Daily Archives: October 30, 2009

Evan Goldstein: Where Do Jews Come From?

This much is known: In the mid-eighth century, the ruling elite of the Khazars, a Turkic tribe in Eurasia, converted to Judaism. Their impetus was political, not spiritual. By embracing Judaism, the Khazars were able to maintain their independence from rival monotheistic states, the Muslim caliphate and the Christian Byzantine empire. Governed by a version of rabbinical law, the Khazar Jewish kingdom flourished along the Volga basin until the beginning of the second millennium, at which point it dissolved, leaving behind a mystery: Did the Khazar converts to Judaism remain Jews, and, if so, what became of them?

Enter Shlomo Sand. In a new book, “The Invention of the Jewish People,” the Tel Aviv University professor of history argues that large numbers of Khazar Jews migrated westward into Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania, where they played a decisive role in the establishment of Eastern European Jewry. The implications are far-reaching: If the bulk of Eastern European Jews are the descendents of Khazars””not the ancient Israelites””then most Jews have no ancestral links to Palestine. Put differently: If most Jews are not Semites, then what justification is there for a Jewish state in the Middle East? By attempting to demonstrate the Khazar origins of Eastern European Jewry, Mr. Sand””a self-described post-Zionist who believes that Israel needs to shed its Jewish identity to become a democracy””aims to undermine the idea of a Jewish state.

Read it all.

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

The Latest edition of the Diocese of South Carolina E-Newsletter

Check it out–the Convention album pictures are great. You can set them to view as a slide show.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC)

Maryland Episcopal bishop opens door to Catholics

In the wake of Vatican plans to make it easier for Episcopalians to become Catholic, the Episcopal bishop of Maryland would like to make one point clear: The door swings both ways.

Lost in talk of the splintering of the Anglican Communion, Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton says, is the appeal that the 45,000-member Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has held for former Roman Catholics and others looking for a big-tent church.

While attention focused on the conversion en masse last month of a Catonsville-based order of Episcopal nuns to the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has received three former Roman Catholic clergy in the past couple of months, Sutton says.

“We just want to remind people that this switching from Anglicans becoming Roman Catholics goes both ways,” Sutton said. “Many, many laypeople in our churches came from the Roman Catholic Church. We get many clergy.”

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, TEC Bishops

The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh plans an appeal of Allegheny County judge's ruling

A group of churches that split from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh will appeal an Allegheny County judge’s ruling that allowed the diocese to retain control of more than $15 million in assets, officials said Thursday.

The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, composed of 51 local congregations in 11 Southwest Pennsylvania counties and led by Bishop Robert Duncan, said it will file an appeal once the court issues a final order directing the transfer of diocesan property.

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

In Savannah Christ Church officials fight judge's ruling to turn over property to Episcopal Church

Leaders of Christ Church of Savannah are asking the Georgia Supreme Court to reverse a decision earlier this week granting ownership of the historic building and property to the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.

Christ Church member and attorney Neil Creasy said church officials filed a notice of appeal Thursday in Chatham County seeking to reverse Superior Court Judge Michael Karpf’s ruling Tuesday granting the diocese “immediate possession” of the church property.

Creasy said the process should allow the congregation to remain on the property in Savannah’s historic district until the state Supreme Court responds.

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

CEN: Membership drops in the Episcopal Church

The church’s membership, counted as active baptized members, also declined by three per cent, falling by 59,457 to 2,057,292. The rate of decline in attendance and membership also rose last year, with the 10-year rate of decline in attendance rising from 13 to 16 per cent, and the 10-year rate of decline in active membership rising from 10 to 11 per cent.

Fifty per cent of US Episcopal churches saw a decline in attendance last year, while only 35 per cent registered growth. The median average Sunday worship attendance in 2008 was 69.

For the first time the church’s income fell, with recorded “pledge and plate” income falling by 0.2 per cent.

Critics assert the numbers may be overstated as some dioceses have not recorded the secession of breakaway congregations. While the Diocese of San Joaquin recorded a membership drop of almost 8,000, or 77 per cent ”” reflecting the secession of a majority of its congregations, the Diocese of Los Angeles continues to carry St James Newport Beach’s 1,500 members on its books ”” even though the congregation’s fight to quit has already taken the fight to the US Supreme Court.

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

Archbishop Vincent Nichols: elderly are 'not a burden but a gift'

The Archbishop of Westminster’s comments come as research exploring the quailty of care provision among the Catholic community found that care home places will have to rise 150 per cent to cope with the ageing population over the next decade.

Latest demographic projections indicated there will be more than 11 million people over 65 within 10 years, with the number of people aged 85 and over projected to reach 3.2 million by 2033.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

RNS–Suicide: When pastors' silent suffering turns tragic

What kind of personal pain would cause a 42-year-old pastor to abandon his family, his calling and even life itself? Members of a Baptist church here are asking that question after their pastor committed suicide in his parked car in September.

Those who counsel pastors say Christian culture, especially Southern evangelicalism, creates the perfect environment for depression. Pastors suffer in silence, unwilling or unable to seek help or even talk about it. Sometimes they leave the ministry. Occasionally the result is the unthinkable.

Experts say clergy suicide is a rare outcome to a common problem.

Makes the heart sad. Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Suicide

California awards grants for research projects in nonembryonic stem cells

In a tacit acknowledgment that the promise of human embryonic stem cells is still far in the future, California’s stem cell research program on Wednesday awarded grants intended to develop therapies using mainly other, less controversial cells.

The $230 million in grants awarded Wednesday to California universities and companies represent a big step toward moving stem cells from basic research toward application in treating diseases like cancer and AIDS. Grant recipients are supposed to have a therapy ready for initial human testing in four years.

But only 4 of the 14 projects involve embryonic stem cells. The others will use so-called adult stem cells or conventional drugs intended to kill cancer stem cells, which are thought to give rise to tumors.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Science & Technology, Theology

A Sudden Exit Driven By An 'Irrational' War

A former Marine captain who became the first foreign service official to publicly resign in protest over the war in Afghanistan says staying in the country is not in America’s interest.

“The losses of our soldiers do not merit anything that comes in line with our strategic interests or values,” Matthew Hoh, who signed on as a foreign service official in Afghanistan after fighting in Iraq, tells NPR’s Melissa Block.

Hoh resigned last month after spending five working months in Afghanistan. In his resignation letter, he said he had “lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purpose of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan.”

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Terrorism, War in Afghanistan

An Ode To The Internet's Big Bang

The audio here is very entertaining–listen to it all.

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

40 Years Ago Yesterday: The Birth of the Internet

The Internet began with a whimper, not a bang. And not everyone agrees on when that whimper occurred.

But 40 years ago Thursday, something called the ARPANET came into existence, and since then, communication hasn’t been the same.

Read or listen to it all but before you do guess the text of the very first message.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, History, Science & Technology

Vatican row delays Anglo-Catholic text

A row has broken out behind the Vatican walls over the “confusion” surrounding Pope Benedict XVI’s opening to disaffected Anglicans, according to a papal biographer.

Andrea Tornielli, the biographer of several modern Popes including Pope Benedict, said that just over a week after its existence was revealed by the Vatican, the text of the Apostolic Constitution laying down the conditions for the creation of a new “Anglo-Catholic” section of the Church was still not ready for publication.

This was not because of translation problems but “something more serious”, Mr Tornielli said. There was still debate behind the scenes over priestly celibacy, the “most sensitive point for public opinion”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Ross Clark: Cohabiting couples can’t have their cake and eat it

When someone in authority says “these reforms will bring the law into line with public expectation and attitudes”, you know that it is time to worry. Those were the words of Professor Elizabeth Cooke, of the Law Commission, as she proposed a change in the law to give the surviving half of an unmarried couple the automatic right to inherit a proportion of their late partner’s wealth. At present, unmarried couples who die intestate may have to go to court when one dies and can face a challenge from their partner’s family.

At the risk of sounding like an outraged Victorian parson snooping through the windows of cottages on the lookout for couples living in sin, I can’t see a problem with the law as it stands. Yes, it does make life difficult for couples who can’t be bothered either to get married or make a will. But there is every reason why the law should encourage marriage.

It is not a case of moralising, but money.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Sexuality, Theology, Young Adults

Church Times: Pope’s offer provokes mixed reactions among Anglicans

ANGLICANS are divided over the announcement, last week, by the Vatican that they could form “Per­sonal Ordinariates” under the author­ity of Pope Benedict XVI. Many Anglicans said that it was no substi­tute for restored communion between the two Churches. Others welcomed the move.

The “pastoral” move by the Pope was widely believed to be his response to approaches by, among others, the leader of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), Archbishop John Hepworth, who is based in Australia, in April 2007. The head of TAC in Canada, Bishop Carl Reid, said last week that although its members were “on the same page” as Roman Catholics on ethics and family life, there were “weighty” doctrinal issues that could cause problems. “I can’t really predict how everyone is going to respond.”

The former Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, a long-term mem­ber of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) and the International Anglican- Roman Catholic Commis­sion for Unity and Mission (IARCCUM), who was the subject of press speculation that he could accept the offer, said on Tuesday that he was not going to become a Roman Catholic.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic