Daily Archives: September 14, 2010

Belgium: Amid sex scandals, de-baptism gains favor

Faced with ever-more harrowing revelations of child sex abuse by Roman Catholic clergymen, Belgians are turning in record numbers to apostasy ”” formally breaking with their religion through a process of “de-baptism.”

“It has increased enormously since the cases of child abuse. It keeps going up,” said Bjorn Siffer, deputy director of Flemish Humanist-Secular Society. “We know from the bishops’ secretaries that they can’t cope with all the requests they are getting for de-baptism.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Atheism, Belgium, Europe, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

John Martin: Pope Benedict and the Enigma of English Christianity

How will young people respond to a pope with an austere image who was once dubbed “God’s rottweiler”? Feelings have been running high about style. Even while Benedict plans to celebrate the prefaces and canons in Latin, organizers have approved a rap theme song for his visit: a hip-hop version of “Hearts Cry” by a Catholic trio named Ooberfuse. “We wanted to break some of the stereotypes,” a member of the band told the press.

A somewhat strange theme in public discourse has been whether Benedict can turn the tide of secularism. Some traditionalists nurse the idea that the Vatican only temporarily conceded the British Isles to a flawed Protestant version of faith and has been biding its time to launch a fresh mission. They see the Personal Ordinariate for dissident Anglicans as marking the beginning of a comeback.

Benedict will go softly softly on this and will likely not invoke Augustine of Canterbury as a motif for Roman Catholic mission in the U.K. Contrary to the popular view, Augustine did not bring Christianity to these shores. He found a Christian queen in Kent, and a Celtic church that could boast of being represented at the Council of Nicea. The future is not about the domination of one tradition, but understanding and cooperation among the enormous variety of Christians in Britain today.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, England / UK, History, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

A Look at a TEC Parish–Saint Paul's in Jeffersonville, Indiana

If you go to the link toward the end of this sentence and enter “Indianapolis” as the name of the diocese and then go to “Church” (the third possible entry line) and enter “Saint Paul’s, Jeffersonville” underneath the entry point (where you will see a list of parishes alphabetically in the Indianapolis diocese) then you can see in pictorial form some of the data from 1999-2009.

You may find the parish website there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Data, TEC Parishes

ENS–House of Bishops to consider immigration, evangelism during fall gathering in Phoenix

Issues of immigration and evangelism will top the agenda as more than 100 bishops of the Episcopal Church gather Sept. 16-21 in Phoenix for their annual fall meeting, themed “Changing Contexts for God’s Mission: What is the New Invitation?”

The bishops also are expected to discuss congregational development and mission, all within a context of prayer, Bible study and worship.

At least 50 bishops and a dozen of their spouses — who are also gathering in Phoenix — plan to attend a Sept. 13-15 pre-meeting visit to the Arizona-Mexico border. The trip, organized by the Diocese of Arizona, aims to help bishops and spouses “spend time … on both sides of the border seeing conditions for themselves,” according to a statement released by Greta Huls, diocesan canon for communication.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

BBC–Settlement concerns as Mid-East peace talks resume

Renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are opening in Egypt, amid concern over the imminent expiry of Israel’s partial ban on West Bank settlement building.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are holding three-way talks with Hillary Clinton in Sharm-el-Sheikh.

Before the talks began the US secretary of state had said Israel should extend its freeze on West Bank construction.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Israel, Middle East, Politics in General, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle, War in Gaza December 2008--

Upcoming Episcopal bishop vote in the Diocese of Springfield isn't the final step

[Dan] Martins, in particular, may have difficulty getting consent if he sticks with his conservative views on same-sex unions and [partnered] gay clergy.

All three candidates were pressed on those issues and others, such as women’s ordination, at three question-and-answer sessions last week in Mount Vernon, Decatur and Alton.

But [Christopher “Kip”] Ashmore said he doesn’t think any of the candidates ”” though they follow different movements within the broader Anglican community ”” poses a threat to leading the diocese out of the Episcopal Church.

“All three are committed in their allegiance to the Episcopal Church,” he said.

Read it all.

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

(Zenit) Vatican Not Sweating UK Protests

The Vatican isn’t worried about the possibility of protests during Benedict XVI’s visit to the United Kingdom next week, says a spokesman.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi met today with journalists who asked about hostility toward the Sept. 16-19 Papal visit. A campaign called Protest the Pope is organizing a march through London on Sept. 18, which will voice concerns over the Church’s handling of the sexual abuse crisis, among other issues.

Father Lombardi said that with regard to the protests, “there is nothing on our part over which we must be worried,” and that such events are part “of the normal climate of a pluralist society, such as the British, in which there is great liberty of expression, and in which Catholics are a minority.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Pope Benedict XVI's Address to the new German ambassador to the Vatican

…the Church sees with concern the growing attempt to eliminate the Christian concept of marriage and the family from the conscience of society. Marriage is manifested as a lasting union of love between a man and a woman, which is also directed to the transmission of human life. One of its conditions is the willingness of the spouses to relate one to the other forever. Necessary, because of this, is a certain maturity of the person and a fundamental existential and social attitude: a “culture of the person” as my predecessor John Paul II once said. The existence of this culture of the person depends also on social developments.

It can be seen that in a society the culture of the person is lowered; often it is derived, paradoxically, from the growth of the standard of life. In the preparation and support of the spouses, it is necessary to create the basic conditions to build-up and develop this culture. At the same time we must be aware that the success of marriages depends on all of us, on the personal culture of each citizen. In this connection, the Church cannot approve legislative initiatives that imply a reappraisal of alternative models of the life of a couple and of the family. These contribute to the weakening of the principles of the Natural Law and thus to relativizing the whole of legislation and also to confusion on the values in society.

It is a principle of the Christian faith, anchored in Natural Law, that the human person be protected precisely in a situation of weakness. The human being always has priority in regard to other objectives. The new possibilities of biotechnology and medicine often put us in difficult situations that seem to walk on the razor’s edge. We have the duty to study diligently to what point these methods can be of help to man and where, instead, it is a question of the manipulation of man, of violation of his integrity and dignity. We cannot reject this progress, but we must be very diligent. Once one begins to distinguish — and this now happens often in the maternal womb — between a worthy life and a life unworthy of living, no other phase of life will be safe, and even less so old age and infirmity….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Germany, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

A Reminder of Where to Find the very important Thread on the Title IV Canon Revisions

You can find it here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Pastoral Theology, TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

Retiring Later Is Hard Road for Laborers

At the Cooper Tire plant in Findlay, Ohio, Jack Hartley, who is 58, works a 12-hour shift assembling tires: pulling piles of rubber and lining over a drum, cutting the material with a hot knife, lifting the half-finished tire, which weighs 10 to 20 pounds, and throwing it onto a rack.

Mr. Hartley performs these steps nearly 30 times an hour, or 300 times in a shift. “The pain started about the time I was 50,” he said. “Dessert with lunch is ibuprofen. Your knees start going bad, your lower back, your elbows, your shoulders.”

He said he does not think he can last until age 66, when he will be eligible for full Social Security retirement benefits. At 62 or 65, he said, “that’s it.”

After years of debate about how to keep Social Security solvent, the White House has created an 18-member panel to consider changes, including raising the retirement age….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

Kenneth L. Marcus–A Blind Eye to Campus Anti-Semitism?

During the first years of the 21st century, the virus of anti-Semitism was unleashed with a vengeance in Irvine, California. There, on the campus of the University of California at Irvine, Jewish students were physically and verbally harassed, threatened, shoved, stalked, and targeted by rock-throwing groups and individuals. Jewish property was defaced with swastikas, and a Holocaust memorial was vandalized. Signs were posted on campus showing a Star of David dripping with blood. Jews were chastised for arrogance by public speakers whose appearance at the institution was subsidized by the university. They were called “dirty Jew” and “fucking Jew,” told to “go back to Russia” and “burn in hell,” and heard other students and visitors to the campus urge one another to “slaughter the Jews.” One Jewish student who wore a pin bearing the flags of the United States and Israel was told to “take off that pin or we’ll beat your ass.” Another was told, “Jewish students are the plague of mankind” and “Jews should be finished off in the ovens.”

When complaints were lodged over these incidents, which took place in 2003 and 2004, the university responded either with relative indifference or with little urgency. But when the federal government was asked in 2004 to intervene to deal with incidents that its own investigators had determined to be clear-cut violations of the civil rights of Irvine’s Jewish students, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights failed to prosecute a single case. Indeed, it has finally become clear that the current policy of the office charged with enforcing civil rights at American universities involves treating anti-Jewish bias as being unworthy of attention””a state of affairs in stark contrast to the agency’s quite justified alacrity in responding to virtually every other possible case of discrimination. While one cannot identify the motive for this astonishing double standard with complete certainty, the justification for it involves an unwillingness to treat Jews as a distinct group beyond considerations of religious adherence.

Faced with the demand to address anti-Semitic actions verified by its own investigators, the federal government passed on prosecution because it was unable to define the group that was the victim of the assault. Washington found itself unable to answer the question “Who is a Jew?”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Education, Judaism, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Cross reinstalled atop Episcopal cathedral in downtown Erie, Pennsylvania

Read it all and watch the video–so appropriate on this day.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

Gavin Dunbar: Praying

To assist your meditations, here are some texts complementary to Fr. Crouse’s paper from the Anglican tradition about prayer.

The place of honour goes to the famous poem of George Herbert (1593-1633). It is both the most demanding of literary forms (the sonnet) and the simplest (a list), and the paradox of its form matches its marvelous and paradoxical images, both simple and profound, that culminate in the simplicity of the last two words. Perhaps he is thinking of the teaching of Apostle Paul: “now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12), or the gospel for Rogation Sunday: “These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs [or parables, enigmatic speech]: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father” (John 16:25). [The “plummet” is the plumb line which sounds the depths; the “engine” and “tower” refer to the military machinery used in besieging walled cities.]


Prayer the Church’s banquet, Angel’s age,

God’s breath in man returning to his birth,

The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,

The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth;

Engine against th’Almighty, sinners’ tower,

Revers’d thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,

The six-days-world transposing in an hour,

A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;

Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,

Exalted Manna, gladness of the best,

Heaven in ordinary, man well drest,

The milky way, the bird of Paradise,

Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul’s blood,

The land of spices; something understood.

On the Necessity of Prayer

The Prayer Book Catechism situates its teaching on the necessity of prayer in the willing of God’s will.

My good child, know this; that thou art not able to do these things [required by duty to God and neighbour] by thyself, nor to walk in the Commandments of God, and to serve him, without his special grace; which thou must learn at all times to call for by diligent prayer.

On Prayer as Need

In “The Parable of the Wicked Mammon”, William Tyndale (1494-1536), the chief translator of the English Bible, who lived an exile and died a martyr for his faith, writes this meditation on the nature of prayer, which is a kind of commentary on the Lord’s Prayer, and grounded in the psalms.

Prayer is a mourning, a longing, and desire of the spirit to God-ward, for that which she lacketh; as a sick man mourneth and sorroweth in his heart, longing for health. Faith ever prayeth. For after that by faith we are reconciled to God, and have received mercy and forgiveness of God, the spirit longeth and thirsteth for strength to do the will of God, and that God may be honoured, his name hallowed, and his pleasure and will fulfilled. The spirit waiteth and watcheth on the will of God, and ever hath her own fragility and weakness before her eyes; and when she seeth temptation and peril draw nigh, she turneth to God, and to the testament that God hath made to all that believe and trust in Christ’s blood; and desireth God for his mercy and truth, and for the love he hath to Christ, that he will fulfill his promise, and that he will succor, and help, and give us strength, and that he will sanctify his name in us, and fulfill his godly will in us, and that he will not look on our sin and inquity, but on his mercy, on his truth, and on the love that oweth to his Son Christ; and for his sake to keep us from all temptation, that we be not overcome; and that he deliver us from evil, and whatsoever moveth us contrary to his godly will. Moreover, of his own experience he feelth other men’s need, and no less commendeth to God the infirmities of other than his own, knowing that there is no strength, no help, no succor, but of God only. And as merciful as he feeleth God in his heart to himself-ward, so merciful is he to other; and as greatly as he feeleth his own misery, so great compassion hath he on other. His neighbour is no less care to him than himself: he feeleth his neighbour’s grief no less than his own.

–(The Rev). Gavin Dunbar is rector, Saint John’s, Savannah, Georgia

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

A Prayer for Holy Cross Day

O God, who by the passion of thy blessed Son didst make an instrument of shameful death to be unto us the means of life and peace: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Grant, O Lord, that we may cleave to thee without parting, worship thee without wearying, serve thee without failing; faithfully seek thee, happily find thee, and for ever possess thee, the one only God, blessed, world without end.

–Saint Anselm

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