Daily Archives: October 31, 2008

Wilfred McClay: The Obama Dilemma and Evangelicalism

But many evangelicals, left and right, have been haunted by the belief that their movement failed at a critical moment in American history. As Donald Dayton put it in his 1976 study, “Evangelical Christianity rather consistently opposed currents of the 1960s that demanded social justice and civil rights.” The claim may be exaggerated. The great evangelist Billy Graham was remarkably progressive on matters of race, and major Southern denominations, such as the Baptists and Presbyterians, explicitly supported desegregation. But the weight of the charge is felt, even if the failure was generally more one of passivity than strident opposition. It is a sign of evangelicalism’s active conscience that it remains uneasy.

Hence the Promise Keepers movement of the ’90s, overwhelmingly an evangelical-right phenomenon, was not only a men’s movement but also a movement for racial reconciliation — a facet entirely missed by hysterical secular critics who were obsessed with its gender dimensions to the exclusion of all else. Hence even within theologically conservative denominations such as the Presbyterian Church in America one finds strenuous efforts to build biracial congregations and support inner-city ministries and missions. Hence the effort by evangelical megachurch pastor Rick Warren, in the presidential forum held at his Saddleback Church on Aug. 16, to promote greater civility in the presidential campaign.

Unfortunately for Sen. Obama, the Saddleback forum turned out to be one of his least effective outings, and his stumbling and evasive remarks about abortion — the question of life’s beginning, he said, was “above my pay grade” — brought to a sharp point the dilemma faced in this election by all white evangelicals, left, right and center. It would have been one thing to overlook the record of a moderately pro-choice candidate for the sake of racial progress. But the starkness of Sen. Obama’s position forces upon evangelicals a profoundly unenviable choice.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Race/Race Relations, US Presidential Election 2008

A Statement from the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in Canada

We spent several hours in conversation on the implications of the appeal from the Primate.

As a result of these conversations a large majority of the House can affirm the following:

A continued commitment to the greatest extent possible to the three moratoria — on the blessing of same-sex unions, on the ordination to the episcopate of people in same-sex relationships and on cross-border interventions — until General Synod 2010. Members of this House, while recognizing the difficulty that this commitment represents for dioceses that in conscience have made decisions on these matters, commit themselves to continue walking together and to hold each other in prayer.

The House also affirms:

A commitment to establishing diocesan commissions to discuss the matter of same-sex blessings in preparation for conversations at General Synod 2010.

Continued commitment to exercise the greatest level of pastoral generosity in keeping with provisions approved by this House in Spring, 2007 and continued commitment to the Shared Episcopal Ministry document approved in Fall, 2004.

We ask for your continuing prayers as we steadfastly seek to discern the mind and heart of Christ for the wholesome care of all members of his Body, the Church. We share a deep hope that though we may never come to consensus over this matter of the blessing of same-sex unions, we will live with differences in a manner that is marked by grace and generosity of spirit, one toward another.

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

Nevada, Michigan, Florida lead 'underwater' list

Here’s a shocker: almost half of Nevada homeowners with a mortgage owe more to the bank than their homes are worth.

Here’s another: If you add in the homeowners like them in California, Arizona, Florida, Georgia and Michigan, together they account for nearly 60 percent of all homeowners who are “underwater” on their mortgages.

Nationwide, almost one out of every five homeowners with a mortgage owes more to their lender than their properties are worth. But if you subtract those states, the rate drops to about one in 10, according to a report released Friday by First American CoreLogic.

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

U.K. Culture Secretary Andy Burnham: 'Churches should be turned into gyms'

Mr Burnham said while it was important to preserve the architectural beauty of some of the churches, many of which have listed status, they may serve the community better by becoming secular.

His comments follow his suggestion earlier this month that libraries could benefit from being modernised with coffee bars and abolishing the silence rule.

Mr Burnham said if the UK could not preserve its churches: “We need to find new purposes with the support of the local community and we need to increase secular interest in our church heritage.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Religion & Culture

Bishop Keith Ackerman will remain as President of Forward in Faith North America

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

Resolutions Passed at the recent Maine Diocesan Convention

Here is one:

RESOLVED, that the Diocese of Maine calls for the repeal of B033, passed at the 75th General Convention and be it further

RESOLVED that the Diocese of Maine calls upon the 76th General Convention to refrain from restricting the field of potential candidates for future episcopates on the basis of gender or sexual orientation and to reject interference from outside the Convention that would attempt to affect its parliamentary process or negate the polity of The Episcopal Church, and be it further

RESOLVED that the Diocese of Maine maintain its commitment to participation in the Anglican Communion and to the listening process described in the Windsor Report. And be it further Resolved to direct its deputation to the 76th General Convention to submit a resolution to this effect. (“RESOLVED that the 76th General Convention will refrain from restricting the field of potential candidates for future episcopates on the basis of gender or sexual orientation and will reject interference from outside the Convention that would attempt to affect its parliamentary process or negate the polity of The Episcopal Church.”)

Explanation

Our Lord is not one to show partiality (Acts 10:34-35) and calls us to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19);

Our baptismal covenant calls us to respect the dignity of every human being;

Undue discrimination limits the ability of the faithful to elect qualified persons to leadership, including the position of bishop;

Title III, Canon 1, Section 2 of the Canons of The Episcopal Church clearly states that No person shall be denied access to the discernment process for any ministry, lay or ordained, in this church because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities or age;

Resolution B033, if interpreted to mean that a person living in a same-sex partnership should be excluded from consecration, stands in conflict with Title III, Canon 1, Section 2 of the Canons of the Episcopal Church;

As a result of the Windsor Report, bishops and deputies at the 75th General Convention were under a great deal of pressure to enact measures relating to the consecration of gay or lesbian bishops living in same-sex relationships. On June 20, 2006 the House of Deputies rejected Resolution A161, which would have prohibited the consecration of such individuals. However, using parliamentary procedure, the former Presiding Bishop and the Presiding Bishop-Elect brought forth Resolution BO33, which instructed “Standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on the communion.” While we believe this was done with the best intentions in an effort to prevent disharmony in the Communion, it was widely understood that “candidate”¦ manner of life” was a coded euphemism for gay and lesbian persons, and this interpretation was later validated by the House of Bishops. However, as was promptly pointed out following its passage, BO33 is in violation of the ecclesiastical laws of the Episcopal Church. In particular, Title III, Canon 1, Section 2 of the Canons of the General Convention prohibits discrimination based upon sexual orientation. While BO33 has had the intended chilling effect on the consecration of otherwise qualified gay and lesbian priests to the episcopate, with many such candidates declining nomination for fear of withheld consent, it has done little to mollify the increasingly strident voices throughout the Anglican Communion. As such, it has proven both unjust and ineffective in its aims.

Being that it is in violation of canon law, inconsistent with the scriptural message of God’s immeasurable and unconstrainable love for humanity, and an impediment to the work of the Spirit in the Church, we call for the revocation of BO33.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

Ugandan Anglican Bishop says war has ended despite flare ups

(ACNS) Anglican Bishop Nelson Onono-Onweng of Northern Uganda has told a delegation of the World Council of Churches (WCC) to the region that a rebel war with the government is finally over despite some recent reports of flare ups.

“We are now in a different environment. We are now in a situation of rebuilding lives. We are in the process of reconstructing this place,” Onono-Onweng told the WCC group that is part of a program to visit situations of conflict in different parts of the world.

Still, other church leaders the delegation met said they are concerned the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army led by Joseph Kony is delaying the signing of a final peace agreement.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda

Church Times: Bishops’ approval of Covenant hangs in the balance

The group says that Anglicans are well versed in the idea of voluntarily pledging themselves to others ”” a concept that underlies the notion of a generous covenant ”” even if they have had little use for the word “covenant” in the past.

Replying to other concerns of the bishops, the group says that the document could be a unifying force ”” even, one day, a central text for the Communion. The Covenant could “change, amend and grow”: it is not designed to “constrain the languages, the cultures and the forms in which this Gospel is expressed”.

None of the “basic formal bonds” that frame the Communion’s common life, such as the baptismal covenant or eucharistic fellowship, or even the Lambeth Quadrilateral, contain the necessary element of “mutual responsibility” that the Covenant has, the group says.

Nevertheless, the Covenant would not override the autonomy of the provinces in ordering their life according to the demands of local mission. The group admits that there needs to be “more work” on the way the various instruments of unity relate to each other.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant

Mortgage Plan May Aid Many and Irk Others

As the Treasury Department prepares a $40 billion program to help delinquent homeowners avoid foreclosure, it confronts a difficult challenge: not making the plan too tempting to people like Todd Lawrence.

An airline pilot who lives outside Norwich, Conn., Mr. Lawrence has a traditional 30-year mortgage that he has no trouble paying every month. But, thanks to the plunging real estate market, he owes more on his house than it is worth, like millions of other people.

If the banks, which frequently lent irresponsibly, and many homeowners, who often borrowed irresponsibly, are getting government assistance, Mr. Lawrence says he believes sober souls like himself are also due a break.

“Why am I being punished for having bought a house I could afford?” he asked. “I am beginning to think I would have rocks in my head if I keep paying my mortgage.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package

3-month Libor fixings: The good news continues on the unfreezing of the credit markets

Euro: 4.77% vs. prior 4.79%; Dollar: 3.03% vs. prior 3.19%; Sterling: 5.84% vs. prior 5.88%

It sure is nice to see these rates continue to move in the right direction.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy

Susan Jacoby: Religion remains fundamental to US politics

To most of my European friends, an inexplicable aspect of American culture is the quixotic persistence and social influence of religious fundamentalism. They cannot understand how Americans could seriously consider for the second highest office in the land a candidate who has worshipped all her adult life at churches where congregants believe the literal truth of every word in the Bible and practise “speaking in tongues”. Thanks to YouTube, we even know that Sarah Palin has been blessed to protect her against witchcraft.

According to opinion polls, about one third of Americans subscribe to a literal interpretation of the Bible – from the chatty serpent in the Garden of Eden to the bloody prophecies in Revelation. They constitute a large and disciplined minority – a primarily Protestant army of Christian soldiers, with a pre-Enlightenment mindset and disdain for secular values.

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

Gerard Baker: America isn't about to become liberal heaven

As America’s government prepares to take a sudden and historic leftward turn, this might seem an odd moment to ponder what a conservative country it is.

On Wednesday morning, unless the political equivalent of a giant meteorite hits Earth before then, Democratic supporters in America, in happy union with almost the whole of the civilised world, will be singing hosannas to the new President-elect. They will expect the Obama proto-administration and the expanded Democratic caucus in Congress to press hard to implement quickly their agenda of wealth redistribution; a tougher and broader scope of government regulation; and an enthusiastic embrace of foreign policy multilateralism.

But the new rulers and their allies overseas would be well advised to tone down the rhetoric, play down expectations and rein in their wilder tendencies. The easiest mistake for the world to make would be to start believing the Left’s own propaganda: that a vote for Barack Obama and for a Democrat in Congress on Tuesday is a vote to transform the country into a kind of social democratic paradise.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., England / UK, Politics in General, US Presidential Election 2008

MSP with Parkinson’s tries to legalise assisted suicide in Scotland

An attempt to legalise assisted suicide was made at the Scottish Parliament last night.

Margo MacDonald, the veteran MSP who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, started the process to bring a Private Member’s Bill before the Parliament next year.

The move will fuel the debate prompted by the suicide in Switzerland of the paralysed rugby player Daniel James, 23, and the attempt by Debbie Purdy, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, to have the Crown Prosecution Service clarify its position on assisted suicide.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics

English bishop takes up case of Pakistani family due to be deported

The Anglican Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, the Rt Rev George Cassidy, is appealing to the Home Secretary to reconsider the case of a Pakistani family who are due to be sent back to the country they fled from two years ago, at the end of this week.

Mr Julian Singh, his wife Aima and 11-year-old son Jonathan were taken to Yarleswood Detention Centre for deportation to Pakistan last week, after their plea for asylum was rejected. They are due to be sent back to Pakistan on Thursday morning (October 30) when they will be put on a plane from Heathrow Airport.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Asia, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Pakistan

Reuters: Vatican urges psych tests on future priests

Candidates for the Catholic priesthood should undergo psychological tests to screen out heterosexuals unable to control their sexual urges and those with strong homosexual tendencies, the Vatican said Thursday.

A new document was the second in three years to deal with the effects of a sexual abuse scandal that rocked the Church six years ago.

It said the early detection of “sometimes pathological” psychological defects of men before they become priests would help avoid tragic experiences.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Psychology, Roman Catholic, Seminary / Theological Education, Sexuality, Theology