Daily Archives: October 24, 2007

Galveston-Houston archbishop among 23 new cardinals

On the day Pope Benedict XVI named 23 new Catholic cardinals ”” including the first to represent a Texas archdiocese, Galveston-Houston Archbishop Daniel DiNardo ”” many Texas Catholics, particularly those in San Antonio, were asking a question.

Why not San Antonio Archbishop José Gomez, the nation’s only Hispanic archbishop ”” especially if the appointment of DiNardo, who’s of Italian descent, is meant to reflect the growth of Catholicism in the Southwest?

Father Virgilio Elizondo, professor of Hispanic and Pastoral Theology at Notre Dame University, said Wednesday: “As far as having any particular meaning for Hispanics, I don’t think it will have any. Houston might have more Hispanics, but it’s not known as a center for Hispanic leadership the way San Antonio has been.”

Gomez, who was in Denver, is not asking the question.

“Personally, I’m very happy. The Holy Father is honoring all of us by appointing a cardinal in Texas for the first time ever. It’s a great gift for the Catholic Church in Texas,” Gomez said by phone.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Rural town may block Muslim site

A Muslim group’s plan to build a mosque and convention site on a 224-acre farm has met with resistance from many residents of this rural, overwhelmingly Christian town who fear its tranquility and security may be jeopardized.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA insists it will be a friendly neighbor, but its proposal — including an annual national gathering of thousands of Ahmadis — could be blocked by a measure under consideration by the town commissioners.

”Muslims are a whole different culture from us,” said the mayor, Ralph Whitmore, taking a break at his livestock feed store. ”The situation with the Muslims is a touchy worldwide situation, so people are antsy over that.”

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

SBC Leader Labels Mormonism 'Fourth Abrahamic Faith'

Southern Baptist Convention leader Richard Land called Mormonism “the fourth Abrahamic faith” in a discussion of controversy over Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s religious affiliation.

Land, president of the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told Bloomberg’s “Political Capital” with Al Hunt he regards Romney’s church as neither a Christian religion nor a cult.

“I consider it the fourth Abrahamic religion–Judaism being the first, Christianity being the second, Islam being the third and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints being the fourth,” he said. “Most evangelicals, certainly the ones I know–the polls show more than half–do not believe that Mormonism is an orthodox, Trinitarian, Apostolic, traditional Christian faith.”

While most observers believe it will be difficult to convince conservative evangelicals to vote for a member of a church that many consider an extra-Christian cult, Land has said from the start he doesn’t think Romney’s church affiliation is a “deal breaker,” but only Romney can address it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Faiths

Michiko Kakutani reviews Susan Faludi's Latest Book

This, sadly, is the sort of tendentious, self-important, sloppily reasoned book that gives feminism a bad name.

With “The Terror Dream,” Susan Faludi has taken the momentous subject of 9/11 and come to the conclusion that it led to … an assault on the freedom and independence of American women. In the wake of 9/11, she argues, the great American cultural machine churned out a myth meant to “restore the image of an America invulnerable to attack” ”” “the illusion of a mythic America where women needed men’s protection and men succeeded in providing it.”

She contends that there was a “peculiar urge to recast a martial attack as a domestic drama, attended by the disappearance and even demonization of independent female voices” and that there was a “beatification of the ideal post-9/11 American woman” as “undemanding, uncompetitive, and most of all dependent” ”” a woman who “didn’t just want a man in her life” but “needed one.”

These efforts on Ms. Faludi’s part to use the terrorist attacks of 9/11 as an occasion to recycle arguments similar to those she made a decade and a half ago in her best-selling book “Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women” (1991) feel forced, unpersuasive and often utterly baffling.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch

Paul Carr: Are the Priorities and Concerns of Charles Simeon Relevant for Today?

There is a strong argument for reforming the Church from within rather than through schism and we have a practicable model for pastoral care and social action. In closing, permit me to highlight three areas of Simeon’s ministry which have greatly challenged me in my reflections and which, if we were to follow them, would have the potential to rejuvenate our ministry.

1 Giving priority to an effective devotional lifestyle, with a commitment to spending ”˜quality’ time in Bible study and prayer.

2 A commitment to living a holy life, recognizing the need of the renewing and cleansing power of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives.

3 That, along with Simeon, our understanding of the purpose of our preaching would be: ”˜Sir, we would see Jesus’ (John 12:21).

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

Forward in Faith Assembly Resolution on TEC

From here:

FiF Assembly Resolution on TEC
Oct 24, 2007

The FiF National Assembly, having heard Bishop Jack Iker’s Report, passed nem. con. the following emergency Resolution on the situation in The Episcopal Church:

Resolution 2007/09

This Assembly notes with concern that the actions of the House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church consistently fail to match its words and assurances. The Assembly cannot agree with the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates’ Meeting that the response to the Windsor Report and the Dar-es-Salaam communiqué was adequate or honourable.

Proposed by the Reverend Dr Geoffrey Kirk

Seconded by the Reverend Prebendary Sam Philpott

Posted in Uncategorized

Colorado Springs Gazette: Audit clears the Rev. Armstrong

An independent forensic audit requested by a breakaway Episcopal congregation found no wrongdoing by the Rev. Donald Armstrong, accused of stealing nearly $400,000 from Grace Church and St. Stephen’s Parish.

There was no theft or tax fraud found, according to a statement about the audit released Tuesday. The audit, conducted for Grace Church CANA vestry and Armstrong’s attorney Dennis Hartley, was done by Robert D. Johnson, a Colorado Springs certified public accountant.

His audit found that six counts against Armstrong presented by the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado in an ecclesiastical court had reasonable explanations and that financial transactions had been approved by parish officials.

“I am grateful for this report, for its clarity and completeness in addressing the false accusations against me and our vestry by the Diocese of Colorado, its Bishop, and their representatives,” Armstrong said in a statement.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

Names of cheating clergy in Australia will be put on register of sex offenders

The Anglican Church in Australia plans to put the names of clergy who engage in extramarital affairs on a register of sex offenders.

The morally conservative Sydney Diocese of the Church is behind the move, which will require married clergy from Iraq to have their names included on the register even if they are only accused of infidelity.

Clerical chastity ”” a ban on extra-marital affairs ”” is already in the voluntary code of conduct for clergy. The inclusion of extramarital affairs on the Church’s register of sexually inappropriate conduct would block the renewal of licences for ministers.

Read it all.

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

Foster child to be taken away because Christian couple refuse to teach him about homosexuality

They are devoted foster parents with an unblemished record of caring for almost 30 vulnerable children.

But Vincent and Pauline Matherick will this week have their latest foster son taken away because they have refused to sign new sexual equality regulations.

To do so, they claim, would force them to promote homosexuality and go against their Christian faith.

The 11-year-old boy, who has been in their care for two years, will be placed in a council hostel this week and the Mathericks will no longer be given children to look after.

The devastated couple, who have three grown up children of their own, became foster parents in 2001 and have since cared for 28 children at their home in Chard, Somerset.

Earlier this year, Somerset County Council’s social services department asked them to sign a contract to implement Labour’s new Sexual Orientation Regulations, part of the Equality Act 2006, which make discrimination on the grounds of sexuality illegal.

Officials told the couple that under the regulations they would be required to discuss same-sex relationships with children as young as 11 and tell them that gay partnerships were just as acceptable as heterosexual marriages.

Read it all.

Update: David Fischler has this posted with commentary over at Reformed Pastor.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Children, England / UK, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

Southwest Florida Halts Apportionment Redirection

For the first time since 2003, delegates to convention in the Diocese of Southwest Florida rejected a resolution which would have allowed congregations to redirect apportionment payments away from the program budget of the General Convention.

Similar resolutions had passed at the 2003-2005 conventions. Last year, a procedural error kept the resolution from being considered but diocesan council approved a mechanism to implement the procedure anyway.

Bishop Dabney Smith used his Oct. 20 convention address, his first as diocesan, to steer a new course for Southwest Florida, one with an emphasis on mission, outreach and young adults. He also elaborated on a line item in the budget providing for an assistant bishop.

Read it all.

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

Alabama Picks a Bible Textbook

Alabama has became the first state in the union to approve a textbook for a course about the Bible in its public schools, and its surprisingly uncontroversial decision may prove to be a model for others.

According to Dr. Anita Buckley Commander, the Alabama Director of Classroom Improvement, there was no opposition to the October 11 vote by the state Board of Education to include The Bible and Its Influence on the state’s list of accepted textbooks. The Board held a hearing on the issue and no-one showed up; the book was approved by a vote of 8-0.

The textbook is a product of the Bible Literacy Project, founded and run by Chuck Stetson, a conservative Christian New York-based equity fund executive. Assessing scripture and its subsequent influence on literature, art, philosophy and political culture, it was specifically designed to avoid the Constitution’s church-state barriers. Although the text, which has been on the market for two years, is now taught in 163 schools in 35 states, no state had previously endorsed it.

Read it all.

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

Anthony Kenny: The irrevocability of faith

Recently, Dawkins published The God Delusion (reviewed in the TLS, January 19). As McGrath says, this book marks a significant departure. Dawkins is no longer an atheist whose main aim is to make evolutionary biology accessible to the general public: he is now a preacher whose mission is to convert religious readers to atheism. The book has a strident and aggressive tone, and a cavalier attitude to evidence that tells against its thesis that religion is the root of all evil. This has provoked McGrath to write a short volume exposing its flaws. The Dawkins Delusion? is credited to both Alister McGrath and his wife Joanna Collicutt McGrath, who is a lecturer in psychology of religion at Heythrop College, London. But the extent of her contribution is not made clear, and the book is written in the first person singular “for historical and stylistic reasons”. This makes it difficult to interpret the autobiographical statements. In this review I shall follow the authors’ convention and refer to “McGrath” in the masculine singular.

McGrath says that he is completely baffled by the hostility that Dawkins now displays to religion. But surely two recent phenomena explain the heightened shrillness of Dawkins’s atheism. The first is the rise of Christian fundamentalism in the United States, which endangers the teaching of evolutionary science in schools. The second is the rise of Islamic fundamentalism which has spawned extremist groups of people willing to murder thousands of innocent people even at the cost of their own lives. Of course McGrath is no less horrified than Dawkins by these two developments. But he regards them as largely irrelevant to the evaluation of religion. There can be atheist fundamentalists as well as religious ones, and Dawkins, he claims, shows every sign of being one. Moreover, atheism as well as religion has given rise to massacres, and true religion, as exemplified by Jesus of Nazareth, is hostile to violence.

These points are fairly taken, but I do not think McGrath does justice to the way in which religion, if it does not originate evil, gives it greater power.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Apologetics, England / UK, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology

Naomi Schaefer Riley: Shopping for God

In the early 1980s, the People for the American Way ran a television commercial in which actors were made to say how they preferred their eggs–e.g., scrambled, poached or fried. Everyone should be free, the ad implied, to choose as he wishes: That’s the American way. The punch line, Richard John Neuhaus wrote in “The Naked Public Square” (1984), was aimed at moral majoritarians “who allegedly would impose one way on everybody.” But of course, as Mr. Neuhaus noted, the matters over which the moral majority felt strongly–e.g., abortion and the death penalty–were not exactly comparable to breakfast fare. The ad amounted to a “fatuous trivialization” of moral concerns.

In “Shopping for God,” James B. Twitchell resurrects the spirit of the egg analogy to make an even broader claim. Choosing a religion, he argues, is much like choosing any other product–from breakfast food to beer. He sets out to determine why the “spiritual marketplace” in the U.S. seems so hot right now, and, more pointedly, why evangelical megachu rches have become, well, so mega. His theme can be summed up in one of the book’s smug chapter titles: “Christian Consumers Are Consumers First.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

San Diego Anglicans: Latest on the Southern California fires

San Diego Anglicans blog has set up an open thread re: the wildfires in Southern California, as well as a photo gallery.

If you need to know how various churches in the area have been affected, this is the go to site. As of yesterday evening, there were reports of up to 513,000 people evacuated, 500 homes lost in San Diego County, 800 homes destroyed outside the county.

Please keep the situation in prayer.

Posted in * Resources & Links, Resources: blogs / websites

A Press Release about A Forensic Audit of the Don Armstrong matter in Colorado

After a thorough investigation of several months duration, independent forensic auditor Robert D. Johnson, CPA, P.C. today issued a report surrounding the allegations of financial mismanagement, fraud, and theft at Grace Church & St. Stephen’s. His findings concluded that the Parish rector, the Rev. Donald Armstrong, is innocent of allegations of fraud and theft.

The forensic audit was initiated by the vestry in direct response to the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado’s investigation and presentment against Fr. Armstrong. Since 2003 relations between the conservative parish and the diocese have deteriorated over the revisionist theology of The Episcopal Church, creating a tenuous standing within the mainstream of the biblically faithful worldwide Anglican Communion. Grace Church has chosen to remain in the Anglican Communion.

The Rt. Rev. Robert O’Neill, Episcopal Bishop of Colorado, suspended Fr. Armstrong from ministry within the parish during the Christmas season of last year pending completion of an investigation of financial mismanagement. After several frustrated attempts by the vestry over the course of months to mediate in a situation that it viewed as politically motivated, the vestry determined that the Episcopal Diocese’s investigative and ecclesiastical judicial process was fatally compromised.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Lambeth Palace Statement in reference to the Letter from Rowan Williams to Bishop Howe

“It should be understood that the Archbishop’s response to Bishop Howe was neither a new policy statement nor a roadmap for the future but a plain response to a very urgent and particular question about clergy in traditionalist dioceses in TEC who want to leave TEC for other jurisdictions, a response reiterating a basic presupposition of what the Archbishop believes to be the theology of the Church.

The primary point was that ”“ theologically and sacramentally speaking ”“ a priest is related in the first place to his/her bishop directly, not through the structure of the national church; that structure serves the dioceses. The diocese is more than a ”˜local branch’ of a national organisation. Dr Williams is clear that, whatever the frustration with the national church, priests should think very carefully about leaving the fellowship of a diocese. The provincial structure is significant, not least for the administration of a uniform canon law and a range of practical functions; Dr Williams is not encouraging anyone to ignore this, simply to understand the theological priorities which have been articulated in a number of ecumenical agreements, and in the light of this not to increase the level of confusion and fragmentation in the church.”

Update: A Living Church article is here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury

Rob Marshall: Self-belief is exciting but occasionally disappointing. Belief in God is different

The transforming rediscovery of a sense of personal and therefore team belief is said to be behind the near miracle of England’s date with South Africa in tonight’s Rugby Union World Cup Final in Paris. They have already said goodbye to Australia and France against all the odds.

Jason Robinson, a committed Christian who will play his last competitive game for England tonight, says that a personal faith in God helps him on the field. His own religious beliefs apparently provide bedrock, a focus, a sense of the wider perspective. Bryan Habana, the South African winger and England’s greatest threat tonight, has also referred to some kind of divine intervention in his dramatic success. Neither claim God will help them to win: but their faith is important to them.

Self belief and inner conviction are not, of course totally reliant on a deeply religious understanding of life and living. Bertrand Russell noted that whilst man is a credulous animal and must believe in something, in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones. But he will always believe in something.

Read it all.

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

Australian on a mission to stay in U.S. for God's work

John Stanley has been trying for years to save people’s souls over cups of coffee, but he can’t drink it.
“I did, until all this immigration stuff started,” Stanley said. “Now I’m too nervous as it is.”

A tall, lean Australian who favors paisley shirts, keeps his long hair tied in a bandanna and rides a donated Harley, Stanley is an unlikely looking Episcopal missionary.

His mission is odder still. A bright, airy coffeehouse, seemingly plucked from the suburbs and dropped among the abandoned storefronts of Aliquippa, Uncommon Grounds is Stanley’s base for starting a spiritual and civic revival of the decaying former mill town.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry