Daily Archives: December 10, 2012

(Living Church) How Did Church of England General Synod Get Here?

It is worth noting that at no stage of the proceedings has there been a two-thirds majority in the House of Laity in favour of the proposals. After traditionalists repeatedly told the Synod that the proposed Code of Practice simply was not an adequate response to the substance of their theological objections to women bishops, it should have come as no surprise that the legislation was defeated. Advocates of women bishops should have realised that, much as they might have wished it otherwise, the Synodical process did what it was designed to do: ensure that major changes cannot be made without consensus, and that the majority cannot exercise tyranny over a substantial minority.

Instead, those of us who in good conscience voted against the measure have been collectively subjected to an outpouring of vitriol, bile, misrepresentation, and contempt, including (I am sorry to say) in some cases from other members of General Synod, through the media and social networks. Suddenly, there are cries that the House of Laity is unrepresentative of the laity at large, that the system is “broken,” and even that Parliament should intervene to impose women bishops on the church. Opponents of the measure are told that we have damaged the Church of England; we are caricatured as “extremists” and worse. We are threatened with a “single-clause measure” next time around, without even a Code of Practice to provide for those who cannot accept women as bishops. If ever there was a question whether legislative provision was really necessary ”” whether what was required was, after all, just more generous mutual trust ”” such an aspiration seems hopelessly naïve now.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Women

(Local Paper) Hyper-local Publishing Flourishes in South Carolina

Home House Press is one of at least a dozen book publishers operating in South Carolina. Half of those companies are based in the Charleston area. They produce traditional books ”” printed on paper, bound and shipped to stores and customers. They do this in a digital age when printed materials such as newspapers, magazines and books face increasing competition from other media platforms.

They are succeeding, more or less, even as larger publishers ”” typically divisions of multinational media conglomerates ”” are struggling to cope with growing demand for Web-based products and electronic books. They are flourishing even though powerful retailers and distributors like Amazon and Ingram demand discounts and high fees.

What’s the secret? Specialization, South Carolina publishers said. And a strong emphasis on local topics and people. Oh, and coffee table books.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Books, Economy, Science & Technology

(Independent) Overuse of hospital antibiotics led to deadly superbug outbreak

The widespread use of antibiotics in hospitals triggered the emergence of two resistant strains of the Clostridium superbug that has killed thousands of people worldwide over the past two decades, a study has shown.

A genetic analysis of about 300 samples of Clostridium difficile bacteria collected from around the world found that the global outbreaks were in fact caused by two different strains that had independently acquired resistance to an antibiotic widely used in hospitals.

Scientists traced the evolutionary trees of each strain of C. diff and found that both originated within a couple of years of each other, one in a hospital in Pittsburg[h], Pennsylvania, and the other in Montreal, Canada.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Canada, England / UK, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Science & Technology

"It came on the world with a wind and rush of running messengers"

Right in the middle of all these things [in the first century ancient Near East] stands up an enormous exception. It is quite unlike anything else. It is a thing final like the trump of doom, though it is also a piece of good news; or news that seems too good to be true. It is nothing less than the loud assertion that this mysterious maker of the world has visited his world in person…..

It came on the world with a wind and rush of running messengers proclaiming that apocalyptic portent, and it is not unduly fanciful to say that they are running still. What puzzles the world, and its wise philosophers and fanciful pagan poets, about the priests and people of the Catholic Church is that they still behave as if they were messengers. A messenger does not dream about what his message might be, or argue about what it probably would be; he delivers it as it is. It is not a theory or a fancy but a fact. It is not relevant to this intentionally rudimentary outline to prove in detail that it is a fact; but merely to point out that these messengers do deal with it as men deal with a fact. All that is condemned in Catholic tradition, authority, and dogmatism and the refusal to retract and modify, are but the natural human attributes of a man with a message relating to a fact. I desire to avoid in this last summary all the controversial complexities that may once more cloud the simple lines of that strange story; which I have already called, in words that are much too weak, the strangest story in the world. I desire merely to mark those main lines and specially to mark where the great line is really to be drawn. The religion of the world, in its right proportions, is not divided into fine shades of mysticism or more or less rational forms of mythology. It is divided by the line between the men who are bringing that message and the men who have not yet heard it, or cannot yet believe it.

–G.K. Chesterton The Everlasting Man (Radford, Va.; Wilder Publications, 2008 edition of the 1925 original), pp.173-174

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, Advent, Books, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Notable & Quotable, Theology

(Washington Post) Robert Samuelson–Is the economy creating a lost generation?

This is not a good time to be starting out in life. Jobs are scarce, and those that exist often pay unexpectedly low wages. Beginning a family ”” always stressful and uncertain ”” is increasingly a stretch. The weak economy begets weak family formation. We instinctively know this; several new studies now deepen our understanding.

When the labor market operates smoothly, it creates an economic escalator. Just out of high school or college, young workers typically switch jobs frequently until they find something that fits their talent and temperament. Job changes often mean higher pay; people move to advance themselves. The more they succeed, the more confident they feel in marrying and having children.

The most startling evidence of the broken escalator is the collapse in marriages and births….

Read it all.

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

PBS' Religion and Ethics Newsweekly-Hanukkah Lamps

SUSAN BRAUNSTEIN (The Jewish Museum, New York): The rabbis associated a miracle with the holiday that when the ancient soldiers came to rededicate the Temple in Jerusalem and they lit the menorah that was in the Temple, they only had one cruse of oil to burn for one day, but miraculously it burned for eight, and so that’s why we call it the festival of lights and why we light the Hanukkah lamp. The rabbis going back to Maimonides and earlier felt that the lights of the Hanukkah lamp were sacred.

The rabbis actually did specify a list of materials that were preferable to use for the Hanukkah lamps. Gold and silver, of course, being the best, if you could possibly afford that. Most people couldn’t. If you were poor and couldn’t afford a permanent Hanukkah lamp, you could use an egg shell, or a nut shell, or a potato carved out.

The lamps used in homes for most of the centuries that Hanukkah has been celebrated were actually using oil. And then over time in the 19th century and into the 20th century, candles became more popular for home use. It’s pretty messy to use oil; we’ve tried it.

Read or watch it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Judaism, Other Faiths

(First Things On the Square Blog) Peter Leithart–The Christian Origins of Islam

Near the bottom of the pit of hell, Dante encounters a man walking with his torso split from chin to groin, his guts and other organs spilling out. “See how I tear myself!” the man shrieks. “See how Mahomet is deformed and torn!” For us, the scene is not only gruesome but surprising, for Dante is not in a circle of false religion but in a circle reserved for those who tear the body of Christ. Like many medieval Christians, Dante views Islam less as a rival religion than as a schismatic form of Christianity.

A handful of Western scholars now think there is considerable historical truth to Dantes view. According to the standard Muslim account, the Quran contains revelations that Allah delivered to Mohammed through the angel Jibril between 609 and 632. They were fixed in written form under the third Caliph in the mid seventh century. Islamic scholar Christoph Luxenberg doubts most of this. In 2000, he published the German edition of The Syro-Aramaic Reading of the Koran, whose restrained title and dispassionate tone belie its explosive arguments-explosive enough for the author to hide behind a pseudonym. The book has been banned in several Islamic countries.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, History, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Theology

Music for Advent–On Jordan's Bank, the Baptist's Cry ”” Choir of Wells Cathedral

Listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Liturgy, Music, Worship

(Post and Courier) Termite damage severe at local Charleston, S.C., church

One of nature’s tiniest creatures has brought havoc to one of Charleston’s oldest churches.

Termites have attacked the wood and skeletal support system at Citadel Square Baptist Church, the yellow stucco landmark adjacent to Marion Square.

The damage is so severe that the sanctuary has been closed for the last two years, forcing the tiny congregation to meet in an adjoining 1950s-era chapel.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * South Carolina, Animals, Architecture, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Phil Ashey–Canons are Made to be Broken: Anglican Perspective

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori doesn’t play by the rules. Specifically, she and her Council of Advice decided that the Bishop of South Carolina had renounced his orders as a bishop without following the canons, or laws, of the church. For example, the church’s canons state that in order to renounce your orders, one must do so “in writing.” The Bishop of South Carolina never wrote the Presiding Bishop, or any one for that matter, claiming to renounce his orders. This is just one example of the current state of lawlessness in The Episcopal Church. Canon Phil Ashey reflects on these recent events in this week’s Anglican Perspective.

Watch it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

Kendall Harmon's Sermon from Sunday–Learning Again from John the Baptist (Luke 3:1-6)

Listen to it all if you so desire.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NPR) A California School District Owes $1 Billion On a $100 Million Loan

More than 200 school districts across California are taking a second look at the high price of the debt they’ve taken on using risky financial arrangements. Collectively, the districts have borrowed billions in loans that defer payments for years ”” leaving many districts owing far more than they borrowed.

In 2010, officials at the West Contra Costa School District, just east of San Francisco, were in a bind. The district needed $2.5 million to help secure a federally subsidized $25 million loan to build a badly needed elementary school.

Charles Ramsey, president of the school board, says he needed that $2.5 million upfront, but the district didn’t have it.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, City Government, Economy, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, State Government, Theology

Karl Barth with some Thoughts on Sabbath rest on his Feast Day

It is not a question of recuperation after a toilsome and well-done job. Even the Sabbath rest of man corresponding to the divine rest does not have this sense in the Old Testament, but means negatively a simple cessation and abstention from further work. The freedom, rest and joy of the Sabbath consist in the fact that on this day man is released from his daily work. On the Sabbath he does not belong to his work.Nor is it merely a question of having to recuperate from the work that lies behind him and to fortify himself for the new tasks that are ahead. On the Sabbath he belongs to himself. Whether he be farmer, artisan, servant or maid, he is just the man who for six days had to be these things and to perform the corresponding tasks, but whose being and existence are more than all these things and his work, who in and with these things seeks to be a man, male and female, and as such before God. That he does not strive in vain towards this goal; that his work cannot devour him but consists of steps towards this goal, is confirmed at the end of each week by the proffered freedom, rest and joy of the workless Sabbath which he is granted. It is this which gives perspective and depth, meaning and lustre, to all his weeks, and therefore to his whole time, as well as to the work which he performs in his time.

–Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics (ed. Geoffrey Bromiley and Thomas Torrance, Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1958 E.T. of the German 1945 original) III.I.para. 41, Creation and Covenant, p. 214

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Church History, Eschatology, Europe, Switzerland, Theology

A Prayer for the (Provisional) Feast Day of Karl Barth

Almighty God, source of justice beyond human knowledge: We offer thanks that thou didst inspire Karl Barth to resist tyranny and exalt thy saving grace, without which we cannot apprehend thy will. Teach us, like him, to live by faith, and even in chaotic and perilous times to perceive the light of thy eternal glory, Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, throughout all ages. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Church History, Europe, Spirituality/Prayer, Switzerland, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Eternal God, who rulest the world from everlasting to everlasting: Speak to our hearts when men faint for fear, and the love of many grows cold, and there is distress of nations upon earth. Keep us resolute and steadfast in the things that cannot be shaken; and make us to lift up our eyes and behold, beyond the things that are seen and temporal, the things that are unseen and eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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