Daily Archives: October 2, 2009
Any claim of revelation is outrageous. It presumes that God exists, that God speaks and that all is not lost when human beings translate that speech into ordinary language. But time mutes the outrage, or muffles it. Many of us greet the miracles of Jesus with a shrug, and there is little scandal any more in claiming that the Bible is the word of God.
Not so with the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith Jr., the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the most successful of America’s home-grown religions, may not have been hounded by paparazzi, but the scripture that he brought into the world (as translator, not writer, Mormons insist) was born in an age of newspapers and before a cloud of witnesses. In fact, before the book was typeset it was drawing defenders and detractors alike. So we probably know more about the production of the Book of Mormon, which is holy writ to the world’s 14 million Mormons, than we do about any other scripture. With the Yale University Press publication of “The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text” last month, we know even more.
The product of over two decades of painstaking labor by Royal Skousen””a Brigham Young University professor of linguistics and English language, a Mormon and an occasional spelling-bee judge””this Yale edition aims to take us back to the text Smith envisioned as he translated, according to the faithful, from golden plates that he unearthed in upstate New York.
ACI welcomes the encouragement given by the Archbishop of Canterbury to the decision by the Diocesan Board and Standing Committee of the Diocese of Central Florida to affirm the first three sections of the Anglican Covenant. As we have previously stated, these sections entail substantial commitments to mutual responsibility and interdependence in the life of the Communion. While it is not ACI’s prerogative to release the full text of the letter, we are grateful for the Archbishop’s recognition that acceptance of the Covenant, in whatever form, is the means by which we declare our “intent to live within the agreed terms of the Communion’s life.”
We also acknowledge that endorsement by dioceses “would not instantly and automatically have an institutional effect (and so would not automatically affect the diocese’s legal relationship with the Province of TEC).” As the Archbishop notes, matters regarding the implementation of the Covenant in the Communion remain to be sorted out. No one can expect that the institutional effects will be felt “instantly or automatically.” But everyone recognizes that such effects, if not instant or automatic, are nevertheless certain.
By Resolution 14.11, the ACC earlier this year asked “the Secretary General to send the revised Ridley Cambridge Text, at that time [at the next meeting of the JSC], only to the member Churches of the Anglican Consultative Council for consideration and decision on acceptance or adoption by them as The Anglican Communion Covenant.” Should the other Instruments of Communion continue to defer to the ACC’s initial distribution of the Covenant (and that is a matter of comity among the Instruments, not necessity), we believe the Archbishop’s invitation to dioceses to “endorse” the Covenant while it is being considered under the ACC’s recommended procedures is welcome. We hope this invitation will be accepted by many TEC dioceses.
A National Church Planter’s Summit attended by 22 key figures in Australian church planting has managed to move forward despite denominational and cultural differences.
The summit, organised by church planting support network The Geneva Push, was held in Sydney from September 29-30.
It included representatives from a wide range of supportive organisations, including The Church Army, The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches, Church Planting Australia, The Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students, The Ministry Training Strategy and Moore Theological College, as well as key Anglicans, Presbyterians, Baptists, Reformed Church and Independent pastors from Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania, New South Wales and the ACT.
A wise friend said somewhere – if the pastor of a church isn’t an evangelist then the church will only grow through transfer church.
Spurgeon’s advice in The Soul Winner is timely:
Just be men among men, keeping yourself clear of all their faults and vices, but mingling with them in perfect love and sympathy, and feeling that you would do anything in your power to bring them to Christ, so that you might even say with the Apostle Paul, ”˜Though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more’
Don’t misunderstand me – evangelism is not just about inviting people to events. But sometimes being able to invite a friend to an event is a gauge of where the friendship is up to. The friends I’m inviting are the ones I’m already praying for – asking for opportunities to speak about Jesus. If I’m not out mixing with real people and praying for them then I shouldn’t be leading the people here in God’s mission.
Anyone counting on a meaningful economic recovery will be greatly disappointed. How do I know? I follow credit, and credit is contracting. Access to credit is being denied at an accelerating pace. Large, well-capitalized companies have no problem finding credit. Small businesses, on the other hand, have never had a harder time getting a loan.
Since the onset of the credit crisis over two years ago, available credit to small businesses and consumers has contracted by trillions of dollars, and that phenomenon is reflected in dismal consumer spending trends. Equally worrisome are the trends in small-business credit, which has contracted at one of the fastest paces of any lending category. Small business loans are hard to find, and credit-card lines (a critical funding source to small businesses) have been cut by 25% since last year.
Unfortunately for small businesses, credit-line cuts are only about half way through. Home equity loans, also historically a key funding source for start-up small businesses, are not a source of liquidity anymore because more than 32% of U.S. homes are worth less than their mortgages.
Why do small businesses matter so much? In the U.S., small businesses employ 50% of the country’s workforce and contribute 38% of GDP. Without access to credit, small businesses can’t grow, can’t hire, and too often end up going out of business.
The Anglican Diocese of B.C. has suspended operations at Camp Columbia on Thetis Island as it begins a major restructuring in the face of falling church attendance.
The 62-year-old Christian camp for children, youth and adults had racked up a deficit of more than $500,000, the diocese said in a news release.
The Diocesan Council decided it could no longer afford the drain on resources and laid off all five camp employees, the release said.
Neither Bishop James Cowan nor finance officer Harry Felsing was available for comment. But Felsing said in a posting on the diocese website that the council has made no decision to sell the 72-acre property.
The land and buildings are worth $4 million, church documents show.
What happened to the biggest financial crisis in living memory? A year ago we were staring meltdown in the face: now, big City bonuses are back, and the banks, having taken billions of pounds of public money to stay afloat, act as if nothing had happened.
There was talk of the end of capitalism as we know it. Instead, the hubris of the financiers continues unabated. Politicians spoke of re-regulating financial institutions after the post-1980s free-for-all. Now, they speak only of cuts.
As the Archbishop of Canterbury observed on Newsnight (BBC2, 15 September), there has been a “failure to name what was wrong” ”” a lack of repentance. The voices expressing regret, or calling for change, have had little impact on policy. Bonuses may be tweaked, but this will not reform a system that is indifferent to widening inequality and extreme volatility. Serious public attention has yet to turn towards those who have lost their jobs or whose security has been destroyed.
This is not a painless recession; nor is it over yet. But the level of political and moral debate about the crisis is woeful. Why, for instance, is it so hard to have a grown-up disÂcussion about taxation? PoliÂticians are distinctly unconvincing as they try to explain how they will deal with the debt created by bailing out the banks without saying that taxes could, and perhaps should, rise.
The church split from the Christ Church in Hamilton, said curate Brian Barry this week, although he more gracefully referred to it as a “planting.”
“Christ the Redeemer Anglican Church is a new missionary church plant birthed out of Christ Church (Episcopal) of Hamilton-Wenham, of which I was rector for 12 years,” wrote Rector Jurgen Liias on the new church’s Web site, www.ctr-anglican.org.
“If you seek a spiritual home for you and your family, if you seek to give your life away in joyful service to others in the name of Jesus Christ, come join us as we build God’s house,” Rector Liias continues.
Curate Barry explained that the church is a member parish of the Anglican Church in North America, which was formed earlier this year.
While many churches have talked about leaving the ELCA, St. Paul’s is one of only three in the country that has followed through on it. “The phone has been ringing off the hook,” [the Rev. Roland] Wells said.
He has spent a lot of those conversations trying to convince people that his modest 130-year-old church on the corner of Portland Avenue and 19th Street is not a rebel looking for a fight.
“That’s not us at all,” Wells said. “We’re a very loving, very kind congregation. Fussing or fighting is not our nature.”
He said that his congregation, which he describes as “orthodox in theology and evangelical in practice,” had a moral objection to the ELCA’s recent vote to roster [noncelibate] gay and lesbian ministers. Along with churches in Arizona and Virginia, it voted Sunday to split from the parent denomination.
Unlike the United States, where the Medicare program for the elderly costs taxpayers about $500 billion a year, Switzerland has no special break for older Swiss people beyond the general subsidy.
“Switzerland’s health care system is different from virtually every other country in the world,” said Regina Herzlinger, a Harvard Business School professor who has studied the Swiss approach extensively.
“What I like about it is that it’s got universal coverage, it’s customer driven, and there are no intermediaries shopping on people’s behalf,” she added. “And there’s no waiting lists or rationing.”
Since being made mandatory in 1996, the Swiss system has become a popular model for experts seeking alternatives to government-run health care. Indeed, it has attracted some unlikely American admirers, like Bill O’Reilly, the Fox News talk show host. And it has lured some members of Congress on fact-finding trips here to seek ideas for overhauling the United States system.
The Swiss approach is also popular with patients like Frieda Burgstaller, 72, who says she likes the freedom of choice and access that the private system provides. “If the doctor says it has to be done, it’s done,” said Mrs. Burgstaller. “You don’t wait. And it’s covered.”
For more than 500 years the book has been a remarkably stable entity: a coherent string of connected words, printed on paper and bound between covers.
But in the age of the iPhone, Kindle and YouTube, the notion of the book is becoming increasingly elastic as publishers mash together text, video and Web features in a scramble to keep readers interested in an archaic form of entertainment.
On Thursday, for instance, Simon & Schuster, the publisher of Ernest Hemingway and Stephen King, is working with a multimedia partner to release four “vooks,” which intersperse videos throughout electronic text that can be read ”” and viewed ”” online or on an iPhone or iPod Touch.
And in early September Anthony E. Zuiker, creator of the television series “CSI,” released “Level 26: Dark Origins,” a novel ”” published on paper, as an e-book and in an audio version ”” in which readers are invited to log on to a Web site to watch brief videos that flesh out the plot.
For all the perceived benefits of multitasking behind the wheel ”” like staying a step ahead of competitors ”” the dangers have begun to take their toll on companies, leading some to ban the practice by employees.
Some families of victims killed in collisions with a multitasking worker have successfully sued the driver’s employer for tens of millions of dollars.
Researchers say there is another reason to question the benefits of working behind the wheel: a growing body of research shows that splitting attention between activities like working and driving often leads to distracted conversations and bad decisions.
“There is an illusion of productivity,” said David E. Meyer, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan. “It’s actually counterproductive.”
“To the extent that someone is focused on driving, the quality of work product is diminished,” he added. “To the extent someone is focused on work and not driving, there’s a risk of crashing and burning. Something’s got to give.”
The limit on religious symbols on government property is not about perpetuating an extreme secularist view of the 1st Amendment. I believe that the establishment clause was created to ensure that government be secular; that, as Justice Sandra Day O’Connor eloquently explained, it is to ensure that the government can be perceived by all as their government. If the government endorses religion or a particular religion, then those of another or no faith may feel like outsiders.
Religious symbols on government property are an endorsement of religion, which is prohibited. The establishment clause is a constitutional limit on government and a constitutional right of individuals, not a matter of protecting sensibilities. Ensuring that the government be secular is not hostility to religion. The place for religion is on private property, private homes and places of worship. A robust free exercise clause protects this. At the very least, the government must be neutral among and toward religion. Such neutrality is not and never has been about hostility to religion.
Please note that the Living Church Has Amended the Original Story on Rowan Williams' Covenant Letter
Archbishop Says Central Florida Act a Positive Step