Daily Archives: February 16, 2010

British bishops urge 'carbon fast' for Lent

The 40-day period of penitence before Easter typically sees observant Catholics, Anglicans, and Orthodox Christians give up meat, alcohol or chocolates.

But this year’s initiative aims to convince those observing Lent to try a day without an iPod or mobile phone in a bid to reduce the use of electricity ”” and thus trim the amount of carbon dioxide spewed into the atmosphere.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, CoE Bishops, Lent

Christianity Today–An Olympic Chaplain

The fatal crash of Nodar Kumaritashvili, a 21-year-old from Georgia, weighed heavily on the opening ceremonies, and chaplains made themselves available to athletes. In a small office in the Olympic Village, Paul Kobylarz leads this year’s Christian chaplaincy program, his fifth Olympics to serve as a chaplain.

“There’s been a lot of confidence displayed toward us being there as a support to handle the questions that come along with a situation like this””the purpose of life and questions about our mortality,” Kobylarz told Christianity Today on Saturday. “We are here to try to answer those questions for the athletes and delegations and to give support in those areas.”

Like many of the chaplains, Kobylarz speaks to athletes from personal experience, having spent three years in Sweden playing professional hockey and 20 years working in sports ministry. Working with athletes at the Olympics is different from other kinds of sports ministry, such as acting as a team chaplain for a professional team, said Kobylarz, who recently became the minister of sports outreach at Traders Point Christian Church in Indianapolis.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Canada, Religion & Culture, Sports

Christina Rees–Faith in the future

This week’s meeting of General Synod is being dominated by a debate that does not actually appear on the agenda. A year ago synod passed a motion calling for the legislation that will make it possible for women to be bishops in the Church of England. Included in that motion was a request to the drafting committee to bring its proposals to the synod meeting this February. For a ­variety of reasons, it has failed to do so.

Instead, the Bishop of Manchester, chair of the steering committee, on Monday gave synod a summary of what it had been doing for the past year. With over 300 written submissions to consider, and with the option of synod members to make oral submissions as well, it clearly had its work cut out. No one can accuse it of slacking.

But what should have been a more straightforward process, coming at the end of a 35-year debate, has turned into a tortuous marathon, with requests for every conceivable type of provision for the minority of people in the church who still do not accept that women can ”“ or should ”“ exercise episcopal ministry.

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

In California Anglican service upbeat despite lawsuit over property

“Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation! O my soul, praise him, for he is thy health and salvation! All ye who hear, now to his temple draw near; praise him in glad adoration.”

If the 67 parishioners at St. Francis Anglican Church here were troubled over last week’s lawsuit seeking their property, they didn’t show it as they fervently sang the traditional hymn Sunday.

The song has been around since the 1600s, nearly four centuries before a split hit the U.S. Episcopal Church over the interpretation of Scripture. Anglicans say they haven’t abandoned their faith but have moved to the oversight of the biblically conservative Anglican church worldwide.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin

Taliban's Top Commander Caught In Pakistan

The Taliban’s top military commander has been arrested in a joint CIA-Pakistani operation in Pakistan in a major victory against the insurgents as U.S. troops push into their heartland in southern Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the group’s No. 2 leader behind Afghan Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar and a close associate of Osama bin Laden, was captured in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi, two Pakistani intelligence officers and a senior U.S. official said.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release such sensitive information.

One Pakistani officer said Baradar was arrested 10 days ago with the assistance of the United States and “was talking” to his interrogators.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Pakistan, Terrorism, Violence, War in Afghanistan

Amy Sullivan–Rwanda's 'miracle' of forgiveness

Rosaria Bankundiye and Saveri Nemeye are neighbors in the tiny village of Mbyo, south of Kigali. On a steamy morning, they sit in the cool living area of the clay house Saveri helped build for Rosaria just a few years ago. Two of his sons roll around on the floor while the adults talk. At one point, Saveri leans over to say something to Rosaria and she starts laughing, her smile wide. They have known each other for a long time.

Nearly 16 years ago, during the genocide that wracked this African country of 10 million people for 100 days in 1994, Saveri murdered Rosaria’s sister, along with her nieces and nephews. Genocidaires also attacked Rosaria, her husband and their four children with machetes and left them for dead. Only Rosaria survived. Yet when Saveri came to beg her forgiveness after he was released from prison in 2004, Rosaria considered his request and then granted it. “How can I refuse to forgive when I’m a forgiven sinner, too?” she asks.

Nearly every religion preaches the value of forgiveness. To most of us, however, such an act of mercy after so much pain seems unthinkable ”” maybe even unnatural. Scientists have long suspected that we are born with an instinct to seek revenge against those who hurt us. When someone like Rosaria overrides that vengeance instinct with an act of radical forgiveness, it can only be a miracle from God.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Africa, Pastoral Theology, Rwanda, Theology

USA Today–Surveys show an America that's bruised, but still optimistic

Downbeat about today. Upbeat about tomorrow.

With a new decade underway, Americans feel battered by hard times, record home foreclosures, stubbornly high unemployment rates and war. In the latest USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, they are fed up with Washington and convinced by more than 3 to 1 that the nation is heading in the wrong direction.

Even so, confidence that there will be better times ahead ”” and that the classic American dream endures ”” hasn’t been extinguished. It’s not even at its low ebb.

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

Religious iPhone apps provide answer to worshippers’ prayers

The programs for the Apple handset ”“ which is itself venerated like a holy relic by many users ”“ read out Bible verses, point the way to Jerusalem and list festivals for all the major faiths.

The best examples have been dubbed the “apps of the apostles” by Ship of Fools, the light-hearted religion website best known for its round-up of “kitsch-mas” decorations.

Stephen Goddard, co-editor of the site, said: “I think the ones that will succeed are those that fulfill a genuine need, but are also imaginative.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

Proposed Resolutions for the upcoming Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky

Read them carefully and read them all.

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

Once Stigmatized, Food Stamps Find Acceptance

A decade ago, New York City officials were so reluctant to give out food stamps, they made people register one day and return the next just to get an application. The welfare commissioner said the program caused dependency and the poor were “better off” without it.

Now the city urges the needy to seek aid (in languages from Albanian to Yiddish). Neighborhood groups recruit clients at churches and grocery stores, with materials that all but proclaim a civic duty to apply ”” to “help New York farmers, grocers, and businesses.” There is even a program on Rikers Island to enroll inmates leaving the jail.

“Applying for food stamps is easier than ever,” city posters say.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Poverty

Commanders Say Fighting Narrows in Afghan Battle

As heavy fighting in the insurgent stronghold of Marja carried into its third day, the number of Taliban fighters in the area has dropped by about half, American and Afghan commanders said Monday.

About a quarter of the 400 Taliban fighters estimated to be in Marja when the Afghan-American operation began early Saturday have been killed, officers said. A similar number of Taliban appear to have fled the area, including most of the leaders, and local Afghans were offering help ferreting out Taliban fighters and hidden bombs, they said.

But intense fighting on the ground through much of the day indicated that there were plenty of Taliban insurgents with fight left in them. In Marja itself, a broad agricultural area criss-crossed by irrigation canals, the fighting appears to be concentrated in two areas, at the northern end of the district and at the center. There, the combat on Monday continued at a furious pace.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, War in Afghanistan

Dutch Atheist Pastor Won't Face Discipline

A self-proclaimed atheist can continue to serve as a local pastor of the Protestant Church in the Netherlands, and will not be disciplined for his controversial position on how to describe God.

A special assembly of Zierikzee, a regional church body tasked with investigating the theological statements of Pastor Klaas Hendrikse, said on Feb. 3 that its work is completed.

The decision to allow Hendrikse to continue working as a pastor followed the advice of a panel that said the pastor’s views “are not of sufficient weight to damage the foundations of the church.”

“The ideas of Hendrikse are theologically not new, and are in keeping with the liberal tradition that is an integral part of our church,” the special panel concluded.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Europe, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Reformed, The Netherlands

Grandparents who care for children 'boost obesity risk'

Young children who are regularly looked after by their grandparents have an increased risk of being overweight, an extensive British study has suggested.

Analysis of 12,000 three-year olds suggested the risk was 34% higher if grandparents cared for them full time.

Children who went to nursery or had a childminder had no increased risk of weight problems, the International Journal of Obesity reported.

Nearly a quarter of preschool children in the UK are overweight or obese.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Children, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family

US fears being bogged down in Marjah as snipers hit major offensive

US Marines and Afghan troops were making slow progress as they came under attack from snipers on the third day of a major offensive to seize the Taleban’s stronghold in southern Afghanistan.

Multiple firefights broke out in different areas in and around Marjah, the last militant stronghold in the country’s most violent province, Helmand. The US troops leading Operation Moshtarak ”” “Togetherness” ”” advanced only 500 yards today. Marine units twice tried to capture the town’s central bazaar, only to be pushed back.

Coming under heavy fire and sniper attacks, and faced with booby-trapped buildings, the US Marines were forced to call in Harrier jets and attacks helicopters armed with Hellfire missiles.

“There’s still a good bit of the land to be cleared,” said Captain Abraham Spice, a spokesman of the US Marines. “We’re moving at a very deliberative pace….”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, War in Afghanistan

In Utah, a plan to cut 12th grade–completely

The sudden buzz over the relative value of senior year stems from a recent proposal by state Sen. Chris Buttars that Utah make a dent in its budget gap by eliminating the 12th grade.

The notion quickly gained some traction among supporters who agreed with the Republican’s assessment that many seniors frittered away their final year of high school, but faced vehement opposition from other quarters, including in his hometown of West Jordan.

“My parents are against it,” Williams said. “All the teachers at the school are against it. I’m against it.”

Buttars has since toned down the idea, suggesting instead that senior year become optional for students who complete their required credits early. He estimated the move could save up to $60 million, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

The proposal comes as the state faces a $700-million shortfall and reflects the creativity — or desperation — of lawmakers.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Education, Politics in General, State Government, Teens / Youth, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--