Daily Archives: June 9, 2007

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori speaks to Bill Moyers

BILL MOYERS: As I read about the conflict in your church, what I find is that both sides treat the Bible as their source, but they come to totally opposite conclusions as to what the Bible says. What do you make of that? As a scientist and a believer.

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Our ways of reading Scripture shape the conclusions we come to. And often what we go looking for shapes the conclusions about what we read. I’ll give you a– you know, a loaded example. The story of David and Jonathan.

You know, Canonically, the traditional way of reading that has been about the friendship between two men. It says in the Scripture that David loved Jonathan with a love surpassing women. Many gay and lesbian people in our church today say, “This is a text – that says something constructive about the love between people of the same gender.” Yet our tradition has rarely been able to look at it with those eyes. I think that’s a fertile ground for some serious Biblical scholarship and some encounter from people who come to different conclusions.

BILL MOYERS: If biology, as I understand it does, tells us that homosexuality is– is a genetic given. And religion says homosexuality is a sin in the eyes of God, can those two perceptions ever be reconciled?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: How do we come to a conclusion that it’s a sin in the eyes of God?

BILL MOYERS: Well, you’re the-

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: What texts do we read that-

BILL MOYERS: But you know, all of your adversaries say that it is.

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: Well, I would have them go back to the very sources they find so black and white about that, and ask what’s the context of this passage? What was it written to address? What was going on underneath it that this appears to speak to? And I think we find when we do some very serious scholarship, that in almost every case, it’s speaking about a cultural context that looks nothing like the one in which we’re wrestling with homosexuality today.

BILL MOYERS: So how do you read– Jonathan and David, that story?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: I think it’s got some– challenging things to say to us who have said for hundreds of years, thousands of years that it’s inappropriate for two men to love each other in that way.

BILL MOYERS: Is this a moral issue to you?

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: It’s a moral issue in the sense that part of the job of a church is to help all Christians grow up into the full stature of Christ. It’s to help all of us to lead holy lives The question is what does that holy life look like?

BILL MOYERS: Well, many conservative, traditional Christians say that the homosexual life is not a holy life.

BISHOP KATHARINE JEFFERTS SCHORI: They would say that it’s only holy if it’s celibate. And I think we’ve got more examples out of Scripture even to offer in challenge to that.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology)

Church of England Calls Sony Game 'Sick'

The Church of England accused Sony Corp. (SNE) on Saturday of using an English cathedral as the backdrop to a violent computer game and said it should be withdrawn from shop shelves.

The church said Sony did not ask for permission to use Manchester cathedral and demanded an apology.

The popular new PlayStation 3 game, “Resistance: Fall of Man,” shows a virtual shootout between rival gunmen with hundreds of people killed inside the cathedral. Church officials described Sony’s alleged use of the building as “sick” and sacrilegious.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Religion & Culture

Today's Quiz: Early Twentieth Century Home Ownership in Britain

On the eve of the First World War, home ownership in Britain stood at _____ per cent. Take a guess.

Posted in * General Interest

Bush, Pope Discuss War in Iraq

President Bush, deeply unpopular here and met by boisterous protests, sought to impress Pope Benedict XVI and the Italian public on Saturday with his humanitarian record and downplayed differences with the Vatican over Iraq.
In his meeting with Bush, the Vatican said the pope raised “the worrisome situation in Iraq.”

“He was concerned that the society that was evolving would not tolerate the Christian religion,” Bush explained at a news conference with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi during the president’s swing through Europe.

“He’s worrisome about the Christians inside Iraq being mistreated by the Muslim majority.”

Bush met with the prime minister several hours after his first sit- down with Benedict. Bush and Benedict appeared intent to look beyond their differences in Iraq.

The war was vigorously opposed by the late Pope John Paul II, and Benedict, in his Easter message, denounced the “continual slaughter” in Iraq and said that “nothing positive” is happening.”

Bush said he assured the pope””whom he described as “very smart, loving man”””that the United States was working hard to ensure that the Iraqi people live up to their constitution in treating Christians fairly.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Iraq War, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

A Reconvened Diocese of South Carolina Convention Today

After some discussion, we met in a reconvened convention today and suspended a previous rule by more than the required 2/3 majority in both orders, and a new electing Convention will likely convene in early August. Parishes will need to elect new delegates for the express purpose of sending them to this new electing Convention.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

A Tentative First Step in Addressing Faith and Politics

Almost a century ago, G. K. Chesterton made a comment that could most appropriately be applied to Monday night’s forum at which leading Democratic presidential candidates discussed faith and politics: anything worth doing “is worth doing badly.”

The purpose of the forum, organized by the liberal evangelical journal Sojourners and broadcast on CNN, was to hear what Democratic contenders might say about religion and whether they might convincingly enlarge the list of religious and moral (or “values”) questions to include topics like poverty, war and the environment rather than only those emphasized by the religious right.

Not a bad idea. Clearly, the nation and first of all the Democrats could use a better, broader, more sophisticated conversation about religion and politics.

Yet it is hard to imagine anyone serious about either of these subjects watching Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator Barack Obama and former Senator John Edwards on Monday without cringing at some of the questions or chafing at some of the speechifying and the general absence of intelligent follow-up.

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

Jonathan Sacks: Can we really learn to love people who aren’t like us?

The humorist Alan Coren was told by his publisher that if he wanted to write a bestseller it should be about sport or pets. So he wrote a book called Golfing for Cats. Today I suspect his publisher would tell him to attack religion. Atheism sells.

First The End of Faith by Sam Harris was a success in the US. Then came Daniel Dennett’s Breaking the Spell, Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion and A. C. Grayling’s Against all Gods. And now Christopher Hitchens’s God is not Great is high in the charts both sides of the Atlantic.

There have been, of course, various ecclesiastical ripostes, usually that atheism is itself a faith and you can have secular fundamentalists as well as religious ones. This is fine if we enjoy knockabout polemics, but if we are honest, it’s not good enough.

There is a story told about the 1st-century Jewish teacher Yochanan ben Zakkai. A Roman challenged him about a Jewish ritual. Pure superstition, he said. Not so, said the rabbi, and gave him an answer that made sense in terms of his questioner’s beliefs. The Roman went away satisfied. But the rabbi’s disciples said: “You answered him. What will you answer us?”

That is the real question. Atheism does not come from nowhere. Agnosticism and indifference do; people drift, religion ceases to inspire, there are other things to do. Atheism is different….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

Dispute grows over 'abrasive' Oxford principal

Pressure is mounting on Church of England authorities to take action against the principal of an Oxford theological college accused of alienating staff.

The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones, is being urged to withdraw his support for the Rev Richard Turnbull, the principal of Wycliffe Hall, who has been criticised for his allegedly abrasive management style and conservative brand of Christianity.

Alister McGrath, a leading theologian and Wycliffe’s previous principal, has pulled out of delivering a prestigious lecture in Liverpool in protest at the lack of action by Bishop Jones, who is the chairman of the hall’s governing council.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Bishop Jecko led without losing his humanity

Sherry Magill, president of the duPont Fund, said Bishop Jecko’s involvement with the organization will be missed.

“Though our time together was too brief, he was both thoughtful and diligent in his work as a trustee,” Magill said.

Before becoming bishop of Florida, Bishop Jecko was rector at St. Michael’s in Gainesville and then served as Cerveny’s assistant. He came to Florida in 1984 after serving parishes in New York, according to the Episcopal Diocese of Florida Web site.

Bishop Jecko’s death is especially difficult to take because it seemed until recently that his cancer was under control, McCaslin said.

“We’ve known for months now that he has been under treatment for cancer, but they thought they were licking it,” he said.

“But the last month or so, things began to take a turn for the worse and the end came very rapidly,” McCaslin said.

Bishop Jecko is survived by his wife, Joan, and sons Bryan and Sean.

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

Executive Council Seeks to Boost Diocesan Contributions

The Rev. Gay Jennings will present a Diocesan Commitments Task Force report to members of the administration and finance committee of Executive Council when council meets June 11-14 at the Sheraton Hotel and Convention Center in Parsippany, N.J.

Council approved creation of the task force at its last meeting in March. Resolution AF-21 proposed several steps to address what at the time was a $3.8 million budget deficit. Among the steps taken was creation of the task force to “develop strategies for increasing participation and accountability by dioceses that are not fully meeting their commitment to the budget for The Episcopal Church.”

At a press conference at the close of the March meeting, Josephine Hicks, chair of the administration and finance committee and sponsor of the approved resolution, said council was seeking ways of making formal contact with, not sanctions against, those dioceses that are not donating to the program budget of the General Convention at the recommended assessment formula rate.

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

Movie recommendation: Waitress

Don’t read any reviews, and go see it. I am serious. One of the best portrayals of blue collar life on the screen in as long as I can remember, with a fantastic lead performance.

Now that I have seen it I read the reviews. One wrote: “The writer-director Adrienne Shelly…took such perishable ingredients as wit, daring, poignancy, whimsy and romance, added passionate feelings plus the constant possibility of joy, decorated her one-of-a-kind production with pastel colors and created something close to perfection.” I don’t disagree with a word–and besides, it has Andy Griffith!

Posted in * By Kendall, * Culture-Watch, Movies & Television

Bishop Richard Randerson Profiled: A devil for the detail

Later, in his rather spartan office, the bishop says that despite his many scholarly articles people still do not understand his position on faith. Sitting there in a brown v-necked Rodd & Gunn jersey over his purple cassock, and wearing a pair of shoes cleaned so many times the black leather wrinkles like parchment, Bishop Randerson explains he used the word “agnostic” only when debating the theories of evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. He was asked if he could scientifically prove that God exists. And he says, “you can’t prove God by science.”

On the other hand, the bishop believes passionately in God “as in the person known as Jesus Christ. I endorse that 100 per cent. That’s what my whole life has been about.”

It is Bishop Randerson’s careful theology, his dedication to truth and bridging the gap between science and religion that has led him into controversy over and over again. He does not accept the literal meaning of the virgin birth – and many of the other stories of the Old Testament.

“It can be very upsetting for people who think, ‘well that’s the truth: it’s a gynaecological miracle that I believe in’,” explains Bishop Randerson. “Yet often in the process of that [belief] they are missing what that story is about – which is that the divine and the human meet perfectly in Jesus. The miracle can distract people from the deeper understanding.”

Similarly with the story of Adam and Eve, which he explains away as one of many “symbolic stories” attached to the Bible. “Adam in Hebrew means humankind,” he says. “Eve means life. When we’re talking about Adam and Eve, we’re talking about the generic meaning of life. They’re generic stories about the truths of human life.”

He has also stuck his neck on the chopping block over gay marriage (he would welcome it if the church did).

The bishop’s modern ideas may have an appeal. Holy Trinity still draws 150 to Sunday communion and around 80 to evensong. Although the controversy over their leader’s agnosticism may have upset some of his flock, many more “on the margins” got engaged in the argument.

Bishop Randerson’s attitudes, delivered in a warm, measured voice, may make the Anglican Church far more acceptable to the educated than insistence on literal, blind faith. As he says, bringing the church into the scientific era has been his life’s work. “That’s what it’s all about – that’s what I’ve had a passion to do … There are many people who’ll say ‘if I’ve got to believe that Jesus was literally born from a virgin I have to rubbish the whole Christian thing just on the basis of that’.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces

Kelvin Holdsworth Blogging from the Scottish Episcopal Church General Synod

.A very cool resource.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Scottish Episcopal Church

For ”˜Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ Split on Party Lines

The presidential candidates are dividing starkly along party lines on one of the signature fights of the 1990s: whether the 14-year-old policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell” should be repealed and gay men and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military.

In back-to-back debates in New Hampshire this week, every Democratic candidate raised his or her hand in support of repealing that policy, while not a single Republican embraced the idea. Democrats argued with striking unanimity that it was time to end the uneasy compromise that President Bill Clinton reached in 1993, after his attempt to lift the ban on gay men and lesbians in the military provoked one of the most wrenching fights of his young administration.

Republicans countered that the policy should not be changed, certainly not in time of war.

It is a dispute that underscores the continuing power of social issues ”” like gay rights and abortion ”” in each party’s nominating contest, even as the larger debate revolves around a divisive war. And it shows the Democrats returning to yet another issue that confounded them in the past ”” like universal health care ”” with the conviction that the public is more ready for change this time.

Democratic leaders have been moving away from “don’t ask, don’t tell” for some time now; Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York renounced the policy in 1999, when she was first running for the Senate. In the 2000 presidential primary campaign, the two leading Democrats, Vice President Al Gore and Senator Bill Bradley, also called for the policy’s repeal.

The issue flared anew because it came up in this week’s debates, not because of any big new campaign initiative on either side. But aside from policy considerations, there is a political rationale for the Democrats’ stance: Gay men and lesbians make up an important part of the Democratic Party’s political and fund-raising base, and voters in general are increasingly tolerant on gay issues related to employment and discrimination, analysts say. While gay marriage remains deeply divisive, allowing openly gay men and lesbians to serve in time of war has a far more centrist appeal, advocates and analysts say.

Geoffrey Garin, a Democratic pollster who also works for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, argues, “Iraq and the war on terror have created a whole new narrative around the issue of gays serving in the military.” Advocates of changing the policy increasingly argue that it is costing the military talent and manpower it badly needs.

On the other hand, there are political risks, which Republican candidates hinted at this week….

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