Daily Archives: June 12, 2008

Pennsylvania Episcopal Bishop Takes the Stand

Episcopal Bishop Charles Bennison, of Pennsylvania, took the witness stand yesterday in his ecclesiastical trial and asserted he did not initially know that his brother, a priest, had sex with a minor.

Bp. Bennison’s trial will determine whether he can remain as the presiding clergyman in the five-county region. It concerns whether he violated the canons of the church by failing to report alleged knowledge of his brother John’s adulterous affair with an underage female parishioner at St. Mark’s Church in Upland, Calif., in the early 1970s.

Charles was rector of St. Mark’s at the time, and he hired his younger brother, a seminary student, to train Sunday school teachers and head the parish youth group. In 1971, the 24-year-old seminarian began his sexual advances toward Martha Alexis, a 14-year-old high school student, and intercourse eventually became frequent. She succeeded in ending the relationship after strenuous effort in 1974, before leaving Upland for college in Los Angeles.

Read it all.

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

Back to School May Help Those with Alzheimer's

Dr. Peter Whitehouse gives his elderly patients with memory loss an unexpected prescription: Stay socially active. Some of his favorite advice is to perform volunteer work, and he has even created a school where they can do just that.

Whitehouse and his wife, Cathy, founded an inner-city charter school in Cleveland called The Intergenerational School eight years ago. It’s common to see the school’s young students working with older volunteers, including many who have Alzheimer’s disease.

Research has already shown that volunteering conveys benefits for older people who do not have dementia. One study of older individuals who did regular volunteer work in schools through a program called Experience Corps suggested that the volunteers increased their physical strength and were less likely to use a cane or fall down. The study also found that volunteering increased social activity, which may ward off depression and isolation. Volunteers also reported increases in cognitive activity, saying they read more books and watched less television.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Education, Health & Medicine

Carol Zaleski on Hope

I’ve seen the effects of such lifelong training in the face of our family member who suffers from Alzheimer’s. As she daily loses ground her soul appears, almost visibly, like a thing with feathers half-perched on her frail, diminutive body. “It will be a wedding,” she said, when we told her she would soon be coming to live near us. Smiling knowingly at our 12-year-old, she told him why he could expect to turn 13 at the end of May: “It’s only because people like you. That’s why good things like this happen.” Odd as these statements are, I’ve never heard a more convincing reason for the hope that lies within: the reason for hope is love. Habitual exercise of a loving disposition has left her with one clear thought to express, and that thought is love.

A wise nun recently told me of a prioress who urged her novices to start practicing in their 20s to be nice old ladies. It’s the only way to be sure of being a nice old lady when the time comes.

Pace Tolkien, Christian hope is not always eucatastrophic. A milder, more quotidian kind of hopefulness is schooled by every small chance we take to find in others and be for others an “other Christ.”

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Posted in Eschatology, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Sydney Morning Herald: The Archbishop says No

Pilgrims to the mount of olives late this month may be startled to see a couple of hundred Anglican divines kitted out in purple toiling up the slope. Most of the faces will be black. Back home these men are princes of the church; their followers run into tens of millions. But somewhere among the bishops, dressed incongruously in civvies, will be the humble, smiling face of Peter Jensen, the Archbishop of Sydney.

What’s afoot in Jerusalem is the destruction of the Anglican Communion, the worldwide church loosely aligned to the Archbishop of Canterbury. It spread with the empire and has so far survived, despite all its contradictions, for about 450 years, guided by the tart good sense of its founding monarch, Elizabeth I: “There is only one Jesus Christ and all the rest is a dispute over trifles.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Global South Churches & Primates, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Gas could peak at $4.15 and ease only in the long run

Don’t expect relief from stratospheric gasoline prices any time soon, the Energy Department said Wednesday.

Gas prices will likely hover around $4 a gallon through next year, as oil prices continue above $100 a barrel before moderating in 2010, Guy Caruso, administrator of the Energy Information Administration (EIA), told a House hearing.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources

Christian leaders meet privately with Obama

Barack Obama discussed Darfur, the Iraq war, gay rights, abortion and other issues Tuesday with Christian leaders, including a conservative who has been criticized for praising the Democratic presidential candidate.

Bishop T.D. Jakes, a prominent black clergyman who heads a Dallas megachurch, said Obama took questions, listened to participants and discussed his “personal journey of faith.”

The discussion “went absolutely everywhere,” Jakes told The Associated Press, and “just about every Christian stripe was represented in that room.”

Jakes, who does not endorse candidates and said he also hopes to meet with Republican presidential candidate John McCain, said some participants clearly have political differences with Obama. His support for abortion rights and gay rights, among other issues, draws opposition from religious conservatives. Some conservatives have criticized Jakes for praising Obama.

Read the whole article.

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

New York Times Letters in response to David Brooks' "The Great Seduction"

(In case you missed it, the blog discussion of the original article is here–KSH).

Here is one:

To the Editor:

It isn’t often that I agree with David Brooks, but “The Great Seduction” (column, June 10) was at least the beginning of a conversation in which America desperately needs to engage.

His litany of responsibility for our culture’s chronic indebtedness, however, barely hints at the extent to which the commodification of everything inhabits our lives in this free-market paradise.

Our entire economy is founded on mindless and infinite consumption ”” the more mindless the better. It’s the American credo: I consume, therefore I am. Why else do TV and radio (and, increasingly, the Internet) exist except to sell us more of anything and everything?

What does Mr. Brooks think will happen to this economy if Americans suddenly decide to embrace Ben Franklin’s virtues of hard work, temperance and particularly frugality, and stop roaming the malls? One thing for sure, with the way the free-market purists have turned everything from political representation to health care to spiritual redemption into mere vendibles, they won’t be pleased with him for pushing this particular line of inquiry.

Mr. Brooks could be expelled from Club Neocapitalism if he doesn’t watch out, and it will cost him a pretty penny to buy his way back in.

Stephen Lehman

Read them all.

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

Hate speech or free speech? What much of what many in the West ban is protected in U.S.

A couple of years ago, a Canadian magazine published an article arguing that the rise of Islam threatened Western values. The article’s tone was mocking and biting, but it said nothing that conservative magazines and blogs in the United States did not say every day without fear of legal reprisal.

Things are different here. The magazine is on trial.

Under Canadian law, there is a serious argument that the article contained hate speech and that its publisher, Maclean’s magazine, the nation’s leading newsweekly, should be forbidden from saying similar things, forced to publish a rebuttal and made to compensate Muslims for injuring their “dignity, feelings and self respect.”

In the United States, that debate has been settled. Under the First Amendment, newspapers and magazines can say what they like about minority groups and religions – even false, provocative or hateful things – without legal consequence.

The Maclean’s article, “The Future Belongs to Islam,” was an excerpt from a book by Mark Steyn called “America Alone.” The title was fitting: The United States, in its treatment of hate speech, as in so many areas of the law, takes a distinctive legal path.

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal, which held five days of hearings on those questions in Vancouver last week, will soon rule on whether Maclean’s violated a provincial hate speech law by stirring up animosity toward Muslims.

As spectators lined up for the afternoon session last week, an argument broke out.

“It’s hate speech!” yelled one man.

“It’s free speech!” yelled another.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Canada, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Barry Gewen Reviews Sherwin B. Nuland's new Book on a Life in Medicine

The celebrated writer-physician Sherwin B. Nuland ”” a clinical professor of surgery at Yale, the author of nine previous books, the winner of the National Book Award ”” is a believer in miracles. Not the parting-of-the-Red-Sea kind of miracles that suspend physical laws, but phenomena and events that can’t be explained by current scientific knowledge, and perhaps never will be.

In “The Uncertain Art: Thoughts on a Life in Medicine,” a delightful, companionable collection of occasional articles almost all of which appeared in The American Scholar magazine, Dr. Nuland feels free to follow his interests where they lead him ”” into medical history, etymology, even art criticism. He writes about the joy of exercising, the grief of 9/11, the satisfaction of authorship, the pain of losing a cherished friend. But the most engaging and thought-provoking articles deal with subjects that are mysterious, unsettling.

These pieces can be enjoyed for the simple sci-fi pleasure of encountering the inexplicable. Dr. Nuland, however, has a larger purpose in mind: to undermine smug certainties about modern science. By emphasizing the extraordinary he seeks to challenge his profession’s often unreflective reliance on technology and restore the doctor-patient relationship, the touchy-feely human connection, to the center of medical practice.

Doctors, he insists, have to be more than technicians. They should be, first of all, humanists, intuitionists, appreciative of each patient’s individuality and particular situation, practitioners of a quirky, unpredictable, uncertain art. True healers understand this. “To become comfortable with uncertainty,” Dr. Nuland writes, “is one of the primary goals in the training of a physician.”

Do ponder that last quote. This looks like a possible candidate for the summer reading list–if anyone has read it I would love to hear from you. In the meantime, read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Health & Medicine

An Interesting Look Back to 1924: Episcopal Primus

The “senior” Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church now automatically succeeds to the office of Presiding Bishop upon the death of the former tenant of the office. But in 1925 the office will become elective””so that its duties shall not always fall to an old man.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC)

An LA Times Editorial: Silly season for oil policy

This year’s rapid run-up in crude oil prices might have prompted silly legislation at any time — but the fact that it has happened in an election year has fostered a sort of wrongheadedness renaissance. Lawmakers from both parties are scrambling to dust off failed strategies from years past and tout them as new and improved ways of halting oil’s meteoric rise. None of them will work, of course, nor are they intended to; they serve only to mislead the public into thinking that Washington is looking out for consumers.

Exhibit A in the case against congressional Democrats as wise stewards of the energy economy is which failed to advance Tuesday after it got too few votes to head off a filibuster. It would have imposed a windfall-profits tax on oil companies and allowed the U.S. attorney general to sue OPEC on antitrust grounds, among other things.

Trying to find an economist who thinks a windfall-profits tax is a good idea is like searching for a climatologist who thinks global warming is caused by trees.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources

Canada offers an apology for native students' abuse

The government of Canada formally apologized on Wednesday to Native Canadians for forcing about 150,000 native children into government-financed residential schools where many suffered physical and sexual abuse.

The system of schools, which began shutting down in the 1970s, after decades of operations, was dedicated to eradicating the languages, traditions and cultural practices of Native Canadians and has been linked to the widespread incidence of alcoholism, suicide and family violence in many native communities.

“The treatment of children in Indian residential schools is a sad chapter in our history,” Stephen Harper, the prime minister of Canada, said in a speech in the House of Commons, where a small group of former students and native leaders sat in front of him. “Today, we recognize that this policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm and has no place in our country.”

An apology from the prime minister had been sought by native groups for years and was part of a broad, court-sanctioned settlement with the government and the church organizations that operated the schools. The federal government also agreed to pay 1.9 billion Canadian dollars (about $1.85 billion) to surviving students and to establish a truth and reconciliation commission to document the experiences of children who attended the schools.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Children, Education

Per Christum: Conservative Anglicans in Southern Ohio”¦Almost 5 Years Later

In July 2003, I was preparing to enter seminary to study for the Episcopal priesthood. That same summer, the Episcopal diocese of New Hampshire elected a man in an openly gay relationship, Gene Robinson, as bishop. I knew the sparks were going to fly at General Convention a few months later, since the convention had to approve the election. As a “closet conservative,” I was bothered by this, quietly mind you, for fear of getting kicked out of the postulancy process. I was baffled by the lack of concern about Robinson’s consecration at my local seminary, and in the wider Episcopal church. I eventually came to the conclusion that the Episcopal church really was Protestant, and willing to “go it alone” for the sake of its own view of “social justice” (heck, the word “Protestant” was in the official name of the Episcopal church up until a few years ago”¦that should have been a clue). So I decided to attend local American Anglican Council gatherings, banding together with a few other traditional-minded Episcopalians in the Southern Ohio area. I made quite a few friends during this time. However, in 2004, after concluding that the “Network” of conservative Anglicans was more talk than action, more process than result, I finally became open to the Catholic Church, and became Catholic in August of 2004. Almost five years later, it is interesting to see where everybody in our original group of orthodox Southern Ohio Episcopalians has ended up…

Read it all–another from the long list of should-have-already-been-posted material–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Communion Network, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Roman Catholic, TEC Conflicts

Bishop Carol Gallagher to assist North Dakota Diocese

I am pleased to announce that Bishop Carol Gallagher has accepted my invitation to assist in providing episcopal pastoral care in the Diocese of North Dakota. She has agreed to reach out especially to congregations and clergy who feel alienated and hurt by me due to different understandings of human sexuality. I am most grateful for Bishop Gallagher’s assistance. She can be contacted at revcjg@aol.com or 201.438.1209. View her blog at www.mamabishop.blogspot.com.

We find ourselves in the midst of a discernment process, seeking the mind of Christ, about whether the Holy Spirit is leading us to new understandings of human sexuality or not. As this discernment continues through the canonical processes of The Episcopal Church and the conciliar processes of the Anglican Communion, I urge patience, kindness and respect in our dealings with one another. I also pray our energies will be focused on engaging the mission of the church as we are sent into the world to serve the poor and to share our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.


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

Arctic synod says recent same-sex blessing votes hurt church unity

The synod of the diocese of the Arctic, meeting in Iqaluit, Nunavut from May 27 to June 3, passed a motion criticizing decisions by four dioceses of the Anglican Church of Canada that support blessing same-sex unions.

“Synod expressed great disappointment as some diocesan synods have decided to move forward with approving the blessing of same-sex civil marriages, after General Synod 2007 (made) it clear that this would not be allowed until the Lambeth Conference had time to discuss the issues this summer,” said a press release issued by the diocese of the Arctic synod. “This then indicates that Canadians are not serious about unity elements that hold the church together.”

It also passed a motion expressing “strong support ”¦ for those in the Southern cone dioceses, recognizing them as members of the Anglican Communion.”

Read it all.

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