Monthly Archives: January 2008

President Bush Urges Economic Action, Iraq Patience

President Bush, standing before Congress one last time, urged the nation Monday night to persevere against gnawing fears of recession and stay patient with the long, grinding war in Iraq. He pressed Congress to quickly pass a plan to rescue the economy.

“We can all see that growth is slowing,” Bush said in a blunt acknowledgment of rising food and gas prices, increasing unemployment and turmoil in the housing and financial markets.

He cautioned against accelerating U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq, saying that would jeopardize progress achieved over the last year.

“We have unfinished business before us, and the American people expect us to get it done,” Bush declared. It was his final State of the Union address and he faced a hostile, Democratic-led Congress eager for the end of his term next January.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Politics in General

From The National Post: The trouble with Mary

Jordan Peterson has an easy way to prove to most everyone they are a person of faith. It is not faith as one normally thinks of it at this time of year — that the Son of God was born to a virgin Jewish woman in a stable in a not-so-great part of Bethlehem about 2,000 years ago — but there is a connection.

“I presume that you assume that the future is real,” said Prof. Peterson, who teaches psychology at the University of Toronto and has studied the impact of belief on society. “The future is an immaterial entity. It’s composed entirely of possibility. So your belief in it is an axiom of faith.”

Across town, Archbishop Thomas Collins, whose responsibility is the region’s 1.7 million Catholics, said he believes in quarks, the little particles that are one of the two most fundamental components of the physical universe. Archbishop Collins has never seen a quark and nor has anyone else. They are, he said, like so many other things we take on faith, beyond our human comprehension.

“In this world there’s a lot more than can be caught in the coarse net of secular and rational reasoning,” said Archbishop Collins. “The imperfect instrument of the human reason is profoundly valuable, but it cannot capture everything. And the Virgin Birth is certainly something that doesn’t fit into it. Mysteries and miracles are simply things that boggle the mind. But they are real and they are profound.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Canada, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

The Bishop of Tennessee's Diocesan Convention Address

Finally, I want to say something about the peculiar point in our life as Episcopalians and Anglicans that we presently inhabit. I believe the Windsor Report offers us the way forward as we work to repair the common life of the Anglican Communion. At our 2007 Convention, clergy and delegates resolved that “the findings and recommendations of the Windsor Report represent the best way forward for the Episcopal Church USA and the Anglican Communion”. In addition, the Diocese re-affirmed a commitment to being a “full and active part of the Anglican Communion, in unity with the See of Canterbury, and the Episcopal Church USA; forgoing our own local desires for the sake of the greater Anglican Communion; and a conciliar approach to decision-making in the life of the Church and the Anglican Communion by working with and heeding the collective wishes of the Communion before making unilateral decisions”. These graceful words of connection I have made my own on a number of occasions, and I do so again today.

As Bishop of Tennessee, I am committed to the so-called Camp Allen principles of compliance with the recommendations of the Windsor Report, principles that the Archbishop of Canterbury identified in his recent “Advent Letter” as making obvious “that such dioceses and bishops cannot be regarded as deficient in recognizable faithfulness to the common deposit and the common language and practice of the Communion”. I hope that you know that I am committed to a traditional understanding of Christian marriage, and that that I believe the Church’s traditional teaching on sex and sexual relationships. I have been saying this consistently and publicly, I believe, since the year 2000, when it suddenly seemed necessary (at least to me) to say so. I will follow through with the discharge of my responsibilities as bishop, but you should also know that I am not planning on taking my beliefs and commitments and using them as a weapon against anyone, a tool in some war of separation that I do not believe will serve the Gospel or the Church.

I reaffirm these commitments in regard to the Windsor Report that I have made on a number of occasions before. I plan to attend the Lambeth Conference, one of the four “Instruments of Unity” that we have as a Communion. I believe that we are called to life together, as a Communion and as a Diocese, to unity in the midst of difference. Can we model in the Diocese of Tennessee a life together, where we can recognize the life of the Risen Christ present within each other, even when we disagree about important and even fundamental things? There are other voices that have put before us a different view of the situation, in which the church is defined by separation from those with whom we disagree. These voices identify the errors of others and then continue on a separate way. I believe that the end result of this process is the end of the church as a community of faith, faith that overcomes difference in the Risen Lord. We need to seek a common mind in the Church, that’s absolutely correct; there is no virtue in difference for difference’s sake when we can seek agreement, especially about fundamental things that might now divide us. But in order to seek a common mind we are going to have to show up in the same place and share the same life. That’s the life I’m committed to. It is the way of death and resurrection, the pattern we have learned from Christ; it is the way of bearing one another’s burdens, though I am acutely aware that the burden I bear may be small in comparison to that of others; it is the way of self-giving, of sacrificial offering, so that others may live. It is not the easy way, but I think it is the Gospel way, in this time and place, for us now in the Diocese of Tennessee.

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

Mark Lawrence's Remarks to South Carolina's Diocesan Convention

Watch and listen to it all.

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

Jerry Weinberger: Rebels with Causes

Like Hitchens and Paine, Franklin was an egalitarian freethinker with no scruples against free men’s fighting to secure liberty””their own and that of others. As Franklin said in Plain Truth, written in 1746 against Quaker pacifists and others unwilling to arm against French and Spanish privateers threatening Philadelphia: “One sword often keeps another in its scabbard . . . and the way to secure peace is to be prepared for war.” And Franklin was delighted that England won the Seven Years’ War. But like Hitchens and unlike Paine, Franklin was a cautious revolutionary, and after the American Revolution could still regret that the costly war had not been avoided. It’s impossible, of course, to know whether a 300-year-old Franklin would have favored the war in Iraq. He might have. But he definitely would have thought that, as with all matters of war and liberty and revolution, it would not be an easy call.

He certainly would have listened to and taken seriously what Hitchens has had to say about the current conflict. Old Ben would know that for Hitchens, moralist though he may be, one can’t be a true foe of despotism if one’s judgment is deranged by anger and absolutist indignation. Beyond that question, Franklin would like this delightful book because its message is that, of the two modern revolutions that Paine said having a share in was “living to some purpose,” the one that got most things right””with one notable and tragic exception””was the first.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A.


Jan. 29 (Bloomberg) — Societe Generale SA board member Robert Day and his foundations sold shares of the bank worth 45 million euros ($67 million) on Jan. 18, the day it said management discovered trading frauds costing 4.9 billion euros.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Stock Market

Fannie Mae CEO says US home prices should post a larger percentage decline in 2008 than 2007

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market

Living Church Article on South Carolina Consecration

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

A 60 Minutes Segment on the Subprime Mortgage Crisis

A little over 15 minutes–watch it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market

Virginia Bishop exhorts Episcopalians to fund diocese

The diocese officially does not ordain homosexual clergy, although a resolution is on the table for today’s meeting that would change that policy.

It also does not conduct “blessing” ceremonies for same-sex unions. However, a diocesan committee report, issued yesterday, said there was an “emerging consensus” among committee members to eventually allow such blessings.

“Scripture addresses lifelong committed relationships characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect and the holy love” among homosexuals, the report said. A new commission will “identify practical steps” on how the diocese can minister to homosexual couples, it said.

The Episcopal Church has had multiple splits over sexual and theological issues, all of which have drained numerous dioceses of funds. The Virginia diocese’s budget is up by 4.5 percent this year, but that has come at the expense of maintaining a staff of only 24 full- and part-time workers.

It’s the smallest staff of the nation’s five largest dioceses, said Bishop Lee, adding that there will be “unwanted turnover” unless larger salary increases are forthcoming.

“That was a departure for him to be that forthright,” said Steve van Voorhees, a council teller. “He’s never put money in his pastoral address before.” Diocesan treasurer Mike Kerr said some churches have curtailed their giving out of fear that the money may go toward the lawsuit and have asked whether they can restrict where their funds go.

Calling restricted giving “a slippery slope,” Mr. Kerr said that the $70,000 needed to service the $2 million line of credit is coming out of an endowment fund, not out of the diocese’s $4.7 million 2008 budget.

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

Meeting in Hanford, California, Episcopal Church members struggle

About 250 people came to worship and to hear representatives of the U.S. Episcopal Church and the Fresno-based Remain Episcopal organization. The message was clear: Don’t feel abandoned.

“You are not alone,” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said in a video message shown during the gathering. “God is always with you.”

Delegates of the Diocese of San Joaquin voted at an annual convention in December to leave the U.S. Episcopal Church largely because of differences with the national body’s approval of same-sex blessings, ordination of gay bishops, the role of women in the church and how to interpret the Bible over such issues.

Among the diocese’s 48 congregations in 14 counties, fewer than 10 remain Episcopal.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin

Video of South Carolina Acting Bishop Edward Salmon's Diocesan Convention Address

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Posted in Uncategorized

Video of Rob Sturdy's Sermon at the Diocese of South Carolina Convention

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

Bishop Alden Hathaway's Sermon at Mark Lawrence's Consecration

The following is the text of a sermon preached by the Rt. Rev. Alden M. Hathaway at the consecration of Mark Lawrence to be Bishop of South Carolina on this past Saturday.

Mark Lawrence Consecration Sermon January 26, 2008

St. Paul admonishes his young protégé Timothy:
Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord ”“ but share in suffering for the gospel in the power of God. II Timothy 1:8

It is the worst of times. It is the best of times.

To be consecrated a bishop of the one, holy catholic and apostolic church. Mark and Allison, here we are, finally and at last.

It has been a long way since that telephone call. The Lord had been speaking to you, as to Abraham, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you”. Go from the land of the High Sierra that you love. Go to the coastland of the Low Country. Go to where it is deep enough for the Ivorybill. And there I will bless you. And by this all the families of the Carolina shall bless themselves.

It has been a long and anguished journey. The tortured politics of the Episcopal Church. The whole thing has given you name recognition throughout the breadth of the Communion. Second only perhaps to the Bishop of New Hampshire.

It is a most auspicious thing we do here today, setting you over us as our bishop; and for the wider church, apostolic witness to the gospel of Christ.

Thank you Mark and Allison for your obedient patience, your steadfast willingness to lash your lives and your destiny to the foremast of the ship of Jesus Christ. You encourage us. You strengthen us. You give us hope for the perilous, the glorious voyage ahead.

“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control”. That was St. Paul’s charge to Timothy – and His promise to us.

We know already Mark, that it is God’s Holy Spirit that so powerfully dwells within you and so singularly drives your ministry.

We rejoice this day and pledge ourselves to labor with you for the great cause of Christ that He lays before us – the years ahead.

* * *

For indeed – It is the worst of times.

It is pointed out that we, as Episcopal Church, are in the midst of a Class5 Conflict. Nobody listening, all giving negative spin to everything said, demonizing each other and bending every effort to bar access to influence or credibility, property or power to anyone who professes or sympathizes with ”˜The Other Side’.

The ordeal of your canonical confirmation, case in point.

The issues are purported to be about sexuality and doctrine and ideology.
But our problem is about trust. Big time. There is precious little of it. So we are locked in a pernicious process of ecclesial shunning and realignment.

The question at the heart of our issue is the Gospel itself. Do we really trust it? Are we ashamed of it? Does it not need something extra to make it credible? To make it effective?

Now I am using these terms advisedly and with tongue in cheek ”“ But for a neopuritan, fundamentalist, reasserter like you Mark, in this neounitarian, pluralist, revisionist Episcopal Church of ours ”“ it is the worst of times.

You will suffer for it. I speak as one who has the scars on my back from 27 years in the House of Bishops. Hey, we all bear the scars no matter what side we have been on, even when we would with all our hearts wish it other wise.

But it is also the Best of Times;

For as bad as things are in the Episcopal Church, to my view;
To my unashamed confidence in the Gospel point of view,
Things have never been better.

Look at it this way:

Sure, there has been a fifty-year movement pressing upon the church the teaching and practice of the popular progressive agenda. And thank God for the real and legitimate social gains it has championed.

We can even be grateful for the pop theologues who teach Jesus as
”˜A Way’ rather than ”˜The Way’ to the Father. They have quickened the debate and begged theological clarification regarding the fundamentals of the faith.

Along side of all of this, even perhaps because of it, there has been a great movement of spiritual renewal going on; a movement that has touched every aspect of our life as church.

At a time when the National Episcopal Church was looking to close and consolidate seminaries, this renewal movement produced a new seminary and revitalized an old one, now pumping out well-trained and prepared candidates for ordination. Trinity School for Ministry is after 30 years the second largest seminary in the church. Mark Lawrence, its first graduate to be made Bishop. There are many more coming forth to cast the future faithful witness of Anglicanism in America ”“ and around the world.

At a time when the National Church was bringing missionaries home and teaching that foreign mission was cultural imperialism; The South American Missionary Society was started. It has spawned a plethora of other mission societies both domestic and foreign putting the Episcopal Church back in the missions business. Talk about ”˜New Wine skins’.

And that has connected us with the our fellow Anglicans globally,
At the level of outreach and evangelism, Where we are partnered with them as they seek to build their churches and extend the reach of the gospel in engagement with the great spiritual challenges of the 21st Century.

As bad as some may conclude things are in the Episcopal Church, in reality they have never been better – for the witness of the Gospel.

Because finally ”“ and here I am deadly serious ”“ the greatest asset to the
Power of the gospel – is the strife itself;

All the opposition, the abuse, the shunning, the suffering, the ecclesiastical cleansing, the persecutions – if we can go so far to call it that.

For we follow the one who when He was reviled, reviled not in return,
But gave his back to the smiters. And who said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross”.

It is by the witness of our suffering and our unwavering perseverance in suffering that we commend the integrity and the power of the Gospel we proclaim.

It is said that God first wounds those whom he will heal. It is true.
For in the wounding is the healing. It is the power of the Cross.

The many, the increasing stream, of people and clergy, congregations and even diocese departing the Episcopal Church ”“ ”˜To provide safe haven for the traditional, the orthodox Christian’, they contend. They have suffered much for their stand. I cannot gainsay their decision (they are as sincere of conscience as I). But indeed it breaks my heart.

We should rather be thankful that our Lord Jesus did not elect such recourse, or we would still be in our sins.

The gospel of the cross of Jesus Christ needs no protection, no safe haven. It needs rather to be proclaimed even in the face of both its determined detractors and its patronizing friends.

The power of the gospel, the power of the cross, is the joyful willingness to be abused for Christ, to suffer for Christ, yea to die for Christ.

That is the very power we are called to proclaim. We preach that. It is rare privilege that we have opportunity to live it. But when we do, Aye, there is the witness that does change the world.

I love the story John Stott used to tell about the preacher man who was going on an airline flight. He had his bible in one of those zip up leather covers. The security man challenged him, “What’s in that parcel sir?” To which the preacher man replied, “DYNAMITE”.

If you can find anywhere a better doctrine than this, a more comfortable refreshing teaching. If you have a more credible explanation of the way things are and the way they must need to be redeemed. Then go for it.

I have heard them all and so have you. For my money the old, old story of Jesus and his crucified love so far surpasses them, they are not even in the same league with the plain gospel of the cross of Christ. And it is the job of the church that professes to call itself Christian, to teach that gospel without apology. And not be distracted by lesser things.

As Yogi Berra reminds, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

* * *

But – Now, it must be said: It is indeed an ill wind that blows no good.
I just wonder. How does all this confusion ecclesiastical look from God’s perspective?

This whole business about the uproar in the Episcopal Church.
There isn’t anyone in the whole of Anglicanism that has not heard about it, got an opinion about it, is incensed about it, wonders what it is all about, what is the problem, wish it would just go away so we can get on with the work of the Church.

God has got our attention.

We have until now, simply taken for granted this thing called the Anglican Communion, just a congenial gathering of national churches that have a common heritage with Canterbury and British Reformed Catholic Christianity.

Who all wait on the Whipples catalogue to see the latest in fashionable Anglican, clerical attire.

All of a sudden we are being forced to face what being Communion really means; ”˜How we are accountable to one another, how we care for one another; How we shoulder one another’s burdens; How we are Church together’.

We have got a lot of work to do on this one. But the promise is of the utmost importance. What does it mean to be a truly global church?
There is the Roman ”“ model All authority from top down
There is the Protestant model ”“ Every one doping their own thing.

But Anglicanism works a different way, a councilor model. And so we have a grand opportunity to show what a worldwide fellowship of believers is meant to be, peoples so different yet equal members of the Body, Jesus Christ being the head. The truly global Church.

The other communions and denominations are watching us.
“Can the Anglicans pull it off? Oh, God, we hope they can.
For then there is a way for all of us to come together in the great missionary challenge of the 21st Century”.

* * *

The pieces are all in place for us. All that is needed is a positive, unifying, compelling vision. The only difference between a catastrophe and an opportunity is a matter of attitude.

The problem is that the conservative, orthodox, biblical, evangelical, gospel side of our Episcopal Church has had an attitude problem. A negativity, a pension for playing the game of ”˜Aint it awful!’ God does not honor that. You cannot lead out of a negative agenda.

As Bishop Stanway was fond of saying, “If you aim at nothing, you are sure to hit it.”

How desperately our Episcopal Church needs a faithful, positive leadership.

Therefore it is indeed the best of times to be made a bishop.
To be made Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina.
To make Mark Lawrence Bishop of South Carolina.

Not because South Carolina is a safe haven. Not because it has determined to be under alternative primatial oversight, whatever that means. Not because it is protected from the storm that is rocking the church.

But because it is a diocese that is together with itself. It is a diocese that is clear about what the gospel is. It is a diocese that is not ashamed of it.
And therefore confident and enthusiastic to make disciples of all people.

The faithful leadership of its past bishops, the dedication of its clergy, the amazing resources of its people ”“ This diocese is locked and loaded, ready to sail into battle.

And to stand among the other dioceses, to stand in the House of Bishops and The General Convention and everywhere else we can engage this old Episcopal Church under the challenge of the prophet Isaiah: “Come let us reason together, though our sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow’’.

We have got a gospel to proclaim and a story to tell. Come and taste and see. It still has the stuff of truth in it and the power to sort out the souls of women and men.

Not those tired and tawdry old slogans that the pop culture wants to lay on us full of bluff and bluster, signifying nothing. The junk bond theology, sub prime spirituality, fast food morality

As church we have no time for that, there is a mission to be launched. There is work to be done. And Let us in South Carolina model the way.

And we have in Mark Lawrence, A man of God whom we trust, and by whose voice already we hear the voice of The Good Shepherd.
Him who goes before, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

* * *

What might that vision look like for us in this time of our witness?
I speak as a fool but let me presume to suggest. And here as I am coming better to know this diocese, perhaps I am ”˜bringing coals to Newcastle’.

Let me tell you my parable of Fifth Ave. It is a paradigm of the Missionary Challenge before us.

In Pittsburgh, Fifth Ave. runs up from downtown through the University District. The University of Pittsburgh’s great tower of learning, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, row on row of hospitals clinics and research centers, Carnegie Mellon University, many small colleges and institutes that are committed to shaping the minds and inspiring the aspirations of the rising generation. All along Fifth Ave.

And right in the middle is St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Cathedral.
This great gothic pile. We consecrated Bob Duncan as my successor Bishop of Pittsburgh there 12 years ago.

We would gather for wonderful ecumenical events, the soaring arches and stained glass, singing the old hymns, praying the familiar prayers, church leaders in various costumes of traditional ecclesiastical attire ”“ and at the conclusion we would all recess down the long aisle, out through the great west doors –

And there directly across the street, the foyer of the Carnegie Mellon University Institute of Software Technology. The young guys and gals from every corner of the globe dressed in their sweatshirts and blue jeans, sodas in their hands ”“ and they are looking at us and we are looking at them. And the great question is:

How does the Gospel get across Fifth Ave?

Our mandate is to carry the cross of Christ to those bright young men and woman who are building this brave new technologically interconnected global world that increasingly is becoming ”˜flat’, oh so flat.

Yes and also to those others, those voiceless millions, who are being quite by-passed by it all.

The gospel is transformation of the mind through hope in God, especially when the promises of the world are in free fall. It is the training of the soul to sacrifice and service, over and against the ideologies of terror and force.

Our primary mission is to sow the idea of the cross within the imaginations and intellects of our youth. “To Timothy, my beloved child”. That was St. Paul’s passion, to pass on the great gospel of hope down the generations. Let it be ours. Let us be strong to carry it across Fifth Ave. and to carry it up Mars Hill.

Our mission is to The College of Charleston and The Citadel
– And to Yamacraw Island, where the Water is Wide.

Mark, we recall your story about the man standing across from a church in a small English town. Watching a woman come out and put some things in the boot of her car. “Mam”, he says, “Can you tell me? Does this church work?”

In a time when so many things simply don’t work. Things we are supposed to believe in, depend upon, trust in, that simply don’t work.
“Does the church Work?”

Oh Mark, Yes it does! We have our Lord’s promise that it does.
“The gates of Hell shall not prevail against it”.

* * *

Let me conclude with a parable of the modern Church. I love this one.

The Church is like a bunch of good ole boys that had a fishin camp up on the lake. Where they went to fish a little and drink a lot and tell tall stories that were only a little bit true.

Now these good ole boys began to notice every afternoon an old fellow come into the landing, his beat up aluminum boat full of fish. They wondered how he was doin it, catching all those fish.

One of the good ole boys, who was also the game warden, said,
“I have my suspicion. Tomorrow morning I’ll be there when he goes out and I’ll see if he won’t take me fishin with him”.

The next morning the game warden, without his uniform and not identifying himself, greeted the old fellow, “Can I go fishin with you?” “Sure, get in the boat”.

Now the game warden was amazed to see that all the old man had for tackle was an old metal box and a net. They motored up to the end of the lake, pulled into a deep cove and let down the anchor. The old man opened the box. It was full of sticks of dynamite. He took a stick, lit the fuse, and threw it into the water. BOOM. He took the net and scooped up all the fish, stunned by the blast.

The game warden sat dumfounded. When he got his wits about him, he reached into his pocket, pulled out his badge and shoved it under the old man’s nose. The old man looked at the badge, looked at the dynamite, took a stick, lit the fuse, stuck it into the game wardens hand and said.
“Are you going to sit there ”“ or are you going to fish?”

Mark, I’m told the fishin is pretty good down around this Low Country.
And there could not be a better time to go fishin.

This diocese is ready to go fishing with you Mark.
And I know that you are ready to lead us.

If I may paraphrase that great text from Hebrews chapter 11:
For we who are speaking thus make it clear that we are seeking a homeland. If we had been thinking of that land from which we have gone out, we have ample opportunity to return. But we desire a better country that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called our God, for he has prepared for us a city.

* * *

If there would be one word that I would leave with you Mark, it would be this. I believe it was Robert Murray McCheyne who first said it to a group of ministers: “Your Holiness is your people’s greatest need”.

Our greatest need of you as our bishop is your own relationship to God. Take care of your own soul. Take care of Allison and your family. Take the time to pray. Take your treks back into the marshes and streams where it is deep enough for an Ivorybill.

Listen to us Mark, and from what you discern by your prayers and by what you shall come to know of us by our life together: our selves, our souls, our needs and our dreams – pastor us.

Yet Abide in the Lord – and from what you hear from Him, And him alone lead us. As with St. Paul, “Decide to know nothing among us except Jesus Christ and him crucified”.

And it shall be well with us; all things shall be well. And it shall be well with the Church.

It is the Worst of times; and therefore it is the best of times:
To be made a bishop of the one, holy catholic and apostolic church.
To be made The Bishop of South Carolina.

Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord ”“ but share in suffering for the gospel in the power of God. II Timothy 1:8

God bless you Mark, God bless us all.


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

Heart to heart for Iraqi girl

Watch it all–makes the heart glad.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Health & Medicine, Iraq War, Military / Armed Forces

Pope wades back into debate on "seductive" science

Pope Benedict warned on Monday of the “seductive” powers of science that relegate man’s spirituality, reviving the science-versus-religion debate which recently forced him to cancel a speech after student protests.

“In an age when scientific developments attract and seduce with the possibilities they offer, it’s more important than ever to educate our contemporaries’ consciences so that science does not become the criteria for goodness,” he told scientists.

Scientific investigation should be accompanied by “research into anthropology, philosophy and theology” to give insight into “man’s own mystery, because no science can say who man is, where he comes from or where he is going”, the Pope said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology

John Barr: Two moments on a Saturday morning

There are two moments from Saturday’s marvelous consecration which marked me most and stand truest to my heart””neither of which would ever have been envisioned by the planners as “big hit moments.” The first was standing under the huge tent in front of the cathedral with tangled battalions of deaneries, the place aglow with catcalls and glad reunions and silliness and snarled vestments. What was really happening? It struck me as a supreme time of expectant hopefulness. Life in Christ rides on the rails of relationships, and I stopped to look around and was hit by the intense joy of being together, the gratitude of getting to be with these folks. The wait in the wind and cold for over an hour could have gone on and on. God is in control; Jesus has risen; he won’t go back into the tomb; this is fun. On into Galilee.

And the second was this: Bishop Mark was well on his way in the Eucharistic Prayer, his first celebration ever as our Episcopal leader. Somewhere on his way through those words that silence happened. It was the sort of silence which you know immediately is unplanned, which says something’s not right; hurry up; the world is about to crash. But no, it went on. Then Mark said: Where are we? He had lost his place. I heard a quick, gentle laugh. It was not the laughter of derision or embarrassment, but the laughter of relief. I immediately thought how many times I had lost my place, and I loved Mark even more already. But then a priest kneeling beside me whispered: This is good. And an invisible window of grace opened. Somewhere in Auden’s Christmas Oratorio the lines came to me (I had to look them up): Though written by thy children with a smudged and crooked line, thy Word is ever legible.

That was the truest bridge over which Christ’s grace crossed to me on my Saturday. I loved all the pageantry, the color of bishops processing, the long procession of international visitors, the seamless planning, incredible music; I loved the guys marching in who looked like they came out of a Dickens novel””that we offer our best. Yet strangely, it was not our best that got me, but the reality that God takes the flawed and smudged lines of our crooked witness and writes his Word through us. He loves it when we get lost and then finds us. Truly in our weakness, Christ makes himself strong, even on Consecration day. I will always remember it kneeling there, lost and found, laughter and grace.

–The Rev. Dr. John Barr III is rector, Church of the Holy Comforter, Sumter, South Carolina

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

Young evangelicals could be key in GOP race in Florida

“Each candidate speaks to a different interest of the evangelical perspective, and each is getting a share of the pocketbook and family-values vote,” said [Joel] Hunter, author of A New Kind of Conservative.

And this has turned the Republican campaign into a free-for-all scramble for the votes of white evangelicals — a pivotal bloc of 25 percent to 35 percent of Floridians likely to vote in the GOP primary.

A Mason-Dixon Florida Poll conducted this week showed 27 percent of self-described “born again” voters backed Huckabee, a Southern Baptist minister who combined a “FairTax” campaign pitch aimed at blue-collar voters with conservative “biblical” values to win a victory in the Iowa caucuses.

But 28 percent favored former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who once made much of his anti-abortion, anti-gay-marriage credentials but is now touting himself as a businessman who can fix a “broken” Washington establishment.

And 23 percent chose Arizona Sen. John McCain, a maverick conservative and supporter of the Iraq war who in 2000 blasted some evangelical leaders as “agents of intolerance.”

Only New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is twice-divorced and a moderate on social issues, including abortion rights, seemed out of consideration, with 9 percent

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Other Churches

From the Local Charleston S.C. Paper: Welcome home, South Carolina heroes

Citizen-soldiers have played a vital role in helping the U.S. military carry out its ongoing missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. That includes the approximately 170 members of the S.C. National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 263rd Armor Regiment who came home to the United States last week, landing in Fort Stewart, Ga., where they received well-earned applause ”” and not just from the roughly 100 loved ones and friends who showed up meet them.

As reported in The State newspaper, the unit, part of the Guard’s 218th Brigade Combat Team, deployed last January for Afghanistan after being mobilized in October 2006. Among its duties were providing security for convoys and neighborhoods near coalition bases, before taking control of Task Force Phoenix training programs for the Afghan army and police.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces

Kennedy Calls Obama ”˜New Generation of Leadership’

Senator Edward M. Kennedy implored Americans on Monday to “reject the counsels of doubt and calculation,” as he extended his endorsement and placed the aura of his family’s name around the presidential candidacy of Senator Barack Obama.

“It is time again for a new generation of leadership,” Mr. Kennedy said, speaking over a crowd of cheering supporters here at American University. “It is time now for Barack Obama.”

Mr. Kennedy promised to campaign aggressively for Mr. Obama, a strong endorsement from a veteran Democratic leader that might influence some in the party’s liberal Democratic base torn between Mr. Obama and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

“We, too, want a president who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American dream and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal and who can lift our spirits and make us believe again,” Mr. Kennedy said. “I’ve found that candidate and I think you have, too.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

New Moderator for Indian Church

The 31st biannual synod of the Church of South India has elected a new moderator. The Rt. Rev. John Wilson Gladstone, Bishop in South Kerala, was elected leader of the united church by the 500 synod delegates meeting in Visakhapatnam on Jan 12.

The Bishop in Madurai, the Rt. Rev. Christopher Aswer was elected Deputy Moderator, and Mr. M. Jayakumar of Bangalore and Mr. Devasahayam of Warangal were elected General Secretary and Treasurer respectively, while 66 members of the church were elected to serve on its executive council.

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

Full text of the Bishop of Stafford’s Pastoral Letter for February

The media have reported what they think is depressing news for Anglicans in England. First came the announcement that Tony Blair has been received into the Roman Catholic Church. Then statistics showed that in 2006 the numbers of people in England attending Roman Catholic worship had exceeded those attending Anglican worship for the first time since the Reformation. And I’ve lost count of the number of times I hear remarks in the media about how mainstream churches in the UK have “lost it”, or are in “terminal decline.”

Now in part we only have ourselves to blame. We English Anglicans are extraordinarily good at talking down our church. It’s frightening to ask yourself: how often have I been in a conversation with non-churchgoers during which I’ve criticized “the Diocese” or “the Evangelicals” or “the Prayer Book groupies” – or simply failed to use the opportunity to say what I really value about my church and my faith? And we are incomprehensibly obsessed with sex – or at least that’s the impression we often give. Perhaps we’ve never really got over the fact that one of our founders (Henry VIII) had serious marital problems.

But all this is light years away from the real purpose and vision of our church, which is to proclaim and celebrate what God has done and is doing for us in Jesus Christ, who died for us and now lives and reigns as lord and king. There’s a crucial moment in Matthew’s Gospel when Peter (rather reluctantly) gets out of the boat and walks towards Jesus on the water. At first he stays upright; “but when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened” and begins to sink. And Jesus both rescues and rebukes him, saying “you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:30-31). Notice two things: first, Peter is able to walk on water for as long as he focuses single-mindedly on Jesus. The moment he gets worried about the wind (or gay bishops, or the parish share), he starts to sink. Secondly, the word translated “doubt” really means “look in two different directions at once.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

A tipping point? "Foreclose me … I'll save money"

A homeowner who can’t sell his house tells the L.A.Times, “Foreclose me. … I’ll live in the house for free for 12 months, and I’ll save my money and I’ll move on.”

Banks and lenders fear this kind of thinking — that walking away from a house could be the smart economic move — appears to be on the rise. Wachovia, in a conference call yesterday, warned investors that increasing numbers of homeowners are walking away from their homes by choice: “… people that have otherwise had the capacity to pay, but have basically just decided not to because they feel like they’ve lost equity, value in their properties…”

Read it all and follow the links.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market

Richard W. Garnett: Remembering American History about Roman Catholicism

In April, Benedict XVI will make his first visit to the USA as pope. When he does, some will complain about clean-up costs, traffic snarls, rescheduled television shows and other inconveniences. Others will express (and the media will obsess about) their various disagreements with the pope’s writings and church teaching. And many millions will be inspired, comforted and encouraged by his work, life and witness, and by the theme of his new encyclical letter, “Saved By Hope.”

Today, thanks in part to Pope John Paul II’s globetrotting, evangelical papacy, visits by popes to America are occasions for reflection, celebration and souvenir-selling. In our not-so-distant past, though, papal invasions loomed large in all kinds of nightmare scenarios.

It is easy to forget but, from the Puritans to the Framers and beyond, anti-“popery” was thick in the cultural air breathed by the early Americans. Our forebears were raised on hair-raising tales of Armadas and Inquisitions, Puritan heroism and Bloody Mary, Jesuit schemes and Gunpowder Plots, lecherous confessors and baby-killing nuns. As the great historian John Tracy Ellis once observed, a “universal anti-Catholic bias was brought to Jamestown in 1607 and vigilantly cultivated in all the thirteen colonies from Massachusetts to Georgia.”

In the 1830s, Samuel Morse (who invented the telegraph) wrote a popular book, Foreign Conspiracy Against the Liberties of the United States, warning that Irish immigration to American cities was part of a papal plan of conquest.

About the same time, Lyman Beecher ”” a Presbyterian minister and the father of Uncle Tom’s Cabin author Harriet Beecher Stowe ”” revealed, in his own A Plea for the West, that Catholic immigrants in the American West were laying the groundwork for the pope’s Mississippi Valley invasion. (Some tracts identified Cincinnati as the planned site for the new Vatican.)

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Church History, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Uncovering the 'Holocaust by bullets'

Painful to watch but hauntingly powerful–warning, a number of images are very disturbing.

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

Joe Nocera is Worried about the Economy

I don’t see how you can avoid a certain amount of gloom given the week we’ve just had ”” and its implications for the future. Yes, things were a little less crazy on Thursday and Friday, but the early part of the week was just awful. On Monday, our markets were closed for Martin Luther King’s Birthday, but all over the world, stock markets were in free fall. On Tuesday, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 464 points at the open, and closed with a loss of 128 points. On Wednesday we had the so-called whiplash rally ”” from a 300-point morning deficit, the market swung to a nearly 300-point gain. Even with the gain, a 600-point swing doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. It inspires fear.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve announced an emergency rate drop of three-quarters of a point, in a move that smelled an awful lot like panic. Economists were debating whether the economy was nearing a recession ”” or was already in one. The New York State Insurance superintendent sought a bailout plan for the major bond insurers, fearing disaster if they failed. Housing prices continued to drop. Further write-downs by the major financial institutions seemed all but certain. All the things that the bears have been predicting were coming to pass, and it was hard to know when ”” or how ”” it would end.

“This is nothing like I’ve ever seen,” said Peter Bernstein, the author and market sage ”” and a man who has pretty much seen it all. Normally, he said, bear markets set in when stock values get out of hand, as was the case when the tech bubble burst in 2000. But not this time. The market is in trouble because the larger economy is in trouble. “The collapse of credit is what is driving this recession,” he said.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Stock Market

Denominations combine as memberships decline

As their congregations dwindle, churches across the country are starting to merge, shoring up their numbers and strength.

In most cases, two churches of the same denomination ”” Methodist, Episcopal or Lutheran, for example ”” will come together in one building. That will happen in Simi Valley next month, when two Lutheran churches merge.

Less common is the merger of two different denominations. But that’s happening here, too. In Santa Paula, Episcopal and Lutheran congregations have agreed to share a pastor and a building.

“Unfortunately, too often we see each other as competitors instead of partners,” said the Rev. Gary Stevenson of Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Simi Valley. “But our calling from God, no matter what our denomination, is ”” or at least should be ”” the same.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry

In Canada Status of Stirling rector remains uncertain

The congregation of St. John the Evangelist Church here remains in the dark about the future of its rector, more than six months since he was disciplined by the Anglican Church.

Rev. Michael Bury’s licence to perform marriages was suspended after he married a same-sex couple last August.

While details of the offending ceremony haven’t been released by the church and local church officials declined to comment on the issue, Bury was disciplined by the diocese of Ontario for marrying the same-sex couple.

This occurred after diocesan Bishop George Bruce warned all clergy that disciplinary action would be taken for any clergy member conducting same-sex blessings or same-sex weddings.

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

As Web Use Soars, So Does Online Harassment

Jane Hitchcock knows firsthand how damaging online harassment can be. In 1996, after a fake literary agency tried to con her, she tried to put a stop to its scam. The scammers didn’t appreciate her efforts and came after her ”” virtually and physically.

“In January of 1997, they began posting controversial messages … and listed my home phone number and home address and it went from there,” she says.

Hitchcock, who is now president of the volunteer organization Working to Halt Online Abuse, reports about 75 cases of online harassment a week. She says that a large number of the victims range in age between 18 and 30. Most are women, and the harassers are largely men, she says.

Listen to it all from NPR.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet

Laura McKenna: Katie Couric's Big Mistake

What won’t I be doing?

I will not be sitting in front of the 6:30 network news.

More importantly, neither will any of the college students in my classes.

They are the news consumers of the future and the evening news has no place in their lives. I teach Politics and Media with reading assignments from the most widely used textbook in the field, but the students don’t know what to make of it. To them, it reads like ancient history. The author writes as if the world still looked up to news anchors. She refers familiarly and respectfully to Brian Williams and Katie Couric in a tone that assumes her readers – the students – also worship them.

Wrong. The students worship Jon Stewart. They have never watched the 6:30 news, not even once. They have never watched the local 5:00 news shows either. I have to actually assign students to watch the local news in order to get the students to watch those shows, so they will know what their textbooks are talking about. I might as well have asked them to go to a museum.

My anecdotal evidence is supported by research. In a recent study, Thomas Patterson from Harvard found that young people ”“ surprise! ”“ don’t tune into Katie or any other traditional news anchors. They don’t have the same daily news habit that their parents had.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Media, Young Adults