Daily Archives: January 7, 2009

Pat Forde: Tim Tebow Seems too Good to be True

Back in July, in a ballroom in a Birmingham, Ala., hotel during Southeastern Conference media days, a reporter asked Tim Tebow the following question:

“I don’t mean to sound cynical, but between winning the national championship and winning the Heisman, saving the world in the Philippines and all, did you ever, like, sneak a cigarette when you were in high school? Do you ever do anything wrong? Do you feel like everything off the field is sort of on cruise control for you?”

Come on, now, you know you want to see how Mr. Tebow responded. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

Lee Seigel in the WSJ: Why Does Hollywood Hate the Suburbs?

There were two overarching reasons for condemning the suburbs, during the ’50s and early ’60s, as the most rotten locale in civilized life: class and money. Most of the people leaving the cities for the suburbs in the 1950s were tradespeople, modest businessmen, teachers and the like. They were, in other words, members of the middle-class, the impassioned rejection of which has been the chief rite de passage of the modern American artist and intellectual. With the growth of suburban towns, the liberal American intellectual now had a concrete geography to house his acute sense of outrage.

Yet if the suburbs were becoming the headquarters of the American middle-class, they were also becoming associated with the enviable characteristics of upward mobility: a decent salary, home ownership, access to superior public education and services. “We’re going to have to move back to the city,” the callous but suddenly redeemed advertising man grimly says to his wife after quitting his job in disgust in the popular 1959 film “The Last Angry Man” — moving from suburban Connecticut to hardscrabble Manhattan being proof of his redemption. (What a socioeconomic difference 50 years makes!)

Art and intellect are solitary vocations, and their practitioners often require a common enemy to sustain the lonely effort. The suburbs continued to serve that purpose, but the type of antipathy toward them changed in the late ’60s and ’70s.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Movies & Television

Senate Democrats plan to accept Roland Burris in Senate-AP

Follow-up: Senate Majority Leader Reid says no deal to seat Roland Burris is currently in place

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Politics in General

Matt Burnett: Why I Left the Episcopal Church to Remain an Anglican

But in July of 2003, the Episcopal Church, including Colorado’s bishop, Jerry Winterrowd, knowingly and happily elected to consecrate as bishop an openly homosexual priest living in a same-sex relationship.

At this point, the Episcopal Church in America””which, frankly, had been crumbling””was broken.

It had been under stress for two reasons: the gradual crackup of the authority of Scripture (and hence the Lord of the Scriptures) and the role of bishops. In our tradition and polity, the Scriptures are the lifeblood of the church, and bishops are the foundation extending from the cornerstone, Jesus Christ. Episcopal bishops exercise spiritual authority because of a godly life and their commitment to perpetuate, guard, and defend the Biblical faith.

The role of bishop””one who “guard[s] the faith,” obedient to the Lord in the Scriptures and the power of the Holy Spirit””is foundational to Anglican identity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Proposed Formation of a new North American Province, Anglican Provinces, Church of Rwanda, Common Cause Partnership, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado

Gregory Cameron Elected Bishop of St Asaph

The Rev Canon Gregory Cameron, 49, who is Deputy Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Office in London, was chosen by members of the Electoral College of the Church in Wales meeting at St Asaph Cathedral.

The announcement was made by the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, at the west door of the cathedral on the first day of the meeting.

Canon Gregory Cameron will be the 76th Bishop of St Asaph, an area covering the north-east corner of Wales ”“ the counties of Conwy and Flintshire, Wrexham county borough, the eastern part of Merioneth in Gwynedd, Denbighshire and part of northern Powys. His election follows the retirement in December of the Rt Rev John Davies who served as Bishop of the diocese from 1999.

A Welshman who was ordained in the Diocese of Monmouth, Mr Cameron has been involved in the ecumenical relations of the Anglican Communion at global level for the past five years. Previously, he served as Chaplain to the Archbishop of Wales, then Dr Rowan Williams.

Read it all.

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

Christianity Today Interviews Russell Levenson on the Current Episcopal Church Mess

But I do not think leaving is the answer. That is where the Communion Partners rest. Daniel had to stay in Babylon, but did not abandon his faith. Jeremiah was not given another Israel. Ezekiel had to preach to the dry bones. When Jesus and his message were completely rejected, he did not leave. He wept. He stayed. He did not move on to Egypt. He stayed and faithfully preached when they believed and when they did not believe.

There appears, for now, to be tremendous hope in the other forms of Anglicanism that have been springing up around the country. But they are very much in their embryonic stages. In my previous diocese, there were six different expressions of Anglican identity in one small area of the state. None of them were growing significantly. There are already some divisions within these breakaway movements over liturgy, women’s ordination, and prayer book language. I wish them well, but I would have rather seen them stay.

I have asked every person I personally know that has [left] or was pondering to leave the Episcopal Church if they were prevented in some way by their parish or bishop from preaching the gospel. Each one has said, “No….”

The press has not done an adequate job of reporting on the success stories in the Episcopal Church, and it has also ”” too often ”” presumed that the vast majority of Episcopalians agree with the revisionist agenda. I would argue that the vast majority in the pews do not. Many bishops do not, and many clergy do not.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Presiding Bishop, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, Theology, Windsor Report / Process

Benedict XVI on Epiphany

In many countries, the feast of the Epiphany is also a celebration of children. I am thinking especially of all children, who are the treasure and blessing of the world, and above all of those who are denied a serene childhood. I wish to call attention, in particular, to the situation of hundreds of children and adolescents who, in these past months, which included Christmas, have been kidnapped by armed gangs that have attacked small towns in the eastern province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which have resulted in numerous victims and wounded.

I call out to the authors of these inhuman brutalities to return these young people to their families and to a future of security and development, which is their right, together with these beloved populations. I wish to express at the same time my spiritual closeness to the local Churches, whose members and works have been hurt, while I exhort the pastors and faithful to remain strong and firm in hope.

Episodes of violence against children, which unfortunately also occurs in other parts of the world, are even more deplorable give that in 2009 the 20th anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child will be celebrated: a commitment that the international community is called to renew so that it can defend and promote childhood throughout the world.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Epiphany, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Preaching / Homiletics, Roman Catholic

"Taking Our Place" – the Christmas Sermon of Bishop Robert Duncan

The angel in The Gospel According to St. Luke explains it this way: “To you is born this day in the City of David, a savior who is Christ the Lord.” Jesus comes to save us. One way we can understand that saving transaction is to say that Jesus comes to take our place. He comes to trade places. He comes to trade identities and to trade futures. We could also say that he comes to trade parents and children and relationships and health and circumstances and resources and preferments, yes, and even investments. He trades his royal robes for swaddling bands. He takes our place and offers us His.

He begins in poverty in a stable, in homelessness in Bethlehem and in exile in Egypt. He takes on our flesh and our struggle. He takes on our infirmities and our death, that we might be whole and freed. He offers us his place, His Father, His Spirit, His life, His future.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, --Proposed Formation of a new North American Province, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Common Cause Partnership, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh

Vatican action against U.S. Jesuit is not definitive, order says

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has asked U.S. Jesuit Father Roger Haight not to teach Christology at any university — Catholic or not, said the Rome-based spokesman of the Jesuits.

“He can continue to teach, but not systematic theology connected with Christology,” said Father Giuseppe Bellucci, spokesman for the Jesuits.

“The prohibition against teaching is not a condemnation and is not definitive; a committee of Jesuits, in fact, is studying the position of Father Roger, who is willing to collaborate to clarify his positions,” Father Bellucci told Catholic News Service Jan. 5.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Theology

Russian Gas Flows to Europe Through Ukraine Halted

Russian natural-gas exports through Ukraine to Europe halted for the first time in three years, threatening to create shortages as freezing weather spurred demand for power.

The two sides blamed each other for the disruption. OAO Gazprom, Russia’s gas-export monopoly, cut off all gas supplies to Europe through Ukraine at 7:44 a.m. Kiev time today, according to Ukrainian utility NAK Naftogaz Ukrainy. Gazprom Deputy Chief Executive Officer Alexander Medvedev said Ukraine shut off a fourth pipeline after closing three others yesterday.

The move, stopping all deliveries to Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, came after a halt in supplies to the Balkans yesterday and cuts to other countries. The dispute has already spread further and lasted longer than a similar conflict in 2006 which interrupted shipments to Europe.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Europe, Russia

NY Times: Spain Is a Battleground for Roman Catholic Church’s Future

The Macías Picavea primary school hardly looks like the seat of revolution. But this unassuming brick building in a sleepy industrial town has become a battleground in an intensifying war between church and state in Spain.

In an unprecedented decision here, a judge ruled in November that the public school must remove the crucifixes from classroom walls, saying they violated the “nonconfessional” nature of the Spanish state.

Although the Roman Catholic Church was not named in the suit, it criticized the ruling as an “unjust” attack on a historical and cultural symbol ”” and a sign of the Spanish state’s increasingly militant secularism.

If the judge’s ruling was the latest blow to the Catholic Church’s once mighty grip on Spain, the church’s response showed Spain to be a crucible for the future of church-state relations in Europe.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Church/State Matters, Europe, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Pete Haynsworth Offers Reflections on Two Contrasting Episcopal Church Funerals

I am pleased to report that the Order for the Burial of the Dead for Claiborne Pell, former US senator from Rhode Island, which took place in Newport at Trinity Church yesterday, January 5th, was lovely and moving. The Burial I office seemed to be followed closely (the broadcast chopped off the opening anthems), the readings were beautifully done by family members, and the hymns were nicely played and sung.

But there were major differences between this service [#] and little Rhody’s next previous major Episcopal funeral, that of Senator John Chaffee at Grace Church, Providence, in 1999 [*]. The differences do not reflect on either extraordinarily – for US senators – honorable, and patrician, gentleman. But comparison of the two funerals does provide a meaningful indication of serious decline in the Episcopal Church over the past decade.

One difference between the two services appears incontrovertable: The CNN video of the Chaffee service is indicated to be just under 50 minutes. The Pell C-Span coverage is over 1 1/2 hours. The relative conciseness of the Chaffee service was (based on feeble personal recollection) a result of Father (and former US senator) John Danforth seeming to be in charge: the service appeared to be liturgically proper, appealing, and complete. Moreover, Father Danforth preached an engaging, and true, sermon. To-be-senator Lincoln Chaffee recited a poem (entirely from memory); his older brother had provided the eulogy. If then-president and in-attendance Bill Clinton took the lecturn, he must have kept it short.

But guess who seemed to be in charge of the Pell service? Politicians.

The initial reporting after Pell’s death indicated that there would be two speakers (the Roman Catholic rubric?): a grandson and a current or former senator. An hour-long service was planned. But what actually took place between the readings and the Petitions/Prayers of the People (there was no Eucharist) ranged from appropriately poignant to unbelievably awful.

Senator Edward Kennedy spoke first (for 7 minutes and 40 seconds). Extremely frail but resolute, he demonstrated a long and genuine friendship with Pell. Bill Clinton was next (8:20) and was his usual masterful self at the lecturn/podium. Then came Joe Biden, who confirmed his blow-hard reputation with a rambling, sometimes incoherent 24-minute schpeel (the TV camera had to turn away from him for the final minutes). RI Senator Jack Reed was next (8:15 … do you suppose that speakers were asked to keep it to about 8 minutes?). His Fort Ticonderoga story was a gem, but his link to Pell seemed otherwise to be no closer than marching together in a July 4th parade. Eponymous ‘Nick’ Pell (7:30) spoke movingly of loved, if peculiar, traits of his grandfather.

Then came RI bishop Geralyn Wolf (7:00). No Danforth sermon from her! Did she have to correct Nick Pell’s assertion that she had returned from Africa for the service? And she should have stuck to her notes when she stated that RI has the most Roman Catholics and Episcopalians in the country (she surely meant proportionately) and referred to RI’s shameful “trade slave.” Somewhat baffling were her statements that “Jesus was all about opportunity” and “Life is always victorious over any death.” (Would that be this life? … or the sleep after death, or final Resurrection? … “Paging John Donne!” “NT Wright, come in please!”) Finally, Bishop Wolf betrayed her thin Pell family relationship with at least one anecdote preceeded by the dreaded “I’ve been told that …”

And should I have winced as I did when the priest who led the Petitions filled in the final “Grant us, with all who have died … ” petition with “… blessed Claiborne and all thy saints … “? Maybe not.

Here are some questions:

When did “The Burial of the Dead” change to “A Celebration of the Life of …”? Will the next Book of Common Prayer use the latter as the title of the office?

Who sanctioned all the awful eulogies/personal stories that now eviscerate what used to be one of the most beautiful liturgies across Christianity. When did “dispatching” join the “hatching”, and “matching” as bizarre variants of the intended Pastoral Office? When did officiants/celebrants stop adequately preparing for these liturgies?

How many more opportunities will there be – i.e. with its burial service, and prominent such occasions in particular – for the Episcopal Church to show that it hasn’t gone totally loony?

–Mr. Pete Haynsworth is a layman in Rhode Island

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Death / Burial / Funerals, Episcopal Church (TEC), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Politics in General

Obama Warns About Years of Trillion-Dollar Deficits

President-elect Barack Obama on Tuesday braced Americans for the unparalleled prospect of “trillion-dollar deficits for years to come,” a stark assessment of the economic condition facing the country that he said would force his administration to impose tighter fiscal discipline on the government.

Mr. Obama sought to draw a distinction between the need to run what would likely be record deficits by any measure for the next several years and the necessity to begin bringing them down substantially in following years. Even as he prepares a stimulus package that is likely to total in the range of $800 billion in new spending and tax cuts over the next two years, he said he would seek to make sure that money is used wisely and that he would work with Congress to implement spending controls and efficiency measures throughout the federal budget.

“I’m going to be willing to make some very difficult choices in how we get a handle on his deficit,” Mr. Obama said, speaking about the dire fiscal outlook as he met with his top economic advisers for a second straight day. “That’s what the American people are looking for and, you know, what we intended to do this year.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, US Presidential Election 2008

Fresno Bee Article on Los Angeles Episcopal Propety Dispute Ruling

“We are hopeful that this decision will help to bring remaining property litigation in California and elsewhere to a speedy conclusion,” said a statement issued Monday by the office of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

But leaders of the breakaway diocese said the case remains far from settled.

“This will impact our case, but there’s no precedent for a diocese or dioceses leaving a national denomination,” said the Rev. Bill Gandenberger, assistant to Bishop John-David Schofield, leader of the breakaway diocese.

Read it all.

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

From Maryland: Local Episcopalians express sadness, loss over rift in Episcopal Church

“I think a lot of people including myself see it as a tragedy that the Anglican community seems so split, and my heart aches having been there immediately following 2003 ”” I know what some of these congregations are going through,” said the Rev. Cynthia Baskin, a rector at St. Francis Episcopal Church in Potomac. St. Francis was affected by the rift in 2003 after Gene Robinson, the gay bishop in New Hampshire, was consecrated. The discussions that followed about the roles of gays and lesbians in the church lead to the departure of about 50 individuals from the church of about 400. “There’s a lot of grief and a lot of loss and it’s just very difficult, like watching someone in the hospital.”

While Baskin said St. Francis is more unified after the members’ departure, she said a poll of her congregants would most likely find viewpoints on the role of homosexuals in the church all over the map. The difference, she said, was that some Episcopalians use the issue as a “litmus test for faithfulness.”

“I wouldn’t go so far as to say [the individuals who left the church] didn’t want to include or reach out in some kind of way to someone who was homosexual,” Baskin said. “At the same time, they felt very strongly that homosexuality is not the way God intended human being to be, and they drew a line there, and found it difficult to be part of a community that honored homosexuals and allowed for their inclusion.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Proposed Formation of a new North American Province, Common Cause Partnership, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts