Daily Archives: June 11, 2010

Diane Cole on Yeshiva University Museum's current exhibition: An Illuminating 7 century Journey

If Jews are the people of the book, what stories do the books themselves tell about the varied communities and intersecting worlds of the scholars, scribes, artists, printers, readers and worshippers who produced and used them? Anyone seeking an answer may find it at the Yeshiva University Museum’s current exhibition in New York, A Journey Through Jewish Worlds: Highlights from the Braginsky Collection of Hebrew Manuscripts and Printed Books.

The historical saga that the objects on display recount is (quite literally) a page-turner””a complex narrative of dispersion and continuity, played out in overlapping and at times conflicting worlds both sacred and secular. (A virtual catalogue can also be viewed online at www.braginskycollection.com.)

The dates of these exceedingly rare and well-preserved illustrated scrolls, wedding contracts, Bible commentaries, prayer books and miscellanies span seven centuries. The earliest item, a copy on parchment of the legal code of rabbinic scholar Moses of Coucy, dates to 1288. They come from several continents: Europe, Asia, Northern Africa and the Middle East.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, History, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

RNS: Religious left, disillusioned with Obama, coming to D.C.

More than 400 religious and secular progressives will meet here in the nation’s capitol this weekend (June 11-14) to urge President Obama to be the man “they thought they elected in 2008.”

The Network of Spiritual Progressives wants Obama to make good on campaign promises to protect the environment, fight for the poor, rein
in big business, and work for global peace.

“I’m not interested in those who want to be either for or against Obama,” said Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia, Pa. “I want Obama to join us in the protection of the earth, protection of human beings.”

Waskow and about 34 other rabbis, pastors, priests, professors and congressmen are expected to speak at the four day conference, which will rally progressives around causes like a new “global Marshall plan” and a social responsibility amendment to the Constitution.

Read it all.

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

John Yates Calls Va. Court Ruling 'Very Disappointing,' Michael Pipkin Calls for Reconciliation

Reacting to the ruling by the Virginia Supreme Court issued… [yesterday] morning, the Rev. John Yates, leader of the breakaway congregation at The Falls Church, sent a letter to his followers calling the ruling “a very disappointing result, to be sure.” He added that by having the case remanded to the Fairfax Circuit Court where “the Episcopal Church and the Diocese must still carry the burden of showing, apart from the division statute (which the Supreme Court ruled did not apply in this case — ed.) that they are the rightful owners of this property.”

The “property” referenced is the historic Falls Church in the center of the City of Falls Church, which Yates and his breakaway group has held onto since voting to defect from the Episcopal denomination in December 2006.

Meanwhile today, in an exclusive interview with the News-Press, the Rev. Michael Pipkin, leader of the “continuing Episcopalians,” members of The Falls Church who did not chose to defect and who’ve been locked out of The Falls Church by the defectors, said he hoped that while the case has been remanded back to the lower court, that a reconciliation between the two congregations could occur, and that arrangements could be made for his “continuing Episcopalians” to also worship on the campus of The Falls Church, specifically at 10 a.m. on Sundays in the historic chapel of the church, which is now not being used for any other purpose.

He noted, however, that Yates’ letter today made no mention of such matters, but that he was open to working something out for both congregations to share the property while the court matter is being finally resolved.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia, TEC Departing Parishes, TEC Parishes

RNS: New Anglican Church Faces Fiscal Challenges

When the Anglican Church in North America launched last year, founders were clear on what they didn’t want to be: the Episcopal Church.

But as the ACNA marks its first anniversary with a meeting here this week, members are finding that carving out a new identity requires a good dose of patience, and more money than they have on hand.

The ACNA knows what it wants to be: a church-planting, soul-saving province officially recognized by other churches and leaders in the 77-million-member Anglican Communion.

Leaders reported some progress on those goals this week, but fiscal hurdles remain.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Parish Ministry, Stewardship

Church Times: Primates of Canada and US ”˜distressed’ at plans for Anglican sanctions

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States have both spoken of their “concerns” and “distress” at the Archbishop of Canterbury’s plans to impose sanctions on provinces that have breached the moratoria on gay bishops, same-sex unions, and cross-border interventions (News, 28 May).

Dr Williams announced the sanc­tions ”” which amount to excluding provinces from ecumenical dialogues and stripping them of some decision-making powers ”” in his Pentecost letter to the Anglican Communion. He took the action in response to the consecration of an openly lesbian bishop, the Rt Revd Mary Glasspool, in the Episcopal Church in the US last month (News, 21 May).

As part of the follow-up to the Pentecost letter, the secretary general of the Anglican Communion, Canon Kenneth Kearon, announced on Monday that he has written to members of the Episcopal Church serving in the inter-Anglican ecu­menical dialogues, “informing them that their membership of these dia­logues has been discontinued”.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Instruments of Unity, Presiding Bishop, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

Michelle Boorstein: Could battling Anglicans wind up in the same buildings?

It’s not pretty to see people fight about property.

The three-year-old legal dispute over nine Virginia churches is no exception, with the credentials of Anglican conservative priests being yanked by the Episcopal Church and conservatives threatening Episcopal leaders with trespass if found on the disputed properties. All this happened after the congregations, mostly in Northern Virginia, voted in 2006-2007 to break away from the Episcopal Church, which conservative congregants believe has strayed dangerously from Christianity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

Hidden Misery: A glimpse into North Korea

(Please note the title above comes from the print edition–KSH).

North Koreans are used to struggle and heartbreak. But the Nov. 30 currency devaluation, apparently an attempt to prop up a foundering state-run economy, was for some the worst disaster since a famine that killed hundreds of thousands in the mid-1990s.

Interviews in the past month with eight North Koreans who recently left their country ”” a prison escapee, illegal traders, people in temporary exile to find work in China, the traveling wife of an official in the ruling Workers’ Party ”” paint a haunting portrait of desperation inside North Korea, a nation of 24 million people, and of growing resentment toward its erratic leader, Kim Jong-il.

What seems missing ”” for now, at least ”” is social instability. Widespread hardship, popular anger over the currency revaluation and growing political uncertainty as Mr. Kim seeks to install his third son as his successor have not hardened into noticeable resistance against the government. At least two of those interviewed in China hewed to the official propaganda line that North Korea was a victim of die-hard enemies, its impoverishment a Western plot, its survival threatened by the United States, South Korea and Japan.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, North Korea

Christianity Today Liveblog on the Virginia Supreme Court Decision

The Supreme Court of Virginia has ruled in favor of the Episcopal Church in the state’s much-watched dispute over church property. But it’s just the latest ruling in what will continue to be a long fight.

Reversing a lower court’s ruling, the Virginia Supreme Court said that the Anglican churches cannot use the Virginia “Division Statute” (the state law governing property when “a division has heretofore occurred or shall hereafter occur in a church or religious society”) to file their claims.

But the actual answer to who owns the property is still a long way off….

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

Virginia high court rules against Anglican breakaway churches, but dispute isn't over

Virginia’s Supreme Court struck a blow to Anglican conservatives Thursday, ruling against nine congregations who split from the Episcopal Church after it installed an openly gay bishop.

At issue are tens of millions of dollars of church property and symbolic momentum for dueling movements in the Anglican Communion.

The unanimous decision by the five-judge panel dismissing a lower court ruling that favored conservatives is not likely to end the dispute for the nine church properties. The panel simply found that a Civil War-era law governing how property is divided when churches split was wrongly applied to the current dispute. The panel sent the parties back to Fairfax County Circuit Court for a second, parallel case that focuses on who owns the properties, which is expected to be more complex and messy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

Under Pressure, Teachers Tamper With Test Scores

The staff of Normandy Crossing Elementary School outside Houston eagerly awaited the results of state achievement tests this spring. For the principal and assistant principal, high scores could buoy their careers at a time when success is increasingly measured by such tests. For fifth-grade math and science teachers, the rewards were more tangible: a bonus of $2,850.

But when the results came back, some seemed too good to be true. Indeed, after an investigation by the Galena Park Independent School District, the principal, assistant principal and three teachers resigned May 24 in a scandal over test tampering.

The district said the educators had distributed a detailed study guide after stealing a look at the state science test by “tubing” it ”” squeezing a test booklet, without breaking its paper seal, to form an open tube so that questions inside could be seen and used in the guide. The district invalidated students’ scores.

Of all the forms of academic cheating, none may be as startling as when educators tamper with children’s standardized tests. But investigations in Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, Virginia and elsewhere this year have pointed to cheating by educators. Experts say the phenomenon is increasing as the stakes over standardized testing ratchet higher ”” including, most recently, taking student progress on tests into consideration in teachers’ performance reviews.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

Minorities drive U.S. population growth

The nation is nearing the close of a decade that has been dominated by robust growth in minority populations that could redefine who is a minority.

Census population estimates out Thursday show that on July 1, 2009, minorities made up more than half the population in 317 counties, four states (Hawaii, New Mexico, California, Texas) and the District of Columbia.

The detailed estimates provide a final glimpse of the USA’s demographic transformation this decade. Official results of the 2010 Census, now being conducted, will come out beginning in December. They will be used to reapportion seats in the House of Representatives and serve as the basis for the allocation of more than $400 billion a year in federal funds.

Read the whole article.

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Barnabas

Grant, O God, that we may follow the example of thy faithful servant Barnabas, who, seeking not his own renown but the well-being of thy Church, gave generously of his life and substance for the relief of the poor and the spread of the Gospel; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

Another Prayer Before Bible Study

O Lord Jesus Christ, who art the truth incarnate and the teacher of the faithful: Let thy Spirit overshadow us in reading thy Word, and conform our hearts to thy revelation; that learning of thee with honest hearts, we may be rooted and built up in thee, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.

–William Bright

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done.

–Matthew 16:24-27

Posted in Uncategorized

General McChrystal: Kandahar operation will take longer

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan is finding himself squeezed between a ticking clock and an enemy that won’t go away.

On Thursday, during a visit to NATO headquarters here, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal admitted that preparations for perhaps the most critical operation of the war — the campaign to take control of Kandahar, the Taliban’s birthplace — weren’t going as planned. He said winning support from local leaders, some of whom see the Taliban fighters not as oppressors but as their Muslim brothers, was proving tougher than expected. The military side of the campaign, originally scheduled to surge in June and finish by August, is now likely to extend into the fall.

“I don’t intend to hurry it,” McChrystal told reporters traveling with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. “It will take a number of months for this to play out. But I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. It’s more important we get it right than we get it fast.”

Read the whole article from the Washington Post.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, War in Afghanistan