Daily Archives: February 10, 2012

(WSJ) Wuerl, Colson and Soloveichik: United We Stand for Religious Freedom

Coverage of this story has almost invariably been framed as a conflict between the federal government and the Catholic bishops. Zeroing in on the word “contraception,” many commentators have taken delight in pointing to surveys about the use of contraceptives among Catholics, the message being that any infringement of religious freedom involves an idiosyncratic position that doesn’t affect that many people.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The Catholic Church’s teaching on contraception (not to mention abortion and surgical sterilization) has been clear, consistent and public. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s decision would force Catholic institutions either to violate the moral teachings of the Catholic Church or abandon the health-care, education and social services they provide the needy. This is intolerable.

And while most evangelicals take a more permissive view of contraception, they share with Catholics the moral conviction that the taking of human life in utero, whether surgically or by abortifacient drugs, violates the basic human right to life.

Read it all (it has different authorship and is in a different publication than the one post earlier today).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Health & Medicine, Judaism, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Office of the President, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

Pankaj Mishra reviews Katherine Boo’s new book ”˜Behind the Beautiful Forevers’ set in a Mumbai

…[a slum called Annawadi near Mumbai’s airport]… turns out to be a gray zone whose atomized residents want nothing more than, in Primo Levi’s words, “to preserve and consolidate” their “established privilege vis-à-vis those without privilege.” Even those who are relatively fortunate, Boo writes, “improved their lots by beggaring the life chances of other poor people.”

Describing this undercity blood sport, “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” (the ironic title is taken from the “Beautiful Forever” advertisements for Italianate floor tiles that hide Annawadi from view) does not descend into a catalog of atrocity ”” one that a defensive Indian nationalist might dismiss as a drain inspector’s report. The product of prolonged and risky self-exposure to Annawadi, the book’s narrative stitches, with much skillfully unspoken analysis, some carefully researched individual lives. Its considerable literary power is also derived from Boo’s soberly elegant prose, which only occasionally reaches for exuberant neologism (“Glimmerglass Hyatt”) and bright metaphor (“Each evening, they returned down the slum road with gunny sacks of garbage on their backs, like a procession of broken-toothed, profit-minded Santas”).
But “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” is, above all, a moral inquiry in the great tradition of Oscar Lewis and Michael Harrington. As Boo explains in an author’s note, the spectacle of Mumbai’s “profound and juxtaposed inequality” provoked a line of questioning: “What is the infrastructure of opportunity in this society? Whose capabilities are given wing by the market and a government’s economic and social policy? Whose capabilities are squandered? . . . Why don’t more of our unequal societies implode?” Her eye is as shrewdly trained on the essential facts of politics and commerce as on the intimate, the familial and, indeed, the monstrously absurd: the college-going girl who struggles to figure out “Mrs. Dalloway” while her closest friend, about to be forced into an arranged marriage, consumes rat poison, and dies (though not before the doctors attending her extort 5,000 rupees, or $100, from her parents).

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, India, Parish Ministry, Poverty, Psychology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Irish Times) in Syria Orthodox Christians in fear of 'utter chaos' seek refuge in prayer

We make our way to the front of the convent, where women in their Sunday best, girls in skimpy mini-skirts and sequin-spangled scarves, boys in tight jeans and leather jackets, and men in suits and ties are zig-zagging their way down flights of stone steps with black iron railings decorated with crosses. We pause until the flow subsides before climbing to a landing, where the priest awaits us.

Fr George Nijmeh is a portly, balding man wearing a black pullover with sparkly threads over his cassock.

He echoes the words of Mansour: “The Virgin Mary protected us. Today’s service had many more people than previous prayers. Prayer is among the weapons protecting us and driving away the black cloud hanging over Syria.”

He adds: “We should not have fighting in Syria but there are lots of interests who seek to sabotage our country….”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, History, Middle East, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Syria, Violence

(SHNS) Terry Mattingly–Contraceptives-coverage letter reopens chaplain debate

[Archbishop Timothy Broglio] wrote in a letter that “The federal government, which claims to be ‘of, by and for the people,’ has just dealt a heavy blow to almost a quarter of those people — the Catholic population — and to the millions more who are served by the Catholic faithful. It is a blow to a freedom that you have fought to defend and for which you have seen your buddies fall in battle.”

However, it was another passage that seems to have triggered alarms at the Army office of the Chief of Chaplains.

“We cannot — we will not — comply with this unjust law,” stressed Broglio. “People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens. … In generations past, the Church has always been able to count on the faithful to stand up and protect her sacred rights and duties. I hope and trust she can count on this generation of Catholics to do the same.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Church/State Matters, Defense, National Security, Military, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Fascinating Politico Inside Story on the Birth Control Mandate/Health Care Bill Miscalculation

On Jan. 20 ”” after a protracted internal debate over the policy’s implications and lobbying from allies in the reproductive-rights community ”” Obama approved the mandate, to the horror of the conservative Dolan and even to more liberal Catholic allies such as Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne.

From the standpoint of the 2012 campaign, the debate over birth control, the stuff of the 1960s, has opened a dangerous electoral schism for Democrats, pitting Obama’s base of female supporters against the church and a GOP presidential field all too eager to seize on a perceived assault on religious liberty.

But it has also exposed surprisingly acute ideological, religious and gender divisions within a White House that prides itself on pulling together as a cohesive unit after a major decision, however sloppy the deliberation. And the fissures may have contributed to the slow, seemingly disorganized response to the escalating attacks, amplifying the damage from a fight that would have been politically perilous in any case.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Children, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology

(First Things On the Square Blog) Ashley Crouch–The Feminist Shaming of Fertility

In light of recent controversies over Planned Parenthood, it is helpful to have a book that illuminates the organization’s motivating ideology. In the recently released Women, Sex, and the Church: a Case for Catholic Teaching, Angela Franks lays out how self-described “women’s health groups” view a woman’s fertility fundamentally as a hindrance, a burden, a disease to be eradicated. This much, perhaps, is already well known. What Franks adds to the discussion is the extraordinary way that these groups demonize women who fail to adopt their view of fertility.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Media, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology, Women

Bishop of Episcopal Diocese of Washington D.C. calls for same sex marriage in Maryland

The Scriptural argument against same-sex marriage is based on seven references in the Old and New Testaments that condemn homosexual activity. Each one of those passages, however, condemns exploitative sexual activity that is the antithesis of loving, committed relationships. The Bible is silent on the subject of same-gender monogamous relationships.

In contrast, the Bible has strong teachings against divorce. Jesus himself is quite clear on the subject. Yet over the ages, most Christian churches have come to recognize that God forgives the human sin and frailty that precipitate divorce. We now take a more compassionate approach to this issue than our biblical forebears would have condoned. If the teaching on divorce can change in the light of further theological reflection, I believe that the teaching on same-sex relationships can change as well.

However you interpret the seven texts used to argue against marriage equality, they pale in comparison to the over-arching biblical imperatives to love one another, work for justice, and recognize that each of us is created in the image and likeness of God….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, State Government, TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) Women bishops law must not be changed, say campaigners

Supporters of women bishops in the Church of England have hailed the latest General Synod vote but warned against further changes to the plan.

A leading campaigner regretted the Archbishop of Canterbury’s remark that “some bits of fine tuning” were needed.

The Church’s ruling body said the House of Bishops could make some amendments to the law before a final vote in July.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Women

(Church Times) Women Bishops Measure vote now rests substantially with the Bishops

The General Synod has asked the House of Bishops not to amend the draft women-bishops Measure “substantially”, after a three-hour debate on Wednesday afternoon.

The Synod backed Canon Peter Spiers in amending the Southwark amendment, so that it implied support for the Bishops to exercise their power to amend the legislation, but not to the extent that it would be likely to necessitate a new reference to the dioceses.

The decision whether any amend­ment is “substantial”, and therefore requires a further diocesan reference, is not, however, in the hands of the House of Bishops, but in those of the so-called “group of six”: the two Archbishops, the two clergy Pro­locutors, and the chair and vice-chair of the House of Laity, taking legal advice.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Women

C of E General Synod – Summary of business conducted on Thursday 9th February 2012

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Women

Timothy George and Chuck Colson–A letter to evangelical Christians on Obama's Contraceptive Mandate

We evangelicals must stand unequivocally with our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters. Because when the government violates the religious liberty of one group, it threatens the religious liberty of all.
Many bishops have already declared that they will not obey this unjust law. The penalty for such a move would be severe. Catholic hospitals, universities, and other organizations would be forced to pay punitive fines ($2,000 per employee) for refusing to purchase insurance that violates the teaching of their church.
For some institutions, it would spell the end of their existence””and their far-reaching service to the public and the needy.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Evangelicals, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(NY Times) The Muslim Brotherhood Demands that Egypt's Military Cede Power

The Muslim Brotherhood on Thursday demanded that Egypt’s military rulers cede control of the government, stepping closer to a long-anticipated confrontation between the ruling generals and the Islamist-dominated parliament.

In a statement on its Web site and a television interview with one of its senior leaders, the Brotherhood called for the military to allow the replacement of the current prime minister and cabinet with a new coalition government formed by the parliament. That would amount to an immediate handover of power to civilians ”” the signature demand of street protesters but one the Brotherhood had previously rejected.

The Brotherhood, the formerly outlawed Islamist group that dominates the new parliament, had previously said it was content to wait for the generals who seized power with the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak to turn over power by a June deadline. And signs were accumulating of a general accord between the group and the military over the outlines of a new constitution expected to be ratified before the handover.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Egypt, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Almighty God, who by thy holy apostle hast called upon us to present our bodies to thee a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which is our reasonable service: Graciously hear us, we beseech thee, O Lord, and grant that we may so dedicate ourselves wholly to thy service that henceforth we may live only to thy glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Liturgy of the Catholic Apostolic Church

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

–Romans 13:11-14

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AP) Suffering Deepens in Bombarded Syrian City of Homs

Between blasts of rockets and mortar fire, Syrians used loudspeakers to call for blood donations and medical supplies Thursday in the stricken city of Homs, where a weeklong government offensive has created a deepening humanitarian crisis.

Government forces are trying to crush pockets of violent resistance in Homs, the epicenter of an 11-month-old uprising that has brought the country ever closer to civil war. The intense shelling in restive neighborhoods such as Baba Amr has made it difficult to get medicine and care to the wounded, and some areas have been without electricity for days, activists say.

“Snipers are on all the roofs in Baba Amr, shooting at people,” Abu Muhammad Ibrahim, an activist in Homs, told The Associated Press by phone.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Middle East, Politics in General, Syria, Violence