Daily Archives: September 27, 2009

Archbishop John Sentamu–Assisted Suicide: There must be no slippery slope

A truly caring society would not devalue or pressurise its most vulnerable and frailest members. There would always be a danger, if the law was weakened, that people could feel obliged to end their lives if they believed they were becoming a burden on loved ones. This is not something we should encourage ”“ indeed, it is something which should be, and has been, legislated against.

The Church of England has consistently argued ”“ and Parliament has consistently voted ”“ against any change in the law governing assisted suicide. Guidance from the Director of Public Prosecutions about the application of the present law to particular circumstances has the potential to provide greater clarity and is in principle to be welcomed, so long as there can be confidence that it will not in practice lead to an erosion of respect for the present law. It is Parliament, the people in the Commons and Lords who stand up for the views of everyone living in the UK, that should always decide on changes that need to be made to our laws. Parliament is the highest court in the land.

There are serious moral, ethical and practical issues to consider ”“ for example in relation to concepts such as “encouragement” and “coercion”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Gill Hornby in the Telegraph: Wishy-washy pleas will not get us back into church

Tomorrow is Back to Church Sunday for the Church of England ”“ a public relations push to get the lapsed back in the pew. It has been marked by a radio ad campaign, which shows how hip and happening the Anglican Church is now ”“ “No need to make no innovation, Please accept this as your invitation.” Well, that will get all those young folk in, for sure.

Weekly attendance figures have now dropped to below one million and, according to the Bishop of Reading, it’s quite the wrong sort of million turning up. “How did it come to this,” he asked, in what was apparently supposed to be a positive contribution to the attendance debate, “that we have become known as just the Marks and Spencer option?” Jesus, the Bishop feels sure, was more of an Aldi man.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Telegraph: Large increase in U.K. couples signing prenuptial agreements

Resolution, a group of 5,700 lawyers, said there had been a large increase in people asking for a prenup in recent years, with the number doubling during the last year alone.

Pre-nups set out arrangements for what will happen to a couple’s assets and earnings if they divorce.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family

Churches strive to unite in collaborative effort to ease poverty in East Cooper

A year ago, the meetings began. Representatives from Mount Pleasant Presbyterian and several other East Cooper churches got together to discuss a collaborative approach to community service and worship.

They knew it wasn’t the first time such cooperation has been attempted; they knew that other efforts have met with various degrees of success or failure, according to Becky Van Wie, a Mount Pleasant Presbyterian member and associate director of the Lowcountry Continuum of Care Partnership.

Van Wie said the group met with people who have been around this block. Both Chuck Coward, executive director of Charleston Outreach, and the Rev. Bert Keller, pastor of Circular Congregational Church, explained some of the pitfalls, and both encouraged the nascent ecumenical team to forgo establishing a formal organizational structure for the time being and focus instead on action.

“Do something,” they said, according to Van Wie. That way others will see that the effort is about more than just good ideas and they’ll get involved.

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

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches, Poverty, Presbyterian

Canadian Judge Dismisses Polygamy Charges

The criminal charges were the first in Canada, even though polygamy has been illegal in the country since the 1950s. No one has ever been prosecuted.

Blackmore has said that Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects his religious rights to have more than one wife and trumps anti-polygamy laws.

“I am thrilled,” Blackmore told the Associated Press. “It has been a long and hard year so far. It’s been very stressful for my family and stressful for me.”

Nancy Mereska, who has devoted the past six years of her life to a campaign called Stop Polygamy in Canada, said she’s devastated by the decision.

“We are back to square one,” she told Canadian media. “The polygamists will see this as a great victory.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Canada, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Mormons, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

AP: Venezuela seeking uranium with Iran's help

Iran is helping to detect uranium deposits in Venezuela and initial evaluations suggest reserves are significant, President Hugo Chavez’s government said Friday.

Mining Minister Rodolfo Sanz said Iran has been assisting Venezuela with geophysical survey flights and geochemical analysis of the deposits, and that evaluations “indicate the existence of uranium in western parts of the country and in Santa Elena de Uairen,” in southeastern Bolivar state.

“We could have important reserves of uranium,” Sanz told reporters upon arrival on Venezuela’s Margarita Island for a weekend Africa-South America summit. He added that efforts to certify the reserves could begin within the next three years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East, South America, Venezuela

Notable and Quotable (II)

One day when George MacDonald, the great Scottish preacher and writer, was talking with his son, the conversation turned to heaven and the prophets’ version of the end of all things. “It seems too good to be true,” the son said at one point. A smile crossed MacDonald’s whiskered face. “Nay,” he replied, “It is just so good it must be true!”

–as quoted in Philip Yancey, Disappointment With God

Posted in Eschatology, Theology

Notable and Quotable (I)

Unless [we’re] aware [we’re] dying and … know the conditions of our death, we [can’t] share any sort of final consummation with those who love us. Without this consummation, no matter their presence at the hour of passing, we will remain unattended and isolated.

Sherwin Nuland, How We Die: Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter (Vintage, 1995)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Time Magazine Cover Story–Detroit: The Death ”” and Possible Life ”” of a Great City

If Detroit had been savaged by a hurricane and submerged by a ravenous flood, we’d know a lot more about it. If drought and carelessness had spread brush fires across the city, we’d see it on the evening news every night. Earthquake, tornadoes, you name it ”” if natural disaster had devastated the city that was once the living proof of American prosperity, the rest of the country might take notice. (See pictures of the remains of Detroit.)

But Detroit, once our fourth largest city, now 11th and slipping rapidly, has had no such luck. Its disaster has long been a slow unwinding that seemed to remove it from the rest of the country. Even the death rattle that in the past year emanated from its signature industry brought more attention to the auto executives than to the people of the city, who had for so long been victimized by their dreadful decision-making.

By any quantifiable standard, the city is on life support. Detroit’s treasury is $300 million short of the funds needed to provide the barest municipal services. The school system, which six years ago was compelled by the teachers’ union to reject a philanthropist’s offer of $200 million to build 15 small, independent charter high schools, is in receivership. The murder rate is soaring, and 7 out of 10 remain unsolved. Three years after Katrina devastated New Orleans, unemployment in that city hit a peak of 11%. In Detroit, the unemployment rate is 28.9%. That’s worth spelling out: twenty-eight point nine percent.

If, like me, you’re a Detroit native who recently went home to find out what went wrong, your first instinct is to weep. If you live there still, that’s not the response you’re looking for. Old friends and new acquaintances, people who confront the city’s agony every day, told me, “I hope this isn’t going to be another article about how terrible things are in Detroit.”

It is ”” and it isn’t.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., City Government, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Politics in General, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Bloomberg: Podesta Says Value-Added Tax ”˜More Plausible’ as Deficits Grow

John Podesta compared the nation’s current budget crisis to the situation former President Bill Clinton faced in 1993 and said some form of a value-added tax is “more plausible today than it ever has been.”

“There’s going to have to be revenue in this budget,” said Podesta, Clinton’s former chief of staff and co-chairman of President Barack Obama’s transition team, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing today.

A so-called consumption tax would “create a balance” with European and Japanese economies and “could potentially have a substantial effect on competitiveness,” said Podesta. Value- added taxes in Europe and Japan encourage savings by taxing consumption.

Podesta said such a tax may be regressive, but can be balanced by exempting some products and using “the money to support low-wage workers.”

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Paksitani President promises support to Christian minority

President Asif Ali Zardari has promised the Archbishop of Canterbury and the former Bishop of Rochester that his government will crack down on those who abuse Pakistan’s blasphemy laws to persecute Christians.

Meeting on Sept 18 at the Churchill Hyatt Regency Hotel in London, President Zardari said his government was aware of the misuse of the blasphemy laws to persecute Christians, and promised Dr Rowan Williams and Dr Michael Nazir-Ali that those responsible for the Gojra massacre would be brought to justice.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Pakistan, Religion & Culture