Monthly Archives: November 2007

Notable and Quotable

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us””an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

–A section of Romans 8 from Euguene Peterson’s The Message, oh so appropriate for the coming Advent season

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Food Banks, in a Squeeze, Tighten Belts

Food banks around the country are reporting critical shortages that have forced them to ration supplies, distribute staples usually reserved for disaster relief and in some instances close.

“It’s one of the most demanding years I’ve seen in my 30 years” in the field, said Catherine D’Amato, president and chief executive of the Greater Boston Food Bank, comparing the situation to the recession of the late 1970s.

Experts attributed the shortages to an unusual combination of factors, including rising demand, a sharp drop in federal supplies of excess farm products, and tighter inventory controls that are leaving supermarkets and other retailers with less food to donate.

“We don’t have nearly what people need, and that’s all there is to it,” said Greg Bryant, director of the food pantry in Sheffield, Vt.

“We’re one step from running out,” Mr. Bryant said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch

John Andrew Murray: How one man put God into circulation

Fifty years ago, the phrase “In God We Trust” first appeared on our nation’s one-dollar bill. But long before the motto was signed into law by President Eisenhower, it was considered for U.S. coins during the divisive years of the Civil War.

On Nov. 13, 1861, in the first months of the war, Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase received the following letter from a Rev. M.R. Watkinson: “Dear Sir, One fact touching our currency has hitherto been seriously overlooked. I mean the recognition of the Almighty God in some form on our coins. You are probably a Christian. What if our Republic were now shattered beyond reconstruction? Would not the antiquaries of succeeding centuries rightly reason from our past that we were a heathen nation?”

The clergyman surmised correctly. Chase was indeed a Christian.

As a young man at Dartmouth College, Chase had described himself as skeptical of the Christian faith. He had written to a friend, Tom Sparhawk, in 1826: “A [religious] revival has commenced here [at Dartmouth]. I was not taught to believe much in the efficacy of such things but I do not know enough concerning their effects to oppose them.” Not only did Chase tolerate Dartmouth’s revival of 1826, but he emerged as one of 12 new followers of Christ. As Chase wrote to another acquaintance in April of that year, “It has pleased God in his infinite mercy to bring me . . . to the foot of the cross and to find acceptance through the blood of His dear Son.”

Read it all.

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

National Post: Canadian Anglican Leader In 'Denial'

“[We] deplore recent actions on the part of the Primate and General Synod of the Province of the Southern Cone to extend its jurisdiction into Canada,” the letter said. “This action breaks fellowship within the Anglican Church of Canada and the Anglican Communion.”

The [Archbishop’s] letter goes on to say that the actions of Southern Cone Archbishop Gregory Venables contravene various church agreements, including those in the 2004 Windsor Report, that forbid a primate from one Anglican region interfering in another region.

But critics said the Windsor report also placed a strict moratorium on same-sex blessings, a practice that continues in the Diocese of New Westminster, B.C.

“There is a real study in denial here,” said George Eger-ton, a history professor at the University of British Columbia and a member of the Anglican Network of Canada, which is forming the basis of a parallel conservative Canadian church. “The Windsor Report is only mentioned very briefly in passing and that is with regard to forbidding cross-border [issues]. That’s the only clue that you have that anything larger is happening in the worldwide Anglican communion. You’re in denial here that this is a major crisis that the Church is facing [over the issue].”

Read it all.

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

Night-shift work linked to cancer

Like UV rays and diesel exhaust fumes, working the graveyard shift will soon be listed as a “probable” cause of cancer.
It is a surprising step validating a concept once considered wacky. And it is based on research that finds higher rates of breast and prostate cancer among women and men whose work day starts after dark.

Next month, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the cancer arm of the World Health Organization, will add overnight shift work as a probable carcinogen. The American Cancer Society says it will likely follow. Up to now, the U.S. organization has considered the work-cancer link to be “uncertain, controversial or unproven.”

Read the whole piece.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

Church Times: New legislation on sexual orientation may be divisive

ANY uncertainty in proposed new legislation on incitement to hatred on grounds of sexual orientation might provoke attempts to test the law, warned the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church this week.

A joint submission on the Government’s proposed amendment to the Public Order Act 1986 to create a new offence of incitement to hatred on grounds of sexual orientation says there must be “maximum possible clarity”.

The concerns are set out in a memorandum to the Public Bill Committee on the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, from the Department for Christian Responsibility of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and the C of E’s Mission and Public Affairs Council.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

The Archbishop of Canterbury will act 'in collaboration with Primates'

The Archbishop of Canterbury has told the Primates of the Anglican Communion that his response to the American crisis will be taken with their collaboration.

Writing to the Primates on Oct 2 Dr. Williams said he was “seeking the counsel of the Primates in the first instance.”

“My intention is firmly to honour the discernment of all the primates and the wider Communion at this juncture, which is why it is important to me to have frank assessments from all of you at the earliest opportunity,” he said.

“What I am asking for,” Archbishop Williams said, “is an indication of your view as to how far your province is able to accept the JSC Report assessment that the House of Bishops have responded positively to the requests of Windsor and of the Dar-es-Salaam message of the Primates.”

Read the whole article.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury

Pope Offers 'Working Meeting' With Muslims

In response to a letter from Muslim leaders seeking better relations with the Christian world, Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday invited those leaders to the Vatican for a “working meeting” on inter-religious dialogue.

Writing on behalf of the pope, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, expressed Benedict’s “gratitude” and “deep appreciation” for an open letter that 138 Muslim scholars and clerics sent to the pope on Oct. 13.

That letter invoked the common principles of “love of the One God, and love of the neighbor” as the ultimate basis for peace between Muslims and Christians. Bertone’s reply acknowledged and reaffirmed those points.

“Without ignoring or downplaying our differences as Christians and Muslims, we can and therefore should look to what unites us, namely, belief in the one God,” the cardinal wrote.

Bertone noted that Benedict was “particularly impressed by the attention given (by the Muslim letter writers) to the twofold commandment to love God and one’s neighbor.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

The Archbishop of Canterbury's video message for World Aids Day

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has said that churches need to be brave, imaginative and honest in the fight against the spread of HIV and Aids.

In a message for World Aids Day [Saturday 1st December], issued for the first time as a video available on the internet, Dr Williams said churches are actively engaged in the global response to HIV and described as ”˜a scandal’ the limited access to drugs and treatment in deprived parts of the world.

“It is important that we do not allow ourselves to be paralysed by this challenge; people do not have to die ”“ drugs and treatment are available ”“ the scandal is that access is so often limited and it is hard to see where justice lies in the way resources are sometimes distributed.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury

Church in Burundi must heal hurts from past – Archbishop

Clergymen from the Anglican Church of Burundi gathered last week to consider the role of the church in building and consolidating peace in the country.

The Archbishop of Burundi the Rt Rev Bernard Ntahoturi met with other bishops of Burundi and with over one hundred pastors from all the Anglican dioceses in the country.

The meeting was part of a continued project to increase the capacity of 250 pastors and 250 lay people in a period of two years.

According to the Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS), in his opening speech the Archbishop told the attendants that they had come together as one united Church with the mission to be peacemakers so that God could be honoured in the Church and so that Burundi could experience healing and reconciliation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, - Anglican: Latest News, Africa

As credit dries up in U.S., concerns mount about recession

Credit flowing to American companies is drying up at a pace not seen in decades, threatening the creation of new jobs and the expansion of businesses, while intensifying worries that the economy may be headed for recession.

The combined value of two key sources of credit – outstanding commercial and industrial bank loans, and short-term loans known as commercial paper – peaked at about $3.3 trillion in August, according to data from the Federal Reserve. By mid-November, such credit was down to $3 trillion, a drop of nearly 9 percent.

Not once in the years since the Fed began tracking such numbers in 1973 have these arteries of finance constricted so rapidly. Smaller declines preceded three recessions going back to 1975.

“This is a very big deal,” said Andrew Tilton, a senior economist in the U.S. Economic Research Group at Goldman Sachs. “You’re basically crimping the growth of the more vulnerable companies. If they can’t borrow the money, their options are much more limited. They’d have to have less ambitious hiring plans, buy less machinery and cancel projects.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Setting Dante's journey to eternity to song

Dante’s “The Divine Comedy” is not, at first glance, obvious libretto material for contemporary musical theater. It’s about the Christian afterlife, features tormented sinners condemned to burn in eternal flames, and the grand finale is a hymn to the Virgin Mary and God’s absolute love – hardly a Broadway showstopper.

Yet for the composer Monsignor Marco Frisina, Dante’s journey to the three realms of the dead – Hell, Purgatory and Paradise – was a score in waiting.

“There is a lot of music in ‘The Divine Comedy’ already. Dante wrote it in canticas and cantos; there’s rhythm, a lot of passion. It is the perfect text for a musical work,” said Frisina, who has been chapel master of the Musical Lateran Chapel since 1985.

What “The Divine Comedy, The Opera: Man’s quest for love” (the full title of the production) is not is a musical.

“I see it as Italian opera. I leave musicals to the Americans, who are better at it,” Frisina said in a telephone interview.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music

Israeli Says Elusive Biblical Wall Found

A wall mentioned in the Bible’s Book of Nehemiah and long sought by archaeologists apparently has been found, an Israeli archaeologist says.

A team of archaeologists discovered the wall in Jerusalem’s ancient City of David during a rescue attempt on a tower that was in danger of collapse, said Eilat Mazar, head of the Institute of Archaeology at the Shalem Center, a Jerusalem-based research and educational institute, and leader of the dig.

Artifacts including pottery shards and arrowheads found under the tower suggested that both the tower and the nearby wall are from the 5th century B.C., the time of Nehemiah, Mazar said this week. Scholars previously thought the wall dated to the Hasmonean period from about 142 B.C. to 37 B.C.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Israel, Middle East, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Interim Report of the House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Episcopal Church


”¢ Almost half (49%) of our parishes and missions have an Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) of 70 or less. The norm – nearly two-thirds (63%) of Episcopal congregations–
has an ASA of 100 or less.

Read it very carefully and read it all.

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

Austin Bay: Al-Qaida's Emerging Defeat

The postwar relationship between Iraq and the United States is now a broader public topic. This week, the White House and the Iraqi government announced that state-to-state discussions are taking place with the goal of reaching detailed agreements that will govern Iraq and America’s long-term political, economic and military ties. Iraqis have asked for “an enduring relationship with America.”

I use the term “broader public topic” because this matter has been a subject of constant discussion since April 2003, with little of that discussion hush-hush.

When I reported in May 2004 for duty in Iraq, the first document dropped on my desk was a draft of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1546. After reading it with great interest, I discussed it with one of the very smart young majors in the Multi-National Corps-Iraq plans section. The very smart young major was already in the polymathic process of analyzing requirements and aligning “capabilities with tasks” (who will do what) in order to support the resolutions stipulation that Iraq hold “direct democratic elections … in no case later than 31 January 2005.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Terrorism