Daily Archives: March 3, 2010

David Brooks: The Hard and the Soft

The United States, a nation of 300 million, won nine gold medals this year in the Winter Olympics. Norway, a nation of 4.7 million, also won nine. This was no anomaly. Over the years, Norwegians have won more gold medals in Winter Games, and more Winter Olympics medals over all, than people from any other nation.

There must be many reasons for Norway’s excellence, but some of them are probably embedded in the story of Jan Baalsrud.

In 1943, Baalsrud was a young instrument maker who was asked to sneak back into Norway to help the anti-Nazi resistance….

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Europe, Norway

George W. Bush says faith helped in tough times

Former President George W. Bush turned to his faith amid the tough times during his eight years in office, he said Saturday at a religious school’s banquet.

“I don’t see how I could be president without prayer,” he told the crowd of more than 1,100 at the Fort Worth Christian School event at a downtown hotel. “The prayers of the people … sustained me, comforted me and strengthened me in a way I could have never predicted before becoming president, and for that I am extremely grateful.”

Bush, who has had many speaking engagements since moving to Dallas after his presidency, said he doesn’t plan on staying in the public eye.

“You won’t see me out there opining … or criticizing my successor,” Bush said, later adding that he is writing a book about his decisions in office so that “you can draw your own conclusions.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Office of the President, Politics in General, President George Bush, Religion & Culture

USA Today–Army sees sharp rise in unfit soldiers

The percentage of soldiers who are unavailable for combat has risen sharply during the past three years from 11% of each brigade in 2007 to 16% this year, Army records show.

Repeated deployments and health problems have driven much of the increase in soldiers listed as non-deployable, said Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army vice chief of staff. A brigade has about 3,500 soldiers.

“These are folks who had a knee problem after the first (combat) rotation,” he said, “and then, finally, after the third one of humping a rucksack in Afghanistan at 10,000 feet, the doc says, ‘I don’t care if you’re going to deploy again, the fact of the matter is you’re going to (stay back until you) get your knee fixed.’ ”

Nearly 70% of the Army’s current roster of 460,000 enlisted soldiers have been to war ”” half of them once, nearly a third of them twice, 13% with three combat tours and 4% deployed four times.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Military / Armed Forces

The Bishop of New Jersey's Sermon at the 136th Newark Annual Diocean Convention

We know what it means to be in a fragile and vulnerable vessel, caught in the storm. That is our Church out there, miles from shore, harassed by the wind and beaten by the waves. There is so much that is against us: a growing secularism that is indifferent, skeptical or hostile to all religious claims; the injustices and exclusions and daily disrespect directed at our brothers and sisters of color, at the disabled and at our gay brothers and lesbian sisters and other sexual minorities; those whose lives have been devastated by the ongoing economic turbulence, having lost jobs and homes; those caught up in violent conflicts and those cast down by earthquakes and other disasters; the poor and homeless and hungry and the least of those whom our Lord called members of his family (Matthew 25:31-46).

The institutional life and financial future of our congregations are also facing high seas and strong winds. Smaller and poorer churches are awash with life-threatening challenges of declining attendance, deteriorating buildings and diminished resources. The combination of clergy compensation and the expense of maintaining physical plants leaves little funding for education and outreach. In too many cases, even in more comfortable communities, vestries have found it necessary to reduce clergy compensation to part-time. Retrenchment is all around us and it is dispiriting, to say the least.

And here is another wave: we are two dioceses in decline, in the midst of a denomination in decline. A recent report noted that, of 110 dioceses in The Episcopal Church, only four are growing; none of them in our Province. Our losses in membership and in attendance are less precipitous than those in other parts of the Church, but that’s not a great rallying cry to mission, is it? Our work is to feed the sheep, not count them; but let us not live in denial that such losses are haunting. As Charles Fulton has written, “Resurrection follows death ”“ it does not follow denial.”

Read it all.

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

NPR–Abortion Still Threatens Health Overhaul Effort

Of the remaining issues with the potential to bring down the entire health overhaul effort, the one that lawmakers fear most is abortion.

Abortion is such a politically hazardous issue that sponsors of both the House and Senate health bills have said their object was to maintain the status quo. “It is not the intention of this bill to, as the speaker has said, to change the policy that has been in place for three decades,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, (D-MD), on Tuesday. Hoyer was referring to what is known as the Hyde Amendment. It has barred federal funds from being used to pay for abortions since 1977.

But keeping the health bills abortion-neutral has proved impossible. And now the abortion language in the Senate-passed bill in particular could threaten the strategy Democratic leaders hope to use to get a final measure to President Obama’s desk for a signature.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Senate, Theology

Episcopal cathedral in Dallas celebrates restoration, return of copy of painting

After 18 months of painstaking restoration, a 19th-century reproduction of Spanish painter Bartolomé Murillo’s The Holy Family was reinstalled Tuesday in St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Old East Dallas.

The 6-foot-by-8-foot oil painting, purchased in 1873 by a New York woman traveling through Europe, was a fixture at the Episcopal church for more than 70 years until it was taken down to be cleaned.

“It’s like an old friend coming back to us,” said the Rev. Kevin Martin, dean of the cathedral.

Read it all.

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

(London) Times: Hillary Clinton Pours Oil on troubled waters

What was she thinking? By taking a last-minute detour, on her five-day trip to Latin America, to visit President Fernández de Kirchner in Buenos Aires, Hillary Clinton has ”” recklessly ”” given the appearance of throwing America’s weight behind Argentina in its row with Britain over sovereignty of the Falkland Islands…

Intruding in the dispute was lamentable enough. But in further offering to mediate between Buenos Aires and London, the US Secretary of State is implying that there may be some fruitful area of grey between their rival black-and-white claims. By suggesting so boldly that there may be room for negotiation when Britain has insisted that there is none, Mrs Clinton gives the impression that Argentina has America’s tacit support in the dispute.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Argentina, Economy, England / UK, Foreign Relations, South America, The U.S. Government

Diane Coyle, Michael Sandell and Rowan Williams Debate how to Reason Ethically

The banking crisis and the MPs’ expenses scandal have left people with a profound sense of injustice and exposed how we have been neglecting basic ethical questions of justice, integrity and honesty. In their place we have used a language of market efficiency and managerialism.

Why have we become so reluctant to discuss the big ethical issues? And can we afford to ignore them? As part of our Citizen ethics programme we brought three prominent thinkers together at the British Museum, all with a keen interest in ethics: Diane Coyle an economist, writer and former adviser to the Treasury; Michael Sandel, a political philosopher and professor at Harvard University; and Rowan Williams , the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Listen to it all (an MP3).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Stephen Noll–The Role and Future of the Historic Episcopate and the Anglican Communion Covenant

The full document is here (51 page pdf)

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

Phil Ashey: An intro to Stephen Noll–The Role and Future bishops and the Anglican Covenant

Noll raises some important questions that must be addressed:

* Why and how has the biblical, apostolic and historic role of the Primates been diminished and marginalized by the Anglican Communion bureaucracy? What role has the Archbishop of Canterbury himself played in marginalizing the Primates, and to what end?
* Why were the recommendations of the Windsor Report ignored-recommendations that the Primates take a leading role in drafting the Anglican Covenant?
* Likewise, why has the role of the Primates in overseeing the Covenant been replaced by that of “The Standing Committee”?
* By what authority did the Archbishop of Canterbury and the ACC Joint Standing Committee establish itself as “The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion (SCAC),” with responsibility to oversee the Covenant? And what is to prevent the new SCAC from becoming a “Fifth Instrument” of disunity?
* What “relational consequences” can the SCAC impose on those who breach the Covenant?
* Why have the Archbishop of Canterbury and the ACC consistently ignored the consequences recommended for those who breach Communion discipline and order-such as reduction to observer status, the establishment of a parallel jurisdiction, and provision for a new jurisdiction and communion suspension of the intransigent body- outlined by retired Archbishops Drexel Gomez and Maurice Sinclair in their essay “To Mend the Net”?

And the most important question of all: Why not do the Anglican Communion Covenant right by replacing the role of the ACC and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s “ersatz Standing Committee” with that of the Covenanting Primates and the Lambeth Conference in overseeing the Covenant? Authority should be placed in the hands of Covenant-affirming churches. TEC and its proxies should be excluded from the governing bodies of the Communion-for the sake of Communion order and our ecumenical relationships.

Read the rest of Philip Ashey’s introduction of Stephen Noll’s analysis here

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Covenant, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Theology

Notable and Quotable

When the season of Lent is at hand, it is observed in the following manner. Now whereas with us the forty days preceding Easter are observed, here they observe the eight weeks before Easter. This is the reason why they observe eight weeks: On Sundays and Saturdays they do not fast, except on the one Saturday which is the vigil of Easter, when it is necessary to fast. Except on that day, there is absolutely no fasting here on Saturdays at any time during the year. And so, when eight Sundays and seven Saturdays have been deducted from the eight weeks””for it is necessary, as I have just said, to fast on one Saturday””there remain forty-one days which are spent in fasting, which are called here “eortae,” that is to say, Lent.

This is a summary of the fasting practices here during Lent. There are some who, having eaten on Sunday after the dismissal, that is, at the fifth or sixth hour, do not eat again for the whole week until Saturday, following the dismissal from the Anastasis. These are the ones who observe the full week’s fast. Having eaten once in the morning on Saturday, they do not eat again in the evening, but only on the following day, on Sunday, that is, do they eat after the dismissal from the church at the fifth hour or later. Afterwards, they do not eat again until the following Saturday, as I have already said. Such is their fate during the Lenten season that they take no leavened bread (for this cannot be eaten at all), no olive oil, nothing which comes from trees, but only water and a little flour soup. And this is what is done throughout Lent.

–From the Travels of Egeria, Abbess, and Pilgrim to Jerusalem in Readings for the Daily Office from the Early Church, ed. J. Robert Wright (new York: Church Publishing, 1991) [Hat tip to the Episcopal Bishop of Arizona]

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent

(The State)–Church groups focus on problems facing black males

The Rev. Don Robinson Sr. scribbled notes fast and furiously Monday as children’s advocate Marian Wright Edelman described the “cradle to prison pipeline” that has trapped young African-American males in a cycle of poverty, criminality, joblessness and despair.

Edelman was blunt in her assessment of the crisis that brought leaders and members of three prominent African-American denominations to Columbia for the three-day Great Gathering, a meeting that bishops said Monday was prompted by the “call of God.”

Robinson, a pastor from McBee who ministers to inmates at the Kershaw Correctional Center, is witness on a weekly basis to the tribulations that plague the young black inmates who enter his class hoping to learn how to study the Bible.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Men, Parish Ministry

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John and Charles Wesley

Lord God, who didst inspire thy servants John and Charles Wesley with burning zeal for the sanctification of souls, and didst endow them with eloquence in speech and song: Kindle in thy Church, we beseech thee, such fervor, that those whose faith has cooled may be warmed, and those who have not known thy Christ may turn to him and be saved; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Methodist, Other Churches, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

And others are the ones sown among thorns; they are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world, and the delight in riches, and the desire for other things, enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown upon the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

–Mark 4:18-20

Posted in Uncategorized

Same-sex marriage leads Catholic Charities to adjust benefits

Employees at Catholic Charities were told Monday that the social services organization is changing its health coverage to avoid offering benefits to same-sex partners of its workers — the latest fallout from a bitter debate between District officials trying to legalize same-sex marriage and the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.

Starting Tuesday, Catholic Charities will not offer benefits to spouses of new employees or to spouses of current employees who are not already enrolled in the plan. A letter describing the change in health benefits was e-mailed to employees Monday, two days before same-sex marriage will become legal in the District.

“We looked at all the options and implications,” said the charity’s president, Edward J. Orzechowski. “This allows us to continue providing services, comply with the city’s new requirements and remain faithful to the church’s teaching.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Church/State Matters, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology