Daily Archives: February 21, 2011

Peter Ould–What is Marriage?

I’ve just got round to reading the much talked about “What is Marriage?” by Girgis, George and Anderson. In it they put forward a non-religious argument for marriage being only between a man and a woman…..

Because bodies are integral parts of the personal reality of human beings, only coitus can truly unite persons organically and, thus, maritally. Hence, although the state can grant members of any household certain legal incidents, and should not prevent any from making certain private legal arrangements, it cannot give same”sex unions what is truly distinctive of marriage””i.e., it cannot make them actually comprehensive, oriented by nature to children, or bound by the moral norms specific to marriage. At most the state can call such unions marital, but this would not”” because, in moral truth, it cannot””make them so; and it would, to society’s detriment, obscure people’s understanding about what truly marital unions do involve. In this sense, it is not the state that keeps marriage from certain people, but their circumstances that unfortunately keep certain people from marriage (or at least make marrying much harder). This is so, not only for those with exclusively homosexual attractions, but also for people who cannot marry because of, for example, prior and pressing family obligations incompatible with marriage’s comprehensiveness and orientation to children, inability to find a mate, or any other cause.

Those who face such difficulties should in no way be marginalized or otherwise mistreated, and they deserve our support in the face of what are often considerable burdens. But none of this establishes the first mistaken assumption, that fulfillment is impossible without regular outlets for sexual release””an idea that devalues many people’s way of life. What we wish for people unable to marry because of a lack of any attraction to a member of the opposite sex is the same as what we wish for people who can not marry for any other reason: rich and fulfilling lives. In the splendor of human variety, these can take infinitely many forms. In any of them, energy that would otherwise go into marriage is channeled toward ennobling endeavors: deeper devotion to family or nation, service, adventure, art, or a thousand other things.

But most relevantly, this energy could be harnessed for deep friendship. Belief in the second hidden assumption, that meaningful intimacy is not possible without sex, may impoverish the friendships in which single people could find fulfillment….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Carl Moeller–South Sudan: Rebuilding the World's Newest Nation

After decades of on-again, off-again civil war in Africa’s largest country, the long-awaited democratic process has yielded amazing fruit. More than 98 percent of Southern Sudanese voted for independence from the Islamic Arab North, which was committed to the Islamization of the Christian and animist South.

That the referendum was held at all is miraculous. Although Sudan has no history of democracy, 80 percent of Southern residents voted. It was reported that even a 115-year-old woman voted in a polling place in Juba, the capital city of the South.

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir, an International Criminal Court indicted war criminal, backed the final tally and said he wished to be the first to congratulate the new state. The move allows the 2 million internally displaced Southern Sudanese who dwell in squalid camps surrounding Khartoum, the capital city of the North, to return home. On July 9, Southern Sudan will formally become independent, barring a major return of violence.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Religion & Culture, Sudan

(Zenit) The Global Roman Catholic Population Continues to Grow

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Globalization, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

President Obama Gives Highest Award to Christian Worker Murdered in Afghanistan

President Obama today awarded the United States’ highest civilian honor to Dr. Tom Little, a Christian worker for the International Assistance Mission (IAM) who was murdered in Afghanistan last August.

“Tom Little could have pursued a lucrative career,” President Obama said during the ceremony for Little and 14 other recipients. “Instead, he was guided by his faith, and he set out to heal the poorest of the poor in Afghanistan. For 30 years, amid invasion and civil war, the terror of the Taliban, the spread of insurgency, he and his wife Libby helped bring Afghans””literally””the miracle of sight.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Afghanistan, Asia, Death / Burial / Funerals, Missions, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

A Washington Post Story on the Virginia Episcopal-Anglican Parish Settlement

The Oatlands deal requires the congregation to give up its claim to the church building, which dates to 1878. The congregation will get an inexpensive lease for five years with the diocese but is forbidden from affiliating with breakaway groups while still using the building.

It wasn’t clear Sunday whether settlements with other congregations would follow.

Henry Burt, spokesman for the Episcopal diocese, said the church is “in negotiations with other congregations, and we hope some will also go this way.”

Jim Oakes, a spokesman for the umbrella group for Virginia’s breakaway conservative congregations, said he didn’t believe any of the other churches were in talks with the Episcopal diocese.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

Women priests for regional Anglican churches in Cyprus and the Gulf

The Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf will now be able to ordain women as priests, appointing them to serve in churches in the region, and one of the first could be in Cyprus.

The announcement was made at the annual Synod of the diocese in Larnaca last week, and was warmly welcomed by members. Rt Rev Michael Lewis, bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf, reported that his request to have permission to ordain and appoint women had been granted by the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East. The other dioceses of the Province: Egypt, Iran and Jerusalem will not be affected by the change.

The first ordination of a woman priest is likely to take place in June, when the Rev Catherine Dawkins, currently serving as a deacon and assistant in the Yemen chaplaincy, will be ordained in Bahrain cathedral. The diocese has one woman training to be a priest.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Provinces, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Women

A.S. Haley–"The die has been cast" in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina

South Carolina is thus far the only diocese in the Church to take measures to prevent the changes to the national Canons, which are scheduled to go into effect this July 1, from taking effect within its boundaries. I have explained some of the reasons why those changes are contrary to ECUSA’s Constitution in this earlier post: essentially, they extend unprecedented metropolitical powers to the Presiding Bishop, which that office has never been authorized to exercise, and they radically add to the authority of local bishops over their own diocese’s disciplinary proceedings.

Three other dioceses have protested the scope of the revisions made by General Convention in 2009 to Title IV of the Canons (having to do with disciplinary proceedings against clergy). Some have called for General Convention to revisit the subject, and scale back the powers granted to diocesans and to the Presiding Bishop. But most dioceses (including my own, alas, which I could not deter) have implemented the changes into their own canons, by making revisions in the disciplinary proceedings and in the bodies that carry them out.

Thus ECUSA heads into a Constitutional crisis of its own making, which its leadership seems determined to ride out, confident that the Executive Council and General Convention will back them up. As with the leadership’s current litigation strategy, the course is a very high-risk one for them to take….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils, TEC Polity & Canons

(CSM) Walter Rodgers–Crusades redux: Will Jerusalem soon be surrounded by hostile Islamists?

The other night I found myself dreaming, drifting simultaneously through two parallel worlds, 800 years apart.

In the first vision, I was on the ramparts of the Kingdom of Jerusalem in July 1187. News came in from Galilee that the Crusader Armies had been decimated by the overwhelming Muslim forces of the great Sultan Saladin at the Battle of Hattin. Jerusalem, already an island in an angry, surging Muslim sea, was about to be totally engulfed.

My second dream was in the same place, but I was witnessing a 21st-century Islamic encirclement of modern-day Israel. This second trance was apparently shared by some Israeli columnists who openly fear Egypt’s chaotic regime could be followed by an extremist Islamic government, reinforcing that nightmare Crusader scenario of encirclement.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Middle East, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Saudi Arabia, Syria

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Christ our God, who wilt come to judge the world in the manhood which thou hast assumed: We pray thee to sanctify us wholly, that in the day of thy coming we may be raised to live and reign with thee for ever.

–Church of South India

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Bible Readings

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

–2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Latest News from Virginia (II)-Church of Our Saviour settles, Anglican District of Virginia P.R.

ADV Chairman Jim Oakes has released the following statement in response to this news:

“We are saddened that our ADV member parish, Church of Our Saviour, was put in such a difficult position. As we have said all along, this litigation has been a tragic distraction from the good work these churches are trying to undertake as servants of Christ. For many months, we have encouraged our congregations to pray for an end to this costly litigation. There has been a great deal of discussion and soul searching and we will continue to pray that His will be done. No matter the path Church of Our Saviour has chosen, they will remain our brothers and sisters in Christ and we pray for the opportunity to have continued fellowship together.”

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Posted in Uncategorized

Latest News from Virginia (I)–Church of Our Saviour at Oatlands Settles, Diocese of Va. Release

The Church of Our Saviour will discontinue its efforts to keep the Oatlands church and all litigation regarding the Oatlands church will conclude immediately. Our Saviour will lease the Oatlands church from the Diocese for up to five years, and retain the parish funds it has on hand. Our Saviour will use a significant portion of those funds for maintenance and much-needed repairs of the Oatlands church. At Our Saviour’s request, the congregation will also retain several memorial items.

As part of the settlement, the Church of Our Saviour will also voluntarily disaffiliate from any connection to the Convocation of Anglican Churches in North America (CANA), the Anglican District of Virginia (ADV), and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). Lastly, Our Saviour has agreed that no bishop will visit the congregation without the permission of the Bishop of Virginia.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly: Prisoner Reentry

LUCKY SEVERSON, correspondent: This is a reentry program for inmates about ready to be released back to their communities. It’s funded by the state of Hawaii and the social ministry of the Catholic Archdiocese of Honolulu. Angela Anderson is one of the fortunate participants. She’s been serving time for drug abuse.

ANGELA ANDERSON: When I had got out of jail before, you know, I went directly back to drugs, because that’s really all there was. But here I got structure. I made great friends. You have classes that you have to attend to. You have to live to a schedule.

SEVERSON: What it does is lessen the odds that she’ll go back to prison. In 2009, the latest statistics available, there were 2.3 million Americans serving time behind bars, the highest documented incarceration rate in the world. Since the early 1970s, the prison and jail population has increased by 700 percent. Now, faced with the staggering costs of incarceration, about $55 billion a year, politicians are asking community and faith-based volunteers to help the reentry process for the hundreds of thousands of ex-cons who are coming home. The state of Hawaii is no exception….

Read or watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Politics in General, Prison/Prison Ministry, State Government

(Washington Post) Economy poll: African Americans, Hispanics hit hardest but are most optimistic

Despite severe losses during the recession, the majority of African Americans see the economy improving and are confident that their financial prospects will improve soon.

That optimism, shared to a lesser degree by Hispanics, stands in stark contrast to the deeper pessimism expressed by a majority of whites. In general, whites are more satisfied with their personal financial situations but also more sour about the nation’s economic prospects.

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

(WSJ) Retiring Baby Boomers Find 401(k) Plans Fall Short

The 401(k) generation is beginning to retire, and it isn’t a pretty sight.

The retirement savings plans that many baby boomers thought would see them through old age are falling short in many cases.

The median household headed by a person aged 60 to 62 with a 401(k) account has less than one-quarter of what is needed in that account to maintain its standard of living in retirement, according to data compiled by the Federal Reserve and analyzed by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College for The Wall Street Journal. Even counting Social Security and any pensions or other savings, most 401(k) participants appear to have insufficient savings. Data from other sources also show big gaps between savings and what people need, and the financial crisis has made things worse.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Economy, Middle Age, Pensions, Personal Finance, Social Security, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government