Daily Archives: October 10, 2009

NPR: To Casket Or Not To Casket?

And so the student decided instead of a casket burial or cremation, he asked if it would be OK to be shipped to Heinrich’s beautiful mountainside property in Maine (where he had done fieldwork) and be given a shallow burial where he could be recycled by nature’s most commonplace undertakers. He wanted to be “beetleized.”

This wasn’t a crazy notion. Ecology-minded scientists often discuss how they want to be buried.

William D. Hamilton, perhaps one of the greatest biologists in the 20th century, famously wrote an open letter saying that when he died he wanted to be laid out on the forest floor in the Amazon jungle….

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Science & Technology

NPR: French Official Under Fire For Writing On Paid Sex

[ELEANOR] BEARDSLEY: The affair died down again until this week, when on a late-night political talk show Marine Le Pen, daughter of far-right Nationalist Party leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, dug out a copy of Mitterrand’s 2005 autobiographical novel and read excerpts set in the brothels of Bangkok….

Ms. LE PEN: …Mr. Frederic Mitterrand, culture minister, describes his pleasure in sexual tourism, all the while knowing the perversity of the system. It’s in black and white right here, and this man’s a minister.

BEARDSLEY: Soon, everyone was reading the same excerpts online, although no one had bothered to notice them in his book for the last five years.

Le Pen called for Mitterrand to resign, and in a bizarre political matchup, members of Mitterrand’s Socialist Party joined the far right in attacking him, and no one missed the ironic connection between l’affaire Mitterrand and l’affaire Polanski.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, France, Movies & Television, Sexuality, Theology

Upcoming Montreal Gathering to tackle national expectations for theological education

If two women””one in Yellowknife, one in Regina””hear the call to be priests in the Anglican Church of Canada, the steps they will take to become ordained are quite different. Although both will wear collars and be “the Rev.” in the end, their assessment and education will depend on their diocese’s unique program, which could range from an informal mentoring relationship to specific course requirements.

A national conference””to be held January 5 to 7, 2010, in Montreal, Que.””will examine this diversity. Representatives from theological colleges and dioceses, students, and pastors will explore differences and discuss what should be core and common in preparing people for presbyteral (priestly) ministry in the Anglican Church of Canada.

People may be surprised to learn that there are minimal national standards for such preparation, said Dr. Eileen Scully, General Synod’s coordinator for ministry and worship, and conference staff support. All that exists is a 1986 document called “Prerequisites for Ordination” from the House of Bishops and the Advisory Committee on Postulants for Ordination (ACPO), which assesses candidates in discernment weekends, then offers non-binding recommendations to their bishops.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Nonie Darwish: ”˜Tolerating intolerance is not a virtue’

Slight of build and dressed in the stylish manner of the European-influenced Arab middle class, Nonie Darwish could be any wealthy Levantine in Paris or west London.

But behind the veneer of Egyptian elegance is a one-woman anti-jihad machine, a Christian convert from Islam, founder of a group called Former Muslims United and author of two books highly critical of Sharia law, Arab policy towards Israel and Islamists’ ambitions for global conquest.

Darwish is often compared to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born Dutch feminist, but whereas Ali is an atheist who stands up for Europe’s “Enlightenment values” against Islam, Darwish is a Christian who believes “that Judeo-Christian culture produces healthier, happier and more just societies, whereas Islamic culture produces tyrannical regimes and oppression”.

Read the whole article.

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

The Tablet: Pope says Western world ”˜is exporting its spiritual toxic waste’ to Africa

The Catholic population of Africa has shot up from 1.9 million in 1900 to almost 165 million today, and more than 40 per cent of all adult baptisms in the world take place in Africa.

During the synod’s opening liturgy, which featured more Latin and Gregorian chant than African languages and hymns, the Pope blamed the “so-called First World” for continuing to “export its spiritual toxic waste” to the continent.

“In this sense, colonialism, which is over at a political level, has never really entirely come to an end,” he said in a lengthy homily delivered entirely in Italian.

Read it all.

Update: The Catholic Herald has a lot more here.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

World Magazine: Day in court

In California, your church likely would lose its property. In South Carolina, however, your church is safe. That’s because the California Supreme Court in January and the South Carolina Supreme Court in September chose opposing methods for their respective lower courts to use in judging church property disputes. (Declared the South Carolina court: “It is an axiomatic principle of law that a person or entity must hold title to property in order to declare that it is held in trust for the benefit of another.”)

The U.S. Supreme Court is partly to blame for the confusion. Traditionally, property matters are a state, not federal, legal matter. Many states historically allowed an exception to laws governing property. They deferred instead to rules set by certain “hierarchical” denominations in property issues of their member churches. As the 20th century deepened, scattered courts became more willing to listen to appeals of congregations deprived of their property and to apply “neutral principles” of state law in resolving disputes. In Jones v. Wolf in 1979, the U.S. Supreme Court said courts were free to use “either approach: deference to the hierarchy” or neutral principles of law.

Read it all.

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

Response of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark to the Letter of Former Christ Church Vestry Members

We are deeply disappointed that former members of the vestry at Christ Episcopal Church have chosen to use the Ridgewood Blog and other public forums to address what is clearly an internal matter involving the congregation ”“ especially when a more appropriate forum had already been provided and communicated to all members of the congregation.

The Office of the Bishop has been in conversation with the clergy and lay leadership of Christ Church, and together we have developed a process ”“ already underway ”“ to address any and all issues and concerns raised by the congregation’s members. That process was outlined in a letter from the wardens and rector to the congregation dated October 1.

At a Rector’s Forum held on Sunday, October 4, the rector and wardens discussed this process and responded to questions from parishioners. During the forum, which is held every Sunday, matters of concern to parish members are regularly discussed. In fact, a large number of parishioners who had received the letter from the rector and wardens participated fully in that open conversation.

We are confident that through patient listening, candid conversation, and the good faith efforts of the clergy, lay leadership and parishioners ”“ working together ”“ the mission and ministry of Christ Church will continue to serve the needs of the congregation, the community of Ridgewood and the wider world.

–Nina Nicholson, Director of Communications, the Episcopal Diocese of Newark

Posted in Uncategorized

10 of 12 members of Christ Church Ridgewood NJ Resign

As you have heard, ten of the twelve elected members of the Christ Church Vestry have resigned since the February Annual Meeting, nine of us in the past week. We feel it is important that we express the reasons for this most extraordinary development to you directly. All of these matters have been previously brought to the attention of the Rector and/or Wardens, most recently in an Executive Session held two weeks before we resigned.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Independent–Europe's Revolution: The pastor who brought down the Berlin Wall

It is said that the key to the door in the Iron Curtain was cut in Leipzig. It was to become the key that opened Berlin’s infamous Wall and ultimately brought about its collapse, not to mention that of the Soviet empire. But 20 years ago to the day, in the second city of what was communist East Germany, no one had any notion of what was to come. Instead, the shabby, heavily polluted town of nearly half a million people was gripped by an all-pervasive fear.

Newspapers controlled by the Communist Party had done their best to whip up panic, full of dire warnings about the state’s readiness to crush “the counter revolution” by force. The order had been given by none other than Erich Mielke, the regime’s despised and feared Stasi chief. There were rumours about hundreds of Kalashnikov rifles and machine guns being broken out of store rooms at secret police headquarters in preparation for a bloody showdown with the growing numbers of demonstrators who were taking to Leipzig’s streets to protest against the Communist regime.

“We were terrified that the state would enforce a Chinese solution,” recalled Christian Führer, a pastor who was one of the demonstration leaders. “You have to remember that our protests against the regime were happening only weeks after the massacre at Tiananmen Square.”

Führer is one of the big heroes of East Germany’s peaceful revolution. He looks more like a lorry driver than a pastor and is rarely seen without his sleveless jean jacket. At age 66, he could easily be mistaken for someone 10 years younger. In 1989, the East German regime were using 28 Stasi officers to watch him night and day; his spiky grey hair earned him the secret police codename “hedgehog”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Eastern Europe, Europe, Germany, History, Religion & Culture

Notable and Quotable (II)

It makes doing your taxes look kind of easy. Dealing with your insurance forms when you’re sick is… it’s really hard.

Karen Pollitz, a health policy researcher at Georgetown, as quoted on last night’s Marketplace

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Economy, Health & Medicine, Personal Finance, Taxes

Notable and Quotable (I)

Yet this might just be where the president’s luck runs out. For precisely the power of his own party in Congress could prove to be a source of weakness rather than strength. On my most recent visit to Washington, I could not help being struck by the shift that has occurred from the imperial presidency of the Bush era to something like parliamentary government under Mr Obama. This president proposes; Congress disposes. It was Congress that wrote the stimulus bill and made sure it was stuffed full of political pork. It is Congress that will ensure the healthcare bill falls well short of being self-financing. Mr Obama recently snapped at an unnamed “Blue Dog” (conservative-leaning) House Democrat: “You’re going to destroy my presidency.” He could be right.

According to the polls, voters disapprove of Congress by 61 per cent to 31 per cent. What’s more, the two parties would be neck and neck if the midterm elections were held today. The reason is clear. While the stimulus package had a sound macroeconomic rationale, the growing structural imbalance between federal revenue and spending scares the hell out of voters. A recent USA Today/Gallup poll showed that 59 per cent of Americans think government spending is excessive. Mr Obama receives his lowest approval ratings for his handling of the federal budget deficit.

Niall Ferguson, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and William Ziegler Professor at Harvard Business School

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

An LA Times Editorial–Obama and the Nobel: He loses by winning

Excessive praise can be unwelcome and embarrassing. Just ask President Obama, who awoke Friday to discover that he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize before he had completed even a year in office. Obama managed to be both abashed and appreciative in his response, but no amount of self-effacing spin can obscure the oddity of this award.

For the president’s critics on the right, the Nobel feeds a narrative in which Obama is more interested in flattering foreigners than in defending U.S. interests. To those in his restive progressive base, it appears that the peacemaker’s mantle has been draped on the shoulders of a president who is presiding over two distant wars and who may soon send as many as 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

For our part, we’re fans of the president. We endorsed him for the job, and we greatly prefer him to his predecessor. But it’s difficult to see why he deserves the peace prize so soon after taking office. The Nobel committee didn’t just embarrass Obama, it diminished the credibility of the prize itself….

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Foreign Relations, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama

LA Times: Conservative Episcopalians prepare for their exodus

The people of St. Luke’s Anglican Church have called their La Crescenta parish home for 85 years. Generations of families have grown up within its historic stone walls.

On Sunday, the Rev. Rob Holman will deliver his final sermon there, an epitaph to a bruising legal fight the congregation waged and lost to practice its conservative brand of Christian theology and hold on to the church.

On Monday, St. Luke’s leaders will hand over its keys to the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

The diocese sued to retain St. Luke’s property after the congregation voted overwhelmingly in 2006 to leave it and the national Episcopal Church over theological differences, including the consecration of a gay bishop in New Hampshire.

Read it all.

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

Religious Intelligence: Bishop of Bradford reveals spiritual struggle

An English diocesan bishop has publicly revealed an occasion when he railed against God and angrily asked him: “What do you think you’re doing?”

The candid disclosure comes from the Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Rev David James, in the October issue of the Bradford diocesan monthly.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Spirituality/Prayer

Archbishop Rowan William's sermon to mark the end of military operations in Iraq

Justice does not come without cost. In the most obvious sense, it is the cost of life and safety. For very many here today, that will be the first thing in their minds and hearts ”“ along with the cost in anxiety and compassion that is carried by the families of servicemen and women. But there is another sort of cost involved in holding back the easy instinctive response and checking that you are genuinely doing something for the sake of long-term building or healing: a cost in putting up with boredom and frustration in the course of operations; in setting aside prejudice and resentment to get to know a strange culture and feel with and for its people. These are all part of the cost, the sacrifice, involved in seeking a better and more secure life for people who have suffered outrageously.

When we as Christians consider the sacrifice that purchased peace and mercy for the whole world, we think not only of the death of Jesus on the cross but also of the cost of love and openness to the stranger that marked his entire life. We can recognise the same thing at work in a lesser degree in any life that is dedicated to taking the world a little further out of barbarity and violence: it is not only the moments of high tragedy that matter, but the patient acceptance of daily frustrations and confusions, and the need for painstaking attention in every detail to the work that is there to be done. All of that too we commemorate and celebrate today.

Many people of my generation and younger grew up doubting whether we should ever see another straightforward international conflict, fought by a standing army with conventional weapons. We had begun to forget the realities of cost. And when such conflict appeared on the horizon, there were those among both policy makers and commentators who were able to talk about it without really measuring the price, the cost of justice. Perhaps we have learned something ”“ if only that there is ‘a time to keep silence’, a time to let go of the satisfyingly overblown language that is so tempting for human beings when war is in the air. But today it is also ‘a time to speak’, although only briefly, to speak our thanks for those who have taught us through their sacrifice the sheer worth of justice and peace and who have shouldered some of the responsibility for fleshing out the values most of us only talk about.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Iraq War, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics