Daily Archives: June 18, 2007

Neal Michell: What the Kenyan Initiative Means

The Province of Kenya issued a statement on Wednesday, June 13, 2007, announcing its intention to consecrate The Rev. Canon Bill Atwood as a Suffragan Bishop “to support the international interests of the Anglican Church of Kenya, including support of Kenyan clergy and congregations in North America.” Their further “goal is to collaborate with faithful Anglicans (including those in North America who are related with other provinces). A North American Anglican Coalition can provide a safe haven for those who maintain historic Anglican faith and practice, and offer a way to live and work together in the furtherance of the Gospel.”

So, what does this mean? It is illustrative of the truism, “nature abhors a vacuum.”

In this analogy, nature is the Anglican Communion. What is the vacuum? The lack of leadership from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

I have long been a supporter of the Archbishop’s leadership and the difficult position that he has been in. I have gleaned his writings and comments for those tidbits that would give an indication of the direction in which he would lead the Communion.

He has been quoted to say that “actions have consequences,” leading me, and others, to believe that he would allow the TEC to suffer the consequences of their decisions in some form of discipline. He said that he gave a September 30th deadline for the assurances from the American Episcopal House of Bishops so that invitations to Lambeth could be sent out or withdrawn in response to the American bishops’ responses. He said that the primates would decide what course of action they would take.

This all made sense in light of his perceived ecclesiology: he did not want to make an arbitrary decision that would give subsequent Archbishops of Canterbury more power that might be abused later; he had a conciliar view of the authority of the church and its bishops. All this made sense to me until the invitations to Lambeth were issued in an untimely manner, and the actions of the American Episcopal church bishops that consented to and consecrated the bishop of New Hampshire that has caused this rupture in the Communion.

The act of issuing these invitations at this time has shown that some actions have not had any consequences. The American House of Bishops’ response to the Primates’ Communiqué from Dar es Salaam clearly rejected the pastoral scheme of the Communiqué and dismissive of the underlying concerns of the Primates.

Since the actions of the American Church seem to have no consequences with respect to the full Communion, contrary to their stated concerns, we are left with the consequences of inaction. The inaction of the primates as a whole and our Archbishop of Canterbury have resulted in the consequences of yet another Anglican bishop being consecrated by another foreign (African) province to provide oversight for churches who want to leave the Episcopal Church because the actions of their American bishops have been shown to have no consequences at the international level.

In short: nature abhors a vacuum. Because the conciliar vision expounded by the Archbishop of Canterbury is either not working or not being followed we are left with everyone doing what is right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6). This has led to the multiplicity of foreign jurisdiction Anglican bishops in the United States, lawsuit upon lawsuit, inhibition and deposition upon early resignation and retirement.

How does Jesus view us? I suspect just as he did when he saw the crowds: “he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

We are a bishop-based church. Whether one believes that bishops are of the esse or the bene esse of the church, it is time for our bishops, both primates and diocesans, and especially the Archbishop of Canterbury, and in consultation with the Archbishop of York, to step up and bring some order out of this chaos. We are witnessing the breakup of the Anglican Communion before our very eyes. It has been given to the primates to enforce their own Communiqué. If they do not, the Anglican witness in the United States will truly be diverse, with a multiplicity American-born Caucasian bishops from Bolivia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, Venezuela, overseeing their little niches of Anglicans in the United States, while the greater cause of Christ is hampered by our sad divisions that speak the lie to all our self-affirmations of unity. Maybe this is what God wants. Maybe this is what Anglicanism deserves.

–The Rev. Canon Dr. Neal O. Michell is Canon Missioner for Strategic Development in the Diocese of Dallas; this is posted here with his permission

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, Theology

TitusOneNine Top Ten: Week of June 11-17

It seemed obvious all week that the most hotly discussed blog entries would be related to the Executive Council meeting and last week’s news about the Anglican Church of Kenya’s announcement that Canon Bill Atwood will be consecrated as a missionary bishop for North America. However, a late entry posted yesterday afternoon just barely eclipsed those entries to emerge as the past week’s comment leader.

Here are the stories from June 11-17 with the most comments as of 14:00 EDT / 18:00 GMT today, June 18. It was definitely an interesting week in the Anglican blogosphere.

1. A Seattle Episcopal Priest says: “I am both Muslim and Christian” (74)
2. Nigerian Gay Rights Advocate Addresses Executive Council (72)
3. Network welcomes Kenya’s decision to care for U.S. Anglicans (58)
4. Two More Articles on the recently concluded Executive Council Meeting in New Jersey (50)
5. Statement from the Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi (47)
6. From AP: Episcopal panel rejects Anglican demand (46)
7. Homosexuality & the Church: Two Views from Eve Tushnet and Luke Timothy Johnson (41)
8. Carolyn J Sharp Responds to the Proposed Anglican Draft Covenant (39)
9. Executive Council Rejects Primates’ Pastoral Plan; Insists on Diocesan Accession Clause (39)
10. Newark Diocese Addresses Executive Council, Moves Forward on Same-Sex Blessing (34)

Posted in * Admin, * General Interest, Top Ten on T19

Michael Medved: A war on memory

What shocking visual image inspires so much fear, disgust and outrage that even in this era of unfettered free expression, federal courts feel compelled to take drastic steps to cover it up?

(Judges will rarely use their power to hide public sculptures depicting sadistic brutality, or to obscure billboards peddling sex and nudity, but in the California desert they’ve ordered the concealment of a simple white cross that has honored the nation’s war dead for more than 70 years.

In 1934, the Veterans of Foreign Wars erected a monument on a barren hilltop known as “Sunrise Rock” in the Mojave National Preserve to commemorate “the dead of all wars.” More than a half-century later, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California challenged the memorial, claiming that it violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because the cross (recognized by the government as a war memorial) stood on public land. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the dismantling of the monument, but Congress took action in 2004 to authorize the transfer of the ground surrounding the cross to private parties.

A federal district judge invalidated that transaction, even as officials responsible for the desert refuge took steps to hide the cross while the legal wrangling continued. Government agents covered the offending crossbeam with boards, making it look like a crude screen, or a shallow box, perched incongruously on a stick in the middle of the California desert.

The absurd status of this ongoing struggle shouldn’t obscure its serious and alarming undercurrents including a common attitude among militant “separationists” that treats Christian symbols with more hostility and less tolerance than those of any other religious tradition.

Read it all.

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

Terence Finlay: It's time for Anglicans to bless same-sex partnerships

The Anglican Church of Canada has been far behind the governments and courts of this country in recognizing the rights and privileges of same-sex partnerships. Although the church has passed statements of welcome and support, same-sex couples have not been able to have their commitment to one another blessed within their parish church.

This month the national decision-making body of the Anglican Church of Canada will meet in Winnipeg and one of the agenda items could open up an option for supportive dioceses to bless same-sex partnerships. If, however, this option is denied again there will be a call for more study and more discussion even though the Anglican Church in Canada has studied and debated this issue for over 30 years.

Caution has held sway over the decades because it is a divisive issue for Christian traditionalists and because the Anglican Church has to work within a vast international communion that struggles with cross-cultural tensions.
To many in the secular world this rift within Anglicanism may seem unimportant: a sign of yet another moribund institution unable to ”˜keep up with the times’. Not so; this struggle is much more broadly instructive because it is about the risks ”“and promises ”“ of communal decision-making. It is about the openness that societal organizations must allow for successful local autonomy, while at the same time fostering a broader sense of identity and kinship with those from whom they differ.

Read it all (subscription required) or read it there.

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

The MinuteMan Takes Paul Krugman to Task

Europe was racked by two world wars in the last century, both of which created near-famine conditions. Presumably, this caused Euro-heights to lag that of Americans, an effect that probably skews data until we get to Europeans born after, say, 1955. In other words, when Paul Krugman saw eye-to-eye with Europeans in the early 1970’s, he was looking at a lot of war-deprived shorties.

However, regardless of the absolute wealth of Europe versus the United States, from about 1955 onwards (or, in terms of measuring adults, form about 1975 onwards), one would expect Europe to increase more quickly than the US, simply because they are moving up from a war-depressed baseline.

Second problem – what is the ethnic mix of Europe relative to the United States? I would hazard a guess that healthy, well-fed Swedes are taller than healthy, well-fed Irish or Italians. The United States has descendants from all three countries, but I would hardly be surprised to learn that Sweden has surpassed the US in height. But are the Irish in Ireland taller than their US counterparts? Are the Scandinavians in this country lagging the Scandinavians who stayed behind? Who knows?

And an alternative explanation – rather than blaming America’s work ethic, let’s idly speculate that the cause is the general European welfare state.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Health & Medicine

5 Chinese arrested in enslavement case

Authorities in northern China have arrested five people accused of starving and beating workers at a brick kiln to keep them enslaved, state media reported Monday.

The suspects were arrested for “illegally holding and deliberately injuring laborers … and forcing them to do highly intensive manual labor,” the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The five include the kiln boss, the foreman and three hired thugs, Xinhua said. It said police are looking for three others in connection with the case, which has shocked China and exposed links between Communist Party officials and the kiln owners.

A man who answered the telephone at the Shanxi provincial public security bureau confirmed the arrests but would not give any details.

Heng Tinghan, the foreman, accused of using slave workers since March, was captured in central China’s Hubei province Saturday night after a nationwide hunt.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia

Canadian Anglicans Tackle Gay Rites

From the Winnipeg Sun:

Planning a wedding is usually complicated, taking months to sort out a seemingly endless parade of details.

For Frank Kajfes, 60, the months leading up to the big day with Bryan Wannop, his partner of 30 years, were difficult for another reason.

As Anglicans, it was important to Kajfes and Wannop, 70, to have a religious component to their wedding. Since the church doesn’t allow its priests to bless same-sex unions, having Kajfes and Wannop at the altar on their wedding day was a delicate matter.

Church leaders came up with a clever compromise.

Before they were legally married by a Federal Court judge at the end of a regular Sunday mass, they were prayed for by the entire congregation of St. John the Evangelist in Ottawa — instead of just the priest.

“They were blessing us, not our marriage. That was a technical point,” said Kajfes.

“It was the closest thing they could do without contravening the bishop’s directives.”

Read it all.

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

Some Canadian Synod coverage links

Scott at Magic Statistics blog has a good listing of links for those wanting to follow the Canadian General Synod as coverage by various orthodox bloggers.

Oh, and Scott, here’s another link for your roundup. We category-loving elves have created a Canadian General Synod category for all the Canadian Synod news here on T19.

From Magic Statistics blog:

The big event is almost here. On Tuesday morning, a week of festivities kicks off as General Synod 2007 convenes in downtown Winnipeg. Lots of important stuff will be discussed and voted upon. A new primate will be chosen on Friday 22 June, with formal installation scheduled for the following Monday.

You can follow the action via the internets. Here are a few suggested sources.

Anglican Essentials Canada is running a blog where they will endeavour to post the latest news as it happens. The blogmeister is Peter (I don’t know if he’s ever mentioned his last name online), proprietor of the fine blog The Age To Come. He’s from an orthodox Anglican parish on the south side of Calgary. AEC also has a page of general information about General Synod 2007 and another on the AEC 24/7 prayer vigil.

The mighty, mighty webelf Binky oversees the CaNN General Synod 2007 blog. At last report, Binky has been laid low by the hot humid weather out east, combined with other health problems. Prayers, please.

Also in attendance will be my friend The Rev Joseph Walker, of St Timothy’s, Edmonton. Joe’s been making fun of certain Anglican leaders and talking about going on pub crawls with Winnipeg Anglican priest Preston Parsons, so I don’t know if Joe will be a reliable news source. On the other hand, he may be able to report dirt information that no one else can, so stay tuned to his blog felix hominum.

For those who want the official line, the Anglican Church of Canada says it will provide webcast and other coverage here.

Much prayer is needed for the bloggers, for their jobs demand stamina, quick thinking, and nimble fingers. Pray also for the clergy and lay delegates, for they will need our Lord’s wisdom and guidance.

In the run-up to GS 2007, Anglican prayer blog Lent & Beyond has posted a series of prayers for Canada. This one was posted today:

O Lord,
The Anglican Church of Canada is fragmented and in need of rebuilding. Turn the hearts of its leaders to fear and obey You that they may become like a signet ring, carrying the authority of Jesus, teaching Your people to obey everything He has commanded, and making disciples of all nations.

Lord, it is our hearts’ desire that the Anglican Church of Canada be rebuilt upon the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the cornerstone. All authority is given to Jesus in heaven and in earth. Rebuild this church on Jesus, dear Lord. Amen.

Haggai, Matthew 28:18-20, Ephesians 2:20

You can read Scott’s full post, including links to previous background on General Synod here.

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

Mark Steyn: Beware of government as the last action hero

From the Orange Country Register:

The other day, six Anglican archbishops called for the church to bless the unions of same-sex couples. The Anglican Church of Canada is about to have a big vote on the issue, and depending which way they swing it will either deepen the schism within the worldwide Anglican Communion or further isolate the Episcopal Church of the United States.

But never mind all that. What struck me was the rationale the archbishops came up with. This gay thing, they sighed. We’ve been yakking about it for years. Let’s just get on with it, and then we can get back to the important stuff. “We are deeply concerned that ongoing study,” they fretted, “will only continue to draw us away from issues which are gradually destroying God’s creation ”“ child poverty, racism, global warming, economic injustice, concern for our aboriginal brothers and sisters and the growing disparity between the rich and the poor.”

That’s it? Anglicans need to fast-track a liturgy for gay couples so they can free up time to deal with the real issues like global warming? Half that catalogue of horrors seems to be different ways of saying the same thing (“child poverty”¦ economic injustice”¦ growing disparity”) in order to give a bit of pro forma padding to the totally cool cause du jour of global warming. Which is so cool that, if an Anglican archbishop shows up at a climate-change conference, he’ll be lucky to get in the room, and if he does he’ll be stuck at the table with the wonky leg next to the toilet, barely able to see the Most Reverend Almer Gortry up on stage doing his power-point presentation and warning that rising sea levels will send tidal waves crashing through every gay wedding reception in Provincetown by Saturday afternoon.

Read it all.

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

Analysis: older churchgoers in Britain

From Religious Intelligence:

Of the 3.2 million people going to church on an average Sunday in England, over 900,000 are 65 or over. That is one person in nine over 65 in the entire country.

The opportunity therefore to reach out to other folk in the country is huge, which is exactly what Manchester diocese found when they started their “Back to Church” campaign in 2005, and what the recently published Tearfund survey showed of some 3 million waiting to be invited back to church. A good many of such people are older people.

Through the wonders of modern health science we are living longer on average, and over the past 50 years the expectation of life, for both men and women, is some eight or nine years more, although women usually continue to live longer than men. Since until very recently the normal retirement age was 60 or 65 (that is, the extra years were not translated into an extended working life), these “extra years” being mostly when people are between 65 and 74. Those who are 75 today are often of similar health and energy as those who were 65 in 1957.

Read it all.

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

The best bookmark for TitusOneNine

For those of you who have mentioned that when you first get on the T19 homepage it is not correctly displaying whether you are currently logged in, thanks to Greg G., we figured out the problem. Make sure you are using this bookmark for TitusOneNine: http://new.kendallharmon.net/t19 (i.e. with the full www and also the /t19).

At one point we were publicizing the link as http://kendallharmon.net That link works and will get you to the site, but the above link is better and will enable the blog to properly display your login status whenever you visit the blog.

Posted in * Admin, Blog Tips & Features

Some Anglican gays switching churches, as same-sex vote looms

While the Anglican Church of Canada prepares to vote this week on whether to let priests bless same-sex couples, a relaxed Christopher McBain is celebrating Edmonton’s gay pride week with members of his new church.

The former Anglican marched Saturday in the gay pride parade behind a banner for the Robertson-Wesley United Church, a church that welcomes gay, lesbian and transgendered people.

After 15 years as an Anglican, McBain left that church in April 2006.

“I left because of the gay issue,” said McBain, who said he never felt comfortable telling people in the Anglican Church he is gay.

The Anglican church’s longtime indecision over the issue has served to alienate supporters on both sides, McBain said.

“I’ll certainly celebrate with them if they are able to make a decision in favour of gay and lesbian rights, but it certainly won’t affect where I worship. It’s too little, too late,” said McBain, 27.

The issue of blessing same-sex unions is slated to go before the Anglican Church’s General Synod, the governing body of the Anglican Church of Canada, which begins its weeklong meeting in Winnipeg on Tuesday.

About 350 delegates representing bishops, clergy and lay people will discuss a so-called “local option” resolution that would let each diocese decide whether to perform the blessings.

Critics have said such a move would split the church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Michael Goldfarb: Antioch College, RIP

For the increasingly vocal radical members of the community, change wasn’t going far enough or fast enough. They wanted revolution, but out there in the middle of the cornfields the only “bourgeois” thing to fight was Antioch College itself. The let’s-try-anything, free-thinking society of 1968 evolved into a catastrophic blend of legitimate paranoia (Nixon did keep enemies lists, and the F.B.I. did infiltrate campuses) and postadolescent melodrama. In 1973, a strike trashed the campus and effectively destroyed Antioch’s spirit of community. The next year, student enrollment was down by half.

Most of the talented faculty members began to leave for other institutions, and the few who were dedicated to rebuilding the Yellow Springs campus found themselves increasingly isolated. The college that gave the Antioch University system its name had become just another profit center in a larger enterprise and not even the most important one at that.

Antioch College became a rump where the most illiberal trends in education became entrenched. Since it is always easier to impose a conformist ethos on a small group than a large one, as the student body dwindled, free expression and freedom of thought were crushed under the weight of ultraliberal orthodoxy. By the 1990s the breadth of challenging ideas a student might encounter at Antioch had narrowed, and the college became a place not for education, but for indoctrination. Everyone was on the same page, a little to the left of The Nation in worldview.

Much of this conformist thinking focused on gender politics, and it culminated in the notorious sexual offense prevention policy. Enacted in 1993, the policy dictated that a person needed express permission for each stage in seduction. (“May I touch your breast?” “May I remove your bra?” And so on.) In two decades students went from being practitioners of free love to prisoners of gender. Antioch became like one of those Essene communities in the Judean desert in the first century after Christ that, convinced of their own purity, died out while waiting for a golden age that never came.

I grieve for the place with all the sadness, anger and self-reproach you feel when a loved one dies unnecessarily. I grieve for Antioch the way I grieve for the hope of 1968 washed away in a tide of self-inflated rhetoric, self-righteousness and self-indulgence.

The ideals of social justice and economic fairness we embraced then are still right and deeply American. The discipline to turn those ideals into realities was what Antioch, its community and the generation it led was lacking. I fear it still is.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

The Presiding Bishop and Bonnie Anderson Review the recent Executive Council Meeting

Check it out.

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

How Donald Landry reconciled science with religion and got the attention of Washington

From the front page of Saturday’s Wall Street Journal:

One morning in April, Dr. Donald Landry, the interim chairman of Columbia University’s department of medicine, boarded a 3 a.m. train from New York to Washington, D.C. He was there for an unfamiliar kind of meeting: Though he’s neither a political insider nor a stem-cell specialist, Dr. Landry was in the capital to tell two dozen U.S. Senate staffers how he proposed to sidestep the ethical concerns that have largely blocked stem-cell research. Back at home later that day, Dr. Landry and his two teenage sons watched on C-Span as senators debated the merits of a plan the doctor had hatched during off-hours musing a few years earlier.

“It was surreal,” says Dr. Landry.

Dr. Landry’s unlikely brush with national policy making culminates a personal journey that began years before, when the devout Catholic grappled with an ethical dilemma. As a man of faith, he believed harvesting stem cells from a human embryo was an immoral destruction of life. As a doctor, he believed stem-cell advances could save lives.

His solution — which involved extracting stem cells from dead embryos rather than live ones — turned out to be persuasive, and it has led to a new avenue of research. It will also figure prominently in a conflict that is likely to come to a head in coming weeks: President George W. Bush is expected to veto a bill that would provide government funding for research using stem cells derived from living embryos that are unused by fertility clinics. Instead, the White House has signaled that it prefers legislation that incorporates Dr. Landry’s proposal, among others.

The doctor has been to the White House to discuss his stem-cell approach, and is due for another visit in coming days. The state of New York has provided $1 million to help Dr. Landry, 53, kick-start his own experiments at Columbia. “The destruction of nascent human life is something that society should be wary of,” Dr. Landry says. “I think I’ve found a potentially simple answer to the problem.”

Dr. Landry’s answer has drawn fire from other scientists. Harold Varmus, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1989 and is president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, says the approach is scientifically dubious. The bill that includes the Landry proposal, he says, is an effort to “provide political cover for people who want it both ways — to say they voted for stem cells, but without offending their political base.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Life Ethics, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology

A Definitive Portrait of the Struggle in the Episcopal Church

Check it out and listen to it all.

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

Nathaniel Pierce Chimes In

Count me as one of the persons puzzled by the response of the Executive Council to the 2/19/07 Communique from the Primates and subsequent comments on this list. Our discussion would be improved, I think, if folks took the time to read once again just exactly what the Primates actually said and the rationale they provide.

The main issue for the Primates seems to have been a perception of ambiguity about the meaning of GC Resolution B033: “(23) Further, some of us believe that Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention does not in fact give the assurances requested in the Windsor Report.” In other words, GC spoke (ie, Bishops and Deputies acted separately but concurrently) but just what does B033 mean? As we all know, the Primates are not alone in wondering about the meaning of B033.

The Primates reaffirmed their commitment to “the establishment of a Covenant” (29), indicated that “an interim response is required in the period until the Covenant is secured,” (30) and stated “such is the imperative laid on us to seek reconciliation in the Church of Christ that we have been emboldened to offer a number of recommendations.” (35) Note the word “recommendations.”

So, the Primates ask the House of Bishops, speaking only on behalf of the HoB, to clarify its understanding of B033 (in which the HoB participated) and the meaning of the absence of any resolution from GC on the blessings of same gender relationships. So, to quote the Primates:

“In particular the Primates request, through the Presiding Bishop, that the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church:

1. 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;

[Note: in effect the Primates are asking whether the March 2005 pledge by the HoB not to authorize any public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions, and not to bless any such unions at least until the 2006 GC, is still in effect.]


2. confirm that the passing of Resolution B033 of the 75th General Convention means that a candidaate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent … .

“If the reassurances requested of the HoB cannot in good conscience be given, the relationship between The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion as a whole remains damaged at best, and thus has consequences for the full participation of this Church in the life of the Communion.”

The Executive Council of TEC responded as follows:

“Still, the requests of the Primates are of a nature that can only properly be dealt with by our General Convention. Neither the Executive Council, the Presiding Bishop, nor the House of Bishops can give binding interpretations of General Convention resolutions nor make an ‘unequivocal common commitment’ to denying future decisions by dioceses or General Convention.”

So, here is the nub of the issue. The Primates have for all intents and purposes have asked the HoB of TEC to pass a “mind of the House” resolution not unlike the Port St. Lucie statement on conscience and women’s ordination in 1977 or the March 2005 pledge not to authorize any public rites for the blessing of same-sex unions. Such a resolution would speak only for the HoB; it is not binding on anyone else (at least as I understand the polity of TEC). EC has interpreted this as a “binding interpretation of General Convention resolutions” (or in the case of same-sex blessings, the meaning of the absence of any GC resolution). If I understand EC’s position correctly, such a mind of the House resolution from our Bishops acting alone somehow would be construed as binding on everydody in TEC. It feels like two ships passing in the night. And, as an aside, please tell me again who does not understand the polity of the Episcopal Church?

A more honest and forthright response from EC might have said something like this: “we support those Bishops who choose to authorize same-sex blessings, we promise not to make any attempt to force any Bishop to authorize such Rites in his/her Diocese (in sharp contrast to our recent actions on the issue of women’s ordination), and we applaud the ambiguity of B033 which will permit us to do whatever the hell we want to.”

Alas, such candor seems to be in short supply these days.

–The Rev. Nathaniel Pierce lives in Trappe, Maryland

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, TEC Conflicts

Topics For Synod Show UCC Tensions

From the Hartford Courant:

When more than 10,000 clergy and parishioners from the United Church of Christ converge on Hartford this week for their General Synod, at least half of the dozen resolutions they’ll consider will deal with issues of social justice – a more humane immigration policy, a worldwide ban on depleted uranium weapons, support of physician-assisted suicide.

In other words, bread and butter issues for a mainline denomination, known by most as the Congregational Church, that has come to be associated with its progressive – some would say liberal – stance on controversial topics like gay marriage and abortion rights.

But sandwiched between those resolutions is an almost equal number of proposals that illustrate the cost the UCC has paid for its strong social justice component.

These resolutions, which come from conferences in the Midwest and South, range from calls to “vehemently affirm” that marriage is a God-ordained relationship between a man and a woman to more measured proposals suggesting ways to keep conservative congregations from leaving the UCC.

Since the last General Synod, in 2005, when more than 80 percent of delegates voted to endorse gay marriage, at least 220 churches have left the denomination, according to Faithful and Welcoming Churches of the United Church of Christ, an organization whose stated goal is keeping estranged churches from bailing out of the UCC.

The UCC disputes these numbers, and said only 160 churches have left the denomination since 2005, and only 90 of those specifically cited the marriage resolution as their reason for leaving.

Whatever the number, it doesn’t change the underlying truth that the UCC, much like the Episcopal Church of America, is struggling to keep its family intact as it grapples with questions about its own identity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches

Father of modern science calculated: World to end in 2060

From Haaretz:

At the top of the ancient, densely written English manuscript a verse in Hebrew stands out: “Blessed is the name of His glorious kingdom for ever.” Other pages contain sketches of the Temple and calculations of the end of the world, based on verses from the Book of Daniel. The author of these mysterious ruminations was not a sorcerer nor a religious fanatic but none other than Isaac Newton, the 17th-century mathematician and physicist considered the most influential scientist of all time.

Newton’s original theological and mystical writings will be on display in a special exhibition entitled “Newton’s Secrets,” opening today at the National Library at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. This is the first time the manuscripts, in Israel since 1969, have been presented to the public. A digital version of some of the letters can be seen on the National Library’s site.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology

Notable and Quotable

…[The] Internet, ever a relentlessly democratizing force, now brings the pseudo-confession as public manipulation into every home in America. Christianity teaches that we are born in sin and struggle with it throughout our lives. The age of the Internet has added a new Warholian twist on this idea, and not for the better. We’re all still sinners but only for fifteen minutes at a time, and relegated to the message board of our choosing.

Mollie Ziegler Hemingway

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet

NY Times: In the Classroom, a New Focus on Quieting the Mind

The lesson began with the striking of a Tibetan singing bowl to induce mindful awareness.

With the sound of their new school bell, the fifth graders at Piedmont Avenue Elementary School here closed their eyes and focused on their breathing, as they tried to imagine “loving kindness” on the playground.

“I was losing at baseball and I was about to throw a bat,” Alex Menton, 11, reported to his classmates the next day. “The mindfulness really helped.”

As summer looms, students at dozens of schools across the country are trying hard to be in the present moment. This is what is known as mindfulness training, in which stress-reducing techniques drawn from Buddhist meditation are wedged between reading and spelling tests.

Mindfulness, while common in hospitals, corporations, professional sports and even prisons, is relatively new in the education of squirming children. But a small but growing number of schools in places like Oakland and Lancaster, Pa., are slowly embracing the concept ”” as they did yoga five years ago ”” and institutions, like the psychology department at Stanford University and the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, are trying to measure the effects.

During a five-week pilot program at Piedmont Avenue Elementary, Miss Megan, the “mindful” coach, visited every classroom twice a week, leading 15 minute sessions on how to have “gentle breaths and still bodies.” The sound of the Tibetan bowl reverberated at the start and finish of each lesson.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

Sunday Telegraph: Church of England 'institutionally racist'

The Church of England is “institutionally racist”, a damning internal report has concluded.

Ethnic minorities are being marginalised in parishes and black and Asian clergy have little chance of reaching the Church’s higher echelons, says the study, to be released this week.

It warns that too little has been done to tackle “institutional racism” – the phrase used to devastating effect by Sir William Macpherson, the former High Court judge, in his findings on the bungled police investigation into the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence.

The report, commissioned by the archbishops of Canterbury and York, is expected to spark a fierce debate at next month’s General Synod in York. Delegates will be asked to examine the clergy’s failure to “integrate and utilise” the gifts of ethnic minorities.

The report was drawn up by the 15-member Committee for Minority and Ethnic Anglican Concerns (CMEAC). The committee’s chairman, the Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, said that the existence of racism in wider society was not an excuse for it within the Church.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Race/Race Relations