Daily Archives: September 7, 2008

Detroit's sputtering Big Three turn to Washington for help

Battered by weak sales, declining market share and miserable credit ratings, Detroit’s Big Three automakers are now turning to the US government for help.
General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC will be launching a campaign in the coming days to secure at least 25 billion dollars in federal loans to help get past the current economic malaise.

“This isn’t a bail out,” said Greg Martin, Washington spokesman for GM, the largest US automaker which has been awash in speculation for months that it is running short of cash.

“These are direct loans that we have to pay back,” added Ford spokesman Mike Moran.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Inspired by Star Wars, but Helping Veterans of Real Wars

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces

Religion and Ethics Weekly–2008 Campaign: Religion at the DNC

[KIM] LAWTON: The gathering was part of a new Democratic strategy to incorporate religion and more aggressively reach out to faith-based voters. Observers say it’s a sea change from 2004, when the Democrats appeared reluctant to address issues of faith.

Reverend ROMAL TUNE (Clergy Strategic Alliances): Four years ago, the party was still gaining momentum in terms of the outreach in the religious community. But now the party is more willing to express its views as people of faith, the diversity of the faiths represented by the Democratic Party.

LAWTON: But when it comes to religion, the Democratic Party still has some major challenges to overcome.

LAWTON: According to a new survey from the Pew Research Center, only 38 percent of Americans think the Democratic Party is friendly toward religion. That compares to more than half of all Americans who think the Republican Party is friendly toward religion. Democratic leaders hope the prominent role of faith at this convention will change those perceptions.

The Democrats incorporated faith on many fronts here. As is the tradition for both political parties, various religious leaders opened and closed every floor session with prayer. Faith-based groups were part of a service day where delegates were encouraged to do volunteer work. Some delegates helped out at a feeding program at Trinity United Methodist Church. Kathy West, a United Methodist delegate from Illinois, was one of them.

KATHY WEST (Illinois Delegate): We’re the party closest to the people, in my opinion. That’s one of the reasons I am a Democrat.

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

Religion and Ethics Weekly–2008 Campaign: Religion at the RNC

KIM LEHMAN (Iowa Delegate): It wasn’t as lukewarm as much as it was waiting to see if John McCain was going to hold to his commitment to have a pro-life administration.

[KIM] LAWTON: Lehman says McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as a running mate changed everything.

Ms. LEHMAN: It was like taking a rubber band, pulling it backward and just shooting us through excitement. And so all of us being on the reciprocating end of emails, phone calls””everybody’s excited.

Governor SARAH PALIN (during acceptance speech, Republican National Convention): We are expected to govern with integrity, good will, clear convictions, and a servant’s heart.

LAWTON: The nomination of Palin, an evangelical Christian who bly opposes abortion, has been controversial in some quarters. But it has clearly mobilized the Republican Party’s social conservative base and given the McCain ticket a big boost of energy. Many in that base were deeply concerned in the weeks leading up to the convention when McCain’s campaign floated the idea of picking a pro-choice running mate.

Dr. RICHARD LAND (President, Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission): I told the McCain people flat out that would inflict a mortal wound on his campaign, one from which he could not have recovered. If he had picked a pro-choice candidate, he was going to lose. He still may lose. But that would have been it. He could never have recovered among evangelicals and social conservative Catholics if he had picked a pro-choice running mate.

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

Walter Deller–Theological Reflection: Stepping back from full inclusion

A friend who is deeply read in Anglican history and theology predicted that Lambeth 2008 would give a negative response to gay and lesbian people on the matter of their full inclusion in the life and orders of the church and that at Lambeth 2018 the discussion would be about banning women priests and bishops. So far his prediction has come fairly accurately true. On this most perplexing matter dividing our communion, the Lambeth’s Reflections do not even clearly call for continuing dialogue and listening to gay and lesbian people””despite the resolutions of Lambeth 1998.

From a theological perspective, the finest documents to emerge from this Lambeth Conference were the Archbishop of Canterbury’s presidential addresses, but it is also clear that many of the other addresses were rich in theological content (eg. the Chief Rabbi’s lecture on Covenant). From an ecclesiological perspective, his decision to make this Lambeth a conference has been, in my view, a major step forward. The Reflections document issued at the end is by its very nature vague, and reflective of the multiplicity of positions on most of the questions that perplex us. This may be a healthy stage of conversation; it offers us all a clearer picture of the range of diversity and contexts in which we seek to live our mission.

More depressing, in my view, is that despite all protestations to the contrary and arguments about confrontation with Islam in Africa and elsewhere, the evangelical side of Anglicanism is leading us more and more toward a form of Christianity which is simply another variant of fundamentalist Islam….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Lambeth 2008, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Anglican Journal: Canadian church is ”˜frustrated’

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has expressed “frustration” that the Canadian church has not been given an opportunity to present its situation with regards to the blessing of same-sex unions during hearings conducted by a body formed to determine the next course of action for the Anglican Communion to salvage its fractured unity.

Archbishop Hiltz, who attended the once-a-decade conference of the world’s Anglican bishops here, said that it would be “a huge challenge” to merge what has been happening in bishops’ discussion groups, called indaba, with what the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG) has been recommending as the way forward for the Communion.

“I think what we’re running into is a kind of difficult rubbing between the indaba process which has been in large measure very conversational, very relational” and the work of the WCG, which is “seeking to find structures and procedures whereby we can remain in communion with one another,” said Archbishop Hiltz.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Lambeth 2008, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Windsor Report / Process

Hitchcock: monster or moralist?

Was Alfred Hitchcock a sexual monster? Or was he, as the French film makers Rohmer and Chabrol once claimed, a moralist whose films are steeped in Roman Catholic themes?

Whatever his achievement as an artist, the personal reputation of Alfred Hitchcock remains the subject of heated dispute. Glance at biographies of the British director and two wildly differing Hitchcocks emerge. Donald Spoto’s highly readable The Dark Side of Genius: the Life of Alfred Hitchcock portrays a frustrated lecher who delights in torturing his leading blondes. Yet in Patrick McGilligan’s later, authoritative, 818-page Alfred Hitchcock: a Life in Darkness and Light, Hitchcock appears as an iconoclastic if ultimately devout Roman Catholic whose entire oeuvre is “suffused” with a profound Catholicism.

“His Catholicism is overt on a superficial and a profound level” McGilligan claims. “On a superficial level, he is irreverent: think, for example, of the false nun with high heels in The Lady Vanishes. On a profound level, the Catholicism is conscious. A constant theme in the Hitchcock film is the wrong person being caught by the police, and convicted. The police in his movies are often stupid, and Hitchcock was not prepared ”“ with the exception of The Paradine Case (1947) – to let his victims go to court. Often they precipitate their own demise. Hitchcock was strongly opposed to capital punishment and his films question the infallibility of earthly justice as opposed to God’s justice.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

Geoffrey Rowell: A good spiritual exercise is to be asked to write your own obituary

It is perhaps not accidental that the Times Register, in which the Faith page appears, is also the section of obituaries. Obituaries are written when a life is completed, and an assessment can be made, of attributes and achievements, of the meaning and purpose lived out in this particular history of this unique person. A good spiritual exercise, often used for evaluating candidates for ordination, is to be asked to write one’s own obituary, to judge what one would wish to have said about one’s life at the end. Honestly done, this can be a sobering exercise and point towards the choices that have to be made if that obituary is to be true in reality not just in aspiration.

Life can be interpreted only after it has been experienced, and our own history informs our understanding of the future. For Kierkegaard our human project was to become that man or woman whom we are after the image of Christ. Jesus was the one who is “the proper man”, the one who is, in St Paul’s words, “the image of the invisible God” who made us in love for Himself. It is He who is the key to what it is to be truly human, and His history therefore becomes our history too. As year after year the Church celebrates the life of Christ, Christians enter into the meaning of His birth, His life and teaching, His death and resurrection. Week by week as the word is preached, the Eucharist is celebrated, and Christ’s life is received in the sacrament, the meaning and pattern of our life is given.

Christian hymn writers have seen the providence of God at work in their lives as they look backwards. Joseph Addison praises the God who cared for him “before my infant heart conceived from whence those comforts flowed”, and who kept him safe “in the slippery paths of youth. . . Thine arm unseen conveyed me safe, and led me up to man.” John Keble, knowing that same providential grace, sees our waking each morning as a sacrament of God’s presence, “through sleep and darkness, safely brought, restored to life and power and thought”, with each day bringing new opportunities through the trivial round and the common task for the one thing needful, “a road to bring us daily nearer God”.

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

Christopher Howse: Bees are eating Lichfield Cathedral

Bees are eating Lichfield Cathedral. It sounds like science fiction, but it is science fact. I might take back the kind words I had for bees in this column (June 28), except that the cathedral-eating kind are not our beleaguered honey bees.

The vandals are masonry bees, of which there are nearly 20 species in Britain. Who’d have thought it? Normally they do little harm, as readers have reported in the Telegraph letters page (July 26). But Lichfield cathedral is built of soft old sandstone, which crumbles like cheese. The bees take advantage of exfoliating stone, and where one lays her eggs, others are attracted. Their little mandibles can burrow a system of galleries, and the holes fill with water, which freezes in winter, splitting the stone, and providing yet more desirable residences for bees.

Masonry bees favour the sunny south side of buildings, and it was this side of the cathedral, overlooking the town, that I was staring at when I bumped into the Dean, the Very Rev Adrian Dorber. He told me that English Heritage has given £250,000 this year towards restoration of the stonework, which cathedral fundraisers have matched. The next step is an application for a £5 million Lottery Heritage grant.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

Violence in India Is Fueled by Religious and Economic Divide

Those who came to attack Christians here early last week set their trap well, residents say.

First, they built makeshift barricades of trees and small boulders along the roads leading into this village, apparently to stop the police from intervening.

Then, villagers say, the attackers went on a rampage. Chanting “Kill these pigs” and “All Hindus are brothers,” the mob began breaking into homes that displayed posters of Jesus, stealing valuables and eventually burning the buildings. When they found residents who had not fled to the nearby jungle, they beat them with sticks or maimed them with axes and left them to die.

A local official said three people died as a result of the attack on Aug. 25. The carefully placed roadblocks accomplished their purpose; residents say a full day passed before help arrived.

One villager, Asha Lata Nayak, said, “I saw the mob carrying sticks, axes, swords, knives and small guns. They first demolished the village church and later Christian houses. Nobody came forward to help us.”

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

Massive Churches Rising in Muslim Indonesia Are Testament to New Christian Boldness

Indonesia’s sprinkling of small churches have periodically been raided, burned down or bombed by angry mobs. It would seem to be a good place for Christians to keep a low profile.

Instead, some wealthy Christian leaders in the predominantly Muslim nation have embarked on a bold and possibly provocative strategy: building megachurches as an assertion of their faith.

At least four multimillion-dollar churches that can seat thousands of people — patterned on the evangelical colossi of the U.S. — are nearing completion around Jakarta, the capital, and others are cropping up elsewhere.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Other Churches

Mark McCall: Is the Episcopal Church Hierarchical?

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons

ACI–Constitution And Canons: What Do They Tell Us About TEC?

Please note that this is an introduction to the following post written by Mark McCall–KSH.

Sad to say, it seems virtually certain that TEC will reject any covenant proposal that limits its autonomy. Its leadership has consistently argued for a view of communion that resides in mutual hospitality and practice (as seen from the leadership’s perspective). They have also made clear their resistance to any meaningful form of restraint on a Province that decides to act against the views of the Communion as a whole.

Should the General Convention reject the proposed covenant, the paper we are posting clearly implies that individual dioceses within TEC have a constitutional right to vote for adoption on their own. The Instruments of Communion would then have to decide whether or not to allow individual dioceses that dissent from the negative actions of their Province to be covenant partners with the other Provinces of the Communion. Circumstances such as these present other polity issues, but the Archbishop of Canterbury has already indicated the theological appropriateness of this course of action. It would, nonetheless, still have to receive some form of Communion approval. It is difficult to imagine that such approval would not be forthcoming.

It is painful to think of TEC rejecting the covenant, though this is the course of action intimated. This eventuality will result in individual dioceses being put in the position of adopting a covenant on their own. There is a promise of renewal and reform attached to these possibilities. By adopting the covenant, dissenting dioceses within TEC would place themselves within a communion of provinces and dioceses wherein effective hierarchies are extant. In so doing they would place the hierarchy that orders their own dioceses within a more Catholic (with big C) and less congregationally ordered form of polity.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons

Transcending Race and Religion to Rebuild the Ruins of Baltimore

One weekday morning in 1981, when he was new to Baltimore, Arnold Graf descended into the basement of the Enon Baptist Church. The steps took him into the midst of 60 skeptics. They were the black ministers whom Mr. Graf, a white Jew, was trying to persuade to join him in community organizing.

Even among a loquacious crowd of preachers, conversation stilled at Mr. Graf’s arrival. “I don’t know if we should be talking about this stuff with an outsider here,” one minister said, as Mr. Graf recently recalled the meeting.

Then the Rev. Vernon N. Dobson, one of Baltimore’s legendary civil rights leaders, replied. Alone among the dozens of ministers, he was already a member of Mr. Graf’s group, Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development. Alone among them, Mr. Dobson had already gotten to know Mr. Graf during the organizer’s brief months in the city.

“He’s with me,” Mr. Dobson said. “And who’s blacker than me here? The man is my brother.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Race/Race Relations

Gafcon leaders say Communion can never be the same again

The Anglican Communion has been broken and it is an “illusion” to believe things can ever be the same again, the archbishops of the Gafcon movement said last week following their first organizational meeting in London.

The leaders of the conservative wing of the Anglican Communion, representing more than half of the Church’s active members, on Aug 29 released a statement affirming the aims of the movement — now known as the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) — and restated its commitment to the reform and renewal of the Communion.

However, they disagreed sharply with the course taken by Archbishop Rowan Williams in avoiding a full and frank airing of the issues, with one insider telling The Church of England Newspaper the Anglican Communion’s sex wars had taken on a Dickensian quality, and like “Jarndyce and Jarndyce” was still dragging its “dreary length before the court, perennially hopeless.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, GAFCON I 2008, Global South Churches & Primates, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Windsor Report / Process