Daily Archives: May 29, 2009

Timothy Larsen on A.N. Wilson: Look Who's a Believer Now

Have you ever heard the one about the Christian who started to study calculus and ended up losing his faith? Of course you have. Such “conversion” to atheism is supposed to be the story of all modern, thinking people. But imagine it happening the other way around. Moreover, imagine the convert being a well-informed, public intellectual who had long made it his business to argue that faith is irrational?

Just such a conversion has happened to A.N. Wilson, the 58-year-old British biographer, novelist and man of letters. He was once an observant Anglican and, later, a Roman Catholic, but in the 1980s he lost his faith and began skewering the supposed delusions of the faithful. His antifaith stance was expressed in books such as “God’s Funeral” (1999) and “Jesus: A Life” (1992). A few weeks ago, however, Mr. Wilson confessed that Christ had risen indeed. He attributed this to “the confidence I have gained with age.” He now says he believes that atheists are like “people who have no ear for music or who have never been in love.”

Mr. Wilson’s story matches that of other skeptical authors who became convinced by Christianity, not least in Victorian Britain, when Darwin and various modern ideas shook the foundations of faith among the educated classes. Among the notable examples from Victorian Britain are Thomas Cooper, the most popular free-thinking lecturer in London in the 1850s; George Sexton, the most academically accomplished secularist intellectual of the time; and Joseph Barker, a well-respected leader of the mid-19th-century free-thinking movement. The 20th century also had its share of writers and intellectuals who rediscovered Christianity as mature thinkers, including T.S. Eliot, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, C.S. Lewis, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh and W.H. Auden.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, England / UK, History, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Scientology on trial in France

The Church of Scientology has gone on trial in the French capital, Paris, accused of organised fraud.

The case centres on a complaint by a woman who says she was pressured into paying large sums of money after being offered a free personality test.

The church, which is fighting the charges, denies that any mental manipulation took place.

France regards Scientology as a sect, not a religion, and the organisation could be banned if it loses the case.

Read it all.

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

RNS: Obama Names Hispanic Theologian as Vatican Envoy

President Obama has nominated Hispanic theologian Miguel H. Diaz as the next U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.

Diaz, a professor of theology at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University in Minnesota, was nominated as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See on Wednesday (May 27).

If the nomination is approved by the Senate, Diaz, 45, would be the ninth ambassador and the first Hispanic in the post since Washington and the Vatican established full diplomatic relations in 1984.

Diaz was Obama’s second high-profile Hispanic Catholic nominee in as many days, following the president’s choice of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the U.S. Supreme Court. Observers said Diaz is a subtle, if perhaps unintentional, acknowledgment of the growing ranks of Hispanics in the U.S. church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, Pope Benedict XVI, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(London) Times–The hidden massacre: Sri Lanka’s final offensive against Tamil Tigers

More than 20,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the final throes of the Sri Lankan civil war, most as a result of government shelling, an investigation by The Times has revealed.

The number of casualties is three times the official figure.

The Sri Lankan authorities have insisted that their forces stopped using heavy weapons on April 27 and observed the no-fire zone where 100,000 Tamil men, women and children were sheltering. They have blamed all civilian casualties on Tamil Tiger rebels concealed among the civilians.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Military / Armed Forces, Violence

Notable and Quotable

If the US government had a FICA score it would be around 245 according to University of Washington Professor Telda Wang.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Federal Reserve, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc)

Episcopal Diocesan Controversy in Pittsburgh Hearing Synopsis

The TEC Diocese’s material is here and the Anglican Diocese’s material is there.

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

USA Today: Leap in U.S. debt hits taxpayers with 12% more red ink

Taxpayers are on the hook for an extra $55,000 a household to cover rising federal commitments made just in the past year for retirement benefits, the national debt and other government promises, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

The 12% rise in red ink in 2008 stems from an explosion of federal borrowing during the recession, plus an aging population driving up the costs of Medicare and Social Security.

That’s the biggest leap in the long-term burden on taxpayers since a Medicare prescription drug benefit was added in 2003.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Taxes, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Diocese of New Westminster: Day 3 of trial in BC Supreme Court hears from three lay parishioners

[Linda] Seale, who has been a warden and a trustee at St. Matthew’s among many other positions, said that even before the issue of same sex blessings came to the fore, she had been disturbed by what she called Bishop Ingham’s “pluralist approach to religion, that there are many ways to God.”

She recalled once at the Sorrento Retreat Centre near Kamloops, BC, while taking a course taught by the bishop, she had been alarmed by the direction of his thought.

Walking beside him to a meal one day, she asked him about the passage in John’s Gospel which says “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

She told the court the bishop replied: “There are some things you have to let go of.”

Read the whole article.

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

Anglican Essentials Canda: Day 2 ”“ Trial of ANiC Parishes v Diocese of New Westminster

Bishop Don Harvey was under cross-examination for the first half of the morning session. Mr George Macintosh, counsel for the diocese, asked questions focused on the “legitimacy” of Archbishop Venables’ intervention in Canada, the response of the Anglican Church of Canada (ACoC) and the Archbishop of Canterbury to this intervention, and whether Bishop Harvey had been invited to the 2008 Lambeth Conference – to which Bishop Don replied, “no, but nor was Bishop Gene Robinson”. Another line of questioning revolved around how Bishop Don has changed his mind on the issue of women’s ordination over the last 30 years; previously against it, he is now for it. There were also extensive questions about the conscience clause in respect of women’s ordination and the one offered by Bishop Ingham to the parishes in New Westminster as well as discussion of Shared Episcopal Ministry.

Bishop Ron Ferris then took the stand for the rest of the day, although his cross-examination will continue tomorrow morning. He is another cradle Anglican who was baptized, confirmed, married, ordained and consecrated in the church. He was Bishop of the Yukon from 1981-1994 and Bishop of Algoma from 1995 until he retired in 2008 and moved to Langley, BC for family reasons. He joined ANiC in 2009 and is currently planting a church in the Langley area.

Read it all.

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

Anglican Journal: B.C. Supreme Court begins to hear case over New Westminster diocese properties

The Supreme Court of British Columbia began hearing arguments this week to decide who owns disputed church buildings and resources: the Anglican diocese of New Westminster or parishes that have split away from the Anglican Church of Canada.

Two lawsuits were filed against the diocese of New Westminster and its bishop, Michael Ingham, by clergy who cut ties with the Anglican Church of Canada and individuals who say they are the lawful trustees of church properties and resources for several congregations that also voted to leave the church. Other hearings have resulted in decisions about interim possession and sharing of Anglican church buildings in British Columbia as well as Ontario, but this trial, which is scheduled to last three weeks, is the first in Canada to rule on which side owns the buildings and resources.

One suit was filed by Rev. David Short, Rev. Trevor Walters, and Rev. Simon Chin who lead congregations at St. John’s (Shaughnessy) in Vancouver, St. Matthew’s in Abbotsford, B.C. and St. Matthias and St. Luke in Vancouver, respectively, and 14 other individuals. The other was filed by Rev. Stephen Leung of Good Shepherd Church in Vancouver and four other people.

The clergy left their ministries with the Anglican Church of Canada in 2008 over theological differences, including issues such as the blessing of same-sex unions, and they were asked to vacate their former parishes. …

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Law & Legal Issues, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Miami Herald: Father Alberto Cutié joins Episcopal church, will marry

At a press conference late Thursday afternoon, Archdiocese of Miami officials expressed disappointment in Cutié and had strong words for the Episcopal Church, especially Bishop Frade.

”This is truly a setback for ecunemical relations and cooperation between us. The Archdiocese have never made a public display when for doctrinal reasons Episcopal priests have joined the Catholic Church and sought ordination,” said Archbishop John Favalora. He said he had not heard from Frade about the transition and had not spoken to Cutié since May 5, adding that Cutié never told the archbishop he wanted to get married.

”Father Cutié is removing himself from full communion with the Catholic Church and thereby forfeiting his rights as a cleric,” Favalora said, later adding that Cutié is still “bound by the promise to live the celibate life which he freely embraced at ordination. Only the Holy Father can release him from the obligation”

Not so, Bishop Frade said Thursday afternoon. ”That promise is not recognized by our church. If you can find it in the Bible that priests should be celibate, that will be corrected,” Frade said. “The only thing we can say is that we pray for ecumenical relations. . .I am sorry they are sorry, and we love them.”

I am going to leave comments open on this, having had a night to pray on it, but I would request please that you be respectful. Read it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic

Youth Killings Reach Crisis Level In Chicago

Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church in the same neighborhood as Simeon, is outraged at the violence.

“What kind of crazy day do we live in, where our children are afraid to come home and go to school?” Pfleger says.

Outside of his church, Pfleger flies the American flag upside down ”” something the U.S. Flag Code states should only be done as a signal of distress and a dire need for help.

“Well, this is a dire need,” Pfleger says. “This is a distress signal we’re putting up saying we need help. We want to sound the alarm; we want a call for helping us deal with children being shot down in our city streets.”

I caught this last night in the car on the way to an appointment–heartbreaking. Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Teens / Youth, Violence

Benedict XVI on Theodore the Studite: "An Important Virtue ”¦ Is Love for Work"

For Theodore the Studite, an important virtue, together with obedience and humility, is philergia, that is, love for work, which he sees as a criterion to prove the quality of personal devotion. One who is fervent in material commitments, who works assiduously, he maintains, is the same in the spiritual realm. In this regard, he does not allow that with the pretext of prayer and contemplation, the monk dispenses with work, including manual work, which in reality is, according to him and to the monastic tradition, the means to encounter God.

Theodore is not afraid to speak of work as the “sacrifice of the monk,” of his “liturgy,” even of a type of Mass through which the monastic life converts into angelical life. And precisely in this way the world of work is humanized and man, through work, becomes more himself, closer to God. A consequence of this singular vision deserves to be considered: Precisely because it is the fruit of a form of “liturgy,” the riches that come from common work should not serve the comfort of the monks, but should be destined for the help of the poor. In this, all of us can see the need for the fruit of work to be a good for everyone. Obviously the work of the “studites” was not only manual: They had great importance in the religious-cultural development of the Byzantine culture as calligraphers, painters, poets, educators of youth, teachers in schools, librarians.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Of old thou didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They will perish, but thou dost endure; they will all wear out like a garment. Thou changest them like raiment, and they pass away; but thou art the same, and thy years have no end.

–Psalm 102:25-27

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

WSJ: The Return of the Bond Vigilantes

They’re back. We refer to the global investors once known as the bond vigilantes, who demanded higher Treasury bond yields from the late 1970s through the 1990s whenever inflation fears popped up, and as a result disciplined U.S. policy makers. The vigilantes vanished earlier this decade amid the credit mania, but they appear to be returning with a vengeance now that Congress and the Federal Reserve have flooded the world with dollars to beat the recession.

Treasury yields leapt again yesterday at the long end, with the 10-year note climbing above 3.7%, its highest close since November. Treasury yields had stayed low, and the dollar had remained strong, as long as investors were looking for the safest financial port amid the post-September panic. But as risk aversion subsides, and investors return to corporate bonds and other assets, investors are now calculating the risks of renewed dollar inflation.

They have cause to be worried, given Washington’s astonishing bet on fiscal and monetary reflation. The Obama Administration’s epic spending spree means the Treasury will have to float trillions of dollars in new debt in the next two or three years alone….

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Credit Markets, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration Plan, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009, The National Deficit, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc), Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner