Daily Archives: July 13, 2008
Here is one:
Sir, The General Synod debate on women bishops was not about whether the Church should have them: that was agreed some time ago by a majority in the synod (leading article, July 9).
This debate was actually about what continued provision should be made for those loyal Anglicans who, in conscience as a matter of theological conviction, feel that they cannot receive the ministry of women priests or bishops.
The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds suggested in an amendment that there might be a statutory transfer of specified responsibilities or a code of practice and asked for further work on both. It was narrowly lost because voting was by each of the houses separately, but in fact would have been passed had it been a vote of the whole synod.
It cannot be right that any part of the Church should be discriminated against and, at the moment, those with traditional, orthodox views are in that position. If no attempts are made to continue provision, the many parishes of this land which are served by faithful priests and the “flying” bishops are in danger of waking up one morning and finding that they are no longer welcome in the Church of England.
The same goes, of course, for Lambeth. As I write, the bishops we are hosting in this diocese are arriving and being welcomed. I do hope that all who can do so will give them a great sense of how special they are and how privileged we are to meet them. They come from vastly different places ”“ imagine the contrasts between the Yukon and Lesotho, between Texas and Tanzania, between Australia and Chile! ”“ but are all leaders and shepherds of God’s people in challenging times. Please pray for and with them and let them know that you will be continuing to pray in the next three weeks.
We none of us know ”˜how Lambeth will work out’. There are huge issues on the table, as we all know. The unity of God’s people is massively important in the New Testament, far more so than the western church has often realised. But it is never ”˜unity at any price’. The ideal of Anglican comprehensiveness has meant seriously different things at different times and places; I hope we won’t be bombarded with people suggesting that Richard Hooker and the Elizabethan church believed that ”˜anything goes’. Why would they have taken so much trouble over the Articles and the Prayer Book? It isn’t enough to say, with any new proposal on any topic, ”˜we Anglicans are called to live with difference’. The question is, as I have said a thousand times, how do we tell the difference between the differences we can live with and the differences we can’t live with? The quest for an authentically biblical and Anglican comprehensiveness that will take us forward into this new century in worship, mission and ministry is what the Windsor Report and the Covenant Proposals are all about, and those are the markers that Archbishop Rowan has said, several times, must pave the way ahead.
You must pray, you must reflect, you must listen. You must also act. Let me suggest four central actions you must come to a common mind about. In all these cases I use the term “must”, not because I am absolutely certain of these matters, but because I believe that God is indeed calling you to act, and this belief is buttressed by the discernment of countless others around the Communion.
1. You must state clearly that the actions of TEC as an official body, and of certain Canadian dioceses, are unacceptable to you as bishops of the Communion. And you must decide, resolutely, that those bishops from these churches who are in agreement to press forward in ways the Communion has now clearly and consistently repudiated no longer partake in your common councils. I am not eager to state this; but I know of no other reasonable course to take at this point. This is not a matter of punishment, or even “discipline” in any technical form: it is a matter of common Christian sense. TEC (to use this example) has demonstrated clearly, and with increasing hard-heartedness, that it does not wish to respect the common recommendations and pleas and even hopes of the Communion as a whole. Not only that, TEC’s enacted wish to go her own way has caused chaos in our midst.
I do not deny that a part of that chaos has involved reactive responses by other provinces and bishops in the Communion; and that, in a merely pragmatic way, some of these responses have sown an extensive amount of confusion that requires disciplined resolution (see below). But the root cause of all of this has been, without doubt, the uncompromising insistence by TEC’s leaders that they must go their own way. In March of 2007, I was present when a proposal was made to TEC’s House of Bishops that TEC take 5 or 10 years “break” from the Communion; it was a proposal that was greeted with much applause by the bishops. Now is the time to take this proposal up among yourselves, and formally accept it with deliberated application to your own common life.
You can still be friends; you may still choose to cooperate in this or that matter. But the disagreement between TEC and the Communion’s members as a whole has become too great and too destructive, and “walking together” (Amos 3:3) is not only no longer possible; it has long ceased in any substantive way.
Dr [Barry] Morgan said the consecration of a gay bishop would no problem to him, although it might be for his church, and he would “alert” fellow leaders.
He said: “If I thought that a person who had been nominated was an excellent candidate in every other way and that he was in a faithful relationship – for me personally that would not present a problem.
“But of course it might present a problem for my church and I would have to alert the electoral college to that,” Dr Morgan added.
Bishop Robinson has been excluded from the Lambeth Conference, held every 10 years, but will be in Canterbury at the same time.
He is due to speak at St Mary’s Church in Putney, west London, on Sunday.
The answers the fellowship develops to the practical questions raised above in relation to the “how?” question are vital. They will also likely in large part depend on the actions of Lambeth and the Instruments. The ball is therefore now in the court of Lambeth and the Archbishop of Canterbury. They must consider how they will relate to GAFCON and whether they can offer a more constructive and truly conciliar way of addressing the questions we face. In particular these are the urgent questions concerning reform of the Instruments, the need for an Anglican Covenant, and the necessity (perhaps the fruit of the Windsor Continuation Group) for a clearer and more decisive Communion response to those bishops and churches who continue determinedly to reject the Communion’s repeated requests for restraint and repentance since the last Lambeth conference.
Instant reactions to GAFCON are, sadly, in our day and age necessary and inevitable. This is especially so when its proponents, warning against delay, call on people and congregations to take a stand and make what they describe as fundamental choices in the face of what they portray as a false gospel. There are, however, high levels of fear, anger and past hurts on all sides in the current climate and the power of the existing political alliances and prejudices surrounding GAFCON cannot be denied. These factors ”“ together with the complexity of the current situation – mean it is vitally important that GAFCON’s proposals and reactions to them do not get so fixed that they fuel further breaches in bonds of affection. All of us””from individuals and parishes being urged to sign up in support of GAFCON to the hundreds of Anglican bishops gathering later this month at Lambeth””need time for prayerful discernment as to what God is saying and doing in these tumultuous times and what part GAFCON plays in his reshaping of Anglicanism.
Dr. Michael E. DeBakey, the medical pioneer who was the driving force in developing the field of cardiac surgery, operating on more than 65,000 patients and developing medical technology that saved millions more, died Friday. He was 99.
Dr. DeBakey died of natural causes at the Methodist Hospital in Houston, according to a statement from the Baylor College of Medicine and the Methodist Hospital.
In his highly influential career, Dr. DeBakey performed the first coronary artery bypass surgery and the first carotid endarterectomy to prevent strokes. He developed the pump that is the key component of the heart-and-lung machines that are used routinely on patients during heart surgery, and he developed an artificial heart that keeps patients alive while they wait for their own heart to improve.
Tony Snow, the conservative commentator who brought a flashy, talk-show style of repartee to the job of White House press secretary under President Bush, died Saturday at a Washington hospital after a high-profile battle with colon cancer. He was 53.
Snow joined the Bush administration as press secretary in 2006, a year after he was diagnosed with cancer and his colon was removed. During his 16 months at the White House, he used the skills he had honed as a Fox News anchor and radio talk show host to become one of the strongest voices for an administration whose policies in Iraq and at home were losing popularity.
(1) Nowhere in the lecture did he refer to the Windsor Report and to conciliar authorities. No reference was made to the instruments of unity or to Canterbury as the focus of unity. Missing was also the quadrant-demarcation of churches and power blocs in Communion’s “Cold War” (to borrow Cameron’s allusion to NATO). His approach in mapping the Communion future is strikingly different from that undertaken by Fulcrum and ACI, which by and large offer a structural and conciliar solution to the present Communion crisis.
(2) The above is underlined by the astonishing way Cameron reinterpreted and defended the Anglican Covenant. The idea of Covenant was first proposed in the Windsor Report under the heading “Canon Law and Covenant” (Windsor Report, 113-120). The sequence and relation between the two are important: “Canon Law” first, then “Covenant”. The Windsor Report has in mind that the Covenant would be a “Communion law” that “would make explicit and forceful the loyalty and bonds of affection which govern the relationships between the churches of the Communion. The Covenant could deal with: the acknowledgement of common identity; the relationships of communion; the commitments of communion; the exercise of autonomy in communion; and the management of communion affairs (including disputes). (Windsor Report, 118)”
In sharp contrast, Cameron (intentionally?) dismissed the juridical and administrative language…
Thousands of westerners are about to converge on China for the 2008 Olympics. When they log on to the Internet there, they may discover that connections ”” especially to certain foreign news sites ”” won’t work. They’ll be bumping up against what protesters have called the “Great Firewall of China.”
Crude oil’s brief jump past $147 a barrel Friday arrived not only as the United States and Israel view Iran as a growing threat, but also as the U.S. dollar fell and worries erupted over possible supply disruptions in two other major oil-producing nations: Nigeria and Brazil.
Those factors contributed to new all-time trading highs in crude, gasoline and heating oil. It looks like $4-a-gallon gasoline might be here to stay, and that heating oil costs might cause further problems for consumers as the weather gets colder. Futures prices for natural gas turned lower Friday, but are still about twice as high as a year ago.
“If you think your gasoline bills are expensive now, wait till you get your home heating bill this winter,” said Stephen Schork, an analyst and trader in Villanova, Pa.
This month’s Lambeth Conference has made one resolution in advance: not to make any resolutions. Such a disavowal of resolutions was part of the reason for disaffected Anglicans to set up the Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon), held earlier this month in Jerusalem. Some of these members of the Anglican family will stay away from the gathering in Canterbury.
I asked Dr Kevin Ward, author of A History of Global Anglicanism, whether this lack of resolutions will make it feel different from previous conferences. “The Gafcon people weren’t happy with Rowan Williams’ intention to move away from resolutions, to make Lambeth a toothless tiger,” said Dr Ward. “They wanted more clarity, particularly in disciplining the Americans. In their view, it’s irresponsible just to have a huge talking shop when this is going on. And they also wonder what the point of Lambeth resolutions is, if they’re not properly enforced.” But not all the conservative evangelicals are boycotting, so could there still be a lobby pressing for greater clarity? “There could be,” agreed Dr Ward. “For example the Sudanese and Tanzanian bishops will be there, and plenty of other African bishops, so there might be a group demanding a resolution condemning the American Church. But the whole point of how the conference is structured is to avoid that sort of thing. The emphasis is on small groups – the model is the indaba – the Zulu council meetings, in which everyone gets heard.”
How fully and honestly should homosexuality be discussed by the official programme? It’s a dilemma. There is a danger of seeming to sweep the issue under the carpet, and a counter-danger of elevating it to such importance that new rows break out and other pressing issues are not given proper attention.
Few people have pondered this dilemma more extensively over the last few years than Canon Philip Groves. He is the Facilitator of the Listening Process on Human Sexuality in the Anglican Communion. This job originates in the less contentious part of Resolution 1:10: “We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons.” Groves is particularly good at listening to African concerns, having spent seven years in Tanzania, during which time he got to know many African bishops. He is helping to run the part of the conference set aside for the gay issue. The day is called “Listening to God and to Each Other”. At first Groves is wary of being questioned about this, for fear of seeming to have an agenda, of wanting to skew the discussion in a certain way.
It’s dispiriting indeed to watch the United States financial system, supposedly the envy of the world, being taken to its knees. But that’s the show we’re watching, brought to you by somnambulant regulators, greedy bank executives and incompetent corporate directors.
This wasn’t the way the “ownership society” was supposed to work. Investors weren’t supposed to watch their financial stocks plummet more than 70 percent in less than a year. And taxpayers weren’t supposed to be left holding defaulted mortgages and abandoned homes while executives who presided over balance sheet implosions walked away with millions.
Over the course of this 18-month financial crisis, we have lurched from land mine to land mine. Last week’s was all about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the giant government-sponsored enterprises set up to provide affordable housing across the nation. By issuing debt, these shareholder-owned companies guarantee or own more than $5 trillion in home mortgages. Got that? $5 trillion.
Because the federal government established the companies, investors view them as backed, at least implicitly, by taxpayers. And that implied guarantee is what drove Fannie and Freddie’s business models.
The advantages the companies gained from this unique arrangement were huge. They had to keep less cash on hand than traditional lenders, for example. They also made more money on their mortgages than lenders because they paid less to borrow money in the bond market. These profits enriched Fannie and Freddie shareholders over the years and bestowed significant wealth on the companies’ executives.
Archbishop Harper’s argument that we can come to new conclusions about homosexual unions is poorly cast and shows a need for further research on his part regarding the scriptural evidence in its historical context. Much of what I have written above can be seen in a fuller discussion in my 2003 article, “Does the Bible Regard Same-Sex Intercourse as Intrinsically Sinful?” Put simply, Paul was not presupposing in Rom 1:24-27 that every individual who engages in homosexual practice consciously turns aside from felt heterosexual urges. Rather, they turn aside from clear natural revelation, here given in the obvious embodied complementarity of male and female. Nor is the concept of homosexual orientation wholly unknown in the Greco-Roman milieu. Nor was Paul deriving his view of homosexual practice solely from nature, as if he thought that the creation texts in Genesis 1-2 had nothing to say about homosexual practice by necessary implication. There is absolutely no evidence that modern orientation theory would have had any impact on Paul changing his strong negative valuation of homosexual practice. Indeed, all the extant evidence indicates otherwise.