Daily Archives: October 29, 2008

Connecticut Episcopalians ask OK for gay marriage

The clergy and lay delegates of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut voted Saturday to ask the bishop to allow same-sex weddings, as the state Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage in the state becomes official today.

The resolution at the annual diocesan convention passed 174-132, but is not binding on Bishop Andrew D. Smith, who said he is studying the issue.

According to the resolution, the convention “implores the bishop to allow priests in this diocese to exercise pastoral wisdom and care and follow the lead of their consciences in whether or not to participate in marriage ceremonies of same-sex couples.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Marriage & Family, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Washington Post: Accuracy Of Polls a Question In Itself

Few analysts outside the McCain campaign appear to share this view. And pollsters this time around will not make the mistake that the Gallup organization made 60 years ago — ending their polling more than a week before the election and missing a last-minute surge in support for Truman. Every day brings dozens of new state and national presidential polls, a trend that is expected to continue up to Election Day.

Still, there appears to be an undercurrent of worry among some polling professionals and academics. One reason is the wide variation in Obama leads: Just yesterday, an array of polls showed the Democrat leading by as little as two points and as much as 15 points. The latest Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll showed the race holding steady, with Obama enjoying a lead of 52 percent to 45 percent among likely voters.

Some in the McCain camp also argue that the polls showing the largest leads for Obama mistakenly assume that turnout among young voters and African Americans will be disproportionately high. The campaign is banking on a good turnout among GOP partisans, whom McCain officials say they are working hard to attract to the polls.

“I have been wondering for weeks” whether the polls are accurately gauging the state of the race, said Steven Schier, a political scientist at Carleton College in Minnesota. Borrowing from lingo popularized by former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Schier asked what are the “unknown unknowns” about polling this year: For instance, is the sizable cohort of people who don’t respond to pollsters more Republican-leaning this year, perhaps because they don’t want to admit to a pollster that they are not supporting the “voguish” Obama?

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

States forced to cut health coverage for poor

Economic troubles are forcing states to scale back safety-net health-coverage programs ”” even as they brace for more residents who will need help paying for care.

Many cuts affect Medicaid, which pays for health coverage for 50 million low-income adults and children nationwide, including nearly half of all nursing home care. The joint federal-state program is a target because it consumes an average 17% of state budgets ”” the second-biggest chunk of spending in most states, right behind education.

“Medicaid programs across the U.S. are going to be severely damaged,” says Kenneth Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association. He expects some hospitals nationwide may drop services and some hospitals and nursing homes may lay off employees.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Health & Medicine, Poverty, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Wallace Benn and Mark Burkill respond to Iain Murray on Gafcon

Nevertheless, we believe that Iain has failed to grasp the real position of the Church of England in relation to doctrine and Scripture. His article speaks of the conference redefining ”˜Anglican’ in relation to a historic definition in which membership involves adhering to the established church and being in communion with the see of Canterbury. This is to swallow a definition that has been promoted by Anglo-Catholics since the 19th century. A Catholic view of the church sometimes emphasises order and office at the expense of doctrine and, therefore, the serious misunderstanding that fellowship with the Archbishop of Canterbury is essential to the definition of what it means to be Anglican has been spread abroad. Yet the historic position is that being Anglican essentially involves commitment to biblical doctrine.

That is why the GAFCON Jerusalem Statement insists our identity as Anglicans is expressed in the words of Canon A5: ”˜The doctrine of the Church of England is grounded in the Holy Scriptures, and in such teachings of the ancient Fathers and Councils of the Church as are agreeable to the said Scriptures. In particular, such doctrine is to be found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Ordinal’. This is why the Jerusalem Statement then stated: ”˜While acknowledging the nature of Canterbury as an historic see, we do not accept that Anglican identity is determined necessarily through recognition by the Archbishop of Canterbury’. It is essential to see that the historic and evangelical position is that being Anglican depends on what you believe more than particular features of church life and order.

A lesser point is that Iain queries point 4 of the Jerusalem Declaration which says: ”˜We uphold the 39 Articles as containing the true doctrine of the church’. He says that the word ”˜containing’ is an escape clause. However the intention in this expression is simply to make it clear that while committed to their confession of faith we do not regard the 39 Articles as God’s own words. We have noted that Gresham Machen (Christianity and Liberalism, p.163) complains about ministers who, as required, solemnly declare at their ordination that the ”˜Westminster Confession contains the system of doctrine taught in infallible Scriptures’ and then decry that same Confession. What was good enough for Gresham Machen is good enough for us as well.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, GAFCON I 2008, Global South Churches & Primates

Jill Carrol Reflects on Tolerance

Neither I, nor anyone at the Boniuk Center at Rice University, will ever define tolerance with reference to these beliefs. Rice is a secular research university, and our Center there has no theological commitment one way or the other. We don’t do theology. We don’t promote it, nor do we condemn it. Only when it calls outright for the direct harm or death (in this world, not the next) of individuals or groups do we question it. Believing your god is the only true god, or that your religion is better than all the others does not, in itself, contradict the principle of tolerance. Our promotion of tolerance does not demand that anyone renounce those beliefs.

Nor do we promote tolerance as an ideology. Unlike Marxists, fascists or other ideologues, we do not have a grand vision for the world that we are now organizing and implementing through socio-political processes. Tolerance, for us, is not a doctrine or dogma; it’s not an agenda. People are not “with us” or “against us” based on their acceptance or rejection of tolerance. As I said above, the only litmus test to which we would submit anyone is whether or not they are calling for direct and measurable harm to anyone, especially in matters of belief. Words like “kill them” or “kill him” are red flags for us, no matter who speaks them.

Instead, we promote tolerance as a civic and personal virtue, mostly for practical reasons. The demographic reality of our lives – in Houston, in America and in the world – is that we are destined to share the planet with people who are radically different from us in belief, perspective and lifestyle. Some may not like this fact, but it is a fact nevertheless. And each of us has to decide how we will live and act inside this reality.

Read it all and the comments too.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Religion & Culture

As U.S. economy slows, credit card crunch begins

First came the mortgage crisis. Now comes the credit card crunch.

After years of flooding Americans with credit card offers and sky-high credit lines, lenders are sharply curtailing both just as an eroding economy squeezes consumers.

The pullback is affecting even credit-worthy consumers and threatens an already beleaguered banking industry with another wave of unprecedented losses after a gilded era in which it reaped near-record gains from the business of easy credit that it helped create.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy, Personal Finance, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Obama and McCain's fiscal plans add to deficits

While both presidential candidates enter the campaign’s final week promising to be the better fiscal steward, each has outlined tax and spending proposals that would make annual budget deficits worse, analysts say, with Senator John McCain likely to create a deeper hole than Senator Barack Obama would.

McCain, the Republican nominee, has proposed bigger tax cuts. He has also promised more in spending cuts, but he has not specified where most of them would come from. Even now that the financial crisis has given rise to one bailout package and prompted both candidates to call for billions more in stimulus spending, McCain has stuck by his promise to balance the budget by the end of his term, a pledge that fiscal analysts call unachievable.

Obama, his Democratic rival, has vowed to reduce the deficit and put it on a path to balance. He also promises an expensive effort to make health care insurance more widely available, a raft of other spending programs and tax cuts for most families and small businesses. He would raise taxes on the wealthiest households to help pay for his health care plans.

Neither presidential candidate has provided enough detail, especially about spending programs and what they would cut, for budget groups to put price tags on their agendas.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, US Presidential Election 2008

Gallup: Voters Not Eager for One-Party Control of Government

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Politics in General, US Presidential Election 2008

Episcopal Church Fast Facts 2007

Check it out carefully.

Update from the elves:
Here’s a graphic version of the data on Membership and ASA change. (click on the image for a larger view)
You can also look at the spreadsheet and another graph [url={filedir_4}TEC_2007.xls]here.[/url]


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Data

Raymond Tallis: It's not all in your genes

One would have to have been living on Mars not to have encountered the increasingly popular notion that our behaviour has an evolutionary explanation. According to evolutionary psychology we behave as we do because we are designed to optimise the chances of our surviving long enough to reproduce. Men who sleep with a lot of women or traders who aim to maximise their returns on their investments are simply responding to the fundamental biological imperative to make the world safe for their genes.

You may think that you chose your mate because she was kind and witty and shared your view of the world. Forget it: you were attracted to her because she had a waist:hip ratio that approximated to 0.7 – a figure that is associated with good health and fertility. As for your political or religious beliefs, they improve your chances of survival or that of the group to which your belong. You haven’t chosen them; they have chosen you.

Not everyone is persuaded by the terrible simplificateurs who preach the gospel of evolutionary psychology….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology

Rick Warren endorses Prop 8 Calif. marriage amendment

“For 5,000 years, EVERY culture and EVERY religion — not just Christianity — has defined marriage as a contract between men and women,” [Rick] Warren wrote [in an e-mail to church members]. “There is no reason to change the universal, historical definition of marriage to appease 2% of our population. This is one issue that both Democrats and Republicans can agree on. Both Barack Obama and John McCain have publicly opposed the redefinition of marriage to include so-called ‘gay marriage.’ Even some gay leaders, like Al Rantel of KABC oppose watering down the definition of marriage.

“Of course, my longtime opposition is well known. This is not a political issue, it is a moral issue that God has spoken clearly about. There is no doubt where we should stand on this issue.”

Warren concluded: “This will be a close contest, maybe even decided by a few thousand votes. I urge you to VOTE YES on Proposition 8 — to preserve the biblical definition of marriage. Don’t forget to vote!”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Notable and Quotable

[The] work of preaching has a nasty way of getting one into trouble. It seems that the more faithful one is in preaching, the more trouble one encounters. You preach the Word, you speak the truth of the Scriptures, and the next thing you know, you are on the front page of the newspaper, or sitting in front of a group of agitated deacons or elders; even the youth group is up in arms about whatever you said…

“It cannot be a fierce determination alone that strengthens us for the lifelong work of preaching. The stakes are much too high and the perils much too deadly for that. Instead, our perseverance in the task of preaching must be based on God’s promise that He will, by His own power, make the preaching of His Word effective…

“We preach, not because we have come to the conclusion that preaching is the most rational or most effective means of reaching the lost, but because God has commanded it–and because He has promised to take that which the world would say is foolishness, and use it to save sinners.”

–Albert Mohler, He Is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

The recent Diocesan Convention Address of the Bishop of Michigan

One final story goes to the heart of the connectedness of the body. At various times I found myself in formal and informal discussions where concerns were voiced about differences in the interpretation of scripture as it relates to the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of the Church. I was astonished to hear stories of brutality and murder against Anglican Christians in some parts of the world where Christians and Muslims coexist in an uneasy peace. We were told that clergy and their families as well as lay members of congregations are regularly targeted to be beaten and/or killed after a news report reached their area from the “west” about gay marriage or other actions which appear to the perpetrators as direct acts against God.

I can tell you that none of the bishops I spoke with asked us to undo what has been done. None of the bishops I spoke to were willing to tear apart the Communion over their disagreement with us. However, I must share with you that they did ask us to slow down, and in the midst of our pursuit for justice remember to seek justice for those whose lives are lost in response to some of the actions we have taken; actions we call righteous. How our relationships with others in the Anglican Communion are defined as we step off into the future are as yet unclear. I know only that we must put our whole faith and trust in God.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

Montreal bishop will work out rite for same-sex blessing

After this week’s discussions with bishops of the Anglican church from across Canada, Bishop Barry Clarke of Montreal plans to launch a process to work out a rite for blessing same-sex couples in the diocese who have been married in civil ceremonies.

In an opening statement Oct. 24 to the annual synod of the diocese of Montreal, the bishop said he believes that in the current debate about same-sex issues some are being called to speak with a prophetic voice, others with a voice of caution.

“For reasons, perhaps known only to God, I believe we, in the diocese of Montreal, are among those who have been called by God to speak with a prophetic voice,” he said. “It is our voice that is called to affirm that all people are loved, valued and precious before God and the Church. It is our voice that is called to affirm that all unions of faithful love and life-long commitment are worthy of God’s blessing and a means of God’s grace. In time our voice will either be affirmed by the body, or stand corrected.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

David Brooks: The Behavioral Revolution

Roughly speaking, there are four steps to every decision. First, you perceive a situation. Then you think of possible courses of action. Then you calculate which course is in your best interest. Then you take the action.

Over the past few centuries, public policy analysts have assumed that step three is the most important. Economic models and entire social science disciplines are premised on the assumption that people are mostly engaged in rationally calculating and maximizing their self-interest.

But during this financial crisis, that way of thinking has failed spectacularly. As Alan Greenspan noted in his Congressional testimony last week, he was “shocked” that markets did not work as anticipated. “I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organizations, specifically banks and others, were such as that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms.”

So perhaps this will be the moment when we alter our view of decision-making. Perhaps this will be the moment when we shift our focus from step three, rational calculation, to step one, perception.

Read it all. I am all for “behavioral economists and others who are bringing sophisticated psychology to the realm of public policy.” But we do not just need psychology we need hamartiology–a sense of sin. The core reason for misperception is, in C.S. Lewis’ phrase, because we are “bent–KSH.”

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Politics in General, Psychology, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--