Daily Archives: September 9, 2008

Church of Ireland Gazette Editorial: The Gafcon Primates Communique

The publication of the communiqué from the recent London meeting of the GAFCON Primates’ Council (report, page 1) marks a further development of what is termed a “movement” within Anglicanism. The development is particularly significant because of the impetus given to the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) and because of the formation of a secretariat. One thus sees three strands to this formalised, traditional Anglican movement: first, a Primates’ Council; second, a wider body (the FCA) which is open to membership of individuals, Churches, dioceses, provinces and parachurch organisations; and third, a secretariat. A further and most significant aspect of the GAFCON Primates’ communiqué is the reference to the possible formation of a province in North America for the Common Cause Partnership. This would very probably have serious funding implications for The Episcopal Church, USA and possibly also for the Anglican Communion itself and its Communion-wide organisations.

All of this witnesses to a structured Anglican realignment, although the GAFCON constituency remains in communion with the See of Canterbury. However, what is happening all round is certainly not bringing everyone together and, as we know, there are those bishops now who simply will not receive Holy Communion with fellow bishops. Nor does the proposal to have an Anglican Covenant fare well in the GAFCON Primates’ communiqué.

The fact of the matter, however, is that the traditionalist point of view in relation to same-sex relationships – and that, after all, is the real presenting issue leading to all of this confusion – is eminently reasonable and, indeed, eminently traditional and scriptural, but it is unfortunate that the GAFCON Primates use somewhat emotive language in their communiqué (e.g. “sinful practices”), however justifiable they may consider such terminology to be. Yet the 1998 Lambeth I.10 resolution did call for sensitivity, and effectively calling good people sinners is not a sensitive approach. That, however, is not the core issue. The core issue for Anglicans is that the consecration of bishops and the ordination of clergy in active same-sex relationships and public rites of blessing of same-sex relationships are all simply so lacking in consensus within Anglicanism that we have come to this very sorry pass, which has witnessed a Lambeth Conference boycotted by one-fifth to one quarter of those bishops invited. Unity-in-diversity just cannot cope in this case.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Ireland, GAFCON I 2008, Global South Churches & Primates

USA Today: Amid dwindling numbers, megachurches seek the 'seekers'

After decades of soaring growth, the phenomenon of Protestant megachurches ”” behemoths of belief where 2,000 to 20,000 or more people attend weekend worship ”” may be stalled.

And Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., the granddaddy of “seeker-sensitive” megachurches geared to attract the spiritually curious, is on a mission to rev the engines.

Read it all.

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

APA's Diocese of the West Seeking Intercommunion with REC and Common Cause

SanDiegoAnglicans has the goods.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Continuum, Common Cause Partnership, Other Churches

A Letter on Smaller Town Life and the Presidential Election

Rod Dreher points us to this fascinating comment from John on Patrick Deneen’s blog:

The result–I live in a great neighborhood where I walk my kids to school and myself to work, but I have to drive to buy food, clothing, or gasoline. Church is 20 minutes away. When I tell people from the suburbs where I live, I am greeted with shock and misplaced pity.

I bring all this up to say that the Republican party, for whom I have voted most of the time, is the chief culprit in supporting an economic system that is the enemy of real places that are inhabited by people with roots in that place.

The dilemma for me is that the other side is not much better. If Republicans are guilty of bleeding traditional culture to death through their mindless support for the “global economy”, more oil drilling and the exurbs, Democrats seem to be militantly in favor of destroying that same culture albeit for different reasons.

I have real problems with some of the reasons that McCain nominated Palin (her inexperience, the loose ends that she has in Alaska, her lifelong membership in the NRA), but when those who identified themselves as liberal commentators mocked her family size, her pro-life stance, her faith, and her small-town origins, it touched a nerve. So much so that I will probably be voting for John McCain in the fall, despite the fact that I share most of Patrick’s concerns about the McCain/Palin ticket.

I am beginning to think that those of us who value places and connection and an unhurried family life are pretty rare or too silent. We have no natural political allies and we are unlikely to get any soon.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh prepares for Major vote

In response to a lawsuit led by one of its parishes, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has agreed to have a court-appointed neutral party inventory all of its property and assets as it prepares for a final vote on seceding from the Episcopal Church.

The agreement between representatives of the diocese and Calvary Episcopal Church, Shadyside, came after a hearing yesterday before Joseph M. James, president judge of Common Pleas Court. In 2005, he oversaw a settlement after Calvary sued the diocese to prevent the transfer of property from the denomination to individual parishes.

Calvary has led a minority of parishes that oppose Bishop Robert Duncan’s plan to leave the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion and realign with the more conservative Anglican Province of the Southern Cone in South America over concerns about doctrine and sexual ethics. A final vote is set for Oct. 4.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh

Rick Jasculca: Misdirection . . . still a spectacular play

The gun-toting, right-to-life populism (government is the problem, not the solution) that will be espoused by the McCain-Palin ticket will, I think, prove to be very well-received in rural areas of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Nevada, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, southern Ohio, western Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina and Georgia.

Am I worried? You bet. We Democrats tend to be very urban-centric in our strategies, focusing on metro areas (cities and suburbs) that absolutely contain the most registered voters in the majority of these states.

However, and ironically because of the power of the change message this time around, I believe rural areas, especially in swing states, will play a disproportionately large role in determining the outcome of this election.

For the past 28 years, my wife and I have had a house in Oconto County, a rural area about an hour and 15 minutes north of Green Bay, home to a lot of blue-collar workers and farmers, most of whom hunt and fish avidly and would consider themselves populists. I could be wrong, but I’m guessing McCain-Palin will be extraordinarily popular in Oconto and counties just like it across Wisconsin and other states.

Read it all from Sunday’s Chicago Tribune.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

John Richardson Responds to the 2008 Lambeth Reflections Document

Is there somewhere on earth where the Sunday afternoons are so interminably long that ones life would be more enhanced by reading in detail the Reflections on the Lambeth Conference 2008 than by, say, watching another re-run of The Great Escape or re-attempting a Sudoku puzzle? Perhaps there is, but for most of us life is too short for me to recommend the exercise.

What was the Lambeth Conference convened to achieve? The answer is: nothing. Remember, with the exception of the very first (and with interruptions for world wars), Lambeth Conferences have occurred decennially. They are held because it is time to hold one, not (essentially) because there is something that needs to be done which only a gathering of Anglican bishops from all the corners of the globe can achieve.

Thus, despite the acknowledgement within the Reflections document itself that the Anglican Communion is in crisis’, it was possible to organize this conference with the express intention of avoiding confronting the issue. Behind the scenes, of course, the intention was that by avoiding confrontation, a resolution of sorts could be approached, since keeping everyone together would further establish the status quo as de facto policy.

Publicly, the means to this end was a bastardized African import, the so-called indaba groups. These, one suspects, as much resembled the real thing as village-hall yoga does the Indian mystic tradition. Historically, an indaba is a meeting of Africans, not Anglican bishops, and brings with it the assumptions of African, not western liberal, culture, one of which is not ‘constantly avoiding confronting the issue’ (thus, from an old ANC Daily Briefing on the internet: ‘Sport and Recreation Minister Ngconde Balfour has called a one-day indaba to thrash out the problems plaguing professional boxing in South Africa’). The organizers of the Lambeth Conference adopted the term indaba because it sounded good, but used it for their own ends.

And now a Conference called for no particular reason, holding meetings designed to reach no particular conclusions, has produced not a report but a series of reflections.
Having decided to decide nothing, it appears that the Conference felt it must comment on everything. Thus the reader who is willing may wade through pages of good intentions about good causes ranging from disaster relief to carbon footprints. Yet, of course, nothing is (nor could be) specific; not even the Gospel which, it is claimed, lies at the heart of the Communion’s concept of mission. In reality, as we know, there is no shared concept of ‘Gospel’ across the Anglican Communion, and so in matters of religion specifically there can be no shared concept of ministry. (Indeed, I amused myself with the thought that the Bishop of Durham, Dr Tom Wright, who addressed the Conference on the authority of Scripture, would have held that almost none of the delegates were gospel preachers’ in his own terms – certainly not Dr Rowan Williams, who has his own peculiar take on the topic.)

Moving beyond matters of doctrine, however, the Reflections unabashedly define the social mission of the Anglican Communion in terms of fulfilling the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. (Quite what would happen to the mission of the Church were these goals to be achieved does not seem to have crossed anyone’s mind).
But what about the elephant in the living room – the crisis in the Communion which prompted so many bishops not even to attend? Thanks to the process set up by the Conference organizers, the elephant is, of course, admired from every angle, but remember, there is no intention to remove it from the room. The last Lambeth Conference spoke clearly and concisely on the subject; yet we have been reminded by both words and deeds that such pronouncements have no binding force (despite the Conference being acknowledged as one of the instruments of the Communion, para. 136).

So no matter what the indaba groups may have shared or the Reflections may reflect, only the pathologically optimistic will suppose anything is going to deter the western churches from promoting and supporting the revisionist agenda. As many have noted, the dominant voice on campus, other than the bishops themselves, was that of the many pro-LGBT groups, not only in the market-place but via a daily ‘newspaper’.

What fewer seem yet to have noticed is that, as defined in the Reflections, one of the three ‘moratoria’ on actions currently ‘dividing’ the Communion would require sanctions against the Church of England itself, namely ‘Episcopal ordinations of partnered homosexual people’ [para. 131]. These are, of course, entirely permissible within the law of the land and the guidelines set out in the 2005 statement by the House of Bishops on Civil Partnerships: ‘The House of Bishops does not regard entering into a civil partnership [with someone of the same sex] as intrinsically incompatible with holy orders’ [para. 19]. True, the statement goes on to say that this is ‘provided the person concerned is willing to give assurances to his or her bishop that the relationship is consistent with the standards for the clergy set out in Issues in Human Sexuality (i.e. is sexually celibate).’
However, the Reflections clearly need to be more careful on this issue at least. And in any case, the latitude exercised by some English bishops in refusing, as the Bishop of Chelmsford puts it, ‘to engage in intrusive behaviour into the private lives of their clergy’ means that the conditions of the moratoria are almost certainly being breached in the English Provinces.

In any case, we keep returning to the question of whether anything coming out of this Lambeth Conference can add to what has gone before or to what is currently in process. Remarks contained in the Reflections suggest anxieties about the Instruments of Communion, a lack of confidence in the Windsor Process, suspicion about the Covenant (specifically when it comes to any disciplinary process) and a determination that the proposed Pastoral Forum should be toothless – a ‘pastoral’ body without legal powers acting solely at the discretion of the Primate of the Province concerned.

One is reminded finally (and ironically) of Oscar Wilde’s dictum: ‘The Lords Temporal say nothing, the Lords Spiritual have nothing to say’ Sadly, we may modify his final comment about the House of Commons to read: ‘the Lambeth Reflections has nothing to say and says it.’

–This article appears in the September 2008 edition of New Directions magazine, page 10

Posted in Uncategorized

Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison Responds to Joseph Biden

Rocco describes what happened this past Sunday:

Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison told his usual Sunday-morning crowd that, having seen the [Meet the Press] program just prior to the liturgy, he was shelving his prepared preach to address the theme of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Delaware senator “as Catholics.”

“You can see I’m worked up about this,” the Wisconsin prelate — like Biden, a son of Scranton — said during his weekly 11am Mass at St Patrick’s parish in the heart of the “People’s Republic.”

It is an mp3 file and the homily is about 15 minutes long (hat tip: Rocco).

Update: A brief biography of the bishop is here.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, US Presidential Election 2008

StrategyPage with some Alarming Data in the Information warfare department

September 6, 2008: Internet security officials just got another shock, when a British survey of network administrators (the people who run the networks, and Internet access, in large companies) revealed that 88 percent admitted they would take company Internet secrets (passwords, system layout and the like) with them if they were ever suddenly fired.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, Science & Technology

A (London) Times Editorial: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and us

The London Stock Exchange yesterday suffered a seizure, blacking out as a result of a computer glitch on a critical day in the world’s stock markets. Across the Atlantic, Wall Street burst into life thanks to the government rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the companies that ultimately fund most American mortgages.
Little over a year ago, New York worried that London was set to leave it behind. These days, it is the City that eyes Wall Street with creeping envy. For America’s handling of the credit crunch has been in stark contrast to Britain’s approach. When the inter-bank markets froze last summer, the US Federal Reserve made cash much more freely available to the banks; the Bank of England, both in word and deed, was more measured. When the economy started to slow, the Fed slashed interest rates despite worldwide concerns about inflation; the Bank has held steady. When Bear Stearns faltered, the Fed orchestrated a weekend firesale; the Bank, the Treasury and the Financial Services Authority spent nearly five months reversing into the nationalisation of Northern Rock. And when the housing market and the financial system were in danger, Washington stepped in to take control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; Downing Street announced a stamp duty holiday. On each occasion, America has chosen pragmatism over principle, decisiveness over dither.

The US and the UK are, of course, very different economies. The policy options available to London and Washington differ too. But America has responded to the financial turmoil in marked contrast to the UK and, so far, with more success: the dollar has strengthened against the pound and the US has avoided recession.

Read it all.

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

Florida Court Tosses Challenge to Religious Funding Ban

Florida’s Supreme Court on Wednesday tossed out two statewide ballot initiatives aimed at ending a longstanding ban on public funding for religious institutions, drawing praise from church-state watchdogs.

Civil liberties groups had filed suit to remove the amendments headed for the November ballot, which sought to rewrite the state constitution to allow church groups to participate in government programs, and pave the way for school voucher programs.

A lower court had upheld the initiatives in an Aug. 4 decision.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Top Lawyer Is Selected As U.S. Mulls Google Suit

The Justice Department has quietly hired one of the nation’s best-known litigators, former Walt Disney Co. vice chairman Sanford Litvack, for a possible antitrust challenge to Google Inc.’s growing power in advertising.

Mr. Litvack’s hiring is the strongest signal yet that the U.S. is preparing to take court action against Google and its search-advertising deal with Yahoo Inc. The two companies combined would account for more than 80% of U.S. online-search ads.

Google shares tumbled 5.5%, or $24.30, to $419.95 in 4 p.m. trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market, while Yahoo shares were up 18 cents to $18.26.

For weeks, U.S. lawyers have been deposing witnesses and issuing subpoenas for documents to support a challenge to the deal, lawyers close to the review said. Such efforts don’t always mean a case will be brought, however.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Law & Legal Issues

Notable and Quotable

“I think this is a bigger financial crisis…Instead of nationalizing an industry like the S&L industry, we’ve effectively nationalized the mortgage market.”

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Economy.com

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

Joseph Biden on When Does Life Begin on Meet the Press Yesterday

MR. BROKAW: Two weeks ago I interviewed Senator Nancy Pelosi–she’s the speaker of the House, obviously–when she was in Denver. When Barack Obama appeared before Rick Warren, he was asked a simple question: When does life begin? And he said at that time that it was above his pay grade. That was the essence of his question. When I asked the speaker what advice she would give him about when life began, she said the church has struggled with this issue for a long time, especially in the last 50 years or so. Her archbishop and others across the country had a very strong refutation to her views on all this; I guess the strongest probably came from Edward Cardinal Egan, who’s the Archbishop of New York. He said, “Anyone who dares to defend that they may be legitimately killed because another human being `chooses’ to do so or for any other equally ridiculous reason should not be providing leadership in a civilized democracy worthy of the name.” Those are very strong words. If Senator Obama comes to you and says, “When does life begin? Help me out here, Joe,” as a Roman Catholic, what would you say to him?

SEN. BIDEN: I’d say, “Look, I know when it begins for me.” It’s a personal and private issue. For me, as a Roman Catholic, I’m prepared to accept the teachings of my church. But let me tell you. There are an awful lot of people of great confessional faiths–Protestants, Jews, Muslims and others–who have a different view. They believe in God as strongly as I do. They’re intensely as religious as I am religious. They believe in their faith and they believe in human life, and they have differing views as to when life–I’m prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life begins at the moment of conception. But that is my judgment. For me to impose that judgment on everyone else who is equally and maybe even more devout than I am seems to me is inappropriate in a pluralistic society. And I know you get the push back, “Well, what about fascism?” Everybody, you know, you going to say fascism’s all right? Fascism isn’t a matter of faith. No decent religious person thinks fascism is a good idea.

Read it all (there is a video link available for those who desire it also).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, US Presidential Election 2008

Roman Catholic Priest ordered by Vatican to give up seat in House of Commons

The Vatican has ordered an outspoken Bloc Québécois MP to quit his seat in the House of Commons and return to his job as a Roman Catholic priest.

Rev. Raymond Gravel said the decision was due to a backlash in English Canada over his “misinterpreted” comments on abortion, but that he had no choice but to follow his original calling.

“My first mission in life is to be a priest, not to be in politics,” he said in an interview.

Father Gravel, 55, is a former prostitute who became a priest in his mid-20s. He worked on behalf of the poor and the elderly after being elected to the House of Commons in a 2006 by-election in the Quebec riding of Repentigny.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Canada, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic