Daily Archives: July 30, 2010

Emily Esfahani Smith: Islamic Feminists Storm Some Barricades

Muslim feminists call it the “penalty box.” It’s the area of a mosque where women, segregated from the men, pray. In Islam, prayer is required five times a day and Muslims often pray in congregation at mosques. During these prayers, women usually are partitioned off in a separate room or behind a curtain, “like naughty children,” one Muslim woman tells me, while men pray in a grand main hall.

One Muslim, Fatima Thompson, describes the penalty box at her mosque in Maryland as an overheated, dark back room. Another Muslim woman, Asra Nomani, tells me that at a major Washington D.C. mosque, the female section was in a trailer, where the voice of the imam (the prayer leader) came from a crackling speaker. “It was so humiliating I never went back,” says Ms. Nomani, a former reporter for the Journal.

Now these Muslim feminists have had enough. Hoping to reform Islam by making it more women-friendly, Ms. Thompson””an American convert to Islam””has organized several “pray-ins” at mosques in the D.C. area. These include the Islamic Center of Washington and the Dar Al-Hijra Islamic Center in Falls Church, Va., a mosque attended by several of the 9/11 hijackers and the Fort Hood mass killer Maj. Nidal Hasan. Ms. Thompson’s next pray-in target is a mosque in Washington.

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

Charleston, South Carolina, County School Board suggests tax hike

The County School Board will ask voters this fall to support an eight-year, one-penny sales tax increase that would generate at least $500 million for construction projects.

The money would cover at least 16 new school buildings, two whole school renovations and comprehensive athletic complexes for three areas of the county. The big question now is whether voters will vote in favor of the tax.

If they don’t, county residents instead would see their property taxes increase to pay for the rebuilding of five schools with seismic problems — Buist Academy, Charleston Progressive Academy, James Simons Elementary, Memminger Elementary and Sullivan’s Island Elementary — but none of the district’s other building needs would be addressed. The eight-year tax includes those projects as well as a number of others, and property taxes would not be raised.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, City Government, Economy, Politics in General, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Church Times–Standing Committee blocks move to expel US

A proposal to separate the Episcopal Church in the United States from the Anglican Communion was rejected by the Communion’s Standing Committee (SCAC) when it met in London over last weekend.

The suggestion, from Dato’ Stanley Isaacs (Church of the Province of South East Asia), led to a discussion, and acknowledgement by committee members of “anxieties felt in parts of the Communion about sexuality issues”, the ACNS reported. But “the overwhelming opinion was that separation would inhibit dialogue on this and other issues”, and would therefore be “unhelpful”.

The Committee also heard the rationale behind the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Pente­cost letter, which proposed excluding from certain ecumenical dialogues provinces that had breached moratoria. Dr Williams and the Communion’s secretary general, Canon Kenneth Kearon, said that the Archbishop “had not acted unilaterally but with the support of the secretary general”, and that they had acted within their powers. The action “had not been punitive in intention”, but had followed “the breaking of the agreed moratoria ”” in response to the needs of the Communion in respect to ecumenical dialogues and faith and order bodies”.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Consultative Council, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Global South Churches & Primates, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Windsor Report / Process

Episcopal Committee Is Working on Rite for Blessing Same Sex Unions

Armed with a new $400,000 grant and the support of the Episcopal Church, a Berkeley seminary is convening priests from across the country to craft the liturgical rite for same-sex couples to receive religious blessings.

The new rite, which will take years to complete, will most likely consist of a series of original prayers, Bible readings and two essays: one on the theological meaning of same-sex blessings, and one advising priests who administer the new rite. If approved, the new blessing would be just the third addition to Episcopal liturgy since 1979.

“This is very significant,” said the Rev. Ruth Meyers, chairwoman of the church’s Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, who is heading the effort. “It does acknowledge a fuller participation of gays and lesbians in the life of the church.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Consultative Council, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Global South Churches & Primates, Instruments of Unity, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Windsor Report / Process

Archbishop Rowan Williams: How should churches respond to the Big Society (Audio)

You may find the link to the audio here.

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

CEN: Roman Catholic outrage over plans to keep the Act of Settlement

Catholic leaders in Scotland have denounced the coalition government’s plans to leave intact the 1701 Act of Settlement, which bans the monarch from marrying a Roman Catholic.

“When a monarch is free to marry a Scientologist, Muslim, Buddhist, Moonie or even Satanist but not a Catholic, then there’s something seriously wrong,” said Scottish Roman Catholic Bishop Joseph Devine of Motherwell.

In a written answer given to the House of Commons on June 30, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Cabinet Office, Mr. Mark Harper stated “there are no current plans to amend the laws on succession”

Bishop Devine, who during the General Election had urged Catholics not to vote Labour due to their social policies, expressed outrage over the Cameron government decision.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Church/State Matters, England / UK, History, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

NPR: Secret Jails Used To Enforce China's 'Hidden Rules'

…there are many instances in which the laws on the books don’t have much effect, and society runs according to a completely different set of unwritten rules. Some Chinese call these “hidden rules.”

An example of how these hidden rules work can be found just a couple minutes’ walk from one of Beijing’s busiest downtown intersections.

There sits a small hotel run by the government of South China’s Guangxi province. Provincial officials occasionally use the hotel to secretly detain people who come to the capital to complain about local government abuses. They are kept under a sort of house arrest until they can be shipped home.

China has denied the existence of “black jails” to the United Nations’ human rights commission, but almost anyone petitioning the government can show you one.

Read or better yet listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General

RNS: Pension Fight Raises Moral and Legal Concerns for ELCA, Publisher

As the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) fights to stay out of a legal battle over unpaid pension benefits, all sides agree on at least one point:

More is at stake than the millions of dollars owed to some 500 pensioners of Augsburg Fortress, the ELCA’s publishing arm.

Last month, the ELCA asked a federal court to be dropped from a suit filed by stakeholders in Augsburg’s recently dissolved pension plan. The ELCA contends it bears no responsibility under the 1974 Employee Retirement Income Security Act because Augsburg Fortress’ pension program is a “church plan.” Church plans are exempted from ERISA requirements, which include sufficient funding to meet promised obligations.

Some Lutherans, however, don’t like what they’re seeing.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Lutheran, Other Churches, Pensions, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

AP survey: A bleaker outlook for economy into 2011

The U.S. economic recovery will remain slow deep into next year, held back by shoppers reluctant to spend and employers hesitant to hire, according to an Associated Press survey of leading economists.

The latest quarterly AP Economy Survey shows economists have turned gloomier in the past three months. They foresee weaker growth and higher unemployment than they did before. As a result, the economists think the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates near zero until at least next spring.

Yet despite their expectation of slower growth, a majority of the 42 economists surveyed believe the recovery remains on track, raising hopes that the economy can avoid falling back into a “double-dip” recession.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, State Government, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Local Paper Front Page: Medal of Honor recipients a disappearing breed

Last fall, just days after attending a kick-off ceremony for the Medal of Honor Society’s national convention, recipient Leonard Keller was killed in a Florida motorcycle accident.

Two weeks ago, Vernon Baker, 90, a soldier who belatedly received a medal for his valor during World War II, died quietly at home in Idaho.

Though the deaths were months apart, they weren’t isolated. Five of their medal-wearing comrades also have died since October.

With the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s September convention in Charleston approaching, the reality of “old soldier” mortality is catching up. From a group of 95 less than a year ago, their numbers have dropped to 88. The youngest, Gordon Ray Roberts, is 60. The oldest is Barney F. Hajiro, 93.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry

Laura Vanderkam: Ramona and the Middle-Class Squeeze

Though “Ramona and Beezus’s” cinematic creators avoided blatant references to any particular era, the movie’s constant celebration of self-actualization is thoroughly modern. “You don’t worry about coloring inside the lines,” Beezus remarks (admiringly) to Ramona. Mr. Quimby, discovered doodling in a book about new-economy jobs, remarks that “I used to be a creative guy.” This being a movie, we trust he’ll be one again.

The books, though, have a harder edge. When Mr. Quimby loses his job in the film, he turns into an affable, if forgetful, Mr. Mom. In the books, he succumbs to the more realistic depression that often accompanies a breadwinner’s job loss. He sits on the couch, watching TV, smoking heavily and not taking Ramona to the park because someone might call to offer him a job.

In the movie, the great child-care snafu is when Ramona gets sick at school and Mr. Quimby cancels a job interview to take care of her. In the books, he once leaves her, at age seven, locked outside the house in the rain because he’s stuck in the unemployment-insurance line.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Books, Children, Economy, Marriage & Family, Movies & Television

Kenya: Anglicans Appeal for Quiet Vote

The head of the Anglican Church has urged Kenyans to have a peaceful referendum.

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala said in a statement on Thursday that divisions that now exist could have been avoided had the government heeded religious leaders’ calls to revise the draft constitution.

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of William Wilberforce and Anthony Ashley-Cooper

Just and eternal God, we offer thanks for the stalwart faith and persistence of thy servants William Wilberforce and Anthony Ashley-Cooper, who, undeterred by opposition and failure, held fast to a vision of justice in which no child of yours might suffer in enforced servitude and misery. Grant that we, drawn by that same Gospel vision, may persevere in serving the common good and caring for those who have been cast down, that they may be raised up through Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. Lo, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

–Matthew 28: 5-8

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Church Times: Canadian priest repents of canine communion

An Anglican church in Canada has caused an outcry after a dog was given holy communion. The Revd Marguerite Rea gave a consecrated wafer to an Alsatian-cross breed named Trapper, at St Peter’s, Toronto, last month.

It was the first time the dog and his owner, Donald Keith, had attended a service there. The Bishop of York Scarborough, the Rt Revd Patrick Yu, who oversees St Peter’s, emphasised that it was against the policy of the Anglican Church of Canada. “I can see why people would be offended. It is a strange and shocking thing, and I have never heard of it happening before.”

He said he believed Ms Rea was overcome by “a misguided gesture of welcoming”. He has received assurances from her that it will never happen again. The matter was now closed, he said, as “we are, after all, in the forgiveness-and-repair business.”

On Sunday, Ms Rea apologised for her action, which had been a “simple act of reaching out”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Eucharist, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Sacramental Theology, Theology