Daily Archives: July 18, 2014

(Public Discourse) Kim Holmes–Intolerance as Illiberalism

We live in intolerant times. A former Secretary of State is disinvited from speaking on campus. Corporate leaders are forced to resign because of their views on marriage. People are forced by the courts to violate their consciences. A prominent Senate leader calls Tea Party activists “anarchists” and, in a speech reminiscent of McCarthyism, brands the businessmen-philanthropist Koch brothers “un-American.” The Internal Revenue Service””harking back to the Johnson and Nixon eras””is accused of targeting individuals and groups for their political views. And government leaders routinely ignore laws they are sworn to uphold.

This is more than intolerant. It is illiberal. It is a willingness to use coercive methods, from government action to public shaming, to shut down debate and censor those who hold a different opinion as if they have no right to their views at all.

Read it all and read part two there also.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(WSJ) David Skeel–The Next Religious Liberty Case

Mr. [ D. Michael ] Lindsay and Gordon College are unlikely magnets for the attention. A highly respected sociologist who made his reputation studying America’s business and cultural leaders and running an institute at Rice University, Mr. Lindsay likely travels in some of the same circles as the president himself. In his three years as Gordon’s president, Mr. Lindsay has steered clear of hot-button issues.

“In general practice,” he wrote on Gordon’s website after the controversy erupted, “Gordon tries to stay out of politically charged issues, and I sincerely regret that . . . Gordon has been put into the spotlight in this way. My sole intention in signing this letter was to affirm the College’s support of the underlying issue of religious liberty.”

An executive order that did not include a religious exemption might be upheld by the courts, since the government has broad powers when it comes to spending. But it would be a sharp break from political precedent. In 2002 President Bush signed an executive order decreeing that faith-based organizations be permitted to “participate fully in the social service programs supported with Federal financial assistance without impairing their independence, autonomy, expression, or religious character.” The Employment Non-Discrimination Act itself, as passed in the Senate before stalling in the House, also included an explicit exemption for religion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Theology, Young Adults

(BBC) Many feared dead after suspected Boko Haram Islamist gunmen attack town of Damboa

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Nigeria, Violence

Russian Orthodox Church Statement on Unilateral CofE Women Bishops Decision

Statement by Communication Service of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations regarding the decision of the Church of England to allow women to serve as bishops

At the session that took place on the 14th of July 2014, the General Synod of the Church of England made a decision allowing women to serve as bishops. The Communication Service of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations is authorized to make the following statement in this regard:

The Russian Orthodox Church has been alarmed and disappointed to learn about the decision of the Church of England to admit women to the episcopate, since the centuries-old relationships between our two Churches had shown possibilities for the Orthodox to recognize the existence of apostolic succession in Anglicanism. As far back as the 19th century, the Anglicans, members of the Eastern Church Association, sought “mutual recognition” of orders between the Orthodox and the Anglican Churches and believed that “both Churches preserved the apostolic continuity and true faith in the Saviour and should accept each other in the full communion of prayers and sacraments.”

The decision to ordain women, which the Church of England took in 1992, damaged the relationships between our Churches, and the introduction of female bishops has eliminated even a theoretical possibility for the Orthodox to recognize the existence of apostolic succession in the Anglican hierarchy.
Such practice contradicts the centuries-old church tradition going back to the early Christian community. In the Christian tradition, bishops have always been regarded as direct spiritual successors of the apostles, from whom they received special grace to guide the people of God and special responsibility to protect the purity of faith, to be symbols and guarantors of the unity of the Church. The consecration of women bishops runs counter to the mode of life of the Saviour Himself and the holy apostles, as well as to the practice of the Early Church.

In our opinion, it was not a theological necessity or issues of church practice that determined the decision of the General Synod of the Church of England, but an effort to comply with the secular idea of gender equality in all spheres of life and the increasing role of women in the British society. The secularization of Christianity will alienate many faithful who, living in the modern unstable world, try to find spiritual support in the unshakable gospel’s and apostolic traditions established by Eternal and Immutable God.

The Russian Orthodox Church regrets to state that the decision allowing the elevation of women to episcopal dignity impedes considerably the dialogue between the Orthodox and the Anglicans, which has developed for many decades, and contributes for further deepening of divisions in the Christian world as a whole.

Read it all and also this and you can find the response of the Catholic Church in England and Wales here

Posted in * Admin, * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Featured (Sticky)

(G and M) Cheryl Rofer–What do we actually know about Iran’s nuclear capability?

Iran is discussing with the IAEA its development of exploding bridgewire (EBW) detonators, which are safer and more controllable than other detonators and are used by other countries in nuclear weapons. Iran says that their EBW detonators are for oilfield applications. Iran has provided materials to the IAEA, and the IAEA has not come to any conclusions yet.

The IAEA was investigating PMD long before the JPOA went into effect and has many more questions. The EBW discussion is a first step, but the IAEA would like a more systematic approach. However, they leave the door open to piecemeal discussions, requesting further information on neutron transport modeling and calculations (how neutrons split atoms ”“ in a reactor or a bomb) and a site visit to Parchin, where explosives experiments may have been done to give information that is useful only for a bomb.

For the past six months, both sides have stuck by their word as expressed in the JPOA. They are closer to an agreement than ever before.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Theology

[Lent & Beyond] Prayer for South Carolina Friday July 18th

Our Father in heaven,
We thank You for the gift of song. We thank You for the hands that craft musical instruments and for the psalmists who compose hymns. We thank You for nimble fingers dancing across keyboards and for nimble vocal cords vibrating in praise.
During this trial between the Episcopal Church in South Carolina and the Diocese of South Carolina, we humbly request that You pour out upon the communicants of these two dioceses a spirit of praise in good measure. May the words and the notes of their song reach the throne room of heaven. You are enthroned upon the praises of Your people.
May they sing in their coming and going, upon their beds and in their daily walk. May they sing in their times together and their times apart.
O God of hope, turn their eyes ever toward You.
O God of hope, fill them with all joy and peace in believing that by the power of the Holy Spirit they may abound in hope.
O God of hope, pluck their feet out of the net. Amen.
Psalm 22:3, 25:15, Luke 6:38, Romans 15:13

Please pray it all if you wish and there are more prayers from Lent and Beyond for South Carolina here. We are grateful to Lent and Beyond for these daily prayers.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(Time) A USA Network survey on cheating and marital satisfaction–Are You ”˜Monogamish’?

Some of the survey’s findings are not surprising. The arrival of children and the subsequent triangulation of the relationship and lack of bandwidth, time, money and energy makes a couple far more susceptible to the desire to stray. And the rise of the social networks make such straying much easier: easier to start, easier to arrange and easier to hide. (It may make it a little harder to end quietly though, especially if one of the parties feels aggrieved.)

Some other findings are a little more unexpected, however. For the vast majority of folks 18 to 49 years old, at least in Austin, Omaha, Nashville and Phoenix, where this study took place, cheating is an absolute dealbreaker. A full 94% of respondents would rather never marry than end up with a person they knew would cheat and 82% of them have “zero tolerance” for infidelity. Yet 81% of people admitted they’d cheat if they knew there wouldn’t be any consequences and 42% of the survey takers, in equal parts men and women, admitted to already having cheated.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Men, Sociology, Theology, Women

Archbishop John Sentamu Speaks Against Assisted Dying bill today

My Lords, this present Bill is not about relieving pain or suffering. It makes that quite clear in its definition of a terminally ill patient to include those whose progressive illness can be relieved but not reversed. This bill is about asserting a philosophy, which not only Christians, but also other thoughtful people of goodwill who have had experience in care for the dying must find incredible: that is, the ancient Stoic philosophy that ending one’s life in circumstances of distress is an assertion of human freedom. That it cannot be. Human freedom is won only by becoming reconciled with the need to die, and by affirming the human relations we have with other people. Accepting the approach of death is not the attitude of passivity that we may think it to be. Dying well is the positive achievement of a task that belongs with our humanity. It is unlike all other tasks given to us in life, but it expresses the value we set on life as no other approach to death can do.

We need time, human presence and sympathy in coming to terms with a terminal prognosis. To put the opportunity to end one’s life before a patient facing that task would be to invite him or her to act under their influence rather than dealing with them.

It is possible to think abstractly that one’s early death would be welcome to one’s nearest family and would spare them trouble. But in fact the best service one could do for them would be to accept their care, and to show appreciation of them at the end of one’s life.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Psychology, Theology

(Guardian) Legalising assisted suicide is a mistake I learned from my wife's death says Bishop Inge

Many, including former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, argue that it would have been the “compassionate” and “caring” thing to do. How difficult it would have been for Denise to argue with me if she was made to feel that she was a “burden” to myself and others. Had assisted dying been legal, I daresay the medics might have agreed with me, and the pressure on her, though subtle, would have been unbearable.

That is one of the many reasons I believe Lord Carey’s arguments to be so profoundly misguided and dangerous. He quotes a dying woman parishioner of his who whispered in his ear before she died that, “It is quality of life that counts, not length of days”. Well, maybe ”“ but who is to decide, when, and on what grounds?

Denise’s quality of life at the time of her prognosis and following it was poor by any standards. However, against the odds the chemo did have an effect and the tumour shrank for a while. Had assisted dying been legal, we might never have had the opportunity to enjoy the precious months together that we were given as the more debilitating effects of the treatment wore off. The despair of the moment would have determined our actions. What a tragedy that would have been.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Theology

(Telegraph) Follow the Assisted dying debate in the House of Lords–live

11.20 Lord Tebbit, whose wife was left disabled by the IRA’s bombing of the Brighton hotel, speaks against the Bill.

“No-one could dispute the good intentions of this bill, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

“I notice Baroness Greengrass talked of the right we have to take our own lives. We do not have that right. We have only the capacity to do it.”

It creates financial inventives to end the lives of the “ill, disabled, frail and elderly”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Aging / the Elderly, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

([London Times]) Russian separatists ”˜mistook Malaysian jet for transport plane’+shot it down

Pro-Russian rebels shot down a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine after mistaking it for a military transport plane, according to phone-tapped recordings released by authorities in Kiev.

The recordings suggest that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, which had 283 passengers and 15 crew aboard, was targeted by a Cossack unit supporting the separatist forces in the Donetsk region.

It took the rebels about an hour to get to the scene of the crash and work out that the plane was not, as they had thought, a Ukrainian air force Antonov-26 but a passing passenger plane – prompting a Cossack commander to suggest that the aircraft must have been carrying spies.

”They shouldn’t be ****ing flying. There is a war going on,” he says.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Ukraine

(Church Times) General Synod delivers a confident vote for women bishops

As if they needed reminding, given the cameras trained on them, General Synod members were told on Monday morning that there were “many eyes and ears which are attentive to what we say and do”.

Eighteen months after the collapse of the previous women-bishops draft Measure, a new creation was awaiting approval, gestated during hours of negotiations led by a diplomat with reconciliation in Northern Ireland under his belt. There was a mood of trepidation.

Introducing the Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure, the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James Langstaff, was clear: “While we may be aware of those others, we are here today to do what we believe under God to be right.”

Read it all.

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

(New Republic) Yishai Schwartz–Israel Is Invading Gaza Because Netanyahu Is Out of Options

…now, things have changed. Some may point to the pressure Netanyahu was facing from his own cabinet. Only days into the recent round of fighting, Netanyahu’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, announced that his Yisrael Beitenu faction would end its partnership with Netanyahu’s Likud party, a partnership that had guaranteed Netanyahu the largest party in the Israeli coalition. Lieberman cited “essential differences” with Netanyahu over the latter’s overly restrained response to Hamas’ rocketfire. And just yesterday, Netanyahu fired his incendiary deputy defense minister, Danny Dannon, over his unrelenting criticism of the Israeli government’s handling of the current campaign””particularly its acceptance of a ceasefire proposed by Egypt. (The ceasefire, unfortunately, was rejected by Hamas.)

But the more likely explanation is that Israel just didn’t have any other options. Israel could have continued its aerial and artillery exchanges with Hamas, but this campaign did not appear to be damaging either the will or the capability of Hamas. It could have loosened its rules of engagement and struck Hamas more effectively””but doing so would have inflicted unconscionably disproportionate civilian damage. It could have capitulated to Hamas’s ultimatums to release hundreds of security prisoners and reopened Gaza to shipments of arms- and tunnel-making materials. Apart from the moral implications of such a concession, doing so would simply have strengthened Hamas and ensured additional fighting. An extended cease-fire would be ideal. But so far, Egyptian attempts to broker such a cease-fire seem to have fallen on deaf ears. So Netanyahu was left with a choice that wasn’t really much of a choice.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Israel, Middle East, Politics in General, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle, Theology

(Bloomberg) Putin Cornered as Malaysia Jet Crash Shows Isolation on Ukraine

President Vladimir Putin’s intransigence over Ukraine risks turning him into a global pariah should the blame for downing a Malaysian Air jet fall on pro-Russia rebels.

The crash of the Boeing Co. (BA) 777, which had 298 passengers on board, follows by less than 24 hours the imposition of new sanctions against Russia that targeted major energy companies and banks. While the rebels denied accusations by the Ukraine government that they shot down the flight, the U.S. said this week that the separatists were being supplied with more heavy weaponry from Russia.

“If there is solid evidence that it is the militants who did it and the weapon originated in Russia, there will be really strong pressure on Putin to really contribute to de-escalation,” Masha Lipman, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center, said by phone. “This should change the way all nations, and not just the West, regard this conflict in Ukraine, and Russia’s role in it.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Travel, Ukraine

SC Trial day 8-Judge Scolds TEC for Trying to Sneak “Expert Witnesses” into Trial…

ST. GEORGE, SC, JULY 17, 2014 ”“A normally unflappable South Carolina Circuit Court judge stopped the trial initiated by the Diocese of SC to prevent the seizure of local diocesan and parish property, to scold the defendants for their intentional disregard of three court orders dealing with disclosure of expert witnesses. The defendants, the Episcopal Church (TEC) and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) tried to present an expert witness, Robert Klein, into the trial without having followed court’s orders.

After reminding TEC attorneys that she had bent over backwards to provide them ample opportunity to identify expert witnesses, Judge Diane S. Goodstein said, “You have violated this court three times with regard to experts and now you think you’re going to bring in his (Klein’s) testimony through the back door? This is not a game! Court’s orders are to be followed! You are an officer of the court. I trust we will not have any more discussion about this witness.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology