Daily Archives: August 5, 2008
The first wave of Americans to default on their home mortgages appears to be cresting, but a second, far larger one is quickly building.
Homeowners with good credit are falling behind on their payments in growing numbers, even as the problems with mortgages made to people with weak, or subprime, credit are showing their first, tentative signs of leveling off after two years of spiraling defaults.
The percentage of mortgages in arrears in the category of loans one rung above subprime, so-called alternative-A mortgages, quadrupled to 12 percent in April from a year earlier. Delinquencies among prime loans, which account for most of the $12 trillion market, doubled to 2.7 percent in that time.
The mortgage troubles have been exacerbated by an economy that is still struggling. Reports last week showed another drop in home prices, slower-than-expected economic growth and a huge loss at General Motors. On Friday, the Labor Department reported that the unemployment rate in July climbed to a four-year high.
While it is difficult to draw precise parallels among various segments of the mortgage market, the arc of the crisis in subprime loans suggests that the problems in the broader market may not peak for another year or two, analysts said.
As the Lambeth Conference ends, it remains clear a wide range of opinions exists on its impact, as well as where the Anglican Communion is headed, or where it should be headed.
The Lambeth Conference, held once every 10 years, is a gathering of the leaders of the Anglican Communion for the sake of unity and learning. Over 200 bishops frustrated with deviations from biblical teachings boycotted the conference this year.
The Rev. Edward L. Rix, rector of All Saint’s Church in Wynnewood, said he did not see any substantial conversation occur from Lambeth with the absence of so many significant voices from Africa.
“I don’t think there are substantial discussions going on about homosexuality or authority,” he said. “What is hoped is that some kind of covenant can be created. The problem is that all the instruments of accountability are without teeth. Most of us see it as not having a strong enough footing.”
A 44-page document meant to reflect the experience of the bishops who participated in the 2008 Lambeth Conference is filled with many details from the many conversations that took place during the 18-day gathering in Canterbury — and many important statements about what was discussed.
Yet it admittedly cannot replicate the experience which it describes.
Perth Archbishop Roger Herft, who chaired the document’s writing committee, wrote in the introduction that the end result is a narrative of “our lived experience and the open and honest discussions we have had together.”
At the Lambeth Conference the bishops, but not the journalists had access to an intranet site (a local area network created by the Lambeth Conference) which included a great deal of additional information about the Lambeth Conference. One of the items available on the intranet site was a directory of all the bishops who had registered, but not necessarily paid or showed up.
On the last day Steve Waring working for The Living Church and George Conger working for The Church of England newspaper asked a bishop to access the site and write down a list of all the Anglican bishops on the pre-registration list as well as the name of their province and diocese. That information was then passed along to us at which point the number was then tallied. That is how we arrived at the figure of 617. There were a number of ecumenical bishops present and they were encouraged to be part of the Bible study and indaba discussion groups as full conference participants. The inclusion of all the ecumenical bishops in the attendance figure is how the Lambeth Conference organizers were able to provide a registration number of 670 to the media. The conference organizers repeatedly rebuffed requests for a complete list of bishops present and every time the request was made a different reason was given for why it would not be made public. None of those reasons was really plausible and this aroused our suspicions that there was more to the story than they were telling us.
George Conger has a complete list of everyone who pre-registered and I believe he will be compiling that list and I believe that the Church of England newspaper will be publishing it at a future date. George left the U.K. to return to the U.S. yesterday and when I spoke to him as he was on his way to the airport, he told me that it was his intention to do so, but of course he is free to change his mind. I rather doubt he will, so I think those interested in that information ought to expect it to become public within the next few days. Please be patient and please be charitable with comments and speculation in the meantime and also after it is published.
It is important to note that not every bishop who pre-registered actually showed up. One example is the Bishop from a diocese in the Church of Nigeria. He FAX’d a memo from U.K. on the Saturday before the Lambeth Conference began indicating his intention to attend. However he never showed up. We heard rumors that there were other bishops who didn’t show up either, so the actual number of Anglican bishops who participated in the 2008 Lambeth Conference is probably slightly lower than the number that pre-registered. Keep checking the Church of England website (which also include Religious Intelligence) for more information. This information may also be available through The Living Church as well, but George has all the hard data.
Needless to say the fact that apparently more than 30 percent of the bishops who were invited chose not to attend is information that the conference organizers did not want revealed, especially during the conference itself as it would have caused a number of the bishops themselves to ask hard questions. The bishops also probably would have been less inclined to abide by the strict and frequently repeated warnings they received not to discuss the conference mechanics with the media during the conference. Bishop Keith Ackerman of Quincy was one of the few bishops courageous enough to speak to the media and entertain questions the conference organizers did not want made public. It is important to note that neither George nor I will ever reveal the identity of the courageous bishop who was willing to provide us with this important information, but I will say that Bishop Ackerman was in no way involved in that project and neither George nor I had anything to do with the setting up of Bishop Ackerman’s informal media briefings.
There were many important things that were accomplished at the conference and while the fact that only about 68 percent of all bishops invited appear to have showed up is very significant, it is not the whole story of the conference and I would ask readers and bloggers not to jump to premature conclusions about those facts. Undoubtedly in days, months and years ahead we will begin to get a better perspective on the historical significance of the 2008 Lambeth Conference.
I would like to remind everyone one more time that pointed personal attacks and uncharitable comments shed little light and reveal far more about the person making the comments than they do about the character of the conference organizers, importance of what the conference produced or what is likely to happen to the Anglican Communion in the future. Rather than being the cause for caustic sarcasm and vicious personal attacks this information ought to drive every Christian to their knees in prayer. The body of the third largest branch of Christianity is suffering – every part of it – whether you happen to identify with it, are in communion with it or not. In the name of Christ, I ask all Christians please to think carefully and prayerfully before posting funny songs, analogies to the Titanic (and other famous historical disasters) as well as unrelentingly negative criticism. I assure you that while such things will undoubtedly get a brief laugh they won’t change anything in the long run. This is a time for speaking the truth in love. I was here and I can tell you that there were important things accomplished and it was not a complete failure/disaster/joke or mistake.
May the Risen Christ have mercy on us all,
Steve Waring, news editor
The Living Church magazine
Unless we as the conservative church are willing to admit that we have sometimes (often?) failed in the call of the Lambeth ”˜98 resolution to listen to the experience of gay and lesbian people (and post-gay and post-lesbian, for the conservative church is still shockingly ignorant in how to deal pastorally in this area) then we have no right to ask those whom we disagree with to take such resolutions seriously themselves. What we need at this point then is a serious, critical self-examination. Can we truly say that in all cases we are the ones sinned against? Can we really stand clean in front of the Lord and argue that we have not ourselves sinned in this conflict?
Note: this is a little dated, but contains important information not found elsewhere. Because of the structure of this Lambeth, a lot of what happened will only dribble out in the days and weeks ahead and it will be a while before a coherent and clear picture emerges I think–KSH.
by Andrew Carey
Anglicans need to speak ”˜life’ to each other, rather than ”˜threatening death’ declared the Archbishop of Canterbury in his most significant plea yet to the Lambeth Conference to back his plans for both ”˜covenant’ and ”˜council’ to bring coherence and order to the Anglican Communion.
In a late scheduled Presidential address as the Conference entered its most controversial moments with the final days devoted to Bible, homosexuality and the covenant, Archbishop Williams, made what he described as a ”˜risky’ attempt to interpret both sides of the debate to each other. He also called upon them to ”˜speak from the centre’ in a spirit of generosity.
“At the moment we seem often to be threatening death to each other, not offering life.
What some see as confused or reckless innovation in some provinces is felt as a body-blow to the integrity of mission and a matter of literal physical risk to Christians,” he declared.
“The reaction to this is in turn felt as an annihilating judgement on a whole local church, undermining its legitimacy and pouring scorn on its witness.”
He called on the bishops to speak life to each other on the basis of backing change to the communion in the form of a covenant, “that recognizes the need to grow towards each other (and also recognizes that not all may choose that way).”
Only such a covenant, he said, could avoid further disintegration. His acknowledgement that not all may choose to follow the covenant, was left hanging in the air, with no clear direction as to what that would mean for the nonparticipating churches. His address was greeted with no applause, but with ”˜sobriety’ and muted conversation.
The Bishop of Exeter, Michael Langrish, later revealed that an “inexorable logic” was emerging. He said this was of a “core communion with strengthened structures and some who will not accept that.
There will be continuing fellowship with those churches.”
He likened the relationship to that of the Anglicans and Methodists who are exploring a covenant with each other.
“A major question,” said Bishop Langrish, “is how we move towards that point. The highest degree of fellowship whilst allowing for an orderly separation.”
He said it would continue to be messy and difficult, especially in parts of North America.
Dr William’s plea for a covenant is accepted by the vast majority of Bishops at the Lambeth Conference, but among American bishops it is not seen as a foregone conclusion. Bishop Jon Bruno of Los Angeles, said afterwards, that it would take time to absorb what the Archbishop was saying. “I don’t know whether there’s going to be a covenant,” he said.
The Archbishop argued that in urging the bishops to speak from the centre, this was not a middle-point between two extremes, “that just creates another sort of political alignment.
I mean that we should try to speak from the heart of our identity as Anglicans; and ultimately from that deepest centre which is our awareness of living in and as the Body of Christ.”
He said that his plans for ”˜covenant’ and ”˜council’ was his vision for the way forward.
“By this I meant that we needed a bit more of a structure in our international affairs to be able to give clear guidance on what would and would not be a grave and lasting divisive course of action by a local church.
He warned that future divisions could be about changes on baptism, or the abandonment of the Nicene creed. Referring to proposals from the Windsor Continuation Group for a faith and order commission, and a Pastoral Forum, he said that such bodies should carry confidence and authority.
Two groups talking past each other. The vast majority have a genuine desire to stay together for for a small minority there are two different versions of what belonging together means. Two understandings of this thing we call Anglicanism. The vast majority want to take steps towards restoring Communion.
A smaller group – whose language of communion is based on feelings – what it means to me, what I can get from it. A transactional view of communion which is much more suited to a federation or fellowship of churches. The inexorable logic which is emerging out of this conference and which what Rowan appeared to be stressing this evening is of a core communion with strengthened structures and some who will not accept that. There will be continuing fellowship with those churches.
Rowan seemed to end up in that point. A major question is how we move towards that point – the highest degree of fellowship whilst allowing for an orderly separation. A challenge to all of us. -It’s clearly going to be difficult and messy in parts of North America especially the US. Canada I’ve found in the last 10 days is in a different place from the US. Vast majority of Canadian bishops have a real sense of communion
The implication of a covenant is that you have to have procedures for holding those who are separated and damaged. Equally if we are to end up with enriched relationships – some not fully accept – pastoral Forum to enable us to get there.
Carey/Hume procedures which enabled the problems that arose from the ordination of women to be eased – something like that but I don’t want to draw too close a parallel. We’re still on Tuesday – the Archbishops speech was received with sobriety, quiet muted conversation.
–This article appeared on page 1 of the Church of England Newspaper of August 1, 2008
It was an emotionally up and down day. The final verson of the “Reflections” came out and I was not only disappointed with its content, but also with the process. We had not been given a chance to review the last and most controversial section before it was printed up, and I felt that the process had not been done fairly. The trust that had built up over the past few weeks was rapidly evaporating for me. But after a wonderful final Bible study session and the chance to air my concerns in the final indaba group, I felt much better.
There will be a lot of questions as to “what came out of Lambeth?” I will be mulling this over in the next week or so, and will write more about it later, but it is probably easier to say what did NOT come out. First, no schism! Those who predicted that this would be the end of the Anglican Communion were dead wrong. Yes, there is a group (GAFCON) which has already left, but those of us remaining (about 85%) are committed to remaining together. The other thing did not come out was any kind of policy. There was no legislation done–only conversations were held. Finally, what will have to wait is a solution to the problems that beset us. There will be more meetings, more discussions. The American House of Bishop’s meeting in September will be important for us to digest the meeting and come to some understanding of how we will respond to the mood of Lambeth, especially as regards c the issues of moratoria and “Pastoral Forums” who could monitor our compliance with the Windsor Report. All this remains to be done, and no one should jump to any early conclusions!
As for what DID come out–There is above all a renewed scene of connectedness in mission. As one bishop said, “We are the product of the conference.” This new level of trust and respect and unity in Christ will serve us well in the years ahead.
Read it all. It is remarkable how many TEC bishops continue to misrepresent those they disagree with. GAFCON has not “already left” as was made clear at the GAFCON conference and in the concluding statement of the conference–KSH.
Despite the yawning divide between the supporters and opponents of gay marriage, there may be common ground here. Consider this: Doesn’t the U.S. Constitution separate church and state? In most ancient societies, it appears that the institution of marriage was conceived by religious communities, not the state. Even the ancient Code of Hammurabi suggests this. For the western world, it is Genesis (not the Magna Carta) that first declared that for this cause a man “shall leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
The state’s interest in marriage derives from marriage’s obvious benefits to the broader society. Marriage creates more stable relationships and families, more financial security and a better environment for the rearing of children. All of these are desirable things in which the state has a legitimate interest. Thus, married couples must enter into a binding civil contract that can only be dissolved by order of the court. But again, these are merely civil concerns. They do not go to the heart of whether or not a marriage exists in the truest (i.e. religious) sense of the word. Even today, some religious communities such as Orthodox Jews require a religious document called a “get” in order to dissolve a marriage. A civil divorce, albeit legally required, is insufficient and will not enable the couple to remarry within traditional Jewish law.
Given the state’s legitimate, though limited, interest here, shouldn’t all couples ”” be they gay or straight ”” be given the same civil contract with all the attendant legal rights and obligations? After all, legally committed couples provide the same financial and familial stability, be they gay or straight. In short, everyone who wishes to marry could be given a civil union agreement from the state. Whether a couple goes on to have a wedding ceremony would be up to them and their church. But the thing that would be enforced (or dissolved) by the state would be the civil agreement.
Theologically, this puts marriage back where it belongs. Constitutionally, it protects churches from having the government dictate to them which relationships they should or should not sanction. Finally, this sort of arrangement would be much easier to handle administratively, as couples could simply go to the County Clerk’s office and sign their civil union agreements in a matter of minutes. Current practice strains the patience of the parties and blurs the church-state line. Couples must purchase their marriage license, take it to a minister, rabbi or other official recognized by the state who must then perform their ceremony, fill out the license and return it to the courthouse for filing.
But it is frankly not clear what we have achieved. The last few days have involved a drafting group in spending many hours trying to write a reflection paper on the conference for all the bishops to take home with them. It describes our discussions and concerns in some detail. But on the big issues around how we hold things together in the future there isn’t yet clarity. This conference has passed no resolutions and issued no generally agreed statements. It is therefore uncertain as to what is the mind of the conference on some of the most difficult issues. Today we shall see the final version of the document which reports the conference, but there has been no process by which the members of the conference can agree the text!
So where do we go from here? I shall think about that in the next few days. I shall want to give an account of the conference to the diocese and to think through the implications of it for our overseas links. I shall also want to think about my own work as a bishop and how that has been enriched by all this. And I shall want to reflect of the design of this conference, because although it has been a rich experience it has not empowered the members to get their voice heard and to feel that the future direction of the Communion has been clarified.
I was reading with interest your Lambeth weblog (to which I had been directed by the weblog of Kendall Harmon, canon theologian of the diocese of South Carolina), and found that on Day 18, where some marvelous and encouraging steps toward consensus and agreement had been made regarding the proposed moratoria, that in your indaba group also:
“we are told that in the lawsuits in America between parishes and their dioceses it is the dioceses who are the defendants and the conservative parishes who are the accusers”.
I am sorry to tell you that you have apparently been lied to.
I would direct your attention to this summary document:
which discusses (albeit in a press release on behalf of the eleven parishes being sued by the Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church) the facts of the case(s) and the determination of the court on two occasions. Perhaps the most pertinent bit of information from that is its first sentence:
“The 11 churches sued by The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia celebrated today’s Fairfax County Circuit Court ruling that confirms the constitutionality of Virginia Division Statute (Virginia Code Â§ 57-9). The 11 churches named in the lawsuit are members of the Anglican District of Virginia (ADV).”
On the website on which that background document is found, you will also find links (in the right-hand margin) to many of the associated court documents. Major newspapers in the adjoining regions, including the Washington Post (Washington, DC), the Washington Times (Washington, DC), and the Richmond Times Dispatch (Richmond, VA) have carried numerous articles as well as editorials concerning the cases, which are widely accessible via the internet. I am sure that you will be able to locate these with no trouble but if you would like I could certainly find some of them and send links to them along to you. It is likely that additional articles will appear in those and other newspapers, as the case will likely be appealed by TEC (and, unfortunately, the diocese). Some of the sadder details of the story can be discovered by reading a few of the introductory documents, including the fact that TEC intervened in and demanded an end to the process of amicable negotiation being followed by the diocese with the parishes, shortly after the investiture of K. Jefferts-Schori.
It is unfortunate that various officeholders in TEC persist in spreading untruths about the basic facts involved in these cases.
I am sorry that they attempted to deceive you, and hope that this will be of help to you in assessing their dependability in various of their other claims and statements.
Please do feel free to contact me regarding this.
Thanks to blog reader LINC for passing this long. It is really very sad to see this kind of misinformation being spread by the same TEC leaders who themselves complain of misinformation! Let me say it again–be a Berean (do you know the reference). Make sure to check the documentation carefully yourself–KSH.
On the day after the conference, Diocese of California Bishop Marc Andrus described as “profound and generous” Williams’ suggestion in his final presidential address that “there will be some who cannot abide by these moratoria, and in this they signal that there are steps to deeper unity they cannot take; or it may be that they conceive of deeper unity in other ways.”
Andrus said California would not abide by the moratorium on same-sex blessings but that he takes it “as incumbent on me and on us in the diocese to actively labor to both understand the position of those to whom that moratorium is important, and to convey the reality of our life together to the world.”
Andrus echoed others’ reactions when he noted that “the document is not legislation.”
“We will pay close attention to it, but we must not reify the agreement points in it into laws, and we should resist interpretations that seek to employ those agreements as laws,” he wrote.
On August 3, Integrity USA’s Susan Russell warned of a similar tendency, urging bishops to “resist the temptation of those who will try to turn this descriptive document into a proscriptive edict.”
The archbishop believes time might bring enlightenment, and his job is to stop the confrontationists of both sides forcing a division first. He has some eminent critics – including the Bishop of Winchester and, it is reported, the Bishop of Durham – who feel the avoidance of confrontation this past fortnight has merely set up a worse confrontation in the future. But peacekeeping is an inexact art. The danger of playing it long is that some might walk away from the process. Play it short, and some definitely will. History may say the rift had already opened before the bishops even arrived at Canterbury: after all, 230 of them stayed away. But Dr Williams has probably held off official schism for his tenure in office. His Lambeth Conference – only a decennial event – was not a complete failure. The liberals may feel the price was too high, but sometimes for peacekeepers, a fudge is as good as a success.
“And, may I just add, that I agree with Archbishop Rowan (and others) when he says that “the overwhelming concern of most Africans is clean water, food, employment, transparent governance.” To that, I would also add quality education, adequate health services, and freedom from the power of sin and oppression by demonic spirits. We do, in fact, spend much more of our time focused on these issues, along with evangelism, than on homosexuality ”“ despite the imbalance portrayed by the press.
“But, what we in the Global South have strongly maintained is this: When you are known to be the “Gay Church” and a church that can’t discipline itself, that severely hinders our ability to engage our communities on such issues as clean water, food, employment, and good governance. That is why we must resolve this conflict. It is not a matter that we can “agree to disagree” about homosexuality (and the underlying theology that leads one to the acceptance of homosexuality) and still pursue together the Millennium Development Goals. Our credibility and integrity as a church are seriously undermined because of the lack of resolution of the current crisis. It is not enough to be able to say that the official position of the Anglican Communion is Lambeth 1.10, because the lack of enforcement of that resolution seems to, in fact, render it null and void.
“The crisis in the Communion is about authority ”“ biblical authority and ecclesiastical authority. Regrettably, all the proposals coming out of the Windsor Continuation Group have been tried in the past five years and failed. However, even before we begin a re-examination of the Instruments of Communion and, in particular, the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury, we do have within our structures the ability to bring order out of the present chaos. Sadly, though, the Archbishop of Canterbury missed his biggest window of opportunity. If, in the end, the only means of discipline is through his power of invitation, he has, through his decision to invite the persistent violators of Lambeth 1.10 to the Lambeth Conference, blessed the deviations of the American and Canadian Churches, which have been consistently condemned by the other three Instruments of Communion.