Daily Archives: September 2, 2009

A.S. Haley: 815's Day of Reckoning Approaches

The Episcopal Church (USA) currently is a party to some sixty lawsuits across the United States. Its litigation budget from 2006-2012 could approach $7 million, or more than $1 million per year — and that is just the official, published figures. There is another considerable amount going out to prop up its Potemkin dioceses in San Joaquin, Fort Worth, Pittsburgh and Quincy.

Those are the four dioceses which have thus far voted to leave the Church, and each departure has spawned a lawsuit. ECUSA from the beginning has adopted a high-stakes, winner-take-all strategy which depends for its success on its ability to prove in court the proposition that a diocese is not free to withdraw from the voluntary unincorporated association which ECUSA has been since its formation at common law in 1789….

The inverted logic of this argument should be apparent to any mind that loves reason. The Presiding Bishop and Chancellor first contend that ECUSA’s Constitution and Canons prohibit any Diocese from amending its Constitution so as to withdraw from the Church. They can point to no language in the national Constitution and Canons which says as much; they argue that the prohibition against leaving is implicit. Then they contend that because it is forbidden implicitly to withdraw, a vote to do so pursuant to the express power to amend spelled out in the diocesan Constitution (which, in the form approved by General Convention when the diocese in question was admitted, was an unlimited power to amend the document in any manner whatsoever) violates that implicit prohibition. So an implicit and unwritten understanding overrides the express language of amendment: the latter does not mean what it says, because despite its unrestricted language, it is to be understood that certain amendments are out of bounds. And it is further understood (although nowhere expressly written) that you are out of office the moment you choose to follow the express language in a manner that is implicitly prohibited.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh, TEC Conflicts: Quincy, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin

Dan Martins on a meeting of some TEC Bishops with Rowan Williams

Seven diocesan bishops of the Episcopal Church are presently at Lambeth Palace for a brief–but, I’m sure, intense–consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury. All seven are members of the Communion Partners, and all seven are signatories to the Anaheim Statement.

I have no inside knowledge of the subjects under discussion, but it doesn’t require any eavesdropping equipment to figure out that they’re talking about how Dr Williams’ “two tier/two track” plan might actually get implemented. More specifically, it is a safe bet that each of the seven is interested in what steps a diocese might have to take to remain on Tier/Track One even as TEC per se is assigned (consigned?) to Tier/Track Two.

Read it all.

I will take comments but only by email (to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com) since a post like this, which I have no choice in posting, invites unwarranted speculation.

Posted in Uncategorized

Cities slash services in economic downturn

To meet their fiscal challenges, the report found that 67 percent of cities have cut jobs or enacted a hiring freeze while 62 percent have delayed or canceled capital projects. Only 14 percent have cut public safety so far, the report found.

To boost revenue, 27 percent of cities reported raising fees on services like water use and garbage collection; 25 percent hiked property taxes; and five percent raised their sales tax.

Even as city revenues have dropped, their wage, pension and health care costs have steadily climbed and will continue to do so even without an economic recovery, the report found.

Read it all

Posted in * Economics, Politics, City Government, Economy, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Sheri Funk: Strained by Katrina, a Hospital Faced Deadly Choices

The full details of what [Dr. Anna] Pou did, and why, may never be known. But the arguments she is making about disaster preparedness ”” that medical workers should be virtually immune from prosecution for good-faith work during devastating events and that lifesaving interventions, including evacuation, shouldn’t necessarily go to the sickest first ”” deserve closer attention. This is particularly important as health officials are now weighing, with little public discussion and insufficient scientific evidence, protocols for making the kind of agonizing decisions that will, no doubt, arise again.

At a recent national conference for hospital disaster planners, Pou asked a question: “How long should health care workers have to be with patients who may not survive?” The story of Memorial Medical Center raises other questions: Which patients should get a share of limited resources, and who decides? What does it mean to do the greatest good for the greatest number, and does that end justify all means? Where is the line between appropriate comfort care and mercy killing? How, if at all, should doctors and nurses be held accountable for their actions in the most desperate of circumstances, especially when their government fails them?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Hurricane Katrina, Theology

George Morelli: Wrecking a Marriage

Check it out (pages 21-25).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Marriage & Family, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Notable and Quotable (II)

“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature — trees, flowers, grass — grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

— Mother Teresa

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

Notable and Quotable (I)

Secularists might be surprised to learn that the Church is the largest single supplier of health care and education on the planet, the principal glue of civil society in Africa, the strongest bulwark of opposition to the caste system in India, and a leading player in global campaigns for sustainable living. It provides almost the only charitable presence in Chechnya, and other blackspots often forgotten by the rest of the world.

–Rupert Shortt, “There are now almost as many Roman Catholics as citizens of China ”“ why?” in the Times Literary Supplement, April 8, 2009

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Globalization, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Troop request for Afghanistan may face uphill fight

The prospect that U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal may ask for as many as 45,000 additional American troops in Afghanistan is fueling growing tension within President Barack Obama’s administration over the U.S. commitment to the war there.

On Monday, McChrystal sent his assessment of the situation in Afghanistan to the Pentagon, the U.S. Central Command, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and NATO. Although the assessment didn’t include any request for more troops, senior military officials said they expect McChrystal later in September to seek between 21,000 and 45,000 more. There currently are 62,000 American troops in Afghanistan.

However, administration officials said that amid rising violence and casualties, polls show a majority of Americans now think the war in Afghanistan isn’t worth fighting. With tough battles ahead on health care, the budget and other issues, Vice President Joe Biden and other officials are increasingly anxious about how the American public would respond to sending additional troops.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, War in Afghanistan

In Thailand Converts to Roman Catholicism face initial family opposition

More than 200 adults receive Baptism every year in Bangkok archdiocese, and for some of them the decision is made in the face of stiff opposition from people they love most.

However, after a while, their family members grow to accept their decision, say several new converts to Catholicism in this predominantly Buddhist country.

“Wait until I die before you convert,” was the request of the mother of Ravipun Jaruthawee. Nevertheless, the 25-year-old post-graduate student got baptized secretly this year on Holy Saturday, April 11, at Assumption Cathedral in Bangkok.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Thailand

Timothy Samuel Shah in Foreign Affairs: Born Again in the U.S.A.

In international politics, religion has been the elephant in the room for most of the modern age. And in recent years, it has only grown larger and louder. Policymakers and political theorists have adopted the mostly unpromising strategies of ignoring it in the hope that rationality and modernity will eventually push it out; using laws, coercion, or public opinion to remove it from the political sphere; or pretending that it is only a matter of culture and treating it accordingly.

The authors of God Is Back are an exception. They admit that religion is here to stay and seek to find out what it is really all about. John Micklethwait, editor in chief of The Economist, and Adrian Wooldridge, its Washington bureau chief, work for a publication that has been notably dubious about religion’s long-term viability in the face of modernization and economic globalization. The Economist boldly published God’s obituary in its millennium issue, declaring that “the Almighty recently passed into history.” Micklethwait and Wooldridge, for their part, were not so sure about God’s demise. To investigate God’s place in the world today, the two men traveled thousands of miles to talk to religious leaders and ordinary believers across the world and spent hundreds of hours visiting mosques and temples, attending religious services, sitting in on Bible-study groups, and picking the brains of theologians.

Micklethwait and Wooldridge entered dangerous territory. They faced the literal dangers of encountering real live religious radicals and investigating religion’s impact in all kinds of tough neighborhoods — from inner-city Philadelphia to the northern Nigerian city of Kano. And they faced literary dangers by walking into a field thick with theological crossfire between believers and nonbelievers, epitomized on one extreme by Dinesh D’Souza’s What’s So Great About Christianity and on the other by Christopher Hitchens’ atheist manifesto, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. The confessionally diverse duo of Micklethwait and Wooldridge — the first is a Catholic and the second an atheist — steers clear of polemics and focuses instead on reading God’s vital signs rather than identifying his virtues or vices. What they find is that many of the forces that were supposed to consign the Almighty to the ash heap of history — or to a quiet corner of the living room — have only made him stronger.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Globalization, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

Jeff Walton: The Other Global South

In their bid to export what South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence labeled “the gospel of indiscriminate inclusivity,” revisionist forces in the Episcopal Church have allies they can call upon in the Anglican Communion, and not just the usual suspects in Canada, Scotland or New Zealand. When seeking validation for their actions, Episcopal leaders have called upon the churches of Mexico, Brazil, and frequently, Southern Africa. At about 2 million members, the province of Southern Africa is significantly larger than either Anglican population in Mexico (25,000) or Brazil (83,000) and is more equivalent to other mid-sized African provinces such as Rwanda (1.27 million) and Kenya (2.5 million).

None of these provinces has provoked the Anglican Communion as their American and Canadian counterparts have, with the election of openly partnered homosexual bishops. But in the Episcopal Church’s evangelistic fervor to spread heterodox teaching to the rest of the Anglican Communion, they are more than ready to play a supporting role.

Just like in the Episcopal Church, not everyone in these provinces is revisionist. Some bishops in Mexico and Southern Africa have either criticized TEC’s actions at General Convention, or expressed solidarity with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), the alternative province-in-formation recently launched by U.S. and Canadian traditionalists. Indeed, Brazil has experienced its own split, with the conservative northern diocese of Recife breaking away from that province and joining the neighboring Province of the Southern Cone.

But the majority of the provinces, and certainly their leadership, are onboard with the revisionist agenda. The Episcopal Church views them not merely as allies in holding off conservative detractors like the churches of Nigeria or Rwanda, but also as a beachhead for liberalizing other Global South provinces such as Tanzania and even Uganda.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Global South Churches & Primates, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

Burqa furor scrambles French politics

It is a measure of France’s confusion about Islam and its own Muslim citizens that in the political furor here over “banning the burqa,” as the argument goes, the garment at issue is not really the burqa at all, but the niqab.

Two veiled Muslim women carrying the French flag during a march against Islamophobia and in favour of the veil in schools, in Paris in 2004.

A burqa is the all-enveloping cloak, often blue, with a woven grill over the eyes, that many Afghan women wear, and it is almost never seen in France. The niqab, often black, leaves the eyes uncovered.

Still, a movement against it that started with a Communist mayor near Lyon has gotten traction within France’s ruling center-right party, which claims to be defending French values, and among many on the left, who say they are defending women’s rights. A parliamentary commission will soon meet to investigate whether to ban the burqa — in other words, any cloak that covers most of the face.

Read it all.

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

Bishop warns of South Sudan war

One of Sudan’s most senior church leaders has warned that violence in the south is threatening the peace deal that ended the 21-year civil war.

Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yak said recent clashes had been called “tribal conflicts” over cattle but were really deliberate attempts to cause unrest.

Some 2,000 people have died in such clashes this year, the UN says – more than in Darfur.

Southern leaders have blamed the north – accusations denied by Khartoum.

In a rare statement, the head of the Episcopal Church of Sudan warned that the 2005 peace deal was in “grave danger” unless more is done to prevent conflict.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church of the Sudan, Violence

Gbenga Onayiga–Akinola’s primacy: The journey so far

If an achiever or an accomplished man is one who pursues set goals and accomplishes same; then the man, Peter Akinola is an undisputable achiever and an accomplished man. No sooner was he elected Primate than he undertook a frank and introspective appraisal of the church’s situation, a visualization of the desired situation and charting a course.

Believing in a shared vision, the new Primate, Peter Akinola, used the occasion of his presentation in Abuja on March 25, 2000 to flag off the process of articulating the vision of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion). Just two days after his presentation (March 25 -27) Akinola embarked on a 2-day visioning exercise with over 400 leaders of the church made up of all the bishops, some clergies and laities representing all the Dioceses of the Church of Nigeria. He brought in some experts in visioning process including Chief Ernest Shonekan, former Head of State and Chairman, Vision 2010 and Prof Alele Williams, Vice Chancellor of the University of Benin as facilitators. The propositions of this body which were based on the vision which the Primate sold to them were harmonized and eventually adopted as the Vision of the Church of Nigeria by the Church of Nigeria Standing Committee on June 5, 2000 at Owerri. The Vision states that:

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) shall be Bible based, spiritually dynamic, united, disciplined, self supporting, committed to pragmatic evangelism, social welfare and a church that epitomizes the genuine love of Christ.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

Ralinda Gregor–A New Sexual Ethic: Coming to a Parish Near You

Unfortunately, [Debra] Haffner’s editorial and the Religious Declaration are not just the opinions of extremist liberal clergy who are far removed from the average biblically orthodox Episcopalian or Anglican in the United States. The AAC notes with concern that those endorsers include 263 Episcopal clergy, staff and professors of Episcopal seminaries, including several bishops, executive council members and a former presiding bishop, along with many of the well known advocates for sexual freedom in The Episcopal Church (TEC). By signing this declaration, they are not just advocating LGBT sexual “rights,” but the holiness of all consensual sex between lay or clergy people of any age, marital status or sexual orientation. And because this degree of promiscuity may likely result in unwanted pregnancies, they also advocate for-and thereby bless-abortion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology