Daily Archives: November 5, 2009

A Conversation with Professor Randall Balmer

3. On the Report, you said you wouldn’t join the Catholic Church (which recently offered to open membership up to Episcopalians and Anglicans) because Catholicism defines itself in negative terms. If the Vatican opened its doors to women and gay priests, would you consider rejoining then? Or do you feel that the divide between the Episcopalian and Catholic Churches is an important, necessary one?

I have nothing against the Catholic Church and certainly nothing against Roman Catholics. At the same time, I have no desire to sign up! I was reared as an evangelical (a fundamentalist, really), and my parents once informed me that if I ever married a Catholic I would be disowned. I was convinced, growing up, that Catholics were not even Christians.

I no longer believe that, of course, but at the same time I have no hankering whatsoever to convert to Rome. I’m very content as an Episcopal priest, and I happen to believe that we Episcopalians are addressing some vitally important issues right now, including (but not limited to) homosexuality, same-sex unions, and the role of women. We’re approaching these matters thoughtfully, prayerfully, and with integrity. The decisions we’ve made as a Church may well precipitate a continued diminution of our numbers, but that really doesn’t bother me. Sometimes the price of faithfulness to the demands of the gospel is popularity. In my judgment, moreover, the most effective religious movements throughout American history have positioned themselves on the margins of society, not in the councils of power.

Read it all.

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

Nicholas Kristof: Unhealthy America

The moment of truth for health care is at hand, and the distortion that perhaps gets the most traction is this:

We have the greatest health care system in the world. Sure, it has flaws, but it saves lives in ways that other countries can only dream of. Abroad, people sit on waiting lists for months, so why should we squander billions of dollars to mess with a system that is the envy of the world? As Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama puts it, President Obama’s plans amount to “the first step in destroying the best health care system the world has ever known.”

That self-aggrandizing delusion may be the single greatest myth in the health care debate. In fact, America’s health care system is worse than Slov””er, oops, more on that later.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, Politics in General

Vatican denounces European ruling against crucifixes in schools

The Vatican said it experienced “surprise and sorrow” when a European court ruled that the crucifixes hanging in Italian public schools violate religious freedom.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled Nov. 3 that the crucifixes hanging in every public classroom in Italy were “a violation of the freedom of parents to educate their children according to their own convictions and of the religious freedom of the students.”

Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, reacted to the decision saying, “The crucifix has always been a sign of God’s offer of love and a sign of union and welcome for all humanity. It is sad that it is being considered a sign of division, exclusion or limitation of freedom. That is not what it is and that is not the common feeling of our people.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Education, Europe, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Thursday Morning Mental Health Break: Chris Rice's Come to Jesus

Posted in Uncategorized

Terry Mattingly: N.Y. Archbishop takes on the N.Y. Times

Calling himself a “collapsed Catholic,” well “beyond lapsed,” [NY Times] Bill Keller said the liberal spirit of Vatican II died when it “ran smack-dab into the sexual revolution. Probably no institution run by a fraternity of aging celibates was going to reconcile easily with a movement that embraced the equality of women, abortion on demand and gay rights.”

The archbishop offered his “Foul Ball!” commentary to the Times editors, who declined to publish it. [Timothy] Dolan then posted the essay on his own Web site, while also offering it to FoxNews.com — which promptly ran it.

Dolan was, of course, livid about Dowd’s broadside, calling it an “intemperate,” “scurrilous … diatribe that rightly never would have passed muster with the editors had it so criticized an Islamic, Jewish or African-American religious issue.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Media, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Response to 'misconceived' article in Financial Times regarding the clergy pension scheme

An article in today’s Financial Times, headed ”˜Vicars’ pensions under threat as church is seduced by equities cult’, is misconceived and fails to take adequate account of the scheme’s relative age compared to other schemes, says Dr Jonathan Spencer, Chairman of the Church of England Pensions Board:

“The scheme concerned is responsible for paying pensions in respect of clergy service after 1 January 1998. The fact of the matter is that this scheme remains quite ”˜immature’ in pensions terms, with approximately £70m coming in each year to fund future pensions, and only around £12m going out. So the scheme’s main liabilities are some way in the future. With this in mind, we have acted at all times in accordance with mainstream actuarial and investment advice given by the Board’s professional advisors. This advice has consistently been that the Board should place the scheme’s investments in equities and equity type investments, which have historically produced the best returns.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Economy, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

The Anglican Old Catholic International Co-ordinating Council ”“ Communique

A draft text for a common statement on ecclesiology and mission was discussed. The Council will present it to the Anglican and Old Catholic Bishops’ Conference and recommends that it be made the theme of the forthcoming International Old Catholic and Anglican Theological Conference in 2011.

Attention was given to the recently published document “Kirche und Kirchengemeinschaft” (Church and Communion) of the International Roman Catholic-Old Catholic Dialogue Commission (IRAD), as well as to the recent Vatican announcement of the Apostolic Constitution to provide personal ordinariates for Anglicans and former Anglicans.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Reports & Communiques, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches, Theology

Pope's Anglican offer accepted by Traditional Anglican Communion in Britain

The UK wing of the Traditional Anglican Communion ”“ a group of rebel traditionalists who have left official Anglicanism ”“ has voted to accept Pope Benedict XVI’s offer of a Personal Ordinariate. The TAC has only a few small communities in Britain, but the Pope will be pleased by this development.

Hat-tip to Fr Tim Finigan, who says on his blog: “I hear a lot of sceptical comments about the Holy Father’s offer of Personal Ordinariates, with the conventional wisdom being that it will not really attract many people. So it is good to hear news of twenty or so parish communities that will be interested. The TAC asked for the provision in the first place so it is to be expected that they would be first off the mark; but I think that there may well be plenty more to follow in due course.”

Read it all.

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

US Roman Catholic Bishops Praise Maine's Marriage Vote

“The people of Maine voted to uphold the true nature of marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” noted Archbishop Kurtz. “Marriage is an institution which precedes all others, whether political or religious. It deserves the state’s reinforcement and protection.”

While the archbishop acknowledged that the Church’s opposition to gay “marriage” is hard for some to accept, he urged “all to respect it.”

The Church “stands for the basic rights of all people,” he continued, and noted that it speaks out against discrimination or unjust treatment of any group of people.

But the issue of marriage, the archbishop explained, “has nothing to do with denying basic rights to anyone, though it is often framed in such terms.”

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality

Statement by Roman Catholic Bishop Richard Malone Regarding the Results in Maine

“I want to thank the people of Maine for protecting and reaffirming their support for marriage as it has been understood for millennia by civilizations and religions around the world. I am thankful for those who engaged in sincere and civil discourse on this matter of such serious consequence to our society.

“These past few months have served as a teaching opportunity to explain to parishioners and the wider community about how and why the Church views and values marriage as the union of one man and one woman. It has also been an opportunity for listening, and I trust that those who voted for such a radical change did so out of concern for our gay brothers and sisters. Respect and acceptance of all people regardless of sexual orientation is not a point of controversy ”” indeed, it is a teaching of the Church. While the Catholic Church will continue its commitment to work for the basic human rights to which all people are entitled, it remains devoted to preserving and strengthening the precious gift of marriage.”

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality

Episcopal Bishop Stephen T. Lane's statement on the Decision of the Maine Voters

Yesterday, Question 1 provided each of us with the opportunity to exercise our franchise, to express our support for the right of same-gender couples to be afforded the full rights and responsibilities of a civil marriage or to disagree. Yesterday, Mainers chose to disagree.

Many faithful Episcopalians are deeply grieved at this decision. They had hoped that they and their families might enjoy the recognition and protections afforded heterosexual couples. The rejection of the law also feels like rejection of them as persons. I join in their grief that the right of same gender couples to enter into a lifelong, monogamous marriage has been denied. At the same time I know there are other faithful Episcopalians who are thankful about the election results. I understand that this matter has been a matter of conscience for them. Although the question of same-gender civil marriage may be settled in Maine for now, I would remind all Episcopalians ”“ both here in Maine and across the wider Church ”“ that we will continue the conversation about these issues for years to come.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, State Government, TEC Bishops

MLB: World Series culminates in thrilling fashion

It all began with pitchers and catchers reporting, then a World Baseball Classic won by Japan, then Opening Day pageantry, then longer pitch counts, then All-Star voting and a Midsummer Classic in St. Louis, then the Trade Deadline moves and those wild pennant races, and then a postseason that everyone watched right down to the very end, when Japan’s Hideki Matsui was a hero and the Yankees were world champs again.

Congratulations to the Yankees–read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

Fathers Gain Respect From Experts (and Mothers)

As much as mothers want their partners to be involved with their children, experts say they often unintentionally discourage men from doing so. Because mothering is their realm, some women micromanage fathers and expect them to do things their way, said Marsha Kline Pruett, a professor at the Smith College School for Social Work at Smith College and a co-author of the new book “Partnership Parenting,” with her husband, the child psychiatrist Dr. Kyle Pruett (Da Capo Press).

Yet a mother’s support of the father turns out to be a critical factor in his involvement with their children, experts say ”” even when a couple is divorced.

“In the last 20 years, everyone’s been talking about how important it is for fathers to be involved,” said Sara S. McLanahan, a professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton. “But now the idea is that the better the couple gets along, the better it is for the child.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Marriage & Family, Men

Diarmaid MacCulloch on his new series A History of Christianity

Christianity is the world’s biggest religion, yet the BBC has not produced a major documentary series about it for decades. That will be rectified tomorrow, when BBC Four begins A History of Christianity, a six-part series presented by Diarmaid MacCulloch, an Oxford history professor whose books about Cranmer and the Reformation have been acclaimed as masterpieces.

MacCulloch is a vicar’s son who grew up in “one of those great Georgian rectories where Agatha Christie murders took place”. He has mastered the tricks of TV presenting without hamming it up: he has all the donnish passion of David Starkey but comes across as much more self-effacing ”“ not difficult, admittedly. Underneath it all, however, the bespectacled professor is just as opinionated. Judging by the first episode of A History of Christianity, there is some vigorous axe-grinding going on.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Church History, England / UK, Religion & Culture

Diocese of Fort Worth adds 5 congregations

Five new Congregations will be welcomed into the Diocese, with seat, voice, and vote, at our Annual Convention on November 6 and 7. The Church of Christ the Redeemer in Fort Worth will be recognized as a new mission church, with Fr. Christopher Culpepper as vicar. St.Francis Church in Dallas will be received as a new parish of the diocese; their rector in Fr. David Allen. The Bishop will introduce St. Gabriel’s Anglican Church in Springdale, Arkansas, as a new mission station, under the leadership of their rector, Fr. John Slavin. And then two parishes will be welcomed and seated under a new Parish Affiliation Agreement, authorized by the Bishop, Standing Committee, and Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. They are St. Matthias’ Anglican Church in Dallas, Fr. Dwight Duncan, rector; and the Church of the Holy Spirit, Tulsa, Oklahoma, whose rector is Fr. Briane Turley.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils