Daily Archives: August 19, 2008

Bishop Wantland: Litigation, Confusion Ahead for Communion

Bishop Wantland, who retired as Bishop of Eau Claire in 1998, minced no words.

“GAFCON (the Global Anglican Future Conference) didn’t need Lambeth,” Bishop Wantland said, “but Lambeth needs GAFCON.”

Bishop Wantland said he was confident that the GAFCON council of primates, which is currently comprised of the nine primates who attended the meeting in Jerusalem in June, would recognize a provisional overlapping Anglican province in North America within the next year.

Rather than seeking official recognition of the new province from Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, however, he said the primates will work to bring the matter to a vote before the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC). By precedent, the ACC is the canonically recognized body with the authority to recognize a new province, Bishop Wantland said.

“It is not totally unknown to have overlapping jurisdictions, but it is not the norm,” the bishop said. “You think you’re living in a litigious time of confusion now? Well, welcome to chaos after that happens. We are in for a long period of confusion and litigation. It almost makes me wish I was still a practicing lawyer.”

Read it all.

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

Four Americans Protest Bible Confiscation In China

Four American missionaries who intended to carry more than 300 Bibles into China say Chinese authorities have confiscated the holy books at an airport.

Patrick Klein, 46, and three volunteers with Vision Beyond Borders, a Sheridan, Wyo.-based evangelical organization, moved to a motel Monday after staying in the Kunming airport in southwestern China for two nights in protest, a ministry spokeswoman said.

“The government was asking them to leave (the airport) but they were asking for the Bibles back before they were willing to leave,” said Dyann Romeijn, a regional coordinator with the ministry who is based in Billings, Montana.

Read the whole article.

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

Evangelicals march on Washington

Tens of thousands of evangelical Christians converged on the National Mall here Saturday to highlight moral issues before the fall presidential election with a day of fasting, prayer and music.

Organizers of TheCall DC said 70,000 people turned out for the event, though that number could not be confirmed independently by the National Park Service.

“It was a spiritual confrontation,” said Lou Engle, the evangelical activist who founded TheCall in 2000, “challenging the nation to end abortion and releasing God to act on behalf of … the unborn.”

The 12-hour event featured a variety of speakers, including former Republican presidential candidate and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, and Anita King, niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

The Bishop of Gloucester offers some Reflections on Lambeth 2008

Our time together has indeed demonstrated to us the breadth and richness of the Communion. It has been a privilege to be here together, to represent our dioceses and to grow in respect and affection for one another. With the many differences among us we have found ourselves profoundly connected with one another and committed to God’s mission. Many of us have experienced a real depth of fellowship in our Bible Study Groups and have been moved, sometimes to tears, by the stories our brothers and sisters have told us about the life of their churches, their communities and their own witness. For many bishops, especially those for whom this has been their first Lambeth Conference, they have understood for the first time what a precious thing it is to be an Anglican. There has been a wonderful spirit of dialogue and we want that to continue beyond the Conference by every means possible – “the indaba must go on,” as one group expressed it. For many of us have discovered more fully why we need one another and the joy of being committed to one another. At a time when many in our global society are seeking just the sort of international community that we already have, we would be foolish to let such a gift fall apart.

That mood set the atmosphere in which we talked about the three issues that were pulling us apart – (1) the action of the Episcopal Church in ordaining a partnered gay man as a bishop, (2) the authorisation in some churches of blessing of same-sex unions and (3) the unwelcome incursions into dioceses by bishops from other dioceses, or even provinces and continents, to exercise pastoral care and oversight to those disenchanted with their own bishop. What our group discussions helped us to do was to see that we were not dealing with “the American Church” or “the African bishops”, but with a number of brothers (and some sisters), each with a name and an individual personality – Simon, Neff, Mary, Michael, Greg, Gerard and so on – and each struggling, in their own way, to be loyal to the Gospel and to the Church, to respond both to their culture and the local pastoral needs they faced, each becoming more conscious of the affect of their words and actions on people on the other side of the world. This was a very important opening of eyes.

It meant, of course, that talk of “winning” and “losing” became less and less appropriate. It meant that people came to realise that they wanted us at all costs to find ways of staying together in one communion, recognising the huge loss if we do not. It meant that there were required some provisions to keep us together through a testing time. Although there is more to it than this, the two key proposals were “covenant” and “moratoria”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Lambeth 2008

Belief in hell dips, but some say they've already been there

Ernie Long believes he has been to hell. He can even narrow it down to a particular moment.

His mother was dying of cancer. As she lay on her death bed, he swiped her last $5 and the car keys from her purse, went out and got high. When he returned, she was dead.

Long goes quiet, thinking about it in the chapel of Guiding Light Mission in Grand Rapids, Mich. When he first moved to the homeless shelter, he recalls, he would wake up in the night haunted by what he’d done.

“The shame and guilt engulfed me,” he says quietly. “I couldn’t stop crying.”

Today, Long is an intake supervisor for Guiding Light’s recovery program. He believes Jesus saved him from the pit of hell and wants other men to be saved too, here and hereafter.

“I think hell is being in the absence of purpose,” says Long, 64, who was addicted to crack cocaine before coming to Guiding Light two years ago. “When I had no purpose, no direction, I actually felt like I was living in hell.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Eschatology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Benedict XVI: Friendship with Christ is our Greatest Treasure

Benedict XVI affirmed that Christians must offer the personal testimony of their relationship with Jesus Christ and their identification with him.

“He instructs us so that we will remain in his love without being conformed to the dictates of this world,” he said. “Thus, with our whole life, with the joy of knowing that we are loved by Jesus, whom we can call brother, we will be valid instruments for him to continue to attract all with the mercy that flows from his cross.”

The Pope encouraged: “Drink the vivifying water that flows from the side of the Savior and satiates with its crystalline freshness all those who thirst for justice, peace and truth; those who are submerged in the thick fog of sin or the darkness of violence. Feel the consolation of Christ and offer the balm of his love to the afflicted, those who are weighed down by sorrow or who have remained wounded by the coldness of indifference or the scourge of corruption.”

Read it all.

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

More Women Than Ever Are Childless, Census Finds

Women are waiting longer to have children, and more women than ever are choosing not to have children at all, according to a new Census Bureau report.

Twenty percent of women ages 40 to 44 have no children, double the level of 30 years ago, the report said; and women in that age bracket who do have children have fewer than ever ”” an average of 1.9 children, compared with the median of 3.1 children in 1976.

“A lot of women are not having any children,” said Jane Lawler Dye, a Census Bureau researcher who did the report, which looked at women of childbearing age in 2006. “It used to be sort of expected that there was a phase of life where you had children, and a lot of women aren’t doing that now,” Ms. Dye said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Marriage & Family

Down under Bishop Hough returns as a "Rowanite" from Lambeth Conference

Bishop [Michael] Hough said he returned to Australia a “Rowanite”, convinced by the message and approach to managing the church taken by Archbishop Williams.

“Rowan was pilloried, attacked and mocked – but he got on with being the Archbishop of Canterbury,” Bishop Hough said.

He said the approach taken at the conference to ensure all bishops had a chance to speak was to divide the 800 bishops – about 300 bishops boycotted the conference – into groups of about 40.

This was, Bishop Hough said, an African model of reaching consensus called Indaba.

“The term that Rowan used were `the bonds of affection that bind us’,” Bihsop Hough said.

“If we can’t build on those then what are we doing here?”

“Rowan said God’s watching us, the world’s watching us. If we don’t handle our heritage with integrity then we fail in God’s eyes.

“If we don’t handle conflict then we have failed in the world’s eyes.”

Read it all.

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

Large U.S. Banks May Fail Amid Recession, Rogoff Says

Credit market turmoil has driven the U.S. into a recession and may topple some of the nation’s biggest banks, said Kenneth Rogoff, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund.

“The worst is yet to come in the U.S.,” Rogoff said in an interview in Singapore today. “The financial sector needs to shrink; I don’t think simply having a couple of medium-sized banks and a couple of small banks going under is going to do the job.”

The U.S. housing slump has triggered more than $500 billion of credit market losses for banks globally and led to the collapse and sale of Bear Stearns Cos., the fifth-largest U.S. securities firm. Rogoff said the government should nationalize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the nation’s biggest mortgage-finance companies, which have lost more than 80 percent of market value this year.

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae “should have been closed down 10 years ago,” he said. “They need to be nationalized, the equity holders should lose all their money. Probably we need to guarantee the bonds, simply because the U.S. has led everyone into believing they would guarantee the bonds.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market

After Obama-McCain forum, Rick Warren sermon focuses on character

The morning after Pastor Rick Warren interviewed both major presidential candidates at his evangelical church in Orange County, he delivered a Sunday sermon urging his congregation to judge Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain on how their characters would affect their decisions as leaders.

“Don’t just look at issues, look at character,” Warren said to a crowd of nearly 3,000 during one of two morning sermons at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest. “Look at the candidate and say, ‘Does he live with integrity, service with humility, share with generosity, or not?’ ”

Dressed in his usual bluejeans, Warren delivered the sermon titled “The Kind of Leadership America Needs” using Bible passages about faith and compassion. He did not speak of the differing views expressed by Obama and McCain when they appeared on the same stage Saturday, saying simply that “they were very different in personality, in philosophy, in direction, in goals and in vision, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Some who attended the Sunday services said Warren’s nationally televised conversations with the contenders offered a glimpse of the candidates’ qualities.

“It was a powerful forum in that we were exposed to the soul of who these two men were,” said Jim Christensen, 54, of Rancho Santa Margarita. “Before this, I only got what pundits wanted us to hear. Issues of character, issues of value, you don’t usually hear those types of things.”

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

McCain Gets Plaudits For Church Event

John McCain generally received better reviews than Barack Obama for his appearance at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. At the event, Obama and then McCain sat for an hour with the Rev. Rick Warren, who posed identical questions to the White House hopefuls. The Wall Street Journal reports there were “several moments when Sen. McCain’s reply was sharp and to the point. Sen. Obama, by contrast, took longer pauses after many of his questions, and his answers often came together slowly.” In his New York Times column, William Kristol says it “was McCain’s night. Obama made no big mistakes. But his tendency to somewhat windy generalities meant he wasn’t particularly compelling. McCain, who went second, was crisp by contrast, and his anecdotes colorful.”

On the CBS Evening News, Josh Kraushaar of Politico.com said, “I think Barack Obama did well for himself, but I think the clear winner in the forum was John McCain. He is someone who does not wear religion on his sleeve. He does not talk about his personal life and he felt very much at ease with this type of forum.” McClatchy reports Obama “impressed people with his ease talking the language of faith, no small feat for a Democrat. But McCain may have shored up support from this critical group.”

Read it all.

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

Obama appears ready to announce running mate

Senator Barack Obama has all but settled on his choice for a running mate and set an elaborate rollout plan for his decision, beginning with an early morning alert to supporters, perhaps as soon as Wednesday morning, aides said.

Obama’s deliberations remain remarkably closely held. Aides said perhaps a half-dozen advisers were involved in the final discussions in an effort to enforce a command that Obama issued to staff members: that his decision not leak out until supporters are notified.

Obama had not notified his choice — or any of those not selected — of his decision as of late Monday, advisers said. Going into the final days, Obama was said to be focused mainly on three candidates: Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia and Senator Joseph Biden Jr. of Delaware.

Some Democrats said they still hoped that he would choose Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, or Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, who has been under steady consideration by Obama’s campaign.

By all indications, Obama is likely to choose someone relatively safe and avoid taking a chance with a game-changing selection. A similar strategic choice now faces Obama’s Republican rival, Senator John McCain of Arizona, who has been under pressure from some Republicans to make a more daring choice.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Notable and Quotable

“Born to be battered…the loving phone call book. Underline it, circle things, write in the margins, turn down page corners, the more you use it, the more valuable it gets to be.”

–So reads an old advertisement by the South Central Bell Telephone Company which illustrates well what our approach to the Bible should be.

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A New York Times Magazine Profile of Nouriel Roubini

On Sept. 7, 2006, Nouriel Roubini, an economics professor at New York University, stood before an audience of economists at the International Monetary Fund and announced that a crisis was brewing. In the coming months and years, he warned, the United States was likely to face a once-in-a-lifetime housing bust, an oil shock, sharply declining consumer confidence and, ultimately, a deep recession. He laid out a bleak sequence of events: homeowners defaulting on mortgages, trillions of dollars of mortgage-backed securities unraveling worldwide and the global financial system shuddering to a halt. These developments, he went on, could cripple or destroy hedge funds, investment banks and other major financial institutions like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The audience seemed skeptical, even dismissive. As Roubini stepped down from the lectern after his talk, the moderator of the event quipped, “I think perhaps we will need a stiff drink after that.” People laughed ”” and not without reason. At the time, unemployment and inflation remained low, and the economy, while weak, was still growing, despite rising oil prices and a softening housing market. And then there was the espouser of doom himself: Roubini was known to be a perpetual pessimist, what economists call a “permabear.” When the economist Anirvan Banerji delivered his response to Roubini’s talk, he noted that Roubini’s predictions did not make use of mathematical models and dismissed his hunches as those of a career naysayer.

But Roubini was soon vindicated. In the year that followed, subprime lenders began entering bankruptcy, hedge funds began going under and the stock market plunged. There was declining employment, a deteriorating dollar, ever-increasing evidence of a huge housing bust and a growing air of panic in financial markets as the credit crisis deepened. By late summer, the Federal Reserve was rushing to the rescue, making the first of many unorthodox interventions in the economy, including cutting the lending rate by 50 basis points and buying up tens of billions of dollars in mortgage-backed securities. When Roubini returned to the I.M.F. last September, he delivered a second talk, predicting a growing crisis of solvency that would infect every sector of the financial system. This time, no one laughed. “He sounded like a madman in 2006,” recalls the I.M.F. economist Prakash Loungani, who invited Roubini on both occasions. “He was a prophet when he returned in 2007.”

Over the past year, whenever optimists have declared the worst of the economic crisis behind us, Roubini has countered with steadfast pessimism.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market

More from the Bishop of Minnesota on Lambeth 2008

There was a bit of a controversy in London last week. One of the reporters for The Times, who has a reputation for nastiness and undermining the Church of England, surfaced a letter from Archbishop Williams that stated his view that a same-sex relationship “might…reflect the love of God in a way comparable to marriage.” The headline sensationalized it, speaking in the present tense, although the letter was written eight years ago. Williams has stated that as a theologian he is often “thinking aloud,” but he was not doing so as a bishop.

Of course the reporter was only too happy to call others for comments, particularly the Primate of the Southern Cone, who immediately questioned ++Rowan’s credibility as Archbishop of Canterbury, and disparaged the Lambeth Conference. He is a leader of the GAF-CON group, and is known to have more than just a foot out of the door. It was observed that he and a few other Primates chose not to receive communion from or with the Archbishop.

Within a day of the first article, nineteen Church of England bishops, led by +Tom Wright, a conservative, wrote The Times to criticize the newspaper’s and reporter’s bid to “scupper the conference.” [read the letter and related articles in the links at the end of this letter] They also supported ++Rowan’s right to his own views, even those with which they disagree; saying that he has acted appropriately as Archishop of Canterbury, and praising his leadership of the Lambeth Conference.

I was very pleased to see this letter of support. However, it is very clear that there are some within and others outside the Anglican Communion who are only too happy to undermine it by half-truths, innuendo, disinformation, and in many cases, out-right lies. At this point, it seems clear to me that we are experiencing the break-up of The Anglican Communion as we have known it. A number of Primates did not come to Lambeth, and showed by that act that they believe the rest of us have nothing to say to them. We have said what we could in the public arena but that allows for no nuances and does not have the strength of relationships to build on. The dynamics of this are like a congregational fight. Those who leave are, in affect, saying they want no reconciliation, they do not wish to work on a relationship. The saddest part is that they discard not only those with whom they disagree or are angry, they discard the friends who have stood by them, perhaps in agreement, but certainly in love. The difficulty on a larger scale is that anger can be just as intense as with those we know well, but love and affection are not, for distance and infrequency of meeting inhibit intimacy and trust, and a suspicious word can undermine so much. We have known some of that here.

I will consider posting comments on this article which are submitted first by email:

KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, TEC Bishops