Daily Archives: March 11, 2010

NPR–Desmond Tutu, Insisting We Are 'Made For Goodness'

In the era of apartheid, Archbishop Desmond Tutu railed against the injustice and inhumanity of South Africa’s government, and his passionate advocacy helped make the change that came to that country in the 1990s.

Now 78, in a magenta habit with a crucifix around his neck, he is the picture of a holy man. But looking back on his boyhood in one of South Africa’s black townships, Tutu remembers an urchin with a fondness for marbles and comic books. And even in church, “we had fun,” the archbishop tells NPR’s Renee Montagne.

The memories linger even now. There’s joy in Tutu’s voice as he recalls a song he sang as a child: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” the verse asked.

“It was a fantastic thing to have much, much later,” Tutu says ”” “to remember, ‘Yes, if God be for us in our struggle against injustice and oppression, who can be against us?’ ”

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Provinces, History, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Theology, Theology: Scripture

China wages war on pervasive corruption

China’s government considers public corruption a serious problem because it could threaten Communist Party rule if left unchecked.

“We will give high priority to fighting corruption and encouraging integrity,” China Premier Wen Jiabao said Friday in his annual State of the Union-style address. “This has a direct bearing on the firmness of our grip on political power.”

Li Tangtang joins at least 14 other ministerial- or provincial-level officials sacked for corruption last year, a record high for the past 30 years, according to the Global Times newspaper. In 2009, the number of officials caught embezzling more than 1 million Chinese yuan ($146,000) soared by 19% over 2008, the discipline committee said.

China ranked 79 out of 180 countries in 2009 on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, which bases its findings on 13 independent surveys. That’s worse than the previous year (72) and below bribe-infested Cuba. New Zealand is No. 1 in transparency, the United States No. 19.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Theology

Diocesan Statistics for the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s figures, Rhode Island has grown in population from 1,048,319 in 2000 to 1,053,209 in 2009. This represents a population growth of approximately 0.47%.

According to Episcopal Church statistics, the Diocese of Rhode Island went from Average Sunday Attendance (or ASA) of 8,174 in 1998 to 6,078 in 2008. This represents an ASA decline of about 26% over this ten year period.

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

The Diocese of Rhode Island’s website may be found here.

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

CSM–'Jihad Jane': How does Al Qaeda recruit US-born women?

The case of Colleen R. LaRose ”“ also known as “Jihad Jane” and “Fatima Rose” ”“ raises troubling questions about the ability of Al Qaeda to attract US-born women to terrorism….

US counterterrorism officials long have been concerned about the possibility of Islamic radicalization of US natives. But generally speaking, they have focused on potential terrorist recruits that are males.

“The issue of US converts [to radical Islam] is not new,” says Juan Carlos Zarate, senior adviser in the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “What is new is that in this case, the convert may be a middle-aged female.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Other Faiths, Terrorism, Women

West Charleston Deanery Issues "A Call to Prayer" for South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence

In support of Bishop Lawrence, members of the West Charleston Deanery have issued “A Call to Prayer,” inviting members of their Deanery to join in a time of fasting and prayer for Bishop Lawrence March 16-18 prior to the House of Bishop’s Meeting (March 19-24). The Deanery has scheduled a gathering of prayer and worship for Thursday, March 18 at 7:00 p.m. at Saint James, James Island. Following that gathering, churches from the deanery have signed up to pray for the Bishop every day of the House of Bishops’ meeting through and including our Diocesan Convention, March 26. As Craige Borrett, Dean of the West Charleston Deanery noted, “We need to remember that, ”˜Prayer isn’t preparation for the battle. It is the battle.’” View the related Bulletin Insert.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Spirituality/Prayer, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Living Church–South Carolina Resolutions Respond to Presiding Bishop

Another resolution proposed by the standing committee would add a diocesan canon that says the bishop ”” or, in a bishop’s absence, the standing committee ”” is “the sole and final authority with respect to any dispute concerning the interpretation of the Constitution and Canons of this Diocese.”

A canonical revision, also proposed by the standing committee, grants the diocese’s bishop (or standing committee) the authority to “provide a generous pastoral response to parishes in conflict with the Diocese or Province, as the Ecclesiastical Authority judges necessary, to preserve the unity and integrity of the Diocese.”

An explanatory note on that resolution says: “We’ve experienced now as a diocese, in the All Saints, Pawleys Island litigation, the destructive force of such litigation; how it has created animosities and divisions that are not easily healed. It has failed as a positive cohesive force for maintaining the unity of the church and has in fact had precisely the opposite effect. Christians are suing Christians (1 Cor. 6:1-8); the reputation of the church is marred, and vital resources are diverted from essential Kingdom work. None of this is honoring to our Savior.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

Thomas Farr: Is President Obama sidelining religious freedom?

Religious freedom advocates were encouraged by the President’s stated views and allowed themselves to hope that America’s international religious freedom policy, long isolated at the State Department, would be strengthened under the new administration.

Their hopes are fading.

Almost 14 months into the Obama presidency, the ambassador at large for international religious freedom — a position mandated by the International Religious Freedom Act — has not been named, even though other positions of less weight and importance to our national interests have long been filled.

The leading candidate for the religious freedom job is said to be a highly intelligent and charismatic pastor, an author and a thoroughly good person who has the friendship of Secretary Hillary Clinton. Those are important attributes. Indeed, having the trust of the Secretary is vital. But more is needed. To be successful, this ambassador at large needs foreign policy experience. Without it, it will be extremely difficult to succeed within Foggy Bottom’s notoriously thorny bureaucracy, let alone deal with foreign officials who believe (as many do) that U.S. international religious freedom policy is a vehicle of cultural imperialism.

Worse, it appears that the new ambassador will be demoted before she is even nominated. Like her predecessors under Presidents Clinton and Bush, she will not be treated as an ambassador at large at all, but will report to a lower ranking official – the assistant secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Her placement alone will signal to American diplomats and foreign governments that they need not take U.S. religious freedom policy seriously.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture

NY Times Well Blog–Most Believe God Gets Involved

When the “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell recently predicted the departure of the contestant Jermaine Sellers, the young singer shook his head in disagreement. “I know God,’’ he replied, pointing upward.

Two days later, when Mr. Sellers failed to make the cut, he still had faith. “What God has for me is for me,’’ he said. “In God there is no failure.’’

Mr. Sellers is not alone in his belief that God pays attention to reality television contests. New research shows that most Americans believe God is directly involved in their personal affairs, and that the good or bad things that happen are “part of God’s plan,’’ according to a report in the March issue of the journal Sociology of Religion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

AP–Dalai Lama: China aims to annihilate Buddhism

The Dalai Lama lashed out at China on Wednesday, accusing it of trying to “annihilate Buddhism” in Tibet and rebuffing all his efforts to reach a compromise over the disputed Himalayan region.

China shot back, accusing the Tibetan spiritual leader of using deceptions and lies to distort its policy in the region. The passionate back-and-forth highlighted the distrust, anger and frustration that separates the two sides and leaves little hope for success in recently resumed talks.

Beijing has demonized the Dalai Lama and accused him of wanting independence for Tibet, which China says is part of its territory. The Dalai Lama says he only wants some form of autonomy for Tibet within China that would allow Tibetan culture, language and religion to thrive.

The Dalai Lama spoke Wednesday in an address marking the anniversaries of two failed uprisings against China, one 51 years ago that sent him into exile in India and the other two years ago that was quashed by a government crackdown that is still continuing.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Buddhism, China, India, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Tibet

RNS: Wilbur Awards Honor Mainstream Religion Coverage

A civil rights film, “Blood Done Sign My Name,” is one of 14 winners of the 2010 Wilbur Award that recognize excellence in coverage of religion in the secular media.

The Wilburs are awarded annually by the Religion Communicators Council; winners receive a trophy and $250. This year’s awards will be presented April 9 at the Religion Communication Congress in Chicago.

Read it all and see how many of the articles you have seen.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Media, Religion & Culture

Camberley churches protest at mosque that will tower over Sandhurst

Churches have joined together to protest against plans for a mosque that would tower over the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, with one minister describing it as a “supremacist statement” for Islam.

A collective comprising every church in Camberley, Surrey, has lambasted plans for the giant mosque, warning that will create only “division and discord” in the town.

The proposal has already caused security concerns in military circles as the mosque includes 30m (100ft) minarets that would overlook Sandhurst.

The planned mosque lies just 360m from the academy, where hundreds of newly commissioned Army officers take to the parade ground each year for their passing out ceremony. The event attracts senior members of the Royal Family as well as important military figures.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Ed Curran–How terror trip taught me a lesson in airline safety

The experience reinforced for me the reality of terror in the sky. Sitting in an aircraft, 37,000ft over the Atlantic, there is nowhere to go, no escape and, confronted by passengers behaving suspiciously, a total sense of helplessness.

The nonchalant manner with which the male passenger was allowed to walk through the plane and enter the toilet during the landing approach, and to remain out of sight and control for around five minutes, was simply incredible and extraordinarily alarming.

Afterwards, I complained to the United Airlines desk. I was informed that an armed air marshal was probably on board the flight, as is most likely the case on high-risk routes between the United States and the UK.

However, I wondered what difference the marshal’s presence would have made had the passenger beside me turned out to be a suicide-bomber. Would he – could he – have shot the suspect through the toilet door and saved our lives?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Ireland, Terrorism, Travel

Communique from the second meeting of AMICUM

The second meeting of the Anglican-Methodist International Commission for Unity in Mission (AMICUM) has taken place near Bath, England, 19-26 February 2010, hosted by the World Methodist Council, at the Ammerdown Centre. The Commission benefited greatly from the opportunity to visit and celebrate Holy Communion in the New Room in Bristol, and to see some of the historical memorabilia held in Wesley College, Bristol.

The Commission is pursuing the common purpose of both world communions to be united according to the will of God, for the glory of God, and the well-being of God’s church, and for the effectiveness of God’s mission in the world.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Reports & Communiques, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Methodist, Other Churches

Anglican Journal on the BC Synod–More blessings?

The diocese of British Columbia may be the next in Canada to ask its bishop to allow the blessing of married gay or lesbian couples.

A motion asking that priests be allowed to conduct blessings of gay of lesbian couples has been submitted to the biennial synod meeting Mar. 6-7 by the parish of St. John the Divine, Victoria.

The synod, primarily concerned with a restructuring of the diocese, failed to finish its business but will resume at the call of the Bishop James Cowan later this spring when the motion regarding same sex blessings may come to the floor.

Bishop Cowan will make the final decision as to whether same sex blessings should take place in parishes of the diocese, which covers Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. At General Synod 2007, the bishop voted against extension of the blessing.

Read it all.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

As a hart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God?

–Psalm 42:1-2

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture