Daily Archives: August 12, 2008

A Statement from Bishop Jack Iker on Roman Catholic Dialogues

I am aware of a meeting that four priests of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth have had with Bishop Kevin Vann of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth on June 16, 2008. After a year of studying various agreed statements that have come out of ecumenical dialogues between Anglicans and Roman Catholics on the national and international level, these clergy expressed an interest in having a dialogue on the local level and asked my permission to make an appointment to talk with Bishop Vann. The stated goal of these official Anglican/Roman Catholic dialogues (which have been going on for over 40 years) has been full, visible unity between the two communions.

The priests who participated in this meeting with Bishop Vann have my trust and pastoral support. However, in their written and verbal reports, they have spoken only on their own behalf and out of their own concerns and perspective. They have not claimed to act or speak, nor have they been authorized to do so, either on behalf of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth or on my own behalf as their Bishop.

Their discussion with Bishop Vann has no bearing upon matters coming before our Diocesan Convention in November, where a second vote will be taken on constitutional changes concerning our relationship with the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. There is no proposal under consideration, either publicly or privately, for the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth to become part of the Roman Catholic Church. Our only plan of action remains as it has been for the past year, as affirmed by our Diocesan Convention in November 2007. The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth intends to realign with an orthodox Province as a constituent member of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

By God’s grace, we will continue to work and pray for the unity of the one holy catholic and apostolic church.

The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth
August 12, 2008

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Roman Catholic, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

From Melbourne: Lambeth reveals Communion as “a blessing to the world”

Archbishop Philip Freier says he will return to Melbourne from the Lambeth Conference with a far greater sense of the vitality of the Anglican Communion worldwide, which he describes as a “blessing to the world”.

“This has been an opportunity for sharing concerns about mission and evangelism, and reconsidering the needs of a hurting world,” he said at the conclusion of the ten yearly gathering of bishops from around the world. “This is the irony”, he said “that there is so much good to speak about but the focus is so often on the unresolved tensions in the Communion.”

Dr Freier observed that the ”˜Reflections Document’ from the Lambeth Conference represented the spectrum of opinions that had been raised but cautioned against looking at this document as the Church’s authoritative teaching. He thought that the three presidential addresses by the Archbishop of Canterbury were more indicative of where the communion stood on the matters that threatened to divide it. He says he will strongly urge the Anglican Church in Australia to commit itself to the Covenant process.

“As far as the Covenant is concerned, there is certainly more clarity required on some of the details. But I strongly believe that this is the best opportunity to build our unity and to strengthen co-operation across the communion in evangelism and works of mercy.”

Read it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Lambeth 2008

Indur M. Goklany and Jerry Taylor: Fuel is more affordable than it was during the early '60s

Barack Obama thinks the government should intervene on gas prices to “give families some relief,” and last week called for releasing 70 million barrels of crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. John McCain proposes an end to the ban on offshore drilling and has pushed for a gas-tax holiday because “we need it, we need it very badly.”

But both candidates and the public are evidently unaware of a basic fact: Gasoline is more affordable for American families now than it was in the days of the gas-guzzling muscle cars of the early 1960s. Prices are beginning to come down somewhat, but this was true even when the national average was at its summer peak.

Two-thirds of American voters say they think that the price of gas is “an extremely important political issue,” and many believe that it will cause them “serious” financial hardship, according to a recent survey by the Associated Press and Yahoo.

Although it’s true that the real (inflation-adjusted) and nominal (posted) prices of gasoline are higher than at any time since World War II, even at the recent peak national average of $4.11 a gallon (California’s average Friday was $4.17), gasoline is still more affordable today than it was during the Kennedy administration. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke worries that increasing fuel prices might eat up so much disposable income that it flat-lines consumer spending and tanks the economy. But it’s difficult to square that worry with what we call the “affordability index” — the ratio of the average person’s disposable income to the price of gasoline.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources

Lambeth Conference video journals available

(ACNS) A series of 10 video journals featuring more than 30 bishops from around the world attending the 2008 Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Communion are now available for viewing at Trinity Wall Street’s website, www.trinitywallstreet.org. Produced for the Lambeth Conference by Trinity Wall Street, the video journals were shown at the outset of each conference day, introducing participants to the daily thematic focus. The journals portray the personal experiences of bishops and spouses as they relate to that day’s theme and include segments which capture the life of conference.

The videos run approximately five minutes in length and address topics ranging from evangelism, social justice and the environment to engagement in a multi-faith world and the abuse of power. Bishops in the videos include Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury; Daniel Deng Bul Yak, Archbishop of Sudan; Miguel Tamayo, Bishop of Uruguay; Edward Malecdan, Bishop of Northern Philippines; David Beetge, Bishop of Highveld, South Africa; Victoria Matthews, Bishop of Christchurch, New Zealand; Alexander John Malik, Bishop of Lahore, Pakistan; and Mark Sisk, Bishop of New York, USA.

The Anglican Communion is considered Christianity’s third largest denomination. Once every ten years, its leaders meet to discuss the state of the communion, renew their partnerships, explore their Anglican identity and invigorate their mission. This year, 650 bishops and archbishops from all over the world attended the 14th conference held July 16 – August 4.

This is the third conference where Trinity Wall Street was asked to provide the assembly with communications support.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Lambeth 2008

James Martin: Roman Catholics Will No Longer Recite 'And Also With You'

What’s your response to the following: “The Lord be with you.”

If you said, “And also with you,” you’re probably a Catholic who goes to Mass on Sunday.

Not so fast. That response is about to change, along with other familiar parts of the Mass.

Overall, the language in the new English translation, just released by the bishops, is more elevated than before.

Critics of the old translation thought that the language was too conversational to be reverent. On the other side were those who thought that conversational language helped people to pray to God more naturally.

One easy place to see the change is when the priest prays a blessing over the bread and wine.

Here’s the old translation: “Let your Spirit come upon these gifts, to make them holy.”

Here’s the new one: “Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall.”

Read it all.

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

Giant Retailers Look to Sun for Energy Savings

Retailers are typically obsessed with what to put under their roofs, not on them. Yet the nation’s biggest store chains are coming to see their immense, flat roofs as an untapped resource.

In recent months, chains including Wal-Mart Stores, Kohl’s, Safeway and Whole Foods Market have installed solar panels on roofs of their stores to generate electricity on a large scale. One reason they are racing is to beat a Dec. 31 deadline to gain tax advantages for these projects.

So far, most chains have outfitted fewer than 10 percent of their stores. Over the long run, assuming Congress renews a favorable tax provision and more states offer incentives, the chains promise a solar construction program that would ultimately put panels atop almost every big store in the country.

The trend, while not entirely new, is accelerating as the chains seize a chance to bolster their environmental credentials by cutting back on their use of electricity from coal.

“It’s very clear that green energy is now front and center in the minds of the business sector,” said Daniel M. Kammen, an energy expert at the University of California, Berkeley. “Not only will you see panels on the roofs of your local stores, but I suspect very soon retailers will have stickers in their windows saying, ”˜This is a green energy store.’ ”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources

J. Gerald Harris: Universalism at funerals

In actual fact, a funeral service is not for the deceased. It is primarily for the family and friends; and while a Christian minister may be called upon to conduct the service, he must not be guilty of suggesting that the unredeemed will inherit eternal life. To do so is to be disingenuous at best and dishonest at worst.

If a pastor is true to the Word of God, he cannot change or minimize the Bible’s warning that the consequence of unbelief is condemnation (John 3:18).

To suggest or hint that someone who has never been saved is somehow headed for heaven does nothing but confuse the mourners and give the false impression that one can go to heaven without trusting in Christ who is the only way to God (John 14:6).

The carefully-crafted remarks of a Christian minister can convey the Gospel message of hope and certainty to those who need it most.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Radical Orthodoxy: A Depraved Anthropology?

Loughlin clearly sees matter as the primary reality here, at least for creatures. Substance for him is extended matter. In fact, he does not seem to have any other category. Sex difference for him is real, and so in his limited, modern/post-modern categories, sex difference must be something arising from the flesh alone. This is inevitable without the category of relation, especially in this case, sex difference being a relational category which conditions the relational person (see this metathread for a short primer on these ideas).

Loughlin is not the only RO theologian with these views. Rowan Williams promotes similar thinking in his essay, “The Body’s Grace.” This essay was published in a collection of pro-SSAD articles entitled, Christian Our Selves, Our Souls and Bodies: Sexuality and the Household of God [ed. Charles C. Hefling (Boston: Cowley Press, 1996)]. Hankey (see the previous post) shows that Williams was an original member of the Radical Orthodoxy movement. Hierothee pointed me to a recent article online that shows that Williams’s unfortunately soft thinking in this regard is not at all unlike that of Loughlin.

In conclusion, I would note that it is not so much that Louglin’s and Williams’s distortions/perversions of Christian truth stem from a misunderstanding of classical theology. Rather, the problem begins with their pre-commitment to said perverted notions. Their articulation of an incoherent metaphysics is simply a rationalization for their subversive depravity. Indeed, with the likes of Loughlin and Williams as guides to the movement, one could rightly claim that Radical Orthodoxy is purely and simply an expression of radical depravity.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Theology

Musharraf locked in battle to avoid impeachment as allies turn away

Pakistan’s government is finalising a “charge-sheet” against Pervez Musharraf as battle lines are drawn in the bitter struggle over the President’s future.

Several allies of Mr Musharraf began to distance themselves from him, saying he should stand down for the good of the country, but the former general again insisted he would fight the impeachment charges being prepared by his opponents. Meanwhile, the process to oust Mr Musharraf gathered additional pace as a crucial regional assembly overwhelmingly passed a vote of no confidence against him, saying he was “unfit” to rule.

Aftab Sherpao, a formerinterior minister in Mr Musharraf’s government and leader of a small regional party, said he was considering joining those seeking to force out the President. “[Mr Musharraf] is going to fight these charges on a moral ground to try to disprove them… But when it comes to the numbers, I think he’s lost it,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, Pakistan

Social Initiatives on State Ballots Could Draw Attention to Presidential Race

Divisive social issues will be on the ballot in several states in November, including constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage in Arizona, California and Florida, and limitations on abortion in California, Colorado and South Dakota.

Although research indicates that ballot measures do not drastically alter voter turnout, they have begun attracting the attention of both presidential campaigns.

Unlike 2004, when same-sex marriage bans were considered in 11 states, no single issue will dominate statewide ballots.

“Tax and spending issues are typically one of the main focuses of these measures, but this time that’s less true,” said Jennie Drage Bowser, a policy analyst at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Theology, US Presidential Election 2008

And Speaking of Fort Worth

Ms. Sherrod has put up a document about some discussions some members of the diocese of Fort Worth are having with local Roman Catholics. A Dallas News article about this is here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Roman Catholic, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Kendall Harmon: On Katie Sherrod and the Irony of History

I try hard to read from various points of view, and to follow that practice I sometimes follow Katie Sherrod’s blog. It is an acquired taste to be sure since she is so very angry at the diocese of Fort Worth in general and the diocesan Bishop, Jack Iker, in particular. Unsurprising, Ms. Sherrod was not at all happy with Lambeth 2008 in a number of ways, but she was encouraged that it was so different from Lambeth 1998 which she described as “brutal.” Why brutal? Listen to her own words:

[At Lambeth 1998 the leadership sought] to push for legislative solutions to hot button issues. It was a process that left deep wounds that even a decade later were still painful for many.

Got that? She doesn’t want “legislative solutions to hot button issues.” But of course the 2003 General Convention was exactly that. And the wounds there are deep, very deep indeed. So for Ms. Sherrod and other reappraisers legislative solutions to hot button issues are great when they are ones she agrees with, but “brutal” when she does not. The double standard simply screams out for recognition in the present fractious climate of TEC which is living with the fruit of precisely the process Ms. Sherrod deplores–KSH.

Posted in Uncategorized

Christianity taking root in the new China

Although the communist government still tries to choose church leaders and keep believers in line, Christianity is growing in China because freedom is growing in China.

The Chinese Communist Party remains an atheist ideology that views faith with suspicion. But the Chinese government’s success in delivering a better material life has left a growing number of Chinese wanting to fill a spiritual vacuum where Chinese communism has little left to offer.

President Bush and Dallas Theological Seminary President Mark Bailey worshipped at a Beijing Protestant church Sunday to encourage religious freedom. Dr. Bailey and Dallas Theological are making a contribution with Web-based instruction for Chinese seminarians.

Outside the Kuanjie Protestant Church, English teacher Ann Wilson of Maryville, Tenn., stood in the rain, discussing Mr. Bush’s visit, faith and politics with neighbors.

“For almost 60 years they’ve heard the story that you do not need religion because the party will fill all your needs. That’s not there anymore,” Mrs. Wilson said. “The Chinese are turning to religion because there’s an emptiness inside.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Religion & Culture

Google's foray into content raises some eyebrows

Type “buttermilk pancakes” into Google, and among the top three or four search results you will find a link to a detailed recipe complete with a photo of a scrumptious stack from a site called Knol, which is owned by Google.

Google envisions Knol as a place where experts can share their knowledge on a variety of topics. It hopes to create a sort of online encyclopedia built from the contributions of scores of individuals. But while Wikipedia is collectively edited and ad-free, Knol contributors sign their articles and retain editing control over the content. They can choose to place ads, sold by Google, on their pages.

While Knol is only three weeks old and still relatively obscure, it has already rekindled fears among some media companies that Google is increasingly becoming a competitor. They foresee Google’s becoming a powerful rival that not only owns a growing number of content properties, including YouTube, the top online video site, and Blogger, a leading blogging service, but also holds the keys to directing users around the Web.

“If in fact a Google property is taking money away from Google’s partners, that is a real problem,” said Wenda Harris Millard, the co-chief executive of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Economy

An Interview with a Former Anglican

Instrumental in providing that vital helping hand was the then Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, who was, Canon Tuckwell says, the “final straw”. He then laughs. “No, that would give the wrong impression, Bishop Nichols was the opposite; he was the catalyst. We had an ecumenical service in my church and the local Catholic parish priest, Canon Frank Hegarty, a very good friend of mine and my sponsor in the Church, had spoken to Bishop Nichols.

“We spoke after the service, at the end of which he said: ‘Give me a call if I can be of any help.’ I phoned him a week later and he was very kind, arranged an interview, and that was it.

“I was fortunate enough to be here in Westminster and between them Cardinal Hume and Bishop Nichols were very generous and very encouraging. They really put themselves out to assist us in coming into the Church. I can’t say it was the experience with some of my colleagues in other dioceses, some of whom received a less than warm welcome.

“I think a popular misconception was we were all ultra-conservative and were going to put the clock back – whatever that meant – and we would be an unsettling force within English Catholicism. Some bishops were very friendly and welcoming, some less so. I don’t think it was politics, more a matter of preference or prejudice.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Roman Catholic