Daily Archives: September 8, 2009

Jim Tonkowich–The Episcopalians' Problem — And Ours

Every Christian should read and study the Bible. Every Christian should think deeply about God and the truths of the faith. Yet not every Christian is a Bible scholar or a theologian. Expertise gotten by education and hard work are required. And even those of us who are trained in Bible scholarship and theology make mistakes. We all need the wisdom, leadership, and correction that are God’s gifts to his Church.

It is right that lay people consult their pastors and teachers who in turn consult scholars. In addition, pastors, teachers, and scholars need to hear the insights of lay people. There is a reciprocity and an interconnectedness in the Church and it transcends space and time.

We waste our heritage if we limit our conversations with those who happen to be near by and alive today. The Church has nearly 2,000 years of Bible scholarship, preaching, and theological reflection on which we can draw. When we do, it gives us a perspective beyond the narrow confines of our own era with its blind spots.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts, Theology, Theology: Scripture

York Daily Record: Q and A with the Presiding Bishop

Q: Some who have left call the church’s stance on homosexuality unbiblical

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(at a July convention, Episcopalians voted to allow gay bishops and blessings for same-sex unions). How concerned are you that people will continue to leave the church over these issues?

A: People have always decided to pursue their spiritual journeys elsewhere — some people — at times of controversy. Certainly, the same kind of thing happened when the church began wrestling honestly with the place of African-Americans in the church and the place of women in the church. At the same time, we tend to attract others who find our stances positive, so there is a give and take.

Q: On Thursday, 10 Episcopal nuns from a convent in Catonsville, Md. — 55 miles south of York — joined the Roman Catholic Church, saying they left in part because of the recent decisions on homosexuality. How did you respond to their departure?

A: I know that one of them did remain within the Episcopal Church.

I note the interesting dilemma that that situation raises. They would not have the freedom to make that kind of a decision once they were in the Roman Catholic Church. They do have the freedom to make that kind of a decision within the Episcopal Church. Religious orders are independent bodies within the Episcopal Church, they’re not like a congregation or a diocese, and they can vote to affiliate with another body. Once they’re in the Roman Catholic Church, they will not have that ability.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts

Religious life: The path is less chosen, but young women still hear the call

Angela Russell was a teenager visiting relatives in France when she prayed in a chapel where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared in 1830. That was where she first felt a call to be a Catholic sister.

“It was an overwhelming sense that I was going to dedicate my life totally to Christ,” said Sister Angela, 21, a Beaver native who recently entered the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville, Tenn.

Far fewer women than in the past take that path, and those who do are often attracted to traditions that many communities no longer practice. Since 1965, the number of sisters in the U.S. has fallen from 180,000 to 61,000. A Vatican-ordered study is under way of conditions that may have contributed to the decline.

Yet women still answer the call. Sister Angela is among three local women seeking vows in the Nashville Dominicans.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Spirituality/Prayer, Women

UN wants new global currency to replace dollar

In a radical report, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has said the system of currencies and capital rules which binds the world economy is not working properly, and was largely responsible for the financial and economic crises.

It added that the present system, under which the dollar acts as the world’s reserve currency , should be subject to a wholesale reconsideration.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Globalization, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc)

The Letter of the 7 Episcopal Bishops who Met with the Archbishop of Canterbury Recently

A Report of the meeting of the Bishops of Albany, Dallas, North Dakota, Northern Indiana, South Carolina, West Texas and Western Louisiana with the Archbishop of Canterbury on September 1, 2009.

As seven representatives of the Communion Partner Bishops, we are grateful to have met with the Archbishop of Canterbury to discuss our concern in light of the recent actions of the General Convention and the subsequent nomination of candidates “whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on Communion” (General Convention 2006, B033).

At this meeting we expressed our appreciation for his post-convention reflections, “Communion, Covenant, and our Anglican Future,” and were especially interested in his statement about whether “elements” in Provinces not favorably disposed to adopt the Anglican Covenant “will be free … to adopt the Covenant as a sign of their wish to act in a certain level of mutuality with parts of the communion.”

Given our commitment to remain constituent members of both the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church, we are encouraged by our meeting with the Archbishop. We agree with him that our present situation is “an opportunity for clarity, renewal and deeper relation with one another – and also Our Lord and his Father in the power of the Spirit.” We, too, share a desire to “intensify existing relationships” by becoming part of a “Covenanted” global Anglican body in communion with the See of Canterbury. We also pray and hope that “in spite of the difficulties this may yet be the beginning of a new era of mission and spiritual growth for all who value the Anglican name and heritage.”

We understand the divisions before us, not merely differences of opinion on human sexuality, but also about differing understandings of ecclesiology and questions regarding the independence or interdependence of a global communion of churches in discerning the mind of Christ together. However, we also shared our concern that the actions of General Convention have essentially rejected the teaching of 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 as the mind of the Communion, and raise a serious question whether a Covenant will be adopted by both Houses at General Convention 2012.

At the same time we are mindful that General Convention Resolution D020 “commended the Anglican Covenant proposed in the most recent text of the Covenant Design Group (the “Ridley Cambridge Draft”) and any successive draft to dioceses for study during the coming triennium” and invited dioceses and congregations to “consider the Anglican Covenant proposed draft as a document to inform their understanding of and commitment to our common life in the Anglican Communion.”

Therefore, at this time we make the following requests of Communion minded members of the The Episcopal Church and the wider Anglican Communion:

1. We encourage dioceses, congregations and individuals of The Episcopal Church to pray and work for the adoption of an Anglican Communion Covenant.

2. We encourage dioceses and congregations to study and endorse the Anglican Communion Covenant when it is finally released and to urge its adoption by General Convention, or to endorse the first three sections of the Ridley Cambridge Draft and the Anaheim Statement, and to record such endorsements on the Communion Partners website (www.communionpartners.org).

3. We encourage bishops, priests, deacons and laypersons of The Episcopal Church who support the adoption of the Anglican Communion Covenant to record such endorsement on the Communion Partners website.

4. We encourage dioceses and congregations, in the spirit of GC2009 Resolution D030, to engage in “companion domestic mission relationships among dioceses and congregations within The Episcopal Church.”

5. We encourage Bishops exercising jurisdiction in The Episcopal Church to call upon us for service in needed cases of Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight.

6. We encourage relationships between Communion Partners and primates, bishops, provinces and dioceses in other parts of the Communion, in order the enhance the ministry we share in the life of the Communion.

7. We invite primates and bishops of the Communion to offer their public support to these efforts.

+Mark J. Lawrence, South Carolina
+Gary R. Lillibridge, West Texas
+Edward S. Little, II, Northern Indiana
+William H. Love, Albany
+D. Bruce MacPherson, Western Louisiana
+Michael G. Smith, North Dakota
+James M. Stanton, Dallas

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

USA Today Front Page: '24 hours in the ER' shows challenges of health system

The key elements of today’s debate on health care converge in the ER, from the cutting-edge quality of the U.S. system to the millions of uninsured people who show up for care. The debate reaches a critical moment this week, as Congress returns to Washington to take up proposals to revamp the system. President Obama will address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday to press for action.

To explore the issue, USA TODAY chronicled 24 hours in the emergency room at the UVA Medical Center, a teaching hospital and trauma center that serves patients across a swath of central Virginia. From dawn Monday to dawn Tuesday, Aug. 24-25, reporters talked with patients and their families, doctors and nurses, helicopter pilots and ER housekeepers about their experiences with health care and their views on changing the system.

Their experiences and observations underscore why changing the health care system has proved so hard for presidents and policymakers: the complexity of the system, the pressure from chronic diseases, the shortfall in preventive care, the high costs, the competing demands ”” and the life-or-death stakes.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

Churches 101: What are the 'Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations'?

United Methodist bishop Robert Schnase has written a popular book about strengthening local churches. Many congregations and regional conferences have used this as the basis for rethinking how they do ministry. The Tennessee Annual Conference is no different. For the past couple years it has been going through each of the Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations and taking time with guests speakers to reflect on them.

These five practices are:

Radical hospitality
Passionate worship
Intentional faith development
Risk-taking mission and service
Extravagant generosity

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry

CNA: Episcopal religious community enters the Catholic Church in Maryland

The sisters had been considering conversion for several years.

The Episcopal Church has been riven by controversy over theology and sexual ethics. Its most recent General Convention gave permission to ordain practicing homosexuals to any ministry and also began writing prayers to bless same-sex unions.

“As we interpret Scripture, it does not give you license to be actively involved in a same-sex relationship,” Mother Christina said. “It is not the person we have a problem with. It is what that person is doing. And now that the Episcopal Church has given permission to bless these partnerships, it is way off the boat.”

Mother Christina, who has been a consecrated religiosu since 1966, said the sisters used to believe the Archbishop of Canterbury had the authority to stop those acting contrary to Scriptures but now they believe he does not.

“The Catholic Magisterium has an authority that says the buck stops here,” she remarked.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Spirituality/Prayer, TEC Conflicts

Texting and Driving in South Carolina

A ban on text-messaging while driving could be a tough sell in a state such as South Carolina, which only recently allowed police to ticket motorists for not buckling up.

But advocates of making it illegal to send text messages while behind the wheel say a ban might be possible if it’s sold as a way to cut car insurance rates and to save on health care costs.

Bill Windsor, safety officer for Nationwide Insurance, admitted that such a ban might be hard to get into law in the state, despite a new survey commissioned by the company that shows eight in 10 drivers support legislation that would put restrictions on texting and talking on phones while driving.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Science & Technology

Out of Work, and Too Down to Search On

They were left out of the latest unemployment rate, as they are every month: millions of hidden casualties of the Great Recession who are not counted in the rate because they have stopped looking for work.

But that does not mean these discouraged Americans do not want to be employed. As interviews with several of them demonstrate, many desperately long for a job, but their inability to find one has made them perhaps the ultimate embodiment of pessimism as this recession wears on.

Some have halted their job searches out of sheer frustration. Others have decided it makes more sense to become stay-at-home fathers or mothers, or to go back to school, until the job market improves. Still others have chosen to retire for now and have begun collecting Social Security or disability benefits, for which claims have surged.

Rick Alexander, a master carpenter in Florida who has given up searching after months of effort, said the disappointment eventually became unbearable.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

Wash. Post: Deeply Divided House Democrats Return to Work — and the Same Set of Problems

After a nearly 40-day recess that was anything but restful, House Democrats are returning to work Tuesday still unsettled over pending health-care legislation and sure only that the people have had their say.

They are in almost the exact position they were in when they left the Capitol in late July. Conservatives are still leery of supporting a government-funded, or public, insurance option. Freshman lawmakers from suburban districts remain fearful of increasing taxes for their wealthy constituents to pay for the new measure and await alternatives from moderate Senate Democrats. And progressives, who are demanding the most far-reaching reform since the Great Depression, are still threatening to bring down the legislation if it does not contain a robust version of the public option.

In the lead-up to President Obama’s critical Wednesday night address to a joint session of Congress, interviews with a cross section of about 15 House Democrats and half a dozen aides show that there is still overwhelming support for some overhaul of the health-care system. But the caucus remains deeply divided over the details of the more than 1,000-page measure and now faces a public that is more skeptical than when House committees began drafting the plan two months ago.

“We knew a lot of work still needed to be done, so no, not a lot has changed,” said Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (S.D.), a leader of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of 52 Democrats from moderate-to-conservative districts.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate

And Now They are All Gone and the Nest is Empty

Abigail is a junior at the College of Charleston, Nathaniel a freshman at Boston University, and we just dropped Selimah off at The Hill in Pennsylvania. So it is just Elizabeth and I and the dogs, cats and birds, and sooner than we necessarily were ready for.

When I saw Mary Hays at the memorial service in Pittsburgh for Alex Heidengren recently, she said of the empty nest stage “It is great!” and I am trusting her to be right but like all transitions there is loss as well as gain. The good news is we are not in charge–KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall, Harmon Family

2006 Health Insurance Coverage Status for Counties in South Carolina

Fascinating stuff. Go to the main website and search for the data on your state.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Health & Medicine

Notable and Quotable

In one report, he said, ”Perhaps the most fundamental value of a liberal education is that it makes life more interesting.”

”It allows you to think things which do not occur to the less learned,” he went on, and ”it makes it less likely that you will be bored with life.”

He added, ”By analogy it makes the difference between the traveler who understands the local language and the traveler to whom the local language is a jumble of nonsense sounds.”

From a NY Times obituary of former Yale University President Kingman Brewster (1919-1988) and one of my favorite descriptions of the value of a college education–KSH

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

The Glens-Falls Post Star: Behind-the-scenes tax hike is just wrong

From the local paper where my Dad lives where I am today:

Boos to the state of New York for once again quietly raising taxes behind the scenes. This time it is at the Department of Motor Vehicles where standard eight-year driving license fees are going up from $50 to $64 and businesses with fleets of vehicles, such as cab companies and the local Stewarts shops, are seeing registration fees increased from $3 to $52 per vehicle. It is this type of behind-the-scenes taxes that often hurt the most.

This is one of my posting themes this year, concerns about how the headwinds from state and local governments fee and tax increases and fiscal problems are hampering the attempt to begin a recovery from what is being called The Great Recession–KSH.

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