Daily Archives: October 9, 2009

Lauren Winner: Swine Flu Spells the End of the Common Cup

In many Roman Catholic churches across the country, lay people no longer receive wine at Communion, and some Catholic clergy have advised congregants not to shake hands or hug at the moment of the liturgy known as “the passing of the peace,” when parishioners typically greet someone in, and offer embodied signs of, the peace of Christ. In my own Episcopal parish, I was greeted by a neighbor last Sunday with an elbow bump. At a United Church of Christ congregation in the suburbs of Chicago, Communion servers now slice up bread into bite-sized bits before distributing Communion; they no longer offer congregants a loaf from which to tear a hunk of bread. In the interest of keeping fingers away from communion wine, communicants at All Saints’ Chapel in Sewanee, Tenn., are now instructed not to dip their Eucharistic bread into the cup but rather to sip the cup directly, since hands are often more infectious than mouths.

At Cornell University, the Episcopal chaplain, Clark West, has reminded worshippers that they will receive the fullness of the Eucharist if they receive only “one kind”””that is, the wafer and not the wine. “We have alcoholics among us for whom this has been the practice for years without any noticeably adverse effects,” quips Mr. West. To emphasize this, he has, on occasion, used a longer liturgical formula, which names the host as itself both “the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Less reverently, Mr. West has taken to calling the bottle of Purell hand sanitizer, which now sits prominently on the credence table, the post-modern lavabo. (A lavabo is the bowl a priest uses to wash his or her hands in the Eucharist.)

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Eucharist, Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Reuters: Church of England moves to heal row over women bishops

The Church of England could restrict the powers of some women bishops under a plan designed to end a rift between traditionalists who want to keep the all-male senior clergy, and liberals demanding equality.

The proposal has reignited the long-running debate over the “stained glass ceiling” that stops women from taking the most senior roles in the church.

Along with homosexual bishops and same-sex marriages, the ordination of women is among the most divisive issues facing the Anglican Communion, which has 77 million members worldwide.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

Anthony Bradley: Less Religion Means More Government

Historically, religious communities in the United States addressed the needs of local communities in way that were clearly outside the scope of government. For example, as David G. Dalin writes in “The Jewish War on Poverty,” between the 1820s and the Civil War, Jews laid the foundation for many charitable institutions outside the synagogue including a network of orphanages, fraternal lodges, hospitals, retirement homes, settlement houses, free-loan associations, and vocational training schools. These were also normative activities for both Protestant and Catholic religious communities on even a larger scale in communities all over America before Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.

The reported decline in religious life is an omen that virtue-driven local charity will decline, the passion to pursue the good will wane, and Americans will look to government to guide, protect, and provide. As we turn our lives over to government control, our capacity for independent thought and action are compromised. The real “opiate of the masses,” it would seem, is not religion but the lack of it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, Religion & Culture, The U.S. Government

An LA Times Debate: When should we start caring about debt?

Today’s topic: When should we start caring about federal deficits? When should we start doing something about them? Dean Baker and Maya MacGuineas continue their debate on the relationship between unemployment rates and economic recovery, and how much Washington can do about both.

Point: Maya MacGuineas, New American Foundation Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

The federal budget deficit was bad before the recession; now it is downright alarming. In the fiscal year that just ended, the deficit was about $1.4 trillion — almost a trillion more than the prior year. And reasonable projections are that we will borrow close to $10 trillion more over the next decade.

Does that mean we should start to reduce the deficit this year? No, not at all. The economic recovery is still too fragile to aggressively start pulling money out of the economy, a policy blunder that could derail our anemic growth.

But at the same time, there are signs that markets and creditors could turn against us at any moment.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc)

Ian Markham–Open Orthodoxy and Same-Sex Marriage: Where Should Christians Stand?

A Read-only word document, see what you make of it.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Marriage & Family, Sexuality, Theology

A C.S. Lewis Blog

Check it out if you have yet to do so.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Apologetics, Books, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture, Theology

WSJ Front Page: U.S. Stands By as Dollar Falls

The dollar fell to a 14-month low against other currencies Thursday, intensifying a trend that the Obama administration has publicly suggested it opposes — but which it appears prepared to tolerate quietly.

Many of America’s trading partners, however, are pushing the other way. In Asia, traders said central banks in South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Hong Kong again intervened to slow the dollar’s fall against their currencies.

Asian officials fear that the dollar’s fall could crimp their export-driven economies. “The [Thai] baht has appreciated a little too rapidly compared with our fundamentals,” said Suchada Kirakul, assistant governor of the Bank of Thailand.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Globalization, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, The United States Currency (Dollar etc), Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Church may be Forced to Close over Muslim Neighbour Singing Complaint

A London Church was effectively ”˜silenced’ by a Court after a decision by Magistrates to uphold a noise abatement notice, not to play excessive sound, after just one Muslim neighbour complained about noise levels of worship in a church which was next door to the house he purchased.

Singing songs of praise on a Sunday is normal Church activity. Using amplification is a normal part of Church life and it was argued at the Court hearing that the normal use of a Church building entails worship and cannot constitute noise nuisance.

Immanuel House of Worship Church has been meeting at 89 Vallentin Road in Walthamstow since it bought the premises in 2006. The Church was built in 1894 and was formerly used by the United Reformed Church, when the Church owned all the land on which the current properties are now built.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Church Times: Covenant would not be Anglican, says Peter Selby

Basing full membership of the Anglican Communion on compliance with the text of a covenant may send unintended messages about exclusion, Dr Peter Selby, the former Bishop of Worcester, said this week.

Speaking at the Inclusive Church conference, Dr Selby offered a detailed critique of Communion, Covenant, and our Anglican Future, the statement issued by Dr Rowan Williams after the recent General Convention of the Episcopal Church in the United States. (News, 31 July,)

Dr Selby said that both of the main arguments made in the Archbishop’s paper had a two-edged character. The requirement that, in order to be recognisable, Anglicans needed patterns and convictions such as those proposed in the Anglican Covenant, raised the fundamental biblical question “recognisable to whom?” Being recognisable to “the least of the brothers and sisters” (Matthew 25) mattered at least as much as being recognisable to other provinces, Dr Selby contended.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

AP: Almost One Quarter of Global Population is Muslim

The global Muslim population stands at 1.57 billion, meaning that nearly 1 in 4 people in the world practice Islam, according to a report Wednesday billed as the most comprehensive of its kind.

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life report provides a precise number for a population whose size has long has been subject to guesswork, with estimates ranging anywhere from 1 billion to 1.8 billion.

The project, three years in the making, also presents a portrait of the Muslim world that might surprise some. For instance, Germany has more Muslims than Lebanon, China has more Muslims than Syria, Russia has more Muslims than Jordan and Libya combined, and Ethiopia has nearly as many Muslims as Afghanistan.

“This whole idea that Muslims are Arabs and Arabs are Muslims is really just obliterated by this report,” said Amaney Jamal, an assistant professor of politics at Princeton University who reviewed an advance copy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Globalization, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Religion largely absent in argument about cross

A Supreme Court argument on Wednesday about the fate of a cross in a remote part of the Mojave National Preserve in southeastern California largely avoided the most interesting question in the case: whether the First Amendment’s ban on government establishment of religion is violated by the display of a cross as a war memorial.

The cross in the desert was erected in the 1930s by the Veterans of Foreign Wars to honor fallen service members. Ten years ago, Frank Buono, a retired employee of the National Park Service, objected to the cross, saying it violated the establishment clause.

In the intervening decade, Congress and the courts have engaged in a legal tug of war. Congress passed measures forbidding removal of the cross, designating it as a national memorial and, finally, ordering the land under the cross to be transferred to private hands. Federal courts in California have insisted that the cross may not be displayed.

At Wednesday’s argument, only Justice Antonin Scalia appeared inclined to reach the establishment clause question.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Church/State Matters, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Larry Hollon: The church must report its own news, good and bad

In my role as publisher of United Methodist News Service, I am often called on to defend or explain a decision to report on a sensitive issue. You can take your pick of issues – homosexuality, church trials, constitutional amendments. People often ask me why the church’s news agency would disclose information about disagreements or problems in the church.

The answer is simple: Reporting the unvarnished truth is our responsibility to the church and to you. It’s a core value. Out of our collective experience as a people of faith our forefathers and foremothers determined it is necessary for the good of the whole. This is a remarkable stand for integrity and truthfulness.

Being a truly open church requires being transparent about what goes on in our congregations, conferences and agencies. It means being accountable, from the local level right up to the Council of Bishops. The absence of accountability leaves room for a host of problems, ranging from complacenc[y] to the misuse of power.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Media, Methodist, Other Churches

NY Times Magazine: Understanding the Anxious Mind

Watching this video again makes Kagan fairly vibrate with the thrill of rediscovery: here on camera is the young girl who, as an infant, first embodied for him what it meant to be wired to worry. He went on to find many more such children, and would watch a big chunk of them run into trouble with anxiety or other problems as they grew up.

The tenuousness of modern life can make anyone feel overwrought. And in societal moments like the one we are in ”” thousands losing jobs and homes, our futures threatened by everything from diminishing retirement funds to global warming ”” it often feels as if ours is the Age of Anxiety. But some people, no matter how robust their stock portfolios or how healthy their children, are always mentally preparing for doom. They are just born worriers, their brains forever anticipating the dropping of some dreaded other shoe. For the past 20 years, Kagan and his colleagues have been following hundreds of such people, beginning in infancy, to see what happens to those who start out primed to fret. Now that these infants are young adults, the studies are yielding new information about the anxious brain.

These psychologists have put the assumptions about innate temperament on firmer footing, and they have also demonstrated that some of us, like Baby 19, are born anxious ”” or, more accurately, born predisposed to be anxious. Four significant long-term longitudinal studies are now under way: two at Harvard that Kagan initiated, two more at the University of Maryland under the direction of Nathan Fox, a former graduate student of Kagan’s. With slight variations, they all have reached similar conclusions: that babies differ according to inborn temperament; that 15 to 20 percent of them will react strongly to novel people or situations; and that strongly reactive babies are more likely to grow up to be anxious.

They have also shown that while temperament persists, the behavior associated with it doesn’t always….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Psychology

Focus in Chicago: Students at Risk of Violence

The new chief officer of the public schools here, Ron Huberman, a former police officer and transit executive with a passion for data analysis, has a plan to stop the killings of the city’s public school students. And it does not have to do with guns or security guards. It has to do with statistics and probability.

The plan comes too late for Derrion Albert, the 16-year-old who was beaten to death recently with wood planks after getting caught on his way home between two rival South Side gangs, neither of which he was a member, the police said.

The killing, captured on cellphone video and broadcast on YouTube, among other places, has once again caused widespread grief over a seemingly intractable problem here. Derrion, a football player on the honor roll, was the third youth to die violently this academic year ”” and the 67th since the beginning of the 2007-8 school year. And hundreds of others have survived shootings or severe beatings on their way to and from school.

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

Frank Lockwood: Presiding bishop hides membership/attendance statistics

Having been tipped that the numbers were being shared with the Executive Council during its Oct. 5-8 meeting, I e-mailed church public affairs officer Neva Rae Fox late Wednesday, Oct. 7, and asked for a “copy of the new ASA and membership figures that were passed out to the Executive Council at this week’s meeting.”

She e-mailed me back that “ASA and membership figures have not been passed out to Exec Council.”

So I e-mailed back: “Perhaps passed out is the wrong word. It’s my understanding that the figures are finished and were shared with the Executive Council this week.”

This morning, she responded: “if so, not yet. nothing has been shared yet.”

That didn’t match what I’d been led to believe by a very reliable source. So I asked Anderson and the Presiding Bishop about the numbers during the press conference. Here’s what they said…

Read it all especially the responses to Mr. Lockwood’s question.

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