Daily Archives: May 27, 2009

Katharine Jefferts Schori: The ACC meeting faced challenges

The last Lambeth Conference proceeded without resolutions, and the result was far deeper and richer because of the focus on conversation, dialogue and building relationships. This ACC meeting conducted some of its business in that way, but a great deal of time and energy was devoted to hearing reports and dealing with resolutions.

The members of the ACC arrive and are inundated with long and complex papers on a great variety of subjects ”“ resolutions from the different networks, the recent draft of an Anglican covenant, the Windsor Continuation Group report, a 256-page book on ecumenical relations and many others ”“ and are expected to make decisions after brief opportunities for small-group discussion.

The details of decision-making would surprise most Episcopalians. A small group develops material ahead of time and then offers it to the group with relatively little opportunity for deliberation or alteration. The resolutions presented for deliberation are vetted and edited by a resolutions committee.

The pace of work is leisurely, with 40 hours of formal work spread over 11 working days. The chair exercises a great deal of discretion in referring or declining to entertain resolutions; elections are not straightforward ballots for a single individual; discussion of any proposed amendment requires the support of 10 members; the president (the Archbishop of Canterbury) steps in fairly frequently to “steer”; and the rules are quite evidently not Robert’s!

The contrasts with General Convention are significant….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Consultative Council, Anglican Covenant, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop

Sam Schulman: Same Sex Marriage isn't Going to Work

The role that marriage plays in kinship encompasses far more than arranging a happy home in which two hearts may beat as one–in fact marriage is actually pretty indifferent to that particular aim. Nor has marriage historically concerned itself with compelling the particular male and female who have created a child to live together and care for that child. It is not the “right to marry” that creates an enduring relationship between heterosexual lovers or a stable home for a child, but the more far-reaching kinship system that assigns every one of the vast array of marriage rules a set of duties and obligations to enforce. These duties and obligations impinge even on romantic marriage, and not always to its advantage. The obligations of kinship imposed on traditional marriage have nothing to do with the romantic ideals expressed in gay marriage.

Consider four of the most profound effects of marriage within the kinship system.

The first is the most important: It is that marriage is concerned above all with female sexuality. The very existence of kinship depends on the protection of females from rape, degradation, and concubinage. This is why marriage between men and women has been necessary in virtually every society ever known. Marriage, whatever its particular manifestation in a particular culture or epoch, is essentially about who may and who may not have sexual access to a woman when she becomes an adult, and is also about how her adulthood–and sexual accessibility–is defined. Again, until quite recently, the woman herself had little or nothing to say about this, while her parents and the community to which they answered had total control. The guardians of a female child or young woman had a duty to protect her virginity until the time came when marriage was permitted or, more frequently, insisted upon. This may seem a grim thing for the young woman–if you think of how the teenaged Natalie Wood was not permitted to go too far with Warren Beatty in Splendor in the Grass. But the duty of virginity can seem like a privilege, even a luxury, if you contrast it with the fate of child-prostitutes in brothels around the world. No wonder that weddings tend to be regarded as religious ceremonies in almost every culture: They celebrate the completion of a difficult task for the community as a whole.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Children, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Men, Sexuality, Women

IRS tax revenue falls along with taxpayers' income

Federal tax revenue plunged $138 billion, or 34%, in April vs. a year ago ”” the biggest April drop since 1981, a study released Tuesday by the American Institute for Economic Research says.

When the economy slumps, so does tax revenue, and this recession has been no different, says Kerry Lynch, senior fellow at the AIER and author of the study. “It illustrates how severe the recession has been.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Once Considered Unthinkable, U.S. Sales Tax Gets Fresh Look

With budget deficits soaring and President Obama pushing a trillion-dollar-plus expansion of health coverage, some Washington policymakers are taking a fresh look at a money-making idea long considered politically taboo: a national sales tax.

Common around the world, including in Europe, such a tax — called a value-added tax, or VAT — has not been seriously considered in the United States. But advocates say few other options can generate the kind of money the nation will need to avert fiscal calamity.

At a White House conference earlier this year on the government’s budget problems, a roomful of tax experts pleaded with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner to consider a VAT. A recent flurry of books and papers on the subject is attracting genuine, if furtive, interest in Congress. And last month, after wrestling with the White House over the massive deficits projected under Obama’s policies, the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee declared that a VAT should be part of the debate.

“There is a growing awareness of the need for fundamental tax reform,” Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said in an interview. “I think a VAT and a high-end income tax have got to be on the table.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

RNS: Christianity Today to Close Four Publications, Lay Off 31

Publishing powerhouse Christianity Today International, citing hard times in its industry, is shutting down four publications and laying off 31 workers.

According to a plan announced Friday (May 22), two magazines will fold: Today’s Christian Woman and the Campus Life College Guide, which targets Christian undergrads. CTI will also cease to publish Glimpses, a worship bulletin insert with stories from Christian history, and Church Office Today, a bi-monthly newsletter read by church administrators.

The moves, which reduce CTI staff numbers by 22 percent to 108 employees, mark the latest attempt to cut costs at Carol Stream, Ill.-based CTI. In January, the organization shuttered two other magazines””Marriage Partnership and Ignite Your Faith””and sold a third, Today’s Christian.

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

Paul Richardson: Restoring public morality today

…”˜virtue ethics’ has grown in importance over the past 30 years. What matters is not just following the rules but becoming a good person and developing virtuous habits. Rules help us to see what this might entail but crucial to moral growth are the following of practices and learning from life in community. Tradition, the example of others, training in moral goodness ”” these are all important elements in becoming good men and women. For Christians this underlines the importance of life in the church. Christianity is not something we learn just by reading books but by being with others and taking part in such regular practices as prayer and worship. ”˜Café church’ and other so-called ”˜fresh expressions’ that are not tied to such traditional practices often overlook this.

How does a secular society teach its members moral values and enable them to grow in virtue? The favourite prescriptions of New Labour, lessons at school on how to be happy or sex education and citizenship classes, only go so far. Most people learn by joining the ”˜little battalions’, voluntary organisations like the scouts and guides, who carry out certain practices designed to inculcate a particular ethos. At their best, church schools do this, which is the real reason why they are so effective. Once the public schools aimed to turn out ”˜Christian gentlemen’, a flawed ideal, perhaps, but better than the entrepreneurial creed taught today.

Parliament needs to think about how it can instil in members a genuine sense of public service. A start has been made by the Speaker’s departure, but we should see the deselection of MPs who grossly abused their expenses. In fact, what is so alarming about the whole affair is the little sign of genuine remorse on display anywhere among politicians.

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

ACNS: Anglican РLutheran International Commission: Communiqu̩

This commission has met in Tanzania, Canada, and India. Sweden was chosen as the venue for this meeting in order to allow sustained engagement and deepening theological reflection on the theme of diakonia, which has been emerging as the central theme on which this commission wants to make its contribution. The discussion discovered strong links between the “six marks of mission,” which provide a framework for Anglican engagement in God’s mission, and developments in Lutheran understandings of diakonia, as seen in the Diakonia in Context handbook which Kjell Nordstokke from the LWF introduced to the group.

The life of the Christian Church has diaconal character, this commission believes. Using a diaconal lens has allowed the commission to examine issues of ecclesiology and ministry from fresh perspectives. Diakonia and koinonia (communion) are two faces of the same reality, two sides of the same coin on which God’s image is stamped. The commission believes that a renewed and full understanding of diakonia will strengthen the mission and unity of the Church at every level. God is now calling Anglicans and Lutherans to find concrete diaconal expressions for the growing communion between them.

The inseparable relationship of diakonia and communion is integral to the church in every context, but it is expressed in particular ways in each place. As part of its mandate, the commission received regional reports, which reflect a diversity of contexts, needs, and responses. The commission is learning that there is no single pattern for growth in communion; promising initiatives are found in many forms. In some places, the prophetic dimension of diakonia has particular urgency, and in fact is the leading impetus toward greater unity. In others, the most pressing challenge is to bring diakonia closer to the heart of the churches’ life together.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Reports & Communiques, Ecumenical Relations, Lutheran, Other Churches

Kathleen Parker responds to Daniel Gilbert: The Deadliness of Certainty

(The column to which this responds was posted earlier on the blog here–KSH).

Gilbert’s observations were in the context of our current economic woes. As soon as we know how bad things are (or aren’t), he said, we’ll adapt and get along just fine.

He may be right as far as it goes, but the same uncertainty that makes human beings unhappy also stimulates the creativity that makes us happy. Was Leonardo da Vinci happy? Homer? George Washington? Man’s drive to create isn’t born of contentment but of anxiety attached to the unconscious agitation that comes from the greatest certainty ever devised: Death.

Here is a truism, if not an aphorism. Without death and the certainty of physical finitude, Homo sapiens would never have left the cave. Unhappiness and uncertainty — rather than happiness and certitude — are what get us off our duffs.

No misery. No Sistine Chapel.

So what happens to the creative spirit when government steps in to soothe our anxieties? Without unhappiness, what happens to culture? Without adversity, what happens to motivation? Parents know. Suffice to say, the work ethic is not strong among the coddled.

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

Washington Post: Calif. Ruling Shows Hurdles Remain for Same Sex Marriage

The ruling Tuesday by California’s Supreme Court upholding a ban on same-sex marriages shows that, despite a year of successes for gay activists, the road toward full marriage rights remains difficult — particularly when voters are given a direct say.

The decisions in three states this year to legalize same-sex marriage, and the possibility that three others will soon follow suit, created a sense that the issue was gaining irreversible momentum and widespread acceptance, with many advocates making comparisons to the civil rights movement of the 1960s. But the California ruling served as a reminder that same-sex marriage remains deeply polarizing, and the movement is likely to see more reversals and setbacks as it tries to expand beyond the favorable terrain of the Northeast.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

Bishop praises California Supreme Court for affirming voters' right to define marriage

The May 26 ruling of the high court upheld the constitutionality of the state’s Proposition 8 declaring that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California,” but said the voters’ decision could not be applied retroactively to those who married before the initiative was passed.

Bishop [Stephen]Blaire said he and his fellow bishops “are strongly committed to protecting the dignity and worth of every human person” and supported “the intent of law to provide equal protection for all.”

“However, such purpose does not have to trump the natural and traditional definition of marriage between a man and a woman,” he added in a May 26 statement. “The law has found other ways to regulate civil unions without destroying the traditional understanding of marriage.

“We believe — as do the majority of Californians — that marriage between a man and a woman is foundational to our culture and crucial for human perpetuity,” Bishop Blaire said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality

Justices to decide if vets can be honored with cross

Some see it as the universal symbol of sacrifice in World War I, others see it as the undisputed sign of Christianity, but it will be up to the Supreme Court to make a final determination as to whether a 7-foot cross remains standing in a California desert to memorialize war veterans.

The cross was first erected in 1934 in what is now the federally protected Mojave Desert Preserve by a group of veterans whose doctors advised them that the desert heat would help them recover from shell shock.

Veterans today say this war memorial and others like it across the country that use religious symbols are under attack by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

“They are not the enemy; they are just dead wrong,” says Joe Davis, spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Military / Armed Forces, Religion & Culture

A Diocese of New Westminster press Release on the Court Proceedings

Bishop Michael Ingham asked the retiring bishop of Algoma, Ronald Ferris, to consider assisting him last year by serving as a pastoral bishop to conservative parishes in his diocese under the shared episcopal ministry plan set out by Canadian House of Bishops.

However, in BC Supreme Court Tuesday, May 26, the former Canadian bishop said he felt strongly that he couldn’t serve as a bishop within a diocese that, in his opinion, had departed from biblical teaching and blessed same sex unions.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canada, Law & Legal Issues

Anglican Network in Canada: Day 1 ”“ Trial of ANiC Parishes v Diocese of New Westminster

There was also extensive discussion on the principles of trust law in relation to religious purpose trusts, as well as the court’s traditional inherent jurisdiction and its duty in respect of such trusts.

Mr. Cowper gave an overview of the history of the crisis and the division occurring in the Anglican Church, not only locally in New Westminster (which he referred to as “ground zero” of the crisis), but nationally and internationally, characterizing this case as one of “division not departure”. The Anglican Church is dividing, so is it fair and just for one party (in this case, the defendant diocese and bishop) to claim all the property and assets? As Mr. Cowper stated, “The question before the Court is whether the division created by the Defendants’ doctrinal and liturgical innovations justifies the expulsion of the plaintiff congregations from the church properties they funded, maintained and have long considered their church homes”.

Mr. Justice Kelleher was clearly engaged and listened intently throughout the day, asking clarifying questions on several occasions.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canada, Law & Legal Issues

Bloomberg: Unemployment at 8 Percent Is the New Normal as Growth Slows

“This is going to be a new era of frugality,” [David] Rosenberg said. “This isn’t some flashy two- or three-quarter deal. This is a secular change in household attitudes….”

The coming decade may, in some ways, remind people of those years during President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s administration, Rosenberg said.

“Life wasn’t so bad for the Cleavers,” he said, referring to the family depicted in “Leave It to Beaver,” the television show that ran from 1957 through 1963. “They weren’t up to their eyeballs in debt and they weren’t a three-car family with a 5,000-square-foot McMansion.”

Behavior by newly ascetic U.S. consumers, whose spending drives more than two-thirds of the economy, will translate into “less return to capital and less-remarkable equity returns,” said Milton Ezrati, senior economist at Jersey City, New Jersey- based Lord Abbett & Co., which manages $70 billion. “The whole picture is muted.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, History, Personal Finance, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Church of Scotland orders ban on debate on ministers in same sex partnerships

The Church of Scotland last night effectively gagged its members from public discussion of gay ministers and postponed a potentially divisive vote on the issue for two years in a desperate bid to avoid a schism.

A debate on a call to ban openly homosexual people from appointment to the ministry was torpedoed by an 11th-hour motion that dominated the General Assembly yesterday.

Instead of proceeding with the vote ”“ which many traditionalists had warned could split the Kirk ”“ members agreed to establish a commission to study the issue and report back in 2011.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Other Churches, Presbyterian, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)