Daily Archives: October 18, 2009

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly: Abortion and Health Care Reform

CHARMAINE YOEST (President, Americans United for Life): Polling shows over 70 percent of Americans don’t want to see their tax dollars going for it, so that’s what this debate is over, is not whether or not you agree or disagree with abortion, but whether or not at the federal level we’re going to pay for it.

[KIM] LAWTON: Meanwhile, an interfaith group called the Religious Institute gathered signatures of more than a thousand clergy affirming access to abortion.

REV. DEBRA HAFFNER (Executive Director, Religious Institute): We believe that abortion should be safe, legal, rare, and accessible, and that a health care reform should not make it more difficult for women to get abortions in this country.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Theology

The Economist Leader–Why the Afghanistan war deserves more resources, commitment and political will

Eight years after the deceptively swift toppling of the Taliban, the prospects for the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan seem worse than ever. Every Western casualty, every reinforcement and every pious political homily on the “justness” and “necessity” of the war seem only to leave the mission floundering deeper and more hopelessly. Already battered by mounting casualties, Western support for the war has been further dented by an Afghan presidential election in August, wildly rigged in favour of the incumbent, Hamid Karzai. Against this gloomy backdrop, Barack Obama is faced with a request from the American and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, for large numbers of new troops (see article). The decision may define his presidency. Despite the difficulty””indeed, because of the difficulty””he should give the general what he needs.

The alternative is not, as some opponents of an Afghan “surge” suggest, less intensive, more surgical “counter-terrorism”, relying on unmanned air raids and assassination. Mr Obama seems, rightly, to have ruled that out. General McChrystal, a special-forces veteran, is emphatic it would not work. On its own, it is more likely to kill civilians and create new enemies than to decapitate and disable al-Qaeda. A counter-terrorist strategy is a euphemism for withdrawal””which is what plenty of Westerners think should happen.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Wendy Atterberry: Are Marriage Proposals Dead?

Marriage is such a huge, life-altering decision, it’s only natural that it be a choice two people make together, after much discussion and personal soul-searching. And if the decision is made mutually, is there really any need for a proposal to be made ”” a question to be asked ”” for which both parties already know the answer? For a lot of people, the answer is “no.” They make the decision, perhaps they go ring-shopping together (that way, the woman’s sure to get something she likes), they make the announcement to their friends and family, and then they change their relationship status on Facebook. Done and done.

For the rest of us, an official proposal ”” even if we’ve already decided with our partners to get hitched ”” is the act that seals the deal. For the record, I fall into this camp. My now-husband and I first started seriously talking marriage a little over a year ago. We’d been together 2 1/2 years, had lived together almost a year, felt committed to each other, and knew we wanted to start a family in the not-so-distant future. At some point, I think I made some comment about getting married in the summer when my parents, who live in Europe, would be in the States. My boyfriend nodded and said that that sounded fine and I said, “This coming summer,” making sure to drive home the point. “But I want a proposal!” I told him, adding: “And I want it to be romantic. You don’t get off the hook that easily.” He laughed and said he’d do what he could.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Marriage & Family

Sarah E. Reynolds on the Episcopal Church–Long Journey Home: Where I come from

Christianity, for me, is about humans’ stewardship of the creation that God made and entrusted to us. It is about showing concern for other people and wanting them to have all the good things we have. It is about having the humility to understand that ministry is a two-way street. We don’t just give to those “in need”: a true act of ministry involves our receiving from them as well and understanding more deeply our own neediness. And, yes, it is also about knowing that when we miss the mark, God is ready to forgive us even before we ask.

Often, though, the Christianity most visible in the United States seems to me very focused on the individual: on personal salvation. It is exclusive, concerned only with God and me, or at most with God, me and my like-minded neighbors.

Acceptance of Jesus’ overflowing, infinite, unbounded love and its power to change us is crucially important for those who claim to follow him, but what it does for us is less important, I think, than what it enables us to do. Through it, Jesus’ followers become, by degrees, true disciples, able to walk Jesus’ walk and to love as he loved.

Read the whole piece.

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

An Episcopal Church Where signs of God abound

When the Rev. Sarah Brockmann steps onto the altar for 10 a.m. Sunday worship service at Trinity Episcopal Church, she speaks and signs her greeting as she welcomes both hearing and hearing-impaired communicants.

And the church’s new rector continues to use as much sign language as she is able during worship, even for the hymns that accompany the Scriptures that day.

The small Rockland church has attracted the hearing-impaired from several area communities since it started offering a sign-interpreted Sunday service more than a decade ago, prompted by the persistence of a now-deceased member who originally pursued grants to cover the cost.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

Tribune-Review: Bishop named to oversee 28 Episcopal parishes in Pittsburgh

“This is an honor. I have been asked to serve in this capacity for a short time. Hopefully, we will be able to bring people to Jesus Christ,” Price said Saturday in Trinity Cathedral, site of the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s 144th annual convention.

Price’s leadership of 28 parishes begins after one of the most prominent splits of an Episcopal diocese in the United States and less than two weeks after an Allegheny County judge ruled that the churches he leads own diocesan property such as offices and endowments.

Still at stake, however, is the future of the majority of parishes that last year chose to split from the Episcopal Church.

That group’s leader, Bishop Robert Duncan, serves as interim head of the Anglican Church in North America, a new church made up of conservative congregations in the United States and Canada.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh

White House seeks to explain its hesitations on Afghanistan

The White House has issued its strongest warning yet that President Karzai cannot count on continued US support if he fails to accept that Afghanistan’s fraudulent election has critically undermined his authority.

President Obama is more concerned at “whether there’s an Afghan partner” worth defending, than with the politically fraught question of how many more troops to send, said Rahm Emanuel, Mr Obama’s chief of staff and a central figure in White House deliberations on Afghanistan.

His rare public remarks today were echoed by comments from Senator John Kerry, who has flown to Kabul to join efforts to persuade Mr Karzai to accept a second round of voting or enter a power-sharing deal with his opponent, Dr Abdullah Abdullah.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, War in Afghanistan

NPR: Hugs Help Reporter Embrace A New Beat by Pam Fessler

The first time I noticed it was at the end of an interview with a shy teenage boy in Baltimore. His name was Cortasz Steele and he was from one of the city’s toughest high schools. He was telling me how much he liked working as a volunteer with other kids at the city’s teen court.

“Everybody needs somebody to talk to. We go through a lot when we go home and then come to teen court ”” and, like, they just needed somebody to talk to,” he said.

When he and I finished talking, I stuck out my hand to shake his, as I usually do. But instead, Steele approached awkwardly, put his arms around my shoulders and gave me a big, warm hug.

Now, that never happened when I covered homeland security!

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Media, Poverty

California job losses keep climbing

California lost more than five times as many jobs in September as it did the month before, signaling that the state’s employment woes continue despite a budding economic recovery.

Employers cut 39,300 workers from their payrolls last month, according to figures released Friday by the state Employment Development Department, led by cuts in construction and government.

A separate survey of joblessness showed that California’s unemployment rate was 12.2% in September, down from a revised 12.3% in August. But that decline wasn’t a reflection of a stronger job market. The rate fell only because thousands of jobless Californians gave up searching for work last month and were no longer counted as unemployed.

“It is discouraging,” said Esmael Adibi, an economist at Chapman University. “We want to see job losses go down and the pace slow down, but we didn’t see it.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

Notable and Quotable (I)

To sum up, then, we may say that, according to the general consensus of New Testament teaching, a gospel is not a gospel when””

1. it is detached from the Jesus of history;

2. it gives little or no place to the passion;

3. it exalts human achievement in place of the grace of God;

4. it adds other conditions to the one which God has declared acceptable (even if those additions be things good and desir­able in themselves); or

5. it treats righteousness and purity as things which the truly spiritual man has outstripped.

On the other hand, a gospel is a gospel when””

1. it maintains contact with the Jesus of history, affirming that “this same Jesus “who came in the flesh and died is the vindicated and exalted Lord;

2. it embraces and proclaims “the stumbling-block of the cross”;

3. it extends the grace of God to men for their acceptance by faith;

4. it relies upon the power of the Spirit to make it effective in those who hear it; and

5. it issues in a life of righteousness and purity which is sustained and directed by the love of God.

F.F. Bruce, “When is a Gospel not a Gospel?” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 45 (1963): pp.319-39

Posted in Christology, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

David Yeago–The Way Forward (3): The Bible in the Church

No method of resolving disputes within the church can function without the support of an underlying sensus fidelium, a common mind among the faithful. Even a teaching office on Roman Catholic lines can only settle disputes successfully if there is a shared perception that the office deserves respect. This can never be wholly a matter of recognizing the formal authority of the bishop or the Pope, as in the slogan “Rome has spoken ”“ case closed.” It has to include a perception that the actual decisions made by the teaching office reliably cohere with central Christian beliefs and practices. Only so can a sense be maintained that obedience to the teaching office is an authentic form of discipleship. But for that to be the case, the teachers and the faithful must share a common formation in faith and life. They can only meet, so to speak, if they live in the same Christian universe.

The root of our problems with authority in the ELCA, I would suggest, is the confusion, weakening, and consequent fragmentation of the sensus fidelium, the common mind of the faithful. This confusion and weakness are by no means all on one side. We’ve all been affected by the biblical illiteracy, thin catechesis, clueless educational programs, and unfocused preaching that are widespread (I’m not saying universal) in our denomination. Seeking scriptural resolution to a passionate controversy on top of such weakness, confusion, and fragmentation is like trying to ride up the glass mountain in the fairy tale: no matter how strong your theological horse or how well you ride it, you’re never going to get traction.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Post-Gazette: Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh names temporary bishop

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has chosen Bishop Kenneth Price, Jr., as its provisional — temporary — bishop, and declared its departing, part-time shepherd, Bishop Robert H. Johnson, to be “assisting bishop emeritus.”

The diocese is still recovering from a split in October 2008, when a majority of the clergy and laity at its last regular convention voted to leave the Episcopal Church over theological issues.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

Living Church: Western Louisiana Affirms Ridley Draft AnglicanCovenant

“This will bring further recognition of our diocese as a part of the Episcopal Church, as a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, and in communion with the See of Canterbury. When I shared with the Archbishop of Canterbury last month the plans for a resolution of this nature, he responded favorably,” the bishop said.

The bishop also spoke of why he believes the diocese needs to remain within the Episcopal Church.

“We need to stay where we are because our Lord needs the faithfulness of the ministry this diocese has to offer, and does offer, through the commitment of those who make this their spiritual home, and in turn are striving to build up the kingdom of God in this place and the life of Christ’s Church,” he said. “We stay also because our historic identity with the Anglican Communion demands it of us. Without ordered processes there is no catholicity, no claim to the ancient Christian unity, which we claim is at the very heart of whom we are as members of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Identity, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, Windsor Report / Process