Daily Archives: August 21, 2010

NY Times Week in Review: Over Time, a Same Sex Marriage Groundswell

Gay marriage is not going away as a highly emotional, contested issue. Proposition 8, the California ballot measure that bans same-sex marriage, has seen to that, as it winds its way through the federal courts.

But perhaps the public has reached a turning point.

A CNN poll this month found that a narrow majority of Americans supported same-sex marriage ”” the first poll to find majority support. Other poll results did not go that far, but still, on average, showed that support for gay marriage had risen to 45 percent or more (with the rest either opposed or undecided).

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, House of Representatives, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Senate, Sexuality, State Government, Theology

New Burton, Michigan, Roman Catholic priest is married with family

[The Rev. Steven] Anderson’s journey to the Catholic Church had a few stops along with the way, which explains why he was named a priest with a wife and children.

After graduating from high school, Anderson spent a year at Adrian College before transferring to Oral Roberts University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in biblical literature. He later earned a master’s degree in divinity from Oral Roberts, in Tulsa, Okla.

In 1995, he became a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church, a denomination that began in 1992.

Anderson converted to Catholicism after reading work from some of the earliest writers of the church.

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Posted in Uncategorized

(Washington Post) Michael Mewshaw reviews Eliza Griswold's new book on Christianity and Islam

An American poet and experienced journalist, the author brings to her book a sharp eye for telling details and a keen sense of place. By her own admission, she also brings personal baggage. As the daughter of Frank Griswold, the former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, she grew up a preacher’s kid, deeply steeped in Christian traditions and at home with evangelicals and international proselytizers such as Billy Graham’s son Franklin. But she has done her homework on Islam, and as a young woman traveling alone, she appears to have encountered no obstacles in Muslim countries that she couldn’t overcome.

Admirably evenhanded, she recounts the excesses of fundamentalism on both sides. For readers more accustomed to hearing about Islamic inflexibility, she recalls the callous myopia of Christianity. “Dr. Richard Furman, the head of the World Medical Mission, the medical arm of [Franklin] Graham’s organization, told me that in one of the Samaritan’s Purse’s African hospitals, the doctors will draw a plus or minus sign on a patient’s chart to indicate whether he is an evangelical Christian. If not, his operation may be postponed until someone shares the Gospel with him lest he die without an opportunity for salvation.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Episcopal Church (TEC), Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

A profile of Ryan Wright, newly in charge of Cape Coral, Pine Island Episcopal churches

At 33, [Ryan] Wright is young compared to most priests, yet his vision is clearer than many who have been in the clergy for decades.

“I don’t think my age is really a factor,” he said. That is unless you count intense passion as an age-thing.

“As Christians we are called to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ, but that is only the beginning,” he said. “The fruits of that relationship are a desire to live and share the Gospel with our neighbors and to enjoy fellowship with our community to experience the transformative power of being in a relationship with Christ within this world.”

When asked what he finds most rewarding in his new cure thus far, Wright comes forth immediately with his response, “From the joy of grandkids to the death of a loved one, the whole church community can come together to share and bear hard places as well as celebrate the positive. It is my pleasure to invite God into those places.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

Christopher Howse: Bertrand Russell versus faith in God

There has been a fine old ding-dong in the books pages of The Tablet, the Catholic weekly. Sir Michael Dummett, the retired Wykeham Professor of Logic at Oxford, has accused Professor John Haldane of St Andrews of a style of thought that is “old-fashioned and cramped”.

In a review of Professor Haldane’s book Reasonable Faith (Routledge, £21.99) Sir Michael declares that “a man’s philosophy ought not to be controlled by his religious beliefs”. He then says: “If the results of someone’s philosophising appear to be coming into conflict with what he otherwise firmly believes, he ought to conclude that they cannot be correct, although he is unable at present to see where or how they have gone wrong.”

That sounds very like religious belief controlling a man’s philosophy….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Books, Other Faiths, Philosophy, Religion & Culture

Western North Carolina Church members are finding out what food was like in biblical times

[Bill] Scott and other interested Christians who met for the meal at the Hendersonville church were participating in “What Would Jesus Eat?” a Food in the Gospels Bible course being held at the church on Wednesday evenings for the next few weeks.

The course, taught by Bible student John Snodgrass, aims to shed light on the importance of planting, harvesting and dining through the parables as well as miracles that Jesus performed.

“Jesus is known to us today because he captured the hearts of first-century Galileans, and the best way to the heart of a first-century Galilean was through his stomach,” Snodgrass told the group as they ate.

Snodgrass and his wife Elizabeth prepared the food for the meal. They attempted to re-create a typical first-century Palestinian peasant’s supper.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Adult Education, Christology, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly: Ray Kurzweil Extended Interview

The introductory blurb reads as follows:

Biological and technological evolution “is a spiritual process,” says this leading futurist. “Entities become more godlike, never reaching that ideal but moving in that direction exponentially.” Watch excerpts from our interview with Ray Kurzweil.

Watch it all (about 5 1/2 minutes).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly: The Ethics of Human Enhancement

RAY KURZWEIL: This is a design of a robotic red blood cell. We are going to put these technologies inside us, blood-cell-size devices that will augment our immune system, make us a lot healthier, destroy disease and dramatically push back human longevity, go inside our brains and actually enable us to remember things better, solve problems more effectively. We are going to become a hybrid of machine and our biological heritage. In my mind, we are not going to be transcending our humanity. We are going to be transcending our biology.

[LUCKY] SEVERSON: Kurzweil has written several books. One of the most recent, called “The Singularity Is Near,” predicts that by the year 2050 nonbiological artificial intelligence will surpass human intelligence, creating a hybrid of man and technology.

KURZWEIL: What I am predicting is that we will have machines””we are going to need a different word because these are not like the machines we are used to. These are going to be machines that will seem as human, as real, as conscious, as any actual human being.

Read or watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

AFP–At Pentagon, Muslims pray without protests

Without controversy or protests, Muslims kneel in prayer every day at a quiet Pentagon chapel, only steps away from where a hijacked airliner struck the building on September 11, 2001.

The tranquil atmosphere at the Pentagon is a stark contrast to the furor surrounding a planned mosque near Ground Zero in New York, with opponents arguing the proposed Islamic center is an insult to the memory of the 3,000 victims of the 9/11 attacks.

“I’ve been here almost four years and I’ve never heard of any complaints,” US Army spokesman George Wright said of the regular Muslim services.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

Dan Scheid–Baptism isn't always by the 'book'

When I was in seminary, I wrote a killer essay on baptism. The assignment was to write a detailed parish newsletter column explaining baptism and the process for preparing infants, children and adults for the sacrament. I pulled out all the stops, wrote just what my liturgics professor wanted to read, and, had the essay actually been printed in the newsletter, I would’ve had to officiate at far more funerals than baptisms as a result of boring parishioners to death.

It’s safe to say there’s a difference between theory and practice, between seminary and ministry. I know this because the past few baptisms I’ve celebrated haven’t exactly followed the outline I dazzled my professor with. They’ve been better.

Working as a chaplain for Hospice at Home has reminded me that at life’s end, people think about tying up loose ends, and for some that loose end is baptism. I was working with a family and two of the daughters of a man who was dying said that he, his wife and another daughter hadn’t been baptized and they thought that the three of them should receive the sacrament before their father died. One thing that’s very important in providing spiritual care for the dying and their families is not to push any agenda or bias I (or the family) may have; rather it is to explore what’s meaningful for the patient and assist him or her in finding it. So we talked about baptism for a few minutes, and they decided they wanted to be baptized; and with the patient in bed and his wife and their daughter at his bedside, I asked the other daughters to find the nicest bowl in the kitchen and fill it with water from the tap. Then we gathered in a circle, and I blessed the water and baptized them.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Baptism, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Sacramental Theology, Theology

BBC–Is multi-tasking a myth?

….researchers at Stanford University found that regular multi-taskers are actually quite bad at it. In a series of tests that required switching attention from one task to another, heavy multi-task had slower response times than those who rarely multi tasked.

What that suggests, the researchers say, is that multi-task are more easily distracted by irrelevant information. The more we multi-task, the less we are able to focus properly on just one thing.

Damon Young thinks where media and communications are concerned, we’re not made for multi-tasking.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Psychology, Science & Technology

Eden Martin (WSJ)–Unfunded Public Pensions””the Next Quagmire

The consequences of doing nothing would be painful. But they would be far less harmful than the consequences of an unconditioned federal bailout, which would mean massive new fiscal commitments at the federal level.

Unfortunately, leaders in Illinois and elsewhere are now talking quietly about the possibility of a federal bailout. Such speculation undermines state and local efforts to reform pension systems or make other hard choices. Why agonize over unpopular budget cuts or tax increases if the feds will ride to the rescue?

Bailing out state pensions would be astronomically expensive. According to a Pew Foundation estimate this year, the total unfunded liabilities of the 50 states’ pension funds amounted to about $1 trillion in 2008. Another recent study, by Josh Rauh of Northwestern and Robert Novy-Marx of the Chicago Booth School of Business, estimated that the unfunded liability was closer to $3 trillion. Adding the liabilities of municipal pension funds makes the total even larger.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, City Government, Economy, Pensions, Personal Finance, Politics in General, State Government, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

NY Times–N.Y. Archbishop offers to mediate Islamic center controversy

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in New York, said Wednesday that he would gladly help mediate between the proponents and critics of an Islamic center and mosque planned for a site two blocks from ground zero.

The archbishop said that it was his “major prayer” that a compromise could be reached, and that while he had no strong feelings about the project, he might support finding a new location for the center.

Speaking during an impromptu news conference at Covenant House, a Catholic shelter in Manhattan for homeless youth, Archbishop Dolan invoked the example of Pope John Paul II, who in 1993 ordered Catholic nuns to move from their convent at the former Auschwitz death camp after protests from Jewish leaders.

“He’s the one who said, ”˜Let’s keep the idea, and maybe move the address,’ ” the archbishop said. “It worked there; might work here.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, City Government, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

May God be with Kenya! – Catholic Bishops Statement on the Constitution

Now, Kenyans have voted after having heard what we, the Catholic Church in Kenya, and various people had to tell them. We respect the outcome of the referendum, where the larger numbers of Kenyans have voted to accept this new constitution. However, truth and right are not about numbers. We therefore, as the shepherds placed to give moral guidance to our people, still reiterate the need to address the flawed moral issues in this new Constitution. That voice will never be silenced.

We thank all the Christians and many Kenyans of good will who voted “no” in consideration of the issues raised by the Church. We also acknowledge many who voted “yes” while having serious misgivings on the moral issues contained in the constitution. We understand the many pressures that were at play at this time, and call upon you to revisit and play a crucial role in addressing these issues as we now seek to implement the Constitution and forge a way forward in the general reforms we now have to embark on.

The Church desires an authentic reform process, and will remain at the forefront to support a good Constitution and the legal reform process in this country….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Kenya, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic