Daily Archives: September 7, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle RIP

An AP write up is here.

Posted in Uncategorized

Via Email: Bishop Orama Denies UPI Report

In an email communication The Venerable Akintunde A. Popoola, Director of Communications for the Church of Nigeria has stated that Bishop Orama has denied making the statements attributed to him in a September 2, 2007, UPI report. Additionally, the journalist who issued the statement has given a verbal apology for the misrepresentation and has promised to print a retraction.

Update: A Living Church report is here.

Another update: UPI has made a statement also.

Posted in Uncategorized

A New York Times Editorial: Questions About a Rising Suicide Rate

A sharp jump in suicide rates among young Americans has left researchers puzzled as to the cause and wondering what lessons to draw from it. Some researchers are even suggesting that regulatory warnings about the safety of antidepressant drugs might have triggered the problem, leading doctors and their patients to shun potentially life-saving medications.

The new findings on suicide rates among 10- to 24-year-olds, reported yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are a startling reversal. From 1990 to 2003, the rate fell by more than 28 percent, from 9.48 to 6.78 suicides per 100,000 young people. From 2003 to 2004, the rate jumped back up to 7.32 per 100,000, an increase of 8 percent, the largest single-year rise in 15 years. Whether this is a short-lived increase or the start of a long-term upward trend is not yet clear.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Teens / Youth

John Wilson: Christians were part of the '60s, too

Like many children of the ’60s, Arne and Marie Bergstrom rebelled against the expectations of their middle-class families. In 1970, halfway through their undergraduate studies at the evangelical Bethel College in St. Paul, Minn., they dropped out, got married, sold all their possessions and went to do God’s work. Their journey took them to Papua New Guinea, Sudan and the Philippines (where they adopted two girls; they had two sons as well). When they settled back in the U.S., Arne’s beat was disaster relief: He went to Rwanda, Kosovo and Turkey (after a massive earthquake), to refugee camps at the Iran-Afghanistan border. Marie became an award-winning fifth-grade teacher.

A couple of months ago, our church in Wheaton, Ill., had to bid the Bergstroms goodbye. They were moving again, close to Seattle, where Arne took a position at World Vision, the Christian relief and development agency. If you had seen them standing in front of the congregation, you could hardly have failed to recognize them as aging hippies–Marie’s long straight hair, Arne’s grizzled beard–and they are both runners, thin as rails.

The Bergstroms’ story is an inspiring tale of faith in action, but it is also a goad to rethink what we mean when we talk about “the ’60s” (which, of course, can’t really be contained within a 10-year span). Canonical accounts, from both the left and the right, have systematically ignored, played down and distorted the religious dimensions of that tumultuous time.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Religion & Culture

Bishop Sgreccia: It is Monstrous to Allow Hybrid Embryos

The decision of British regulators to consider allowing the creation of hybrid embryos for use in medical experiments is “a monstrous act against human dignity,” said the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Bishop Elio Sgreccia said this today in response to the Wednesday ruling of Britain’s Human Fertilization and Embryo Authority that it would in principle allow the creation of human-animal embryos.

“The British government has given in to the requests of a group of scientists absolutely against morality,” Bishop Sgreccia told the Italian daily Il Corriere della Sera. “It is necessary that the scientific community mobilizes itself as soon as possible.”

In a statement, the British agency announced that it will now consider two specific research proposals to create such embryos — which scientists call chimeras, after the mythical Greek creature with a lion’s head, a goat’s body and a serpent’s tail. The agency expects a decision for both cases in November.

The agency added, “This is not a total green light for … hybrid research, but recognition that this area of research can, with caution and careful scrutiny, be permitted.”

Bishop Sgreccia said that Britain’s decision marks a turning point: “That frontier, of the crossroads of distinct species, has been overstepped today with the go-ahead of the British government. Up until today this had been banned in the field of biotechnology, and not only by religious associations.”

Read it all.

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

Reports Conflict About Fred Thompson's Church Membership, Attendance

A Southern Baptist Convention leader weighed into ongoing debate about GOP presidential candidate Fred Thompson’s churchmanship, claiming he attends a Presbyterian church in the Washington area “on a regular basis.”

The church’s pastor confirmed he has seen Thompson there but suggested “regular” attendance is an overstatement. And a pro-Thompson blogger said many of the now-official candidate’s religious supporters would be surprised if the Church of Christ-baptized Thompson is indeed now a Presbyterian.

Questions about Thompson’s religious affiliation have dogged the former senator and star of “Law & Order” since Focus on the Family founder James Dobson remarked in March he was under the impression that Thompson is not a Christian.

The Thompson campaign shot back by saying Thompson was baptized into the Church of Christ as a boy in the 1950s. A bio on Thompson’s exploratory Web site said he attended First Street Church of Christ while growing up in Lawrenceburg, Tenn., where he learned “the importance of family, hard work, faith and education.”

A political science professor at a Church of Christ-affiliated university responded with a tongue-in-cheek “I Saw Fred Thompson at a Church of Christ” Challenge on a blog, observing the former senator “may not be filling out an attendance card at a Church of Christ on Sundays.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

One Opportunity to Learn About the Joy of Giving

Kiva made helping some else fun. 82,000 people have thought the same as they have directly been a part of funding loans over $9 million.

It has made giving fun in a way that it hasn’t been in years. They went so far above and beyond anything else I’ve experienced. They were intentional about saying thank you, they showed me specific details about where the money was going, they invited me to get to know who else was on the team funding the project, they documented how it was being paid back and the change that took place.

Whats even more, it was sustainable.

Read it all and take the time to watch the linked video.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

Florida Episcopal priest suspended in wake of bathroom sex charges

An Episcopal priest with ties to Asheville has been suspended from his church job in Florida after officials there learned he was arrested this summer on charges of seeking sex at a Waynesville park restroom.

Father Michael Penland, 46, is charged with solicitation for crimes against nature. He is scheduled for a court hearing on Wednesday.

He was arrested in June after police said he offered sex to an undercover police officer. Six other men where charged during the three-month operation.

Officials at St. Gregory’s Church in Boca Raton, where he was director of youth ministry, told parishioners with a note on the church’s Web site that Penland is suspended.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry

From the Morning Scripture Readings

But I trust in thee, O LORD, I say, “Thou art my God.” My times are in thy hand….

Psalm 31:14,15a

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Stephen Noll–Apostolic Discipline: A Reply to Philip Wainwright

The Rev. Philip Wainwright has recently
posted an article on “Biblical Reasons for Staying” in The Episcopal Church. As a fellow priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh who has written on the issue of church discipline, particularly in our current Anglican crisis (see various essays at www.stephenswitness.com), I shall venture a brief reply.

First of all, let me appreciate the fact that Philip Wainwright is seeking God’s will from Scripture. That puts us on a common footing and, frankly, out of step with many of the leaders of the Episcopal Church today. Secondly, I am going to assume, although he does not say so directly, that Wainwright agrees with Lambeth Resolution 1.10 that “homosexual practice is contrary to Scripture” and that he agrees with Paul that those who persist in sexual immorality will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:5).

So what is at issue is not a question of doctrine or morals but of discipline, what to do when a fellow Christian or a Christian leader openly violates the clear teaching of Scripture. Philip’s reply is, in essence, “do nothing that would cause an overt break in fellowship or church order.”

Let me agree with him that the apostolic church had a liberal attitude toward those who fall into error. It hardly exercised what one would call an “off with his head” mentality. Many of Wainwright’s examples from the New Testament illustrate this pastoral liberality. However, this is not the whole story. The apostles, following Jesus’ teaching, did have two principles with which they guided the church. The first had to do with patience in timing. Jesus puts it this way:

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ”˜every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15-17)

Jesus urges his disciples to be deliberate in approaching an erring brother, to avoid shaming him in public, if possible, and to make sure that any final judgement was shared by the wider community. So yes, the Christian is to be careful and patient in disciplining a brother, but there is a final word of exclusion: treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector, which in the Jewish context means, shun him. Wainwright asserts without evidence that these words do not suggest separation from the church and its assembly and sacraments. I would argue, on the contrary, that given the specific reference of verse 17 to “tell it to the church,” it is precisely excommunication which Jesus has in mind.

The apparent contradiction between Jesus’ command with his own practice of dining with publicans and sinners is resolved when one understands the second principle of church discipline, which has to do with levels of accountability. This principle is expressed succinctly by Paul to the Corinthians in the case of the man who was found sleeping with his mother-in-law.

I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people– not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5: 9-13)

Paul distinguishes several levels of accountability. There are the pagans, those who make no claim to be Christians. He says, “who am I to judge them? leave it to God.” The proper attitude to such people is to witness to them that they might come into the light. Then there are those who call themselves Christians but who clearly violate God’s holy will. Toward those who sin, Paul implies there is a necessity of judgement, and toward those who persist in their sin there is a necessity of exclusion. To be sure, this exclusion is not eternal, and it is restorative in intention: Paul hopes that through the pain of excommunication (“destruction of the flesh”) the man at Corinth may repent and be saved. (Wainwright’s speculation that this man was received back without repentance, having married his mother-in-law, is quite a stretch.)

These two Scripture texts have been expounded at length and convincingly in an essay by Robert Gagnon of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary titled “Church Policy As Regards Homosexual Practice: Membership and Ordained Ministry” (see www.robgagnon.com). Dr. Gagnon concludes that these texts justify exclusion of openly practicing homosexuals. In my opinion, there is no difference between an openly practicing homosexual and a church leader or a church body openly advocating the practice (see Matthew 5:19).

Quite possibly, the brother in Matthew 18 and the man 1 Corinthians 5 were simply lay Christians in the church. How much less then does Paul tolerate impenitent false teachers? (Again, I find hard to swallow Wainwright’s identification of Anglican bishops like Jack Spong as “babes in Christ” who need milk, not the rod.) Once again, Paul does not rush to judgment and assumes that godly leaders like Peter can be temporarily led astray and brought back with a firm rebuke. But this is not his attitude to the Judaizing teachers in Galatia, about whom he says: “Cast out the slave woman!” and “I wish they would emasculate themselves!” (Galatians 4:30; 5:12). Indeed, to say “let them be anathema” (Galatians 1:8-9) means, let them be delivered to divine wrath for destruction (anathema being the LXX translation of the Hebrew herem or sacred destruction). In Romans 9:3 it refers to being separated from Christ. In the Pastoral Epistles, which some attribute to the sub-apostolic period, one can find a similar “intolerant” attitude toward false teachers like Hymenaeus and Alexander, of whom Paul says “I have handed them over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme” (1 Timothy 1:20).

St. John’s attitude toward false teachers is no different from St. Paul’s. In a recent private letter, Rodney Whitacre of Trinity School for Ministry notes an overarching principle of discipline:

First John is written so that the folks John addresses will remain in fellowship with God, with the truth, and with John himself as he is in fellowship with God (1 John 1.3). The antichrists were claiming to be Christians, but John says they have departed from the teachings of Christ (i.e., about Christ and His teachings about the Father) and thus have departed from God and the disciples should not have fellowship with them. I think this is the point of 2 John 9. The “progressives” have progressed right out of the faith. Now, I think when these teachings first arose in the community John remained in fellowship with the community members who were embracing the ideas as he sought to correct their error, but when they became clear in their error and settled in it, the fellowship was broken. At least this seems to be the way it worked for Paul, and I haven’t seen anything in John to suggest this was not the basic pattern in his communities as well. In both cases the union with Christ is what determines the fellowship on the ground.

The principle then would seem to be that there is a time for discussion and continued fellowship as new ideas are sorted out. But if someone comes up with a new idea that undercuts the foundation of the gospel, and they persist in this view and reject the apostolic teaching against their view, then there is separation. This is Paul’s way of dealing with the opponents behind Galatians – he argues with the Galatians who are tempted, but he anathematizes the teachers who have embraced this false teaching and are promoting it. So also John with the antichrists — they are worshipping false gods (1 John 5.21), they have sinned the sin unto death, apostasy (1 John 5.16-17).

Now, how these principles worked out institutionally in the first century is not entirely clear, and our institutional structures are certainly more developed. But the principles remain.

Philip Wainwright claims that when the apostles rebuked false teachers, they did so with no sanctions of any sort. This claim, repeated throughout his essay, is an argument from silence. True, we do not know exactly how they carried out the separation from heretics, but that is far cry from assuming that they actually sat on their hands and did nothing other than “jaw, jaw.” It also creates a chasm between the practice of excommunication in the patristic church down to 500 AD, as described by church historian William Tighe of Muhlenberg University:
I honestly can’t think of any examples of “official tolerance” either of heresy (once it was taken and acknowledged to be such, which did not usually happen clearly or quickly) of what the Church regarded as “ungodly behaviour;” and of course there never was any tolerance of “apostasy” (which was then the public and clear repudiation of Christian Faith). Of course, none of us really can say what sort of tolerance individual bishops might have given to individuals who exhibited patterns of ungodly behaviour that we might consider today to be “addictive.” I am thinking of those 4th century canons which laid down long periods of exclusion from communion of those who indulged in sexual sins, whether fornication, adultery or unnatural vice (a.k.a. homosexual sodomy), but which seem to imply that those who had become accustomed (habituated) to loose living before becoming Christians and who “fell” from time to time might be accorded some degree of lenience considering their past history. It seems to me that however lenient a bishop (the usual source of advice and admonition with regard to sins and behaviours that were not of public knowledge) might be, once the matter became public or once “sinners” started to defend their actions, or “errorists” their errors, then all lenience ceased immediately, and condemnation/exclusion followed forthwith (although restoration upon repentance, public confession of fault and public absolution, followed by a period of penitential exclusion from the Eucharist, was always possible). The thing is, that bishops par excellence, but also presbyters and even deacons, had a very strong sense that their offices dealt with “stewardship of the mysteries” (sacraments especially) and that, as stewards, they would one day have to render a “strict account” to their Master of how they had dealt in affairs that belonged to him, not to them. (Posted on Stand Firm in Faith blog 8/20/07 http://www.standfirminfaith.com/index.php/site/article/5168.)
Finally ”“ and I must say I find this strange coming from a former editor of the Episcopal Evangelical Journal ”“ Philip Wainwright appears to undermine the legitimacy of the Protestant Reformers. Indeed he calls the Anglican Reformers’ appeal to Scripture wrong, because it does not accord with his reading. Fair enough if his exegesis is correct, but if so, it is hard not to conclude that those separated from Rome were schismatics and that their offspring should return to Mother Church posthaste.

In the present Anglican Communion crisis, Philip Wainwright is stating a case like that made by the writers of the Anglican Communion Institute (see www.anglicaninstitute.org). The ACI appears to include proponents of two views, one of which (Philip Turner) urges extended patience until the Windsor process has worked its way to the end, either after September 30 or after Lambeth 08. The other view (Ephraim Radner, if I understand him correctly) holds that in no circumstance is separation warranted. Wainwright seems to be in this camp. In the past, I have proposed the “Baal test” of loyalty: should one continue in a church which had substituted the name of Baal for that of Christ? I do not see from Philip Wainwright’s logic how he can extricate himself (and his flock) from the wildest deviations from the Christian faith and practice. And surely such deviations will come as the Episcopal Church continues on its pell-mell rush off the cliff. He ends with a counsel of quietism, waiting for God to act, presumably as He did with Ananias and Sapphira, or perhaps in the Last Judgment. Such quietism does not seem to have been the apostles’ practice, however strongly they looked for Christ’s Return.

Finally, let me add this common-sense observation, earned in the course of raising five children: warnings in the absence of sanctions are self-defeating and self-denying. If I look my child in the eye and say “Don’t do that!” and the child looks me back in the eye and proceeds to do that very thing, and I take no action, then I have failed to correct his behavior and further I have denied my own moral standing and in effect said, “I didn’t really mean it.” If the Lambeth Conference of bishops says to its members, “this practice is contrary to Scripture and cannot be advised,” and one member church goes right ahead and institutes that practice, then for the Communion to do nothing is to say “we didn’t really mean what we said.”

To those who say, “We must go to Lambeth next year, or else they will repeal or rewrite Resolution 1.10,” I say, by not enforcing the Resolution over the past ten years the Communion will have already repealed Resolution 1.10. To spend three weeks in nice Bible study groups and then go home is in effect to have the form of biblical godliness while denying its power. To which Paul adds: “Keep away from such places” (2 Timothy 3:5 my translation). For many Anglicans, September 30 is that moment when either the Communion through its Instruments will discipline the Episcopal Church ”“ or blink.

In conclusion, I find Wainwright’s position unsupported by Scripture, by the tradition of the early Church and the Reformation, and finally by common sense.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Identity, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Pastoral Theology, TEC Conflicts, Theology

The Religion Report: The Centenary of the Modernist Crisis

David Schultenover S.J. is a Professor of History at Marquette University in the United States and he’s a specialist on the modernist crisis. He’s the author of a magnificent biography of one of the leading modernists, the Irish Jesuit George Tyrrell and also a book called ‘A View from Rome on the eve of the Modernist Crisis’. I asked him to begin by painting a picture of the wonderfully mad world of late 19th century Catholicism in Europe, with the Pope as the self-styled prisoner of the Vatican, Royalist pretenders, secret societies, the Dreyfus case, when some new religious order seemed to be created just about every other week, a period of enormous activity and intensity.

David Schultenover: It was, it was very complex and the church was in a very bad situation all over the place. And it largely reacted out of fear, very understandable fear, coming out of all the forces that were unleashed by the French Revolution. You know, all of the ideas that were promoted by the Enlightenment, ideas that centred around individual rights and various freedoms, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, limits on the power of governments and rule of law, free exchange of ideas, market economy, transparent system of government, accountability, participative government, all of those things, those values that were very foreign to the church’s own polity, the church’s own organisation, it’s own sense of itself.

Stephen Crittenden: Things – of course – that 100 years later we all take for granted.

David Schultenover: Yes, but at that time, they were ideas that were regarded as very dangerous, and for good reason, because they led to the overthrow of the monarchy, and with that, the overthrow of the church in France which was wedded to the monarchy, or the marriage of throne and altar idea. So that when the absolute monarchy fell with the French Revolution, so in the eyes of many of the leaders and intelligensia of France, so did the church, and everything the church stood for was almost kind of polar opposite of what the values of the French Revolution were, the values they’d fought for.

Stephen Crittenden: David Schultenover S.J.

So what were the specific intellectual issues that Pi us X and his followers were attacking? Marvin O’Connell is Emeritus Professor of History at Notre Dame University.

Marvin O’Connell: They were attacking what the Pope called ‘the movement of modernism’, a term which he invented really in the Encyclical. And what he was concerned about was what he called ‘a kind of consensus of heresies, all kinds of doctrines hostile to the Catholic church, all bound into one’, as he liked to say. Basically the matters that he was concerned with were on the one hand, philosophical and on the other hand I suppose you could say, literary, or specifically Biblical. On the philosophical front though he never mentioned Immanuel Kant’s name in the course of the Encyclical, he’s really after a kind of philosophical tradition which had grown up out of the Enlightenment and which at least in the 19th century, had come to have a sort of an attachment to what we might call imminentism.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

In New Zealand Anglicans gather in Blenheim for synod

Ways of increasing the church’s involvement in the community are likely to be addressed at this year’s Anglican Diocese of Nelson synod.

Starting today in St Christopher’s parish hall, Blenheim, the three-day meeting will be led by the Bishop of Nelson, Richard Ellena, former parish priest of the Nativity Church.

Fifteen years in that role helped him appreciate how the church can be a visible symbol of the life of Christ. He and media officer Rev Peter Carrell took a break from yesterday’s pre-Synod conference to outline the programme.

Time will be made to discuss issues affecting the church and its congregations as well as all the administrative tasks like measuring accounts, assessing budgets and appointing officers to keep the region’s 26 parishes operating smoothly.

Read it all.

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

Jonathan Petre: Deadline Looming

Which way will Rowan jump? With just a fortnight to go before the crucial meeting of the Episcopal House of Bishops in New Orleans, that question is becoming ever more pressing. But the answer remains frustratingly elusive. Few believe that the American bishops are willing or able to deliver the moratoriums asked for in the Dar Es Salaam communiqué.

But what will Dr Williams do about it? The tactics displayed by Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office in recent months have done little to dissipate the clouds of confusion. The messages coming out have been mixed, to say the least. On the one hand, sources close to the Archbishop are insisting that he is committed to following through the Dar Es Salaam communiqué when he flies out for talks with the American bishops during the first two days of their meeting. But how strictly will he insist on its terms?

Even if the American bishops overcome their initial huffiness at being asked to respond at all, and that is not certain, it is difficult to see how they could come up with a response that is both adequate and credible. The liberal tide seems to be running just too strongly. Too many of the American bishops have pledged their allegiance to the pro-gay camp. A lesbian is on the shortlist to be elected as the next bishop of Chicago; Gene Robinson has given the go ahead for clergy in the New Hampshire diocese to conduct same-sex blessings; at least two dioceses are developing official blessing rites. Moreover, the American bishops have already resoundingly rejected the primates’ scheme for pastoral oversight for American conservatives. The Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori is understood to be preparing yet another version that may well prove acceptable to her liberal colleagues, but is highly unlikely to pass muster with the conservatives.

It also appears that there is little room for manoeuvre. Dr Williams himself, in a press conference following the eleventh hour agreement of the communiqué at the primates’ meeting in Tanzania, said it would be ”˜difficult’ if the Americans failed to follow its exact wording. So, if the Americans do fail to respond adequately in New Orleans, it would seem that Rowan will have little choice but to carry out the implicit threat in the communiqué and withdraw their invitations to Lambeth. Or does it?

The conservatives remain far from confident that this will be the case. There is a growing concern among them that the Archbishop of Canterbury will yet again attempt to play for time by forging another tortuously ambiguous compromise. At last week’s consecrations in Kenya and Uganda, at which 10 provinces were represented and eight primates attended in person ”” a sign that the core group of Global South hardliners may be larger than some believe ”” all these fears were expressed.

Doubts first began emerging when Lambeth Palace unexpectedly issued invitations in June to all but a handful of bishops for next year’s Lambeth Conference. Not only had Rowan invited nearly everyone”” albeit with caveats ”” but he had done so without consultation. Liberals saw this as a sign that Dr Williams had finally jumped into their camp, and was determined to keep the Americans in the Church even if this meant losing Africans and Asians. In contrast, many conservative primates, including those regarded as relatively moderate such as the Primate of the West Indies, Archbishop Drexel Gomez, were dismayed at the lack of consultation. Some also fear that Dr Williams, having issued the invitations, will find it psychologically difficult to withdraw them from liberal American bishops even if they fail to come up to the mark in New Orleans.

There has also been confusion about the role of Canon Kenneth Kearon, the secretary general of the Anglican Communion, who appears to have been exercising a growing influence in the absence of Dr Williams on study leave. Conservatives suspect that Canon Kearon, with his experiences of the peace process in Northern Ireland, has reinforced Dr Williams’ natural tendency to believe that the crisis can be resolved peacefully if only all the parties can be kept talking long enough.

The hardcore of conservatives, however, want a resolution and they want it now. A number of them are poised to split if nothing clear happens in the wake of New Orlea ns, and the recent consecrations in Africa are a preparatory step for a fully fledged parallel Church if it proves necessary. They have not been reassured by Lambeth Palace’s seeming reluctance to call another meeting of all the primates to make a judgment about the outcome of New Orleans.

Dr Williams has said in the past that he will be guided by his fellow primates about how to proceed, but there has been little indication as yet as to how this will be done. Global South primates believe that only a full primates meeting will suffice, even though Dr Williams will be accompanied to New Orleans by members of the primates’ standing committee.

Aides to Dr Williams are, however, less convinced of the need for another costly and precipitous summit, and may try to pursue other means of taking soundings. With all these variables up in the air and anxieties swirling like smoke, Dr Williams will not find his return to work this week a comfortable experience.

–Jonathan Petre is the religious correspondent for the Daily Telegraph; this article appears in the September 7, 2007 issue of the Church of England Newspaper, page 24

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Global South Churches & Primates, Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Bishop Colin Bazley: The start of a new reformation in the Anglican Communion?

Amid ululations and applause punctuating colourful worship, Revd. Canon Will Atwood and Revd. William Murdoch were consecrated as Suffragan Bishops of the Church of Kenya in All Saint’s Cathedral, Nairobi, on Thursday August 30th. The following Sunday in an open air event in the grounds of St. Luke’s Cathedral, Mbarara and in the presence of the Prime Minister of Uganda, a huge crowd witnessed Revd John Guernsey being consecrated along with a Ugandan, Revd Dr. George Tibeesigwa, as Bishops of the Church of that nation.

The North Americans were commissioned to serve scores of parishes in the USA that have withdrawn from the Episcopal Church. But being people who love their Lord and their Anglican heritage, they have requested episcopal and pastoral support from Provinces overseas.

In a packed press conference in Nairobi before the service, Archbishop Nzimbi explained the background to these consecrations.

He noted the shift from the traditional understanding and interpretation of Scripture, particularly evident in the USA. This has resulted in a denial of the uniqueness of Christ, universalism in relation to salvation and views on homosexual practice that clash with the clear statements of Scripture. The Nairobi and Mbarara events were clearly an encouragement to laity and clergy who had come from the USA in support of their new bishops.

They were also reassured by the presence of Primates from the West Indies, the Indian Ocean, Central Africa, West Africa, Rwanda, the Southern Cone and Nigeria as well as bishops from the USA, Canada, Australia, Brazil and England. It was clear evidence of the worldwide response to their desire to remain part of the Anglican Communion.

Greetings were carried to the new bishops from 31 members of the General Synod of the Church of England and also from the Group which challenged the church in this country with its “Covenant for the Church of England”. The significance of these events is massive. We are often given to understand that the Global South along with conservative Anglicans in the USA and Canada are unloving, hard line traditionalists, schismatic, resistant to change and lacking in compassion.

True, a large number has chosen to walk away from their national church. They were not prepared to see the church they love taken over, nor the Gospel they love distorted, by an intolerant liberal fringe that has moved away from mainstream Christian faith and without a message of hope even for the people they seek to serve.

Now these people of historic Anglican faith can remain within Anglican structures. Clearly these arrangements cannot be anything other than provisional or temporary, and this was understood by those participating. . So these consecrations were not an expression of a “Religious Rift” as Nairobi’s “Daily Nation” called it. Even less was it an anti-gay demonstration.

Talk was much more of a new approach to mission within our church. “I see a new reformation happening in the Anglican Communion”, declared Archbishop Nzimbi. “God is at work renewing it for mission. We want the Gospel to be preached as we have received it and to form churches grounded in God’s Word and relevant to today’s challenges”.

Bishop Bob Duncan (Pittsburgh), the Moderator of conservative Anglicans in the USA, saw this weekend as “a tremendous step forward in providing missionary leadership necessary to building a united renewed Anglicanism in North America”.

The presence of representatives of CANA (led by Bp. Martyn Minns) and AMiA (led by Bp. Charles Murphy), and other groups at these consecrations was testimony to that. It was indeed a courageous weekend.

This was the Anglican Communion as it should be and pointed the way forward to a new expression of Anglicanism in the USA, freed from the shackles of an inadequate and superficial culture-shaped theology, free to share Good News to a nation and a world starved of it.

–The Rt. Rev. Colin Bazley is former Bishop of Chile and Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone; this article appears on page 5 of the September 7, 2007, issue of the Church of England Newspaper

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Episcopal Church (TEC)

Waynesville North Carolina Restroom sex sting nets 7 one of Whom is an Episcopal Priest

A three-month undercover sting led to the arrests of an Episcopal priest and six other men on charges of exposure and sex solicitation in two city park restrooms, police said Wednesday.

In a second phase of what police called Operation Summer Heat, investigators also arrested five other men and one woman on charges of prostitution, participating in prostitution of a minor and soliciting prostitution.

Those arrests came after the suspects responded to an advertisement on the popular craigslist Web site.

Investigators started the operation after getting complaints from parents about the park restrooms near a playground and picnic area and a tip about offers for sex in Waynesville on the Web site.

The undercover investigation marks at least the second time in the last decade that officers have targeted restrooms near the Waynesville Recreation Park on Vance Street.

Read it all.

Update: There is a lot more here.

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

The Bishop of Fort Worth Writes his Clergy

To the clergy of the Diocese of Fort Worth

The Realignment Moves Forward

At our Diocesan Convention in 2003, the following resolution was adopted by an overwhelming majority vote of both the clergy and the lay delegates:

We declare our commitment to work with those Bishops and dioceses and those primates and Provinces that will now move forward with a realignment of the Anglican Communion; we reaffirm the authority of Holy Scripture and our intention to continue faithfully to uphold and propagate the historic Faith and Order of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church under the sovereignty of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

A lot has transpired in the four years since we made that bold declaration, and a great deal has taken place just this past summer that has reinforced that firm resolve. I am pleased to report to you that the realignment of the Anglican Communion is well under way. Take for example the events of last week, when a number of the primates of Provinces of the Global South took the historic action of consecrating three American priests as bishops to provide episcopal ministry and oversight to former Episcopalians here in the States. These congregations share our commitment to the historic Faith and Order of the Church but have decided that they can no longer remain faithful Anglicans and still remain officially associated with The Episcopal Church.

As you know, in March the House of Bishops voted down a very workable proposal for alternative primatial oversight that the primates’ Meeting had offered to provide for our expressed needs, and no other alternative plan has been suggested. This resulted in the declaration that the Standing Committee and I made on May 16th that we would now have to pursue our original appeal for APO ”“ an appeal that was supported by an overwhelming majority vote at our Diocesan Convention last year ”“ independent of the structures of The Episcopal Church. We have had some very encouraging meetings and conversations over the summer months with a number of Bishops and dioceses and primates and Provinces that share our concerns and our commitment to Christian orthodoxy. The Archbishop of Canterbury has been kept informed of these developments. More about this will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead.
One of the most encouraging signs of the realignment that is under way is the first-ever Council of Bishops of the Common Cause Partners which is to meet in Pittsburgh during the last week of September. This is a gathering of all bishops exercising active ministry within the member bodies of Common Cause.* The purpose of the meeting is to explore ways in which we can work together for a biblical, missionary and united Anglicanism in North America. I will be among some 60 bishops in attendance, as will be the newly consecrated bishops serving those congregations here in the States that are under the Provinces of Uganda and Kenya.
By the end of this month, the House of Bishops will have decided the future direction of TEC, and as a result we too will have to declare our future as a diocese. I do not expect that TEC will comply with the requests of the primates in their Dar es Salaam Communiqué. In that case, we will see further fraction and division in the Communion during the months ahead. We will then have to choose in favor of the Anglican Communion majority at the expense of our historic relationship with the General Convention Church.
Pray, my brothers and sisters, for the peace and unity of the Church. Pray that the Bishops of The Episcopal Church will turn back, even at this late hour, from the course they have been pursuing, a course that has sown seeds of discord and broken fellowship far and wide. Pray too for the leadership of this diocese as the realignment continues, that we may remain faithful to the received faith and practice of historic, biblical Christianity.

–The Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker
Bishop of Fort Worth
September 6, 2007

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Communion Network, Anglican Identity, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Big Gifts, Tax Breaks and a Debate on Charity

Eli Broad, a billionaire businessman, has given away more than $650 million over the last five years, to Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to establish a medical research institute, to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and to programs to improve the administration of urban schools and public education.

The rich are giving more to charity than ever, but people like Mr. Broad are not the only ones footing the bill for such generosity. For every three dollars they give away, the federal government typically gives up a dollar or more in tax revenue, because of the charitable tax deduction and by not collecting estate taxes.

Mr. Broad (rhymes with road) says his gifts provide a greater public benefit than if the money goes to taxes for the government to spend. “I believe the public benefit is significantly greater than the tax benefit an individual receives,” Mr. Broad said. “I think there’s a multiplier effect. What smart, entrepreneurial philanthropists and their foundations do is get greater value for how they invest their money than if the government were doing it.”

It is an argument made by many of the nation’s richest people. But not all of them. Take the investor William H. Gross, also a billionaire. Mr. Gross vigorously dismisses the notion that the wealthy are helping society more effectively and efficiently than government.

“When millions of people are dying of AIDS and malaria in Africa, it is hard to justify the umpteenth society gala held for the benefit of a performing arts center or an art museum,” he wrote in his investment commentary this month. “A $30 million gift to a concert hall is not philanthropy, it is a Napoleonic coronation.”

Elaborating in an interview, Mr. Gross said he did not think the public benefits from philanthropy were commensurate with the tax breaks that givers receive. “I don’t think we’re getting the bang for the buck for gifts to build football stadiums and concert halls, with all due respect to Carnegie Hall and other institutions,” he said. “I don’t think the public would vote for spending tax dollars on those things.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch

AP: Bin Laden Plans Video on 9/11

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Terrorism

Kendall Harmon: The Anglican Scotist Hears What he Wants to Hear, not What Was said

It is part of the present atmosphere in Anglicanism that people do not hear what others are saying clearly–alas. For only the latest example of this, read the Anglican Scotist’s piece here. This would be sad if it were not so serious.

Never mind that people such as Susan Russell and FatherJake–both known for not agreeing with the convenor of this blog–appreciated what I said. Somehow it isn’t good enough.

It would help if the Anglican Scotist would at least cite my argument in the order in which it is written. I cited the Primates first because they are Christian leaders and I believe they are speaking to a Christian standard in the Christian community which they lead. I only went on to the second point because it makes this offense all the more egregious. The argument is not instrumental at all, the first point is theological, and the second point goes further and undergirds it.

If the Anglican Scotist had the courtesy at least to check with me first and to ask–is this in fact what you are saying, have I fairly summarized your argument?–it would have helped–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts

The Former Bishop of Newark, John Spong, writes Archbishop Rowan Williams

Later you issued a statement saying that if homosexuals want to be received in the life of the Church, they will have to change their behavior. I found that statement incredible. If you mean they have to change from being homosexual then you are obviously not informed about homosexuality. It is not a choice or a sin, anymore than being left handed, or male or female, or black or even transgender is a choice or a sin. All of us simply awaken to these aspects of our identity. That truth is so elementary and so well documented that only prejudiced eyes can fail to recognize it. No one in intellectual circles today still gives that point of view credibility..

Next you declined to invite Gene Robinson to the Lambeth Conference of 2008. All of the closeted homosexual bishops are invited, the honest one is not invited. I can name the gay bishops who have, during my active career. served in both the Episcopal Church and in the Church of England? I bet you can too. Are you suggesting that dishonesty is a virtue?

You continue to act as if quoting the Bible to undergird a dying prejudice is a legitimate tactic. It is in fact the last resort that religious people always use to validate “tradition” over change. The Bible was quoted to support the Divine Right of Kings in 1215, to oppose Galileo in the 17th century, to oppose Darwin in the 19th century, to support slavery and apartheid in the 19th and 20th centuries, to keep women from being educated, voting and being ordained in the 20th and 21st century. Today it is quoted to continue the oppression and rejection of homosexual people. The Bible has lost each of those battles. It will lose the present battle and you, my friend, will end up on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of morality and the wrong side of truth. It is a genuine tragedy that you, the most intellectually-gifted Archbishop of Canterbury in almost a century, have become so miserable a failure in so short a period of time.

You were appointed to lead, Rowan, not to capitulate to the hysterical anger of those who are locked in the past. For the sake of God and this Church, the time has come for you to do so. I hope you still have that capability.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Trinity Prep School Play moves to Orlando Repertory Theatre

Trinity Preparatory School’s production of La Cage aux Folles will be performed off campus at a local theatre this weekend, billed as an independent show with no ties to the Episcopal school.

Headmaster Craig Maughan announced the decision in press release this morning. There will be four performances of the musical at the Orlando Repertory Theatre.

The production was to open last weekend at the private school near Winter Park but was cancelled at the request of Bishop John Howe, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida. Howe, a leader among the nation’s conservative Episcopal bishops, thought the comedy featuring a gay couple and actors dressed in drag was inappropriate for a Christian school.

We regret the scheduling of this performance has been interpreted as a departure from our 40-year history as an Episcopal school,” Maughan said in his statement Thursday. “The students who worked hard to prepare for this play had neither a political nor social agenda.”

The decision to cancel the show — a culmination of Trinity Prep’s summer theatre program — angered some students, parents and alumni who questioned why Howe should dictate shows at the independent school. They also said the award-winning musical, which opened on Broadway in 1983, promoted tolerance and family values, even if not of the traditional sort.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Religion & Culture, TEC Bishops, Theatre/Drama/Plays