Daily Archives: September 12, 2009
ABC: I remember people sometimes say about the Church, especially the Church of England. I remember one of my students saying, It’s still a place where you put the stuff that won’t go anywhere else. And I find that quite a moving definition of the Church because it suggests our society still has a great deal of belief, hope, need, confusion, which a lot of our social life simply does not give any vehicles for dealing with. It’s got to go somewhere. And I don’t think that’s dead yet.
IH: What strikes me is that we have quite a conspicuous secular drive at the moment. We also have a fundamental drive. So people are driven to be believing in absolutely everything, or nothing at all and being fiercely proud of it. My entire relationship with the Church of England was based is that it didn’t question too closely what I believed in. I was told by someone I was in a long tradition of CofE agnosticism, which is basically the old Flanders and Swann joke: Religion? Don’t know. I’ll put you down as CofE. And I wonder if the Church is not making it clear enough that it is still there in the middle, that you don’t have to be an American evangelical, you do not have to be a Muslim fundamentalist, you do not have to be Richard Dawkins. At the Edinburgh festival this year there were at least four comedians selling out on the basis that Genesis isn’t literal. Extraordinary perception by these young men. They’ve caught up with 19th century theology. That does suggest the Church is slightly failing to say, do you know anything about us any more? It isn’t that.
ABC: That is one of the anxieties that many people in the Church feel, that a period of cultural legacy of knowing a bit about it has vanished and that therefore what people know is what high-profile headlines say and what the conflicts communicate. This is where the Church of England in particular does have quite a complicated balancing act. The Church as someone said decades ago, has to be something, has to be itself. The question is how to be itself with integrity in a way that doesn’t barricade the doors. I think understanding that the language of our theology the language of our hymns the symbolism of our worship is invitation before it’s anything else, it’s not a set of conditions before you come through the door… In the world of the imagination, of the arts, time was when the Christian faith was bound in with a lot of that. You couldn’t really say that now, easily. And yet that’s where a lot of people find the depth they want, the dimensionality they want.’
Jesus tells his Disciples that in fact he will suffer severely, be rejected by the authorities, and put to death. It makes no sense. If He is the Christ, how can He be destined for such an end? Peter takes Him aside and makes that very point to Him. For his trouble Peter is called Satan. The one who has just acknowledged Jesus as the Christ is himself rebuked as though he were the Devil. And then Jesus speaks to the people as well as his Disciples and warns them: those who want to save their lives will lose them; it is those who lose their lives through following Him that will save them. A defeated Messiah, support dismissed as diabolical, and death promised instead of life: what had seemed to be triumph is unveiled as disaster. Here is failure writ large.
What sense can be made of it, this extraordinary invitation to failure, following the Christ who loses and losing our own lives in doing so?
ATHEISM really may be fighting against nature: humans have been hardwired by evolution to believe in God, scientists have suggested.
The idea has emerged from studies of the way children’s brains develop and of the workings of the brain during religious experiences. They suggest that during evolution groups of humans with religious tendencies began to benefit from their beliefs, perhaps because they tended to work together better and so stood a greater chance of survival.
The findings challenge campaigners against organised religion, such as Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion. He has long argued that religious beliefs result from poor education and childhood “indoctrination”.
Bruce Hood, professor of developmental psychology at Bristol University, believes the picture is more complex. “Our research shows children have a natural, intuitive way of reasoning that leads them to all kinds of supernatural beliefs about how the world works,” he said.
One year after the demise of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. paralyzed the financial system, “mega-banks,” as Fine’s group calls them, are as interconnected and inscrutable as ever. The Obama administration’s plan for a regulatory overhaul wouldn’t force them to shrink or simplify their structure.
“We could have another Lehman Monday,” Niall Ferguson, author of the 2008 book “The Ascent of Money” and a professor of history at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said in an interview. “The system is essentially unchanged, except that post-Lehman, the survivors have ”˜too big to fail’ tattooed on their chests.”
Economists and consumers are feeling better about the economy a year after the most frightening moments of the financial crisis. Forecasters surveyed by The Wall Street Journal, giving the government generally good marks for its handling of the financial crisis, now see employers slowly adding jobs over the next 12 months.
And the latest reading of consumer spirits shows signs of optimism. But most economists still expect the unemployment rate will climb to 10.2%, from today’s 9.7%, before falling early next year.
“We are in a technical recovery, but risks remain abundant,” said Diane Swonk of Mesirow Financial. “It will still take some luck and skill to get Main Street to feel some of the relief Wall Street has felt.”
DAVID BROOKS: Well, it didn’t come out of nowhere. I mean, there are certain unconscious standards. We all behave in certain ways. You go to a funeral; you behave in a certain way. You go to a church; you behave in a certain way. And these are deep and inbred. You don’t have to think about it.
But there’s been this broad corrosion over many years in the way people talk in private, and then so suddenly he behaved in a way that normally there would be just so many unconscious barriers — you would never scream out “You lie!” to a president right there in that room. But those barriers have been eroded. He went further than anybody has gone before or at least recently at least…
JIM LEHRER: He was pushing an envelope that was already going there, is what you’re saying.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I mean, and it’s obvious, if you hang around Congress, the conversations you hear are just of that nature.
JIM LEHRER: Do you feel the same way?
MARK SHIELDS: I think it’s a coarsening of our political language, our political life. I think it’s a coarsening of our national life. I mean, I think we see things on television and public entertainment that we didn’t see a generation ago.
But I think it is true, and it’s reached the point where if you and I — you’re my political adversary. You’re not simply wrong; you have to be evil. You know, you don’t have any moral standing. I mean, that — and that’s — rather than prove you wrong or encourage you to come to my side, my approach is to demonize you and destroy you. And I really think that it’s a tragic — a tragic reality.
Some 150 years ago, a congressman from South Carolina, angered by a speech on slavery, entered the Senate chamber and beat a senator from Massachusetts into unconsciousness with a metal-topped wooden cane.
Years earlier on the House floor, a representative from Vermont attacked a colleague from Connecticut — also with a cane — only to be attacked himself with a pair of fireplace tongs.
And then there was the 1838 pistol duel in which William Graves of Kentucky shot and killed fellow Congressman Jonathan Cilley of Maine over words spoken on the House floor. (Graves wasn’t even expelled.)
Given those breaches of congressional protocol, it would seem that a mere shout of “You lie!” from a 21st-century South Carolina congressman would be small potatoes. Especially when compared with a global tradition of brawls, scuffles, hurled insults (sometimes fruit too) and other mayhem in legislatures around the world.
The Rev. Steve Wood, rector of St. Andrew’s since 2000, wrote to all members of the parish on September 4 to announce the program. The letter included the signatures of 36 other congregational leaders, including all current staff and nine senior wardens whose service dates back to 1989.
“Since 2003 I have felt compromised by continued association with a denomination that I consider to be apostate,” Fr. Wood told The Living Church.
He said he does not know of any significant group in St. Andrew’s that wants to remain affiliated with The Episcopal Church. When he interviewed to become rector, Fr. Wood said, both the search committee and the vestry asked if he was open to separation from The Episcopal Church.
Raised in the evangelical movement, I attended a church that placed emphasis on activities, outreach and marketing that included young people. My church had no qualms about using the latest communication methods to reach a larger audience. There was even a ministry where people with savvy multimedia skills could serve God in innovative and “hip” ways. Congregants utilized most parts of the body of Christ using their gifts and skills to work together like an athlete’s well-trained physique. While the evangelical movement might limit new members based on their theology, I cannot deny their success in translating and spreading their message to the current age. They have a large young adult contingency.
Unlike many evangelical churches currently experiencing an increase in membership, the Episcopal Church’s work is going largely unnoticed not because it isn’t the work of Christ but because people are unaware of its programming, vision or why a person would consider the Episcopal Church over other commitments. If it were not for my friend who invited me to church, the Episcopal Church wouldn’t have reached my radar screen. My perception of the church was mostly ambivalent. I saw the church as a grand gesture rather then a pertinent part of God’s creation.
As a permanent first-time visitor on this trip, I saw how a church’s visibility was critical when selecting churches. I used the web to do my research from town to town. For me, it was important to find a friendly, comfortable and young “feeling” church. That meant that I favored churches with a current website that was clean in design, branded and creative. I also searched for churches with updated online calendars that had cultural programming targeted at my age group. I especially loved programs that brought the church to the world instead of requiring that the world enter the church.
The Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming’s new home should be ready just in time to welcome the 400-500 Wyoming church members who will meet in Casper for their annual convention in mid-October. The major renovation of one of downtown Casper’s vintage buildings is turning the 1959-60 era, concrete construction building into a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) “green” showcase.
The first formal location of the Episcopal diocese that now numbers approximately 8,000 members was in Fort Laramie in 1849, when the fort’s soldiers and its families were assigned an Episcopal chaplain. Episcopalians built the state’s first church edifice, St. Mark’s in Cheyenne and in 1886, Wyoming as part of the Missionary District of Idaho and Wyoming had its first bishop.
According to a church legend related by executive director of the Episcopal Foundation John Masters, the diocese was headquartered in Laramie because the bishop at the time agreed to settle in the community that would build a cathedral. The denomination now has 47 churches throughout the state, including St. Stephens on the Wind River Reservation, and provides financial support for the Cathedral Home in Cheyenne and Casper’s Youth Crisis Center.