Daily Archives: December 19, 2008

Mary Katharine Ham: Liberal Logic out the Window on Rick Warren

From here:

Let me get this straight:

A 20-year association with a radically leftist, anti-American, racist preacher whom Obama referred to as a spiritual adviser meant absolutely nothing about Obama’s judgment or philosophy, and illustrated only the bigotry of those who dared criticize it.

A 20-minute association with one of the country’s most well-liked, mainstream evangelical preachers who happens to support traditional marriage cannot be countenanced and illustrates only the bigotry of those who would dare allow it.

Got it.

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

A Sad and Sobering Video report on Bernard Madoff

Watch it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Stock Market

A Statement from the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia on Today's Ruling

“We continue to believe the Division Statute is a violation of the United States and Virginia constitutions because it intrudes into the freedom of the Episcopal Church and other hierarchical churches to organize and govern themselves,” said the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, bishop of Virginia. “Within the Episcopal Church, we may have theological disagreements, but those disagreements are ours to resolve according to the rules of our own governance.” Bishop Lee further stated, “We call on the CANA congregation occupying The Falls Church property to drop their claim on the endowment fund, and thus allow The Falls Church Episcopal to use the endowment for desperately needed outreach in the Falls Church area, in line with the original purpose of the fund.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

Anglican District of Virginia Wins Church Property Case

(Press release) The judge presiding in the church property trial between the Episcopal Church and eleven former congregations, now affiliated with the Anglican District of Virginia (ADV), ruled in the congregations’ favor today. The final rulings in this case concerned whether four parcels of property owned by the Anglican congregations were covered by the congregations’ Division petitions.

“We welcome these final, favorable rulings in this case. This has been a long process and we are grateful that the court has agreed with us,” said Jim Oakes, vice-chairman of ADV. “It is gratifying to see the court recognize that the true owner of The Historic Falls Church is The Falls Church’s congregation, not the denomination, and that the building is protected by the Division Statute. The Falls Church has held and cared for this property for over 200 years.”
“We hope that The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia will realize that it is time to stop this legal battle. In these economic times, we should be focused on helping our communities and spreading the Gospel, not spending millions of dollars on ongoing legal battles. The money we have been forced to spend to keep our property from being forcibly taken away from us is money that could have been spent in more productive ways.

“While the judge ruled that issues surrounding The Falls Church Endowment Fund will be heard at a later date, ADV is confident that we will prevail on this last outstanding issue,” Oakes said.

On April 3, 2008, Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows issued a landmark ruling that acknowledged a division within The Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Virginia and the larger Anglican Communion. Judge Bellows affirmed that the Anglican congregations in Virginia could invoke the Virginia Division Statute (Virginia Code § 57-9) in their defense. The Virginia Division Statute states that majority rule should apply when a division in a denomination or diocese results in the disaffiliation of an organized group of congregations. On June 27, 2008, Judge Bellows issued a ruling that confirmed the constitutionality of Virginia Division Statute (Virginia Code § 57-9) under the First Amendment. On August 22, 2008, he issued a ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the Division Statute under the Contracts Clause of the Constitution.

“We hope that the Diocese will reconsider its previous promises to appeal. While we are prepared to continue to defend ourselves, we are ready to put this litigation behind us so we can focus our time, money and effort on the work of the Gospel,” Oakes concluded.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

The Bishop of South Carolina Offers some Seasonal Thoughts

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Sometimes it is helpful to state the obvious: as a species, Homo sapiens are not nocturnal animals. If we were exhibited in some intergalactic zoo we would not be housed with the night-foraging creatures. We are a diurnal species. Our eyes are not the wide, round eyes of owls nor even of lemurs, which glean the faintest trace of light in the darkest of nights. Maybe you can remember when you were a child and awoke in the middle of the night. Even a misplaced coat draped over a chair could become a most sinister looking figure. Fear of the night has motivated our race in past ages to devise many kinds of unusual lights. From Kings in Babylon to Kubla Khan, from Alexandria to Rome the human race has constructed search lights, pyres and lighthouses on one continent after another.
Today in our well insulated neighborhoods where lights are just a switch away, we may think we have left behind the primitive night-fears of our ancestors. But are there not times when you get out of your car on a dark street, or walk down a darkened corridor, that some shadowy presence seems to follow or lurk around the next corner? Driving down a winding mountain road at night your head lights suddenly go out, the brake peddle pushes clear to the floor and just as your car careens off into the utter darkness of the canyon you awaken from your dream. Crawling back to consciousness you’re left momentarily feeling your helplessness in the darkness.

Is it any wonder the lights of Advent and Christmas, the flickering of candles and the logs burning in the fireplace bring a heartwarming glow to the lengthening nights of December? The true message of Christmas, however, goes far deeper than this nostalgic glow. Yet light is still at its center. The prologue to John’s gospel echoes down the centuries to human beings still groping and lost in a darkened cosmos”” “In him [Christ] was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5). For John, the darkness is an apt symbol for the presence of evil in the universe, in our civilizations and their systems, and in our personal lives. In Jesus Christ the divine light shines through the darkness of the world as we receive him into our lives. So the gospel continues “”¦the true light that enlightens every one was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. But to all who received him, who believe in his name, he gave power to become children of God”¦.” (John 1:9-12)

It is this Christ and the luminosity of the life and light he brings into our darkened lives that is the truest meaning of Christmas. It glows long after the Christmas lights come down. To come to this light of the world is always, as William Temple put it, “an act of self-surrender.” On the far side of this self-surrender the light is about hope. Indeed, this hope is our experience and what we are privileged to witness to””for once this self-surrender is initiated it becomes the passion of the follower, the disciple, to bear witness to the light of Christ””his warmth and his illuminating presence which no cosmic darkness can absorb.

My prayers for a bright and radiant Christmastide,

–(The Rt. Rev.) Mark Lawrence is Bishop of South Carolina

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Advent, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

Scott Kraft: The rise of the late baby boomers

President-elect Barack Obama may well be one of the 79 million members of the baby boom generation. But he’s a late-wave boomer, a child of the 1970s — as are half of the two dozen people he’s selected thus far to help him lead the country.

Many of those Obama is bringing to Washington — including his Education secretary, Homeland Security chief, Treasury secretary, United Nations ambassador and Energy czar — came of age in the era of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.

And their shared experiences offer insights into how they may govern: They tend to be less ideological than early boomers, more respectful of contrary opinions, more pragmatic and a lot less likely to get bogged down by the shibboleths of the 1960s, according to historians, marketers and pollsters.

Read it all.

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

Church of England to debate whether Christians should try to convert Muslims

A discussion on the sensitive topic has been tabled for the next meeting of the Church of England’s governing body amid fears that some clergy are ignoring their traditional missionary role.

Some members of the General Synod believe Christ ordered all Christians to recruit nonbelievers and followers of other faiths, and they want to see how many bishops and vicars agree with this view.

Among the speakers is likely to be the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, who earlier this year warned that Church leaders had “gone too far” in their sensitivity towards Muslims and were not doing enough to spread the word of God.

At the end of the debate at next February’s Synod meeting in London, bishops, clergy and lay members will vote on whether bishops should report to the Synod on “their understanding of the uniqueness of Christ in multi-faith Britain”, and give examples of how the gospel should be shared.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Evangelism and Church Growth, Inter-Faith Relations, Parish Ministry, Theology

The Episcopal Church Annual Mission and Resources report is now available online

Check it out.

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

An NBC News Video Report on the Rick Warren Controversy

Watch it all. I see in this piece that there will be an extended interview with Rick Warren tonight on Dateline for those interested–KSH.

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

Lehrer News Hour: Controversy Emerges Over Obama's Choice of Inauguration Pastor

RAY SUAREZ: Does this choice represent all of American religious thought, Mr. Cromartie?

MICHAEL CROMARTIE, Ethics and Public Policy Center: Oh, no, of course it doesn’t. But what it does say is that — what we need to know about Rick Warren is that he has become sort of the next Billy Graham in our country, sort of America’s pastor.

In fact, I think if Billy Graham’s health was better now, he would probably be the person doing this. But Rick Warren has become that person.

RAY SUAREZ: But it didn’t sound like Harry Knox is too happy about the idea that this might be America’s pastor.

MICHAEL CROMARTIE: No, that’s right. And I would just remind Harry this is not a cabinet appointment. This is an invocation, a short prayer that will be a very nonsectarian prayer.

Rick Warren, by the way, has an amazingly great reputation with ministers of compassion around the world. He’s an incredibly magnanimous man. And I think that President-elect Obama picked him because he likes him personally.

Read or watch it all.

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

Joe Solmonese: Obama's Inaugural Mistake in Inviting Rick Warren to Do the Opening Prayer

It is difficult to comprehend how our president-elect, who has been so spot on in nearly every political move and gesture, could fail to grasp the symbolism of inviting an anti-gay theologian to deliver his inaugural invocation. And the Obama campaign’s response to the anger about this decision? Hey, we’re also bringing a gay marching band. You know how the gays love a parade.

Yes, the Rev. Rick Warren, pastor of the humongous, evangelical Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif., has a sound message on poverty. And certainly, in the world of politics, there is a view that Barack Obama owes Warren for bringing him before fellow evangelicals, despite fierce opposition during the heat of the presidential campaign.

But here’s the other thing about Warren, the author of the bestselling book “The Purpose Driven Life”: He was a general in the campaign to pass California’s Proposition 8, which dissolved the legal marriage rights of loving, committed same-sex couples.

Read it all.

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

Holiday gift choices reflect consumers' new priorities

Faced with rising unemployment and a dismal stock market, consumers are spending less on holiday gifts this year. But the presents they’re buying may say even more about how Americans are coping with the economic slump.

“Christmas is already an introspective time, but it’s become even more so with the economy,” says Ken Nisch, chairman of the retail brand and design firm JGA. “People are re-evaluating Christmas, what’s in their heart and what’s under the tree.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Economy

Tax break may have helped cause U.S. housing bubble

Ryan Wampler had never made much money selling his own homes.

Starting in 1999, however, he began to do very well. Three times in eight years, Wampler ”” himself a home builder and developer ”” sold his home in the Phoenix area, always for a nice profit. With prices in Phoenix soaring, he made almost $700,000 on the three sales.

And thanks to a tax break proposed by President Bill Clinton and approved by Congress in 1997, he did not have to pay tax on most of that profit. It was a break that had not been available to generations of Americans before him. The benefits also did not apply to other investments, be they stocks, bonds or stakes in a small business. Those gains were all taxed at rates of up to 20 percent.

The different tax treatments gave people a new incentive to plow ever more money into real estate, and they did so.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General

Church Times: Vatican stem-cell document is ”˜very poor’ says C of E Bishop

The document has been strongly criticised by the Bishop of Swindon, Dr Lee Rayfield, the Church of England’s spokesman on ethics, for its lack of theological rigour. While expressing understanding of Roman Catholic hesi­tancy over some things, he described it as “very poor” on Wednesday, and expressed concern for the pastoral consequences of any future disen­gagement of the Roman Catholic hierarchy with the issues.

Dr Rayfield said: “From my perspective ”” and I would imagine a large number of other Christians ”” this new communication will come as a disappointment, but not a surprise.

“This instruction fails to engage adequately with the issues raised by assisted reproduction and its associated techniques at a number of levels. It worries me that there are assertions in it, for example about IVF and intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection, which simply do not bear the weight of theological or ethical scrutiny, even from within the absolutist standpoint taken by the Roman Catholic Church.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology, Theology

(Raleigh, N.C.) News and Observer: Diversity arises in more churches

The Sunday service at Durham’s King’s Park International Church features a blast of hymns, gospel and praise music performed live and loud by band members that are as multi-racial as the people in attendance.

The church, one of the Triangle’s most diverse, is a prime example of a trend.

A new study of U.S. religious congregations by a Duke University sociologist shows significant changes in the racial composition of churches within just nine years.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations