Daily Archives: December 8, 2011

(USA Today) Overcrowded ERs help urgent care sites thrive

Across the U.S., an estimated 3million patients visit these centers each week, according to the Urgent Care Association of America, a trade group based in Chicago. To meet demand, the number of facilities has increased from 8,000 in 2008 to more than 9,200 this year, the association said. About 600 urgent centers opened this year.

Fueling that rise are two longstanding trends — crowded emergency rooms and a lack of primary care doctors. Urgent care operators say another factor is helping to propel business: the drive to lower costs.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

(NPR) Harry Morgan, M*A*S*H's Col. Potter, Dies At 96

In 1983, Morgan spoke at a press conference about ending a series so beloved that the last show drew a record 125 million viewers. He said someone had asked him if he thought M*A*S*H had made him a better actor.

“And I said I didn’t know about that, but I know it’s made me a better human being and there aren’t many shows you can say that about,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Movies & Television, Parish Ministry

Shay Gaillard–Purple Shirts Proof-texting in Public

I am always encouraged when Christians choose to measure their actions by the Word of God. When making a decision, it is helpful to measure it against Scripture and even to be able to justify the action with a passage or a verse. As an Anglican Christian and an Episcopalian, I am even more encouraged when our leaders seek to live biblically. This does not always happen. Unfortunately, this week in church news was not a good week for the untrained to learn from Anglican bishops how to read the Scriptures properly. Our bishops, if you are not aware, generally wear purple shirts as a sign of their office. What we witnessed this week in two separate cases is Purple Shirts Proof-texting in Public (warning: do not say this three times fast with five saltine crackers in your mouth).
There is an inherent danger in reading the Bible to find a verse or text to prove your point. This error is known as proof-texting, and all trained theologians are warned against this isolationist tendency. As I was taught in seminary, “a text without a context is a pretext.” The discipline of receiving godly instruction from God’s Word includes the study and consideration of the fullness of any piece of Scripture that we would choose to quote. There were two notable examples of proof-texting this week by Anglican bishops.

The first came from the Right Reverend Clifton Daniel, Bishop of East (North) Carolina in a letter written to our own Bishop Lawrence. In it, he chose to reference and apply Mathew 18:15-20. Here is the context:

Since we have had no direct communication from you regarding these reported actions, we determined that it is our duty as bishops of this province to address these concerns in direct communication with you, as Jesus exhorts his followers in Matthew’s Gospel (18:15-20), and in accord with our ordination vows regarding the unity and governance of the church. What we seek in the coming weeks is a face-to-face meeting with you and and a representative group of your fellow Bishops Diocesan of Province 4 in order to have a clarifying conversation and to address the concerns raised among us:

The letter continues with the listing of two concerns. In the final paragraph, his letter indicates that he will release the letter to “Episcopal news organizations” following a telephone conversation.

Now it has been widely noted in the blogosphere that Bishop Daniel only partially followed the admonition of Matthew 18. Here’s how the text reads:

15 ”If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

In his hurry to find a Bible verse to justify the request of the Province IV Bishops, Bishop Daniel failed to follow the very verse he is quoting. Verse 15 requires Bishop Daniel to visit with Bishop Lawrence privately and alone. It seems that Bishop Daniel has moved on to the action described in Verse 16 of a group of believers going to a recalcitrant brother. The only problem is he assumes the conditions in Verse 17 (refusal to listen) and pre-publishes the “offense” to the church. This my friends is a prime example of a Purple Shirt Proof-texting in Public. Humbly, either follow Matthew 18 or do not quote it.

The second example involves international Anglican relations and relieves any of the more conservative Anglicans from the smug thought that their heroes, especially their bishops, would not publicly proof-text. This example comes in a letter from the Right Reverend Charles Murphy to the Archbishop of Rwanda, the Most Reverend Onesphore Rwaje. There has been a breakdown in the relationship of the Anglican Mission in America with its parent body the Rwandan House of Bishops. In the letter Bishop Murphy chooses the Exodus story to elucidate the situation. Here’s how this portion of the letter reads:

I must now say, however, that I believe that the Lord’s present word to me (and to us) now directs me to look beyond Genesis chapters 39-45, and on into the Book of Exodus. There we find the following:

Exodus 1:8 > “Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.”

Clearly, with an altogether new and different leadership in place in our African home of refuge and sojourn, the Anglican Mission, like the people of God earlier in Exodus, now finds itself in a very new and different situation. The result, as we saw in the story of Exodus, is that God’s sovereign hand which had led His people into Africa (Egypt) in the earlier Book of Genesis, then took a dramatic turn in the Book of Exodus instructing His people that it was now time for them to leave Africa.

Exodus 5:1, 8:1, 9:1 etc. > God next states again and again that He is ready for His people to go.

The promise, of course, was that He had actually prepared a new home in a new location, which would then launch a totally new chapter in the unfolding story of the people of God.

Exodus 10:1 > God then begins to move within the hearts of the Egyptian leadership to make it more and more clear to the people of Israel that Africa (Egypt) could no longer be viewed as their lasting home.

I now see a parallel between the Exodus story and the present situation with Rwanda and the PEAR. Things have now been made very clear to me, and I am thankful for the clarity that I now have.

I am very thankful that Bishop Murphy believes that he has received a clarity from the Lord, but I want to humbly suggest that the text from which he draws a parallel is unfortunately a proof-text for his actions.

The Exodus powerfully reminds us of God’s sovereignty over all people and events, not just the people of Israel. Joseph’s rise to power in Pharaoh’s household is a perfect example of God’s guiding hands over all things. Because we understand who Pharaoh is ”“ a competing deity with Yahweh in the Exodus narrative ”“ it is hard to accept that the Archbishop or the Rwandan church is a parallel. Bishop Murphy goes on to directly compare Africa and Egypt. He even suggest the use in this case of them interchangeably. How can that be? Biblically, going to Egypt is sometimes required but never preferred. Egypt is a pagan nation. Africa ”“ a continent- is not first of all a nation and second of all is not pagan. For American Anglicans troubled by the drift of the Episcopal Church to seek shelter from the church in Rwanda is not akin to going to Egypt, at least not biblically. Again we see a Purple Shirt Proof-texting in Public.

As a parish priest my concern is for everyday Christians to receive the power and presence of the Lord through the proper understanding of God’s Word. Because I believe 2 Timothy 3:16 when it says that the “all Scripture is”¦ useful for teaching,” I want all of our people to know how to properly receive the teaching that is also useful for “rebuking, correcting and training.” We expect a lot from our leaders, but I do not think it is too much to expect that they would be “rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 3:15). May I just ask for no more Purple Shirts Proof-texting in Public?

–The Rev. Shay Gaillard is rector, Church of the Good Shepherd, Charleston, S.C.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Vishnu Parasuraman on how to fix the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) System

The BCS must dump the human polls and replace them with a selection committee similar to the one used in college basketball. Let an objective group of people collectively determine a ranking of who should play in the championship game (or make a playoff if a shift is made to that system). Anyone with a vested interest would have to abstain from the discussion. At least that way there would be accountability, and a rogue or uninformed person couldn’t hijack the entire process and ruin a season. Let this still count for two-thirds.

The computers can still be used for one-third, just to check the committee’s power. But the computer pollsters who refuse to release their formulas should be removed from the BCS. You must have transparency, and BCS experts like Jerry Palm need to be able to verify that the formulas are calculated correctly.

It is time for the BCS to be proactive. The BCS has changed its formula in the past only after a specific event forced them to, after the damage had been done. The system is open to being manipulated by bias, inaccuracy, ignorance, and even corruption….

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Posted in Uncategorized

(LA Times) North Korea's new course

We believe that this pivot toward Beijing is no routine oscillation in North Korean policy. The drive to normalize relations with the U.S. from 1991 to 2009 had been real, sustained and rooted in Kim Il Sung’s deep concern about the regime’s future in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Perhaps there was no better demonstration of the North’s approach in those years than the situation on Oct. 25, 2000 ”” the 50th anniversary of the entry of the Chinese People’s Volunteers into the Korean War. Who was in Pyongyang on that date meeting Kim Jong Il? The Chinese defense minister? No, he was cooling his heels while Kim met with the U.S. secretary of State. That was no accident of scheduling on Pyongyang’s part; it would not happen again today.

If the paradigm shift is real, we expect the North in the near to medium term to make far less overt trouble. Less tension on the Korean peninsula? What could be wrong with that? Nothing, as long as it is understood that such tranquillity will also provide a veil for the North’s continuing pursuit of nuclear weapons and increasingly sophisticated delivery systems. With the onset of stability and growing Chinese-North Korean cooperation, Pyongyang may well calculate that the outside world’s focus on the North Korean nuclear program will become diffuse.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Korea, North Korea

(Anglican Ink) The AMiA House of Bishops and the Consequences

Have the Shepherds lost the flock?

Confusion over the consequences of the AMiA Bishops walkout has spawned a host of contrary opinions as to what the schism means for the organizations clergy and congregations. While the AMiA leadership insists that congregations and clergy are tied to the person of Chuck Murphy, other AMiA leaders have argued the link is with the Province of Rwanda.

One email circulated within the AMiA ranks outlines the contrary view….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of Rwanda, Ecclesiology, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Theology

The Recent Papal Address to International Theological Commission

Behind the Christian faith’s profession of the one God we find the daily profession of faith of the people of Israel: “Here, O Israel: the Lord is our God. The Lord is the only God” (Deuteronomy 6:4). The unheard of fulfillment of the free bestowal of God’s love on all men was realized in the incarnation of the Son in Jesus Christ. In this revelation of God’s intimacy with man and his bond of love with man, the monotheism of the one God is illumined by a completely new light: the trinitarian light. And in the trinitarian mystery, fraternity among men is also illumined. Christian theology, together with Christian life, must restore the happy and clear evidence of the impact of the trinitarian revelation on our community. While the ethnic and religious conflicts in the world make it more difficult to accept the singularity of Christian thinking about God and the humanism inspired by it, men can recognize in the Name of Jesus Christ the truth of God the Father toward which the Holy Spirit draws every longing of creatures (cf. Romans 8). Theology, in fruitful dialogue with philosophy, can help believers to become aware and bear witness that trinitarian monotheism shows us the true face of God, and this monotheism is not the cause of violence, but is a force for personal and universal peace.

The point of departure of every Christian theology is the acceptance of this divine revelation: the personal acceptance of the Word made flesh, listening to the Word of God in Scripture. From this starting point theology assists the believing intelligence of faith and its transmission. But the whole history of the Church shows that to reach the unity of faith, the acknowledgement of the point of departure is not enough. The Bible is always read in a given context and the only context in which the believer can be in full communion with Christ is the Church and her living Tradition. We must always re-live the experience of the first disciples, who “persevered in the teaching of the apostles and in communion, in the breaking of the bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). From this perspective the Commission studied the principles and criteria according to which a theology can be Catholic, and also reflected on the contribution of contemporary theology. It is important to remember that Catholic theology, always attentive to the link between faith and reason, had an historical role in the birth of the university. A truly Catholic theology, with the two movements, “intellectus quaerens fidem et fide quaerens intellectum” (understanding seeking faith and faith seeking understanding), is necessary today more than ever, to make a symphony of the sciences possible and to avoid the violent derivations of a religiosity that opposes itself to reason and a reason that opposes itself to religion.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology

Nicholas Kristof–Joining a Dinner in a Muslim Brotherhood Home

When I raised American concerns that Egypt under the Muslim Brotherhood and the more extremist Salafis might replicate Iran, he was dismissive: “The experience of Iran will not be repeated in Egypt.”

I think he’s right. Revolutions are often messy, and it took Americans seven years from their victory in the American Revolution at Yorktown to get a ratified Constitution. Indonesia, after its 1998 revolution, felt very much like Egypt does today. It endured upheavals from a fundamentalist Islamic current, yet it pulled through.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Egypt, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths

(BBC) Russia PM Vladimir Putin accuses US over poll protests

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of being behind protests over the results of Russia’s parliamentary elections.

Mr Putin said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “set the tone for some opposition activists”.

She “gave them a signal, they heard this signal and started active work”, he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia

(CS Monitor) Payroll tax cut: proposals galore but consensus eludes

The Obama White House, in its own version of the New Year’s Eve countdown in Times Square, has added a banner to its website ”“ a clock ticking down the seconds to when taxes on the middle class will rise “if Congress doesn’t act.”

That tax hit is the 2 percent payroll tax cut now set to expire at midnight, Dec. 31. If Congress fails to at least extend that tax cut, the Social Security tax rate for employees jumps back to 6.2 percent, up from 4.2 percent. If that happens, the average American taxpayer stands to lose about $1,000 in 2012.

Leaders on both sides of the political aisle in Congress offer assurances that by year’s end the tax break will be extended. As lawmakers head into an election year, the stakes are simply too high to kick that can down the road. But GOP leaders, especially, are running up against strong opposition from the rank-and-file on anything that looks like caving on pledges to reduce deficits, dramatically cut spending, and reject all tax increases (which are an issue in this case because Democrats propose to pay for extending the payroll tax by a tax hike on millionaires.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, House of Representatives, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, Senate, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

(RNS) Israel Inaugurates Gospel Trail to Follow Jesus’ Steps

Perched on Tel Kinrot, a hill above the Sea of Galilee, Winston Mah turned his face toward the warm sun and took in the tranquil view before him.

To his right, the Christian pilgrim from San Diego saw banana groves at the edge of the calm fresh-water lake; to his left, on the opposite hill, rose the majestic Mount of Beatitudes at Tabga, where, according to Christian tradition, Jesus delivered his Sermon on the Mount.

“This is a unique experience,” Mah said, gazing at a lone fisherman on the water’s edge. “This is the view Jesus must have seen, the path he might have walked, the water he walked on. It’s a privilege to walk in his footsteps.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Israel, Middle East, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the (Provisional) Feast Day of Richard Baxter

We offer thanks, most gracious God, for the devoted witness of Richard Baxter, who out of love for thee followed his conscience at cost to himself, and at all times rejoiced to sing thy praises in word and deed; and we pray that our lives, like his, may be well-tuned to sing the songs of love, and all our days be filled with praise of Jesus Christ our Lord; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord God, heavenly Father, who through thy Son hast revealed to us that heaven and earth shall pass away: We beseech thee to keep us steadfast in thy Word and in true faith; graciously guard us from all sin and preserve us amid all temptations, so that our hearts may not be overcharged with the cares of this life, but at all times in watchfulness and prayer we may await the return of thy Son and joyfully cherish the expectation of our eternal salvation; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–United Lutheran Church

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who conquers shall not be hurt by the second death.’

–Revelation 2:8-11

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Christianity Today) Leaving Rwanda: Breakaway Anglicans Break Away Again

Before the skirmish, [Chuck] Murphy had contended that AMIA was “embedded” in the constitution and canons of Rwanda, Conger said. When AMIA stepped back from its links with the Anglican Church in North America, a larger Episcopal breakaway group that formed in 2009, Murphy and the Rwandan House of Bishops said that AMIA could not be both American and Rwandan at the same time under the Rwandan church laws.

“It’s a dispute of personalities,” [George] Conger said of the recent turmoil. “Archbishop Kolini had a very strong, good relationship with Bishop Murphy and essentially let Bishop Murphy do what he wanted to do.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of Rwanda, Other Churches