Daily Archives: March 7, 2010

WSJ–China Signals Defiance on U.S. Relations

China offered its first real sign of flexibility in years over the exchange rate of its currency, a growing source of friction with the U.S., but gave little hope that it would accommodate Washington on Iran and other thorny foreign-policy issues.

Central bank Gov. Zhou Xiaochuan said China will eventually move away from its current exchange-rate policies, which he described as a temporary response to the global financial crisis, but played down the idea that a move could come in the near future.

Mr. Zhou’s comments Saturday at a press conference during the annual session of China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress, could fuel optimism in the U.S. and other countries upset over China’s currency policy that Beijing may start letting the yuan appreciate, although not as quickly as many foreign governments desire. Critics complain that the yuan’s suppressed value makes China’s exports unfairly inexpensive, disadvantaging other countries.

China’s foreign minister sounded a defiant note on other sensitive issues with the U.S. in a separate briefing Sunday. Yang Jiechi told reporters it is up to the U.S. to mend frayed relations, which he said had been hurt by American arms sales to Taiwan and by President Barack Obama’s meeting with exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Foreign Relations

BBC–Iraq parliamentary election hit by insurgent attacks

Iraq’s second parliamentary election since the 2003 invasion has been hit by multiple attacks, with at least 24 people being killed.

Two buildings were destroyed in the capital and dozens of mortars were fired across Baghdad and elsewhere.

The border with Iran was closed, thousands of troops were deployed, and vehicles were banned from roads.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Iraq, Iraq War, Middle East, Politics in General

Notable and Quotable

You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one””the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.

–C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters, Letter XII

Posted in Pastoral Theology, Theology

Ocean City, Maryland–Episcopal faith values questions, service

What if Jesus were living in today’s society, observing the teachings of churches?

The Rev. David Dingwall leaned back in his chair and thought for a moment.

“I wonder if Jesus would recognize much of what is being said and done in his name,” he said. “Some of it, he would say, ‘Yes. You get it.’ But certainly not everything.”

Soft-spoken, with a depth of thought, an easy laugh and prone to toying with his moustache when formulating an idea, the pastor of St. Paul’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in downtown Ocean City said he believes Jesus was militant, a radical, intensely political, but not violent. Jesus issued an invitation — experience a new way of life.

It can be summarized by reading The Sermon on the Mount, recorded in the fifth chapter of the Biblical book of Matthew, one of the gospels.

Read it all.

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

Peter Ould–Why Bishop James Jones is Wrong

Whilst I understand fully where Bishop Jones is coming from, I want to suggest that his analysis and comparison of issues around human sexuality and just war is incorrect for a number of reasons, some theological and some sociological and biological.

First, issues around human sexuality cut deep to the core of anthropology in a way that the pacifism/militarism debate does not. The traditional human moral is not just about how human beings should behave sexually but on a much deeper level about core issues of identity. As Bishop Jones himself recognises in his speech, human sexuality is an ontological identification in a way that an ethical position on war or peace can never be. Sexual orientation and identity lies at the heart of a person’s sense of being, and often this is misunderstood by those in this debate, especially on the conservative side of the argument. To often we try to make clean and clinical divisions between sin and the sinner, but when one’s attractions are integral to our sense of person-hood such a dichotomy is difficult to maintain. We are created sexual beings and sexual activity is vital and essential to the procreation of the human race ”“ it is something that we simply cannot do without. The argument over war and peace is a discussion about how to resolve issues on a corporate level ”“ the argument over sexual activity and identity is a discussion about the very depth of our created beings. People never define themselves as “born pacifist” or claim to have “pacifist genes”, but when it comes to sexual orientation these fundamental propositions are constantly presented and appealed to. The discussion is not just about how we should act, it is about who we were created to be.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

(Times) Bishop of Liverpool calls for end to battle over sexuality

A leading evangelical bishop will today call for Anglicans to “accept a diversity of ethical convictions” gay sex in order to prevent schism.

The Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Rev James Jones, will use his presidential address to his diocesan synod today to argue that for an end to the battles over sexuality in the Anglican Communion so the Church can focus on mission.

In his address, seen by The Times, he compares the debate over homosexuality to that over going to war, in spite of the commandment “Thou Shalt not Kill.”

Just as the Just War doctrine evolved to allow Christians to reconcile their faith with their civic duty to fight for their country, so those on the conservative side of the gay sex debate should accept those on the liberal side for the sake of Anglican peace.

He also, controversially, takes issue with the conservative line that sexuality is a matter of choice. Instead, he argues that like ethnicity, it is a “given”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Dwight Longenecker in response to Richard Harries–Is there a "Catholic-minded Anglican?"

we cannot let it go unremarked that Bishop Harries is eager to claim Cardinal Newman as one of his own. Newman’s essay on the Development of Doctrine is a seminal, nuanced and powerful piece of theological writing. The essay’s essential point is that the Christian faith can develop in understanding, but not in a way that contradicts the core teaching of the Apostles. Instead of any intellectual argument, Bishop Harries grabs the title of Newman’s essay, and uses it, and Newman’s reputation as a propaganda piece to bolster innovations in the Church of England which would have astounded and scandalized Newman. Is it possible that a person of Bishop Harries learning and experience is blind to the fact that Newman’s whole spiritual journey was a repudiation of the kind of Oxford, hoity toity faux Catholicism that Bishop Harries represents?

Can Bishop Harries really have missed the entire point of Cardinal Newman’s pilgrimage to Rome? Does he not see that the great man stepped down from the heights of his career in Oxford and in the Church of England to take the very step into the Catholic Church that Bishop Harries sneers at?

Lord Pentregarth is honest in choosing not to become a Catholic, but if he does not want to be a Catholic why does he keep masquerading as one? Most of all he should resist the temptation to kidnap a figure as great and good as Cardinal Newman and hold him to ransom for his own progressivist agenda.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Theology

Bishop James Jones of Liverpool's Diocesan Synod Address

That which I have stated explicitly in this address I believe we are already living out implicitly, namely that we do already as a Diocese accept a diversity of ethical convictions about human sexuality in the same way that the church has always allowed a diversity of ethical opinion on taking human life. Within our own fellowship we are brothers and sisters in Christ holding a variety of views on a number of major theological and moral issues and we are members of a church that characteristically allows a large space for a variety of nuances, interpretations, applications and disagreement. I know that sometimes it stretches us, but never to breaking point, for it seems to me that there is a generosity of grace that holds us all together.

If on this subject of sexuality the traditionalists are ultimately right and those who advocate the acceptance of stable and faithful gay relationships are wrong what will their sin be? That in a world of such little love two people sought to express a love that no other relationship could offer them? And if those advocating the acceptance of gay relationship are right and the traditionalists are wrong what will their sin be? That in a church that has forever wrestled with interpreting and applying Scripture they missed the principle in the application of the literal text?
Do these two thoughts not of themselves enlarge the arena in which to do our ethical exploration?

This address has been about how we handle disagreements about ethical principles within the Body of Christ. It is also about how we promote a Christian humanism whereby we discover before God both how to flourish as human beings in Christ and how to treat each other humanely in the process of that discovery. It is my plea that the Church of England and the Anglican Communion must allow a variety of ethical views on the subject as in this Diocese we do and that to do so finds a parallel in the space it offers for a diversity of moral positions on the taking of life. Although it will doubtless remain a disputed question for some time in the wider church I hope this approach will continue to allow for the development of a humane pastoral theology here in the Diocese of Liverpool.

I have not addressed today the implications of this position for the ordering and governance of the church but I wish you to know that in due course we will discuss these in parishes, deaneries and in the Diocesan Synod as we continue to do together our pastoral theology on this subject recognising that decisions belong ultimately to the General Synod and to the House of Bishops.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

Diocesan Statistics for the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s figures, Arkansas has grown in population from 2,673,400 in 2000 to 2,889,450 in 2009. This represents a population growth of approximately 8.08%.

According to Episcopal Church statistics, the Diocese of Arkansas went from Average Sunday Attendance (or ASA) of 5,349 in 1998 to 4,684 in 2008. This represents an ASA decline of about 12% over this ten year period.

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

The Diocese of Arkansas’ website may be found here.

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

Cherishing Churchyards Week Coming this June

Thousands of growing churches are preparing to celebrate Cherishing Churchyards Week this June as part of the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity.

The nationwide project is being run by conservation charity Caring for God’s Acre (CfGA) and is supported by the CofE’s national environmental campaign Shrinking the Footprint. There are an estimated 12,000 CofE churchyards. Around half of them already run biodiversity projects, in rural and urban areas, while remaining respectful to their users, particularly family and friends of those buried there.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Energy, Natural Resources, Parish Ministry

Church of England–Green Paper on Rights and Responsibilities could do better

The Church of England has warned that basic human rights cannot be made contingent on the exercise of responsibilities. In a response to the Ministry of Justice Green Paper on Rights and Responsibilities, the Mission and Public Affairs Council argues that connecting rights too closely with responsibilities risks undermining the inalienable nature of fundamental human rights.

Some less fundamental rights – perhaps better understood as entitlements – may follow from the exercise of social responsibility, the response argues, but the Green Paper does not give enough emphasis to the ways in which responsibilities are owed primarily to other persons, groups and communities and not always to the state.

Read it all and also peruse the full response (11 page pdf) there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology