Daily Archives: June 1, 2007

Sam Brownback: What I Think About Evolution

The most passionate advocates of evolutionary theory offer a vision of man as a kind of historical accident. That being the case, many believers ”” myself included ”” reject arguments for evolution that dismiss the possibility of divine causality.

Ultimately, on the question of the origins of the universe, I am happy to let the facts speak for themselves. There are aspects of evolutionary biology that reveal a great deal about the nature of the world, like the small changes that take place within a species. Yet I believe, as do many biologists and people of faith, that the process of creation ”” and indeed life today ”” is sustained by the hand of God in a manner known fully only to him. It does not strike me as anti-science or anti-reason to question the philosophical presuppositions behind theories offered by scientists who, in excluding the possibility of design or purpose, venture far beyond their realm of empirical science.

Biologists will have their debates about man’s origins, but people of faith can also bring a great deal to the table. For this reason, I oppose the exclusion of either faith or reason from the discussion. An attempt by either to seek a monopoly on these questions would be wrong-headed. As science continues to explore the details of man’s origin, faith can do its part as well. The fundamental question for me is how these theories affect our understanding of the human person.

The unique and special place of each and every person in creation is a fundamental truth that must be safeguarded. I am wary of any theory that seeks to undermine man’s essential dignity and unique and intended place in the cosmos. I firmly believe that each human person, regardless of circumstance, was willed into being and made for a purpose.

While no stone should be left unturned in seeking to discover the nature of man’s origins, we can say with conviction that we know with certainty at least part of the outcome. Man was not an accident and reflects an image and likeness unique in the created order. Those aspects of evolutionary theory compatible with this truth are a welcome addition to human knowledge. Aspects of these theories that undermine this truth, however, should be firmly rejected as an atheistic theology posing as science.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

John G. Stackhouse: A Bigger””and Smaller””View of Mission

I am a professional theologian, so of course I think theology matters. Theology can help us live better or worse, depending on its quality. But theological accuracy is not the heart of the gospel. Encountering God’s Spirit and responding in faith to him in that encounter is what finally matters. And how God meets people, through whatever theology they might have, in whatever circumstances, is ultimately not visible to us.

Indeed, I believe that many people raised in non-Christian religions””such as bhakti (devotional) traditions in Hinduism in which they worship a single supreme God and trust him for their salvation (however badly understood this is from a Christian point of view), or Judaism or Islam, to pick examples closer to home””have a clearer and more authentic apprehension of God than many people raised in ostensibly Christian homes and churches in which a terrible distortion of God is taught and little access to the genuine gospel is available. To confine the scope of salvation to those who have heard certain facts about Jesus and who come to accept him on this basis, therefore, is not necessitated by the Bible, and in fact is not even the best way to understand the Bible.

Let me also affirm that the preaching of the Gospel is the normal way God uses to draw people to faith. So we must not sit back and say, “Oh, well. Since God might encounter people through other methods””dreams and visions, perhaps, or even a distorted monotheism of some non-Christian sort””then we don’t have to go.” No, we do have to go, because evangelism is obviously the New Testament’s fundamental mode by which people encounter God. This is the main means God has ordained for us to use, and we are disobedient if we do not use it. And the environment of all but the most pathological Christian church is normally far better to cultivate discipleship than any other religious community””of course it is.

All I am arguing for here is that we do not confine salvation to this normal mode, shutting off any other possibilities and therefore implying, if we don’t say so outright, that millions of people have been lost forever simply because they lived in Asia, or Europe, or Africa, or the Americas, or anywhere else before gospel preaching got there.

Furthermore, we must beware of a second problem that lies nearby. And that is the idea that missions is all about getting people saved, and particularly about rescuing their souls from hell so that they can go to heaven. Multiple theological errors, in fact, attend this view of salvation.

God is not interested in saving merely human souls. He wants human beings, body and soul. Furthermore, he does not settle for saving human beings, but the whole earth. He made it in the first place, pronounced it “very good,” and he wants it all back. So he is saving us, the lords he put over creation, as part of his global agenda to rescue, indeed, the globe.

What God rescues us to, furthermore, is the original agenda he set out for us in Genesis 1, namely, to “fill the earth and subdue it.” He planted a garden for us to tend (Gen. 2) and commanded our first parents to raise up generations of gardeners to fan out across the earth to till the rest of it. This is what it means to bear the image of God. We, too, are to improve the situation, to cultivate what we encounter, to make shalom in every sector of life. And such work is our ultimate destiny as well, as we are to “reign with him” over the new earth he promises (2 Tim. 2:12). Thus we are not going back to Eden, nor up to a (spiritual) heaven, but forward to the New Jerusalem, which comes down from heaven to earth as our proper home (Rev. 21).

The Christian gospel therefore is not a narrowly spiritual one, but literally embraces everything, everywhere, at every moment. Every action that brings shalom””that preserves or enhances the flourishing of things, people, and relationships””is the primary will of God for humanity. Christians ought therefore to recognize and affirm anything our neighbors do to make peace, whether those neighbors intend to honor God or not. Indeed, we can cooperate with them in those ventures, since we see in them the divine agenda of shalom.

And our mission to the world extends far beyond evangelism. Yes, evangelism is the special work of the church, for only we Christians have been entrusted with the great good news at the center of God’s redemptive plan, at the heart of which is the life and work of Jesus Christ. But our evangelism itself issues a call to “life abundant” that embraces everything good in the world, not just the spiritual. And as we work away at our generic human work alongside our neighbors, but in the light of the Bible’s affirmation of such work, we demonstrate what it means to live in that light, which is the light of heaven now and also of the world to come.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Theology, Theology: Evangelism & Mission, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology)

Jennifer McKenzie: Worshipping with the faithful remnant

“Welcome to the Party!” came the greeting from The Rev. Michael Pipkin as he appeared seemingly from nowhere out of the crowd. “It’s good to see you here. Thanks for coming.” The ”˜party’ is the regular Sunday gathering of the members of The Falls Church ”“ Episcopal, a remnant of former members of the several-hundred-member break-away church now affiliated with CANA, who have placed themselves under the authority of Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria. This smaller group is made up of the approximately 10% from the original church who voted to remain in the Episcopal Church plus newcomers and occasional visitors who come for a Sunday or two to give visible support to the gathered church. They are meeting in the loft at the Falls Church Presbyterian, generously supported by that congregation and their pastor, The Rev. Dr. Thomas Schmid, who says, “We are so happy to have them here with us.”

The service was a celebration of the Eucharist with special prayers for Pentecost, the day remembered for the occasion of the followers of Jesus being empowered by the Holy Spirit 50 days after Jesus’ Resurrection. In his sermon, The Rev. Pipkin explained how like so many, this holy day was taken from a Jewish festival commanded by God through Moses ”“ in this case, the Festival of Weeks. The Jewish tradition is one where, at the beginning of the harvest, the ”˜first fruits’ are given as a thank offering, waved by the high priest before God. In other words, The Rev. Pipkin said, the offering of thanks is made ”˜not knowing what the rest of the growing season will be like.’ He suggested that making such an offering in our day would be akin to paying taxes on January 1st of the year in advance of securing our income for that year ”“ a practice that would probably be fraught with anxiety and fear. But, he reminded the congregation as he had been told in his youth, “anxiety and fear are not of God.” Instead, he suggested, just like in the Pentecost story in the Gospel reading from John appointed for this day, Jesus approaches us saying “Peace be with you”¦in all our anxiety about what will happen next, of not knowing what the next steps will be, God tells us to not fear.”

Read it all.

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

Richard Minter: An Armenian church in Turkey is restored

–Our story starts with a small sandstone 10th-century Armenian church, on an uninhabited rock less than 500 yards wide, in a remote Turkish lake that changes colors like moods and sometimes bubbles like soda. If you had seen the ruins of it, as I did in 2000, you might cry. Its roof was gone. Its bas-reliefs, chiseled by master carvers a millennium ago, of Adam and Eve, of saints and kings, were wearing away in the wind. It was an empty husk that had not heard a Mass in more than 90 years.

In March, after years of painstaking restoration, Turkey reopened the church as a museum. Among the ambassadors and visitors at the opening ceremonies, I roamed the grounds. The building is now magnificent. Its roof is restored and its reliefs cleaned.

The Church of the Holy Cross is one of the holiest sites for Armenian Christians, who once made up one-third of the population around Van. They were driven out by the Ottomans in 1915, when some were suspected of supporting Russia-backed terrorist attacks. During World War I, the Ottomans were allied with Germany and Austria, fighting Russia, Britain and France. While most Turkish historians concede there was a massacre of Armenians (while pointing out that Armenians slaughtered Turks from 1890 to 1915 and that most Armenians were relocated, not slain), they hesitate to call it genocide. The Armenians do not hesitate–and sometimes compare it to the Holocaust. The Armenian Diaspora has emerged as a real political force in Western Europe, complicating Turkey’s plans to join the European Union.

The re-opening of the church was a peace offering by the AKP, Turkey’s Islam-oriented ruling party, but all did not run smoothly at first. After spending millions on the structure, the Turkish government refused to restore the stone cross on the steeple. Turkish journalists were quick to criticize. Ultimately, common sense prevailed.

“I cannot say we will have the stone-cross back there tomorrow, but I do not see any problem in that,” Culture Minister Attilla Koc said. He wanted time for an “academic council” to consider the issue. Mr. Koc’s answer might not sound “revolutionary” to our ears, but Turkish News columnist Yusuf Kanli declared it so. Many Christian churches have been waiting for decades for permission to restore their churches at their own expense.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths

Amy Johnson Frykholm: Formerly gay?

In the aftermath of New Life Church pastor Ted Haggard’s fall from grace amid allegations of gay sex and drug use, a subtle controversy emerged among conservative Christians.

Three weeks after the Colorado Springs pastor left for an undisclosed treatment center to grapple with his sexuality, pastor Tim Ralph announced that Haggard had emerged from those meetings “completely heterosexual.” Among those who questioned this pronouncement was Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, an umbrella organization for what is called the ex-gay movement. Chambers politely contended that Ralph had possibly misunderstood the dynamics of sexuality involved in the Haggard case. He was quick to caution that Haggard’s story is not typical of people involved in ex-gay therapy and that “recovery” from homosexuality is a long process.

The ex-gay movement is controversial and misunderstood. Essentially, ex-gay leaders argue that homosexuality is caused by a particular kind of home environment and that homosexuals can change their behavior with the help of therapy and through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Two recent books help make sense of the ex-gay movement and its complexities through careful research. Tanya Erzen wrote Straight to Jesus after spending a year at New Hope Ministry in California, a residential treatment program for men who hope to change their homosexual behavior. Erzen interviewed both participants and leaders, attended group meetings, worked in New Hope’s office and helped design the ministry’s Web site. Her book draws on a wealth of personal relationships.

At the heart of Erzen’s analysis is a point about ex-gay ministries that the media often miss: most ex-gay ministries are skeptical about their ability to “cure” homosexuality. While many people involved in these ministries have heterosexual marriage and biological children as their ultimate goal, and while they idealize heterosexual relationships, most ex-gay people find themselves part of a third category.

Ex-gay people believe that they will still experience homosexual desire and maybe even occasionally “fall,” but that through gradual religious conversion, sexual conversion can happen as well. “Sexual identity is malleable and changeable,” Erzen writes, “because it is completely entwined with religious conversion.” Religious conversion and sexual conversion are so linked that participants don’t change their sexual orientation so much as commit to a life of “following Jesus.” As one ex-gay woman put it, “First I considered myself a lesbian, then a woman who struggles with lesbianism; now I consider myself a woman of God.”

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

Security advisers for Canon White are kidnapped in Baghdad

CANON Andrew White, the Chaplain of St George’s, Baghdad, and head of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, spoke on Wednesday of his fears and hopes for the five British men kidnapped in Iraq on Tuesday. Four of them are his close friends.

Speaking from Baghdad to the Church Times, he described the kidnapping as a “very, very complex and difficult situation”. He feared that it could be linked to the killing last week by the British of Abu Qadir (also known as Wissam al-Waili), the leader of the most militant wing of the Mehdi army, a Shia militant group.

The British men were seized near the Baghdad suburb of Sadr City, a Mehdi army stronghold. The five ”” a computer expert and four bodyguards ”” were taken from a finance-ministry building. Four worked for GardaWorld, one of many security firms in Iraq guarding VIPs, coalition contractors, and other officials. GardaWorld is a Canadian-owned business, but is staffed mainly by British people.

Employees of the company have given their services free to Canon White because of the importance of his work in Baghdad, and he described them as close friends ”” people with whom he shared his life. The fifth man is a contractor, working for a company providing technical advice to the Iraqi government.

The kidnappers wore police uniforms, and staged the capture without firing a shot, senior Iraq officials told the BBC on Tuesday.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths

Bill Mehr Chimes in

According to historical Anglican tradition, the Episcopal Church, like America itself, welcomes diverse points of view within a broader set of canons. The problem for Mr. McManus’ orthodox is that they constitute a minority that is frustrated they can’t impose one viewpoint upon the entire church.

Their strategy is to claim a majority within an international Anglican Communion, but that association carries no binding authority over the Episcopal Church in America.

If individuals feel they want to attend a church with a narrower theological doctrine, they are free to exercise that choice. There are no provisions, however, for whole entities like dioceses or parishes to leave. There isn’t a diocese or parish in the U.S. where everyone wants to secede.

What about freedom of choice for those who want to stay? That’s the focus of the lawsuits.

Read it all.

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

New Hampshire law makes same-sex civil unions legal

Governor John Lynch signed a bill yesterday that will legalize civil unions for gay couples beginning in January.

“We in New Hampshire have had a long and proud tradition of taking the lead in opposing discrimination,” Lynch said as he signed the bill. “I do not believe that this bill threatens marriage. I believe that this is a matter of conscience and fairness.”

Legislators who gathered for the bill signing packed the governor’s chambers and overflowed into an adjoining sitting room. They snapped photos and burst into applause as he signed.

Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson also attended the bill signing. He and his longtime partner plan to take advantage of civil unions.

New Hampshire is the first state to embrace same-sex unions without a court order or the threat of one. Connecticut was the first to adopt civil unions without a court order two years ago. A lawsuit challenging the marriage law was pending, but legislators said they were not influenced by it.

Vermont, California, New Jersey, Maine, and Washington also have laws allowing either civil unions or domestic partnerships, and Oregon will join the list in January.

Hawaii extends certain spousal rights to same-sex couples and cohabiting heterosexual pairs. Only Massachusetts allows same-sex couples to marry.

Couples entering civil unions will have the same rights, responsibilities, and obligations as married couples. Same-sex unions from other states would be recognized if they were legal in the state where they were performed.

In a busy day at the State House, votes yesterday put New Hampshire on the path to join its New England neighbors in banning smoking in bars and restaurants, but to remain the only state without a mandatory seat belt law.

The state Senate voted 16 to 8 yesterday against requiring adults to buckle up.

“Today, you may hear that 49 other states have passed similar legislation,” said Senator Bob Clegg, a Republican. “I happen to be proud of the fact that here in New Hampshire, we make our own decisions. If you want to wear a seat belt, you are free to do so. If you want to risk your life by not wearing one, it is not the government’s responsibility to force you to.”

But Senator Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, argued that the cost is too great. She said General John Stark, famous for the state’s “Live Free or Die” motto, did not mean that people should do whatever they want.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Sexuality

Feast celebrates the doctrine of the Trinity

Most religious holy days celebrate some grand event that God brought to pass. The feast of Trinity this Sunday is the only major holiday in the church year that honors a theological doctrine.

The escape of slaves from bondage, the birth of a savior, resurrection from the dead and other dramatic events are acts of God, according to scholars who use them to shape our understanding of God in theology. The concept of the Trinity stands alone without specific historical roots.

The word, Trinity, is not in the Bible, but most Christian scholars argue that Scripture implies a God who makes himself known to the faithful in three distinct persons as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

It is that sense of a triune God that Christians embrace that brings much consternation to Judaism and Islam. They argue that the idea of three persons in one God, however nuanced, muddies monotheistic waters.

The late Episcopal Bishop Jim Pike joked that Islam might be a more attractive religion than Christianity because Islam offered the faithful three wives and one God while Christians were stuck with one wife and three Gods.

There is no such levity in Trinitarian theology. The doctrine became critically important in early church struggles against those who refused to acknowledge the divinity of Jesus the Son and the independent divine work of the Spirit.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Episcopal Church (TEC), Theology

Episcopal Diocese of Central New York looks for new path

“How people understand religion and seek truth in God, that’s changed dramatically,” …[the Rev. Karen C. Lewis] said. “No longer do we have churches filled on Sunday with 500 or 600 folks.”

The process has included a questionnaire sent to every congregation and inviting each person to participate. Nearly all of the congregations in the diocese responded, Lewis said.

“It’s to discuss what in the church excites them, what defines them,” she said. “If it’s a passion, then people will buy into it.”

The two-day summit includes representatives from each congregation who will discuss how their church can create programs based on the priorities and experiences culled from the surveys.

“As a result, we will staff, budget, prioritize,” Lewis said.

The idea, she said, is to encourage a bottom-up approach rather than implement plans created by church officials. As of Thursday, 281 people representing 72 parishes were registered.

“Ministry occurs in the local congregation,” she said. “They’re the ones doing the work Christ has called them to.”

The diocese includes more than 19,000 people in 97 congregations in Central New York, north to Alexandria Bay and south to the Pennsylvania border. In 2002, the diocese listed its membership at 23,000 people; in 1995 it was about 25,000.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Data

Bishop Pierre Whalon Describes a recent Meeting of the Church of England House of Bishops

First, much has been made of the timing of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s letter. Clearly he would rather had sent them out after meeting with the American bishops in September, but the need to organize is becoming prominent. The last Lambeth Conference in 1998 has been described as a “organizational nightmare,” and this one seeks to be better, much better. Thus the invitations have been sent earlier than expected.

Second, the letter states that the Archbishop is still taking counsel for one or two cases. This means that no bishops of the Communion has been “uninvited,” yet. I am firmly convinced that Bishop Gene Robinson will be asked to participate. The question is, under what status? That remains to be negotiated. The Windsor Report had mandated that Rowan Williiams not invite him at all. Clearly the Archbishop wants to find a way forward despite that.

Third, the case of the bishop for the Convocation of Nigerian Churches in America, Martyn Minns, was not discussed at all. I did not know that he had not been invited until I was able to get some internet connectivity. This means that he is considered to be in the same category as the bishops of the Anglican Mission in America””validly consecrated but not a bishop of the Anglican Communion.

What this all means will probably not become clear until the Conference is over in August 2008. Even then people will be spending considerable time after that to understand all the ramifications.

Read it all.

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

Daily Blog Tip: Using the Calendar and other Blog Navigation Hints

As on the old Titusonenine site, we are using a daily calendar here in the sidebar. You can click on the date to quickly view each day’s entries. It’s simple & easy. But right now there are a few small issues with the calendar. Please read this even if it seems to be way too basic to be of interest.

Update: After this post was written and posted, we made some changes to the blog set up that affect blog navigation. There is also more news about the calendar. PLEASE make sure you read all the way to the end of the post for the latest and most current info!

Update #2:
We’ve now added some blog navigation tools to go back and forth between individual articles without returning to the blog homepage, which should be nice especially for long comment threads. See end of full text for details.

On some blogs, one of the most important reasons to have a calendar in the sidebar is to see which days the author has written something. On a day with posts, the date is highlighted and clickable. On a day without posts, the date is fainter and not clickable. For T19, that is basically a moot point. Kendall did not miss a single day of blogging on his old site from the day he launched it (Jan 15, 2004) to the day he shut it down (May 22, 2007). INCREDIBLE!!! Thank you Kendall for your amazing commitment and dedication.

But apart from being able to tell what dates have blog entries, there are 3 big advantages to getting in the habit of clicking on the calendar each day:

1. It makes scrolling much easier with a shorter page to scroll.

2. The page loads faster, with fewer posts to show.

3. You can instantly see any new entries have been posted. In these early days of this new blog, this might be of particular interest, since, as most readers will have noted, we are often making some of the blog admin posts “sticky” — meaning they are held at the top of the page and new entries are posted beneath. Whenever there are sticky posts up top, it may not be obvious whether there are any new entries until you scroll down a little ways. Clicking on today’s date, however, always ensures you will see the NEWEST posts at the top. Sticky posts are no longer “sticky” when you are using the calendar, they revert to displaying on whatever date they were first posted.

There of course is also the ease of quickly getting to an entry posted on a previous date. If you know the date you can click on the calendar and browse that day’s entries. This is helpful when you don’t remember the title and a keyword search might be difficult.

IMPORTANT: Mysteriously, several dates in the calendar (currently May 22 – 25) are broken. Even though there are lots of posts for each of those days, the date acts as if there were no posts. Greg is working on that and we hope it will be fixed ASAP. [It appears something is causing the calendar to only display the most recent 7 days of activity. We think it can be fixed pretty quickly now that we’ve figured out the problem.]

Here’s how you can get around the problem in the meantime:

There is a very simple format for the links to each day’s entries. If a given date is broken in the calendar, you can use the following links to get you to the daily archives:

May 22: http://new.kendallharmon.net/wp-content/uploads/index.php/t19/2007/05/22/
May 23: http://new.kendallharmon.net/wp-content/uploads/index.php/t19/2007/05/23/
May 24: http://new.kendallharmon.net/wp-content/uploads/index.php/t19/2007/05/24/
May 25: http://new.kendallharmon.net/wp-content/uploads/index.php/t19/2007/05/25/

Since we are posting this on June 1, it is perhaps helpful to explain how to see the previous month’s calendar. To the left of “June 2007” at the top of the calendar, you’ll see double arrows. Click on those left double arrows and you’ll be taken back to the May calendar.

Finally, while on the topic of blog navigation: we’ve had some e-mails from readers saying that when they login they keep seeing old entries. We’ve added a link at the very top of the sidebar to the blog homepage (i.e. the main page). You can also always get there by clicking on the TitusONEnine logo at the top of the blog. This way, if you login and get directed to an old entry, you can quickly get to the home page and the latest entries. (Or once again, click on the calendar to see the date you are interested in.)


Since first posting this article, we have set up pagination. The main page now displays the 50 most-recent entries (usually equal to 2-3 days’ worth of articles). You can then click on the next page to see earlier entries. All entries from the blog’s launch through today are now available by following the page links at the bottom of the blog.

Hope this is helpful. As always, we welcome your questions & suggestions.

UPDATE 2: (11:45 GMT / 07:45 EDT) — Another Blog Navigation Upgrade!

We were reading the 100+ comment thread on speaking in tongues this morning. And as we got to the end of that long thread, we thought to ourselves: “Self, you clever elf, do you know what would be really nice? Being able to click to get to the next entry, or get back to the home page without having to scroll all the way back up to the top of the page!” So, being an elf, with all of our wonderful magic powers, we made our wish come true!

Now when you get to the end of an individual article and its comment thread, you will see three links:

Next entry (above): [article name and link] — this goes to the NEWER article
Previous entry (below): [article nameand link] — this goes to the OLDER article

Return to blog homepage [returns you to the blog’s main page]

Hope you agree with us that this is a nice feature!

Note: if you are in the comment section of a “sticky” post that is displaying at the top of the blog, the “next” or “previous entries” relate to chronological order when the sticky post was first written. So if there is a sticky post from May 29 still on the top of the blog today, the other articles in the next or previous sequence will be from May 29, not today, June 1.

Posted in * Admin, Blog Tips & Features

Americans Divided on Right to Die

More than two-thirds of Americans believe there are circumstances in which a patient should be allowed to die, but they are closely divided on whether it should be legal for a doctor to help terminally ill patients end their own lives by prescribing fatal drugs, a new AP-Ipsos poll finds.

The results were released Tuesday, just days before euthanasia advocate Dr. Jack Kevorkian is freed from a Michigan prison after serving more than eight years for second-degree murder in the poisoning of a man with Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Kevorkian’s defiant assisted suicide campaign, which he waged for years before his conviction, fueled nationwide debate in the U.S. about patients’ right to die and the role that physicians should play.

Though demonized by his critics as a callous killer, Kevorkian – who is to be released Friday – maintains relatively strong public support. The AP-Ipsos poll found that 53 percent of those surveyed thought he should not have been jailed; 40 percent supported his imprisonment. The results were similar to an ABC News poll in 1999 that found 55 percent disagreeing with his conviction.

The new AP-Ipsos poll asked whether it should be legal for doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to help terminally ill patients end their own lives – a practice currently allowed in Oregon but in no other U.S. states. Forty-eight percent said it should be legal; 44 percent said it should be illegal.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Life Ethics

Webbed Bliss: Brides and Grooms Tell All Online

Jogging in Atlanta a year ago, Chris Tuff tripped and fell. As his girlfriend, Julie Augustyniak, tried to help him up, Mr. Tuff, already on bended knee, pulled a diamond ring from his gym shorts.

“Julie, I love you more than anything in the world,” he said. Unbeknownst to Ms. Augustyniak, a cameraman lurking in a parked car nearby zoomed in and recorded her running into the street, screaming. She eventually calmed down enough to say yes — on camera

In case you missed this scene, you can now watch it on the couple’s wedding Web site www.doublemintwedding.com. At the bottom of their home page is a poll asking guests whether posting the engagement video online is a) very cute, b) cheesy, c) classic, or d) Chris’s idea.

Wedding Web sites — also known as “Wed sites” — were originally conceived as a convenient way for couples to notify guests of wedding events, provide directions and link to gift registries. Now they are turning into elaborate hubs of matrimonial exhibitionism, with confessional stories, courtship videos, and blow-by-blow accounts of the preparations.

In the “News and Updates” section on her Web site, bride-to-be Monika Razpotnik griped that making her own centerpieces was “a disaster,” finding a band was “a nightmare,” and looking for a dress was “a total disappointment.”

Read it all

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Marriage & Family

Binky is Back! A brand new Anglican Carnival & Canadian General Synod News (Updated)

Updated with some great links re: Canada’s upcoming General Synod (June 19-25)
The guy who taught many of us Anglican bloggers (and upstart elves) all we know about blogging is back online following the recent death of his mother, Susan Jane. Good to have you back, Binks! Check out his latest Anglican Carnival post. You may THINK you’ve seen all the Anglican news and links on other blogs, but we guarantee that Binks will have some you missed! 😉

Oh, and Binks sharpened up the commentary pen too: he’s got lots to say about recent Anglican goings-on in Canada.

UPDATE: well, when Binky’s on a roll, he’s on a roll…! All of the above, and now a big round up of all the Pre-General Synod News from Canada

The other site to go to for Canadian General Synod news (especially live during Synod) is here, the Anglican Essentials Synod Live blog site.

And rounding up the links re: Canada’s General Synod (June 19 – 25): the Lent & Beyond team have been posting daily prayers for Canada of late.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Resources & Links, - Anglican: Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007, Resources: blogs / websites

Does Jesus Have a Place at High School Graduation?

Read it all.

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

The first thread to hit 100 comments

For lovers of T19 trivia, we’ve had a post hit 100 comments! The thread on speaking in tongues posted last week hit 100 comments today.

By the way, we’ve sometimes noted on Stand Firm that long threads of 100+ comments don’t always display properly. (MS Internet Explorer seems to handle them better than Firefox). We’ll keep an eye on things here. If you note problems, let us know. So far there’s no other thread that’s anywhere near 100 comments.

Posted in * Admin

Hanna Rosin reviews Mark Regnerus' Forbidden Fruit: Sex+Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers

A 19-year-old virgin walks into a bar. He’s got his lucky cross in his pocket and his best jersey on. Please God, he says to himself, let this be the night. He spies a girl sitting at a table””blonde, wholesome-looking, just his type. He sidles up closer to the girl, who is chatting with some friends. Over the din, he can make out snippets of her conversation: at Bible study the other night ”¦ Pastor Ted says ”¦ saving it for marriage. Discouraged, he walks away in search of a more promising target.

Did he make the correct decision? Or did he make a hasty judgment and miss a chance for a possible love connection? The answer to such a question can be found in Forbidden Fruit: Sex & Religion in the Lives of American Teenagers by Mark Regnerus, a professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. The book is a serious work of sociology based on several comprehensive surveys of young adults, coupled with in-depth interviews. But it could also double as a guide for teenage boys on the prowl (who’s easier, a Catholic girl or a Jew?) or for parents of teenage girls worrying about what will happen if their daughters keep skipping church.

Regnerus goes to some length to justify his unusual pairing of subjects. Most researchers of youth behavior tend to ignore the influence of religion, he argues, and instead focus on other factors””parental input, peer pressure, race, or socioeconomic status. But sex is one area where religion has a strong impact, at least on attitudes. When academics do consider religion, they tend to make lazy assumptions that religious communities are inherently conservative, universally condemn sex, and encourage abstinence. Regnerus complicates the picture by examining the varying attitudes of different religious communities. And while sex surveys are notoriously unreliable, his great innovation is to compare conservative attitudes with actual practices.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth