Daily Archives: June 2, 2007

Report from A recent Virginia Clergy day with the Presiding Bishop

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

Latin America, Caribbean bishops Share Their perspective


Anglican bishops from Latin America and the Caribbean, meeting in San José, Costa Rica, May 18-22, released a declaration reaffirming their call for the Anglican Communion “to preserve its participative nature, diverse, ample and inclusive,” characteristics they say are essential to Anglicanism.

The declaration was signed by 21 bishops, including the Primates of Brazil, Central America and Mexico, and Bishop Lloyd Allen of Honduras, president of the Episcopal Church’s Province IX.

Saying they represent the “plurality and diversity that are universal characteristics of Anglicanism,” the bishops acknowledged that they “hold different positions on the themes that are presently discussed in the Communion.” However, they continued, “we have also experienced that the plurality and diversity we represent has become a rich source for growth, rather than a cause for controversy and division.”

The bishops unanimously expressed their determination “to remain united as members of the same family and will continue to come to the Lord’s Table, together.” They invited all bishops, clergy and laity “who identify with this vision to join together and work for an effective reconciliation, interdependence and unity in the diversity of our family of faith and so preserve the valuable legacy of which we are guardians.”

The declaration is intended to “renew and ratify” a position proposed in a statement that that was issued at the Latin America Anglican Theological Congress meeting in Panama City October 5-10, 2005.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Anglican Identity, Anglican Provinces, Latin America & Caribbean

Unmarried Anglican priest quits top job after becoming pregnant

One of the Church of England’s most senior women clerics has quit her job after becoming pregnant while unmarried.

The Rev Dr Emma Loveridge stepped down as principal adviser to the Archbishop of York after only 13 months in the post.

The 42-year-old cited “personal and family reasons” for leaving the staff of Dr John Sentamu, who ranks second in the Church’s hierarchy.

He is regarded as conservative in matters of sexual morality

She is also understood to have resigned her licence to practise as a priest and to have effectively stepped down from the clergy.

The baby is believed to be Dr Loveridge’s first and her growing bump was obvious as she strolled near her home this week.

Her pregnancy comes as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has spoken out strongly in favour of marriage and married families in recent months.

Along with Dr Sentamu, he has been trying to deal with the worldwide Anglican split over sexual morality.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News

On the Road Again

I am in Oklahoma City this weekend, having been invited to preach and teach Sunday School at All Souls. Thank you for your prayers.

Posted in * By Kendall

Bishops' Theology Committee offers Primates' communiqué study document

Readers are encouraged to read through much related material to the House of Bishops study document at this (relatively new) website–KSH.


Mary Frances Schjonberg

The Theology Committee of the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops on June 1 released a study document aimed at helping the bishops respond to the requests made to them by the Primates of the Anglican Communion.

The 15-page “Communion Matters: A Study Document for the Episcopal Church” is available online. A color PDF version of the document is available here. A black-and-white PDF version is here.

Theology Committee chair and Alabama Bishop Henry Parsley told Episcopal News Service that the report is meant for bishops to use in conversation with the people of their dioceses in the three and a half months between now and the mid-September meeting of the House of Bishops in New Orleans. Rather than call for responses from individual Episcopalians, Parsley said the committee will in late August and early September gather input from bishops on the result of their conversations in their dioceses.

He said the committee hopes that Episcopalians will “read, mark, inwardly digest and then come talk” about the document with their bishop.

“Every diocese will have to do that in their own way,” he said. “We didn’t want it to be an individual thing. We wanted it to be a diocesan, corporate process overseen by the bishop.”

Parsley said the corporate nature of the conversations is important, given the nature of the requests made by the Primates at the end of their February gathering in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania via a communiqué.

“The Anglican tradition is always that bishops are in the midst of the people of God and, when thinking about important matters, need to take counsel with the deacons, priests and laypersons in order to be well-informed and to listen to the Church,” he said. “We felt that since the communiqué addresses the request to the House of Bishops in response to resolutions of General Convention, we couldn’t just act unilaterally. We needed to take counsel with the people of the Church in responding to the communiqué.”

He added that bishops need to exercise their “unique role as chief pastors and teachers … but we exercise it best when we are in conversation with — in counsel with — the Church in our dioceses.”

“Communion Matters” begins with a preface in which the committee writes that it offers the document “as a contribution to the discernment of this church as we seek the mind of Christ and endeavor to be faithful to our calling as members of the Anglican family in the world.”

It includes three chapters of information, a set of questions for reflection and resources for more background.

The preface says that the guide aims to be a summary, not an exhaustive history.

“Constraints of space and concerns about maintaining easy readability prevent us from recounting all the important details of the conversation taking place in our church and Communion,” the committee writes. “We hope that we have faithfully described the essentials.”

Parsley reiterated the preface’s hope. “We wanted this to be readable, brief and accessible to all of our people,” he said. “In that way, it’s a little simpler than some people might want, but we want it to be read and stimulate conversation.”

The chapter on “Relationships within the Anglican Communion” says that the Communion matters because “in this fellowship all give and receive many gifts,” “it enables us to be disciples in a global context,” “we have sought it for many years,” and “the maintenance of mutuality and trust with the Communion effects future mission opportunities.”

The next chapter, titled “Our Special Charism as Anglican Christians,” says that Anglicans have always valued the via media — “the middle way between polarities” — as a “faithful theological method.”

The chapter describes the via media as an approach that “acknowledges paradox and believes even apparent opposites may be reconciled or transcended.”

“Moreover, many within our church believe this is a good thing and a major charism (gift),” the chapter says. “In our own day, we especially need to preserve this special Anglican charism, not only for our own Communion but for all Christians.”

The third chapter sets the Dar es Salaam communiqué in the context of the Communion’s on-going debate about human sexuality, noting that “because the Communion has no central constitution and no form of synod or council beyond that of each province, issues of authority and conciliarity can present acute challenges for the maintenance of communion.”

The chapter references the 1998 Lambeth Conference debate and the previous objections by the Primates Meeting, traces the Windsor Report process, outlines the Episcopal Church’s response to the Report, summarizes how the Primates Meeting came to be and summarizes the pertinent parts of the communiqué and the House of Bishops’ statements about it to date.

The House of Bishops has already responded to a portion of the communiqué. In three “Mind of the House” resolutions passed during their March meeting, the bishops said, in part, that the Primates’ proposed “pastoral scheme” for dealing with disaffected Episcopal Church dioceses “would be injurious to The Episcopal Church.” The bishops urged that the Executive Council “decline to participate in it.”

The communiqué gave the bishops of the Episcopal Church until September 30 to “make an unequivocal common covenant that the bishops will not authorize any Rite of Blessing for same-sex unions in their dioceses or through General Convention” and “confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent; unless some new consensus on these matters emerges across the Communion.”

The third chapter states that these two requests “raise significant issues about the role of the primates in the Anglican Communion, Anglican ecclesiology, and the role of the House of Bishops in the Episcopal Church,” including:

“Are such requests appropriately addressed by the bishops as chief pastors and teachers, or more representatively by the General Convention?”
“How best may theological and mission development take place in churches which are ”˜autonomous in communion’?” and
“How can the Communion appropriately consult about important matters such as these without a centralization of authority that is unknown to Anglicanism?”
The three chapters are followed by a series of eight questions for reflection with some background on each question, and then a page of online resources for more background. When viewed on a computer in its PDF form, the clickable links on the resources page send readers to electronic versions of the documents.

“As bishops we are charged in ordination to guard the faith and unity of the Church. Being charged with this task does not mean it falls to us alone,” the document concludes. “This study document is written to allow us to hear and receive the response of the whole of this province so that together we might respond faithfully as a constituent member of this great Communion.”

In addition to Parsley, the members of the Theology Committee are David Alvarez of Puerto Rico; Joe Burnett of Nebraska; Robert W. Ihloff, recently retired of Maryland; Carolyn T. Irish of Utah; Paul V. Marshall of Bethlehem; Steven A. Miller of Milwaukee and Jeffrey Steenson of Rio Grande.

The Rev. Dr. Ian Douglas, an Executive Council member and professor at Episcopal Divinity School, is the committee’s consulting theologian. Douglas also worked as a liaison between the Theology Committee and a subcommittee of the Executive Council’s International Concerns Committee (INC), which released a six-page study guide to the draft version of the proposed Anglican Covenant.

The covenant guide calls for congregations and individuals to submit responses by June 4. Responses will be used in the creation of a response by the Executive Council at its October meeting in Detroit, Michigan.

Prior to that, at the Council’s June meeting in Parsippany, New Jersey, INC will propose that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson appoint a Covenant Review Group to follow the covenant-development process, enable comments from the wider Episcopal Church and provide comments on behalf of the church to the Communion’s Covenant Design Group.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Resources & Links, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Bishops, Anglican Identity, Anglican Primates, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Resources: blogs / websites, TEC Bishops, Theology

Time Wasted? Perhaps It’s Well Spent

“The longer you work, the less efficient you are,” said Bob Kustka, the founder of Fusion Factor, a productivity and time-management consulting firm in Norwell, Mass. He says workers are like athletes in that they are most efficient in concentrated bursts. Elite athletes “play a set of tennis, a down of football or an inning of baseball and have a pause in between,” he says. Working energy, like physical energy, “is best used in spurts where we work hard on a few focused activities and then take a brief respite,” he says.

And those respites look an awful lot like wasting time.

It has taken me years to make tentative peace with my stops and starts during work. Every morning I vow to become a morning person, starting full speed out of the gate. And every morning I daydream, shuffle papers, read e-mail messages and visit blogs, and somehow it is time for lunch. Then, at about 2 p.m., a sense of urgency kicks in, and I write steadily, until about 5 or 6, when I revert to the little-of-this, some-of-that style of the morning.

Over the years I have come to see that the hours away from the writing are the time when the real work gets done. When a paragraph turns itself this way and that in a corner of my brain even while my fingers are buying books on Amazon.com. What appears to be wasted time is really jell time. This redefinition only makes me feel a little less guilty.

Mr. Kustka assures me that the problem is not the three to four hours of concentrated work I do each day, but rather the outmoded paradigm against which I measure that work. Productivity was directly related to time back when Mr. Gilbreth was measuring things, he said, but the connection is less direct today.

“We are in a knowledge-worker world,” he says. “If you were building me a building, I could measure the number of bricks. If you were loading a truck, I could measure the number of boxes. But I can’t simply count your words. That doesn’t measure quality.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him that word count is how nearly all freelance writers are paid.

Instead I focused on his more general point that it shouldn’t matter whether I wrote these words in hours or days, at a desk or on a deck ”” the end result is all that counts.

“The old thinking says ”˜the longer it takes, the harder you’re working,” says Lynne Lancaster, a founder of BridgeWorks, a business consulting firm. “The new thinking is ”˜if I know the job inside and out and I’m done faster than everyone else then why can’t I go home early?’ ”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics

Split Over the Mormon Church, but Maintaining Some Ties

Janet and Lars Bergeson recently held a prewedding lawn party for their son at their home, surrounded by farms on a bluff in sight of Mount Bergeson. The landmark, named for a Swedish Mormon who arrived in 1860, is a reminder of their ancestors’ religion.

The couple left the fold long ago, so they knew they would not be allowed to attend the temple wedding and eternal sealing of their son, Nils Bergeson, 24, to Emily O’Hara, 25. The young couple are Mormons in good standing who hope to join the Peace Corps.

Despite years away from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, being shut out of a family affair in the temple rekindled dormant emotions for Janet Bergeson, 52, as the rest of the family prepared for the wedding. Comfort came from users of a Web site that Mrs. Bergeson began participating in about six months ago, www.PostMormon.org.

“Just being able to discuss these things online, that’s helped me shape where I am today,” she said.

The Web site is the primary focus of the Post-Mormon Community, a nonprofit group founded in 2002 that tries to help those struggling after a loss of faith, said Jeff Ricks, the executive manager of the organization.

Some arrive at PostMormon.org shunned by family members or doubting a doctrine. Some PostMormon.org visitors are gay, many in heterosexual marriages and with children, Mr. Ricks said. A few have been officially disciplined or excommunicated. The common denominator, though, is that they seek an anonymous and confidential way to find support, he said.

The Web site is one of several that attract Mormons who have left the faith or are questioning it. Another, www.exMormonFoundation.org, additionally says its mission is to unveil the “harm” caused by the church and to provide a “countervoice on Mormonism.” A third site, www.exmormon.org, provides support, though it also attracts “ex Mormons,” a term that some say connotes anti-Mormonism. Indeed, exmormon.org has a large archive of arguments against the church and its doctrines.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Mormons, Other Faiths

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;

To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

–Psalm 30: 11, 12 KJV

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Biblical Commentary & Reflection

Americans turn away from SUVs

Americans are turning away from gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles, luxury cars and pick-up trucks in favour of smaller, more fuel-efficient models, judging by May sales figures.

The trend has given a boost to Toyota, which reported record sales last month, up 14 per cent from a year earlier.

General Motors’ light vehicle sales rose by almost 10 per cent. But Ford Motor reported a 7 per cent decline, due mainly to a sharp cutback in low-margin sales to car-rental companies. Ford’s retail sales were 3 per cent lower, with demand weakening in the final week of the month.

My response is–thanks be to God! Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Culture-Watch

Positive Infinity: Life and Eternity on Titusonenine

But you have to give Dr. Harmon his due: he has a Drudgelike ability to ferret out stories of all kinds from the Web, which makes his blog one of the most informative and interesting blogs out there. Moreover he, as an employee and official of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, takes some risk in presenting the various stories about the Episcopal/Anglican world he does. (Such a risk I can appreciate, since I too am an employee and official in my own church.) This is true especially when his own diocese is caught between a church that can’t bring itself to allow the bishop of their choice to take his rightful place in Charleston and an AMiA which enthrones itself in one of the Diocese’s one-time (that still isn’t resolved) superior properties, All Saints Pawley’s Island….

Even though Harmon has chosen to stay, some of those in the new Anglican churches in the U.S. are regulars there. What we are looking at is nothing short of the shape of things to come in general: a Paludavia like rescue of Americans by Third-world counterparts of like convictions. TEC is right to say that this is un-American, but it points out the central dilemma of American conservatism today: what do you do when the duly constituted authorities abandon the faith and ethic that made the church or country great? Today we have the spectacle of a very upper class church being governed in part by people from impoverished places, and hopefully that will help Anglicans here to see “how the other half lives” in a culture where the two halves grow further apart all the time.

One other observation that needs to be made is the level of theological discussion. This is fairly high, although Anglicans (and Orthodox) are too quick to recite formulae rather than get to the heart of an issue. One benefit I received from years in Roman Catholicism was the ability to penetrate past the formulas to first principles, although on its home turf the magisterium of the church (to say nothing of the level of discourse at the parish level) sometimes gets in the way of that. One would like to see this kind of erudition used, for example, in dialogue with Muslims. But it’s good to see it anywhere.

Kendall Harmon is to be commended for his work on Titusonenine. He has performed a service for a segment of Christianity that needs it. We trust that God will continue to bless him, his family, the elves, and, yes, his visitors, and that he may continue to be one “who holds doctrine that can be relied on as being in accordance with the accepted Teaching; so that he may be able to encourage others by sound teaching, as well as to refute our opponents.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet

Jonathan Imbody on Jack Kevorkian

A New England Journal of Medicine article reported that in 1995 in the Netherlands, where euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal, doctors killed about 1,000 people without getting the patients’ “explicit request.” Nearly 20,000 were killed when they were given large doses of opioids, such as morphine and similar drugs.

Today, our own families and dedicated doctors will continue to care for our elderly parents. This shows true compassion and unconditional love. Patients with terminal diseases will pursue life with dignity, all the while demonstrating to the healthy that life is precious and sacred.

None of these acts of love and courage likely will make the evening news or the pages of this newspaper. Such heroic actions are deemed unexceptional compared with shocking suicides and pseudo-doctors who kill rather than heal.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Theology

The Bishop of Newark's Statement in Response to the Lambeth Invitations

From here:

For the past two weeks, I have been in regular phone and email conversation with several members of the House of Bishops. We began talking and writing because of our concern that the Archbishop of Canterbury has announced that our colleague and friend, the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, will not be receiving an invitation to the Lambeth 2008 Conference, which gathers together all the bishops of the Anglican Communion every ten years. We drafted a letter expressing our disappointment and concern. In that letter we also articulated our hope ”“ that this season of confusion and distress, which has “threatened the bonds of affection” in the Anglican Communion, might be resolved through thoughtful conversation and mutual respect.

In a conference call this afternoon, we decided not to send out our letter. As Gene Robinson has told us, there is a lot of diplomacy going on between the Archbishop’s office and the American Church, which may ”“ or may not, create a different ecclesiastical climate and result in invitations to all bishops in good standing in the Church (which certainly includes Bishop Robinson, who was duly elected, consented and consecrated as a bishop in the Episcopal church). We also acknowledged to one another that there is great confusion in the wider church about our polity. Unlike most of the rest of the Anglican Communion, which appoints their bishops ”“ we elect ours.

So we decided not to send out our letter ”“ yet. Ours was a decision of strategy. We want to wait a bit to see if the diplomacy will lead to a different, and more satisfying resolution. But as we debated issues of strategy, I could feel my commitment to radical hospitality deepen, and I could hear it in my colleagues. Jesus had a passion for radical welcome ”“ and a disdain for those who were unwilling, or unable, to embrace it. Jesus’ invitation extends down through the centuries to include the rest of us. All of us. Welcome should beget welcome. We shouldn’t settle for anything less.

(The Rt. Rev.) Mark M. Beckwith

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

Limited Blog Tech / Admin support over weekend

Little tech support will be available this weekend. Your patience and understanding is appreciated.
Also, while we are offline, we hope you will continue to offer us feedback on how the new blog is working so far. We really need it.

After too many 18 hour+ hour days at the computer between our real job and all the extra work to design and set up the blog, this elf is signing off for the weekend. We also hear that Greg G. is not going to be online much this weekend. What this means, is that folks with login and registration problems, or other tech questions or problems are likely going to have to wait until Monday for help. Feel free to send e-mail: T19elves@yahoo.com or leave comments here. Just don’t expect a reply from ElfGirl or Greg until Monday.

A tech note:
The two blog admin “Sticky” posts that were at the top of the blog earlier today (Open thread, and Info on the Sidebar setup & Categories, etc.) have all been made “unsticky” — you can find them below on the original dates they were posted. But to make them easy to find, the links are in the sidebar. Also in the sidebar are the links to all three of “Daily Blog Tips” posts from this week. That “blog tips” series will resume again on Monday.

On a pesonal note, a plea for feedback:
After having been online and monitoring or working on the blog for 6-8 hours or more per day most of this week, I feel like I’ve been living, eating, breathing T19 all week. That intense blog exposure has been interesting, and I wanted to add a few personal words before I shut down the computer for the weekend. Firstly, I have really enjoyed the opportunity to hear from many readers who have written needing tech assistance. So many of you have offered words of encouragement and shared how important and helpful Titusonenine is to you. That makes all this hard work worthwhile to know that this is really a ministry to and important resource for many. Our readers and commenters are a huge part of what has made this blog so successful over the past three years. We hope there will be the same kind of lively and deep discussions on the comment threads of this new blog. From all we can see, the move to a new server and new software offers outstanding opportunities to make a great blog even several degrees better. We’re working towards it on our end, and are sure Kendall is too.

It’s been a bit odd that the comment threads have been anemic on many posts this week. It’s probably normal given the switch to new software and the requirement that readers must register in order to comment. But, if there is some feature or design issue that is making commenting difficult would you please let us know?

Secondly, on a related note, I can’t emphasize enough how important your feedback is to all of us involved with the blog, especially as we work to design it and setup various features to make it a helpful and hopefully easy to use resource. Our goal is not blog design for blog design’s sake, but to have the design serve the needs and interests of our readers. So do chime in as to what you want this blog to be. Otherwise, we’ll take the large degree of silence to mean that you all think we elves are perfect and can do no wrong. And that would not be a good thing for our egos!

Oh, and just an FYI for the weekend. Even though elfgirl, (aka the blog-design and membership-support elf) is going to be offline for the weekend, ElfLady is NOT signing off for the weekend. So, mind your Ps & Qs on the comment threads! At least one of us is still watching! 😉

Blessings all, and thanks for putting up with all the posts and deluge of information from us this past week. Until Monday…

Posted in * Admin

Accolades, Some Tearful, for a Preacher in His Twilight Years

For a man who has welcomed crowds his whole life, the evangelist Billy Graham appeared humbled and a bit embarrassed to be before this one Thursday in a parking lot near the Charlotte airport.

Hundreds of friends, family members, ministers and politicians had gathered to dedicate a library celebrating the ministry of Mr. Graham, whose vast popularity lent him the title “America’s pastor.”

Standing on a platform before the Billy Graham Library, former President George Bush delivered the keynote address, his voice cracking into a sob as he said Mr. Graham was “the man, the preacher, the humble farmer’s son who changed the world.” Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton also spoke of how Mr. Graham had transformed their lives.

Infirm and rarely appearing in public now, Mr. Graham approached the dais using a walker and noted the sense of completion and twilight that marked the speeches before his.

“I feel like I’ve been attending my own funeral, listening to all these speeches,” he said to the crowd’s nervous laughter. “I’ve been here at the library once, and my one comment when I toured it was that it is too much Billy Graham. My whole life has been to please the Lord and honor Jesus, not to see me and think of me.”

Initiated by the Rev. Franklin Graham, Mr. Graham’s older son, and board members of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the library is to serve as a tribute to the 60 years of Mr. Graham’s ministry around the world.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches

Interview With Father Raniero Cantalamessa on the media

Though we are in an age of communication, there is growing incommunicability among people, says the preacher of the Pontifical Household.

Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa says that using communication media to evangelize can help resolve the negative aspects related to the communication world. In this interview with ZENIT, he speaks of the problems caused by media and the secret for Catholics trying to help.

Q: What is your perception of mass media today?

Father Cantalamessa: The characteristic of our day and age, its most brilliant achievement and success, is information, in other words, mass communication: the press, cinema, television, Internet, cellphones.

Mass media are the great protagonists of the moment. Anyone can, at any time of day or night, find out what is going on in the world and establish direct contact with someone else at any point of the globe. All this is a sign of great progress and we ought to be grateful to God for the technology which has made it possible. However, there are serious dangers and negative aspects involved in social communications today.

Q; What exactly do you have in mind?

Father Cantalamessa: The means of communication are consumerist, in the sense that they encourage people to consume, and they are consumed and come to an end in themselves. Communication media are exclusively horizontal. People exchange their news items and, since we are ephemeral and transitory beings, news is equally ephemeral. Each item cancels out the previous one.

Along with an increase in communications, there is a growing experience of incommunicability. Communications are limited to sounds, to rumors. Rumors assure us that we are not alone; however, there is a lack of vertical, creative communication, a total absence of others. Communication media become a mirror reflecting the image of human misery and the echo of human emptiness.

In short, modern communication media convey sadness. The media place far more stress on the evil and tragic side of the world than on the good and positive aspects.

Read it all.

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

Konstantin Eggert: Russians reunited

In the face of the militant atheism of the Bolshevik revolution, the Russian Church split into two, with the flame of traditional Orthodoxy kept burning in exile while the Church at home fell under the control of the hammer and sickle. Now, nearly 90 years on, unity has been restored

With a stroke of his favourite green felt-tipped pen, Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and All Russia has put an end to the Russian civil war – nearly 90 years since the Bolshevik revolution de facto started it. On 17 May in a splendid ceremony in Christ the Saviour’s Cathedral, diocesan church of the Russian capital, the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate reunited with the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, officially referred to as the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, or Rocor.

Russian émigré bishops created the latter in the 1920s, when it had become clear that whatever remained of the Orthodox Church in Russia would have to exist at the mercy and under tight control of a militantly atheist regime. But last month, Metropolitan Laurus, head of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, flew from his diocesan headquarters in the state of New York, joined Patriarch Alexis in a divine service after the unity ceremony, and took Communion from the same cup.

Only 10 years ago, Laurus’ predecessor, Metropolitan Vitaly, insisted on upholding a decades-old anathema against what Rocor routinely referred to as the “KGB-controlled” Moscow Patriarchate.

Standing on the ambo of the Saviour’s Cathedral, the only journalist among the priests and Religious, just a few metres from the table where the Act of Canonical Communion was to be signed, I listened to the reading of the historical document: “By this Act, Canonical Communion within the Local Russian Orthodox Church is hereby restored. Acts issued previously which preclude the fullness of Canonical Communion are hereby deemed invalid or obsolete.”

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, Orthodox Church, Other Churches

Bishop David Russell: The Anglican Covenant Process and Same Sex Relationships

The Covenant process is, in practice, by-passing these questions, acting on the implicit assumption that we already have the answers ”“ that they are known and must be obeyed; so all we need to do is to set up the slow inexorable process of exclusion of those who question the traditional understanding of the answers. The Primates are demanding that ECUSA give assurances that they will cease giving any sanction to practices which go against Resolution 1.10 (Lambeth 1998) (Note 3), and the Archbishop of Canterbury in his letter to the Primates (5thMar 07) refers again to this requirement.

What has happened to the vital consideration of issues raised in the Windsor Report concerning ”˜essentials and non-essentials’ (”˜adiaphora’) ”“ core doctrines as opposed to other teaching? (Windsor paras 36f, 49, 87f). All this is in practice being put to one side. Why are we not, as a Communion seeking to find common ground regarding methods and principles of biblical interpretation, which are common to those involved in biblical scholarship across denominational boundaries? Or at very least clarify where we differ in regard to our hermeneutical criteria? Instead we are avoiding these crucial matters.

4) Covenant Design sets up procedures for exclusion
This is no exaggeration, because it must be known that ECUSA and the Canadian Province cannot be expected to ”˜back down’ from the convictions that they have come to over decades, in their understanding, in good faith, of how the Holy Spirit has led them in seeking answers to the above two fundamental questions. Yet Section 6 of the Draft Covenant makes clear provision for their exclusion if they fail to ”˜fall in line’: note the injunction “to heedthe counsel of the Instruments of Communion (para 4) and the reference to the Primates as giving direction (para 5.3). But far more specific is para 6, of this section: “where member churches choose not to fulfil the substance of the covenant as understood by the Councils of the Instruments of Communion, we will consider that such churches will have relinquished for themselves the force and meaning of the covenant’s purpose, and a process of restoration and renewal will be required to re-establish their covenant relationship with other member churches.” To what else can this possibly refer, but to excluding Provinces which believe they are called to affirm committed same-sex partnerships? And yet this is being proposed while avoiding any further rigorous theological and hermeneutical debate on the matter, let alone a serious listening to our gay brothers and sisters in the Communion who long to be affirmed in their committed partnerships.

5) The Communion needs to acknowledge the reality of a re-assessment of certain teachings
Concerning the two crucial questions which connect us all in this wrestling debate, there are two realities: there is the reality of the traditional teaching which the majority still hold to, and there is the reality of a reassessment of the traditional teaching which many believe to be prompted by the Holy Spirit. It is these realities which need to be respected. It is the challenge of the above two questions which need to be addressed. How can the Communion set in motion what is in practice a ”˜process of exclusion’ when the theological and hermeneutical questions are at best being shelved, if not being deliberately avoided.

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