Daily Archives: September 12, 2008

David Gibson: Abortion's Foes — on Both Sides of the Aisle

Obscured by the polemics and theologizing, however, is the hard reality that abortion rates in the U.S., and legalized abortion, will not soon yield to restatements of the catechism or the notion that abortion is a violation of “natural law.” Such arguments have not yet proved persuasive to the American public, and minds are not likely to be changed by judicial fiat, even from the Supreme Court.

That means that abortion today is primarily a political challenge, and in that context Democrats have been embracing a more effective strategy than the GOP. In an interview with ABC last week, Mr. Obama wisely noted (a month after his “above my pay grade” gaffe) that the theological question was one “I don’t presume to be able to answer” for everyone else. “The better answer,” he said, “is to figure out, how do we make sure the young mothers, or women who have a pregnancy that’s unexpected or difficult, have the kind of support they need to make a whole range of choices, including adoption and keeping the child.”

Mr. Obama’s argument has won some surprising converts, most notably the former Reagan official Douglas W. Kmiec, whose switch has infuriated his erstwhile allies in the conservative movement. While Mr. Kmiec still strongly opposes abortion, he also believes that the status quo will be perpetuated by a McCain-Palin win. As he notes, Republicans have dominated the White House and Congress for nearly 30 years, and appointed most of the Supreme Court justices. Yet little has changed. (Abortion rates in fact dropped under Bill Clinton and are leveling off under George Bush.)

Mr. Kmiec also argues that Roe v. Wade is effectively settled law, and while the high court has a mostly Catholic conservative majority, only Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia would consider overturning Roe — and not for moral reasons, but because they believe it was based on a flawed reading of the Constitution.

Read it all.

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

Martyn Minns: A Future for Traditional Values within the Anglican Communion

At this juncture in our nation’s history, it is vitally important that we separate the values that are worth fighting for from those that are simply matters of cultural preference. There are values that are universal and non-negotiable. I find them in the Bible and they have shaped my life.

It is in the Bible where you will discover the truth that every human life is of inestimable worth. You will find that God created marriage – one man and one woman for life. This is not some social arrangement that we can redesign at will; it is part of God’s design for humanity.

However, for about the past forty years I belonged to a church that no longer advocates these values. In fact, it is attempting to deliberately replace our core values with some of the latest cultural whims.

That church is The Episcopal Church. It still has remnants of its rapidly fading prestige, but its current leadership seems to have lost its way and it has caused a major rift in the Anglican Communion.

The division within the Communion has been widespread and unbelievably painful. About half of the 38 provinces are in broken or impaired relationships. Dozens of dioceses are in disarray and hundreds of churches and millions of people have been negatively impacted by this fracture in our common life.

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

Pope speaks of secularism in first France visit

Pope Benedict XVI urged Christians to make their voices heard in France and other countries that have strong traditions of secularism, saying Friday that politics and religion must be open to each other.

The pope embarked Friday on a four-day trip ”” his first to France as pontiff ”” that will take him from the presidential Elysee Palace to the Roman Catholic shrine in Lourdes.

Benedict was greeted by President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, at a Paris airport, where a military band in plumed hats played a fanfare. Later in Paris, the pope was to address a gathering including Muslim leaders on the second anniversary of a speech that heightened tensions with much of the Islamic world.

Traditionally Roman Catholic France is wrestling with its changing religious landscape, and how to reconcile it with the secularism that underpins the modern French Republic. The country has a growing number of Muslims whose visible customs, such as wearing headscarves in public schools, have raised the hackles of officials determined to preserve the boundaries between church and state.

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

George Werner: What would Jesus Do?

Jesus enters Jehrico. The most despised man in town is Zaccheus who has grown rich as Chief Tax Collector. The leaders of Jehrico offered Jesus their hospitality but Jesus chose to eat with Zaccheus and to stay overnight in his home. Luke 19:7 “And when they saw it they all murmured, “He has gone in to spend the night with a man who is a sinner.”

In John 21:15ff, Jesus meets with Peter following the resurrection. He asks Simon Peter, son of John, three times, “Do you love me?” Each time Peter responds affirmatively. And Jesus charges Peter, “Feed my sheep, feed my lambs, feed my sheep.” Earlier, on the night before His crucifixion, John 15:12 records Jesus as saying, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Just what Jesus told the teacher of the Law in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

Moses brought all the people to the Promised Land, not just the Commandos. I have believed that was my calling for almost fifty years now. For me to walk toward Jesus means looking among all Jesus sheep and lambs, not just some select few.

I question neither the sincerity or the commitment of those who feel called to other paths on the way to Jesus. After all, “In my Father’s House there are many mansions. As I have
preached for many years, with God there is always more and with scripture there is always more. I believe that we all see through the glass darkly and that we are sinners who need to be saved by grace. Finally, as we yearn for god’s truth, it is better to have all voices at the table, not only those of our own choosing.

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

For Lehman employees, the collapse is personal

In the last few days, employees of Lehman Brothers have wrung their hands as the value of their stock evaporated before their eyes. Now, many fear losing their jobs, too.

In scenes eerily reminiscent of the final days of Bear Stearns, the megawatt energy within Lehman Brothers has dimmed to a hum as employees focus on the fate of the firm and what it might mean to them. To make matters worse, pink slips for previously announced layoffs were being handed out this week.

“Everyone is walking around like they have just been Tasered,” said one Lehman employee, who, like many interviewed for this article, declined to be named because he was not authorized to talk publicly. “Everyone was always hoping we would pull through. Now, that is not really an option.”

On Lehman’s third- and fourth-floor trading floors overlooking Broadway’s lights in Midtown Manhattan, traders continued working at their terminals, or at least were giving the appearance of doing so. At the same time, many polished their résumés and contacted recruiters.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Stock Market

Notable and Quotable (I)

“Hillary Clinton is as qualified or more qualified than I am to be vice president of the United States of America. Quite frankly it might have been a better pick than me.”

–Joseph Biden Jr., earlier this week while speaking in Nashua, New Hampshire

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

LA Times: California's top Episcopal bishops oppose gay marriage ban

California’s six most senior Episcopal bishops Wednesday unanimously declared their opposition to a constitutional amendment on the statewide November ballot that would ban same-sex marriage.

The bishops argued that preserving the right of gays and lesbians to marry would enhance the “Christian values” of monogamy, love and commitment.

“We believe that continued access to civil marriage for all, regardless of sexual orientation, is consistent with the best principles of our constitutional rights,” said the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

Bruno, flanked at a news conference by fellow clergy members and gay and straight couples, added: “We do not believe that marriage of heterosexuals is threatened by same-sex marriage.”

By going on the record against Proposition 8, which would reverse the California Supreme Court’s decision in May to legalize same-sex marriage, the bishops waded into a volatile political and religious controversy.

Gay marriage has strained the Episcopalians’ international body, the Anglican Communion, with hundreds of bishops from Africa and elsewhere threatening to break away over attempts to change church doctrine and practice.

The issue has created theological fissures in other Protestant denominations, including Presbyterians and United Methodists, with some Methodist ministers in California pledging to perform wedding ceremonies in defiance of their national church.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

Maggi Dawn: Blog Community

I was musing this morning about the way the internet is perceived as being real or not-real… to what extent can you say it’s “real life” or that you have “real” interaction with people via the screen?

Yesterday I posted about my son falling ill. I wasn’t really looking for a reaction, but i was nonetheless heartened when, within a couple of hours I had not just comments but phone calls and emails offering prayers and help from far and near. I wasn’t expecting such a rush of reaction, but it was lovely to feel supported and prayed for, and it left me reflecting that the internet world is not nearly as impersonal and unreal as we sometimes think. (and thankyou again to all who did think of us and pray; my son is very much on the mend and happily playing on his DS Lite on the sofa as I write.)

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet

In Canadian Prairies Dialogue melts 'ecumenical winter'

Are we in an “ecumenical winter” where little is happening to achieve Christian unity?

“I don’t think that’s the case,” says a Catholic expert on ecumenical relations who is currently visiting the Prairies.

“(Despite perceptions) there have been many positive developments in recent years (that have brought Christian churches much closer together),” said Msgr. Don Bolen, a Regina priest who for the past seven years has been working in Rome with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

But Bolen, who gave extensive examples of these efforts, said local churches must do more to foster these good developments.

“The local ecumenical scene needs to be nourished by the international dialogue,” he told about 60 people from several Edmonton Christian churches.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Canada, Ecumenical Relations, Religion & Culture

In Canada Handbooks aimed at getting people back in the pews

“When I go into a bank I get rattled. The clerks rattle me; the wickets rattle me; the sight of the money rattles me; everything rattles me. The moment I cross the threshold of a bank and attempt to transact business there, I become an irresponsible idiot.” — Stephen Leacock, “My Financial Career,” 1910

When they walk into a church, they get rattled. The members rattle them, the hymnals rattle them, the sight of the pews rattles them. Everything rattles them. The moment they cross the threshold of a church and attempt to worship there, they become irresponsible idiots.

Like the hero of Stephen Leacock’s “My Financial Career,” adults venturing into a place of worship for the first time in decades — perhaps ever — can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the experience. So much so, the United Church of Canada believes, that they simply stay away despite a growing desire to be part of a congregation again.

“Church is a bit of a mystery to most people these days,” says Daniel Benson, the United Church’s executive minister for resource production and distribution.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Apologetics, Canada, Evangelism and Church Growth, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

Presiding Bishop removes MacBurney's inhibition after retired bishop apologizes

(ENS) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has removed the inhibition she placed in April on retired Episcopal Diocese of Quincy Bishop Edward MacBurney.

In a September 9 order, Jefferts Schori said that MacBurney had voluntarily submitted to discipline (Canon IV.2(9) and (10)) over a presentment which the Title IV Review Committee issued on Jan. 24, 2008.

Diocese of San Diego Bishop Jim Mathes, who originally asked for MacBurney to be disciplined because he conducted unauthorized confirmations in San Diego, told ENS September 10 that the order and discipline of the church had been “maintained and in some way enhanced by this process.”

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

Michele Catalano: Remembering Not to Forget 9/11

We forgot. It doesn’t seem possible, but we forgot. I forgot.

I didn’t forget in the strictest meaning of the word, but I forgot some things. I forgot the anger. I forgot the anxiety and the worry. It’s all still there; it’s just not out on my sleeve where I can see it and know it and live it all the time. But it’s there. It’s in every perfect day, when the skies are blue and the clouds are perfect and the warmth is soft and comforting in an autumn kind of way. Some things were okay to forget or let go of. I swore after 9/11 that I would never set foot in another airplane.

I am writing this on a flight from New York to California.

Is it a good thing to forget pain? Is it something we need to keep in our hearts as a reminder, something to keep us awake, alert, and ever vigilant?

No, I don’t want to remember that.

I want to remember the way the skyline looked before, with the Twin Towers intact. I want to remember a time when most people didn’t know who bin Laden was. I want to know that time when the country wasn’t a place of divide, when terrorism and war didn’t separate us into with us/against us.

But I forgot so much. Seven years have come and gone. In those years we moved on, we lived, we put 9/11 aside with all our other memories that we like to keep at bay. Time is the best medication of all. It dulls the pain, eases the hurt, and assuages the guilt. It makes me forget it could happen again. Time brings complacency.

In that small space between three hijacked planes and color-coded terror alerts, between a small field in Pennsylvania and conspiracy theories, there was a brief, lit-up moment when we felt like one. I remember thinking that this tragedy would fix us instead of break us. I want so much to feel again that hope and unity that existed in the days after the attack. There was proof, ever so briefly, that we could come together as a nation to help and comfort each other, when we were all just human beings on common ground instead of left or right, Democrat or Republican.

Never forget, indeed. Never forget that out of the rubble of tragedy arose a moment when we put everything aside to be one whole nation.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Terrorism

Open Thread: Thoughts on 9/11 Seven Years On

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Terrorism

U.S. Government to Arrange Sale of Lehman Brothers

This is really something to behold.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Maimed on 9/11, Trying to Be Whole Again

Lauren Manning’s handshake is strong, almost bionic. You might think it was a byproduct of decades of playing tennis and golf. But her grip has been painfully relearned, and bolstered with more titanium pins than she cares to count.

On a hot summer day, she wore flirtatiously high-heeled sandals, creased white trousers and a long-sleeved blue blouse, leaving only feet and hands exposed. So much of her skin is still stippled with scars. “My tattoos,” she said with a rueful smile, as though they were an indelible remnant of a carefree youth. Only in her case, she noted, they cannot be “lasered off.”

On Sept. 11, 2001, Mrs. Manning ”” newly married, the mother of a 10-month-old boy, at the top of her profession on Wall Street ”” was met by a fireball as she strode into the lobby of the World Trade Center.

On a day that New York City hospitals waited to be overwhelmed by casualties, only to realize that most people either perished in the collapse of the twin towers or streamed out into the holocaust of ashes largely intact, she was among the oft-forgotten few who were severely injured yet survived.

In the face of 3,000 dead, it was easy to overlook the relative handful of people like Mrs. Manning, who was burned over 80 percent of her body and spent weeks on the brink of death, then months at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Terrorism