Daily Archives: September 18, 2009

South Carolina Supreme Court Rules in All Saints/AMiA Case

The entire ruling is here.

Please read it in its entirety carefully before commenting.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts

Houses Of Worship Open Doors To Swine Flu

Through the eyes of the H1N1 virus, a Catholic church is a playground. The font of holy water near the church entrance is a great place for the virus to leap from one person to another.

The passing of the peace, during which parishioners shake hands, is yet another favorite place for the virus.

And then there’s Communion….

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture

The WSJ on the Baucus Plan–The Innovation Tax

Supposedly the Senate’s version of ObamaCare was written by Finance Chairman Max Baucus, but we’re beginning to wonder if the true authors were Abbott and Costello. The vaudeville logic of the plan is that Congress will tax health care to subsidize people to buy health care that new taxes and regulation make more expensive.

Look no further than the $40 billion “fee” that Mr. Baucus wants to impose on medical devices and diagnostic equipment. Device manufacturers would pay $4 billion a year in excise taxes, divvied up among them based on U.S. sales. This translates to an annual income tax surcharge anywhere from 10% to 30%, depending on the corporation….

This new tax will eventually be passed through to patients, increasing health-care costs. It will also harm innovation, taking a big bite out of the research and development that leads to medical advancements.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology, Taxes, The U.S. Government

Religious Intelligence–US Churches are free to secede, rules judge

There is nothing in the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church that prevents a diocese from seceding from the national church, a Texas judge declared on Sept 16.

On Wednesday Judge John Chupp of Texas’ 141st District Court handed the Episcopal Church a major setback in its campaign to seize the assets of breakaway dioceses, stating that of the two entities holding themselves out as the “Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth”—Bishop Jack Iker and his diocese affiliated with the Province of the Southern Cone and Bishop Edwin Gulick and his Episcopal Church-affiliated diocese—Bishop Iker’s diocese was the lawful holder of that name, corporate seal and property.

Read it all.

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

Church Times–Bonus bankers still have not repented, Dr Williams says

Dr Williams said that bankers, poli­ticians, and even the Church had “colluded” with the system and been “hypnotised into unreality”, allowing “a big gulf to open up between how finance appeared to be operating and what it was really generating in terms of wealth as well-being for a com­munity”.

The crisis had taught him that “economics is too important to be left to economists,” and that “even the odd theologian” could have something to say on the issue of wealth and wealth creation.

He cautioned that the apparent return to “business as usual” in the financial sector highlighted the “lack of closure coming home to roost, the failure to name what was wrong, to name what I called last year ”˜idolatry’, that projecting reality and substance on to things that don’t have them”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

A Sermon by an Episcopal Bishop–guess the Bishop and the Date

The principle in which the plan of our salvation had its origin in the counsel of God, was “mercy.”–Mercy, we may view as an extension of the sentiment of love. Divine love, strictly defined, may be regarded as goodness towards beings who are not unworthy, as the pure angels, and man in the state of innocence. Mercy, is goodness towards those who are unworthy, yet capable of being reclaimed, as men in their fallen condition. Mercy, therefore, is more than love; or rather, it is the highest act and exercise of love in its larger sense. It was love, that prompted the Deity to become a Creator, to form other beings than himself, that this benign sentiment might have an opportunity of acting, that there might be creatures for the divine love to embrace. It was “mercy,” that provided a rescue for the human family of these creatures when fallen; when, without this rescue through Christ crucified, they would have been without God, and without hope.

And, do we not, in this view, perceive that the salvation devised for us by the Godhead, was wholly free? Yes, survey the matter in any light, and you will see that nothing in man could have contributed to the grant of saving “mercy” graciously provided for him. In the first place, salvation was devised for man before he existed, the Lamb was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world. And those who had not yet their being, could contribute as little to their own redemption, as to their own creation. In the next place, the very fact of our having fallen, precludes the possibility of any excellence foreseen in us, having had a share in procuring the scheme of grace. For, if men could, by anticipation on the part of God’s prescience, have offered a meritorious consideration towards the providing of mercy for them after sinning, they could have offered more to prevent their sinfulness, and secure themselves against the need of mercy. Man surely could contribute more, while yet innocent, to avert the approach of that tempter who brought sin into the world, than he could to move God to provide a pardon after sin had made him depraved. But we can claim no merit in either of these respects; we had not that in us, at first, which could have us spared the trial under which our nature fell; much less, when fallen, have we aught in us, which, being fore-known, could avail in bringing us restoration. In the last place, what could be thus foreseen in man, that would entitle him to the favour of God, or his forbearance? Perfect obedience is impossible, in our present state. Imperfect obedience, does not satisfy the law of God; much less can it buy off the just sentence of that law. It was imperfection, or failure in duty, that banished man from paradise; and surely, imperfection and failure, could contribute nothing towards procuring the salvation which brings him the higher privilege, of the paradise of God.

Is it not, then, infallibly true, that, in the counsel of the Godhead, which provided “mercy” for fallen man, no claim whatever, on the part of man, was anticipated? It was a counsel of mere, and pure love, and of higher love, than that which moved the Almighty to bring man into being.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, TEC Bishops

ENS: Bishops lobby Congress members on social justice issues

Bishops representing 200,000 Episcopalians from Maine to California made the case for health care and immigration reform, and stricter environmental protection on Capitol Hill Sept. 16.

Together as “Bishops Working for a Just World” and organized by the Episcopal Public Policy Network’s capitol-based Office of Government Relations, the seven bishops, guided by General Convention resolutions, made their annual trip to Washington, D.C., Sept. 14-16 to lobby Congress, meeting with more than 30 elected officials and/or their legislative staffs, on behalf of the Episcopal Church.

“Our involvement says that it’s appropriate for Christians to be involved in conversation about social issues and bring an informed, theological perspective to the discussion,” said Diocese of Connecticut Bishop James E. Curry, the group’s convener. “We [bishops] model that, and I could make the case that that is more important than taking a stand [on a specific issue].”

Read it all.

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

Mike Watson–Litigation against Disaffiliating Dioceses: Is it Authorized?

This paper examines whether the Presiding Bishop is authorized to initiate and conduct recent property litigation and finds no source for such authority in the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. Arguments based on a presumed equivalence of the roles of the Presiding Bishop and Executive Council to those of a corporate CEO and board of directors are found not to be valid. The paper also examines claims that pursuit of litigation is necessitated by fiduciary duty. It concludes that no convincing case has been made that this is so. First, no person is under a fiduciary duty to undertake something that has not been authorized. Putting aside the issue of authorization, several factors relevant to a proper fiduciary duty analysis suggest refraining from litigation such as has been commenced against disaffiliating dioceses. In this connection, relevant fiduciary duties are not limited to those that may be owed to TEC as an organization, but also include duties owed to its member dioceses. Claims that a member diocese cannot disaffiliate and retain ownership of its property implicate the latter set of duties. The paper presents a case that the duties to dioceses include duties to those that have withdrawn because the claims against them are based on alleged consequences of their having been dioceses of TEC rather than the actions of an unaffiliated third party.

Read it all.

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

David Gortner–Looking at Church Leadership Beyond Our Own Horizon

Education for more effective leadership remains a challenge in the church. This article…emerged from a request for a review of contemporary leadership literature. It quickly evolved into a thematic exploration of competencies for leadership, based on four premises. First, leadership is in no small part learned. It might better be defined in terms of skills and competencies to develop, rather than abstracted ideals and ultimate aims to attain. Second, leaders across human enterprises have committed themselves to learning better strategies and skills for effective leadership; the church proceeds at its own peril of foolishness if it ignores this body of learning. Third, leadership is indeed a relational reality, but is most effective with a primary focus on creating an environment of continuous development rather than control or warmth. And fourth, the work of continuous development in leadership has some of the qualities of spiritual practice-a habitus of mindfulness, a continuous “study” of one’s context, a commitment to development, and a learned discipline of change.

Read the whole thing carefully.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Notable and Quotable

“We must overcome our fear of the future. But we will not be able to overcome it completely unless we do so together. The ‘answer’ to that fear is neither coercion nor repression, nor the imposition of one social ‘model’ on the entire world. The answer to the fear which darkens human existence at the end of the 20th century is the common effort to build the civilization of love, founded on the universal values of peace, solidarity, justice, and liberty. And the ‘soul’ of the civilization of love is the culture of freedom: the freedom of individuals and the freedom of nations, lived in self-giving solidarity and responsibility.

“We must not be afraid of the future. We must not be afraid of man. It is no accident that we are here. Each and every human person has been created in the ‘image and likeness’ of the One who is the origin of all that is. We have within us the capacities for wisdom and virtue. With these gifts, and with the help of God’s grace, we can build in the next century and the next millennium a civilization worthy of the human person, a true culture of freedom. We can and must do so! And in doing so, we shall see that the tears of this century have prepared the ground for a new springtime of the human spirit.”

Pope John Paul II during his remarkable address to the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City on Oct. 5, 1995

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

Teen birth rates highest in most religious states

U.S. states whose residents have more conservative religious beliefs on average tend to have higher rates of teenagers giving birth, a new study suggests.

The relationship could be due to the fact that communities with such religious beliefs (a literal interpretation of the Bible, for instance) may frown upon contraception, researchers say. If that same culture isn’t successfully discouraging teen sex, the pregnancy and birth rates rise.

Mississippi topped the list for conservative religious beliefs and teen birth rates, according to the study results, which will be detailed in a forthcoming issue of the journal Reproductive Health.

Read the whole thing/.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth

Archbishop of Wales defends religion against ”˜nervous public officials’

The Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, yesterday made a strong defence of religion in the public space against attacks from “nervous public officials” and “aggressive secularists”.

Speaking before the Governing Body of the Church in Wales in Lampeter, he urged Christians to “keep their nerve”, stating: “Some of the letters I receive assume that religion is dead, irrational and full of superstition and has no place in public life at all, nor that Christians have any right to voice their concerns about any issue.”

He continued: “We live in a country that is clamouring for values. People do turn to the church to look for meaning in life…

Read it all.

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

Telegraph–Charles Dickens's unhappy marriage among 18 million parish records put online

[Charles] Dickens is just one of the historical figures including the playwright Oscar Wide and the diarist Samuel Pepys whose defining moments are now easily accessible to the public.

The births, deaths and marriages of millions of Londoners spanning nearly half a millennium have been posted on the internet by Ancestry.co.uk, the genealogy website.

The records cover the years 1539 to 1980 and include the burial records of many of the 100,000 people who died in the capital during the Great Plague of 1665-6.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, History, Religion & Culture

Blasphemy law in Pakistan: petition presented to Pakistan High Commission

The online petition to change the blasphemy legislation in Pakistan, of which NIFCON (the Anglican Communion Network for Inter Faith Concerns) was one of the sponsors, was presented to the Pakistan High Commissioner in London on Tuesday 8 September. The petition followed a recent statement by the Archbishop of Canterbury, condemning attacks on Christians in Pakistan.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Asia, Pakistan

LA Times–Background on Europe missile shield and Obama's decision to scrap it

Why did Obama change the plan?

In his announcement, the president gave two reasons for the change in policy:

First, the latest intelligence indicates that Iran is concentrating on short- and medium-range missiles rather than long-range missiles.

Second, technological advances in land- and sea-based interceptors and sensors mean they can now be more effective in defending Europe. Obama also said the new approach, using advanced versions of the SM-3 ship-based missile being developed for use by the U.S. Navy, will be more cost-effective and offer the military more flexibility.

For the next two years, the United States will deploy the sea-based Aegis weapon system, the SM-3 interceptor and sensors such as the Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance system to monitor threats, the White House said. More advanced systems will come later.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Europe, Foreign Relations, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, President George Bush, Russia