Daily Archives: October 12, 2007

Bible on U.S. soil after family's 8 tours of duty

When we talk about “the family Bible,” that usually refers to an ornate edition resting on a coffee table or a dusty heirloom carefully stored away.

But for the Lamberts, the family Bible has been a bit more utilitarian.

It’s just a small thing ”“ a pocket-sized New Testament and Psalms ”“ worn and frayed with use.

And what incredible use.

Clarence Lambert, 85, received the Bible during World War II. He was a 21-year-old Navy cook on a remote Alaskan island.

He and an Army chaplain hit it off. Homesick for Dallas, Clarence enjoyed hearing Lt. L.J. Gray talk about his home in Stratford, Okla.

In one of their visits, Lt. Gray presented Clarence with a small Gideon Bible ”“ a standard military issue.

Though nothing special in appearance, it meant the world to Clarence. “When you’re as young as I was then and that far from home, a Bible meant a lot,” he said.

Read it all.

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

James Joyner: Who Pays the Most Taxes?

An interesting discussion (and do follow all the links).

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Notable and Quotable

Sir, ”” Today, Sunday 6 October, there have been a number of news bulletins on the BBC about the wearing of dog collars by the clergy.

While I appreciate the real concern of National Church Watch about clergy safety when visibly seen to be clergy, I wonder if the respect of the public might improve a bit if the use of the unpleasant and derogatory term “dog collar” was ended. Personally, not having been into punk, I have never worn a dog collar and I imagine they would be most impractical in combination with robes.

Let us end the use of this term and call the collar what it is ”” a clerical collar. If we are all consistent in using this term, people will come to understand what we mean, and will perhaps see us less as objects for making fun of or being violent to.

–The Rev. Beverley Hollins in a letter to the editor in today’s Church Times

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

Rebuff for Episcopal Green Light

By George Conger

THE NEW Orleans statement of the US House of Bishops has ”˜clarified all outstanding questions’ posed by the Primates to the American Church, a report prepared by the Primates/ACC Joint Standing Committee (JSC) has found.

However, the 19-page report has been dismissed as dishonest by US conservatives, and its conclusions rejected by the African churches. Observers note the clumsy attempt of the JSC to usurp the prerogatives of the Primates, and to become a de facto fifth ”˜instrument of unity,’ has served to worsen the already bitter climate within the Communion.

The Primates had asked the US Church to clarify the statement of its 2006 General Convention that it would not permit the election of more gay bishops or authorise gay blessings, that an autonomous scheme for pastoral oversight be given to traditionalists, and that the lawsuits against breakaway conservative parishes would cease.

At their March meeting the US bishops invited Dr Williams and the members of the Primates Standing Committee to meet with them face-to-face to avert a blow up. Over the summer this invitation was enlarged by the ACC staff to include itself and the ACC standing committee. In New Orleans the US Bishops pledged ”˜as a body’ to ”˜exercise restraint’ in electing gay bishops, pledged not to authorise ”˜public rites’ of same-sex blessings, and agreed to delegated pastoral oversight for traditionalists under the supervision of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. It declined to address the issue of lawsuits, and chastised Global South Primates for violating their jurisdictions in providing support for traditionalist congregations.

The JSC concluded that this response satisfied the Primates’ requests and added the US was correct in citing the ”˜ancient councils of the Church’ in protesting border crossings. The Primates were hypocrites in demanding the US church refrain from implementing gay bishops and blessings while they permitted the border crossings to go on. “[W]e do not see how certain Primates can in good conscience call upon The Episcopal Church to meet the recommendations of the Windsor Report while they find reasons to exempt themselves from paying
regard to them.

“We recommend that the Archbishop remind them of their own words and undertakings,” the report said.

Crafted in a late night session on Sept 24 by Bishop Jefferts Schori and the JSC, the statement was adopted with amendments by the bishops on Sept 25. Critics of the report charge it is disingenuous of the ACC to give an independent endorsement of a report that it helped write, and question the US Presiding Bishop’s role as defendant, judge and jury in the process.

Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda called the report ”˜severely compromised, and the gross conflicts of interest it represents utterly undermine its credibility.’ He said the Primates did not envision the ACC inserting itself in the process while the US was ”˜considering our requests. Yet, members of the [JSC] met with Presiding Bishop Schori in the course of the preparation
of their House of Bishops’ statement in order to suggest certain words, which, if included in the statement, would assure endorsement by the [JSC].

”˜Presiding Bishop Schori’s participation in the evaluation of the response requested of her province is a gross conflict of interest. We wonder why she did not recuse herself.’ Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt, a member of the JSC delegation in New Orleans repudiated the report saying the US had given an inadequate response. “Instead they used ambiguous language and contradicted themselves within their own response,” he said.

The African archbishops also questioned the integrity of the JSC report, stating last Friday that: “On first reading we find it to be unsatisfactory. The assurances made are without credibility and its preparation is severely compromised by numerous conflicts of interest. The report itself appears to be a determined effort to find a way for the full inclusion of The Episcopal Church with no attempt at discipline or change from their prior position.”

The JSC report will be forwarded to all of the members of the Anglican Consultative Council and the primates for consideration. Archbishop Rowan Williams has asked for
their responses by the end of October.

–This article appears on page 8 of today’s edition of the Church of England Newspaper

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops

Northern California resolution pushes for authorized SSB rites

If anyone thinks the Episcopal Church actually intended in New Orleans to abide by any kind of slow down on the march to fully authorized rites for SSB’s, resolutions like this may cause them to think again. Here’s proposed resolution 5 in the diocese of Northern California:

Supporting Same-Gender Relationships of Mutuality and Fidelity

Resolved: That this 97th Convention of the Diocese of Northern California, desiring to support our sisters and brothers in Christ who are in same-gender relationships of mutuality and fidelity, and desiring to provide clergy with appropriate pastoral tools for ministering to persons in same-gender relationships, calls upon General Convention of the Episcopal Church to develop and authorize same-sex union blessing rites.

The Convention is Nov. 10 – 11. You can read all the resolutions here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

Northern California says "Show us your deeds!"

Here’s the beginning of proposed resolution 4 from the Diocese of Northern California:

TITLE: Affirmation of Real and Personal Property Status

RESOLVED: That this 97th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California urges every Parish, Mission and Congregation in the Diocese of Northern California to examine the title documents for all real property held in their respective Parishes, Missions and Congregations, and where necessary take such steps to incorporate the provisions of Title I, Canon 7, Section 4 of the Canons of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church into said title documents affirmatively stating that “all real and personal property held by or for the benefit of any Parish, Mission or Congregation is held in trust for The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California.

You can read all the proposed resolutions here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils, TEC Polity & Canons

Ralph Webb: Life on the Ground in one Episcopal Parish in New England

My wife Sharon and I spent an extended Columbus Day weekend in the Northeast, largely in Newburyport, MA. My father was born there over 80 years ago and grew up during the depression. His family attended a Congregational church that now is a member of the United Church of Christ. We were blessed to visit family there, but we found that even in small town New England, Episcopal Church issues were having an impact.

Because when I picked up Saturday’s local paper, I couldn’t help notice a front-page article detailing the local Episcopal Church’s (one town over) struggle to survive after the majority of its congregants left for the Anglican Church of Kenya. Only 10 families remained to keep the original Episcopal Church afloat. In contrast, according to congregational statistics from the Episcopal Church, average worship attendance had been at over 300 in 2006.

That’s a huge drop. If we apply the U.S. 2006 average family size of 3.20 persons to the families that remain (and that seems to be close to the mark, given year 2000 census figures for both the town and the county), we’re looking at roughly 32 members left in the Episcopal congregation. That means that at most roughly 11 percent of the congregation did not break away to form the new All Saints Anglican Church in a nearby community and remained with the Episcopal Church.

I can’t imagine the pain that those who remain with the local congregation must feel to see their congregation shrink by roughly 90 percent.

Read it all.

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

The Religion Report on Generation Y

Boy: I’ve had no contact with religion anywhere in my upbringing. Both my grandparents were very secular, my parents were very secular, so it’s almost religion to me, and growing up in sort of North Canberra, all my friends have been secular, so it’s almost like an abstract thing for me, I’ve had almost no contact with it throughout my entire life so far. I’ve never been to Church, like to a mass, or anything like that. So I suppose it’s all a bit of an intellectual thing, I don’t think religion is a particularly good force, I think it does a lot of bad in the world, sort of increases I suppose intolerance and bigotry in sort of within the community. But on the other hand people can believe what they want, I just don’t think it has a particularly positive force on lots of parts of society anyway.

I think don’t that the sort of moral high ground that religion proposes is valid at all in our society, I think most of the things have come despite religion through free thinkers and those things, and I don’t think the individualistic thing, I think that it’s equally there especially in Judaeo Christian religions, there’s that real focus on individual morality and individual sinning, it doesn’t see the wider picture, so I mean while everyone here at this table might be living in sin in terms of religious ideas, I think most of us want to try and make the world a better place.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Religion & Culture, Teens / Youth

Gene Robinson addresses gay Mormons

Washington Blade: What is your reaction to the House of Bishops statement released last week?

Bishop Gene Robinson: My take on what happened is “not much” and that’s what a number of us were working for. The bishops in our church don’t speak for the whole church. Our church only speaks when bishops and clergy and laity are gathered. Unlike many other churches, the bishops do not speak for the whole church. So it was not within our authority to do something different than what the General Convention did last summer. It was largely a restatement of where we already were. My thought is that sometimes progress is holding the ground you’ve already gained when moving forward is either untimely or politically not possible. I think that’s what we did….

Blade: What do you say to gay Christians who are struggling under the weight of their own church’s oppression? Is it better to stay and fight or leave and join a gay-friendly church?

Robinson: That’s a very personal choice. I would recommend that everyone stay and work hard in the denomination and religious communities they find to be home. But I also understand that in some places, in some congregations and environments it has become so toxic to one’s spiritual life that it may not be possible. To find spiritual solace, comfort and inspiration someplace else is also a reasonable choice. In the end, I don’t think God wants any one of us to sacrifice our spiritual life on this or any other altar. It’s up to each person to assess where they are in their own relationship with God and to discern whether that relationship is so strong that you can stay in a somewhat hostile environment to work for change. And if you can’t, then go someplace that does feed you.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Same-sex blessings, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops

Funds Sought to Facilitate Listening Process

Two Episcopal Church leaders “with profoundly different convictions about matters concerning human sexuality” have co-authored an appeal for financial contributions to supplement the limited amount of money that has been designated for the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Listening Process in the Anglican Consultative Council budget.

The House of Bishops’ “offer to refrain from moving forward has created space to launch an Anglican Communion-wide Listening Process,” said the Rev. Canon Bryan Cox and Louie Crew in a letter e-mailed to bishops Oct. 10. “The time has come for a global conversation in the Anglican Communion about human sexuality. The purpose of the Listening Process is not to create a predetermined outcome or to ”˜wear opponents down.’ It is to hear respectfully one another’s stories, hopes and fears about this matter.”

Canon Cox is rector of Christ the King Church, Santa Barbara, Calif., president of the Reconciliation Institute, and a member of the American Anglican Council. Mr. Crew is founder of Integrity, which describes itself as “a witness of God’s inclusive love to the Episcopal Church and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.”

Prior to distributing their letter, the two consulted with the Rev. Canon Phil Groves, who was appointed the Listening Process facilitator by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

South Carolina parishioners began HIV/AIDS orphanage in Haiti

It was a Monday evening in September 2002, and I was making dinner at our Edisto Beach, South Carolina, home. Trisha and I had finished our first day of work since returning from a mission trip to Haiti.

Trisha sat on the stool at the kitchen island across from me and asked, “So, what about Haiti?” I said, “I want to go.” She said, “I do, too!”

It is now 2007, and we have run an orphanage for children born with HIV/AIDS for a year.

We stutter-stepped for nearly 2 ½ years searching for our calling. We sought three different ministries, thinking we would work for someone else, but it was not to be.

During that time, we had taken in a 10-year-old street kid, afflicted with advance-stage AIDS, TB, pneumonia, scabies, a scalp of sores, malnutrition and a neurological disorder affecting balance and coordination. Roodline (Wood-lin) has been with us now for two years, going from near death to becoming a strong adolescent. Roodline was the inspiration of Kay (pronounced “ki”) Konfo — Comfort House.

In June 2005, we started to resurrect a filthy three-bedroom house, and on Dec. 9 of that year, took in our first two children. At that time, we drove more than three hours on mountain roads to get to an AIDS clinic. Today, we are only six miles from Hospital Albert Schweitzer, which started its children’s AIDS program because of our orphanage. We now offer high-quality care, with an ever-improving nutritional diet and a regimented drug program for 12 children.

Read it all. My wife and our youngest daughter leave with a mission team to Haiti and the end of next week–KSH.

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

Anglicans Welcome Letter From Muslims

The leader of the world’s Anglicans on Thursday welcomed a letter from Islamic scholars and leaders urging Christians and Muslims to develop their common ground of belief in one God.

The letter carried 138 signatures, including those of Muslim leaders from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Europe and the United States.

“The theological basis of the letter and its call to ‘vie with each other only in righteousness and good works; to respect each other, be fair, just and kind to another and live in sincere peace, harmony and mutual good will,’ are indicative of the kind of relationship for which we yearn in all parts of the world, and especially where Christians and Muslims live together,” Archbishop Rowan Williams said.

Read it all.

Update: The full Rowan Williams press release is here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Islam, Other Faiths

Thomas Friedman: Generation Q

I just spent the past week visiting several colleges ”” Auburn, the University of Mississippi, Lake Forest and Williams ”” and I can report that the more I am around this generation of college students, the more I am both baffled and impressed.

I am impressed because they are so much more optimistic and idealistic than they should be. I am baffled because they are so much less radical and politically engaged than they need to be.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

Steven E. Aschheim: Hannah Arendt and the modern Jewish experience

What is it about Arendt’s Jewish writings and persona that have rendered them so peculiarly divisive, and emotionally and ideologically charged? This too is related to her predilection to resist easy classification and simple self-definition, to question ideological platitudes, to provoke and to hold contradictory (some would say, perverse) positions. She incisively dissected the rise of modern political anti-Semitism ”“ yet seemed to hold the Jews partly responsible for its emergence and success. She was ideologically and institutionally identified with the Zionist movement (it may come as a shock to recall that, in 1941, her later bête noire, Gershom Scholem, described her as “a wonderful woman and an extraordinary Zionist”) ”“ and one of its most severe critics. She was one of the earliest and most concerned analysts of the “Final Solution” ”“ yet, for many, her analysis of Adolf Eichmann’s banality and her indictment of the complicity of the Jewish Councils in the extermination process rendered her more of an enemy than a friend of the Jewish people.

The same complexity applied as much to Arendt’s personal life choices as it did to her philosophical positions. If her committed Jewish identity and politics seemed self-evident ”“ the last chapter of her early work on Rachel Varnhagen is entitled “One Does Not Escape Jewishness” ”“ Arendt always took care to challenge the non-reflective, self-celebratory nature of group affiliations. She took great pride in the complex and critical, perhaps even subversive, nature of her own intertwined commitments. Of her relationship to her second husband, the German radical and non-Jew, Heinrich Blücher, she wrote in 1946: “If I had wanted to become respectable I would either have had to give up my interest in Jewish affairs or not marry a non-Jewish man, either option equally inhuman and in a sense, crazy”. Her Jewish identification was strong and passionate ”“ “I belong to the Jews”, she declared, “beyond dispute or agreement” ”“ but was never absolute. It was most clear and decisive under conditions of persecution, where, as she put it, one had to “resist only in terms of the identity that is under attack”. “Politically”, she stated in 1946, “I will speak only in the name of the Jews”, but she immediately qualified this by adding, “whenever circumstances force me to give my nationality”. It is precisely this deep yet ambiguous involvement in existentially crucial Jewish matters, indeed, her partial “insider” status that still endow her, for many, with a troubling, even threatening, relevance. As a “connected critic”, a member of the family rather than an outsider or enemy, her arguments have standing and authority; they demand engagement rather than simple dismissal.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Judaism, Other Faiths

Georgette Forney: Wrongly Matched

After carefully analyzing the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice’s publications and website, it becomes clear that it is an organization that talks about “religion,” but has no foundation in Judeo-Christian principles or a worldview based on the scriptures.

In contrast, The Episcopal Church is a Christian communion that is supposed to be faithful to biblical teaching. Affiliating with the RCRC, which is a “religious” organization that promotes philosophies contrary to authorized church teachings, invalidates the mission of the church.

That is why The Episcopal Church’s membership in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice should be terminated. As Christians, we proclaim the gospel of life. We don’t justify the shedding of innocent blood nor do we encourage people to make choices that lead to death. Christianity is about life eternal.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Life Ethics

A Blog for your List

Religion in American History–check it out.

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

Nicholas Healy- "By the Working of the Holy Spirit": The Crisis of Authority in the Christian Church

In sum, then, it may be that the crisis of authority in the Christian churches is not so much a crisis but just another instance of the messes and confusions that are part of life in the pilgrim church. But we may be able to use this crisis constructively, to look for more apostolic ways of being the church that may help us grow together into a church that will look somewhat different from today. Desperate measures to counter what may appear to be the collapse of all that is good and holy in the church may actually be counter to the working of the Holy Spirit. We recall Gamaliel s advice to the Sanhedrin when it was considering what to do about the new Christian movement. If it is of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to stop it (see Acts 5). If, indeed, we are faced with genuine sin and stupidity, they are not something that our measures, however desperate or systematic or fair, can necessarily cure. Rather, our task-which is not an easy one, perhaps much harder in many ways than getting excited, busily forming committees, and fortifying ramparts-is calmly and prayerfully to hope and trust in the promises of Christ and in the working of his Spirit, rather than to put our trust in something we have made. For our belief is that it is the triune God, and not we ourselves, who, from age to age, gathers a people together to be the church.

Read it all.

Posted in Ecclesiology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

Studies link man-made causes to rise in humidity

Two new studies have uncovered the first links between man-made global warming and an increase in humidity throughout all levels of Earth’s atmosphere.

One study, published in today’s edition of the journal Nature, found that the overall increase in worldwide surface humidity from 1973 to 1999 was 2.2%, which is due “primarily to human-caused global warming,” according to study co-author Nathan Gillett of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, United Kingdom.

The burning of fossil fuels ”” oil, coal, natural gas ”” is considered the chief way humans contribute to climate change because it releases heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Along with the added heat stress on people from the increased humidity, Gillett says the additional moisture in the atmosphere could lead to heavier rains and more volatile tropical storms. “If the humidity is increasing, then hurricane intensity will increase, too,” he says.

Scientists had observed significant increases in humidity at the Earth’s surface over the past few decades, but it had been unclear whether these changes were from a natural or human influence on climate.

A study published last month ”” which looked at the amount of water vapor in the full depth of the atmosphere over the oceans ”” was the first one to determine that human-induced warming is having a significant effect on the atmosphere’s total moisture content.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Climate Change, Weather

David Fischler on Misplaced Priorities

What [the] Rev. Cott’s church did is all admirable, I salute them for it, and certainly the more of it the church does the better. But she and the sponsors of this weekend”“World Vision, Zondervan, and Outreach Media Group”“all seem to have forgotten the central purpose of the Church of Christ, which is worship. All of the things we do in outreach to the world flows from our worship of the Triune God. Everything we do to serve others comes about because we first serve the God who has called us to respond to Him in service. Everything that River of Life did it could do in at another time. Canceling worship for the sake of these perfectly fine projects is, essentially, a publicity stunt, so I guess it’s no surprise that there are two media companies sponsoring it. But whatever the reason for it, it’s wrong, and it’s a misplacement of priorities. Remember”“Jesus said you could (and even should) do acts of mercy on the Sabbath. He didn’t say you had to plan to do them instead of worshiping.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Parish Ministry