Daily Archives: September 3, 2010

Diane Cole–A Stirring New Jewish Prayer Book for the High Holidays

When services for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begin on Wednesday evening, Sept. 8, more than 150,000 congregants in synagogues throughout the U.S. and Canada will turn a new leaf””literally””as they open a brand new High Holidays prayer book, “Mahzor Lev Shalem.”

Edited and published under the auspices of Judaism’s Conservative movement and its Rabbinical Assembly, this attractive and accessible volume aims to welcome and involve as broad a community as possible during the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services, which attract the largest gatherings to synagogues each year.

Indeed, as many as 90% of those attending High Holidays services are not regular synagogue-goers, estimates Rabbi Edward Feld, the prayer book’s senior editor. So it was not easy to assemble a “mahzor” (the traditional name for the High Holidays prayer book) that engages the regulars but will also appeal to those sitting in the pews who have little or no connection to Judaism the rest of the year….

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Judaism, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

A Local newspaper Editorial: Grade teachers on performance

Mr. [Arne] Duncan joined Ms. [Michaelle] Rhee in advocating the use of student test scores as a measure of teaching ability and paying teachers for performance. Ms. [Randi ] Weingarten agreed that teacher performance should be measured, but objected to the recent publication of teacher evaluations by the Los Angeles Times, calling that particular evaluation system flawed. Mr. Duncan, in contrast, praised the publication.

Meanwhile, teacher union leaders in Los Angeles have urged a boycott of the Times and asked union members to suspend their subscriptions. So much for thoughtful discourse.

On this issue Ms. Weingarten and the teacher unions are fighting a rearguard action. A recent Gallup poll found, unsurprisingly, that 72 percent of public school parents believe teacher pay should be based on performance.

That’s a reasonable expectation, since the future of their children is at stake.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, City Government, Education, Politics in General

In Medical School Shift, Meeting Patients on Day 1

For generations, medical students have spent two years in classrooms and laboratories, memorizing body parts and dissecting specimens, eagerly anticipating the triumphant third year when they would be immersed in working with actual people who have actual diseases.

Upending that century-old tradition, the aspiring doctors who started their training at New York University School of Medicine last week got to meet real patients on their very first day. But not to worry ”” they were armed only with laptop computers, not scalpels.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Health & Medicine

New Yorkers Want Islamic Center Moved, Poll Finds

Two-thirds of New York City residents want a planned Muslim community center and mosque to be relocated to a less controversial site farther away from ground zero in Lower Manhattan, including many who describe themselves as supporters of the project, according to a New York Times poll.

The poll indicates that support for the 13-story complex, which organizers said would promote moderate Islam and interfaith dialogue, is tepid in its hometown.

Nearly nine years after the Sept. 11 attacks ignited a wave of anxiety about Muslims, many in the country’s biggest and arguably most cosmopolitan city still have an uneasy relationship with Islam. One-fifth of New Yorkers acknowledged animosity toward Muslims. Thirty-three percent said that compared with other American citizens, Muslims were more sympathetic to terrorists. And nearly 60 percent said people they know had negative feelings toward Muslims because of 9/11.

Read it all.

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

Child’s Ordeal Shows Risks of Psychosis Drugs for Young

At 18 months, Kyle Warren started taking a daily antipsychotic drug on the orders of a pediatrician trying to quell the boy’s severe temper tantrums.

Thus began a troubled toddler’s journey from one doctor to another, from one diagnosis to another, involving even more drugs. Autism, bipolar disorder, hyperactivity, insomnia, oppositional defiant disorder. The boy’s daily pill regimen multiplied: the antipsychotic Risperdal, the antidepressant Prozac, two sleeping medicines and one for attention-deficit disorder. All by the time he was 3.

He was sedated, drooling and overweight from the side effects of the antipsychotic medicine. Although his mother, Brandy Warren, had been at her “wit’s end” when she resorted to the drug treatment, she began to worry about Kyle’s altered personality. “All I had was a medicated little boy,” Ms. Warren said. “I didn’t have my son. It’s like, you’d look into his eyes and you would just see just blankness….”

Read it all.

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

Martyn Minns in CEN on the All Africa Bishops Conference–Tables turned in Entebbe

At the first AABC conference the Archbishop of Canterbury was conspicuous by his absence, this time he came and preached at the opening Eucharist. In his carefully nuanced sermon on Jesus as the Good Shepherd Dr. Williams warned the gathered bishops to listen to their people and take risks.

In his Conference address Archbishop Ian Ernest, Chairman of CAPA (Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa) responded by making it clear that Dr. Williams was there to listen to the voice of the Anglican Communion in Africa and not take risks on its future. He went on to state that the existing leadership structures of the Communion had failed, were increasingly irrelevant and unrepresentative of the majority of the Communion. This view was echoed Archbishop Henry Orombi, Primate of Uganda and host of the conference, who declared to one reporter “the Anglican Church is very broken. It (church) has been torn at its deepest level, and it is a very dysfunctional family of the provincial churches.”

These challenging words were delivered respectfully but there was no mistaking the determination and resolve. In a meeting with the Primates, Dr Williams was left in no doubt that unless he was willing to follow through on the numerous decisions to exercise discipline towards The Episcopal Church (USA) and its fellow travelers, the Anglican Communion focused on Canterbury will continue to disintegrate. Both Archbishops Ernest and Orombi also made it clear that the days of deference to the West as the sender of missionaries and resources were over. They are now ready to turn the tables and re-evangelize the West understanding that Gospel mission is no longer from the “West to the rest” but from “everywhere to anywhere”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Commentary, Africa, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Robert Gagnon reviews Andrew Marin’s recent "Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community"

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Books, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Ben Adler (Newsweek)–How Religious Diversity Enriches Our Lives

The atheist son of nonpracticing Jews, I’m about as far from a Christian as you can get this side of paganism. And yet I love churches….

I revel in my native Brooklyn’s identity as “the borough of churches,” from the imposing Gothic Episcopal and Catholic edifices to plain little Baptist storefronts and modest Pentecostal signs in Spanish.

Read it all.

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

A Church Times Article on the All Africa Bishops Conference

Africans must take their destiny into their own hands and address their own problems, bishops of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) declared at the end of their week-long conference about effective leadership for sustainable development….

The world must listen to the Churches’ unique voice, they say, in the first of two communiqués. One deals with the continent’s ills; the other, from the CAPA Primates, addresses the internal affairs of the Anglican Communion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord God, who never failest both to hear and to answer the prayer that is sincere: Let not our hearts be upon the world when our hands are lifted up to pray, nor our prayers end upon our lips, but go forth with power to work thy will in the world; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe”; and he worshiped him.

–John 9:35-38

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Episcopal Church House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson Writes the Bp. Bennison Trial Witnesses

(This is an open letter, dated September 1, written in response to the August 20th open letter from witnesses at the trial of Bishop Charles Bennison; I tried to find a copy to link to on Ms. Anderson’s own website and failed–KSH).

September 1, 2010

To Bennison Trial Witnesses:
Julia Alexis, Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real
Martha Alexis, Western Diocese, Anglican Church in North America
Andy Alexis, Catholic Diocese of Sacramento
Maggie Thompson, Episcopal Diocese of Vermont
Rev. Margo Maris, pastor, advocate and editor, Episcopal Diocese of Oregon

I was moved by your letter expressing your pain and frustration over the recent ruling by the Episcopal Church’s Court of Review which has made it possible for the Rt. Rev. Charles Bennison to resume the position of Bishop of Pennsylvania. Good people can disagree about how the court interpreted our canons. I believe that most Episcopalians who have followed this case agree that Bishop Bennison’s choice to resume his episcopacy presents significant problems for the Diocese of Pennsylvania and for the wider Church.

I want you to know that I share your hope that the Episcopal Church can be, “a guiding beacon to all people everywhere who are affected in some way by clergy sexual abuse.” I also share your frustration that in your case, and in others, our churches were not “safe sanctuaries” for vulnerable people. And I share your outrage that individuals in positions of authority have been complicit in maintaining a climate of silence and denial that has inhibited our efforts to end sexual abuse within our church.

Like the Diocese of Pennsylvania’s Standing Committee, and many diocesan clergy and laity, I wish that Bishop Bennison had the wisdom and generosity of spirit to resign. As bishop he is more likely to deepen divisions and discredit the church than he is to bring healing or advance our common mission. I join the Court of Review in its assessment that Charles Bennison’s handling of the sexual abuse charges against his brother John was “totally wrong.” Bishop Bennison’s lack of remorse about his handling of this situation, and his solipsistic view of what is at stake, concern me deeply.

I have spoken recently with Bishop Bennison, whom I have known for many years. I have also spoken with members of the Standing Committee. I wish I could say that I can imagine a just and speedy resolution to this situation, or for that matter, a satisfying outcome following a protracted campaign, but I do not. It is my prayer that the Bishops of The Episcopal Church, when they are together this month in Arizona, will prayerfully consider this matter and either prevail upon Bishop Bennison to resign, or undertake other measures that lead to Bishop Bennison’s removal from office.

As a result of your letter and those of numerous others, I have turned my attention to considering the steps that our Church might take to prevent this kind of injustice from happening again. In the wake of this decision, it seems essential to address a deficiency in the structures of our Church, namely that there is no means of dissolving the relationship between a bishop and a diocese that find themselves in untenable circumstances. I am also considering the calls coming from many Episcopalians to amend our canons to include clergy and laity on the Court of Review.

In preparation for General Convention, a review of the canons relevant to these concerns is in order. I am presently in consultation with members of my council of advice, deputies and others with particular interest and knowledge in these matters to determine the most expedient and efficient way to proceed in this review.

I wish there were more that I could offer you in gratitude for your bravery in the face of all that you have endured at the hands of our Church. It grieves me to be another person telling you that my hands are tied, and I know the potential remedies that I am proposing may serve the church in the long-term but do nothing to right the wrongs inflicted upon you.

But within our polity, this is what is within my power to do. Please know that I will pursue these issues seriously and actively, and with the support and counsel of others in the church who also find this situation unacceptable.

All of you, and all the people of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, remain in my prayers.


Bonnie Anderson, D.D.
President, The House of Deputies

cc: The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Deputies and First Alternates
The Standing Committee, Diocese of Pennsylvania
The Rt. Rev. Charles Bennison

Update: An ENS story about this appears there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), House of Deputies President, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Pennsylvania, TEC Polity & Canons

CNS–Speakers of various faiths offer perspective on N.Y. mosque controversy

Jewish, evangelical and Catholic speakers, some with backgrounds in national security and interfaith relations, called the controversy over plans to build an Islamic community center and mosque a few blocks from ground zero in New York “contrived” and likely to help those who would recruit potential terrorists.

“The individuals and organizations who are contriving this controversy seem to will that (a war with Islam) will come into existence,” said Andrew Bacevich, a retired Army officer and professor of international relations at Boston University, in a Sept. 1 teleconference organized by the group Faith in Public Life. “It is absolutely imperative that we act together to deny them this.”

Meanwhile, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal the same day, New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan said he was working with Jewish and Muslim religious leaders to identify clerics and laypeople to invite to interreligious discussions to work out conflicts as they occur.

Read it all.

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

Christian Today–Hurricane Katrina survivors praise help of faith groups five years on

Five years after Hurricanes Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, survivors and those working on their behalf say work is far from finished.

Church World Service says that what progress has been made is in great part due to the support, funding and labour of the US faith community and of humanitarian agencies.

“If it weren’t for the volunteers and agencies who assisted me, I don’t know where I would be,” said Gloria Mouton, 62, whose home in New Orleans East was among those repaired by volunteers from across the US during the 2009 CWS Neighborhood New Orleans ecumenical project.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Hurricane Katrina, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Poverty, Religion & Culture