Daily Archives: October 19, 2009

NPR: A Bitter Rift Divides Atheists

Last month, atheists marked Blasphemy Day at gatherings around the world, and celebrated the freedom to denigrate and insult religion.

Some offered to trade pornography for Bibles. Others de-baptized people with hair dryers. And in Washington, D.C., an art exhibit opened that shows, among other paintings, one entitled Divine Wine, where Jesus, on the cross, has blood flowing from his wound into a wine bottle.

Another, Jesus Paints His Nails, shows an effeminate Jesus after the crucifixion, applying polish to the nails that attach his hands to the cross.

“I wouldn’t want this on my wall,” says Stuart Jordan, an atheist who advises the evidence-based group Center for Inquiry on policy issues. The Center for Inquiry hosted the art show.

Read or listen to it all.

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

Non-Christians to marry in Anglican churches

AUSTRALIA’S largest and most conservative Anglican diocese will tomorrow approve changes that would permit couples to marry in church, whether or not they are Christian.

The change to be passed at the Sydney synod tomorrow makes the diocese the 14th of the country’s 23 to approve the reform that would allow an unbaptised Australian to be married in church provided he or she meets the basic standards for civil marriage: a union between a man and woman voluntarily entered into for life.

The change was first mooted at the Anglican general synod in 2007. It has since been put to the different dioceses for agreement and will go back to the national synod next year. Of 16 dioceses that have so far considered it, 13 have agreed, including Melbourne and Adelaide, with Sydney to follow tomorrow, breaching the halfway mark.

The reform drops the “faith requirement” promulgated in 1981 that requires at least one half of the couple be baptised into the Christian faith (not necessarily Anglican).

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Marriage & Family

Thomas Friedman: The Power in 11/9

The most promising progressive people-power movements have been Lebanon’s Cedar Revolution, the Sunni Awakening in Iraq and the Green Revolution in Iran. But the Cedar Revolution has been stymied by Syrian might and internal divisions. The Tehran uprising has been crushed by the iron fist of the Iranian regime, fueled by petro-dollars. And it is unclear whether the Iraqis will set aside their tribalism for a shared people power.

So as we try to figure out how many troops to send to stabilize Afghanistan and Pakistan, let’s remember: Where there is people power wedded to progressive ideas, there is hope ”” and American power can help. Where there is people power harnessed to bad ideas, there is danger. Where there is no people power and only bad ideas, there will be no happy endings.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Globalization, History, Politics in General

In Canada an Anglican Parish Taking a stand to eradicate poverty

Parishioners at St. Paul’s Anglican Church in Edmonton will be on their feet during this Sunday’s service. Participating for the third year in the “Stand Up, Take Action to End Poverty” event, they are part of a grass-roots global movement to push world leaders to live up to their commitments to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which included eradicating extreme poverty.

Last year, the campaign recorded 116 million people participating, which broke a Guinness world record for the largest mobilization around a single cause, and organizers are hoping to have significantly more people involved this year in events held around the world from Oct. 16 to 18.

Inspired by a study of Micah 6:8, “Do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God,” the youth at St. Paul’s got the congregation involved in this campaign, youth pastor Amy Croy said.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Parish Ministry, Poverty

The Bishop of Bath and Wells calls for communities to face outwards

Bishop Peter [Price]’s subject was The Church of England: the next 25 years in the context of the Anglican Communion, the world wide Church and other faiths.

He said: “As we look ahead into the next 25 years most of what will happen to us will be formed by things that are external to the church. The crises that will face humanity in 2034 for example are already in embryo with us now.”

He referred to the predicted demise of fossil fuels, a population explosion among the world’s poorest people, water shortage brought about by climate change, increased nationalism and the risk of germ and nuclear warfare that could kill millions of people.

Bishop Peter said: “How religions respond with openness, respect and a common concern for humanity and the planet, will in many ways be the key to whether they will have any part to play in a world that has all too often learned to do without them.

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

New Bishop of Carlisle talks about hopes and fears

Bishop James Newcome has a mild and engaging manner and his thoughtful response to each of my questions hints that he is unlikely to be a controversial prelate ”“ as long as you don’t raise the subject of nuclear power.

On the question of same-sex marriages, for example, he firmly backs the Church of England line that they should never be allowed in Anglican places of worship.

Even on the thorny sub-ject of wind farms, which is exercising the minds of many people in his diocese, Bishop Newcome is reluc-tant to use overly divisive language.

Instead, it is he who is ”˜very torn’ on the issue.

“I am in favour of wind farms, even though they are very erratic and not hugely effective,” he says.

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

Bishop of Colombo wants 2009-2010 to be year of National Healing and Reconciliation

If reconciliation and healing are to come to our beloved Nation in these circumstances, we are all required to take a right-about turn and engage in two initiatives. These are the ability to look within our selves and our communities and deal with the mistakes of the past; and the cultivation of a behaviour that respects and welcomes the presence of the other. These unwritten democratic values of self scrutiny and inclusive behaviour will require time, personal integrity and an abundance of generosity. But we don’t have to go far to find them. The respective spiritualities of our religions provide these values to those of us who want to live at peace with each other.

It is from here that we will together recognise how to address past grievance and future integration. And it will be only then that the journey towards getting to that place, where each will be received with dignity, none will violate another and all will be provided space for growth and fulfilment, will be discerned. From here our collective conscience will be required to invite and encourage the other repeatedly, till the call falls on good ground and bears fruit. This is the prophetic tradition of the Church without which there can be no reconciliation and healing in Christ.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Ceyon (E-P), Anglican Provinces, Asia, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Mark Vernon on Diarmaid MacCulloch's new book: Christianity's winding road

Christianity has been a passionate argument, periodically escalating to bloody conflict, since its inception. There were disputes amongst the disciples even before Jesus died. Then came Paul, who directed his fury at his fellow Christians in Jerusalem. Several of the theologians who came next were first heralded as brilliant, only later to be declared heretics. All in all, the first five centuries, up to the Council of Chalcedon in 451, saw an extraordinary flourishing of theological imagination and religious antagonism. Christians were persecuting each other within two years of the emperor Constantine’s conversion, a fact that is doubly arresting since that was easily within living memory of the period during which Christians suffered their severest persecution under Diocletian.

Work through the centuries since, as Diarmaid MacCulloch does in his new book, A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, and it’s clear that few facets of human nature have been left unexplored in this struggle. Equally inventive are the authorities that have attempted to unify their bit of Christianity. That creativity continues to the present day too: the teaching authority, or magisterium, of the contemporary Roman Catholic church is an invention as recent as the 19th century.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Church History

Sydney Anglican Church under scrutiny

THE Sydney Archbishop, Peter Jensen, is facing a legal challenge over his church’s decision to break with the national church and permit apprentice ministers to give Holy Communion.

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Important Update: There is more from the Sydney Morning herald here–read it all as well.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces

C. FitzSimons Allison–The Episcopal Church: the Canary in the Culture’s Coal Mine

The Episcopal Church has lost approximately a third of its members in 50 years. This should be a warning to other denominations. The gas that is choking The Episcopal Church is the same gas that is affecting all other church traditions, as well as the universities and other institutions of Western Civilization. The air we breathe does not contain the gas of coal mines, but our air does contain a mold or yeast.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Theology

A.S. Haley: ECUSA Succumbs to the Second Law

The Episcopal Church (USA) is no exception to the Law. I submit that all of the outward signs point to a draining from it of people and energy which at the moment is very much greater than what it is managing to attract to itself.

There is no glee to be had here, no Schadenfreude. I am an Episcopalian — a member of a Church that is in free fall, and whose current leadership is a disgrace, as they say, to the profession. Consider the fifty-year trend in its numbers, as vividly portrayed by Bishop FitzSimmons Allison in this brilliant analysis of what that leadership has done wrong — and continues to do wrong, as borne out by the latest figures. Consider the huge drain on its reserves caused by that leadership’s decisions to go to court wherever and whenever they think another parish (or diocese) must be sued for its property.

And last, but by no means least, consider the self-inflicted wounds caused by the Church’s deposition of more than 200 of its clergy in just the last eight years — every one of them unnecessary when simple letters dimissory would have sufficed. Add to this, now, the arrogant and lawless leadership of the Chief Kaitiff (for so I must call her when she acts in this way) — whose respect for the Church’s Canons is as non-existent as is her understanding of them.

Read the whole piece.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Religion & Culture, TEC Data, Theology

In Pennsylvania Episcopalians take pilgrimage to past in tiny chapel

Episcopalians from York, Carlisle and Gettysburg journeyed Sunday evening to the tiny borough of York Springs.

It was a homecoming of sorts.

They prayed and meditated on Scripture in a one-room brick chapel on Main Street — the parent church for Episcopalians west of the Susquehanna. A rotting sign out front reads: “Christ Church Episcopal, Colonial English Parish founded 1746.”

The historic chapel is open once a year for the pilgrims — about 25 of them Sunday. After the liturgy, the Rev. Canon David Lovelace of York explained the parish’s significance.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC)

In Southern California St. Luke’s Anglican moves into its new home

A visiting parishioner stood before the congregation of St. Luke’s Anglican Church, instructed patrons to bring both wrists together as if bound by shackles, and told them to cast the symbolic chains aside.

“You’re free,” he said, inside the unfamiliar confines of Seventh Day Adventist Church in Glendale.

The Rev. Rob Holman cast a knowing smile over the sermon Sunday, the first since surrendering the keys to the stone-facade church at 2563 Foothill Blvd. following a three-year legal battle for ownership of the building.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles

Finding religious community online in a Web 2.0 era

In the olden days before social media, if a Trinity United Methodist Church member fell ill, they called the church office. Now, if someone goes to the hospital or needs pastor Sid Hall to pray for them, they usually go online.

“If they post it on Facebook, even if they have the flu or they’re not feeling well, those are things I can see,” Hall said. “I can show up at the hospital if they’re there, or on Sunday morning, I can say, ‘How’s your brother? I saw on Facebook that he’s going through some hard times.’ ”

Hall has used Facebook as a way to connect with his congregation since January, when his wife, Mary Pratt , suggested that it could be a good tool for his church. Other pastors, representatives from large denominations and laypeople across faiths have been using social media to reach out in similar ways.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Religion & Culture

Time Magazine Cover Story: The State of the American Woman

If you were a woman reading this magazine 40 years ago, the odds were good that your husband provided the money to buy it. That you voted the same way he did. That if you got breast cancer, he might be asked to sign the form authorizing a mastectomy. That your son was heading to college but not your daughter. That your boss, if you had a job, could explain that he was paying you less because, after all, you were probably working just for pocket money.

It’s funny how things change slowly, until the day we realize they’ve changed completely. It’s expected that by the end of the year, for the first time in history the majority of workers in the U.S. will be women ”” largely because the downturn has hit men so hard. This is an extraordinary change in a single generation, and it is gathering speed: the growth prospects, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are in typically female jobs like nursing, retail and customer service. More and more women are the primary breadwinner in their household (almost 40%) or are providing essential income for the family’s bottom line. Their buying power has never been greater ”” and their choices have seldom been harder.

It is in this context that the Rockefeller Foundation, in collaboration with TIME, conducted a landmark survey of gender issues to assess how individual Americans are reacting. Is the battle of the sexes really over, and if so, did anyone win? How do men now view female power? How much resentment or confusion or gratitude is there for the forces that have rearranged family life, rewired the economy and reinvented gender roles? And what, if anything, does everyone agree needs to happen to make all this work? The study found that men and women were in broad agreement about what matters most to them; gone is the notion that women’s rise comes at men’s expense. As the Old Economy dissolves and pressures on working parents grow, they share their fears about what this means for their children and their frustration with institutions that refuse to admit how much has changed. In the new age, the battles we fight together are the ones that define us.

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