Daily Archives: April 30, 2009

Beware surfers: cyberspace is filling up

Internet users face regular “brownouts” that will freeze their computers as capacity runs out in cyberspace, according to research to be published later this year.

Experts predict that consumer demand, already growing at 60 per cent a year, will start to exceed supply from as early as next year because of more people working online and the soaring popularity of bandwidth-hungry websites such as YouTube and services such as the BBC’s iPlayer.

It will initially lead to computers being disrupted and going offline for several minutes at a time. From 2012, however, PCs and laptops are likely to operate at a much reduced speed, rendering the internet an “unreliable toy”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Science & Technology

Scientists see this flu strain as relatively mild

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

Trial forces France to confront its anti-Semitism demons

When a young Jew named Ilan Halimi was found dying on a railway siding three years ago, duct tape over his eyes and his body burned and slashed, the French police were reluctant at first to call it a hate crime.

Within a week, their caution gave way to a different and uglier conclusion, one that sent shock waves through a country that has wrestled with the demons of anti-Semitism for years.

The victim was targeted, investigators said, because he was Jewish.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, France, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Michael Nazir-Ali: Is the much-debated Covenant fit for purpose?

This week the Anglican Consultative Council meets in Jamaica. One of the items on its agenda is the latest draft for an Anglican Covenant. This is an opportune moment to ask if the draft is ”˜fit for purpose’ and if it will make any difference to the situation, if it is approved by the member churches of the Communion.

This latest draft of an Anglican Covenant, and its accompanying commentary, has taken account of the many responses and submissions made in respect of the earlier drafts. This means that the theological and ecclesiological sections of the proposed Covenant are stronger than they were before. A question remains as to why the Introduction is still not part of the Covenant. This weakens the theological basis of the Covenant, even if the drafters now tell us that it “shall be accorded authority in understanding the purpose of the Covenant” (4:4:1).
The first section opens by telling us that each church in the Covenant affirms its ”˜communion’ in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church but it does not say anything about the communion between or among particular churches which is the issue at the moment. What is the basis for such fellowship and how can one church recognise the presence of the Church of Jesus Christ in another? This section claims also that our mission is shared with other churches and traditions beyond the Covenant. Which churches do the drafters have in mind and what is the extent of this sharing? If we are not careful, this could lead to the very carte blanche the Covenant is being designed to avoid.

In section 3 we are told that the churches of the Anglican Communion are bound together “through the common counsel of the bishops in conference” but this reference back to the 1930 Lambeth Conference is not, as we shall see, fully reflected in the decision-making processes proposed by the drafters.

There is again the usual Anglican attempt to having your cake and eating it. This draft moves away unhelpfully from the previous language of autonomy in interdependence to a renewed emphasis on autonomy. The commentary claims that Anglicans wish to keep the autonomy of their churches but no biblical or apostolic evidence is provided for the sort of autonomy which could be acceptable, nor about its limits and dangers. We are told that adoption of the Covenant by a church does not “represent submission to any external ecclesiastical jurisdiction” (4:1:1) but surely the representative bodies of the Communion should have the power at least to determine what relations there should be among the provinces, depending on whether they subscribe to the Covenant or not. It is strange to regard such representative bodies of the churches themselves as ”˜external’.

My main difficulties, however, are with the final section (4:2): because the Nassau Draft was criticised for giving too much power to the Primates’ Meeting in determining compliance with the Covenant and the St Andrew’s Draft for doing the same with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Consultative Council, ”˜Ridley’ has given the Joint Standing Committee the role of making a declaration of ”˜incompatibility with the Covenant’ and of making ”˜recommendations’ as to the ”˜relational consequences’ of actions incompatible with the Covenant. But the commentary makes it clear that there is no power to ”˜direct’ either the province causing offence or the response of any of the other provinces.

So whatever the Joint Standing Committee may say, the provinces can go their own sweet way which is precisely the situation as it is today and which has caused the problem we are all facing! In spite of a ringing endorsement of the 1930 Lambeth Conference on the teaching role of bishops in the earlier part of the draft, the new ”˜mechanism’ does not give them any special role, beyond ”˜advice’, nor does it provide for authoritative teaching that requires compliance for the sake of unity and truth. In other words, we are exactly where we have been these last six years. It may even be worse: The Windsor Report asked that those who had unilaterally breached the bonds of communion by their teaching and action should not participate in representative Anglican Councils. Such a request has hardly been taken seriously so far but the new draft Covenant envisages the possibility of both covenanted and non-covenanted churches continuing to belong to the Instruments of Communion and the commentary looks only to the far future for a resolution of this anomaly. This means that churches which do not agree to any communion-wide procedures for discipline, however diluted, can still continue to be invited to the Lambeth Conference and to attend the ACC and the Primates’ Meeting. In other words, there is no immediate change anticipated in the membership of these bodies regardless of whether a Covenant is agreed or not.

Neither the draft nor the commentary tell us anything about how much longer it will be before a Covenant is finally ratified.Will it be by the time of the next ACC or beyond that and, if so, how much longer – the next Lambeth Conference? How long can faithful Anglicans in the pew and the pulpit wait for the Anglican Communion to deliver and will it make any difference when it does?

–This article appears in the Church of England Newspaper, May 1, 2009 edition, page 12

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

U.S. Steps Up Effort on Digital Defenses

When American forces in Iraq wanted to lure members of Al Qaeda into a trap, they hacked into one of the group’s computers and altered information that drove them into American gun sights.

When President George W. Bush ordered new ways to slow Iran’s progress toward a nuclear bomb last year, he approved a plan for an experimental covert program ”” its results still unclear ”” to bore into their computers and undermine the project.

And the Pentagon has commissioned military contractors to develop a highly classified replica of the Internet of the future. The goal is to simulate what it would take for adversaries to shut down the country’s power stations, telecommunications and aviation systems, or freeze the financial markets ”” in an effort to build better defenses against such attacks, as well as a new generation of online weapons.

Just as the invention of the atomic bomb changed warfare and deterrence 64 years ago, a new international race has begun to develop cyberweapons and systems to protect against them.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces

Pope Expresses 'sorrow' to Victims of Canadian Schools

Pope Benedict XVI met aboriginal survivors of Canada’s residential school system on Wednesday (Apr. 29) and voiced his “sorrow” over “deplorable” abuses in the church-run schools.

“Given the sufferings that some indigenous children experienced in the Canadian Residential School system, the Holy Father expressed his sorrow at the anguish caused by the deplorable conduct of some members of the Church and he offered his sympathy and prayerful solidarity,” the Vatican said in a statement.

“His Holiness emphasized that acts of abuse cannot be tolerated in society.”

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

Graham Kings: Between the Primates’ Meeting and the ACC

There have been no such consecrations since 2006, but there is tremendous pressure to repeal resolution B033. The debate on that resolution will, in effect, be a debate on the Anglican Covenant. If it is repealed, TEC will clearly signal its rejection of the Anglican Covenant. It would be a reiteration of ”˜autonomy’ alone, rather than the Covenant concept of ”˜autonomy within interdependence’. So in debating resolution B033 of 2006, General Convention will in effect be debating the Covenant. It may well be, to the surprise of many, that B033 is not repealed: though even if this were to happen, it would still leave open the specific subject of the Ridley Cambridge draft.

This leads us to the second related resolution which Dan Martins, of the Diocese of Northern Indiana, submitted to the General Convention office on the afternoon of 24 April 2009. It is co-sponsored by Christopher Wells, also of Northern Indiana, and Bruce Robison, of the Diocese of Pittsburgh (TEC not Southern Cone version).

It is entitled, ”˜Provisional Acceptance of the Anglican Covenant’, and is causing much discussion already. All three sponsors are involved in the Covenant web site.

”˜Communion Partner Bishops’, the positive ”˜Communion Conservative’ movement of those who have not split off from The Episcopal Church, representing about 14 dioceses, met in Houston in April. Their statement, very perceptively, set out the grounds for individual dioceses of TEC to sign the Covenant. It has already been the cause of considerable debate.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Primates, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Meeting Alexandria Egypt, February 2009, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

An Elephant whose best Friend is a Dog

This is just wonderful–watch the whole video.

Posted in * General Interest, Animals

Leander Harding: On The Communion Partners Bishops Statement

This is a very forthright document by Bishops who are trying to keep The Episcopal Church together but are not willing to do so at the price of cutting themselves off from the Anglican Communion or acquiescing to novel interpretations of the constitution and canons of The Episcopal Church. They are in effect insisting that The Episcopal Church be The Episcopal Church and act in accord with its own law and traditions. This is precisely what Bishops ought to do when they intend to be faithful to their vows.

There are a lot of questions raised here for future discussion. I am completely convinced that the Statement is an accurate description of the polity of The Episcopal Church as it has ever been and as it now stands. Our polity is indeed unique but not for the reasons usually put forward about the participation of the different orders in decision making but rather because it envisions a provincial structure with a level of diocesan autonomy unparalleled in most other Anglican jurisdictions. Unlike most provinces we have no archiepiscopal order. It remains to be seen how this order can be integrated into a true communion of churches. The proposed Anglican Covenant is a step in that direction and would represent for Communion Partner Bishops and their dioceses a willing surrender of some aspects of their present autonomy for the sake of the ongoing unity and communion of the church.

There is also the very pertinent question of how the instruments of unity in a church whether they be the instruments of unity of the Anglican Communion or of a local diocesan synod or convention are actually and practically in the service of unity in faith, witness and mission.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Identity, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Instruments of Unity, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, Theology

Quiet Prayer in D.C. Churches for Obama's Decision

Ursula Holmes was settled into her usual pew toward the rear of Washington’s Nineteenth Street Baptist Church when President-elect Barack Obama saw her. Both he and his wife, Michelle, paused, stooped down and took hold of her hand as they left church after a Sunday service in January.

Holmes was too excited then to whisper the advice she now has for them, advice that she says has helped her survive in this city for 92 years. “Find a church family,” she wants to tell them. “There’s no place like the black church.”

Holmes is far from alone in that sentiment. Everyone in Washington’s church-going community seems to have an opinion about where the first family should go to church — and nowhere is hope higher than among the city’s scores of predominantly black churches, which are in the mix for the first time. Their pastors and members are asking: Will Obama choose one of us? Like so many choices the first family is making in this city, the search for a church has spurred discussions about the state of race relations and a hot competition for its mark of approval.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Office of the President, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture

Time–Church-Shopping: Why Do Americans Change Faiths?

When Pew researchers set out last year to map the U.S.’s religious landscape with a groundbreaking survey of more than 35,000 people, they expected fairly straightforward answers to questions about individual religious affiliations. (The survey included more detailed questions about religious beliefs and practices than have been asked in past censuses; the 2010 census will not ask about religion at all.) What the Pew researchers didn’t anticipate is that fully 44% of Americans have changed faiths at least once. Some converted from one religion or denomination to another; others grew up with no tradition only to adopt one as an adult; still others left their childhood faith and found themselves with no religious home.

“It was a phenomenon,” says Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum. “We needed to make greater sense of it.” So the researchers followed up with more than 2,800 of the original respondents who had reported changing religious traditions and asked why they had decided to leave and/or join a faith.

The answers were so varied that analysts nearly ran out of codes to categorize them. “The U.S. has an unmatched religious dynamism,” explains Lugo. “It’s an open religious marketplace as well as a very competitive one. This is the supermarket cereal aisle.” Without an established state religion, all faiths can freely exist in the U.S. but must compete for adherents in order to survive.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

A Video to Lift the Heart and Help You Smile

This is just wonderful stuff. (Hat tip: HTCIB)

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music

Obama Works to Redefine Role of Faith in First 100 Days

The Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land has worked with presidential administrations going back to Ronald Reagan’s, but he can’t remember any that has convened an advisory council composedimostly of religious leaders, as President Obama has done. The council gives religion “an institutionally higher profile than under President Bush,” says the conservative Land, who directs public policy
for the nation’s largest evangelical denomination. “No president that I’ve dealt with has had anything like it.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture

WHO warns flu pandemic imminent

The World Health Organization warned on Wednesday that a global flu pandemic was imminent, raising its threat level as the swine flu virus spread and killed the first person outside of Mexico, a toddler in Texas.

“Influenza pandemics must be taken seriously precisely because of their capacity to spread rapidly to every country in the world,” WHO Director General Margaret Chan told a news conference in Geneva.

“The biggest question is this: how severe will the pandemic be, especially now at the start,” Chan said, but added the world “is better prepared for an influenza pandemic than at any time in history.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Globalization, Health & Medicine

Anglican Journal: Anglican Consultative Council gathers in Jamaica in early May

While it is not a legislative body, the ACC can determine whether a new province can be created. “There are clear guidelines set out in the Anglican Consultative Council reports, notably ACC 10 in 1996 (resolution 12), detailing the steps necessary for the amendments of existing provincial constitutions and the creation of new provinces,” a spokesperson for the Archbishop of Canterbury bishop has said.

Other issues expected to be on the agenda are proposals for an Anglican Covenant, as well as reports from various Anglican bodies and networks dealing with issues like peace and justice, mission, and theological education.

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Posted in Uncategorized