Daily Archives: August 8, 2009
In the year 1849 I was stationed at Baton Rouge, and married Miss Frank E. Stuart, whose honored sons and one living daughter now rise up and call her blessed.
Passing over several years in which I was engaged as the pioneer of temperance and prohibition work, I found myself the pastor at Macon, Miss[issippi], during the war, where a singular episode occurred.
The Mississippi Legislature, driven out of Jackson by the Federal army, took refuge at Macon. In the course of legislation, a bill putting all ministers in the State up to sixty years of age in the army, and favored by Governor Clarke, passed to its third reading, before the final vote was taken. Hon. Locke Houston, speaker of the House of Representatives, invited me to open the session with prayer.
In the course of the prayer I invoked the Divine Father: “Have compassion on the members of the Mississippi Legislature, who, without the fear of God before their eyes, have laid violent hands upon the ordained ministry of Thy church, placing carnal weapons in their hands, bidding them to go forth to war as instruments of wrath and blood, instead of messengers of love and peace.”
“O Lord, for this wicked act, which stands out in all its gloomy isolation without any parallel among the civilized nations of the earth, we invoke pardoning mercy.”
“O Lord, let not this vile act of legislation fall in dire disaster upon the lives of our people.”
Continuing in this strain of thought, and holding them up before the great Jehovah of all worlds, was somewhat startling in its nature.
Their indictment before the august Chancery Court of Heaven was something unexpected, and greatly surprised them; and when the final vote was taken they reversed their previous action and struck out of the bill all ministers engaged in their regular work.
This prayer, and its results, invoked the wrath of the governor, and much of the secular press.
–The Rev. John W. Harmon, Select Sermons (Paulding, Mississippi, 1894), pp.2-3. The author is my great great grandfather (!)–KSH.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner formally requested that Congress raise the $12.1 trillion statutory debt limit on Friday, saying that it could be breached as early as mid-October.
“It is critically important that Congress act before the limit is reached so that citizens and investors here and around the world can remain confident that the United States will always meet its obligations,” Geithner said in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that was obtained by Reuters.
A Treasury spokeswoman declined to comment on the letter.
We have viewed the Windsor Report as an important, even defining, part of the Communion’s ongoing conversation about matters of sexuality. Others in the Communion, notably the Bishop of Durham, have seen it as the rules by which we can continue to be in the conversation at all. ”˜Stop making any progress on the affirmation of gays and lesbians or be gone with you.’ What strikes me as I read the posturing that is attempting to spin the meaning of these resolutions is that conservatives and liberals on the matter of sexuality are continuing to talk past each other, often in shrill ways. According to some we have ”˜renounced the Bible and the entire Tradition of the Christian Faith’ and to others have ”˜struck a blow for justice and full inclusion of a persecuted minority’. It is wearying and tiresome to keep at this. I have some instinct which I keep in check for the most part, that schism would not be so bad and then we could begin planting Episcopal Churches in England and elsewhere. The instinct that usually wins out however is the one that says there must be a way for people of goodwill to stay together in difference on this issue.
What I notice is that the ”˜liberal’ argument is dependent on recognizing that GLBT people are made and formed as such and that ’orientation’ is bound up with fundamental identity, neither chosen nor in most instances, subject to change. As such we are talking about something fundamentally new, –as new as when the solar system was first described to people who believed the sun revolved around the earth. This position is usually (or so it seems to me) dismissed in favor of something like ”˜we’ve always known about sexual proclivities and been counter cultural in saying that they are not in accord with God’s intentions for humanity’ or ”˜It doesn’t matter what you claim about this ”˜new’ thing. The Bible is clear that sex is reserved to one man and one woman in lifelong committed relationship.’ Neither statement acknowledges the seriousness of the claim which is at the root of the actions of TEC in the past two weeks.
The Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin will appeal a California Superior Court ruling that The Episcopal Church is hierarchical and that the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield had no standing to break the diocese’s ties with the larger church.
Judge Adolfo M. Corona of the Superior Court of California, County of Fresno, issued an order for summary adjudication on July 21. The lawsuit was filed by the Rt. Rev. Jerry A. Lamb, acting bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, and The Episcopal Church against Bishop Schofield, several bodies formed by the departing diocese, and the investment firm of Merrill Lynch.
“Defendants’ right to amend their constitution and canons is not unrestricted and unlimited,” Judge Corona wrote. “The constitution of the diocese has always permitted amendments. ”¦ However, from the inception of the diocese as a missionary district, it acceded to the constitution of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America and recognized the authority of the General Convention of the same.”
Amateurs do the things they want to do in the ways they want to do them. They don’t worry too much about breaking rules and aren’t paralyzed by a fear of imperfection or even failure. Active citizenship is all about tapping into one’s amateur spirit. “But hold on,” you say. “I will never understand credit-default swaps or know how to determine the correct leverage ratio for banks.” Me neither, and I don’t want to depend on an amateur physician telling me how to manage my health. But we can trust our reality-based hunches about fishy-looking procedures and unsustainable projects and demand that the supposed experts explain their supposed expertise in ways we do understand The American character is two-sided to an extreme and paradoxical degree. On the one hand, we are sober and practical and commonsensical, but on the other hand, we are wild and crazy speculators. The full-blown amateur spirit derives from this same paradox. Even as we indulge our native chutzpah ”” Live the dream! To hell with the naysayers! ”” as a practical matter, it also requires a profound humility, since the amateur must throw himself into situations where he’s uncertain and even ignorant, and therefore obliged to figure out new ways of seeing problems and fresh ways of solving them. At this particular American inflection point, after the crash and before the rebuild, frankly admitting that we aren’t absolutely certain how to proceed is liberating, and crucial. I like paradoxes, which is why, even though I’m not particularly religious, Zen Buddhism has always appealed to me. Take the paradoxical state that Buddhists seek to achieve, what they call sho-shin, or “beginner’s mind.” The 20th century Japanese Zen master Shunryu Suzuki, who spent the last dozen years of his life in America, famously wrote that “in the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.” Which sounds to me very much like the core of Boorstin’s amateur spirit. “The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance,” Boorstin wrote, “but the illusion of knowledge.”
This isn’t just airy-fairy philosophy: it’s real, and it works. A decade after Steve Jobs co-founded Apple, he was purged by his own board, but after the sense of betrayal passed, and he went on to build Pixar and oversee Apple’s glorious renewal, he realized his personal reset had been a blessing in disguise. “The heaviness of being successful,” Jobs has said of his firing, “was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.” I happen to know what Jobs means: my sacking as editor of New York magazine 13 years ago freed me to reinvent myself as a novelist and public-radio host. Getting fired was traumatic. Finding my way since has been thrilling and immensely gratifying. May America and Americans have such good luck figuring out how to climb out of the holes we find ourselves in now.
Americans have a long, sordid history with borrowed money. In Collateral Damaged: The Marketing of Consumer Debt to America, Charles Geisst, a professor of finance at Manhattan College, takes us through the centuries to explain how we wound up at our most recent””and spectacular””credit bubble. TIME’s Barbara Kiviat spoke with him.
You write that one of the major myths about American society is that we used to be prudent with our money and only recently did we go astray. What’s the real history?
Americans are speculative people. During and after the Civil War, for instance, there was a lot of stock market and commodities speculation””people trying to make a quick buck. But it was only when financial institutions picked up on that and provided the methods whereby you could buy now and pay later””that very simple concept””that things started to change structurally. Now Americans are more highly leveraged than they were in the past.
Which makes our most recent downturn worse?
Yes, absolutely. We’re out of proportion with our amount of personal debt. A good number of people are in debt to the point where they may not ever be able to pay their way out.
The bitter divisions over an overhaul of the health care system have exploded at town-hall-style meetings over the last few days as members of Congress have been shouted down, hanged in effigy and taunted by crowds. In several cities, noisy demonstrations have led to fistfights, arrests and hospitalizations.
Democrats have said the protesters are being organized by conservative lobbying groups like FreedomWorks. Republicans respond that the protests are an organic response to the Obama administration’s health care restructuring proposals.
There is no dispute, however, that most of the shouting and mocking is from opponents of those plans. Many of those opponents have been encouraged to attend by conservative commentators and Web sites.
However, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s proposed “two-tier” or “two-track” Anglican Communion is problematic in all sorts of ways, as he acknowledges himself, and we would urge him and others to think very carefully about the risks entailed.
* To be Anglican has always meant being Catholic. As Anglicans, we have always valued and defended our place within the “One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.” How could a secondary tier or track, which is walking away from the Church Catholic on matters of faith and practice as the Archbishop highlights, be considered authentically Anglican?
* To be Anglican has always meant being Scriptural. As Anglicans, we have always valued and defended the inspiration and authority of the Holy Scriptures. How could a secondary tier or track, which rejects the clear authority of Scripture on matters of faith and practice, be considered authentically Anglican?
* To be Anglican has always meant being Evangelical. As Anglicans, we have always valued and defended “the faith once delivered to the saints”. How could a secondary tier or track, which replaces the eternal gospel with secular culture, be considered authentically Anglican?
In this whole debate, there has always been a clear choice to be made. Do we remain faithful to the teaching of the Holy Scripture as received by the Church Catholic and so remain authentically Anglican? Or do we reject the teaching of the Holy Scripture and lose our right to be called Anglican, and more importantly Christian (1 Corinthians 6: 9-11)?
Sadly, The Episcopal Church in the United States has made its decision to break the moratoria, by continuing to bless same-sex unions and continuing to ordain practicing homosexuals, thus causing much pain and hurt for faithful Anglicans throughout North America and the rest of the world.
Have you noticed that the subject of euthanasia/assisted suicide is picking up momentum ”” that it is, so to speak, taking on a life of its own? I mean in particular that we seem to be approaching one of those interesting tipping points in public debate where the tone of those supporting a once-shocking idea is shifting from defensive to offensive.
Take for a representative example one of the “letters of the day” in the [National] Post’s July 22 edition, from Alexander McKay of Calgary. Mr. McKay argues for assisted suicide with the conviction of one endorsing, rather than flouting, received wisdom. The notion that the individual not only has the right to control his time of departure from this Earth, but has the right to society’s complicity in a death deliberately chosen, is embedded in the calm and confident air with which Mr. McKay projects his reasons for wishing, when his “wonderful life” dwindles down to a putative final season of debility and suffering, to “consider my options.”
Mr. McKay does not wish to see his life “cruelly extended” (assumption: suffering and pain are unnatural add-ons to life, not as much a part of life as youth and vigour). He says, “life is for the living” (assumption: the terminally ill no longer hold the moral status of “living”). And, of course, “Canada’s medical system is for those who need it” (assumption: medical “need” is an entirely fungible notion).
Ethel Khurshid Gil gingerly held out the charred Bible she pulled from the rubble of her home, using a swatch of cellophane to keep the scorched pages from scattering in the hot wind. “Look how they’ve destroyed our Bibles!” the 47-year-old Christian Pakistani cried out.
Not far away, charred wood and broken dishes crunched underfoot as Umair Akhlas stepped through his house to point out the blackened bedroom where he and his relatives hid from the mob that firebombed the building, shouting “Burn them alive!”
Akhlas and several relatives escaped. But six, including two children, couldn’t breach the flames and died in that room.
“They were screaming Christians are dogs, that we’re American agents,” Akhlas said. “They look for any reason to do something against Christians.”
Pakistan has had its hands full waging war against a Taliban insurgency. Now another troubling crisis simmers. Last week, riots broke out in Gojra, a city of 150,000 in the eastern province of Punjab, after accusations surfaced that Christians at a wedding ceremony had desecrated a copy of the holy Koran.
[The Rev. Terri] Pilarski, who has been pastor at St. Francis-in-the-Valley Episcopal Church for about 18 months, said her Green Valley congregation has weathered changes before and is ahead of the denomination on many social justice issues.
“I’m sure there are a few people who are upset,” she said, “but nobody’s banging on my door.”
Pilarski said the congregation, which ranges from 225 to 500 members depending on time of year, has a long history of life experience that has shaped them.
“While they can fall all along the spectrum of people who embrace the more progressive perspective and others who embrace the more traditional perspective, they are, nonetheless, people with a lot of experience,” she said. “They have family, children and grandchildren who may be gays and lesbians and they really have a compassionate response.”
Pilarski said the Bible does not condemn homosexuality, but she said society as a whole still ostracizes gay men and women.
Some secularists seem to like one-way streets. Their distaste for Christianity leads them to seek to drive it not only from the public square but even from any provision of education, health care, and welfare services. Ironically, intolerance of Christianity and Christian culture is proclaimed most often in the name of tolerance: Christianity must not be tolerated because of the need for greater tolerance.
At present, the most preferred means for addressing perceived intolerance seems to be antidiscrimination legislation. Across the Anglosphere and in many Western nations, the idea of antidiscrimination has shown enormous power to shape public opinion. It is being used to redefine marriage and to make a range of relationships acceptable as the foundation for new forms of the family. Antidiscrimination legislation, in tandem with new reproductive technologies, has made it possible for children to have three, four, or five parents, relegating the idea of a child being brought up by his natural mother and father to nothing more than a majority adult preference. The rights of children to be created in love and to be known and reared by their biological parents receives scant consideration when the legislative agenda is directed to satisfying adult needs and ambitions.
Until relatively recently, antidiscrimination laws usually included exemptions for churches and other religious groups so that they could practice and manifest their beliefs in freedom. That word exemptions is actually a misnomer, suggesting as it does some sort of concession from the state to eccentric minorities. These provisions are better described as protections of religious freedom””and such protections are increasingly being refused or defined in the narrowest possible terms in new antidiscrimination measures, with existing protections eroded or construed away by the courts.