Daily Archives: February 4, 2010

Quake Takes Its Toll On Haiti's Burial Rites

The number of dead from Haiti’s earthquake has been estimated as high as 200,000. That’s nearly 7 percent of the population of Port-au-Prince. Imagine the entire population of Des Moines, Iowa, vaporized.

This is a country that observes death with elaborate ceremony. But with most of the bodies hauled to mass graves or still entombed in fallen buildings, normal funeral rituals are impossible.

All over Port-au-Prince, the places that usually play an integral role in burial customs are eerily empty.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Caribbean, Death / Burial / Funerals, Haiti, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Anglican Church in South Africa criticises promiscuity

Promiscuity, unfaithfulness and unprotected sex are an offence against the sanctity of life, according to the head of the Anglican Church in South Africa.

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba made the remarks in a “moral state of the nation address” delivered at an interfaith function in Johannesburg on Wednesday night, and released on Thursday.

Although he did not mention President Jacob Zuma, his comments come amid controversy over the news that Zuma has fathered his 20th child with a woman who is not one of his wives.

Makgoba said it would be easy just to preach “no sex outside marriage”, which was what Christians and others upheld because it made for strong families and healthy societies.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Provinces, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sexuality, Theology

A South Wales Argus Editorial–Faith and Legislation

THE Pope has stirred an immense hornets nest with his exhortation to his British bishops to fight Labour’s Equality Bill with “missionary zeal”.

Inevitably there will be a number of groups who express outrage, including atheists, some (but not all) politicians, homosexuals and probably quite a number of Roman Catholics, of which there are 4.1 million in Britain.

The Pope says that part of the proposed legislation, championed by Harriet Harman, is unjust and violates natural law.

Read it all.

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

Notable and Quotable (II)

Our first parents fell into open disobedience because already they were secretly corrupted; for the evil act had never been done had not an evil will preceded it. And what is the origin of our evil will but pride? For “pride is the beginning of sin.” And what is pride but the craving for undue exaltation? And this is undue exaltation, when the soul abandons Him to whom it ought to cleave as its end, and becomes a kind of end to itself. This happens when it becomes its own satisfaction….The devil, then, would not have ensnared man in the open and manifest sin of doing what God had forbidden, had man not already begun to live for himself….By craving to be more, man becomes less; and by aspiring to be self-sufficing, he fell away from Him who truly suffices him.

Augustine, The City of God XIVI.12, also quoted in a class on the theology of Saint Augustine this past Tuesday by yours truly

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Church History, Theology

Matthew Reisz–Faith and science were once friendlier bedfellows

In a Faraday Institute public lecture, to be delivered in Cambridge this week, Peter Harrison, Andreas Idreos professor of science and religion at the University of Oxford, will challenge such arguments about the impossibility of being both scientific and religious, pointing out that they “obviously didn’t apply to the earliest fellows”.

“What tends to happen is that current controversies, and particularly anti-evolutionary movements, are seen to typify religion and then read back into history,” he said.

“People want to claim the early Royal Society for whatever they stand for, whether religion, ‘Enlightenment values’ or scientism.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, History, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

BBC–West 'pushing for new UN sanctions against Iran'

Western diplomats at the UN are working on the first stages of a resolution that proposes further sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme.

The measures include expanding travel bans and asset freezes on people connected with the nuclear industry.

The move comes despite Iran’s apparent acceptance of a deal to send most of its low-enriched uranium abroad in return for research reactor fuel rods.

Washington has called on Iran to match its words with actions.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East

Good Priests Have to Hit the Books, Says Pope Benedict XVI

Those who minister the Word of God must be well prepared, and the “cultural dimension” of faith needs to be cultivated, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope affirmed this today when he reflected on the life and teaching of St. Dominic Guzmán during the general audience in Paul VI Hall. He noted “the great contribution made by St. Dominic to the renewal of the Church in the Middle Ages.”

The Holy Father emphasized the saint’s insistence on being well educated and prepared for the apostolate.

Benedict XVI took up this exhortation, urging everyone, “pastors and laity, to cultivate this ‘cultural dimension’ of faith, so that the beauty of the Christian truth can be better understood and faith can be truly nourished, reinforced and also defended. In this Year for Priests, I invite seminarians and priests to appreciate the spiritual value of study.

The quality of the priestly ministry depends also on the generosity with which one applies oneself to the study of revealed truths.”

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Notable and Quotable (I)

“There we shall rest and see, see and and love, love and praise. This is what shall be in the end without end.”

–Augustine, The City of God XXII.30, quoted in a class on the theology of Saint Augustine this past Tuesday by yours truly

Posted in Eschatology, Theology

George Conger reviews Julia Duin's Latest BooK–How an ecstatic movement failed

In the early 1960s, the Christian charismatic renewal movement of signs and wonders made the jump into the “mainline” – and Julia Duin, religion editor of The Washington Times, deftly chronicles its meteoric rise and collapse in the Episcopal Church, focusing on the saga of the Rev. Graham Pulkingham and Houston’s Church of the Redeemer.

Ms. Duin’s “Days of Fire and Glory: The Rise and Fall of a Charismatic Community” is both a frightening and fascinating look at the glory days of the renewal movement that, at its height, gave meaning to the lives of thousands, but eventually collapsed in a welter of sexual, financial and theological misconduct – or to use that wonderful but seldom used word: heresy.

Two decades in the making, and based upon 182 face-to-face interviews and an intimate knowledge of the people and passions at play, Ms. Duin’s book is a cautionary tale. For those touched by the charismatic renewal, it will reawaken memories of the passion and enthusiasm of the heady days when it seemed the power of God was made manifest.

It is also a frightening book….

Read it all.

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

The AAC Tracks The Episcopal Church' s Canonical Abuse

The American Anglican Council today made public an accounting of how The Episcopal Church (TEC) has spent millions of dollars in over 50 lawsuits, deposed or inhibited 12 bishops and more than 400 other clergy, and violated its own canons numerous times. The paper, titled “The Episcopal Church: Overbearing and Unjust Episcopal Acts,” chronicles each of these subjects and a number of other abuses or injustices committed against faithful Anglicans in the U.S.

“The Episcopal Church is systematically targeting, intimidating, suing, and ultimately persecuting orthodox Anglicans throughout the U.S.” said the Rt. Rev. David C. Anderson, President and CEO of the American Anglican Council. “This paper illustrates the lengths to which TEC leaders will go to silence the voices of orthodox Christians in the Anglican Communion – Anglicans whose only offense was to stand for the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and Anglican Communion teaching.”

Read it all and especially take the time to click the link at the bottom to the full paper itself.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Departing Parishes, TEC Polity & Canons

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette–Judge issues order detailing assets of Episcopal, Anglican dioceses

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Joseph James has issued an order detailing which assets are among the centrally held properties that he earlier awarded to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh rather than to the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, which broke from the Episcopal Church in 2008.

The order, issued Friday, doesn’t apply to parish property, which is to be negotiated later. Leaders of the Anglican diocese had earlier said that they would appeal the October decision. The Rev. Mary Hays, canon to the ordinary of the Anglican diocese, said the appeal can be filed now that this order has been issued.

The original diocese split when a majority of clergy and laity at its 2008 convention voted to leave the Episcopal Church over theological differences. Prior to the split, some parishes now in the 28-parish Episcopal diocese sued for the property of the 57-parish Anglican diocese. The funds have been frozen by financial institutions until the litigation is resolved.

Read the whole thing.

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

Chart of the Day–US debt vs. GDP in 2009

Check it out.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

From WNYC: Behind the Superbowl Halftime Show

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sports

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

–Hebrews 12:1-2

Posted in Uncategorized

Newsweek: Why Anti-Depressants Are No Better than Placebos

Although the year is young, it has already brought my first moral dilemma. In early January a friend mentioned that his New Year’s resolution was to beat his chronic depression once and for all. Over the years he had tried a medicine chest’s worth of antidepressants, but none had really helped in any enduring way, and when the side effects became so unpleasant that he stopped taking them, the withdrawal symptoms (cramps, dizziness, headaches) were torture. Did I know of any research that might help him decide whether a new antidepressant his doctor recommended might finally lift his chronic darkness at noon?

The moral dilemma was this: oh, yes, I knew of 20-plus years of research on antidepressants, from the old tricyclics to the newer selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that target serotonin (Zoloft, Paxil, and the granddaddy of them all, Prozac, as well as their generic descendants) to even newer ones that also target norepinephrine (Effexor, Wellbutrin). The research had shown that antidepressants help about three quarters of people with depression who take them, a consistent finding that serves as the basis for the oft-repeated mantra “There is no question that the safety and efficacy of antidepressants rest on solid scientific evidence,” as psychiatry professor Richard Friedman of Weill Cornell Medical College recently wrote in The New York Times. But ever since a seminal study in 1998, whose findings were reinforced by landmark research in The Journal of the American Medical Association last month, that evidence has come with a big asterisk. Yes, the drugs are effective, in that they lift depression in most patients. But that benefit is hardly more than what patients get when they, unknowingly and as part of a study, take a dummy pill””a placebo. As more and more scientists who study depression and the drugs that treat it are concluding, that suggests that antidepressants are basically expensive Tic Tacs.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Psychology