Daily Archives: August 27, 2009

From the Email Bag (II)

Dear Dr. Harmon:


I know that I greatly understate myself when I say that Anglicanism on this continent is currently quite complex and confusing, especially when it comes to predicting the future direction of our great tradition. I personally am strongly committed to ministering within the Anglican tradition in a way that upholds the orthodox faith, both in theology and polity. For this reason I am both encouraged and troubled by the recent formation of the ACNA. As has been expressed by many, most notably the Communion Partners and the Anglican Communion Institute, the ACNA does seem to be significantly compromising its ecclesiology in order to move beyond the tensions that have for so long plagued our Communion. As a current parishioner at an ACNA church and as someone looking towards ordination, I find this deeply troubling. At the same time, recent decisions in TEC provide little comfort or hope, reinforcing my belief that the possibility of finding in TEC a place to minister in faithfulness and integrity all but impossible.

As a faithful leader of our communion and someone who I know to be committed to the orthodox faith, both in belief and practice, I am writing to ask for your input into this complex situation. Do you still see the Communion Partners remaining in TEC long term, and therefore is there still hope for young ordinands to pursue Holy Orders through the traditional means? On the other hand, do you believe that as the ACNA develops there is hope for a strengthening of its ecclesiological foundation? To this end I am comforted by the involvement of the Rt. Rev. Jack Iker and the Rev. Dr. Robert Munday, as well as the ecumenical voice of Metropolitan Jonah.

With these two “tracks” (to employ recent Anglican terminology) to orthodoxy, is there any hope that the two might eventually partner together and become a unified voice? Closer to home, I think of the presence of the AMiA within the Diocese of South Carolina. I know very little of the relationship between the two, but do you see any hope for partnership in ministry and mission between the two?

I know I have asked more than can possibly be answered, so I would appreciate any thoughts or remarks that you may have on any part of the aforementioned topics.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

From the Email Bag (I)

I notice on the Diocese of Kentucky’s website, their new marketing slogan is “Engaging Christ; Embracing the world.”

Shouldn’t we be embracing Christ, and engaging the world?

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC)

The Rubber Room – The battle over New York City's worst teachers

In a windowless room in a shabby office building at Seventh Avenue and Twenty-eighth Street, in Manhattan, a poster is taped to a wall, whose message could easily be the mission statement for a day-care center: “Children are fragile. Handle with care.” It’s a June morning, and there are fifteen people in the room, four of them fast asleep, their heads lying on a card table. Three are playing a board game. Most of the others stand around chatting. Two are arguing over one of the folding chairs. But there are no children here. The inhabitants are all New York City schoolteachers who have been sent to what is officially called a Temporary Reassignment Center but which everyone calls the Rubber Room.

These fifteen teachers, along with about six hundred others, in six larger Rubber Rooms in the city’s five boroughs, have been accused of misconduct, such as hitting or molesting a student, or, in some cases, of incompetence, in a system that rarely calls anyone incompetent.

The teachers have been in the Rubber Room for an average of about three years, doing the same thing every day””which is pretty much nothing at all. Watched over by two private security guards and two city Department of Education supervisors, they punch a time clock for the same hours that they would have kept at school””typically, eight-fifteen to three-fifteen. Like all teachers, they have the summer off. The city’s contract with their union, the United Federation of Teachers, requires that charges against them be heard by an arbitrator, and until the charges are resolved””the process is often endless””they will continue to draw their salaries and accrue pensions and other benefits.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

RNS: Conservative Christians say U.S. health care system 'is working'

Conservative Christian groups on Wednesday (Aug. 26) ramped up opposition to health care reform, saying the current system “has problems” but “it is working.”

Members of the newly formed Freedom Federation, comprised of some of the largest conservative religious groups in the country, say they oppose taxpayer-supported abortion, rationed health care for the elderly and government control of personal health decisions.

Mathew Staver, who heads the legal group Liberty Counsel and is dean at Liberty University’s law school, said the group agrees on certain core values.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Health & Medicine, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Muslim woman told to remove scarf sues Mich. judge

A Muslim woman on Wednesday sued a Michigan judge for telling her to remove her headscarf in his courtroom, claiming he violated her First Amendment right to practice her religion.

Raneen Albaghdady, 32, says she felt humiliated when Wayne County Circuit Judge William Callahan ordered her to remove her hijab at a June 16 hearing in his Detroit courtroom. The headscarf, which does not cover the face, is worn by many Muslims in the U.S.

“This is the country and the land of freedom, and we’re not supposed to be treated like this for the scarf,” the Dearborn Heights woman said at a news conference Wednesday at the Southfield headquarters of the Council on American-Islamic Relation’s Michigan chapter, which joined in the federal lawsuit against Callahan and Wayne County.

Read it all.

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

Religious Intelligence: Another Christian facing blasphemy charges in Pakistan

US-based International Christian Concern (ICC) is reporting that an 18-year-old Christian has been accused of blasphemy, beaten, and imprisoned in Gujranwala, Pakistan. ICC says the man has been falsely accused.

The young man, Safian Masih, lived in a mixed neighbourhood of both Christians and Muslims. On August 8, the young daughter of one of his Muslim neighbours demanded that Safian bring her items from the grocery store. Safian refused, and she slapped him. Safian slapped her back, and the argument escalated to include both families.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Pakistan, Religion & Culture

Living Church: Two Nominees by Petition in Minnesota Bishop Election

Two priests in the Diocese of Minnesota have agreed to stand for possible nomination by petition as their diocese seeks its ninth bishop.

The Rev. Doyle Turner, rector of Trinity Church, Park Rapids, and the Rev. Doug Sparks, rector of St. Luke’s, Rochester, will undergo background checks before the standing committee decides whether to certify them as nominees by petition.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

RNS: School Officials Face Trial for Breaking Pledge Not to Pray

Two Florida school officials will be in court next month to answer charges that they violated a court order when they prayed in public after a school secretary was cleared on similar charges.

The case, which defense attorneys say is an unprecedented display of government intrusion into the right of personal religious expression, pits the American Civil Liberties Union against two Christian school employees.

Principal Frank Lay and Athletic Director Robert Freeman of Santa Rosa County, in northern Florida, agreed to a settlement last January after the ACLU filed suit on behalf of two students who alleged improper proselytizing.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

West Virginia Lutheran Church changes signage after controversial same sex union vote

As parishioners approached St. Timothy Lutheran Church on Sunday morning, something unusual was apparent.

On the signs outside the church, the word “Lutheran” was draped in black. Only the words “St. Timothy” remained visible.

“I asked that be done because I’m ashamed,” the church’s pastor, Richard Mahan, told the congregation later Sunday morning. “I’m ashamed of what the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has done to a church I’ve loved for 40 years.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

The Modern Churchpeople's Union reply to Drs Williams' and Wright's response to TEC's Actions

Williams and Wright both acknowledge that progress is not being made in the controversy over homosexuality, but blame TEC for this failure. Williams writes: ‘a realistic assessment of what Convention has resolved does not suggest that it will repair the broken bridges into the life of other Anglican provinces… The repeated request for moratoria on the election of partnered gay clergy as bishops and on liturgical recognition of same-sex partnerships has clearly not found universal favour.’

Wright puts his case more bluntly and reveals his impatience: ‘the Communion is indeed already broken… the breach has already occurred. We are not, then, looking now at TEC choosing for the first time to “walk apart”, but at the recognition that they did so some time ago and have done nothing to indicate a willingness to rejoin the larger Communion’ (3).

Thus Wright declares with characteristic bluntness that authoritarianism which Williams shares but prefers not to advertise. Both insist there is an Anglican consensus that homosexuality is immoral, and on that basis blame the Americans for acting contrary to it. Outside the higher echelons of church bureaucracies this seems a bizarre claim: in normal English usage ‘consensus’ means ‘general agreement (of opinion, testimony, etc.)’ (Concise Oxford Dictionary) or ‘general or widespread agreement among all the members of a group’ (Encarta Dictionary). The current controversy is precisely about whether homosexuality is indeed immoral, and as long as debate continues nothing could be clearer than the fact that there is no consensus.

What Williams and Wright mean by ‘consensus’ is not in fact consensus at all; they make no attempt to appeal to a general agreement. They appeal instead to a few central authorities, chiefly Lambeth 1998, primates’ meetings and the Windsor Report, plus what they claim the church has always taught. Far from being consensus this is better described as ‘a principle, tenet or system’, or perhaps ‘a belief or set of beliefs that a religion holds to be true’. The word being defined here (Concise Oxford Dictionary and Encarta respectively) is ‘dogma’.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts

Tina Rosenberg: The Daughter Deficit

It is rarely good to be female anywhere in the developing world today, but in India and China the situation is dire: in those countries, more than 1.5 million fewer girls are born each year than demographics would predict, and more girls die before they turn 5 than would be expected. (In China in 2007, there were 17.3 million births ”” and a million missing girls.) Millions more grow up stunted, physically and intellectually, because they are denied the health care and the education that their brothers receive.

Among policymakers, the conventional wisdom is that such selective brutality toward girls can be mitigated by two factors. One is development: surely the wealthier the home, the more educated the parents, the more plugged in to the modern economy, the more a family will invest in its girls. The other is focusing aid on women. The idea is that a mother who has more money, knowledge and authority in the family will direct her resources toward all her children’s health and education. She will fight for her girls.

Yet these strategies ”” though invaluable ”” underestimate the complexity of the situation in certain countries.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Children, China, Globalization, India, Marriage & Family, Women

W.J. Larkin: In defense of Christian exclusivity

…the salvation, which is announced universally, is exclusively accomplished and applied through the work of the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Both the Psalm citation and Moses and Jesus bear witness to this exclusivity. I believe Rabbi Wilson was referring to Psalm 119:99, which reads, “I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.” Taken as a whole, this verse points in an exclusive, not an inclusive, direction. At the very heart of Moses’ articulation of covenant obligations is exclusivity. Note the first two commandments: “No other gods before me” and “No carved idols” (Exodus 20:3-4).

In the Christian New Testament, Jesus and his followers taught exclusivity in terms of salvation accomplished and applied, though again they did assert it should be offered to all. The Jesus who said to make disciples of all nations and ethnic groups and to teach them all that he had commanded them had as part of his teaching: “I am the way the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6-7; see also Matthew 28:18-30 and other instances of this radical claim of Jesus ”” John 7:28, 8:19, 55 and 15:21).

Rabbi Wilson calls for dialogue. I wonder if the inclusivism approach to dialogue that Rabbi Wilson espouses is broad enough to encompass a person like me ”” an exclusivist, who would dialogue for better understanding as well as for an opportunity to “speak to truth in love” about the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ alone.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Christology, Inter-Faith Relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Theology

Jack Cranwell Chimes In

From here:

I read a recent letter referring to the turmoil in our Episcopal Church and respect the writer’s sincere thoughts and knowledge of our heritage. However, it seems we’ve gone around this block before, and as we all know, the whole world is in turmoil.

We as a church have turned our back on our basic foundational teaching, such as the 39 articles of religion. We have been called to change the world, but it appears the world has changed us.

We in the Diocese of South Carolina have a brilliant, devoted bishop who is calling all of us to pray for our church. The Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence, bishop of South Carolina, has as much spiritual maturity as most leaders in the Anglican Communion. I urge all Episcopalians to take his lead and pray for the future of our church. As believers we should pray daily for President Barack Obama and the future of America.

Gin House Court

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

From the front page of the Local Paper: Mark Sanford remains defiant

In the glare of intense media scrutiny, a call by the lieutentant governor to resign and pending impeachment talks by House Republicans, Gov. Mark Sanford delivered a message Wednesday to reporters and his political enemies: back off.

While everyday South Carolinians have moved on since he admitted to an extramarital affair about two months ago, the governor said, the media are trying to rewrite history and his political enemies are scavenging for payback ammunition.

Sanford said that if his record is stacked against the records of past governors and other politicians, he’ll come out looking “incredibly good.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Politics in General, State Government

The Decline and Fall of the Anglican Church of Canada

Quite the graphic.

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