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Blessed Pentecost 2018 to all Blog Readers

Posted in Pentecost

A S Haley–The South Carolina Case of the Historic Diocese and the Nearly brand New TEC Diocese Goes to SCOTUS Conference

In their (non-linkable) respondents’ brief, ECSC and ECUSA took a gamble by resting their main opposition upon just a single ground: that the Court lacked jurisdiction to review the case because the five divided justices of the South Carolina Supreme Court had decided the case below on independent state-law grounds, and did not rest their decision on any interpretation of federal law. (SCOTUS reviews only issues of federal law that are decided by either the state or federal courts.)

As the Diocese’s reply brief points out, this claim is far from accurate. Two of the justices below (Pleicones and Hearn) were clear that they viewed the 1979 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Jones v. Wolf as requiring them to give effect to the trust on church property imposed by the Dennis Canon, even if the documentation of that trust failed to pass muster under South Carolina law. In other words, Justices Pleicones and Hearn held that the First Amendment trumped state trust law — and that was obviously a federal ground of decision.

Even Chief Justice Beatty, who declined to articulate his reasoning, held that the Dennis Canon was sufficient to create a trust under South Carolina law so long as the individual parishes “acceded” in some way to that Canon. Since, as Justice Kittredge pointed out in dissent, any argument that a trust under South Carolina law could rest upon such a dim showing of assent was “laughable”, it is only fair to conclude that Chief Justice Beatty reached his result by relying upon the same (federal-law) reading of Jones v. Wolf that drove Justices Hearn and Pleicones.

In sum, the South Carolina case presents as good a reason as ever will arise for SCOTUS to grant review, in order to end the confusion over the meaning of Jones that divides some nineteen different state and federal courts below. (Those decisions are reviewed and discussed at pp. 21-29 of the Diocese’s petition.)

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court

In the Diocese of SC Supreme Court Case–The Diocese has now filed its response to TEC and the new TEC Diocese

You can find the full 17 page pdf here–read it carefully and read it all. Please do continue to note that you can follow all the documents as they become available there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Church History, History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, State Government

The Bp of Manchester’s Sermon today at the Civic Memorial Service at Manchester Cathedral

In the days after the Arena blast, across a range of media broadcasts, I assured the world that Manchester would be there for the victims, for as long as it took. All who were affected have a lasting place in our hearts. You have become part of our story, and we will be part of yours. Yet quite soon it became clear that those most deeply affected by the tragedy were drawn from a much wider area than our immediate city and its surrounds. Only four of the 22 killed lived in the diocese that this cathedral serves. It’s very appropriate that today’s service is being relayed far beyond Manchester, including to cathedrals in other cities such as York, Liverpool and Glasgow. The Arena families and survivors will need the same love and care, over the years and decades ahead, even if they live and work far from this city. Support will need to be there for them in places where what happened on May 22nd 2017 is not part of the shared story of that community. Support will need to be given in villages and towns where the memory of last year will inevitably fade.

Rightly, much attention has been given to the families of those whose lives were lost that night. Theirs is the greatest loss, they are ones from whose arms someone deeply dear has been ripped away. They are the ones who will never see that loved face or hear that voice again. Yet I want us also today to remember those many others, whose lives were spared but who suffered long lasting, often permanent, damage in the attack. Part of the horror of the Arena attack was that it appeared to have been deliberately chosen as a venue that would be full of young people. Today they are one year into living with those life changing injuries, yet with many decades of continuing to do so lying ahead of them. Our society has rituals to mark a death, and to console the bereaved. We lack any equivalent for those who have lost limbs, suffered sensory loss, or will never recover their confidence again. Many of the hopes and aspirations they took with them into the Arena that night are gone. Today we mark and acknowledge their suffering, and pledge to play our part for their future wellbeing here on Earth.

There’s another reason why I’m glad we are gathered today in this particular location. It’s because this cathedral is a place of hope. It’s a very well used building. We host festivals, stage lectures, hold concerts, show films, serve dinners, as well as maintain the rhythm of the Church of England’s worship, day by day and week by week. When our ancestors planned and constructed these buildings, they knew what they were doing. You can’t be in this place very long, whatever event you’re attending, before your eyes are drawn upwards. And that’s deliberate. We may be engaged in our work on Earth, but we must never forget the Heaven beyond us.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(ACNS) National memorial service held on anniversary of Manchester Arena bombing

The 22 people who died when a bomb exploded at the end of a concert by US singer Ariana Grande in Manchester last year were remembered today in a sombre service in Manchester Cathedral. The national commemoration was attended by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, and by Prince William and senior politicians across the political divide, including Prime Minister Theresa May. The service – held a year after the explosion – was relayed to other cathedrals, including York Minster, the Roman Catholic cathedral in Liverpool, and the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland cathedral in Glasgow; and was also shown on large outdoor screens in the city.

Speaking in advance of this afternoon’s service, Archbishop Sentamu said that he would be at the service “standing alongside the Bishop of Manchester and many other leaders from a great city in shared grief at the loss of so many young lives.”

He continued: “we will stand together in shared solidarity and commitment to peace and the wellbeing of all. This is a time for communities to hold together, to care for one another, to respect the privacy of those carrying this grief, and to hold on to the truth that: ‘Love is stronger than hate, light is stronger than darkness, life is stronger than death.’ May God give us his peace and blessing.”

A suicide bomber detonated an explosive device in a foyer of the Manchester Arena just after 10.30 pm on 22 May 2017 as thousands of people were leaving a concert by the US-based singer Ariana Grande. The 24-year-old singer is very popular amongst young people and 10 of those killed were under the age of 20: the youngest victim was eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos. The oldest was a 51-year-old woman. More than 800 people were injured.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, History, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(LA Times) California attorney general appeals judge’s decision to overturn physician-assisted suicide law

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra on Monday filed an appeal against a judge’s recent ruling overturning the state’s physician-assisted suicide law.

The controversial law, which allows terminally ill patients to request lethal medications from their doctors, has been the subject of litigation since it was enacted two years ago.

Last week, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Ottolia ruled that the law’s passage was unconstitutional and the law should be overturned.

Becerra’s action Monday moves the case to an appeals court, which will decide the future of the law. He also asked that the law stay in place while the matter is further litigated, a request that will most likely be granted, said Kathryn Tucker, an attorney who heads the End of Life Liberty Project at UCSF/UC Hastings Consortium on Law, Science & Health Policy.

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, State Government, Theology

Tuesday Food for Thought–Frederick Buechner on History

Unlike Buddhism or Hinduism, biblical faith takes history very seriously because God takes it very seriously. God took it seriously enough to begin it and to enter it and to promise that one day it will be brought to a serious close. The biblical view is that history is not an absurdity to be endured or an illusion to be dispelled or an endlessly repeating cycle to be escaped. Instead, it is for each of us a series of crucial, precious, and unrepeatable moments that are seeking to lead us somewhere.

The true history of humankind and the true history of each individual has less to do than we tend to think with the kind of information that gets into most histories, biographies, and autobiographies. True history has to do with the saving and losing of souls, and both of these are apt to take place when most people—including the one whose soul is at stake—are looking the other way. The real turning point in our lives is less likely to be the day we win the election or get married than the morning we decide not to mail the letter or the afternoon we watch the woods fill up with snow. The real turning point in human history is less apt to be the day the wheel is invented or Rome falls than the day a child is born in a stable.

Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC (New York: HarperOne, 1993)

Posted in History, Theology

([London) Times) Google dreams up future of manipulating everyone

Google has imagined a future where it uses enormous quantities of data it collects on individuals to manipulate their behaviour and achieve “desired results” for the whole species.

In a leaked video from the company’s secretive X research division, the narrator cites Richard Dawkins’ book The Selfish Gene and depicts Google’s data as a “selfish ledger” which treats users as “transient carriers” or “survival mechanisms” for valuable data.

He says that the ledger could move beyond a passive record to actively influence people’s actions, in line with Google’s “values”. If Google didn’t have enough data on a particular user its algorithms would identify a suitable “smart” product to sell him or her to gather that data.

Google dismissed the video as a “thought experiment” unrelated to any present or future plans. However, analysts said that the dystopian future it painted was plausible. Similar ideas can be found in some of the firm’s patent applications, including one for “detecting and correcting potential errors in user behaviour”.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Psychology, Science & Technology

(Local Paper) Study: Charleston, North Charleston South Carolina in top 5 most prosperous U.S. cities

A new report proclaims Charleston and North Charleston are among the top five most prosperous cities in the U.S.

California-based online apartment service RentCafe measured municipalities with at least 100,000 people in six prosperity indicators between 2000 and 2016. They include changes in population, income, home values, education, poverty and unemployment over the time span.

Charleston ranked No. 3, just below oil-rich Odessa, Texas, and the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. The Holy City also is one of only 11 cities, out of 303 in the survey, to show improvements in all six categories.

Charleston’s population grew 35 percent, income is up 16 percent, home values rose 39 percent, higher education attainment is up 34 percent, poverty dropped 15 percent and unemployment dipped 10 percent.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Economy

(Aeon) Jocelyn Crowley–Why are so many baby boomers getting divorced?

At first, Kathy, 53 years old, spoke to me calmly, but as the minutes ticked away, her voice started to crack. Her husband had a long-standing problem with alcohol. The couple, married for more than 25 years, had one son, and tried to keep the marriage together by seeing a therapist. But there came a decisive moment when she could no longer keep the relationship going. She told me: I discovered a hotel receipt and went and counselled with our priest at that point. [The hotel receipt] was for the Oriental Fantasy suite at [this hotel] at 11 o’clock on a Tuesday morning and I’m quite certain I wasn’t there at the time.’ At that point, she knew that her marriage was over.

Kathy experienced a mid-life or what is also known as a ‘grey divorce’. A grey divorce is simply a divorce that occurs at or after the age of 50. Even though the divorce rate across all age groups has stabilised, the number of grey divorces in the United States has recently dramatically increased. Currently, about one out of every four divorces is grey.

What has caused this dramatic surge in grey divorces? First has simply been the ageing of the Baby Boomer generation. In 1990, there were only 63.5 million Americans aged 50 and older, but by 2010, there were 99 million in this same age group. By 2050, the US Census Bureau predicts that there will be 158.5 million individuals aged 50 and over. In addition to the growth in absolute numbers of such individuals, life expectancy has mostly continued to tick upwards. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 1950, men could be expected to live, on average, 65.6 years, while women could be expected to live 71.1 years, on average. By 2016, these ages had increased to 76.1 and 81.1, respectively. Both of these factors have worked to expose ever-greater numbers of couples to the possibility of a grey divorce.

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, History, Marriage & Family, Psychology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the First Book of Common Prayer

Almighty and everliving God, whose servant Thomas Cranmer, with others, did restore the language of the people in the prayers of thy Church: Make us always thankful for this heritage; and help us so to pray in the Spirit and with the understanding, that we may worthily magnify thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in --Book of Common Prayer, Church History

A Prayer to Begin the Day from James Ferguson

Almighty God, who fillest all things with thy boundless presence, yet makest thy chosen dwelling-place in the soul of man: Come thou, a gracious and willing Guest, and take thine abode in our hearts; that all unholy thoughts and desires within us be cast out, and thy holy presence be to us comfort, light and love; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction,
and be attentive, that you may gain insight;
for I give you good precepts:
do not forsake my teaching.
When I was a son with my father,
tender, the only one in the sight of my mother,
he taught me, and said to me,
“Let your heart hold fast my words;
keep my commandments, and live;
do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.
Get wisdom; get insight.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
love her, and she will guard you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
and whatever you get, get insight.

–Proverbs 4:1-7

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Economist Erasmus Blog) Followers of Jesus fail to agree about his homeland

Hundreds of millions of followers of Jesus Christ are about to celebrate the annual feast of Pentecost, which celebrates an event in Jerusalem roughly 2,000 years ago, when it is believed that cultural and ethnic barriers were miraculously overcome. The festival, which falls on May 20th in this year’s western Christian calendar and a week later in the Orthodox one, commemorates what many regard as the establishment of the Christian church. A new kind of divine inspiration, including the ability to communicate with speakers of any language, is said to have come over the disciples who had gathered in the holy city for the Jewish festival of Shavuot, which falls seven weeks after Passover.

So there is sad irony in the fact that people who cherish that sacred story seem more divided than ever, with some rejoicing in Jerusalem’s rising earthly status and others expressing the very opposite view.

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Posted in Israel, Middle East, Religion & Culture

(Stuff) Same-sex blessing vote could split Anglican church in New Zealand

Behan is chair of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans New Zealand (FCANZ), a conservative group within the church that opposes same-sex blessings. A statement on the FCANZ website greeted the synod vote with “deep sadness”.

“We are ready to support people and parishes that cannot remain within this changed Anglican structure. We will work together nationally and internationally to provide fellowship and support as we look towards new ways and structures of ministering the unchanging good news of Jesus,” it stated.

Drye said he did not know if he would leave the Anglican church.

“We don’t really have anything to say because we are in the middle of negotiations and we need to deal with our own churches.

“This is quite a big deal for us and we need to work out what we are going to do. If the church goes pear shaped who knows what will happen from here. Nobody knows what is happening from here.”

Behan did not return calls for comment.

Vicar Helen Jacobi, of St Matthew-in-the-City in Auckland, said it was “pathetic” Canterbury vicars were considering leaving the church.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology: Scripture

The Church of Scotland has moved a step closer to allowing some Ministers and Deacons to conduct same-sex marriages

The General Assembly voted 345 by 170 to instruct the Legal Questions Committee to prepare legislation with safeguards in accordance with Section 9 (1A) of the Marriage Scotland Act.

But commissioners agreed that the committee should only act if, in its opinion, said safeguards “sufficiently protect against the risks they identify”.

The committee will report its findings to the General Assembly of 2020.

The motion calling for legislation to be prepared was put forward by Rev Bryan Kerr, minister of Greyfriars Parish Church in Lanark.

It was amended to ensure the committee had the power to recommend withdrawal following a call from Rev Peter White of Sandyford Henderson Memorial Church in Glasgow.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Scotland, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT Op-ed) Rob Henderson–lessons from my life as a foster child

One piece of inherited wisdom is the value of the two-parent family. It’s not fashionable to talk about this. How people raise their children is a matter of preference. But it is not really up for debate that the two-parent home is, on average, better for children.

First, two parents can provide more resources to children, including emotional support, encouragement and help with homework. One conscientious parent, no matter how heroic, cannot do the work of two. Second, single-parent households have a lower standard of living, which is associated with lower school grades and test scores.

Here is an example of the success of intact families from one of my psychology classes. The professor asked students to anonymously respond to a question about parental background. Out of 25 students, only one other student besides me did not grow up in a traditional two-parent family. It’s no accident that most of my peers at Yale come from intact families.

Outcomes are worse for foster children. Ten percent of foster children enroll in college, and only 3 percent graduate. To my knowledge, among more than 5,000 undergraduates at Yale in the current school year, the number of former foster children is under 10.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Marriage & Family

(NYT) ‘Please Pray’: Santa Fe, Texas, Is a Town That Has Long Found Comfort in Faith

“Please pray,” began one text message sent to a mothers’ prayer list. “My niece is not accounted for. Was in art when shooting took place.”

“URGENT PRAYER REQUEST!!” read another. “I don’t have details but was just informed that there is an active shooting going on at Santa Fe high school.”

Their requests were heeded. “Prayers lifted for the Santa Fe schools right now,” someone wrote.

There have been prayers sent from Nigeria and from Grapevine, Tex., from Virginia and São Paulo. Vice President Mike Pence offered prayers from the White House. They are words that, however sincere, have come to seem routine — even cynically so, to some Americans who see in them an evasion of the gun-control debate — when American communities find themselves plunged into grief.

But in Santa Fe, where football players appeal to the Lord before Friday night games, where church on Sunday is all but a given, where the school district once went all the way to the Supreme Court to preserve the right to sponsor prayer, these expressions of faith are not mere words, but salves.

On Friday, inside the high school, the students turned to prayers for protection. As gunfire roared through the hallways, several students hid in a classroom, forming a prayer circle.

Read it all.

Posted in Education, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Violence