Monthly Archives: October 2007

Abigail Jones and Marissa Miley: abstinence approach not the only sex-ed option

We’ve spent over two years immersed in high school life, interviewing teens about their sexual experiences. Our research reveals that many teens engage in casual and extreme sexual behavior.

The students told us that many girls and boys raced to have sex before graduation. One girl accepted a ring with the Silver Ring Thing, a youth abstinence program ”” and lost her virginity two weeks later. Many boys believed that stories about sex made “the man.” And a handful of students engaged in sex acts with multiple partners.

Parents might not want to hear these anecdotes, but the motivations behind them need to be addressed on a national and state level, in sex-ed classes and at family dinner tables. Today, teens are bombarded by sex on TV and the Internet, in music and film. In our culture, sex is often depicted as devoid of intimacy, commitment and emotion. But it’s more than popular culture, too. As Perrotta noted in The New York Times: “Speaking as a former teenage guy, the fact that you might someday get lucky was like the only thing getting you through those years. ”¦ It was the basic narrative of male adolescence.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Sexuality, Teens / Youth

The Bishop of Southwest Florida's Diocesan Convention Address

Now a word about the Anglican Communion. The bottom line is this: We are in the Anglican Communion. As you are perhaps aware, I have now been to two House of Bishops’ meetings both scheduled after the February Primates Communique.

I have also attended a consultation In Spain with both American and African bishops and which included six primates. In all cases I have heard and sensed a strong desire to remain together for the work of healthier global Anglican mission.
There are four instruments of communion in the Anglican Communion: The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican Consultative Council, The Lambeth Conference, and the Primates. I am pleased to note that the report of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council was predominately positive regarding the September House of Bishops meeting. I have been invited to the 2008 Lambeth Conference and, in fact, just received a supplementary invitation two weeks ago.

Does this mean everything is resolved within our Communion? By no means. I think it does mean that there are many agreed-upon issues of mission on our global plate: poverty, the AIDS/HIV pandemic and other urgent disease problems, clean water, ongoing disaster relief and other issues . We are best situated to address them by working together in communion, in the Spirit.

I am pleased that our diocese is now a member of the Compass Rose Society. This is an organization that supports the work of the Anglican Communion and the Archbishop of Canterbury. I do not know how the future will continue to unfold within Anglicanism but I do know God is working His purpose out. I like being an Episcopalian. I like being an Anglican. I fully expect to be both for the rest of my life.

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

Gabrielle Carey on Women's Midlife Crises

We hear a lot about men and their midlife crises; the sudden urge to own an Alfa Spider, the unexpected interest in back-hair removal (the same hair he has lived with quite harmoniously for much of the last four decades), the elopement with the young blonde from the gym after 25 years of an apparently happy and stable marriage.

The explanation given for this erratic behaviour centres on one thing: sex. At 40, a man feels he is losing his sexual attraction – hence the need to be confirmed by a younger woman. But what about the middle-aged woman and her midlife crisis? Just because she doesn’t abandon the established family quite so regularly and dramatically doesn’t necessarily mean she isn’t occasionally consumed by the same urges.

My observations are that women approaching 50 swoon just as easily at the sight of a fit male chest or a sweaty bicep as a middle-aged man might over a girl in a bikini. It’s just that women are better at concealing their lust.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Middle Age, Sexuality

Richard Friedman: How to Figure Out When Therapy Is Over

If you think it’s hard to end a relationship with a lover or spouse, try breaking up with your psychotherapist.

A writer friend of mine recently tried and found it surprisingly difficult. Several months after landing a book contract, she realized she was in trouble.

“I was completely paralyzed and couldn’t write,” she said, as I recall. “I had to do something right away, so I decided to get myself into psychotherapy.”

What began with a simple case of writer’s block turned into seven years of intensive therapy.

Over all, she found the therapy very helpful. She finished a second novel and felt that her relationship with her husband was stronger. When she broached the topic of ending treatment, her therapist strongly resisted, which upset the patient. “Why do I need therapy,” she wanted to know, “if I’m feeling good?”

Millions of Americans are in psychotherapy, and my friend’s experience brings up two related, perplexing questions. How do you know when you are healthy enough to say goodbye to your therapist? And how should a therapist handle it?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Psychology

A Letter To The Church, From The House of Bishops in Canada

Much of our gathering as a House was spent describing and reflecting on the different journeys different ecclesiastical provinces and dioceses have travelled since General Synod. We heard reports from several bishops who spoke of the effects of General Synod’s resolutions on same-sex blessings and these reflections ranged from parts of the country where this issue is paramount in the life of the church to others areas where it is only a very small part of the church’s life or scarcely considered at all. We heard from the bishops of Ottawa and Montreal about the adoption of motions by their respective synods that call upon them to authorize the blessing of civil same-sex marriages, and both bishops described the debate around these motions as courteous and respectful of divergent views. We had a discussion about the April 2007 Statement from the House of Bishops to Members of General Synod and heard from several bishops about how the Statement is being understood. It was agreed that the statement continues to have the same status as it did originally.

We were reminded by our Primate that contrary to impressions created by much of the Canadian media that covered General Synod, the gathering was anything but a one-issue synod. Motions adopted in support of ministry in the North, conversations around issues of governance and the primacy, support for the Companion Dioceses program, support for the Millennium Development Goals, the day spent with our Lutheran brothers and sisters, the success of the publication of the Anglican Journal Daily, were all evidence of things that bring us together and manifestations of the General Synod theme Draw the Circle Wide ”“ Draw it wider still, Archbishop Hiltz reminded us. “It’s time,” the Primate said, “for this church of ours to celebrate the things that are holding us together and that continue to hold the Communion together.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces

Theo Hobson: Halloween is for grown-ups too

It’s Halloween. Listen carefully, and you’ll hear the familiar annual sound of shrieking and groaning – not of witches and ghosts but of liberals whining about the horror of commercialism. Frightening spend on Halloween, read a Guardian headline a few weeks ago. Supermarkets are cashing in on the festival, the article explained, and taking about 10 times what they did five years ago.

Instead of complaining about its commercial aspect, we should be glad that Halloween is booming. It’s part of a wider trend: British culture has, in the last decade or so, woken up to the value of festivals. We are hungry for moments of shared meaning. We have begun to realise that we are a festival-impoverished culture. We only have a few shared cultural moments, fixed in the calendar. Apart from Christmas, what is there? Easter is a non-event for most of us. Guy Fawkes/Bonfire Night is still fun, but the meaning is vague (it should be reinvented as British Freedom Day). Valentine’s Day pleases smug and cheesy couples. And that’s about it. (It’s because we are so festival-impoverished that we get so over-excited about national sport, which can only partly satisfy our urge to unite in celebration. It doesn’t produce reliable occasions for joy, to put it mildly.)

So Halloween is the second best festival we have

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK

Time Magazine: Does Jesus Wear Purple Pinstripes?

The Rockies insist that that story was somewhat overblown, and that not every player thumps the Bible behind the clubhouse doors. It’s true that men’s magazines and rap music are just as prevalent in the team’s locker room as around the rest of the big leagues, but Christianity plays a key role in the makeup of the National League pennant winners. (And the Rockies could sure use a miracle now; they enter tonight’s Game 4 of the World Series against the Boston Red Sox trailing 3-0.) “It’s a strong faith group,” says relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins, who admits he’d rather watch football than go to church on Sunday. “A bunch of the young guys have seen the light, and found their way. They haven’t strayed.”

“The Lord gives you everything you have,” says center fielder Willy Taveras, who counts himself among the faithful, “and makes it possible to play this beautiful game.”

Even though the post-game prayer group at the 50-yard line has become as common as the quarterback sack, and individual players routinely thank the God of their choice for helping with a game-winning hit/basket/touchdown, the Rockies stand out for openly touting Christian values ”” as they define it, strong character and a moral compass ”” as a guiding organizational philosophy off the field. Club president Keli McGregor has gone so far as to say that God is “using [The Rockies] in a powerful way.”

Read it all.

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

Washington Times: Filmmakers raising hell

What does capture the popular imagination is the drama that led to the creation of hell. Ray Griggs, a film producer in Simi Valley, Calif., is trying to raise the $160 million he says it will cost to film his trilogy on the fallen archangel Lucifer, described at An eight-minute film short won a best animation award at the 2007 Beverly Hills Film Festival.

Mr. Griggs is marketing his project as a drama about the fall of the most exalted created being in the universe, whose ambition corrupted his judgment, alienated him from other angels and caused him to foment division in heaven.

“I want to tell how he fell from pride, about the great battle in heaven, his dislike for Christ, his control over humans and his final end,” Mr. Griggs said. “But I didn’t want the stereotypical Christian film. I have made an exciting action and adventure story out of Lucifer, one that has really great biblical principles.”

This kind of backdoor approach may be one of the few ways people feel comfortable bringing up hell.

“While the church isn’t talking about hell, the very best people in the culture are,” Mr. Harmon said. “The single best depiction of hell in the 20th century is Jean Paul Sartre’s ‘No Exit.’

“In the 19th century, there was a moral revolt inside the church against the God of the Bible, so the emphasis of theology on judgment, sin, hell and the wrath of God all got thrown into question. Now when I talk about it, I ask people when [was] the last sermon you heard on hell. It is always a small number. And it’s usually the Baptists who’ve heard about it.

“But you cannot dislodge hell out of Christianity. If salvation means anything, there has to be something from which you are saved. It is a crucial part of the overall faith fabric but culturally the church has lost that.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Eschatology, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture, Theology

Child porn law at center of free-speech case

The Supreme Court today will take up a First Amendment test of Congress’ ability to tackle child pornography in the digital age.

Justice Department lawyers defending a 2003 law that criminalizes the advertising of purported child porn say such Internet ads fuel the market for smut and hurt children even when the advertised pictures are fake.

Challengers to the law, including the National Coalition Against Censorship and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, counter that it sweeps too broadly. They say it threatens the marketing of Lolita and other fictional depictions of adolescent sex.

At stake is Congress’ latest attempt to prohibit sexual content on the Internet. Backed by 28 states, U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement stresses the need to curtail the marketing of child porn to protect the children abused to create it.

Clement, who will argue the case today, stressed in a written filing that because of the Internet “the distribution of child pornography has expanded exponentially.” He said even fraudulent offers to buy or sell child porn feed the market.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Pornography

Gay enclaves in U.S. face prospect of being passé

This Halloween, the Glindas, gladiators and harem boys of the Castro ”” along with untold numbers who plan to dress up as Senator Larry Craig, this year’s camp celebrity ”” will be celebrating behind closed doors. The city’s most popular Halloween party, in America’s largest gay neighborhood, is canceled.

The once-exuberant street party, a symbol of sexual liberation since 1979 has in recent years become a Nightmare on Castro Street, drawing as many as 200,000 people, many of them costumeless outsiders, and there has been talk of moving it outside the district because of increasing violence. Last year, nine people were wounded when a gunman opened fire at the celebration.

For many in the Castro District, the cancellation is a blow that strikes at the heart of neighborhood identity, and it has brought soul-searching that goes beyond concerns about crime.

These are wrenching times for San Francisco’s historic gay village, with population shifts, booming development, and a waning sense of belonging that is also being felt in gay enclaves across the nation, from Key West, Florida, to West Hollywood, as they struggle to maintain cultural relevance in the face of gentrification.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch

Author Talks About Gambling Addiction

In her books, Amy Blackmarr writes about finding peace, often secluded in faraway cabins. But wherever she goes, from the heartland to the South to New England, a casino is never far away.

Whenever she finds that inner peace, whenever she tells herself she is through with the flashing lights and lost hours, she’s been drawn back to the comfort of a cushy chair at a nearby video poker machine.

“I can’t get away from them. They’re everywhere,” says Blackmarr, author of such books as “Going to Ground,” “Above the Fall Line” and “House of Steps,” and one the nation’s estimated 8 million compulsive gamblers.

With an explosion in legalized gambling around the country and more than 800 casinos in 28 states, the days when gamblers headed to only Las Vegas or Atlantic City are long gone.

These days gamblers such as Blackmarr are inundated with specialized marketing materials in the mail geared to their preferred gambling. TV commercials highlight the fun and excitement that await them at a casino. Gambling is a click away on the Internet or, in many states now, at the corner store that sells lottery tickets.

Researchers want to know whether the proliferation leads to more problem gamblers.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch

A Statement on the Global South Primates’ Visit to China

8. We are greatly encouraged by the way the Church in China has established itself as a national institution based on the Three Self Principle as the touchstone of emancipation from the sociopolitical constraints of the past. We appreciate the expressed intent of the church leadership in China to take responsibility for the theological, missional, structural and economic development of the Church. This is also what we seek to accomplish through the work of our Theological Education and Formation and Economic Empowerment tracks.
9. In particular, we commend the work of Theological Education and Formation Taskforce for the draft catechism that they have produced. Not only do we believe the Anglican Catechism in Outline (ACIO) will be a blessing to churches in the Anglican Communion, we also hope it will become an area of on-going theological collaboration with the Church in China.
10. In the same way, we are inspired by the way the nation and people of China have been transformed in the past thirty years through shared hard work and determined commitment to social and economic development. We in the Global South can learn from that and work towards economic self-empowerment, as we seek the welfare of our respective societies.
11. We share the same commitment with the Chinese Church to biblical ethics and morality as well as the call to live out the Gospel in serving the needy while faithfully proclaiming the Word of God. This is truly an authentic expression of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church of Jesus Christ living out its prophetic and priestly role in secular society.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Asia, China, Global South Churches & Primates

Archbishop of Canterbury to meet Israel’s Chief Rabbis

From here:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is to make a brief visit to Israel this week to meet with the Chief Rabbis of Israel. Dr Williams will meet with Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

The meeting fulfills the commitment made in the joint declaration of September 2006, which set out a framework for a formal dialogue between the Archbishop and the Chief Rabbinate. The agreement provided for meetings in alternate years at Lambeth and Jerusalem, and for the establishment of an Anglican-Jewish Commission. The leaders will consider the conclusions of the Anglican-Jewish Comission which met for the first time in July, when they discussed papers on the theme of the Sanctity of Life.

It is hoped that a communiqué will be issued at the conclusion of the meeting on Wednesday.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Judaism, Middle East, Other Faiths

Halloween Trend Toward Racy Get-Ups Vexes Parents

Gabby Cirenza wanted to be a referee for Halloween. The outfit she liked had a micro-mini black skirt and a form-fitting black and white-striped spandex top held together with black laces running up the flesh-exposing sides. She looked admiringly at the thigh-high black go-go boots that could be bought as an accessory. And she thought the little bunny on the chest was cute.

“Absolutely not,” said her mother, Cheryl. “That is so not happening.”

Gabby is 11.

And the Playboy Racy Referee costume was only the latest that her mother had vetoed one pre-Halloween-crazed afternoon at Party City in Baileys Crossroads as too skimpy, too revealing, too suggestive .

Bawdy Halloween costumes, however, have become the season’s hottest sellers in recent years. Not just for women, but for girls, too. And parents such as Cirenza don’t like it.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch

Daniel S. Hamilton–Catholic Anglicanism: What Is It?

Now hosts of such hypothesis, treated as certainties by some, have invaded or seek to invade the Anglo-Catholic synthesis: remarriage after divorce, contraception, abortion, intercommoning all around even with the unbaptized, a slippery understanding (the Porvoo Agreement) of apostolic ministerial succession; the priestly/episcopal ordination of women, same-sex blessings and more. Of course, Anglo-Catholicism was never completely uniform, especially when it came to Rome; but there was always an identifiable corpus and its exponents looked if not always leaned in a Roman direction.

So now we come to the contemporary “Catholic Anglicanism” espoused by The Living Church. What is it? What should it be? And where does it stand on these great issues confronting the Church? Once Lord Halifax (1839-1934), the life-long promoter of reunion, was asked what, in addition, he would be believing were he in communion with the See of Rome. He replied (I am paraphrasing), Nothing.

Catholic Anglicanism must mean the faith of the universal Church, East and West, and include the Roman primacy. It must support and promote all that the great Anglo-Catholic leaders collectively stood for and be looking, as they did and ARCIC II does in its recent statements, to reconciliation with the See of Rome.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Identity, Ecclesiology, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Theology

Nascent stem cell company raises ethical and medical issues

A San Carlos startup is offering to create “personalized” stem cells from the spare embryos of fertility clinic clients on the chance that the cells, frozen and stored away, may some day help a family member benefit from medical breakthroughs.

The novel business plan of StemLifeLine Inc. – which started promoting its service to fertility patients earlier this year as “insurance for the future” – set off a flash fire of protest from stem cell research opponents and supporters alike.

The outcry from anti-abortion groups wasn’t surprising. StemLifeLine derives stem cells from very early stage human embryos, which are destroyed in the process. Opponents of the research see this as the moral equivalent of killing a child. This belief is the basis of the Bush administration’s limits on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

But some of the most fervent denunciations of StemLifeLine came from vigorous supporters of embryonic stem cell research. Two Stanford University critics aired their complaints in newspaper editorial pages. A prominent Stanford ethicist challenged UC San Francisco scientists who are advisers of the company to sever those ties. These critics accuse StemLifeLine of trying to profit from the promise of stem cell research in the present, even though the work may not yield medical treatments for decades, if ever.

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

Marines in Iraq look to pastor for answers to tough questions

Under a sun-blanched desert sky, Navy Chaplain Michael Baker and Marine Sgt. Bill Hudson Gross bounce in the back of a truck as it rumbles across Camp Habbaniyah. Clad in helmets and body armor in the 110-degree F. June heat, they’re on a mission: to baptize Sergeant Gross.

“I am going to try to talk him out of it,” confesses Chaplain Baker, a tall, lanky Methodist minister whose formal Mississippi-tinged speech and posture mask an often goofy sense of humor.

It’s not the baptism itself; it’s just the part where Gross wants Baker to immerse him in the Euphrates, one of four rivers that the Bible describes as flowing from the Garden of Eden. For Gross, an infantry platoon leader who just weeks before saw two of his men wounded by shrapnel, the river has a personal connection. Two years ago he deployed to a small base on the river, where he turned his back on religion after learning of his father’s death back home. Now that he has rediscovered his faith, he feels it fitting to be baptized in a river where, he says, “a lot of people gave up hope.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces, Religion & Culture

Bishop Howe's Proposed Protocol for Diocese of Central Florida

From the November, 2007 Central Florida Episcopalian [emphasis as in the original]. An excerpt:

How we move forward will necessarily differ from one case to another. If an overwhelming majority of the members of a given congregation were to decide to leave, we might face a situation in which disposal of the property would eventually have to be considered.

I have shared the following proposed protocol with the clergy at our annual Clergy Conference at Canterbury, and it will be presented to the Diocesan Board and Standing Committee later this month. It has not yet been adopted, but I believe that it ”“ or something very like it ”“ must ensure that the spiritual needs of all the members of the Diocese will be protected. (This is more detail than most of you will want, but for everyone concerned we need to be as clear as possible.)

Vestry Vote and Special Meeting of the Members

The vote of a Rector (or Church Planter) and Vestry cannot control whether or not a congregation disaffiliates. This will only be considered after a vote of the members of the congregation. However, if the Rector and Vestry determine to disaffiliate from the Diocese by at least a 75% majority vote they shall immediately notify the Bishop of that fact. They are to furnish to the Bishop a plan outlining how they intend to provide for the ongoing nurture of all people, whether they are disaffiliating or not, and whether they will seek to negotiate for the real and personal property of the Parish. A copy of the plan submitted to the Bishop shall be given to every member of the congregation and the Rector and Vestry shall certify to the Bishop that this has been done.

The Bishop will call a Special Meeting of the congregation giving at least 15 days notice of that meeting and he or his designee will preside at that meeting. The Bishop and the Parish will provide a joint notice of this meeting. The Bishop may require the Parish to hold informational meetings for the congregation prior to the Special Meeting where a pastoral team appointed by the Bishop may participate and answer questions concerning disaffiliation.

Prior to the meeting the Bishop will appoint a committee of three members of the congregation who will make a recommendation to the Bishop as to the eligibility of any member to vote should a challenge arise, the Bishop being the final arbiter. This decision shall be based upon the canonical definition of a member in good standing, eligible to vote.

Congregational Vote

At the Special Meeting of the Congregation, after a suitable time for discussion as determined by the Bishop or his designee, the question shall be put before the meeting: “Do you wish to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church or not?” The vote tally shall be reported by the Bishop or his designee and the Bishop shall render within 7 days, on a case by case basis whether in his opinion a viable Episcopal congregation remains.

The Bishop will call a meeting of those members desiring to maintain their affiliation with The Episcopal Church in order to elect a new Vestry. The Bishop, or his designee, will preside at that meeting. Until a new Vestry is elected, the Bishop will appoint at least three of the members desiring to remain in The Episcopal Church as the Vestry and an interim Warden who shall take charge of the Parish and establish a plan for the future operation of the Parish.

Possible Sale of Real and Personal Property

If, in the judgment of the Bishop with the concurrence of the Diocesan Board and Standing Committee (if consecrated property is involved), the Parish and the Diocese are willing to sell the real and personal property held by the Parish, and the members desiring to disaffiliate with The Episcopal Church have formed a non-profit corporation, the Diocese will enter into negotiations with the new corporation to consider the purchase or lease of the property. A decision to sell parochial property is one that must be made by the continuing members of a congregation, not by those who have voted to leave it. The Diocese and the new corporation will select a qualified property appraiser to determine the fair market value of the real property. The cost of the property appraisal will be borne by the new corporation. The Diocese may require an audit of the financial affairs of the Parish by an independent accountant for the current year and the prior two years.

Upon receipt of the audit reports and the property appraisal, the Bishop, with the consent of the Diocesan Board and Standing Committee, shall be empowered to sell the real and personal property on behalf of the Parish on terms agreeable to the Bishop and the Board. These terms may include a mortgage amortized over a 30 year period with low (not to exceed prime) or no interest. The starting point for any such discussion will be the fair market value of the property for use as a church.

This is a very painful time for many of us. I feel a great sense of personal loss in contemplating these departures, but I want to reassure you that the Diocese of Central Florida remains steadfastly committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, the authority and trustworthiness of God’s word written, and the anointing and empowering of the Holy Spirit. As your Bishop I am committed to proclaiming the Gospel, to strengthening existing churches and planting new ones, and to raising up the next generation as faithful followers of Christ. The painful loss of some of our brothers and sisters in Christ will not divert us from any of these commitments.

I have said repeatedly that it is my desire to remain both an Episcopalian and an Anglican. In that regard, let me share something with you that the Archbishop of Canterbury has written to me just this past month: “Any Diocese compliant with Windsor remains clearly in communion with Canterbury and the mainstream of the Communion, whatever may be the longer-term result for others in The Episcopal Church. The organ of union with the wider Church is the Bishop and the Diocese rather than the Provincial structure as such”¦. I should feel a great deal happier, I must say, if those who are most eloquent for a traditionalist view in the United States showed a fuller understanding of the need to regard the Bishop and the Diocese as the primary locus of ecclesial identity rather than the abstract reality of the ”˜National Church.’”

We have a great and faithful Diocese, and with the help of the Lord himself, I am committed to making it even better. During this time of transition, I urge all of us to treat each other with great care and compassion. I ask your prayers for wisdom for all who will be involved in these discussions.

With warmest regards in our Lord,

+ John W. Howe, Bishop

The full article is here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Central Florida, TEC Departing Parishes, TEC Polity & Canons

Death Penalty Tests a Church as It Mourns

The United Methodist Church here is the kind of politically active place where parishioners take to the pulpit to discuss poverty in El Salvador and refugees living in Meriden. But few issues engage its passions as much as the death penalty.

The last three pastors were opponents of capital punishment. Church-sponsored adult education classes promote the idea of “restorative justice,” advocating rehabilitation over punishment. Two years ago, congregants attended midnight vigils outside the prison where Connecticut executed a prisoner for the first time in 45 years.

So it might have been expected that United Methodist congregants would speak out forcefully when a brutal triple murder here in July led to tough new policies against violent criminals across the state and a pledge from prosecutors to seek capital punishment against the defendants.

But the congregation has been largely quiet, not out of indifference, but anguish: the victims were popular and active members of the church ”” Jennifer Hawke-Petit, 48, and her two daughters, Hayley, 17, and Michaela, 11. On July 23, two men broke into the family’s home. Mrs. Hawke-Petit was strangled and her daughters died in a fire that the police say was set by the intruders.

The killings have not just stunned the congregation, they have spurred quiet debate about how it should respond to the crime and whether it should publicly oppose the punishment that may follow. It has also caused a few to reassess how they feel about the punishment.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Capital Punishment, Methodist, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

GodTube pushes new-time religion

First, the upstart Christian video site became the nation’s fastest-growing Web property for August, according to ComScore’s Media Metrix. Its 1.7 million unique visitors represented a 973 percent increase in traffic over the previous month. In September, the number of visitors leveled off, but the length of the average user’s stay nearly doubled to 7.7 minutes, ComScore said.

Then last week, GodTube became the first religious Web site to offer the hot-ticket social media trinity: user-generated video (a la YouTube), social networking (a la MySpace and Facebook) and live Webcasting (a la GodTube’s claim that it has become the most-trafficked Christian Web site is trumped only by a second boast: that by the sheer volume of video watched by its users – 1.5 million hours last month – it is now the world’s largest broadcaster of Christian video.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Religion & Culture

In South Carolina Obama Seeks a Spiritual Reawakening

As a man not only of God but of politics, the Rev. Joe Darby is an outspoken observer of the campaign scene. Reclining in his cluttered office at Morris Brown AME Church here, he witnesses the union between the pulpit and the polls.

“Politics does come down to some degree of emotion . . . ,” says Darby, one of this state’s most prominent African American preachers, whose church is a magnet for Democratic presidential hopefuls. “The Democratic Party is just catching up to that. It’s been nauseatingly safe in recent years.”

As if from Darby’s mouth to Sen. Barack Obama’s ears, the Democratic presidential candidate from Illinois — hoping his campaign can recapture some of that old-time religious fervor — launched a three-city gospel concert series over the weekend across the state, in North Charleston, Greenwood and Columbia. Although Obama did not attend the “Embrace the Change” series in person (instead campaigning in Iowa), he was here in spirit, appearing by video screen and sending out his surrogates, such as pastor Hezekiah Walker and singer Beverly Crawford.

Obama’s campaign could certainly use reenergizing. Since he announced his intention to run for the presidency, Obama — and the powerful ebb that surrounded him wherever he woke, spoke, ate and sat — seems to have withered beneath the supernova that is the Clinton campaign. Today, the senator from New York carries with her a fortified sense of inevitability, laughing off controversies while appearing on Sunday morning shows, showing no wounds from questions about fundraising, absorbing Obama’s criticism over the weekend regarding Social Security. A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Clinton leading Obama by more than 20 percent, with a lead of 13 percent among African American voters.

Those numbers mirror polling results in South Carolina, where any candidate hoping to capture this early primary state needs much of the African American vote. But Obama cannot presume such support as he tries to catch Clinton, who has been embraced by many black voters.

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

2006 Episcopal Church Data Released

According to the churchwide Parochial Report data, membership in all 110 dioceses of the Episcopal Church totaled 2,320,506 in 2006, down 2.2%, or 51,502, from 2,372,008 in 2005. Average Sunday attendance for 2006 was reported at 804,688, down 2.6%, or 21,856, from 826,544 in 2005.

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Update: For those of you who want to play with the data, we’ve updated the Excel spreadsheet for 2005-2006 which we created a few weeks ago. You can find it here: ECUSA_2005-2006_revised.xls

Please note the domestic vs. overseas data is rough since exact diocesan data for 2006 is not yet available. (We used 2006 data for Province 9, and 2005 data for the 5 overseas dioceses in Provinces 1-8). We’ll update this again when more complete data is available. For the data purists (or data geeks!) among our readers, it might be worth noting that the 2005 data cited in the ENS article and linked worksheets differs slightly from previously published Redbook data for 2005. The spreadsheet contains the revised data as cited in the ENS article above.

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

Ontario priest disciplined for marrying same-sex couple

A priest in the diocese of Ontario has been disciplined and had his licence to marry cancelled after officiating at the wedding of a same-sex couple last August in a church in rural Ontario, where he is the incumbent.

Rev. Michael Bury, rector of St. John the Evangelist church, in Stirling, Ont., a small village located about 190 km east of Toronto, confirmed in an interview that his licence to perform marriages has been cancelled.

In an interview at the house of bishops meeting in London, Ont., diocesan bishop George Bruce said the cancellation is effective until further notice. “I had issued a directive in 2003 that we would not bless same-sex relationships nor conduct marriages. There was no canonical permission to do it. There are consequences (to such an action),” he said.

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

Court Says Stem Cell Question OK for N.J. Ballot

A state appeals court has ruled that a Nov. 6 ballot question on a $450 million stem cell research program may not be perfectly worded, but it adequately and fairly tells voters about the plan.

With the ruling, the three-judge panel turned back abortion foes’ efforts to kill the measure, which they argued doesn’t mention cloning or describe the plan’s fiscal impact.

The court said it is unnecessary and indeed impossible to fairly summarize all views in a brief statement. Instead, such statements are meant to summarize questions in simple language.

“The religious and moral wisdom of the act cannot be encapsulated in an interpreted statement that would be both fair and balanced and still fit within the four corners of the ballot. … It does not matter that a better, more informative statement could possibly be crafted,” Judge Clarkson Fisher wrote for the unanimous three-judge panel.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Theology

In Canada “Progressive” Anglicans urge bishops to allow gay marriage

A group of Canadian Anglicans on the liberal, or “progressive,” side of issues concerning homosexuality and the church have urged Anglican bishops to “proceed to (the) full inclusion (of gay and lesbian people) by providing access to all sacraments and sacramental rites of the church,” including marriage.

The letter was addressed to the bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada, who are holding their fall meeting here from Oct. 25 to 30.

The group issuing the letter met at a conference called The Widening Circle on Oct. 25 and 26 at Bishop Cronyn Memorial Church in London, diocese of Huron. About 50 clergy and laypeople attended from British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec.

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

Bakersfield Californian: Pastor named bishop after long struggle

“We’re of course delighted and looking forward to Mark’s leadership in our diocese and glad to be able to get on with our mission, which is very simply to spread the Gospel and make disciples,” said the Rev. J. Haden McCormick, president of the standing committee of the Diocese of South Carolina. McCormick headed up the process of seeking and gathering consents from the standing committees.

McCormick described the 56 majority consent votes received so far as “solid” and “certified by the national chancellor,” and said other consents were forthcoming. The validity of the standing committees’ majority consent is unquestionable, he said.

“I think there’s a sense of relief in the diocese because it’s been a long, hard slog for a lot of faithful people,” said [Kendall] Harmon, who added that “there’s a sense of sobriety” around the complicated election process.

“It’s a serious matter when someone as gifted and highly qualified as Mark takes this much work to confirm,” he said. “It simply is one more manifestation of a church that is in a very serious state of struggle at this time.”

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

From the Local Paper: Episcopal Diocese's bishop approved

“This has really become in many ways a convoluted situation by many who misrepresented my views in the first place,” [Mark] Lawrence said. “I said I was willing to abide by the consecration vows of a bishop. They asked me what would I do to keep the Diocese of South Carolina in the Episcopal Church. I said I will work at least as hard to keep the Diocese of South Carolina in the Episcopal Church as my brothers and sisters in the Episcopal Church work to keep the Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion. There is a mutual accountability we all have.”

The Episcopal Church USA is the American branch of worldwide Anglican Communion and has its roots in the Church of England.

“We’ve got a wonderful man coming in,” [Edward] Salmon said. “This is the only diocese in the Episcopal Church that has outgrown the population. He’s coming in at an exciting time.”

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

A Pastoral Letter from Bishop Carolyn Tanner Irish of Utah

In the end, we issued our response to the Questions and Concerns raised by our Anglican Communion Partners. This document (see Internet reference 2 below) has met with acceptance by most of our visitors; however, it did not satisfy the very conservative primates or bishops in our church and the larger Communion. They are working to set up their own Anglican body. The liberals were not happy with it either, even though on the critical issues of giving consent to the election of partnered gay bishops and blessing same sex unions, we said little more than was said at the General Convention of 2006. The writing team worked on endless drafts of our report to accommodate the views and phrases to which the majority of the House could agree. Our Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, said more than once, “No one is going to get everything they want.”

Two further elements in our response did ease the way for many of us. One was the expression of our “fervent hope” that the Archbishop of Canterbury would find a way to invite Bishop Gene Robinson to the Lambeth Conference next summer and to assure his full participation. Also, with our Presiding Bishop’s appointment of Episcopal visitors to dioceses not willing to receive her, we called for an immediate end to diocesan incursions by uninvited bishops in accordance with the Windsor Report and consistent with the statements of past Lambeth conferences and the Ecumenical Councils of the Church. We have not heard any response from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

For myself, I found the spirit of the Community of Bishops (as we call ourselves) much diminished since our meeting last spring. From that meeting we issued a statement profoundly descriptive of who we understand ourselves to be, absent the pressures of ‘compliance’ to the demands of the newly rising structures of authority and the doctrinal positions newly called the “standards of teaching” of the Anglican Communion. What we did in March was much like what our own deputation did in response to the Dar es Salam Communiqué, that is to say it was proactive and declarative, not defensive or reactive.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

An Associated Press Story on the Mark Lawrence Election Consents

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

Dollar and oil hit new records


Posted in Uncategorized