Daily Archives: October 27, 2011

(Prospect Magazine) Jonathan Fenby–The French malaise

France is moving towards a moment of truth. The euro crisis, an unpopular president, rivalries within the Socialist party and a flatlining economy are forcing into question the balancing act performed by successive leaders for the past three decades. Abroad, the nation of Louis XIV, Napoleon Bonaparte and Charles de Gaulle likes to think of itself as Europe’s leader. This perception is now under threat. Meanwhile, at home, the very nature of the Fifth Republic is increasingly under question. Half a century after the general saved his country from disintegration and gave it a strong executive system of government, opinion polls suggest that an incumbent president could be defeated for the first time in 30 years.

Things will come to a head as France moves to its next presidential election starting in April 2012 against the backdrop of the European sovereign debt crisis, which began in Greece but has raised systemic political issues that France would rather avoid. Long gone are the balmy days of the 1980s when François Mitterrand, the former French president, and Helmut Kohl, erstwhile German chancellor, held hands at the first world war battleground of Verdun to symbolise the reconciliation between the two major protagonists of Europe’s 75-year civil war. Today, President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel peck one another on the cheek when they meet but, reflecting their nations, they are poles apart in temperament and mindset as they approach Europe’s existential challenges. While the Germans put their faith in rule-based systems, the French prefer to bank on their ability to conjure a solution out of adversity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General, Psychology, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Brisbane Anglican leader backs same-sex bill

A prominent Brisbane church leader has backed the state government’s plan to legalise same-sex unions.

Dr Peter Catt, the Dean of St Johns Anglican Cathedral in Brisbane, says the legislation introduced into Queensland parliament last night is “good law-making for a pluralistic society”.

“It removes discrimination and affords equal rights to same-sex couples,” Dr Catt said in a statement.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Children, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(Al-Ahram) Dina Ezzat on the Hurt of Egypt's Copts–When promises ring hollow

Almost two weeks after the killing of around 25 Copts during an anti- discrimination demonstration in front of the headquarters of state TV on 9 October confusion continues to surround the carnage. There is no clear plan to punish the killers, who remain unidentified, and no guarantees that root cause of the problem is being addressed.

Immediately following the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’ (SCAF) public denial during a press conference on 12 October of any culpability on the part of soldiers or military police in the killing of demonstrators protesting against the illegal demolition of churches, the Coptic Church questioned the council’s version of events. Speaking hours after the press conference, Pope Shenouda denied that military police had been forced to defend themselves after demonstrators shot at them. “The demonstrators were not armed,” he stated.

The position of the Church has received support from across civil society, with videos emerging that purport to reveal the details of bloody Sunday….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Coptic Church, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Violence

Benedict XVI's Address to the International Meeting of Military Ordinariates

If the challenge of military ordinariates is to evangelize the military world, making possible an encounter with Jesus Christ and the holiness to which all men are called, it seems evident that the priests who are committed in this ministry must have a solid human and spiritual formation, constant attention to their own interior life and, at the same time, be ready to listen and to dialogue, to be able to accept the personal and environmental difficulties of the individuals entrusted to them. These people, in fact, need constant support along their journey of faith, given that the religious dimension has special meaning also in the life of a soldier. The reason for the existence of military ordinariates, that is, spiritual assistance to faithful in the armed forces and the police, makes reference to the solicitude with which the Church has wished to offer military faithful and their families all the means of salvation to give them ordinary pastoral attention and the specific help they need to develop their mission with the style of Christian charity. A Christian’s military life, in fact, is placed in relation to the first and greatest commandment, that of love of God and of neighbor, because the Christian military man is called to realize a synthesis that makes it possible to be a military man out of love, fulfilling the ministerium pacis inter arma.

I am referring, especially, to charity exercised by soldiers who rescue earthquake and flood victims, and also fugitives, putting their courage and competence at the disposal of the weakest.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(RNS) Muslims Combat Radicalization with Online Tools

A Muslim organization is working to counter radicalization by providing the work of progressive Islam scholars online in simple, youth-friendly language.

Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV), a nonprofit group that has established liberal Muslim communities in the U.S. and Canada, created the “Literary Zikr” website to provide an alternative to the fundamentalist versions of Islam that pervade the Internet.

“We take the scholarship and present it to the people,” said Yarehk Hernandez, a board member of MPV.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Islam, Media, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Teens / Youth, Young Adults

(SMH) Max's privacy war brings Facebook to heel

Max Schrems wasn’t sure what he would get when he asked Facebook to send him a record of his personal data from three years of using the site.

What the 24-year-old Austrian law student didn’t expect, though, was 1222 pages of data on a CD. It included chats he had deleted more than a year ago, “pokes” dating back to 2008, invitations to which he had never responded, let alone attended, and hundreds of other details.

Time for an “aha” moment.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Australia / NZ, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Law & Legal Issues, Science & Technology

(CEN) Sydney rejects Anglican Covenant

Sydney has rejected the Anglican Covenant. The 11 October vote by the 49th meeting of the Diocese of Sydney Synod likely spells the death knell for Dr Rowan Williams’ plan for a global agreement to set the parameters of doctrine and discipline for the Anglican Communion.

Support for the Covenant peaked in the run-up to the 2009 meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Kingston, however, Dr Williams’ untimely intervention into the Covenant debate and changes made to the document have alienated both left and right.

Liberal dioceses in New Zealand, Australia and the US have rejected the plan as un-Anglican, while the Global South Primates last year stated that “while we acknowledge that the efforts to heal our brokenness through the introduction of an Anglican Covenant were well intentioned, we have come to the conclusion the current text is fatally flawed and so support for this initiative is no longer appropriate.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Provinces

Canon Giles Fraser to step down from Saint Paul's Cathedral

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Update: There is a BBC article on this here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(BBC) Leaders Agree on Eurozone debt deal after late-night talks

European leaders have reached a “three-pronged” agreement described as vital to solve the region’s huge debt crisis.

They said banks holding Greek debt accepted a 50% loss, the eurozone bailout fund will be boosted and banks will have to raise more capital.

Shares on European markets rose sharply on news of the deal.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --European Sovereign Debt Crisis of 2010, Asia, Brazil, China, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Foreign Relations, France, G20, Germany, Globalization, Greece, Politics in General, South America, Stock Market, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Archbishop Williams wishes a joyful and blessed Diwali to Hindu communities in his 2011 greeting

The Archbishop of Canterbury… [Wednesday] sent wishes for ”˜a very joyful and blessed Diwali’ to Hindu communities.

In his greeting, Dr Williams speaks of the idea of ‘the return home’ as a central concept in the Ramayana, where the believer returns not to a specific place, but ‘to God and finding a home in God’.

Speaking of the similarities with which Hindu and Christian mystical texts refer to ‘homecoming’, he says “I hope that through reading these different passages together in Hindu and Christian dialogue we can find a basis from which to work together as communities and develop greater understanding of the nature of God and of what it means to dwell with and in him.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Hinduism, Inter-Faith Relations, Other Faiths

A Vacancy in See update from the Diocese of Chichester

From here:

The Vacancy in See Committee had a preliminary meeting on 1st October 2011, where we elected Mr Jeremy Taylor, former Diocesan Adviser for Education, as Vice-Chairman. Also at that meeting we put in motion the mechanics for drawing up two documents
Description of the Diocese
Statement of needs, which is divided into four areas
Mission/church growth
Teaching/ministry/vocations
Civil Society/ecumenical links
Governance/structures
The second meeting will take place on November 5th at Church House, when we will be discussing the two draft documents with a view of having them almost complete for the main meeting on November 24th when the committee will meet with the Archbishops’ and Prime Minister’s Appointments Secretaries.
Could I on behalf of all members of the Vacancy in See Committee thank those who have written in with their views.
The Venerable Douglas McKittrick
Chairman of the Vacancy in See Committee

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Leander Harding on the Mark Lawrence Investigation–Choose Inclusive Justice

The developing impasse between the diocese and the canonical instruments of General Convention is a tragedy in the making. It is very possible that the result will be the unnecessary loss of dozens of parishes and tens of thousands of Episcopalians. It is a moment to take stock and to recall the purpose of the canon law of the church. The canon law of the church has the peace of the church as its ultimate aim. The course of justice will be perverted if this new and arguably unconstitutional canon is used as an instrument by those of a majority opinion to gain the upper hand over those with whom they disagree. These proceedings threaten to reduce to the vanishing point the ground from which any future reconciliation might grow.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils, TEC Polity & Canons

Gavin Dunbar on the Mark Lawrence Investigation–Southern Discomfort

In an ecclesiastical outlook that has recently offered little comfort, the very serious charge of abandonment made against Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina is chilling indeed. The charge is striking, because under his leadership the Diocese of South Carolina has not ”˜abandoned’ the Episcopal Church (as did the dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, San Joaquin, and Quincy). What it has done, openly and publicly, is to insulate itself as much as possible from what Lawrence has called the “false gospel” of “indiscriminate inclusivity” advocated by the national church, through a reform of its diocesan laws and constitution. It is precisely this achievement – to remain within the Episcopal Church but not of the Episcopal Church – that has enraged its enemies and spurred these charges.

It is no secret that the national church has been looking for grounds for a legal challenge against South Carolina; yet, we are assured, the information presented against Bishop Lawrence came not from the Presiding Bishop’s office, but from communicants within the diocese – disaffected progressives presumably, following the familiar progressive strategy of using bureaucratic process to advance agendas which otherwise fail to gain support. The Presiding Bishop, however, is not off the hook. One must ask whether her aggressive policy of litigation to quell opposition to her theological agenda has not created the climate and established the precedent for a resort to litigation by other militant progressives. Whether or not they are acting formally in concert, the effect is the same.
The charges will be the first major test of the newly reformed Title IV canons on Discipline. Though these have been criticized for removing due process protections, we have been given assurances that these fears are overblown. Perhaps so: but many eyes will be watching closely to see what justice the Bishop of South Carolina receives under them. A heavy responsibility lies with the Disciplinary Board and its president, Bishop Dorsey Henderson, retired of Upper South Carolina (and recent visitor to St. John’s on behalf of Bishop Benhase), as they investigate these charges, to ensure that these new canons do not become another instrument of coercion. Bishop Henderson and the Board will need your prayers.

To his credit, Bishop Benhase has expressed hope that the charges will be dismissed. Even if they are, the process will be costly in terms of money and morale: a further and needless embitterment of a church already divided and demoralized by unilateral theological change and aggressive litigation. To put it bluntly: the message being sent by these charges (as by the evident hostility of the Presiding Bishop) is that conservative dissent will not be tolerated within the Episcopal Church, and that significant theological differences will be resolved by coercion. One could hardly devise a stronger incentive for conservatives to leave. Militant progressives longing for ideological purity may rejoice at the prospect of getting rid of so much “dead wood” – but those who cherish the Episcopal Church will know that such losses leave it diminished, and not just in numbers or dollars.

This case raises a question for us: given the ascendancy of the agenda of “indiscriminate inclusivity” in the Episcopal Church – will there be a secure place in the Episcopal Church for the conscientious dissent of those who hold to historic Anglican doctrine and worship? That security cannot be taken for granted.

—-The Rev. Gavin Dunbar is rector of Saint John’s, Savannah, Georgia

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, - Anglican: Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

(Popular Mechanics) How Text Messages Could Change Global Healthcare

The notion that SMS could revolutionize healthcare first entered Nesbit’s mind in 2007, when he was still a Stanford undergrad. He’d just met Dickson Mtanga, a community health worker in rural Malawi who was walking 35 miles to deliver handwritten patient charts to the nearest hospital. Nesbit biked out to Mtanga’s village one day, only to discover that his cellphone got a better signal there than it did on Stanford’s campus in Palo Alto, Calif. All those bars of service jumped from the phone’s screen and slapped him across the face: These far-reaching GSM networks, he realized, could connect doctors and patients like never before.

Armed with a $5000 grant, a backpack full of old phones, and a laptop running a GSM modem and the open-source group-texting software called FrontlineSMS, Nesbit started working with the hospital and community health workers to coordinate patient care. The system they put in place allowed Mtanga and others to text in the information on those medical charts rather than making the hours-long trek. Patients could text their symptoms to doctors, cutting down on unnecessary visits for minor ailments and freeing up space for those in need of serious care. Within six months of the system going live, the number of patients being treated for tuberculosis doubled, more than 1200 hours in travel time were eliminated, and emergency services became available in the area for the first time. The operating costs in those six months: $500, Nesbit says.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who in thy fatherly love hast called us that we should inherit a blessing: Give to us also, we pray thee, the blessing of wholesome speech and loving deed; that following always that which is good, we may do and suffer all that thou willest; in the name and strength of Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord.

–L. E. H. Stephens-Hodge

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