Daily Archives: May 1, 2010

Hawaii Governor holds civil unions' fate

Whether same-sex civil unions become legal in Hawaii is now up to Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, whose office was flooded yesterday with phone calls and e-mails from gay rights and religious groups after the bill won approval in the waning moments of the legislative session.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Watching what is Occurring in Hawaii with a Civil Unions Bill

Hawaii’s civil union legislation appeared to be dead in January, when the House didn’t take a vote on the measure and postponed it indefinitely out of fears that Lingle would veto.

The issue was revived Thursday after every other bill introduced this year had been acted on. Democratic House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro made the motion to reconsider the bill, although the House fell three votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to override the governor.

The bill was written so that civil unions would be available to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples to avoid claims of discrimination.

“Equality feels really good,” said Suzanne King, who said Hawaii would recognize her Massachusetts marriage to her partner as a civil union if the bill becomes law. “It allows us to strengthen our family.”

Read it all from AP (my emphasis).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Sexuality, State Government

Samuel Freedman–Lessons From Catholic Schools for Public Educators

Within the 242 pages of Diane Ravitch’s lightning rod of a book, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System,” there appear exactly three references to Catholic education. Which makes sense, given that Ms. Ravitch is addressing and deploring recent efforts to reform public schools with extensive testing and increasing privatization.

Yet what subtly informs both her critique and her recommendations for improving public schools is, in significant measure, her long study of and admiration for Roman Catholic education, especially in serving low-income black and Hispanic students.

In that respect, Ms. Ravitch and her book offer evidence of how some public-education scholars and reformers have been learning from what Catholic education is doing right. What one might call the Catholic-school model is perhaps the most unappreciated influence on the nation’s public-education debate.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Education, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Benedict XVI's Address to the Social Science Academy

The worldwide financial breakdown has, as we know, demonstrated the fragility of the present economic system and the institutions linked to it. It has also shown the error of the assumption that the market is capable of regulating itself, apart from public intervention and the support of internalized moral standards. This assumption is based on an impoverished notion of economic life as a sort of self-calibrating mechanism driven by self-interest and profit-seeking. As such, it overlooks the essentially ethical nature of economics as an activity of and for human beings. Rather than a spiral of production and consumption in view of narrowly-defined human needs, economic life should properly be seen as an exercise of human responsibility, intrinsically oriented towards the promotion of the dignity of the person, the pursuit of the common good and the integral development ”“ political, cultural and spiritual ”“ of individuals, families and societies. An appreciation of this fuller human dimension calls, in turn, for precisely the kind of cross-disciplinary research and reflection which the present session of the Academy has now undertaken.

In my Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, I observed that “the current crisis obliges us to re-plan our journey, to set ourselves new rules and to discover new forms of commitment” (No. 21). Re-planning the journey, of course, also means looking to comprehensive and objective standards against which to judge the structures, institutions and concrete decisions which guide and direct economic life. The Church, based on her faith in God the Creator, affirms the existence of a universal natural law which is the ultimate source of these criteria (cf. ibid., 59). Yet she is likewise convinced that the principles of this ethical order, inscribed in creation itself, are accessible to human reason and, as such, must be adopted as the basis for practical choices. As part of the great heritage of human wisdom, the natural moral law, which the Church has appropriated, purified and developed in the light of Christian revelation, serves as a beacon guiding the efforts of individuals and communities to pursue good and to avoid evil, while directing their commitment to building an authentically just and humane society.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Politics in General, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

Pope Reins In Catholic Order Tied to Abuse

Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday took control of the Legionaries of Christ, a powerful and wealthy Roman Catholic religious order whose founder, a close friend of Pope John Paul II, was found to have molested seminarians and fathered several children.

The moves constituted the most direct action on sexual abuse since the most recent scandals have engulfed the church and prompted criticisms of the pope’s own handling of such cases as an archbishop in Munich and as a cardinal who led the body reviewing many sexual abuse charges.

In a statement on Saturday, the Vatican said that Benedict would appoint a special delegate to govern the Legionaries, an influential worldwide order that has been an important source of new ordinations in a church that has struggled with a shrinking priesthood in much of the developed world. It was founded in 1941 by a Mexican priest, the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado. Pope Benedict also said he would appoint a special commission to examine the Legionaries’ constitution and open an investigation into the its lay affiliate, Regnum Christi.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

BBC: Pressure mounts on British oil giant BP to tackle slick

Criticism of BP is mounting in the US over its handling of the huge oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano urged BP to commit more resources to tackling the catastrophe.

Critics of the British oil giant also include President Barack Obama, who is due to travel to the region on Sunday to assess efforts to contain the spill.

The sprawling oil slick has begun washing up on the Louisiana coast and is threatening three other states.

Up to 5,000 barrels of oil a day are gushing into the sea after the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank last week.

BP’s chief executive Tony Hayward is flying to Louisiana later to personally oversee the emergency mop-up operation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Theology

Dean Mercer and Catherine Sider-Hamilton: Canadian Gen. Synod 2010 can’t approve Covenant

General Synod 2010 will consider the Covenant. The question is whether or not the Anglican Church of Canada should approve or adopt the Covenant. We suggest that the church, given its present practice with regard to same-sex blessings, cannot in good faith adopt or approve the Covenant.

Indeed, the Covenant offers the Anglican Church of Canada an opportunity to be honest before the world about its commitment to same-sex blessings and its willingness, in the name of its own standards of justice, to walk apart from the universal church.ӬWhy can the church not adopt the Covenant? It cannot because the Covenant insists on a primary commitment to the universal and apostolic church, a commitment that the movement for same-sex blessings rejects as opposing its standards of justice.

To approve the Covenant is to approve its insistence on the wider voice of the church in our own deliberations about same-sex blessings in Canada. It is to take seriously the inherited teaching of the church on scripture, in this case with regard to marriage. To approve the Covenant is therefore to refuse to proceed unilaterally with same-sex blessings.

Read it all.

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

Dwight Longenecker–English judge rules against religious freedom

In England an Evangelical Christian who works as a counsellor declines the opportunity to offer marriage counseling to a homosexual couple. He’s fired. He sues for unfair dismissal due to religious discrimination. He loses his appeal and the judge speaks out against religious freedom. Read about it here.

What is remarkable is that a judge–who is supposed to be not just a fair man, but an educated and knowledgeable person– can be so appallingly ignorant about the true nature of religion. His basic argument is that religion has no basis in factual evidence. It is simply a subjective experience and therefore it has no rights in the courts of law.

There is one major problem here and one interesting observation. The major problem is that the judge regards religion as not having any basis in historical or factual evidence….

The second point is an observation about Protestantism generally. In the sixteenth century they did away with the historical fact of the authority of the Catholic Church. What did they put in it’s place? Personal interpretation of Sacred Scripture….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Ecclesiology, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Theology

The Bishop of Saskatoon insists 'We are all called to ministry'

“We are all called to ministry,” affirms Rt. Rev. David Irving, “some to lay ministry, some to ordained ministry.”

The recently installed 12th bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Saskatoon felt that call early in life. “I knew from the time I was a young teen that I was being called to ordained ministry.”

Born in Carlisle, Cumbria, Irving completed his senior education and theological training in England, where he worked for a number of years before emigrating to Canada.

His father, an Anglican priest, was by this time working in the Diocese of Edmonton, and Irving and his wife Joan paid their first visit to Canada to visit his parents and go skiing.

Read it all.

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

Reuters–Possible outcomes in the upcoming British general election

Britons go to the polls on Thursday in what is expected to be the closest election since 1992. Following are some possible outcomes in terms of seats for the 650-member parliament and their impact.

Say what you want–it sure isn’t boring. Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Politics in General

On a Personal Note–At the 2010 Spring Family Weekend at The Hill School

The schedule is here. The featured keynote speaker is the 2009 Dougherty Fellow Dr. Allen Guelzo, the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era and a professor of history at Gettysburg College. Dr. Guelzo and I have corresponded but it was great to get a chance to meet him face to face this morning. His “Why Study History?” talk was very enjoyable indeed.

Tonight two music groups in which our youngest daughter Selimah is involved are part of a concert this evening to which we are looking forward–KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Culture-Watch, Education, Harmon Family

Washington Post–Advice from Gene Robinson to Pope Benedict Amid the abuse scandal

(Please note that this is in Sunday’s paper but it appeared on the website today–KSH).

We want many pairs of eyes watching for signs of abuse. We want everyone to know how to report suspected abuse of children and abuse of the pastoral relationship between clergy members and parishioners. We want to keep the issue before our church — clergy and laity alike — and to keep the conversation going.

But the thing victims most want to hear from the church, especially its leadership, is: “I am so sorry. This should never have happened to you, especially here. We are going to do everything in our power to see that nothing like this happens again.” Victims live with their horrific experiences and know that their abuse can never be undone. And so they seek assurance that the church will change the system that allows abuse to go undetected and take action to hold perpetrators accountable. Child abusers do not deserve protection; they must be reported immediately to civil authorities and prosecuted.

The Christian church — like any institution — is as capable of sin as any individual. We have been wrong before, from the Inquisition and the Crusades down to our defense of slavery (using scripture) and our denigration of women. Over time, the church has repented for these sins and sought to change its ways. The discovery of sexual abuse by clergy is another situation that calls for the church’s repentance and reform.

I would not presume to instruct you. That would be arrogant. Nor would I impose upon you advice you’ve not sought. But I do offer you the benefit of my experience as you seek to deal responsibly with these challenges to the integrity of your church. Your letter to the faithful in Ireland and your meeting in Malta with victims were a good start. I hope the future will bring more truth-telling, which will make your church a better, safer place.

However, I believe it is misguided and wrong for gay men to be scapegoated in this scandal….

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology

On Faith (Washington Post): Virginia's new policy on prayer policy

The governor of the commonwealth of Virginia has decided, “in the interest of religious freedom,” to grant state chaplains the freedom to pray in the name of Jesus at public events.

“I just didn’t think it was right, the change that was made a couple years ago, to have an official state policy to tell chaplains of any faith how to pray, whether Muslim or Jew or Catholic or Christian,” Gov. Bob McDonnell told reporters Thursday.

If you reverse an official state policy on prayer with another state policy on prayer, it’s still a state policy on prayer, right?

The conservative Christian Family Foundation of Virginia doesn’t seem to mind….

Oddly enough, the ACLU of Virginia agrees with the Family Foundation, at least on the need for the state of Virginia to have the right policy on prayer.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Church/State Matters, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, State Government

Genome Seen As Medical Crystal Ball

Stanford scientist Steve Quake was only the fifth person in the world to have his entire genetic code -”“ his genome ”” spelled out last summer. Now he claims to be the first to use it to find out just what diseases he’s at risk for, and what he should do about it.

It’s been an instructive exercise. He and his colleagues say it holds many lessons for how to handle the flood of genomic information that’s on the horizon.

“I think the information can help people live better, but it won’t do it all by itself,” says Hank Greely, a Stanford ethicist involved with the project. “Just dumping data on people will not lead to better results.”

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

BP Is Criticized Over Oil Spill, but U.S. Missed Chances to Act

As oil edged toward the Louisiana coast and fears continued to grow that the leak from a seabed oil well could spiral out of control, officials in the Obama administration publicly chastised BP America for its handling of the spreading oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico, where Obama is expected to travel this weekend.

Yet a review of the response suggests it may be too simplistic to place all the blame for the unfolding environmental catastrophe on the oil company. The federal government also had opportunities to move more quickly, but did not do so while it waited for a resolution to the spreading spill from BP.

The Department of Homeland Security waited until Thursday to declare that the incident was “a spill of national significance,” and then set up a second command center in Mobile, Ala. The actions came only after the estimate of the size of the spill was increased fivefold to 5,000 barrels a day.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources, Politics in General