Daily Archives: January 4, 2010

Eboo Patel: Moderate Muslims? We're everywhere.

Here’s the sad truth: Mainstream Muslims have zero influence over extremists. In fact, if one of those guys had a single bullet in his gun and you and I were up against the wall, he would shoot me first. He hates me more because not only do I not follow his perverse vision of Islam, I also represent an alternative interpretation. He insists Islam requires domination; I suggest Islam inspires cooperation.

Extremists have a strategy. They want their terrorist acts to be front-page news, to stain a 1,400-year-old religion, to smear a community of 1.3 billion people.They want Americans to be suspicious of their Muslim neighbors. If we want to defeat extremists, we have to reject their world view and drown out their message. Indignantly asking, “Where are the moderate Muslims?”, as if there aren’t any, is allowing the extremists to set the terms, effectively aiding and abetting their agenda.

The truth is, mainstream Muslims are right in front of you, speaking all the time, advancing a Muslim vision of mercy and cooperation. It’s time people added their voices to ours, instead of amplifying the message of the extremists.

Read it all.

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

NPR: What The Divorce Revolution Has Meant For Kids

When I dug into this topic five years ago, I thought the story would be how children of the divorce revolution aren’t all messed up. We’re not the truants and drug addicts the ’70s pop psychologists predicted we’d be. But it also wasn’t quite true that if our parents were better off getting out of the marriage, we kids would be too.

Social scientists have had decades to study the children of divorce. They confirm some of our worst fears. We’re about 50 percent more likely to fail in our own marriages.

But it doesn’t stop us from trying. After 12 years of dating, I made it to the altar. I even tempted fate and wore my mother’s wedding dress.

I still believe in love.

Even for divorced kids.

Read or listen to it all.

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

A Look Back to the Bishop of Western Massachusetts' 2009 Diocesan Convention Address

Read it carefully and read it all.

You can view the ASA numbers from 1998-2008 here (7th line down).

A visual depiction of some of the statistics of the diocese from 1998-2008 may be seen here.

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

Nigerian Primate Peter Akinola Tasks Politicians On Poverty Alleviation

Most Rev. Peter Akinola, Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, on Saturday urged Nigeria’s political leaders to work toward the reduction of poverty in the country. Akinola made the call in Ile-Ife during the interdenominational service held to commemorate the 80th birthday anniversary of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II.

He noted that Nigeria had abundant resources that could be harnessed and used to enhance the citizens’ living standards, adding that the bane of the country was crass mismanagement, corruption and other forms of malfeasance.”In the midst of abundance, Nigerians now use second-hand clothes, cars and other materials, as they cannot afford to purchase new products due to hardship,” he said.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Politics in General, Poverty

Ephraim Radner: Covenant Part of a Global Shift

The final text of the Anglican Communion Covenant pleased the Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner, who has served on the document’s design group since its inception in 2006. Dr. Radner, an Episcopal priest, is professor of historical theology at Wycliffe College in Toronto, Ontario.

“My sense about it is that they didn’t really change anything substantial,” he told The Living Church, referring to the working group charged with revising the document from its previous iteration as the Ridley Cambridge draft.

“They salvaged what could have been a bad mess from May [2009],” when the Anglican Consultative Council met and, after a chaotic legislative session, ultimately asked for revisions to the document’s fourth section, which proposes how provinces will be accountable to the Anglican Communion as a whole.

Because changes to the fourth section did not reflect what Episcopal Church leaders were seeking, Dr. Radner said, the document helps change that province’s standing. He described it as being part of a pattern, along with the ecumenical dialogues of the Anglican”“Roman Catholic International Commission and the recent meeting of the Archbishop of Canterbury with Pope Benedict XVI.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Global South Churches & Primates

BBC: 'Psychological violence' law planned for France

The French government wants to pass a new law banning, what it calls, “psychological violence” between married couples or partners living together.

However, there are concerns about how such a crime could be proved.

David Chazan reports from Paris.

Watch it all (just over 2 1/3 minutes).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, France, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Violence

Joe Edwards:In the Christmas story, fact and faith cohabit without compromise

Christmas is a call to faith: but it is not a flight from the facts. And the ultimate mystery of Christmas faith is the Emmanuel Factor: God with us. And he has no way of doing that without implicating and embroiling himself in human history. The very first book of Christian history – the Book of Acts in the New Testament – has more recorded names and places than it does miracles.

The intellectual feud between fact and faith converges around the story of a stable in Bethlehem where God is reputed to have come to us in human flesh.

And it is hard to believe.

For the story calls us to much more than abstract agreement. It demands personal assent.

Mary herself couldn’t take it in. “How can this be?” she asked.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons

Bishop Richard Moth: Serving in Afghanistan with a true spirit of self-giving

The close of a year and the beginning of another is always a time when many of us look back on the year that has past and look forward to the year to come. For the Armed Services community of this country, 2009 has been marked by more casualties in Afghanistan ”” those who have died and those who now face life in a very different way as a result of injuries. For the families of these Service personnel, bereavement brings a sense of loss that is sometimes almost unbearable. Many new challenges lie ahead for those whose loved ones have returned with life-changing injuries. For some of our Service families, a look back into 2009 is a painful experience and the future is tinged with sadness and challenge. For others, there will be the joy that a loved one has returned safely from deployment.

One thing that is constant is the dedication and commitment shown by the personnel of all our Armed Services. This is something for which all should be thankful and which merits our unstinting support.

Recent visits to naval and army training establishments have brought me into contact with young men and women who were keen to talk about the new skills they were acquiring and whose commitment to their training is a source of inspiration.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Military / Armed Forces, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, War in Afghanistan

Frederick Buechner on the Meaning of Christmas

Christmas itself is by grace. It could never have survived our own blindness and depredations otherwise. It could never have happened otherwise. Perhaps it is the very wildness and strangeness of the grace that has led us to try to tame it. We have tried to make it habitable. We have roofed it and furnished it. We have reduced it to an occasion we feel at home with, at best a touching and beautiful occasion, at worst a trite and cloying one. But if the Christmas event in itself is indeed””as a matter of cold, hard fact””all its cracked up to be, then eve at best our efforts are misleading.

The Word became flesh. Ultimate Mystery born with a skull you could crush one-handed. Incarnation. It is not tame. It is not beautiful. It is uninhabitable terror. It is unthinkable darkness riven with unbearable light. Agonized laboring led to it, vast upheavals of intergalactic space, time split apart, a wrenching and tearing of the very sinews of reality itself. You can only cover your eyes and shudder before it, before this: “God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God”¦ who for us and for our salvation,” as the Nicene Creed puts it, “came down from heaven.”

Came down. Only then do we dare uncover our eyes and see what we can see. It is the Resurrection and the Life she holds in her arms. It is the bitterness of death he takes at her breast.

–Whistling in the Dark

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons

Justin Taylor on the Theology of Work

See what you make of it.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Religion & Culture, Theology

Leander Harding: Commentary on the Anglican Covenant 2009

The Anglican constitutional and canon law tradition is a minimalist tradition. I remember studying at Boston College, a Jesuit university, during my doctoral work and always being able to find a chair and table in the library’s canon law room which had shelves and shelves of books on Roman Catholic canon law. There was one whole wall devoted to canon law for the various religious societies. In contrast the canon law of The Episcopal Church or any of its dioceses is one smallish book. Our tradition is the minimum of ecclesiastical jurisprudence that is needed to maintain the order of the church. This covenant is in that tradition. I wish that it were more robust in places but I think it adequate to be the basis of an ongoing life of mutual submission and growth in unity and mission for the Anglican Communion but much will depend on the integrity of the individuals who will be because of their office the stewards of this covenant.

When I was a young man and entering into a business contract for the first time, I asked my father for some advice about the enforceability of a particular contract. He told me that if a man’s word wasn’t any good, his paper wasn’t any good either. In many cases the current chaos that we are experiencing in the Churches of the Anglican Communion is not a result of a lack of articulated rules and procedures of church discipline, but is the result of an unwillingness by those charged with the stewardship of the order of the church to enforce such discipline as has already been established. This version of the Anglican Covenant is a minimalist document. It does clarify issues of communion life and order and provide an agreed-upon process for handling disputes. It can be a real instrument for growth in truth, unity and mission, but only if those to whom the responsibility has been given to be stewards of the church’s order have the necessary moral courage to fulfill their office.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Anglican Covenant, Ecclesiology, Theology

NY Times Letters: What Dying Patients Need

Here is one:

To the Editor:

Re “Weighing the Medical Costs of End-of-Life Care (“Months to Live” series, front page, Dec. 23):

How refreshing to read an article challenging the conventional wisdom that the money our society spends on aggressive medical end-of-life care is wasted. But how chilling to see it portrayed as a problem that when death is imminent, “it may be the patients and families who cannot let go.”

The conventional claim that “the bigger challenge may be changing the ”˜we’re not going to let you die’ culture at places like U.C.L.A.” overlooks the fact that this culture accords with the rational wishes of patients who want to extend their lives as long as possible.

Maybe the bigger challenge is changing the culture that tells us to “chip away” at these patients until they agree to bow out gracefully.

Felicia Nimue Ackerman
Providence, R.I.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Ethics / Moral Theology, Theology

Martin Marty on the recent Pew Survey of America and Religion

The Pew summary picked up by Prothero reveals that the U. S. is a “nation of religious drifters.” In response I could exercise the historian’s yawn and ask, “So what else is new?” Haven’t we always been such? Immigrants brought their old faiths along and then often picked and chose among the options other immigrants brought, adaptations of these, or new inventions in the spaces between existing faiths. Revivals, awakenings, ethnic shifts, mobility, and religious marketplaces have always invited such drifting. But the Pew people can show that there are reasons to stifle the “nothing new” yawns and say that if there is not a qualitative difference from the past, there is such a big quantitative shift that it amounts to a change in the quality of commitments.

In the Lutheran and Episcopal parishes and their kin we know best, we hear members and clergy say, half-jocularly, that half their members seem to have been brought up Roman Catholic but they changed, just as we know several Lutherans and Episcopalians who turned Catholic. Still, such moves are ecumenically “all in the family.” Pew folks find more and more people being equally drawn to Buddhisms, Hinduisms, New Ageisms, and a bazaar-tent full of other options. Kate Shellnut in the December 11th Chicago Tribune tells how many, many young and youngish post-Christian people abandon Christian practice and hang out almost cultishly brunching at pancake houses, hoping in their “communing” to fill the void that is left as they drift.

Read it all.

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

Living on Nothing but Food Stamps

After an improbable rise from the Bronx projects to a job selling Gulf Coast homes, Isabel Bermudez lost it all to an epic housing bust ”” the six-figure income, the house with the pool and the investment property.

Now, as she papers the county with résumés and girds herself for rejection, she is supporting two daughters on an income that inspires a double take: zero dollars in monthly cash and a few hundred dollars in food stamps.

With food-stamp use at a record high and surging by the day, Ms. Bermudez belongs to an overlooked subgroup that is growing especially fast: recipients with no cash income.

About six million Americans receiving food stamps report they have no other income, according to an analysis of state data collected by The New York Times.

Makes the heart sad. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Poverty, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

In Recession, Americans Doing More, Buying Less

Rosario and Igor Montoya used to buy, buy, buy for themselves and their two children without a second thought. Expensive sneakers, a new laptop, Legos ”” they all got what they wanted. But with the recession slashing the Montoyas’ workload and income by more than half, their priorities have shifted from products to activities.

After school and on weekends, the family now hops into a pink canoe they bought secondhand. They paddle though Biscayne Bay to nearby islands, naming each, sometimes making boats out of sticks and leaves.

“I’m trying to teach the kids that you don’t need to have expensive toys to have fun,” said Mr. Montoya, 47, an artist and freelance art director in advertising. “You can make it fun, from anything.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Economy, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--