Daily Archives: June 7, 2007

Follow-up to "Truth in Advertising" — This time, South Dakota

Now, on a serious note, there are many small communities and South Dakota really is a place where towns just go out of existence from time to time. We are not denying the potential for small but healthy churches (and that is the defense often mounted by TEC loyalists around here – “Growth isn’t the only measure of success”).

But the numbers from the Diocese are not about small, healthy communities. The numbers show decline – in many cases precipitous. And the historic Reservation Missions are vitually empty save for funerals and drive-by baptisms. We still hear TEC folks from other places boast about how “We have a diocese where over half the members are Native Americans!” Yeah, guess that’s true on paper. But in terms of vital Christian community, well, you really need flesh and blood.

Just for fun, we looked in on Good Shepherd, Sioux Falls, a church teaching the Biblical Gospel and emphasizing prayer and strong lay ministry. Their ASA went from 42 in 2004 to 85 in 2006, and they report that Sundays this year frequently have more than 100 at worship.

Read it all.

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

LA residents told to cut showers as drought deepens

Los Angeles residents were urged on Wednesday to take shorter showers, reduce lawn sprinklers and stop throwing trash in toilets in a bid to cut water usage by 10 percent in the driest year on record.

With downtown Los Angeles seeing a record low of 4 inches

of rain since July 2006 — less than a quarter of normal — and with a hot, dry summer ahead, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the city needed “to change course and conserve water to steer clear of this perfect storm.”

It is the driest year since rainfall records began 130 years ago.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources

Terry Mattingly: Why (certain) conservatives dominate religious news

So why a few religious conservatives dominated the news, while religious liberals have been left in the shadows? For starters, conservative groups have been growing in size and power, while liberal groups _ especially mainline Protestant churches _ have lost millions of members. Journalists pay special attention to groups that they believe are gaining power.

Journalists also focus on trends that they consider strange, bizarre and even disturbing. Certainly, one of the hottest news stories in the past quarter century of American life has been the rise of the religious right and its political union with the Republican Party. For many elite journalists, this story has resembled the vandals arriving to sack Rome.

One of the nation’s top religion writers heard an even more cynical theory to explain this evidence that journalists seem eager to quote conservatives more than liberals when covering religion news.

“Personally, I think there’s much truth to what the study claims,” said Gary Stern of the Journal News in Westchester, N.Y., in a weblog post.

“But why? Some progressive religious leaders have told me one theory: that media people are anti-religion, so they trot out angry, self-righteous, conservative voices who make all religion look bad.”

Read it all.

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

From the No Comment Department

CHELSEA, Vt. (AP) — A prosecutor has dropped charges against a woman who was arrested for staring at and making faces at a police dog Hutchinson, 33, of Lebanon, N.H., was charged with cruelty to a police animal she approached Protzman’s cruiser, where his dog Max was waiting, putting her face within inches of the window and “staring at him in a taunting/harassing manner,” Protzman wrote in an affidavit

Posted in * General Interest

A Response to the Draft Anglican Covenant from the Bishop of Northern California

(1) Do you think an Anglican Covenant is necessary and/or will help to strengthen the interdependent life of the Anglican Communion?

I don’t feel that a Covenant is necessary, but I am aware that there are many who do, and I am fully prepared to commit to one, provided it does in fact “help to strengthen the interdependent life of the Anglican Communion.” It is hard to answer this question in the abstract, however; the details of any such Covenant””and much more detail than this Draft provides””must first be considered.

(2) How closely does this view of communion accord with your understanding of the development and vocation of the Anglican Communion?

It is close enough, though I think we do well to remember that the Anglican Communion is an historical accident: the spread of Anglicanism globally and the emergence of the Anglican Communion as we know it was not the result of a comprehensive strategy or clear intention. To acknowledge this in no way contradicts the assertion that this Communion is a gift given to us through the grace of God; it simply recognizes the newness, unevenness, and elements of surprise present in our becoming who we are; it should also incline us to an abiding openness to change, flexibility, and a willingness to experiment. It may be that this Communion is still on its way to become something yet unimagined.
I appreciate this section’s reference to mission.

Read it all.

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

Sir John Houghton on Faith and Climate Change

This week on Reporting Religion we hear from one of the world’s most eminent scientists and climatologists, Sir Jihn Houghton. He tells us how his strong Christian faith combines with his scientific work, and how it drives him to protect the world and deal with climate change. He tells us what he said to German Chancellor Angela Merkel ahead of this week’s G8 Summit.

Listen to it all from the BBC World Service.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Climate Change, Weather, England / UK, Religion & Culture

Executive Council to meet in Parsippany June 11-14

When the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church convenes June 11-14 in Parsippany, New Jersey, its members will spend time reflecting on the past, present and future shape of the Church and of the Anglican Communion, as well as considering issues of ministry and governance.

The Church’s governing body between General Conventions will, as part of its agenda, look to the past to hear a report about the effort to gather information about how the Episcopal Church may have benefited from slavery.

The Council will look to the present and the future as it discusses how the Church might reach out to Episcopalians in a small number of dioceses and parishes where the leadership is disaffected with the wider Church.

Council will consider a report and resolutions in response to portions of the communiqué issued by the Anglican Primates at the end of their February meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; get a summary of responses to its invitation for Episcopalians to discuss the proposed Anglican Covenant; and will hear about the experience of one gay Anglican in Nigeria.

“I am sure that a number of international concerns will be the subject of our conversation and deliberation,” said Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. “Among them, Anglican Communion issues, of mission including the Towards Effective Anglican Mission meeting and matters of peace and justice such as our Millennium Development Goal efforts. We’ll talk about how we can grow our partnerships around the Communion; as well as relationships with our covenant partners such as Brazil, Mexico and Philippines.

“The current conflict around the draft Anglican Covenant and the process for its consideration, as well as the Lambeth Conference and the House of Bishops’ response to the Primates’ Communiqué, will be discussed. We will also include in that discussion the conflict caused by incursion into the Episcopal Church from other members of the Anglican Communion.”

“We will consider domestic issues including the federal Farm Bill and our concern about domestic poverty, as well as matters of internal governance,” she continued.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Primates, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, TEC Polity & Canons

From the United Methodists: 'State of the Church' Report Encourages Dialogue

United Methodists have a deep love for their church and passion for their beliefs, but they are less satisfied with its structure and say too many resources are used in administration and bureaucracy.

They are also both hopeful and concerned about the future of The United Methodist Church.

So say the results of surveys that are the basis for a State of the Church report scheduled for churchwide release in mid-June. The surveys were conducted between June and September of 2006, and involved interviewing a cross-section of about 3,000 United Methodist clergy, lay leaders and members from across the globe.

The report was commissioned in 2005 by the church’s Connectional Table, the leadership entity that coordinates the mission, ministries and resources for the denomination. The project represents the first time the church has attempted to produce a comprehensive overview of the life of the church, according to Twila Glenn, a Connectional Table member from the denomination’s Iowa Annual (regional) Conference.

Emerging from the findings were opinions on topics as diverse as prayer, clergy leadership, church cliques, homosexuality and war.

The surveys found that United Methodists strongly affirm their belief in God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Church members generally rank the denomination’s open table for Holy Communion as extremely important. And they identify the church’s highest priorities as Scripture, children, reaching out to the unchurched and ending racial divisions within the church.

Seventy-two percent of clergy and 61 percent laity who were surveyed agree at least somewhat that the church “uses too much of available financial and human resources in administration and bureaucracy.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Methodist, Other Churches

More Lambeth Invitations Likely

The invitation list for the 2008 Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops is not complete, according to Canon James Rosenthal, communications director for the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC).

Invitations were sent May 22. The initial invitation list was compiled based on past precedent and the recommendations of the Windsor Report, according to Canon Rosenthal and other aides to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams who spoke with The Living Church.

Bishops who have not received invitations included those whose consecrations are valid but whose jurisdictions are anomalous, bishops not engaged in stipendiary episcopal ministry, and a handful of bishops whose manner of life or public actions are cause for concern. Invitation also were not extended to retired but semi-active bishops known as “assisting bishops” in The Episcopal Church or “honorary assistant bishops” in the Church of England.

Some previous Lambeth Conferences included bishops holding administrative positions within their national churches, but no such invitations have yet been extended for 2008. Episcopal bishops in this group include the Rt. Rev. C. Christopher Epting, the Presiding Bishop’s deputy for ecumenical and interfaith relations; the Rt. Rev. F. Clayton Matthews, director of the Office of Pastoral Development at The Episcopal Church Center; and the Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass. All three are actively engaged in stipendiary church ministry and are active members of the House of Bishops, but are not directly engaged in “episcopal ministry,” the ACC said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, CANA, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008

Bay waters a favorite final resting place

When you cremate a human body by subjecting it for more than two hours to temperatures of 1,400 to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit in a specially designed chamber, what remains is between 5 1/2 and 8 1/2 pounds of granulated ash.

That was the approximate weight of the contents of the ceramic urn that Buck Kamphausen was holding over the bow of the Orca III as it idled off Angel Island on a sparkling afternoon with a misty San Francisco skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.

He tilted the custom-made urn down toward the bay. “Once in a while, people take them home. It would make a dandy cookie jar,” he joked. The ashes formed a milky gray cloud in the bottle-green water.

The cremated remains — the word “ashes” is frowned upon in the industry — were just a drop in the bay, where many hundreds of people are scattered every month.

As cremation has overtaken burial as the most common form of disposal in California — about 52 percent of the dead are cremated, according to the National Funeral Directors Association — scatterings of remains have become a daily occurrence. Without anybody really noticing, San Francisco Bay has become an enormous burial ground.

“There’s something calming about the water,” said Kamphausen, 67, who own six cemeteries and six crematories, including some in Vallejo, Sacramento, San Jose and Oakland. “We’ve done it at night, in the fog, in the rain. You have to say that if there is something spiritual about it, this is one of the most beautiful places in the world to have it done.”

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry

Daily Blog Tip: Printer Friendly Format for articles

A reader yesterday asked for printer-friendly versions of articles. We’ve set it up.

Sometimes there really are benefits to letting the elves know your ideas for improving Titusonenine. Yesterday a reader mentioned the trouble he was having printing articles (all the sidebar info was taking up pages, etc.). So, we’ve set up a printer friendly format to view articles. Now in the gray bar at the bottom of every article with the post time and comment information, you’ll see two links:
— Printer Friendly
— Print w Comments

Printer Friendly will take you to a view of the full article so you can print it without lots of extra blog information. Print with Comments will take you to the article and its comments.

Note, you can also access both of these links from WITHIN the article view. If you have clicked on the title of an article, or on the comments link, you will see the printer-friendly links in the gray bar that shows the comment total.

Hopefully articles will print cleanly. If we have to make changes to formatting (margins?) please let us know. We’re glad to try and help, so do continue to let us know what features you would find helpful. Sometimes we can actually figure out how to do them.

Don’t forget, you can always find all of the recent admin posts about blog features by clicking on the blog features category.

FYI: Generally we will make “Blog Tips” posts “sticky ” (meaning they stay at the top of the page, even when newer articles are posted) for one day, and then they will revert to their normal chronological place. We expect the volume of admin info / blog tips posts will taper off very sharply within a few days. So those of you who are getting sick of such verbosity from the elves, just a bit more patience, then we’ll go back to our evil comment moderating role!

Posted in * Admin, Blog Tips & Features

Same-sex unions OKd by California Assembly

A measure to legalize marriage for gay couples easily passed the California Assembly after a respectful debate Tuesday, in stark contrast to rancorous exchanges on the same issue two years ago.

The legislation by Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) would make California the only state besides Massachusetts to sanction same-sex couples, but it is likely to be vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Leno said he is not dissuaded by the governor’s public comments in February that he would veto same-sex marriage legislation. Leno, whose bill, AB 43, must still pass the Senate, said he hopes to introduce the governor to “children and families who suffer on a regular basis due to the current inequity in the law.”

“I don’t care what pronouncements he’s made, it’s his job to come to learn about this issue and to let us have our moment,” said Leno, an openly gay legislator. “I’m certain that he’s an open-minded and open-hearted individual and when he learns more, he’ll understand more.”

The bill passed 42 to 34 after a 90-minute debate during which 27 of the Assembly’s 80 members rose to speak. All Republicans voted no, and they were joined by two Democrats ”” Nicole Parra of Hanford and Wilmer Amina Carter of Rialto.

Three other Democrats abstained: Juan Arambula of Fresno, Mike Davis of Los Angeles and Cathleen Galgiani of Stockton. Assemblywoman Nell Soto (D-Pomona) missed the vote due to illness.

Leno argued that California’s existing domestic partnership laws do not give same-sex partners all the same rights and obligations afforded to married couples. He described a couple of 50 years. One of the men died of a heart attack, Leno said, and the survivor lost access to his partner’s healthcare, Social Security and veteran’s benefits and wound up homeless.

“That is what our public policymaking is doing,” Leno said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

Randy Kennedy: Sex, With Consequences

Lately…it seems that a slight virginal breeze has been blowing through the worlds of publishing, theater and Hollywood.

There is something quintessentially British in …[the] troubles [of the two lead charcters in Ian McEwan’s new novel, “On Chesil Beach”]. (It’s almost laughable, for example, to imagine a French couple in their place, even in 1962.) And of course, sex with consequences didn’t go away with the pill, in life or in novels, even those peopled with sexual-revolution partisans like the ones created by John Cheever, John Updike and Joan Didion. Then came AIDS, which united sex and death in a more real way than the Victorians ever did, providing the playwright Tony Kushner and others with a powerful metaphor.

But there is a sense that these recent artistic creations are partly a response, maybe partly unconscious, to the current state of sex in our society, where it can often feel like just another form of the cheap entertainment and distraction that now pushes in from all sides. That impression is fed by proliferating cable channels and the Internet, where the leak of the latest celebrity sex video already seems like a weary ritual, not more much momentous than the latest short-lived reality series….

The sociologist Alan Wolfe, who has conducted hundreds of interviews over the last two decades for books about the country’s beliefs and politics, said he saw a reflection in such works of the way people seem to struggle now for a greater sense of societal structure. “They do want to go back to a more conventional sexuality, morality, whatever,” said Mr. Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College. “But they do not want to go back to an era of repression. So a kind of muddled, middle position is where it seems to me that most Americans are these days.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Books, Movies & Television, Sexuality

Today's Quiz

The median Episcopal congregation had _____ active members and average worship attendance of _____ in 2004.

Please guess the answers.

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

On the Episcopal Diocese of Montana and Truth in Advertising

If you go to the front of the webpage for the Episcopal Diocese of Montana, you will find this:

We are a member of the Episcopal Church in the USA, an Anglican Communion member province of 2.5 million members in 118 dioceses in the Americas and elsewhere.

Now perhaps this is because the webpage is outdated, but this needs work.

According to the most recent figures available, the 2005 parochial reports which provide the data for the 2007 Church annual, show a membership of 2,369,477 “in the Americas and elsehwere.” (For the record, the 2006 Episcopal Church annual lists membership at 2,405, 165). But keep in mind that the figure for membership for the domestic dioceses in TEC (The Episcopal Church) itself is now 2,205,376, and the average Sunday attendance is less than 800,000.

Blog readers are encouraged to send in examples of these or other kinds of inaccuracies, if there are such, in your own dioceses–KSH.

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

Notable and Quotable

Before us in proud humiliation stood the embodiment of manhood: men whom neither toils and sufferings, nor the fact of death, nor disaster, nor hopelessness could bend from their resolve; standing before us now, thin, worn, and famished, but erect, and with eyes looking level into ours, waking memories that bound us together as no other bond; was not such manhood to be welcomed back into a Union so tested and assured?

… when the head of each division column comes opposite our group, our bugle sounds the signal and instantly our whole line from right to left, regiment by regiment in succession, gives the soldier’s salutation, from the ‘order arms’ to the old ‘carry,’ the marching salute.

Gordon at the head of the column, riding with heavy spirit and downcast face, catches the sound of shifting arms, looks up, and, taking the meaning, wheels superbly, making with himself and his horse one uplifted figure, with profound salutation as he drops the point of his sword to the boot toe; then facing to his own command, gives word for his successive brigades to pass us with the same position of the manual ”” honor answering honor.

On our part not a sound of trumpet more, nor roll of drum; not a cheer, nor word nor whisper of vain-glorying, nor motion of man standing again at the order, but an awed stillness rather, and breath-holding, as if it were the passing of the dead!

— Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain [1828-1914], The Passing of the Armies, on the surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865

Posted in * General Interest, Notable & Quotable

Arabic school in N.Y.C. creates stir

In September, New York City will open the nation’s first public school dedicated to teaching Arabic and Arab culture.

Named after the Christian Arab poet Khalil Gibran, it’s one of 65 specialty dual-language schools in New York. But it’s the only one that has sparked a public controversy.

Some conservative critics have warned it could breed home-grown extremists: “A Madrassa Grows in Brooklyn,” read one provocative headline in The New York Sun. Others have attacked it for balkanizing public education, which has historically played a primary role in helping the nation’s many immigrants assimilate.

Supporters deny both claims and say the academy is designed to educate world citizens and bridge Eastern and Western cultures, something sorely needed in today’s increasingly global world.

Underlying the controversy, experts say, is a larger question of how the nation and its schools cope with the influx of Arab and Muslim immigrants during a time when the threat of Islamic terrorism sows distrust. It’s also a period in which ignorance about Arab culture and Islamic teaching runs high.

At the same time, however, US intelligence and law-enforcement agencies desperately need qualified Arab speakers to navigate the changed world.

“As a country, we still have a certain degree of fear in the aftermath of 9/11, and to a very great degree it exists because there are so many misconceptions still about what it means to be an Arab and what it means to be a Muslim,” says Nial Ibrahim, executive director of the Arab American Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington. “Arabs and Arab-Americans ultimately look for the same things for their children [as any American]: a chance to get a meaningful education, an ability to improve on what their parents accomplished, and the opportunity to live in peace with their neighbors.”

When the New York Department of Education announced in mid-February that one of the new schools slated to open in September would be the Khalil Gibran International Academy, there was little fanfare. But within weeks, some parents at the school that was to share a location with the new academy objected, saying it would create overcrowding. Then conservative columnists at The New York Sun began warning that the new school could breed extremism.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education