Daily Archives: August 9, 2010

America [a Jesuit magazine]: Doris Donnelly reviews Stanley Hauerwas' Memoir

Faith in a crucified Christ allows Hauerwas to continue his work with what seems like indefatigable energy. It also inspired him to argue that the “we” in a “we are at war” response to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, could not possibly be a Christian “we.” One might suggest that such a challenge was not a far cry from Stanley Hauerwas, age 7, who innocently challenged the etiquette of the water kegs available for bricklayers with one cup designated for white and another for black workers. Young Hauerwas drank indiscriminately from either one. The difference now, 60 or so years later, is that Hauerwas intentionally chooses to drink from the cup that unites us all as sons and daughters of God, no matter the consequences.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, History, Methodist, Other Churches, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Oliver Thomas–Why do we need religion?

Religion makes us want to live.

Viktor Frankl’s revealing research in the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz led him to a startling conclusion. It was not the youngest, strongest or even smartest inmates who tended to survive. It was those who had found meaning in their lives. People, it turns out, need a reason to live.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, History, Religion & Culture

Matthew Franck–Same-Sex Marriage and the Assault on Moral Reasoning

It is something of a consolation, albeit a small one, that the best arguments advocates for a constitutional “right” to same-sex marriage can muster are so transparently bad. Disconnected from nature, from history, from the canons of legal reasoning, and even from the standards of logic itself, their arguments betray themselves at every turn, as acts of the will and not of reasoned judgment. When the advocate advancing the arguments wears a black robe and sits on the federal bench, of course, even falsehood and fallacy have a decent chance of ultimate victory.

Such an advocate is Judge Vaughn Walker of the U.S. district court in San Francisco. After two and a half weeks of trial in January, and a day of closing arguments in June, he finally delivered his ruling and opinion in Perry v. Schwarzenegger on August 4, overturning California’s Proposition 8, an amendment to the state constitution adopted by the people in November 2008, declaring that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” The California Supreme Court, in May of that year, had overturned an earlier popular referendum protecting marriage (that had only statutory status) on grounds that it violated the state constitution. And so the people of the state, against the odds and facing elite opposition, amended that constitution just six months later. Judge Walker has shifted the ground of the controversy to the federal constitution, and has flung wide the door of the federal courts to embrace (he hopes) some of the worst sophistical knavery that has been seen in quite some time in the pages of American jurisprudence.

Perhaps the most surprising thing in the judge’s opinion is his declaration that “gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage.” This line, quoted everywhere within hours with evident astonishment, appears to be the sheerest ipse dixit-a judicial “because I said so”-and the phrase “no longer” conveys that palpable sense that one is being mugged by… [the writer]….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Theology

Natchez, Mississippi, Democrat: Educators say much has changed in the classroom

Gone are quiet classrooms with desks all in a row and a teacher at the blackboard.

Instead, a peek into nearly any classroom across the Miss-Lou will reveal noise, movement and technology that sometimes does the teaching.

And though little about how children learn today seems normal to adults, educators insist that learning in a global society means parents, grandparents and guardians must do a little learning of their own.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Education, Globalization, Science & Technology

Navajoland Episcopal Bishop ordained

In a ceremony drawing from… [Episcopal] and Navajo traditions, the Rev. David Bailey was ordained as the Bishop of Navajoland Episcopalian Church.

The Navajoland missions have had interim bishops since the death of Steven Plummer, the Episcopal Church’s first Navajo priest and the first Navajo bishop of Navajoland, in 2005.

Bailey promised his reign as bishop will be similar to the ceremony in which he was ordained. He will infuse Navajo traditions into the church’s customs, work to get Navajos into the priesthood and select a Navajo to be his successor, said Leon Sampson, Plummer’s nephew who is entering the priesthood.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

The Sun (San Bernadino, California): Pulpits quiet on Same Sex marriage legal ruling

The battle over same-sex marriage has been fought at the ballot box and in the courtroom, but it remains to be seen if it will continue to be waged in pulpits throughout the region, as ministers on both sides of the debate consider weighing in on the issue while it makes its way up the legal ladder.

“One of the things I saw this week in the overturning of Proposition 8 was an inbreaking of the kingdom of God, which is a place where all people are treated equally in the eyes of God,” said The Rev. David Starr of St. John’s Episcopal Church in San Bernardino.

Starr, who officiated the wedding between his son and another man two years ago, applauded U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision Wednesday to overturn California’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Starr said he would consider speaking on the issue as he teaches about God’s kingdom in the Gospel of Luke.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, TEC Parishes

A.S. Haley–TEC affilated Pittsburgh Diocese Loses Bid to Dismiss Appeal; More Poor TEC Stewardship

…one can know this: the charges to ECUSA for getting its counsel specially admitted, and then drafting, filing and arguing this bogus motion were on the order of thousands and thousands of dollars. If the three ECUSA counsel were on the telephone together, the “argument” alone was costing ECUSA at least over $1000 per hour. (And what would be the point of being admitted pro hac vice just in time to file the motion to quash, if one were not also going to take part in the argument of the motion?)

The point here is not that New York and Pennsylvania attorneys are expensive; we all know that. The point instead is that no one is minding the store, or overseeing what legal work is being done for ECUSA and in its name, on an impartial basis. (Mary Kostel used to work under David Booth Beers at Goodwin Procter — so how much objective oversight on legal strategies and expenses could she provide? If she is even performing some of that function, she would be overseeing someone who used to be her boss — and who still, as the Presiding Bishop’s Chancellor, has quite a lot of unchecked authority.)

In their response to the query made by the bishops to the Executive Council, two members of that Council (who are both attorneys) claimed that “We give you our professional opinion that the church is receiving extraordinary value for the funds it does spend.” That claim is very much open to dispute, as this little incident in Pittsburgh demonstrates.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone], Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh

Tom Friedman on Shlomi Eldar's new documentary “Precious Life”–Steal This Movie

… the film tracks the story of Mohammed Abu Mustafa, a 4-month-old Palestinian baby suffering from a rare immune deficiency. Moved by the baby’s plight, Eldar helps the infant and mother go from Gaza to Israel’s Tel Hashomer hospital for lifesaving bone-marrow treatment. The operation costs $55,000. Eldar puts out an appeal on Israel TV and within hours an Israeli Jew whose own son was killed during military service donates all the money.

The documentary takes a dramatic turn, though, when the infant’s Palestinian mother, Raida, who is being disparaged by fellow Gazans for having her son treated in Israel, blurts out that she hopes he’ll grow up to be a suicide bomber to help recover Jerusalem. Raida tells Eldar: “From the smallest infant, even smaller than Mohammed, to the oldest person, we will all sacrifice ourselves for the sake of Jerusalem. We feel we have the right to it. You’re free to be angry, so be angry.”

Eldar is devastated by her declaration and stops making the film. But this is no Israeli propaganda movie. The drama of the Palestinian boy’s rescue at an Israeli hospital is juxtaposed against Israeli retaliations for shelling from Gaza, which kill whole Palestinian families.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Foreign Relations, Health & Medicine, Israel, Middle East, Movies & Television, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

AP: Forced to retire, some take Social Security early

Paul Skidmore’s office is shuttered, his job gone, his 18-month job search fruitless and his unemployment benefits exhausted. So at 63, he plans to file this week for Social Security benefits, three years earlier than planned.

“All I want to do is work,” said Skidmore, of Finksburg, Md., who was an insurance claims adjuster for 37 years before his company downsized and closed his office last year. “And nobody will hire me.”

It is one of the most striking fallouts from the bad economy: Social Security is facing a rare shortfall this year as a wave of people like Skidmore opt to collect payments before their full retirement age. Adding to the strain on the trust are reduced tax collections sapped by the country’s historic unemployment ”” still at 9.5 percent.

More people filed for Social Security in 2009 ”” 2.74 million ”” than any year in history

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Economy, Social Security, The U.S. Government

Judith Warner (NY Times Magazine)–What the Great Recession Has Done to Family Life

That the Great Recession could then bring hope for a major recalibration ”” a resetting of all the clocks ”” is not surprising. Unfortunately, though, it’s not happening in any meaningful way. The poor are getting poorer, and the rich, despite stock-market setbacks, are still comparatively rich. The most devastating losses in household wealth over the past two years have been suffered by the middle class. And families are fraying at the seams. The Pew poll showed nearly half of people who had been unemployed for more than six months saying their family relationships had become strained, and a New York Times/CBS poll of unemployed adults last winter found about 40 percent saying they believed their joblessness was causing behavioral change in their children.

Parents who have jobs are working longer hours than ever. Mothers are taking shorter maternity leaves. The birth rate is on the decline. The divorce rate is declining, too ”” it’s too expensive for people to break up their households ”” but that’s not necessarily a family-friendly thing, as a report from the Council on Contemporary Families noted in April: “We know from the experience of the Great Depression of the 1930s that divorce rates can fall while family conflict and domestic violence rates rise.”

What came out of the combined experience of the Great Depression and World War II ”” broad measures of quality-of-life equalization like a sharply progressive tax policy with rates on the wealthy unimaginable today, the G.I. Bill, government-subsidized home mortgages for veterans ”” permitted the easier, less-frenzied middle class family life that older Americans remember from the 1950s and ’60s and that younger Americans dream of. In other words, it wasn’t individual families that reformed themselves after the crucible of the Depression. It was our society.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance, Psychology, Stress, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

G. Jeffrey MacDonald on Parish Ministry Today: Congregations Gone Wild

The American clergy is suffering from burnout, several new studies show. And part of the problem, as researchers have observed, is that pastors work too much. Many of them need vacations, it’s true. But there’s a more fundamental problem that no amount of rest and relaxation can help solve: congregational pressure to forsake one’s highest calling.

The pastoral vocation is to help people grow spiritually, resist their lowest impulses and adopt higher, more compassionate ways. But churchgoers increasingly want pastors to soothe and entertain them. It’s apparent in the theater-style seating and giant projection screens in churches and in mission trips that involve more sightseeing than listening to the local people.

As a result, pastors are constantly forced to choose, as they work through congregants’ daily wish lists in their e-mail and voice mail, between paths of personal integrity and those that portend greater job security. As religion becomes a consumer experience, the clergy become more unhappy and unhealthy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

From the Morning Scripture Readings

The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.”

–John 3:8

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be our strength: By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

The Full Ruling in the Bishop Bennison Decision

Read it all (a 39 page pdf).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pennsylvania

Diocese of Springfield Synod picks 3 Final nominees for Episcopal bishop

After nearly nine hours and eight rounds of casting ballots Saturday, a nominating synod charged with choosing four finalists for bishop of the Springfield Episcopal Diocese could decide on only three.

In the next round of voting in November, the bishop will be chosen from among the Rev. Matthew Gunter, 52, rector, St. Barnabas Church, Glen Ellyn; the Rev. Canon E. Mark Stevenson, 45, Canon to the Ordinary, Diocese of Louisiana, Baton Rouge, La.; and the Rev. Daniel Martins, 58, rector, St. Anne’s, Warsaw, Ind.

Clergy and lay delegates numbering 130 from around the diocese gathered at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, 815 S. Second St., to pare down the 14 nominees for bishop.

Read it all and you can find more material via the diocese here (make sure to follow the link to the ballot results).

Update: You may also find a lengthy communication from the Standing Committee about the process here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils