesan Bishop be validly deposed pursuant to the requirements set forth in the canons, the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is prepared to exercise its role as the Ecclesiastical Authority of this diocese.

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