Daily Archives: February 26, 2010

US Roman Catholic Bishops Urge Bipartisanship in Health Care Debate

“It is time to set aside partisan divisions and special interest pressures to find ways to enact genuine reform. We encourage the administration and Congress to work in a bipartisan manner marked by political courage, vision and leadership,” the bishops said [in a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this week].

“As pastors and teachers,” the letter continued, “we believe genuine health care reform must protect human life and dignity from conception to natural death, not threaten them, especially for the voiceless and vulnerable. We believe health care legislation must respect the consciences of providers, taxpayers, purchasers of insurance and others, not violate them.

“We believe universal coverage should be truly universal and should not be denied to those in need because of their condition, age, where they come from or when they arrive here. Providing affordable and accessible health care that clearly reflects these fundamental principles is a public good, moral imperative and urgent national priority.”

“We hope and pray,” the letter added, “that the Congress and the country will come together around genuine health care reform that protects the life, dignity, consciences and health of all.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Senate

Bishop of Swindon Lee Rayfield–Let's not take the path of assisted dying

Although it may look otherwise the arguments around assisted suicide are about two different trajectories for our society and that is why passion is running high. I cannot remember an issue that has so united the bishops of the Church of England ”“ not a group famed for their unanimity! I hope this may paradoxically be a sign that this is not all about “religion” but the nature of our humanity and what sort of society we want to be a part of. A position paper from the Church of England said this: “Suffering may be met with compassion, commitment to high quality services and effective medication; meeting it by assisted suicide or through voluntary euthanasia, however well intentioned, is merely removing it in the crudest way possible.”

I very much hope that Keir Starmer’s guidelines will be recognised as providing the nuance and discretion needed for our social and moral wellbeing and steer us away from the road to legalising assisted suicide. If we want to build a society which majors on compassion and care, which supports those who are dying or fearful of growing infirm and a burden, there are far better roads for us to travel.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

WSJ front page: More Talk, No Deal at Health Summit

The nationally televised session stretched over more than seven hours and, to no one’s surprise, yielded no new agreement, although lawmakers strove to maintain an atmosphere of decorum and cooperation””even as they aired their warring views.

The president tried to project the sense he was searching for a middle ground. “We might surprise ourselves and find out that we agree more than we disagree,” Mr. Obama said at the start, before adding what seemed like a judgment rooted more in experience than hope: “It may turn out, on the other hand, there’s just too big of a gulf.”

Republicans, only emphasizing the gulf, said they’d like to wipe out the last 13 months from the record and start over. “This is a car that can’t be recalled and fixed,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R., Tenn.) said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate

Diocesan statistics for the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s figures, Nevada has grown in population from 1,998,257 in 2000 to 2,643,085 in 2009. This represents a population growth of approximately 32.7%.

According to Episcopal Church statistics, the Diocese of Nevada went from Average Sunday Attendance (or ASA) of 2,338 in 1998 to 2,127 in 2008. This represents an ASA decline of about 9% over this ten year period.

In order to generate a pictorial chart of some Nevada diocesan statistics, please go [url=http://www.episcopalchurch.org/growth_60791_ENG_HTM.htm?menupage=50929]here[/url] and enter “Nevada” in the second line down under “Diocese” and then click on “View Diocese Chart” under the third line to the left.

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

AP: Lutheran Church seeing fallout over approving non-celibate same sex unions for Clergy

Until a few weeks ago, the Rev. Gail Sowell was pastor at two Lutheran churches in the small Wisconsin town of Edgar. That was before members of both congregations jumped headfirst into the simmering debate over gay clergy in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

“It was pretty gruesome,” Sowell said, recalling shouting matches inside the sanctuary; the mass resignation of one church’s council, save one member; even whispers around town that she was a lesbian. “For the record, I’m not,” she said.

When the smoke cleared, the congregation at St. John Lutheran Church narrowly voted to not leave the ELCA. Across town at Peace Lutheran, they voted to leave and fired Sowell. “Fortunately, I’m thick-skinned,” she said.

Not all ELCA congregations have seen that level of turbulence over the ELCA’s decision last August to allow pastors in committed same-sex relationships to serve openly. But by most accounts, it has been a confusing and murky time in the nation’s largest Lutheran denomination.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Lutheran, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology

Notable and Quotable

I am delighted to hear that your patient’s age and profession make it possible, but by no means certain, that he will be called up for military service. We want him to be in the maximum uncertainty, so that his mind will be filled with contradictory pictures of the future, every one of which arouses hope or fear. There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human’s mind against the Enemy. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.

–C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters, letter VI from Uncle Screwtape to his nephew the demon Wormwood, which we will be considering this Sunday in our adult education class (emphasis mine)

Posted in Pastoral Theology, Theology

Japanese Speedskaters Train in Vancouver

A wonderful photo from the winter Olympics.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Japan, Sports

RNS–New rival North American Lutheran Church Unveiled

Saying they’re done with efforts to reform the nation’s largest Lutheran body, dissidents have unveiled blueprints for a rival denomination, the North American Lutheran Church.

The new body, which will hew to a more traditional line on issues of human sexuality, is expected to be formally launched in August as a conservative alternative to the 4.6 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

So far, at least seven Evangelical Lutheran congregations have voted to leave after the Chicago-based denomination lifted restrictions last summer on non-celibate gay clergy. An additional 28 congregations appear poised to leave.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Lutheran, Other Churches, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

Anglican Journal–”˜We have to bite the bullet and move forward,’ says B.C. dean

“My first reaction was just a real sense of wanting it all to be over and crawling in a hole and pulling the covers over my head,” says Peter Gibb, the People’s Warden at St. Saviour’s Anglican Church in Victoria.

That was his feeling when a report from the diocesan transformation team recommended St. Saviour’s as one of 13 churches in the diocese of British Columbia to be dis-established and its building sold or leased. The news was not unexpected. In response to dwindling numbers of people in churches, the diocese has been discussing the necessity of such changes for a number of years.

Dean Logan McMenamie of Christ Church Cathedral has been overseeing St. Saviour’s since its last rector left in December. “[He] reminded us that our church has been operating on the margins for at least 20 years,” says Gibb. Still, this final blow was still painful.

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces

Church Times–Anglo-Catholics gather to pray over Pope’s offer

No formal response is expected from the UK to the Pope’s offer of a Personal Ordinariate to Anglican groups until after the General Synod meet­ing in July, it emerged this week.

On Monday, dozens of churches, both Church of England and Roman Catholic, opened their doors for a day of prayer about the Pope’s offer. The invitation was extended last autumn to groups of Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church while pre­serving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony (News, 23 October 2009).

The Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Revd Andrew Burnham, had asked members of Forward in Faith, and others, to make Monday, the feast of the Chair of St Peter, “an opportun­ity to reflect, pray, and discern the way forward for each of us, our priests and our parishes”. But on his website he said that the day would not be “a day of decision”.

After the General Synod post­poned until its July sessions the revision stage of the legislation for women bishops, it is thought that most traditionalists will wait until after that debate before react­ing to the Pope’s offer. This means that they will participate actively in elections for the new Synod, which take place during the summer.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Charlotte Hays–The Beginning of the Reformation's End?

The service was conducted by Father Eric Bergman, a Yale Divinity School-educated former Episcopal clergyman who was ordained a Catholic priest in 2007. Father Bergman stresses that this is not an overture to effete Episcopalians who are angry about changes in their church and want to sneak into the Catholic Church bringing nothing more than their pretty music. Being “angry about Gene Robinson,” he says of the openly homosexual bishop of New Hampshire, isn’t enough reason to become a Catholic. There must be a real conversion to the tenets of Catholicism.

Father Bergman says he began his journey to the Catholic Church by thinking about something that has taken many liberal Catholics out of the church: contraception. He regards Anglicanism’s 1930 embrace of contraception as a mistake: “Out of that came a confusion about the roles of men and women, a theology of androgyny,” he says.

Father Bergman and his wife, Kristina, have six children. They and more than 60 members of his Episcopal parish came into the Catholic Church in 2005. He is now chaplain of the St. Thomas More Society in Scranton, Pa., which seeks to establish Anglican Use parishes.

Naturally, many liberal Catholics are less than thrilled at the prospect of stodgy former Episcopalians importing traditional opinions along with their non-Catholic thou’s and thy’s. In a Nov. 23, 2009, story “Where Hype Meets Reality,” the liberal National Catholic Reporter pooh-poohed the idea of large numbers of Anglicans coming in under the pope’s new rules.

But Father Bergman not only predicts a mass movement toward Rome. He believes Anglican Use may mark the beginning of the end of the Reformation.

Read it all.

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

ACLU Files Suit over USAID's Abstinence Programs

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against the U.S. Agency for International Development for not providing information about “religiously infused” abstinence programs the agency has funded.

The lawsuit, which was filed Thursday (Feb. 18), follows a report last July from USAID’s inspector general that found “some USAID funds were used for religious activities” during 2006 and 2007.

According to its complaint, the ACLU twice filed requests under the Freedom of Information Act seeking documents related to programs that promoted sexual abstinence. USAID acknowledged receiving the requests but never responded by sending the requested documents.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Sexuality, Theology

NPR–Dutch Political Uncertainty Boosts Far-Right Party

The crisis unfolded as the tradition of consensus politics in the Netherlands is changing, and the Dutch are moving away from the center. The far-right Freedom Party, led by Geert Wilders, used to be seen as an extremist fringe, and now could become the biggest party in the country.

Edwin Bakker, an analyst with the Netherlands Institute of International Relations, says outgoing Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende of the Christian Democrat Party may have set some kind of Dutch record in the past eight years.

“We’ve never seen a prime minister with four Cabinets and four governments falling, some within a couple of months, some within a few years,” Bakker said.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Politics in General, The Netherlands

The Trauma of Job Loss includes Health Problems, even Fatal Ones

The first to have a heart attack was George Kull Jr., 56, a millwright who worked for three decades at the steel mills in Lackawanna, N.Y. Three weeks after learning that his plant was closing, he suddenly collapsed at home.

Less than two hours later, he was pronounced dead.

A few weeks after that, a co-worker, Bob Smith, 42, a forklift operator with four young children, started having chest pains. He learned at the doctor’s office that he was having a heart attack. Surgeons inserted three stents, saving his life.

Less than a month later, Don Turner, 55, a crane operator who had started at the mills as a teenager, was found by his wife, Darlene, slumped on a love seat, stricken by a fatal heart attack.

It is impossible to say exactly why these men, all in relatively good health, had heart attacks within weeks of one another. But interviews with friends and relatives of Mr. Kull and Mr. Turner, and with Mr. Smith, suggest that the trauma of losing their jobs might have played a role.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Men, Psychology, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

–1 Corinthians 3:16

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture