Daily Archives: May 27, 2007

Tomás R. Jiménez: Immigrants don't destroy our national identity, they renew it

Some critics of the [currently proposed immigration] legislation are already arguing that inviting millions of immigrants to stay permanently in the U.S. and become citizens will hasten the fading of a cohesive nation. They say that immigrants may become more interwoven into the fabric of the United States, but the ethnic patches to which they bind their identities will remain all too distinguishable from the rest of the American quilt.

How immigrants and their descendants see themselves will change over time, and they will simultaneously transform many aspects of what it means to be an American. This is undoubtedly an uncomfortable process, fraught with tension between newcomers and established Americans that can occasionally become explosive. But the real issue is whether the United States can provide opportunities for upward mobility so that immigrants can, in turn, fortify what is most essential to our nation’s identity.

History is instructive on whether immigrants will create a messy patchwork of ethnicities in the U.S. About a century ago, a tide of Southern and Eastern European immigrants arriving on our shores raised fears similar to those we hear today. Then, as now, Americans worried that the newcomers were destroying American identity. Many were certain that Catholic immigrants would help the pope rule the United States from Rome, and that immigrant anarchists would destroy American democracy. Some eugenicists thought that the dark-skinned immigrants from Southern Europe would contaminate the American gene pool.

None of this came to pass, of course. The pope has no political say in American affairs, the United States is still a capitalist democracy, and there is nothing wrong with the American gene pool. The fact that these fears never materialized is often cited as proof that European-origin immigrants and their descendants successfully assimilated into an American societal monolith.

However, as sociologists Richard Alba and Victor Nee point out, much of the American identity as we know it today was shaped by previous waves of immigrants. For instance, they note that the Christian tradition of the Christmas tree and the leisure Sunday made their way into the American mainstream because German immigrants and their descendants brought these traditions with them. Where religion was concerned, Protestantism was the clear marker of the nonsecular mainstream. But because of the assimilation of millions of Jews and Catholics, we today commonly refer to an American “Judeo-Christian tradition,” a far more encompassing notion of American religious identity than the one envisioned in the past.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Immigration

Heather Abel: Are Doctors Missing Key Diagnoses?

THE YEAR I was diagnosed with celiac disease, I wrote the following on a page of my journal: “Relafen, Famotidine/Pepcid, Lorazepam, Cyclobenzaprine, Vioxx, Vicodin, Soma, that steroid: forgot name, Celebrex, Valium, Prevacid.”

The analgesics were for arrows of pain shooting from the nape of my neck to my fingers. The stomach soothers were for a constant, low-level ache that doctors diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome. The Valium was for, as one doctor explained, “a certain anxiety you seem to have about your body.” I kept the list in case a doctor might ask me what medicines I had taken.

None ever did, despite the fact that I spent many afternoons waiting in doctors’ offices hoping to learn why I felt so sick. Many times while I sat in the waiting rooms, young, blow-dried women carrying briefcases with poetic names of prescription drugs embossed on them bypassed me and went directly into the doctor’s office. I frequently returned home from my visits with jewelry-sized boxes of the same drugs. “Start with these free samples,” the doctors instructed me. “Try them for four days, and call if you want a refill.”

Later that year, my stomach pain reappeared in greater intensity. During the previous six years, I’d driven myself, screaming, to emergency rooms for treatment, and doctors had sent me home with samples of Prevacid and leaflets on irritable bowel syndrome. But my new doctor decided that my diet of Celebrex had caused an ulcer, so she abruptly took me off the drug and put me on a regimen of antibiotics. When this produced migraines, the doctor prescribed Ultram, which caused, as the side effects warned, dizziness, sleeplessness and anxiety. I was up for three consecutive nights until the doctor gave me Klonopin. It took me years to get off this soothingly addictive drug.

I never had an ulcer. I never had irritable bowel syndrome.

I have celiac disease. I was 30 years old before I knew this ”” and I was lucky. About 97% of people with celiac are undiagnosed.

Jerome Groopman’s widely acclaimed book, “How Doctors Think,” opens with an episode similar to mine. Anne Dodge consults nearly 30 doctors for her increasingly debilitating gastrointestinal symptoms, which include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. She is diagnosed with anorexia and irritable bowel syndrome. After 15 years ”” and severely malnourished ”” Dodge finds a doctor who does something different. He observes her manner and listens to her ”” and diagnoses celiac disease. He saves her life. Groopman concludes that doctors must pay more attention to patient reports and resist the temptation to dismiss poorly understood complaints as psychosomatic.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

Notable and Quotable

When the Holy Spirit gets hold of us, everything changes . . . our view of life, our value systems, our will toward our neighbor, our aims and goals in life, our perception of the world, our self-image, our “yeses” and our “noes,” our appreciation for things that never caught our attention before . . . absolutely everything. For the Holy Spirit opens to us a vision of what ought to be even though it is not yet; a hope greater than that to which any earthly hope can give words even though it is a hope yet beyond sight; a foresight of eternity even though we are bound to time; a love yet to be realized in its fullness even while it is known in shadowy form in our present estate. It is, as Peter said, quoting the prophet Joel, “when he pours out his Spirit on all flesh your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.” (Acts 2:17, 18)

None of that can quite be put into words, yet it clearly speaks of being in the world in a new and different way; of seeing what is not yet as though it already were and living by that vision; of reaching beyond what can presently be reached as though it were already near enough to be touched; of speaking about things that sound like speaking in tongues while they are already understood in the life, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord to whom the Spirit is constantly pointing; to whom the Spirit is constantly drawing and binding us; to whom we are constantly praying for the life of the world and our own life; for whom all of creation “waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.” (Rom. 8:19)

Ah, what a vision the Holy Spirit gives us! He who first began the ordering of creation when he separated the light from the darkness and the waters above the earth from the waters under the earth as he “hovered over” that first creation (Genesis 1:2) still hovers over his creation, raising eyes to see what is yet unseen; filling hearts with a visionary hope in the midst of the darkness of this world; causing lives to be lived with boldness and confidence as though they were already beyond the reach of sin; who touches you and me through his revealing word, through water, bread and wine, and calls us ever so gently – although he is not above pressing on us when we resist – to trust the one who speaks in our text as though he were still with us.

We are not left as orphans! The Christ whom the disciples knew remains with us today as the Spirit of truth comes from the Father bearing Christ’s presence among us.

Hubert Beck.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * General Interest, Notable & Quotable, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

In Edmonton, A Sharp divide on same-sex blessings

[The] Rev. Stephen London is troubled that the Anglican Church of Canada may approve a resolution next month allowing for same-sex blessings.

London stressed that his opposition to a so-called “local option” resolution — allowing each diocese to decide for itself on the issue — is based on his concerns that it will lead to a split within the worldwide Anglican Communion.

“Most of the rest of the Communion has made its mind clear that this is an issue that goes to the heart of our bond together.

“And if it passes, it will break that bond eventually,” said London, who is rector at St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Church in northeast Edmonton.

“It might not be the next day, but probably at the most within a year or two.”

London’s warning was sounded at a local forum to discuss the consequences — nationally and internationally — should the Canadian church approve same-sex blessings.

The forum, and a series of public consultations, are being held throughout the Diocese of Edmonton in the weeks leading up to the church’s General Synod in Winnipeg.

The final consultation will be held at Holy Trinity Anglican Church June 2.

The local option resolution is one of five related to the same-sex issue slated to go before the General Synod in Winnipeg from June 19 to 25.

London is an elected delegate to General Synod, the church’s highest governing body, which meets every three years. He’ll be among about 350 delegates representing bishops, clergy and lay people.

[The] Rev. Dan Ash is also concerned about the upcoming synod, although in his case, he believes greater harm will be done if the church fails to act. Ash favours the church saying “yes” to same-sex blessings.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Nigeria: Anglican Church Tasks Politicians On Poverty

The Diocese of Lagos West Anglican Communion has said that the poverty level in the country is unacceptable and called on political leaders to be God-fearing and build better communities by the provision of social amenities for the people.

The diocese at its Second Session of the Third Synod held at Archbishop Vining Memorial Church Cathedral, Ikeja, condemned ills associated with those in authority today, and criticised “those in, and those who aspire to leadership positions in government and other spheres of endeavour for their personal gains, rather than for service to the people, and called upon such people to have a change of heart.”

In a communiqué issued at the end of the synod, the church urged the incoming government of Alhaji Umar Yar’Adua “to urgently and seriously address the issue of security of life and property. The situation where no one is safe is unacceptable. Government should be more sensitive to the value placed on human life and property.”

The Synod themed: “Church as a Catalyst for Change,” commended the judiciary for its strong and firm decisions in the recent past and urged “the incoming administration to stem the tide of frequent and flagrant disobedience of court orders. It should continue to uphold its role as the last hope of the common man.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Religion & Culture

Carolyn Reynier Reflects on Nice's Anglican church

Through marriage, some parishioners are French. Services may be conducted in French or in both languages. The church is now an accepted part of the community. Ecumenical relations with other churches are excellent. “They recognise that we take our faith seriously,” says Canon Letts. “We don’t keep apart, doing our own thing, disregarding their interests.” He hosts a monthly meeting, in French, of clergy from other churches in Nice: Roman Catholic, Russian and Greek Orthodox, Armenian, Église Réformée de France, Lutheran, Salvation Army, Baptist.

The church has two priorities, says Canon Letts: to serve God, and to serve his people. Financially that makes life tricky. The church is self-supporting, receiving “not a cent” from anyone, and pays “horrendous” taxes. It does not make economic sense to give four out of six Sunday collections away, he says, but we do – we believe it is our duty.

Nice tends to attract older Anglophones, so there are few young parishioners. Canon Letts is philosophical: “We may have more young worshippers in Australia, but I gather in England this is the pattern. The church for centuries has lived with these ebbs and flows.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Parish Ministry

Liberty Mupakati–Mugabe, The Anglican Church and the “Illegal Sanctions”

The drive to sanitise the offensive regime of Robert Mugabe has sucked in the Church, with the Anglican Church being the most high profile to have openly expressed views that chime with the daily propaganda that is churned out of the government controlled media. The Pastoral Letter of its Bishops released after the Episcopal Synod in April demonstrates how pliant and subjugated the Anglican Church has become to the regime of Robert Mugabe.

One would be forgiven for thinking this report was authored in the Munhumutapa Building as it bore an uncanny resemblance with, and has all the hallmarks of a George Charamba literary product. It has since emerged that some men of the cloth are dissociating themselves from this ecclesiastical fraud.

Students of African history would recall the assertion about “missionaries being forerunners of colonialism” throughout the length and breadth of the continent. The Nolbert Kunongas, Obadiah Msindos, Trevor Manhanga and other state apologists are craving to fill the void left by the late Border Gezi in delivering the church vote to the regime.

The Anglican Pastoral Report of April confirmed the widely held suspicions of the politicisation of the pulpit. The Anglican Bishops’ report was a PR coup for an embattled Robert Mugabe as it lent ecclesiastical approval to his obnoxious views about “illegal sanctions”. Kunonga and his fellow primates regard themselves as part of the African Church, and feel duty bound to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with this dictatorship.

One would have thought that the Pastoral letter would empathise with the suffering of its congregation and spoken about the causation of such suffering. Instead, the report parroted the official line that the suffering was a consequence of sanctions. There was a glaring lack of understanding of the dynamics at play in the country and clearly one could see nothing but a resonance with the daily propaganda stuff churned out daily in the Herald and other state media.

That the Herald gave the Report a ringing and rapturous endorsement speaks volumes for how grateful the regime was for the support from these men of cloth. It was in stark contrast to the reception that was given to the Pastoral Letter that was released by the Catholic Bishops at Easter.

The Pastoral Letter led to the Catholic Bishops being labelled opponents of the state and would therefore be treated as such, whilst the Anglican Bishops were garlanded and lauded for their patriotism. The Anglican Bishops report demonstrated just how far removed these primates are from the harsh reality that obtain in the country.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces

One Seminarian's Profile

Who influenced/inspired you to priesthood? Please explain.

I was influenced by the spirit of many priests ordained from the Redemptoris Mater Seminaries. I saw in them a freedom and a disposition to leave everything and to go announce the love of God to people everywhere the Church sent them; also their love for the mission was something that always called my attention.

What would you say to a young man who thinks he may have a vocation?

I would tell him that it is a beautiful life. I would also tell him that the most important thing is not whether or not one has grown up inside the Church, practicing the faith, but to remain open to the call of God. I am a witness that God sometimes calls to the priesthood even those who are outside the Church. As the angel said to Mary, “do not be afraid,” because God never asks for something impossible to be done. If He asks for something, surely He will also give the graces necessary to achieve it.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

I was not raised in a Catholic family. As a matter of fact I was baptized in the Anglican Church (my grandfather was Anglican). Since my baptism, I have never been in an Anglican church. Through the Neocatechumenal Way, I started going to the Catholic Church with my parents.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic

Declining attendance shuts Eastern Canada Anglican church

Eileen MacKenzie busily polished brass and silver “to make it sparkle a bit” at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church on Saturday.

It helped her and several other congregation members keep their minds off the fact that the church will close its doors today after more than 50 years due to dwindling attendance.

“It probably won’t hit us, the real sadness, until tomorrow when we’re going up to communion for the last time,” said Ms. MacKenzie, who has attended the church since it was built in this Pictou County town in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Anglicans have been worshipping in Trenton since at least the turn of the century at various locations. The existing building’s cornerstone was dedicated in 1949.

Ms. MacKenzie can remember a time when many of the pews were filled each Sunday, compared with an average of 15 who have attended weekly services in recent years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces

Colorado Springs Parish votes to break from Episcopal Church

A majority of voting members at Grace Church and St. Stephens Parish in Colorado Springs have declared their willingness to break away from the Episcopal Church to join a conservative Anglican network more in line with their beliefs, according to spokesman Alan Crippen.
The vote, tallied Saturday, showed 93 percent of 370 voting members approved of the plan to leave the Episcopal Church, Crippen said. It capped an ongoing period of uncertainty that began March 26 when parish rector, The Rev. Don Armstrong, and a majority of the church’s governing board, declared they were each individually leaving the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Colorado.

Because the schismatic act was so unusual, the breakaway parish leaders said they would set up a vote to determine what parishioners wanted to do.

Armstrong has been under an ongoing investigation by the diocese of misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars in parish funds. He denies the charge and says is an act of revenge by the diocese and Bishop Rob O’Neill because of his conservative beliefs.

In a second ballot question, 78 percent of the voters declared they wanted the breakaway leadership of Grace Church to continue fighting to hold on to the church property at 601 N. Tejon St. The 135-year-old property, which occupies a city block, is now embroiled in a legal dispute with the Episcopal Church in El Paso County District Court.

Crippen said he believed the “no” votes on both ballot questions came from Grace Church members loyal to the diocese and to Bishop Rob O’Neill, even though the Episcopal loyalists had said all along that they would refuse to legitimize Armstrong’s cause by participating in the vote.

Crippen said the will of the voting majority was indisputable, “and showed clearly a very strong mandate to affirm the vestry decision of March 26 (to leave the Episcopal Church).”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, CANA, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, TEC Departing Parishes

The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado's Statement on Yesterday's Parish Vote

The “vote” being taken this week by the secessionist group that now illegally occupies Grace and Saint Stephen’s Church in Colorado Springs has no legal validity or bearing on the current efforts by The Diocese of Colorado to regain rightful control of its property.

Because The Episcopal Church is a hierarchical church, parishes are not established by the vote of a congregation but only by actions taken by a diocesan convention and ecclesiastical authority. Conversely, no vote taken by a congregation or by its vestry can dissolve a parish or change its affiliation to another religious body. For that reason, neither the “vote” taken by the secessionist vestry on March 26 nor the “vote” currently being taken this secessionist group has any legal grounding or effect.

In fact, the secessionist group has not been clear or consistent about what the actions of May 20 and the coming days actually represent. On March 26, the secessionist vestry voted that “Grace Church and St. Stephen’s Parish will leave the Episcopal Church” effective immediately. In a press release that same day, they stated that members of the parish had no choice with regard to this action but would merely “be given the opportunity to affirm” their decision to affiliate with the Church of Nigeria.

The seizing of property rightfully belonging to the Episcopal Church is nothing more than a sadly misguided effort to restore to a position of public trust a priest who is currently under ecclesiastical indictment for the misappropriation of church funds. The diocese has been investigating allegations against the Rev. Donald Armstrong involving serious financial misconduct for more than a year, and in March, the Diocesan Review Committee issued a Presentment of charges ”“ similar to an indictment ”“ against Armstrong on the same day the former vestry of Grace and St. Stephen’s announced their decision to secede.

Last week, the Bishop and Diocese of Colorado filed an answer and counterclaim in response to the complaint filed in El Paso County by a secessionist congregation on Good Friday (April 6). The response asserts that the real property of Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church belongs to the loyalist Episcopal congregation, and that the secessionist congregation has “wrongfully taken steps to take possession of and exercise control over the Property.” It cites the long history of the parish in the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Colorado, and the established legal precedent that Grace Church and St. Stephen’s holds legal title of record to the property for the mission of, and in trust for the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado and The Episcopal Church.

The parish of Grace and St. Stephen’s is one of 114 congregations in the Diocese of Colorado. Currently, at least 200 ”“ 400 members of that congregation who wish to remain part of the Episcopal Church are worshiping at nearby First Christian Church until they can be restored to their property. The vestry of the Episcopal congregation has encouraged members not to take part in the invalid vote organized by the secessionist group. Prior to the move to secede from the Episcopal Church, Grace and St. Stephen’s had a reported average Sunday attendance of 800 people. St. John’s Cathedral in Denver reports a similar average Sunday attendance.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, TEC Departing Parishes

A Wonderful Song

She has a magnificent voice.

Posted in * General Interest

The Bishop of Arizona Offers some Thoughts on recent Anglican Events

Certainly the Archbishop is within his rights to invite whomever he pleases. However, I cannot help but express my dismay that he would treat these men in the same way. Whatever you may think of Bishop Robinson, I do not believe that his manner of life has caused division or scandal in the communion, rather it is the actions of those who have used his ordination in an intentional effort to divide both our own Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion who are responsible.

Bishop Robinson’s participation at the Lambeth Conference might be awkward for some of the other participants, but that is hardly new. There are plenty of bishops whom I have a hard time working with, and doubtless they feel the same about me. But I can tell you from my own relationship with Bishop Robinson that he has been exemplary in maintaining an honest and open attitude of trust within his own Diocese, and in the House of Bishops, he as worked tirelessly to be an agent of reconciliation and resolution.

That is not the case with Bishop Minns and his supporters. He has been aided in his efforts to divide the American church by African bishops who have crossed jurisdictional lines in open disregard of the most ancient canons of the church, but also in violation of the Windsor Report itself. They have attempted to steal the rightfully owned buildings and property of Episcopal Congregations in Virginia and elsewhere and have caused untold hardship and division to faithful parishioners.

It also seems to me remarkably odd that the Anglican Communion, which has pledged itself to a “listening process” of the experience of Gay and Lesbian Christians, should exclude from that process one of its leading witnesses.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, TEC Bishops

Colorado Congregation Votes to Leave the Episcopal Church

(Colorado Springs, Colorado) Grace Church and St. Stephen’s Parish voted to affiliate with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) in a congregational election that concluded today. Of the 370 votes cast, an overwhelming 342, or 93%, voted for the mother church of Anglicanism in Colorado Springs and one of the oldest Episcopal Churches in Colorado to leave the Episcopal Church over its departure from traditional Christian beliefs and practice.

Last March the vestry, or governing board of the Parish, had voted to join CANA in a provisional affiliation that was ratified by the congregation today. The Parish’s new affiliation with CANA, an American missionary diocese of the Church of Nigeria and the largest Anglican Church in the world, allows Grace Church and St. Stephen’s the freedom to continue its Gospel ministry unmolested by theological innovators and revisionists in the Episcopal Church.

Jon Wroblewski, senior warden of the parish’s vestry said, “The congregation’s decision to join CANA is the most important decision in Grace Church and St. Stephen’s 135 year history. We have decided to remain true to the faith of our ancestors and the founders of this parish even as the Episcopal Church departs from the faith and the Anglican Communion.”

Founded in 1872, Grace Church and St. Stephen’s was the first Anglican Church in Colorado Springs and helped to establish all the other Episcopal Churches in the city including: The Chapel of our Savior, St. Michael’s, and Holy Spirit (now defunct), St. Francis (now defunct), and St. Andrew’s in Manitou Springs. Grace Church and St. Stephen’s pre-dates the existence of the Diocese of Colorado (1887).

According to the parish’s rector, Fr. Donald Armstrong, “The plight of the Episcopal Church truly grieves me. What was once a great church of Gospel proclamation and social influence has now become an irrelevant and insignificant denomination characterized by theological drift and demographic decay. The Episcopal Diocese of Colorado is dying and has lost 60% of its market share of Colorado’s population during the last 60 years. The decision for Grace Church and St. Stephen’s was a simple choice between death with the Episcopal Church or spiritual life and vitality with CANA.”

The significance of Pentecost Sunday is not lost on the leadership of Grace Church and St. Stephen’s and neither is the month of May, 2007. Armstrong said, “Tomorrow is the Feast of Pentecost, the birthday of the Christian church — the day we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit empowering his people to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Similarly, this month marks the 400th year since the founding of Anglicanism in America with the Jamestown settlers in Virginia. On these two anniversaries we are celebrating our heritage as Christians and Anglicans in a re-birth, renewal, realignment, and recommitment to Gospel proclamation in Colorado.”

The flag of the Episcopal Church will no longer be carried in worship services of Grace Church and St. Stephen’s. Instead, a new flag and banner will be carried ”“ The Anglican Communion’s Compass Rose flag symbolizing the parish’s continuing constituent membership in the worldwide Anglican Communion and the CANA Banner as the standard for proclaiming the transforming Gospel to all peoples in North America and beyond.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, CANA, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, TEC Departing Parishes

More on Abigail and The Hill School

There are four links featuring Abigail on the left under “Hear students talk about Hill” where you can see and hear her in her element, so to speak. It was a glorious day for graduation.

Posted in * By Kendall

Robert Parham: Seeking Common Ground for Patriots and Peacemakers on Memorial Day

Christians have long divided themselves between patriots and peacemakers, between militarists and humanitarians. Patriots salute uncritically the flag and accept the march to war. Peacemakers recognize the inherent idolatry of unchecked nationalism/militarism and favor efforts to resolve conflict.

The time has come for militia Christi and pax Christi wings of faith to join hands to end the war in Iraq. The nation’s self-interest is in grave risk through the folly of war. The resolution of conflict in Iraqi isn’t happening.

As of Wednesday, U.S. military fatalities in Iraq totaled 83 so far in May, a similar pace as in April, averaging more than three-and-one-half troops killed each day.

The body of one of the three American soldiers missing for a week and a half was found floating in the Euphrates River. On Tuesday, at least 100 Iraqis were killed or found dead.

At the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, President Bush continued to mislead the nation about the war in Iraq, blaming al Qaeda for the violence and ignoring the civil war between Iraqi factions.

Democrats in Congress refused to set a deadline for the withdrawal of troops.

A new poll found 60 percent of Americans believe the nation should have stayed out in Iraq, 72 percent think the nations is “seriously off on the wrong track” and 76 percent say the surge of troops into Iraq has had “no impact” or is “making things worse.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Iraq War, Religion & Culture

Denis Minns: Pentecost is just the start

We need to remember, as we celebrate Whitsun tomorrow, that progress in the Spirit is by fits and starts. The gift of the Holy Spirit is something we need to get used to, and the Holy Spirit needs to get used to us

The description St Luke gives of the Church in Jerusalem after the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is one that has inspired many subsequent reform movements in the Church, and has been very influential in the foundation of many religious orders. It is not difficult to see why. It tells of the whole group of believers being of one heart and soul, with no one claiming private ownership of any possessions, but holding everything in common, and not a needy person among them (Acts 4:32-35).

Commentators describe this passage as a “summary”, but it is a very curious kind of summary, for no sooner has Luke given it than he appears to contradict it, at every point. First we hear of a married couple who tried to deceive the community by presenting only part of the proceeds of the sale of their property as though it were the whole (Acts 5: 1-11). A little later we are told of dissension that divided this early Christian community, if not along racial lines, then certainly along linguistic ones. The Hellenists (Greek speakers) grumbled against the Hebrews (Hebrew or Aramaic speakers) because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of bread (Acts 6:1-6). Christians are not supposed to grumble, even when they have something to grumble about, as St Paul told the Corinthians in peremptory fashion (1 Corinthians 10:10). But here we find grumbling among those who have just been described as being “of one mind and one heart”. How can these Hellenists have had anything to grumble about if the Jerusalem community held everything in common, and there was not a needy person among them?

The solution the Apostles found to this problem hardly allows them to be seen to best advantage as giving testimony to the Resurrection of the Lord with great power (Acts 4: 33). For whereas Jesus had characteristically attended to the physical and spiritual needs of the people, and had encouraged his disciples to do the same (cf. Mark 6:12-13), here we find the Apostles distinguishing between service to the Word and waiting on tables, and clearly regarding themselves as being too important to be involved in the latter. Nor did their solution address and heal the original division, for the seven they appointed to wait at tables all had Greek names: presumably there were separate soup kitchens for Hellenists and Hebrews thereafter.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Biblical Commentary & Reflection, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Pentecost, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

Choir Told Not to Sing 'The Lord's Prayer' at Graduation

The Comstock Park High School choir performed “The Lord’s Prayer” six months ago at a benefit for the family of Nick Szymanski, a choir member and deeply religious student who was killed in an accident last October.

In honor of their classmate, the choir decided to sing it again during the school’s May 31 graduation.

But that plan changed Wednesday when choir director Keith VanGoor said school administrators would not allow them to sing the religious song during the graduation at Sunshine Community Church.

“We’re dealing with legal advice. Legal counsel said, `Don’t go there,”‘ explained Dwight Anderson, the superintendent of Comstock Park Public Schools. “I feel bad for the kids because they do a great job with it.”

The choir is feeling pretty bad, too, said member Hilary Shively, a junior. They want to sing the song once again in remembrance of Szymanski.

“It wasn’t meant to be preached religiously towards others, although some may have taken it that way,” Shively said.

“The Supreme Court has ruled that prayer at a graduation ceremony isn’t appropriate,” Anderson said. “I say the Lord’s Prayer every day. I have a strong faith and teach a Bible class at my church. But we are going to abide by the law.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Church-State Issues

Vincent Nichols: Pentecostal drama explodes with energy, freedom and joy

Three weeks ago I celebrated Mass in the northern Spanish village of Caleruega, in a tiny chapel marking the birth place of St Dominic. This chapel was built on the site of his parents’ bedroom soon after his death in 1221 and became the crypt of a larger church.

Today, at the centre of the crypt, there is a fountain of flowing water, a symbol of new life. Many pilgrims have come to this fountain over the centuries, especially those seeking fruitfulness and fertility in their lives, and they still do so today, for this is a place of powerful prayer and of the gracious action of God.

This weekend Christian Churches throughout the world will celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, marking the outpouring of the Spirit of God, which flowed not from the birth of a saint but from the death and Resurrection of the Son of God.

The images of Pentecost are full of energy, freedom and joy. The flames of fire, the powerful wind, the soaring dove, the kaleidoscope of languages ”“ all portray the fruitfulness of this gift of the Holy Spirit. At Pentecost the frightened first band of Disciples are transformed into fearless preachers of the Word of God. Our liturgical celebration of the feast gives access to that same gift today.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Pentecost

YouTube Catholics

First came the online network informally known as St. Blog’s. Then came the invasion of the Catholic podcasters.

Now it’s “vodcasts.”

The latest innovation on the Internet is the rise of Catholic video podcasts, otherwise known as vodcasts. Through YouTube and other media, Catholics have been able to spread the faith, provide historical footage and draw attention to liturgical abuses.

Denham Springs, La., software developer William Eunice describes YouTube, the Internet video portal that allows users to post short videos online, as a “scratchpad for our culture.”

“The Catholic content gets to the heart of what my Catholic faith is about,” said Eunice, who writes for the website CatholicDaily.org. “It’s real information that helps me in my life as a Catholic.”

Such resources are utilizing both audio and video to show the richness of the Catholic community, says blogger Rocco Palmo. He has been impressed with how some dioceses are using online video. The Diocese of Salt Lake City, for example, makes liturgies at the cathedral available online.

“No diocese in the country has made that kind of commitment,” said Palmo, whose blog is called Whispers in the Loggia (WhispersintheLoggia.blogspot.com). “They have really been the pioneers.”

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Cardinal Justin Rigali became the first Church leader to make regular use of YouTube. Every week of Lent, Cardinal Rigali presented a weekly two- to four-minute video reflection on the Gospels called “Living Lent.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

White House Is Said to Debate ’08 Cut in Iraq Troops by 50%

The Bush administration is developing what are described as concepts for reducing American combat forces in Iraq by as much as half next year, according to senior administration officials in the midst of the internal debate.

It is the first indication that growing political pressure is forcing the White House to turn its attention to what happens after the current troop increase runs its course.

The concepts call for a reduction in forces that could lower troop levels by the midst of the 2008 presidential election to roughly 100,000, from about 146,000, the latest available figure, which the military reported on May 1. They would also greatly scale back the mission that President Bush set for the American military when he ordered it in January to win back control of Baghdad and Anbar Province.

The mission would instead focus on the training of Iraqi troops and fighting Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, while removing Americans from many of the counterinsurgency efforts inside Baghdad.

Still, there is no indication that Mr. Bush is preparing to call an early end to the current troop increase, and one reason officials are talking about their long-range strategy may be to blunt pressure from members of Congress, including some Republicans, who are pushing for a more rapid troop reduction.

The officials declined to be quoted for attribution because they were discussing internal deliberations that they expected to evolve over several months.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Defense, National Security, Military, Iraq War

Utah's Episcopal diocese calls shunning of gay bishop 'hurtful'

Bishop Carolyn Tanner Irish of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah has been a strong supporter of Robinson. Irish was out of the country and could not be reached for comment, but a statement issued Wednesday by the Utah diocese called the shunning “an extremely rare historic occurrence” and “deeply hurtful.”

“To single him out because of his sexuality shows a regrettable lack of respect for his diocese,” the statement read.

The Rev. Mary June Nestler said that of the more than 200 bishops in the United States, she knew of no other who was excluded from the invitation list.
In a statement Robinson issued, he said: “At a time when the Anglican Communion is calling for a ‘listening process’ on the issue of homosexuality, it makes no sense to exclude gay and lesbian people from that conversation. It is time that the Bishops of the Anglican Communion stop talking about gay and lesbian people and start talking to us.”

Utah’s Nestler said there remains a chance that Robinson will be invited to the conference as a guest, but not as a full participant like other bishops. With the conference more than a year away – it’s scheduled for July 2008 – Nestler said it’s too soon to say how Episcopal bishops, including Irish, will respond as the date draws nearer. She did say she’s heard “a number of bishops float the possibility that if Gene were not invited they would not attend.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, TEC Bishops

The Bishop of Upper South Carolina's Diocesan Convention Address

The population of our state is exploding. Faithfulness to our Lord’s Great Commission requires that we need to develop a mission strategy to take advantage of this significant opportunity””a challenge and a blessing dropped in our laps. So my second specific goal is to have in place a plan for planting new missions, and a strategy for assisting congregations already in place. Let me state parenthetically that further enrichment of our ministry with our Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters is an indispensable part of our mission strategy, not just for the future, but for here and now.

Beloved, we cannot be content with the level of Christian education and formation we received in grammar school. So, third, let’s greet the next bishop with programs””wherever we have an altar, wherever we have a congregation””for growing in our understanding and practice of the Christian faith””a plan for education and formation “from the womb to the tomb”. “To think with the mind of Christ” requires knowledge””constantly growing knowledge and a comfortable familiarity””with Holy Scripture, the Tradition of the Church, and Reason””all under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Finally, we cannot ignore the great opportunity that we have””unique to our day and time””to be doing the work that Christ would have us do””to be faithful to his self-proclaimed mission to “bring good news to the poor”¦to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, (and to) proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”. That blessed opportunity comes to us as the Millennium Development Goals. Episcopalians in USC are off to a great start in numerous, exciting ventures in mission associated with the MDGs. This is not so much a goal in itself as it is a way to measure how effective we have been with the three challenges I have set before you: the Healthy Church Initiative, mission strategy, and Christian formation. Our involvement in reaching the MDG’s is a thermometer for gauging spiritual health and mission accomplishment””and, along with evangelism, a demonstration of our commitment “to act in the world as the Body of Christ”.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

The Bishop of Ohio Responds to the Lambeth 2008 Invitations

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

This morning I awoke to an e-mail from the Archbishop of Canterbury informing me of my invitation to participate in the Lambeth Conference, the meeting of bishops from across the Anglican Communion held every ten years and scheduled next for the latter half of July 2008. The text of this letter is available on the diocesan website.

In it you will find the following paragraph:

“At this point, and with the recommendations of the Windsor Report particularly in mind, I have to reserve the right to withhold or withdraw invitations from bishops whose appointment, actions or manner of life have caused exceptionally serious division or scandal within the Communion. Indeed there are currently one or two cases on which I am seeking further advice. I do not say this lightly, but I believe that we need to know as we meet that each participant recognises and honours the task set before us and that there is an adequate level of mutual trust between us about this. Such trust is a great deal harder to sustain if there are some involved who are generally seen as fundamentally compromising the efforts towards a credible and cohesive resolution.”

Shortly thereafter I received the news report that Bishop Robinson, the Bishop of New Hampshire who was elected and consecrated according to the Canons and Constitution of The Episcopal Church, was one of the bishops about whom Archbishop Williams is seeking further advice and to whom he has not issued an invitation to participate. The news service reported that Bishop Martyn Minns, the former Episcopal priest of the Diocese of Virginia ordained by Archbishop Akinola of Nigeria to serve as a missionary bishop to the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) was another. I am told that Bishop Minns, along with the Bishop of Bolivia, was in the Diocese of Ohio last week to participate in an ordination in Akron, neither bishop having sought or received my permission to perform episcopal acts within the ecclesiastical jurisdiction for which I am responsible.

I write to let you know that I am aware of the current scope of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitations to the Lambeth Conference and respect his privilege and prerogative in making those invitations. I also want to be clear with you that I do not believe it is Bishop Robinson’s “manner of life” that has “caused exceptionally serious division or scandal within the Communion,” rather it is the divisive actions of those who have used it in an intentional effort to divide both The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

Archbishop Williams rightly points out in his letter that the productive work of the Lambeth Conference is dependent upon “an adequate level of mutual trust.” In light of the challenges facing our global fellowship, he accurately states that “such trust is a great deal harder to sustain if there are some involved who are generally seen as fundamentally compromising the efforts towards a credible and cohesive resolution.”

Bishop Robinson’s presence at the Lambeth Conference might be awkward or difficult for some of the other participants, but that is hardly uncommon in Christian community. There are plenty of bishops whose presence in the councils of the Church I find difficult, and doubtless plenty who find mine the same. However, Bishop Robinson, throughout his ministry, has been unfailingly honest and open, consistently establishing and maintaining trust within the diocese he has faithfully served and throughout the Church. Time and time again he has been an instrument of reconciliation and resolution.

As Bishop of Ohio, I cannot say the same about those bishops who have come into this diocese to exercise episcopal ministry in contempt of the centuries old practice of jurisdictional respect, bishops of our own province and from abroad, beginning the month before I became the Bishop of Ohio and continuing even until last week, including the Archbishop of Kenya who presided at an ordination in Cleveland only weeks before last February’s meeting of the Primates.

Regardless of one’s perspectives on human sexuality and how the intimate expression of personal relationships is seen in the eyes of God, we must be able to distinguish between Bishop Robinson’s ministry and that of bishops who indeed are “fundamentally compromising the efforts towards a credible and cohesive resolution.

It is important that none of us, whatever her or his perspective, responds precipitously to this news, rewarding with our reactivity the power of evil’s desire for division. At the same time, I will only be honest with you and say that I am deeply disappointed. Just as I do not imagine representing the more conservative communicants of the Diocese of Ohio without the companionship and participation of conservative bishops, at Lambeth or any other council of the Church, I can not foresee representing the lesbian and gay communicants of this diocese, and their more liberal peers, without the companionship and participation of the Bishop of New Hampshire. And none of this even begins to address representation of the faithful communicants of the Diocese of New Hampshire, whose duly elected, consented to, and ordained Diocesan Bishop may be kept from fulfilling his responsibilities.

In a note to the bishops of The Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori has urged “a calm approach to today’s announcement,” reminding us that “aspects of this matter may change in the next 14 months, and the House of Bishops’ September meeting offers us a forum for further discussion.” I concur both with her sense of patience and her hope for productive conversations with the Archbishop of Canterbury in New Orleans this autumn.

By circumstance, I will be spending the next three days with Bishop Robinson and three other members of our ordination class of bishops. Of course we will consider this recent news thoughtfully and prayerfully, as will you, seeking not to be reactive, but faithfully responsive. And as we move into the time ahead, I invite you to continue in your openness with me about this and all other concerns of our common faith and mission.


The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Jr.

Bishop of Ohio

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, TEC Bishops

Regional Associates to develop theological education work in the Anglican Communion


As part of its commitment to helping to strengthen Anglican theological education on a regional basis, TEAC, the Primates Working Party on Theological Education, is pleased to announce that three part-time Regional Associates have been appointed to work with and alongside TEAC’s Secretary, Clare Amos.

The three Regional Associates are:

Rt Revd Michael Fape, Bishop of Remo, in Nigeria. Bishop Michael Fape was previously a lecturer at Immanuel College of Theology, Ibadan, and then the Dean of Archbishop Vining College of Theology, Akure. He has a PhD from the university of Aberdeen and has worked in theological education since 1990. He will focus particularly on helping to deliver TEAC’s work in Anglican Provinces in Africa.

Revd Joo Yup Lee, a priest of the Anglican Church of Korea. Revd Joo Yup Lee after training both in Korea and abroad has served three rural parishes as rector and a sharing house community (a Korean Anglican social ministry for the urban poor). His present responsibility is as Director of Sallintuh ”“ an Anglican shelter for homeless families. He will engage especially with the East Asian context.

Revd Sally Sue Hernandez Garcia, a priest of the Anglican Church in Mexico, from the Diocese of Mexcio City. Having trained for the ministry both in Mexico and abroad, Revd Sally Sue Hernandez Garcia works part-time for the St Andrew’s Seminary teaching mission and ministry, practical theology and popular religiosity, and in addition ministers in two local congregations, with young people and in a hospital. Among other projects she will work to facilitate the development of Anglican theological resources in Spanish.

The three Regional Associates were selected for their roles on the advice of their Primates or senior Provincial colleagues. All three made a valuable contribution to the recent TEAC ”˜Anglican Way’ meeting held in Singapore. Archbishop Rowan Williams and the other members of TEAC present in Singapore welcomed the appointment of these talented and enthusiastic people to these key roles supporting theological education in the Anglican Communion. The appointments were made possible by a generous grant from Trinity Church, Wall Street.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Provinces, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Leicester Bishop hits out at 'evil' cluster bombs

Leicester Bishop Tim Stevens has challenged the government’s decision to stockpile M85 cluster bombs, telling the House of Lords the weapons were an unconscionable evil.

“I speak as one deeply troubled that the United Kingdom military is using these M85 weapons in my name,” Bishop Stevens said on May 17, rejecting government claims that cluster bombs were a legitimate part of the military’s arsenal.

Cluster munitions are an anti-personnel weapon whose shells explode above a target, raining smaller ”˜bomblets’ over a large area. The bomblets do not explode upon contact with the ground, but are detonated when trodden on by infantry.

However, “civilians are almost the sole victims of cluster munitions” and account for 98 per cent of the weapon’s casualties a May 16 report by Handicap International (HI), a London-based advocacy group said.

HI’s report stated more than 440 million cluster bomblets have been used in the past 42 years and that the number of casualties from the weapon could exceed 100,000. Over 400 million people currently live in areas littered with unexploded cluster bombs in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Balkans.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Military / Armed Forces