Monthly Archives: June 2007

Paul Valliere: A solution for the Episcopal Church

From Episcopal Life:

To find a way out, Episcopalians should consult church history. How did the Christian church in other times free itself from the demoralizing grip of discord? For the most part, it did so by practicing conciliarism — that is to say, by convening regional or worldwide councils to address the causes of discord and reaffirm the bonds of community. Regional councils were the primary means of preserving the unity of the church as early as the second century. Worldwide councils began to be held in the fourth century after the Christian church was granted legal rights in the Roman Empire.

In the Middle Ages, a highly developed theory of conciliarism exercised a check on papal power in the Roman Catholic Church and, contributed to the rise of constitutionalism in the secular realm as well. In the 20th century, the conciliar idea inspired some of the most important gatherings in modern church history, such as the Second Vatican Council of 1962-65 and the Russian Orthodox Council of 1917-18, the greatest Eastern Orthodox assembly since ancient times. In short, there is a rich record of conciliar theory and practice for Episcopalians to consult as they look for a way to reunify their church.

A council is not a routine convention but an extraordinary gathering. Councils work when the issues are clear-cut and the unity of the church is in the balance. The essential questions are perfectly clear: Does the Episcopal Church wish to remain part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and if so, will the church do what is necessary to restore its good standing, such as declaring a moratorium on the consecration of non-celibate gays and lesbians to the episcopate? A representative Episcopal council would in all likelihood answer both questions affirmatively. By reaffirming their unity with Anglicans around the world, Episcopalians would also renew the spirit of unity in their own church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Identity, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

Down Under, Drop in youth religion a matter of interpretation

From The Age:

Nevertheless, young Australians are generally less religious than older ones. Among those over 65, only 7.9 per cent have no religion. For those aged 15-34, 8.6 per cent belong to other religions, and 23.5 per cent say they have no religion.

“The mainstream strongholds are literally dying, and the evangelical/Pentecostal churches are the growing edge,” Professor Bouma said.

In mainstream Protestant churches, more than 20 per cent are over 65, compared with 7 per cent of Pentecostals, and 13 per cent of Catholics and the general population.

But the commitment of those in church is higher, according to Professor Bouma. “The mainline churches had echoes of empire ”” in the ’50s it was proper to be Anglican. In the ’80s, Anglican numbers had dropped, but a higher percentage were actually in church.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Religion & Culture

British Columbia Anglican priest to bless Noncelibate lesbian and gay couples

From the Victoria Times Colonist:

Father Antonio Osorio is inviting lesbian and gay couples to be blessed at St. Saviour’s Anglican Church tomorrow.

“They need to know they are not second-class Christians,” said Osorio. “I am going to bless them as a group because they are faithful and beautiful Christians. And if they want to be blessed as individual couples, I will do it too….

The Anglican Church, in my opinion, needs to stop playing games,” said Osorio, who attended the national meeting and voted in favour of blessing same-sex unions.

“I am very pleased the national church has said blessing same-sex unions is not in conflict with the doctrine of the church,” he said. “I believe blessing these unions is a justice issue. Now is the time to start blessing same-sex couples. I have done it and I intend to keep doing it.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Connecticut Pastor, Flock Face Ouster

From the Hartford Courant:

“We firmly believe that our church was built by and given to the Anglican communion there, known as the Trinity Church Society,” Helmandollar said, adding that the church’s construction in 1746 preceded the formation of the Episcopal Diocese. “Our own constitution says we will remain.”

Smith broke the news about stripping Helmandollar of his clerical status during an afternoon press conference Friday with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, in town for the ordination today of Connecticut’s first female Episcopal bishop, the Rev. Laura J. Ahrens.

Smith said Helmandollar voluntarily renounced his orders with the Episcopal Church, but Helmandollar said that isn’t what actually happened. After he wrote to Smith informing him of the church’s decision to join the North American Anglican group, Helmandollar said, “he suggested that I renounce my orders, and I said I can’t do that.”

A few weeks later, he said, Smith wrote him a letter, dated June 20, that he had taken Helmandollar’s letter to the standing committee.

“Since you have joined another church and have renounced your ministry in the Episcopal Church,” Smith wrote, “I have laid the matter before the clerical members of the standing committee of the Diocese of Connecticut … A majority of the clerical members of the standing committee meeting on June 13, 2007, have agreed that you have renounced your ministry.”

Helmandollar was not surprised.

“I was expecting it,” he said, “but the slant of me having renounced is not sitting well with me.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut, TEC Polity & Canons

Captain Yips: Another Day, Another Bishop

The hot rumor before Dar Es Salaam was that North American reasserters would get a new college of bishops. We got the Pastoral Scheme instead, and a lot of us were steamed. It never seemed like something TEC would actually do. What’s Plan B, we wondered. Well, it seems that the Pastoral Scheme was Plan B. TEC having decided to follow the “you’re not the boss of me” path, those Primates involved in US oversight are reverting to Plan A.

”˜Course, this is difficult and uncertain work. Anyone who thinks that it’s just a matter of out with the old, in with the new” needs to read the chapter “Bad Bishops” in [Ephraim] Radner’s Hope among the Fragments. Dealing with corrupted parts of the Church has always been extremely difficult, and those of us who call ourselves traditionalists should be at least listening to older voices about this mess. We shouldn’t be doing whatever we want, because we want to. That’s the behavior that got us into this mess. On the other hand, I’m not sure that this situation isn’t wholly unprecedented. We’ve got an independently governed Christian unit that is fully in the hands of heretics who have rejected any outside calls to mend their ways, who are actively engaged in persecuting those who disagree with them, and who reject any interference.

So what will ++Rowan do after he writes his book on Dostoevsky? I dunno. His recent actions, or actions taken on his behalf, have fallen even deeper into a sort of chaotic inscrutability….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Primates, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, TEC Conflicts

Benedict XVI: Letter to the Church in China

I realize that the normalization of relations with the People’s Republic of China requires time and presupposes the good will of both parties. For its part, the Holy See always remains open to negotiations, so necessary if the difficulties of the present time are to be overcome.

This situation of misunderstandings and incomprehension weighs heavily, serving the interests of neither the Chinese authorities nor the Catholic Church in China. As Pope John Paul II stated, recalling what Father Matteo Ricci wrote from Beijing,11 ”˜”˜so too today the Catholic Church seeks no privilege from China and its lead- ers, but solely the resumption of dialogue, in order to build a relationship based upon mutual respect and deeper understanding”.12 Let China rest assured that the Catholic Church sincerely proposes to offer, once again, humble and disinterested service in the areas of her competence, for the good of Chinese Catholics and for the good of all the inhabitants of the country.

As far as relations between the political community and the Church in China are concerned, it is worth calling to mind the enlightening teaching of the Second Vatican Council, which states: ”˜”˜The Church, by reason of her role and competence, is not identified with any political community nor is she tied to any political system. She is at once the sign and the safeguard of the transcendental dimension of the human person”. And the Council continues: ”˜”˜The political community and the Church are autonomous and independent of each other in their own fields. They are both at the service of the personal and social vocation of the same individuals, though under different titles. Their service will be more efficient and beneficial to all if both institutions develop better cooperation according to the circumstances of place and time”.13

Likewise, therefore, the Catholic Church which is in China does not have a mission to change the structure or administration of the State; rather, her mission is to proclaim Christ to men and women, as the Saviour of the world, basing herself ”“ in carrying out her proper apostolate ”“ on the power of God. As I recalled in my Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, ”˜”˜The Church cannot and must not take upon herself the political battle to bring about the most just society possible. She cannot and must not replace the State. Yet at the same time she cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper. A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. Yet the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply”.14

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Wounded, tetchy and less effective than it should be, America is still the power that Counts

From the Economist:

Yet in one way Mr Bush is unfairly maligned. Contrary to the Democratic version of history, America did not enjoy untrammelled influence abroad before he arrived. The country that won the cold war also endured several grievous reverses, notably Vietnam (where 58,000 Americans were killed””16 times the figure for Iraq). Iran has been defying America since Jimmy Carter’s presidency, and North Korea for a generation before that. As for soft power, France has been complaining about Coca-Cola and Hollywood for nearly a century.

From this perspective of relative rather than absolute supremacy, a superpower’s strength lies as much in what it can prevent from happening as in what it can achieve. Even today, America’s “negative power” is considerable. Very little of any note can happen without at least its acquiescence. Iran and North Korea can defy the Great Satan, but only America can offer the recognition the proliferating regimes crave. In all sorts of areas””be it the fight against global warming or the quest for an Arab-Israeli peace””America is quite simply indispensable.

That is because America still has the most hard power. Its volunteer army is indeed stretched: it could not fight another small war of choice. But it can still muster 1.5m people under arms and a defence budget almost as big as the whole of the rest of the world’s. And it could call on so much more: in relation to the country’s size, its defence budget and army are quite small by historical standards. Better diplomacy would enhance its power. One irony of the “war on terror” is that Mr Bush’s hyperventilation worked against him in terms of getting boots on the ground: neither his own countrymen nor his allies were sure enough that they were really under threat. (And why should they be? An American-led West spent four decades tussling with a nuclear-armed empire that stretched from Berlin to Vladivostok; al-Qaeda is still small beer.)

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Globalization, Military / Armed Forces

Ralph Peters–Rebels and religion: How fighters become fanatics

The lessons of all these transitions from unaddressed discontents to religious fanaticism hold true for violent outbreaks down the centuries on virtually every continent and in all major faiths. When regimes insist that time must hold still and deny traditional or perceived rights, fundamentalist religion is always lurking nearby. At the beginning of “The Plague,” Albert Camus speaks of how a bacillus can lurk, dormant and undetected, only to reappear unexpectedly when conditions are right. Extremist religion has its own bacillus, and it has proven impossible to exterminate: There are no proven antibiotics for the plague of fanaticism. When political sanitation goes wanting, it strikes.

Yet, that does not mean religious extremism can be addressed strictly through political measures (or through diplomacy, that great Western superstition). The only chance to minimize the violence is to intervene early on to create political and social breathing space for restive populations. Once religious extremism has taken hold, the pattern cannot be reversed. This is an absolutely vital point for American leaders to grasp. If the banner of jihad (or a crusade) has been raised successfully, the peaceable kingdom is finished. Only shedding blood ruthlessly can eliminate or at least reduce the problem ”” the enemy enraptured by faith must become more terrified of you than he is of his god. Usually, you must kill him.

This matters vitally today as the U.S., disappointed by its experience in Iraq, threatens to return to its disastrous “Habsburg” policy of the latter half of the 20th century, in which the greatest democracy in history and the beacon of humankind supported a long parade of vile dictators and authoritarian regimes in the interests of stability.

The great strategic problem today isn’t instability. The current instability confronting us is the result of our insistence that outwardly stable Middle Eastern states were the highest geopolitical good in the region. The great enabler of Islamist terrorism has been the artificial stability imposed on the Middle East by local despots backed by foreign powers. Increasingly, populations saw no hope of meaningful change. Right on schedule historically, charismatic religious bigots stepped in to offer not only hope, but a divine dispensation. It cannot be repeated too often or too forcefully: When human beings see no hope of remediation on this earth, they become susceptible to the prophets of religious violence, to the argument that their God wants them to punish their oppressors. And their conversion is a one-way street.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Middle East, Religion & Culture

Stump speeches taking a page from the Bible

Does Scripture have a place on the campaign trail?

In a previous blog post at about U.S. Sen. Barack Obama’s speech Saturday to the United Church of Christ, I mentioned how journalist Bill Moyers tried to rally 10,000 of his brethren to save democracy. In doing so, Moyers reflected on the Gospel of Matthew as a road map for quiet revolution and social change.

When asked earlier this year how Matthew factored into Obama’s political thinking, the Illinois Democrat told me:

“It’s powerful, and I think it’s one that’s important for all of us to pray on. One of the things that I’m always interested in when it comes to politics is making sure I can continually translate values that are grounded in my religious faith into universal values that appeal to all people. If I’m in church I might quote some Scripture. If I’m outside a church I might quote FDR. Hopefully, they both lead to the same place.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

Car on fire crashes into Glasgow airport

A car on fire has been driven at the main terminal building at Glasgow Airport, police have confirmed.
Eyewitnesses have described a Jeep Cherokee being driven at speed towards the building with flames coming out from underneath.

They have also described seeing two Asian men, one of whom was on fire, who had been in the car.

The airport has been evacuated and all flights suspended following the incident at 1515 BST.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Terrorism

Words of Appreciation for Fr. Al Kimel and his blog Pontifications

Many of us in the Anglican blogosphere have been saddened this week to learn that our friend and one-time fellow Anglican blogger (now a Roman Catholic) Fr. Al Kimel is giving up blogging for personal reasons. Pontifications has been one of the best theological blogs on the web, applauded by Catholics, Anglicans, Orthodox, with a very large and loyal readership.

It was near the top of the non-Anglican links list we’ve compiled, but haven’t yet had a chance to format and post on our side-bar here.

We first read the news on Orthodox priest Fr. Stephen Freeman’s blog, Glory to God for All Things, which Fr. Al introduced many of us to. Todd Granger, Brad Drell and Sarah Hey of Stand Firm all picked up the news and added their comments.

Just this morning, I read Ralph Webb’s comments on his blog, Anglican Action.

Namarie indeed, Father Kimel. But as you say goodbye, do know that your faithful service to our Lord and your work to renew the Episcopal Church has not been in vain. You have inspired people who you do not know and who have never met you to stay faithful to our Lord and Savior. We remember your work on the Baltimore Declaration. In your departure from TEC, our loss was Rome’s gain. We thank you for providing us with, for a few years, one of the most spiritually sound, astute, and challenging blogs out there. And if our Lord ever leads you to take up blogging again, many of us will be grateful.

May our Lord grant the healing that you need, for “the hands of a healer are the hands of a king” (Tolkien again, rough paraphrase from memory).

This elf says “Amen!” to all of what my fellow bloggers have written so eloquently, and adds my profound thanks to Fr. Al for Pontifications and all he contributed to TitusOneNine as well in many comment threads. And it is worth noting that Fr. Al’s essay “The Grand Question” holds the records for most comments ever on TitusOneNine, with a staggering 561 comments!

May the Lord bless you and your family Fr. Al and grant you His peace.


Note: at least for the moment, it seems impossible to access the original post of “the Grand Question” which Kendall excerpted and linked on Titusonenine, is not accessible online. Fortunately, Fr. Al seems to have preserved that entry on his page of entries on the theme of Justification on his new blog:

Look for entry # XXXIV which begins:


The justification of sinners””this is “the grand question,” declared Richard Hooker, “which hangeth yet in controversy between us and the Church of Rome.” Hooker notes that Anglicans and Catholics agree on many points about justification. They agree that all human beings are sinners and need to be reconciled to God. They agree that God alone is the efficient cause of justification: the justification of sinners is the work of the Holy Trinity. They agree that no one attains justification but by the merits of Christ Jesus: we are justified by grace alone for the sake of Christ, on the basis of his saving death on the cross.

Posted in * Admin, * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet

The Archbishop of York's Sermon at the installation of Bishop Fred Hiltz as Primate of Canada

Finally, dearly beloved Archbishop Fred Hiltz, you will keep alive your passion for God, his Church and his world if, like the Apostle Paul, you continue to have Christ at the Centre of everything.

The Apostle Peter always had JESUS CHRIST AT THE CENTRE OF HIS LIVING. “For me to live is Christ.” (Philippians 1:21)

He always had JESUS CHRIST AT THE CENTRE OF HIS THINKING. “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5)

He always had JESUS CHRIST AT THE CENTRE OF HIS PLANNING. His aiming, his motivation. “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)

I beg of you to look at your past achievements and failures with the eyes of an accountant. And so whatever you have lost or gained, let Christ be your prize. Let Christ always be your balance sheet.

I beg of you to look at the present with the eyes of a sportsperson. Train for Christ. Throw yourself into the race for Christ. Aim for Christ. Let your faith be ready for adventure — ready to go into the unknown and forsaking the right to ask where you are going. May our Lord give you a reckless willingness to adventure. A venturesome faith — like that of Abraham.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

Car bombs come to London

Police were last night hunting a suspected al-Qaida-inspired terrorist cell after the discovery of two “Iraqi style” car bombs, which UK officials said were designed to cause mass murder. One was outside a London nightclub, and a second nearby.

Only luck and probable faults in the bombs’ construction meant that the first device, inside a metallic green Mercedes, could be disarmed, while the second, in a blue Mercedes 280E, failed to explode. Police say both were capable of causing severe casualties and were intended to have been detonated remotely, most likely by a mobile phone.

Counter-terrorism officials said the first device – made up of 60 litres of petrol, several propane gas cylinders, nails and a detonation mechanism – was similar to those used by al-Qaida in Iraq.

The second car, containing similar lethal materials, was given a parking ticket at 2.30am before being towed to a car park in Park Lane, central London

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Terrorism

New report: frustrated older clerics are ”˜demotivated’

From the Church Times:

AN UNPUBLISHED REPORT about frustration among older clerics in the Church of England is under discussion by bishops and senior staff, amid fears that under-fulfilled clergy are holding back the Church’s mission. The 45-page document, From Frustration to Fulfilment: The final ten years of licensed ministry, calls for a national vocational assessment for the over-50s.

The report identifies a small group of clerics who have lost their sense of vocation and faith in God. It suggests that such clerics should not move to another post, but be helped to leave the ministry with as much dignity as possible.

The Clergy Appointments Adviser, the Revd John Lee, wrote the report, drawing on the findings of a working group of seven clerics from a variety of backgrounds. He said on Monday that he had discussed its findings at staff meetings around the dioceses. “It has hit the spot, and they are very positive. It was commissioned because a lot of time was being taken up with people in trouble or on the verge of losing the plot. We wanted to know what we shall do and how are we going to use [them].”

The House of Bishops has discussed the report, and referred it to the dioceses. There would be a revised report later this year, Mr Lee said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

The Anglican Communion Network welcomes Bill Murdoch's Election as a Kenyan Bishop

The Anglican Communion Network welcomed news today that the Anglican Province of Kenya has elected the Rev. William Murdoch suffragan bishop of All Saints Cathedral Diocese in Nairobi. Bishop-elect Murdoch will join Bishop-elect Bill Atwood in supporting Kenyan clergy and congregations in the United States. As he takes on this new responsibility, Murdoch will continue to serve the Network as dean of the New England Convocation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

Peggy Noonan–On Letting Go: How we become American

From today’s WSJ:

Happy Fourth of July. To mark this Wednesday’s holiday, I share a small moment that happened a year ago in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. I was at a wake for an old family friend named Anthony Coppola, a retired security guard who’d been my uncle Johnny’s best friend from childhood. All the old neighborhood people were there from Clinton Avenue and from other streets in Brooklyn, and Anthony’s sisters Tessie and Angie and Gloria invited a priest in to say some prayers. About a hundred of us sat in chairs in a little side chapel in the funeral home.

The priest, a jolly young man with a full face and thick black hair, said he was new in the parish, from South America. He made a humorous, offhand reference to the fact that he was talking to longtime Americans who’d been here for ages. This made the friends and family of Anthony Coppola look at each other and smile. We were Italian, Irish, everything else. Our parents had been the first Americans born here, or our grandparents had. We had all grown up with two things, a burly conviction that we were American and an inner knowledge that we were also something else. I think we experienced this as a plus, a double gift, though I don’t remember anyone saying that. When Anthony’s mother or her friend, my grandmother, talked about Italy or Ireland, they called it “the old country.” Which suggested there was a new one, and that we were new in it.

But this young priest, this new immigrant, he looked at us and thought we were from the Mayflower. As far as he was concerned–as far as he could tell–we were old Yankee stock. We were the establishment. As the pitcher in “Bang the Drum Slowly” says, “This handed me a laugh.”

This is the way it goes in America. You start as the Outsider and wind up the Insider, or at least being viewed as such by the newest Outsiders. We are a nation of still-startling social fluidity. Anyone can become “American,” but they have to want to first.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch

Listening Process facilitator meets with Integrity, other groups

From ENS:

A group brought together by Integrity USA, the church’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) affinity group, spent June 27-28 telling the facilitator of the Anglican Communion’s Listening Process about their experience of being homosexual or transgender, or having a family member or friend who is.
The group met at the General Theological Seminary with the Rev. Canon Phil Groves.

The Primates Meeting at Dromantine, Ireland, in February 2005 asked the Anglican Consultative Council “to take positive steps to initiate the listening and study process” which has been the subject of resolutions at Lambeth Conferences since at least 1978 (Lambeth 1978, Resolution 10).

The Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, appointed Groves as the facilitator of the Listening Process in November 2005. His task, as defined in a portion of the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10, is to establish “a means of monitoring the work done on the subject of human sexuality in the Communion” and to help the communion listen to the experiences of homosexual persons.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

In Virginia Anglicans allege ”˜intimidation’ in attempt to name defendants

“It’s just harassment of defendants, that’s all it is,” Jim Oakes, vice chair of the Anglican District of Virginia, the umbrella group for the churches, said of the most recent motion. “It’s frankly intimidating to soccer moms and people who aren’t used to encountering our legal system.”

Patrick Getlein, a spokesman for the diocese, calls the motion to name the congregates “a procedural matter.” When the lawsuit was first filed, the names of some of the vestry members were unknown. Hence, the diocese left them as “John Doe” and “Jane Roe.”

Read it all.

The official response of the Anglican Diocese of Virginia may be found here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

School debt forces new clergy to sacrifice even more

A 2005 study by Auburn Theological Seminary in New York shows that between 1991 and 2001, the average student loan debt for new pastors more than doubled to $25,018, from $11,043. If the trend continues, by 2011 about 84 percent of seminary students will have to borrow to finance their education, with an average loan burden of more than $54,000, the Auburn study showed.

In its own survey of seminarian students last year, the Episcopal Church found that students halfway through their training already had amassed an average of $42,874 in debts ”” on track to graduate owing well over $50,000. Meanwhile, the median compensation package for new Episcopal clergy hovers at $44,500 per year, a starting salary that’s considerably higher than in many other denominations.

“Financial planners say that if you graduate from school with a $36,000 debt, you should have an income of $60,000 in order to handle your finances and move forward,” said John Mittman, executive director of the Society for the Increase of the Ministry, an Episcopal office that has been studying seminarian debt.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Massachusetts Episcopal Diocese sues Attleboro Parish

The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, faced with the prospect of conservatives bolting the denomination over its support for gay rights, is taking a newly tough stance against would-be schismatics, filing suit to freeze the bank account of a breakaway group in Attleboro.

The diocese, which filed the suit Tuesday in Bristol Superior Court in Taunton, is alleging that in the months leading up to a split in Attleboro, the parishioners secreted away about $200,000 that rightfully belongs to the Episcopal Church.

“It’s our contention that property and assets were taken,” said the Rev. Gregory A. Jacobs, staff officer for urban congregations and ministry development in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. “It’s not an insignificant amount of money, and without that money it’s difficult for this congregation to plan for its financial future.”

The breakaway parishioners, who have formed a new congregation affiliated with the Anglican Church of Rwanda, declined through their attorney to respond yesterday, but the two sides are already scheduled to meet in court next week.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts

David C. Steinmetz: New atheists, ancient argument

Ever the pugnacious contrarian, [Christopher] Hitchens is witty, combative, sarcastic, intelligent and generally outrageous. He loves to rip out the shirttails of the pious (whatever their religion) and set fire to them.

[Richard] Dawkins is a somewhat different animal. He was raised as a rather conventional Anglican, but abandoned his faith at 16, when he was persuaded that evolution, and not divine providence, accounted for the rich diversity of the natural world. If purely natural processes provided satisfying explanations for the world as it is, then belief in God became for Dawkins a redundant luxury.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Notable and Quotable

“”¦’I am a nut about community, and what is missing in the Church for me is any realness between people. So many communities want pseudo-community and are not willing to do the work to have real community. They don’t want authenticity and reality. They want to hear a sermon that is going to make them feel better, but they don’t want to get real with each other and hear each other’s pain and talk about that kind of this. They don’t want to talk about the real stuff of life. That is very sad. Jesus said, ”˜I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.’ Many churches I go to are not very [alive] places. You get the feeling that, beneath the smile and the singing and the clapping, there is no real life underneath.’ ”¦”

M. Scott Peck as quoted by Arthur Thomas (via Prodigal Kiwi’s Blog)

Posted in * General Interest, Notable & Quotable

Bishops discuss fallout from same-sex vote at General Synod

They also reviewed their statement from their most recent meeting, last April, which said that the bishops “hope” that the sacraments of baptism, communion and confirmation would not be denied due to sexual orientation. Several bishops said they received criticism over the use of the word “hope” and the word should be stronger. However, they decided not to begin editing their statement and agreed each bishop could issue statements to their clergy that more strongly-worded. Some bishops have already done so.

The statement also urged bishops “to develop the most generous pastoral response possible (to same-sex couples) within the current teaching of the church” then cited such examples as celebrating a eucharist with a civilly-married gay couple; they may not perform a nuptial blessing.

“I have no problem with a ”˜generous pastoral response’ but I don’t and cannot accept homosexual behavior,” said suffragan bishop Larry Robertson of the Arctic. “What got missed is people who are same-sex attracted but choose not to pursue it. They feel totally left out and misunderstood,” said Archbishop Terrence Buckle of the Yukon.

However, Bishop Burton said that “part of what bishops do” is “respond pastorally to different situations.”

Read it all/.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007

Jane Shilling: It’s criminal the way they pick on the middle class

”Why Middle England is the new criminal class,” read the headline in The Times above a report of Law Abiding Majority?, a study by two Keele University academics. Having questioned 1,807 25 to 65-year-olds in England and Wales, the report’s authors, Dr Stephen Farrall and Professor Suzanne Karstedt, concluded that there is no such thing. Sixty-one percent of their sample admitted committing at least one of a number of “crimes and unfair practices” against business, government or their employers. The misdemeanours included paying cleaners or tradesmen in cash, pilfering office stationery, padding insurance claims, asking friends in bureaucratic jobs to bend the rules, not paying the TV licence, keeping quiet about faults when selling secondhand goods and not protesting when given the wrong change in shops.

“Contempt for the law,” concluded Professor Karstedt, “is as widespread in the centre of society as it is assumed to be rampant at the margins. Antisocial behaviour by the few is mirrored by anticivil behaviour by the many. Neither greed nor need can explain why respectable citizens cheat . . . and do not hesitate to discuss their exploits in pubs.”

Of course, it is melancholy to discover that so many of us are allowing our lower nature to get the upper hand….

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, England / UK

London car bomb 'packed with nails and gas'

A massive terror attack that could have caused “significant” loss of life was averted this morning when a car bomb packed with nails, gas canisters and containers of petrol apparently failed to detonate outside a London nightclub.

Police were called to Tiger Tiger nightclub in the West End when smoke was seen coming from the inside of a Mercedes car parked outside. A man was seen running from the vehicle.

Inside officers discovered a “significant quantity” of petrol, nails and gas cylinders. They used a remote-controlled device to check the vehicle before bomb squad officers made it safe.

If the bomb had exploded, police said that the shrapnel would have killed or injured anyone within a wide area. The bomb itself could have caused a fireball as big as a house followed by a large shock wave.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Terrorism

3 former leaders of ex-gay ministry apologize

Three former leaders of Exodus International, often described as the nation’s largest ex-gay ministry, publicly apologized Wednesday for the harm they said their efforts had caused many gays and lesbians who believed the group’s message that sexual orientation could be changed through prayer.

Speaking at a Hollywood news conference, the former leaders of the interdenominational Christian organization said they had acted sincerely in their years of work with Exodus. But they said they had all, over time, become disillusioned with the group’s ideas and concerned about what they described as the wrenching human toll of such gay conversion efforts.

The news event, in a courtyard outside an office of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, was timed to coincide with the opening of Exodus’ annual conference, which is being held this week at Concordia University in Irvine. A competing “ex-gay survivor” convention is to begin Friday at UC Irvine.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sexuality

Formerly Gay Christian Discusses His 'Exodus'

Exodus International held its annual meeting Tuesday. Alan Chambers, head of the organization, describes his “choice to come out of homosexuality,” and his life as a husband and father.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Sexuality

Being a living goddess has its advantages for 10-year-old girl

Even by the standards of the luminaries who sweep through Washington, the little girl in front of Lafayette Elementary School almost six miles north of the White House was special.

Politicians, power brokers and the occasional celebrities who come through town hope to be respected and maybe, in a childlike place in their grown-up hearts, genuinely liked. Sajani Shakya, 10, is worshipped.

In Nepal, Sajani is a living goddess, one of about a dozen such goddesses in her homeland who are considered earthly manifestations of the Hindu goddess Kali.

Sajani arrived in Washington on June 11 to help promote a British documentary about the living goddesses of the Katmandu Valley and to see a bit of the United States. She is the first of the Nepalese living goddesses to come to the U.S. because the girls live mostly in seclusion.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

AP:Catholics begin campaign on marriage

U.S. Roman Catholic bishops began a campaign Wednesday to strengthen the institution of marriage by encouraging spouses to perform simple day-to-day gestures for one another.

The campaign, a series of radio and television spots, is part of a broader effort to bring a greater Catholic voice to the debate over the meaning of marriage.

The spots show ordinary people in parks and other public places answering the question “What have you done for your marriage today?” The answers ”” waking up early with the baby, organizing a date night ”” are meant to promote small acts of kindness as medicine for making marriages last a lifetime.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

BabyBlue: Diocese of Virginia Standing Committee Rejects Proposed Anglican Covenant

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Virginia has released a “response” regarding the proposed Anglican Covenant – and it’s a doozy. Indeed, it is illuminating. BabyBlue posts her commentary interspersed with the text. Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia