Daily Archives: September 20, 2009

A Rite of Hazing, Now Out in the Open

The principal of Millburn High, New Jersey’s top-ranked high school, says it has gone on for a decade: annual hazing by senior girls who create a “slut list” of incoming freshmen for the first day of school. A dozen or more names are written on a piece of notebook paper, with crass descriptions, and copies are passed around ”” hundreds this year, some say.

“We’ve had girls ”” which is one of the bad things ”” obsessed that their names are on it, and girls who were upset that they didn’t make the list,” said the principal, William Miron. “It’s basically vulgar.”

And that is not the only type of hazing that goes on, some girls say. Seniors blow whistles in some girls’ faces and jostle or push them into lockers, leaving them afraid to come to school the next day.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Teens / Youth, Women

Doyle McManus: The clocks are ticking on Iran

The October talks will draw controversy over whether they help legitimize the Iranian regime. Obama’s GOP critics, stepping up their overall critique of his foreign policy as too soft, will accuse him of making concessions to Iran, just as they accused him of making concessions to Russia on missile defense. Obama aides say these aren’t concessions, they’re decisions based on the U.S. national interest. The legitimacy of Iran’s regime, they add, will be determined on the streets of Tehran, not in a European conference room.

Those are defensible positions. But there’s nothing wrong with concessions if they lead to greater results in return. The confrontation with Iran is moving into a critical period. To Iran’s nuclear technology clock, and Israel’s existential threat clock, add a third clock: Obama’s promised results clock. The clocks are running.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East

Savi Hensman responds to Rowan Williams: A better future for the Anglican Communion?

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has recently published “reflections” proposing major changes in the way the Anglican Communion is organised. Because of growing willingness in the Episcopal Church (TEC) both to consider it possible that lesbians and gays, including those who are partnered, may be called to any kind of ministry within the church, and also to respond positively to requests to bless same-sex unions, he has suggested a “two-track” approach. Provinces such as TEC in North America would not be able to carry out certain functions such as representing the Anglican Communion in ecumenical circles, while those which signed up to a Covenant would have a more central position.

This research paper describes the background, examines the evidence on which the Archbishop’s main points are based and discusses the implications. It is suggested that some of his claims about the nature of change in the church are historically incorrect, and that TEC has made greater efforts to abide by decisions made at international Anglican gatherings, and the overall ethos of the Communion, than many provinces which might sign up to the Covenant. Important aspects of the Anglican heritage have been rejected in recent years by some of TEC’s most vigorous critics, at a cost to the vulnerable in society and church mission and ministry.

While the intention of the Archbishop’s proposal is to promote Christian unity and spiritual growth, there is a strong possibility that the results will be the opposite. A different approach, less focused on institutional structures, might be more effective in addressing divisions and ultimately enabling Anglicans to move towards a deeper unity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Identity, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Theology

Michael S. Malone: Facebook Rules the World

While you were posting vacation photos and messaging your friends, Facebook just became the world’s fourth largest “nation.”

Pause for a moment to consider that fact. In the last year, Facebook, the social networking site to which you likely already belong, has seen its membership rolls triple in the last year . . .to a total of 300 million members. And, if those trends are continuing, Facebook today will add another 3 million members ”“ that is, the population of a city the size of Berlin, Madrid or Buenos Aires ”“ today.

Three hundred million members is a mind-boggling number. In terms of population, it would put Facebook on the list only behind China, India and the United States ”“ and just above Indonesia, Brazil and Pakistan. It is almost as big as the entire population of the European Union, of sub-Saharan Africa, or South America. And, incredibly, it is equal to the entire population of the world in 1000 A.D..

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Globalization

Obama Says Financial Regulations Must Be Strengthened Globally

President Barack Obama said tougher financial regulations are needed worldwide to protect consumers, provide economic stability and prevent future crises.

With the leaders from the Group of 20 nations set to meet next week in Pittsburgh, Obama said in his weekly address on the radio and Internet that international cooperation has “stopped our economic freefall.”

“We know we still have a lot to do, in conjunction with nations around the world, to strengthen the rules governing financial markets and ensure that we never again find ourselves in the precarious situation we found ourselves in just one year ago,” Obama said.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

Parish Simulation tries to present a taste of the daily challenges of poverty

“Eye-opening.” “Shocking.” “A wild scramble.”

Those are some of the sentiments expressed Wednesday by participants in East Cooper Community Outreach’s poverty simulation exercise.

The event was designed to expose people with stable incomes to the daily anxieties and challenges experienced by the poor.

Participants were assembled into family groups, assigned roles (mother, father, child) and provided with a set of circumstances. The goal was simple: to survive.

One “family” was comprised of a single mom, her boyfriend and a 1-year-old baby. Another included an out-of-work dad and rambunctious children. Another featured a dependent senior.

Read it all from the Faith and Values section of the local paper.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Poverty

Tony Clavier: The Wall of Separation

I have now to affirm once again my opposition to schism as a method of affording protection to those whose beliefs and ideals were normal in the recent past. The unwillingness of our church to adopt unusual methods to afford safe haven to a disenfranchised and impotent minority, because TEC is governed by a “winner take all” form of governance is in itself a scandal. A simple expedient of the English “flying bishops” idea, adopted by a church which has a real claim to historic and unique territorial diocesan integrity, a system adopted to preserve unity, in that it was rejected by our “denominational” church, only underlines the stubborn and “conservative” policy of our majoritarian leadership. The simple adoption of protective measures to afford a safe haven for those who cannot in conscience submit to current TEC policies would have trumped schismatic schemes which have led to our present divisions. Our church would be lauded for its tolerance and comprehension while free to pursue the ideals of the majority. What would have emerged would have been “comprehension” tailored to years of conflict.

Instead TEC has asked the secular State by its courts to adjudicate not only property disputes but explicitly in is pleadings the doctrinal and structural ethos of what it means to be an Anglican in America.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Church/State Matters, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), History, Law & Legal Issues, Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts, Theology

Sunday (London) Times: Obama stumped by Israel as all world’s problems arrive

It was supposed to be the week President Barack Obama saved the world. More than 100 heads of state are preparing to descend on New York for talks on halting climate change, promoting nuclear disarmament, defeating terrorism in Pakistan and tackling poverty in sub-Saharan Africa ”” all before a G20 meeting in Pittsburgh on Friday aimed at reaching agreements on global financial regulation and curbing bankers’ bonuses.

The headline-grabber was expected to be the relaunch of the stalled Middle East peace process, to be followed a week later by America’s first direct talks with Iran since the Islamic revolution in 1979.

Instead, attempts to revive talks between Israelis and Palestinians, the cornerstone of the administration’s foreign policy, have failed so far. Western diplomats say it will take all the president’s considerable charisma to revive them.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Foreign Relations, Israel, Middle East, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle, War in Gaza December 2008--

A Prayer for Theodore of Tarsus

Almighty God, who didst call thy servant Theodore of Tarsus from Rome to the see of Canterbury, and didst give him gifts of grace and wisdom to establish unity where there had been division, and order where there had been chaos: Create in thy Church, we pray, by the operation of the Holy Spirit, such godly union and concord that it may proclaim, both by word and example, the Gospel of the Prince of Peace; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

NPR–'Values Voters' Point To Revival In 2010

Nearly 2,000 social and political conservatives have assembled in Washington this weekend for the “Values Voter Summit.” It’s an annual event, organized by groups like the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family.

This year, many of the participants are feeling under siege, with Democrats in control of both Congress and the White House. But they’re promising a religious and political revival in 2010.

Rep. Mike Pence, a Republican from Indiana, was one of the first speakers at the summit, which runs through Sunday, offering such workshops as “Global Warming Hysteria” and “Countering the Homosexual Agenda in Public Schools.”

The participants’ own agendas vary, but they’re united in their suspicion of just about everything that’s happening in Washington, from propping up the auto industry to remaking health care.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology

Gavin Dunbar on the Presiding Bishop's Recent Comments: Not Convincing

In response to the criticism directed at her General Convention Opening Address, Katharine Jefferts Schori has published an explanation of what she said. “Apparently I wasn’t clear”. Whether her explanation clarifies what she originally said, or obsfuscates it, is a question that different people will answer in different ways. Some will think that this what she meant all along. Others will wonder whether she has not snatched up the fig leaf of orthodoxy to cover up her heterodox teaching.

What she meant to say, she now says, is that “we give evidence of our relationship with God in how we treat our neighbors, nearby and far away. Salvation is a gift from God, not something we can earn by our works, but neither is salvation assured by words alone.” That’s unexceptionable so far as it goes. Doubts, however, remain, and not inconsequential ones. Classical Anglican doctrine could not have talked about good works as she does (at length) without clarifying their relationship with individual faith (see the Articles of Religion XI-XIV). It insisted that there is no right relationship (justification) of the individual with God without faith, and that there are no good works of neighbourly love without individual faith either. Without faith, our good works turn into Pelagian works-righteousness – which do not restore us to right relationship with our neighbour, or to God. Yet Jefferts Schori can only repeat her negative account of individualism, and on the relation of faith to justification and good works she is strikingly silent. She disclaims Pelagian works-righteousness ”“ “salvation is a gift of God” ”“ but given that she cannot say how that grace operates through the faith of the individual, there is nothing in her theology to prevent a collapse into it. She can issue a further clarification, if she wishes, explaining that she is in favour of justifying faith too (though this would involve backtracking on her “individualism is heresy” theme): but the lacuna is troubling. If you are striving to assure critics of your doctrinal orthodoxy, how do you ”˜overlook’ faith?

Moreover, classical Anglicanism would also have said that faith has a doctrinal content. Schori seems unable to speak of doctrine in positive terms ”“ only the comment about the insufficiency of “words alone”. Even her doctrinal affirmations have an oddly tentative ring. “We anticipate the restoration of all creation to right relationship, and we proclaim that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection made that possible in a new way.” Does this mean that restoration was possible in another way? Or that it is only a possibility? And just how does “Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection” make this possible? We can read a classical account of the atonement into that phrase, but we have no reason to do so. Many do not. Perhaps she is once more being “unclear”? She concludes with another unimpeachable platitude, that salvation “is a mystery. It’s hard to pin down or talk about.” That’s a cheap exit. The Biblical concept of “mystery” does not mean “vague” or “ambiguous”.

As an effort to set to rest the doctrinal anxieties of her critics, Ms. Jefferts Schori’s response is remarkably ineffective. It leaves us with a choice of conclusions: either she is not capable of the requisite theological clarity, or she really does not want to be clear. Given a bishop’s role as teacher of the faith and focus of unity, neither conclusion is re-assuring.

–The Rev. Gavin Dunbar is rector, Saint John’s, Savannah, Georgia

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

Proposed Resolutions for the TEC Affiliated Diocese of Pittsburgh's Convention

Here is one:

4. Title: Task Force on Reunion

Resolved: that this 144th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church direct the Standing Committee (or Ecclesiastical Authority) of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh to form a broadly based task force, including at least three clergy and three lay persons, to study the possibility of the reunion of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania under the provisions of Title I, canon 10, section 6 of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, 2006 [see below], and to prepare a report on the results of that study and any recommendations to the 145th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, in the fall of 2010. The Task Force shall consider specifically the potential long-term impact of such reunion on the financial and administrative resources of the two dioceses, and shall invite the Bishop and Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania to participate in the study.

Read them all

Posted in Uncategorized

TEC Affiliated Diocese of Pittsburgh Releases Pre Convention Journal

Here are some of the highlights found within its pages:

♦ The diocese has grown. A section on parish statistics shows that total membership among our 28 parishes now stands at 9833, a five-percent increase over what those same parishes reported a year ago.

♦ The proposed $847,000 budget would lower what most parishes pay in diocesan assessments. On the expense side, the diocese would allocate more funds to support congregations and special outreach initiatives, especially for youth.
♦ More than a dozen resolutions have been offered. They range from courtesy recognitions to addressing the diocese’s relationships within the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion. One resolution not yet included – but soon to be added – asks the Convention to approve the Standing Committee’s recommendation to transfer ecclesiastical authority to a provisional bishop, namely Bishop Kenneth Price.

♦ The document contains the names and biographical sketches of those nominated to fill elected leadership positions and the annual reports and activities of twenty diocesan governing groups, offices, and organizations.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized