Daily Archives: January 2, 2008

Anglicans choose Jerusalem for key June conference

The battle over homosexuality that has threatened to split the Anglican Communion could be decided at a June meeting in Jerusalem. On December 26, a conservative coalition led by the archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, announced a June 15-22 conference in the Holy Land to chart the church’s future course.

Divided into liberal and conservative factions, the 80-million member Anglican Communion is on the verge of breaking up over the consecration in 2003 of a gay priest as bishop of New Hampshire.

However, Anglicans are as divided over Israel as they over homosexuality. While the meeting will focus on the current crisis facing the church, some Anglican and Jewish supporters of the gathering hope the presence in Jerusalem this June of conservative Anglican bishops from every continent will present an opportunity to broaden Israel’s support in the developing world.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Middle East

Mental toll of war hitting female servicemembers

Master Sgt. Cindy Rathbun knew something was wrong three weeks after she arrived in Iraq in September 2006. Her blond hair began “coming out in clumps,” she says.
The Air Force personnel specialist, in the military for 25 years, had volunteered for her first combat zone job at Baghdad’s Camp Victory. She lived behind barbed wire and blast walls, but the war was never far.

“There were firefights all the time,” Rathbun says slowly, her voice flat. “There were car bombs. Boom! You see the smoke. The ground would shake.”

As the mother of three grown children prepared to fly home last February, she took a medic aside. Holding a zip-lock bag of hair, she asked whether this was normal. “He said it sometimes happens,” she says. “It’s the body’s way of displaying stress when we can’t express it emotionally.”

Read it all.

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

Most Americans “Very Satisfied” With Their Personal Lives

As Americans look ahead to the new year and reflect on the year past, a recent Gallup Poll finds the public generally content with their own lives. Most Americans say they are generally happy, with a slim majority saying they are “very happy.” More than 8 in 10 Americans say they are satisfied with their personal lives at this time, including a solid majority who say they are “very satisfied.” This personal satisfaction level contrasts sharply with the low level of satisfaction Americans express with the way things are going “in the United States at this time.” Republicans, married adults, those residing in higher income households, parents of young children, those attending church weekly, and whites are most likely to say they are satisfied and happy at this time.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Psychology

Doug Kass' 20 Surprises for 2008

An interesting read.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy

Gay N.H. couples celebrate, gain status in civil unions

Clad in jeans and loose-fitting sweaters, Rachel Gogan and Katie Raynes walked into the side room of a church basement yesterday and joined in a precedent-setting civil union ceremony.

And then they drove home to Dover for a quiet lunch.

The women, both in their mid-20s, were casual history-makers, among the first of about 100 couples in New Hampshire to unite under the state’s civil union law that took effect yesterday. Their more formal and emotional, though unofficial, union took place in October, when friends and family gathered for a ceremony and party in Maine.

“We already had our wedding. This was the signing of our paperwork. The state’s finally catching up with us,” Gogan said.

New Hampshire became the fourth state to allow civil unions of same-sex couples.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Sexuality

More from George Hood on the Battle in San Joaquin

This picture seems to reduce the discussion to one of whether homosexual conduct is acceptable either on the individual or the pastoral level. While the issue of homosexuality itself figures prominently in this debate, the orthodox dioceses appear to be deeply concerned about the overall direction of the Episcopal Church. The complaints appear to be extensive and include everything from criticisms of Episcopalian seminary programs to questions as to whether the church is remaining true to the scripture on the issue of salvation occurring only through Jesus Christ ”“ and the list goes on.

Nonetheless, no one I have interviewed denies that the trigger point for the present crisis was the 2003 consecration of V. Gene Robinson, a man alleged to be living with another man in an openly homosexual relationship, as the Bishop of New Hampshire. For many, this was the “last straw”.

Read it all.

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

Teacher Burnout? Blame the Parents

The stress of teaching is often blamed on rowdy students and unrealistic expectations from school officials. But new research suggests that parents may be the real culprit in teacher burnout.

The study, published this month in the psychology journal Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, surveyed 118 German schoolteachers who had been teaching for an average of 20 years. The questionnaires were designed to assess personality traits like perfectionism. They also measured the teachers’ level of burnout and their reactions to pressure from colleagues, students and parents. Although “burnout” is complex and different for every teacher, it’s usually defined as occurring when a teacher feels emotionally exhausted at the end of the day, appears cynical or uncaring about what happens to students and feels as if he or she has reached few personal goals.

Although perfectionism is often linked with job stress, teachers with perfectionist tendencies in this survey weren’t more likely to have burnout. But teachers who felt pressure to be perfect or experienced criticism for being imperfect were more likely to have burnout. Notably, the highest pressure to be perfect didn’t come from students or colleagues but from parents.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education

Telegraph: Bishops 'must face gay clergy debate' at Lambeth

A Church of England bishop has criticised the Lambeth Conference, which starts in July, for shying away from the issue of homosexuality.

The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, said it would be “odd” and “irresponsible” for the meeting to sweep the controversy “under the carpet”.

There are no plans for a major public debate on the issue of gay clergy and much of the conference will take place behind closed doors.

Many bishops, including moderates, fear that divisions will deepen unless the issue of homosexuality is confronted.

Bishop McCulloch criticised conservative bishops who are threatening a boycott because the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has invited American liberals.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Lambeth 2008

Notable and Quotable

For many, Christmas is a couple of weeks of massive over-consumption. Two facts say it all: four million Brussels sprouts are purchased in the week before Christmas, and more than 8,000 tons of wrapping paper are used at Christmas, which the Government estimates is enough to wrap the whole island of Guernsey!

–(The Rt. Rev.) David Gillett, Bishop of Bolton

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Christmas, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, CoE Bishops

From the BBC: The 'Nobody Knows' US election

This is the first US presidential election since 1928 in which neither the president nor the vice-president is standing in the primaries, seeking re-election.

It is the Nobody Knows election. Nobody knows which candidates will end up representing the two main parties, nobody knows exactly when the parties will choose them, and nobody knows which issues will decide the eventual contest.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Notable and Quotable

If you fled Wall Street eight years ago ”” remember Y2K? ”” and came back today, you might conclude that nothing much happened while you were gone.
The Standard & Poor’s index of 500 stocks ended the last decade at 1469.25. Now, points out Howard Silverblatt of S.&P., it is at 1468.36. A decline of less than one point in eight years is not impressive.

Floyd Norris

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Stock Market

List of countries by population

Try to do the top ten in order before you look.

Posted in * General Interest

Barry Hughes: Why India will rock our world

The giant Chinese rock tossed into the Asian production pool this decade is about to be followed by another from India. Given time it is likely to be of similarly large import. The first rock profoundly changed Australia, setting up huge economic waves that swamped some (including many manufacturers) while others surfed to prosperity (miners and tax collectors). Watch out for the second rock.

On the surface Australia now appears hooked on swapping rocks for Chinese boxes. True, but fairly glib and deceptive all the same. The content of these boxes is normally not Chinese at all and many of our rocks (particularly coal) go elsewhere in Asia.

What is different this decade is a revamp of Asian production, with bits and pieces made everywhere being finished off in the Middle Kingdom. China is still largely an assembler, not a manufacturer. Those who do these sums reckon only about 25 cents in every dollar in the boxes is in fact Chinese. The majority comes from elsewhere, especially Japan, Taiwan and Korea

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Economy, Globalization, India

Pope Affirms the Family as Agent of Peace

He said: “The same love that builds and maintains unity in the family, the vital building block of society, favors these relationships of solidarity and of collaboration among the peoples of the earth, that are members of the single human family.”

The Pope affirmed that “there is a close relationship, therefore, among family, society and peace.” Quoting his message for the World Day of Peace, he added, “Whoever, even unknowingly, circumvents the institution of the family, undermines peace in the entire community, national and international, since he weakens what is in effect the primary agency of peace.”

Read it all.

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

Christianity Today's Top Ten Stories of 2007

Here are the first two:

1. Taliban takes Korean short-term mission team hostage, killing two
Afghanistan’s resurgent Taliban used the team of 23 short-term workers from Saemmul Presbyterian Church as a bargaining chip, pressuring the South Korean government into a reported ransom payment and a promise to withdraw its 200 troops in the country. Bae Hyeong-gyu and Shim Seongmin were killed before the negotiation was completed.
Our coverage

2. Atheism tops the bestseller charts
Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens may be unhappy about the continuing “God delusion,” but they can’t be too displeased with their royalty checks.

Read them all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Media

God's 'death' gave birth to uproar

“Theodicy came to dwell in my 14-year-old head that Sunday.” It was 1938.

The questions haunted William Hamilton at his friends’ funeral, at school, in the Navy, at seminary and in his years as a theology professor at Colgate Rochester Divinity School. By 1966 he had an answer, and it landed him not only in Time and Playboy magazines, but also in the middle of a hornet’s nest:

God was dead.

That was the only explanation. The Vietnam War divided Americans. Race riots, civil rights marches, assassinations, the sexual revolution and women’s liberation divided society. Atheism gathered steam as Madalyn Murray O’Hair won her lawsuit, and the Supreme Court banned organized prayer in public schools.

In 2007, a new atheism surged. Best-sellers bashed religion, Christianity in particular. Published excerpts from Mother Teresa’s private journal confessed her doubts. “The Golden Compass,” drawn from a trilogy of novels in which a key character wants to kill God, became a hit movie.

For Hamilton, 83, who lives in downtown Portland with his wife, it’s too late. God’s already gone. Hamilton’s own health is fragile. His hands shake. He unfolds his lanky body slowly as he rises to greet a guest. It is hard to imagine that this gentle man in a Chicago Cubs sweat shirt shook the world of theology.

Hamilton grew up a “bland, very liberal” Baptist, in a middle-class suburb of Chicago. “As soon as I was able,” he says, “I left it.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Faiths

The Presiding Bishop Interviewed on BBC Radio

Listen to it all (starts just past 45 minutes in and goes about 8 minutes. Please note that the BBC description of what “concessions” TEC made is most innaccurate, as has been noted in numerous pieces on the blog, as for example here. In addition, a related news story to the radio interview is here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts

Science has second thoughts about life

Todd Feinberg
Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the US

“I have come to believe that an individual consciousness represents an entity that is so personal and ontologically unique that it qualifies as something that we might as well call ”˜a soul’.”

He previously believed that the notion of a soul was a fanciful religious invention but became convinced that the brain and the mind could be regarded as separate, though dependent, entities. He says that the soul dies with the body

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

Mob Burns Church in Kenya, Killing Dozens

Dozens of people seeking refuge in a church in Kenya were burned to death by a mob on Tuesday, according to witnesses and Red Cross officials, in an escalation of ethnic violence that is threatening to plunge the country into chaos.

Up to 40 people died inside the church, a few miles from a town called Eldoret, after young men from a different tribe poured gasoline on it and set it on fire, the witnesses and officials said.In Nairobi, the capital, tribal militias squared off against each other in several slums. Witness reports indicate that more 200 people have been killed in the past two days in violence connected to a disputed election Kenya held last week.

The European Union said there was clear evidence of ballot rigging, and European officials called for an independent investigation. Kenya’s government, which won the election by a razor-thin margin, has refused. Government officials said they would crack down harshly on anyone who threatened law and order, and they banned political rallies for the foreseeable future.

A knot of rage seemed to be moving across the country, from the slums of Nairobi, the capital, to the cities along the Indian Ocean, to usually tranquil towns on the savanna. Many people were furious that President Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner on Sunday in the country’s most fiercely fought election, despite widespread evidence of fraud.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Africa

A parting glance at those who passed in 2007

Watch it all. You just have to love the ending–KSH.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry

Pastor Bob Birch RIP

(His picture is here).

I received the following via email this week:

Dear Pastors & Ministry Leaders,

Our dear elder brother, Pastor Robert Birch, went to be with the Lord on December 4th just three weeks short of his 100th birthday. This coming Saturday afternoon, January 5th, will be the occasion for the city church to come together for a Service of Thanksgiving to the Lord and a celebration of his life. Pastor Bob lived through every decade of last century and there is much to tell.

The service is at 2:00 pm at Harvest City Church. Please come early to park at HCC or else be prepared to park within a couple of blocks. Instead of sympathy cards we are invited to sign special greeting sheets for a remembrance for Margaret Birch and the family. Instead of flowers it is suggested to make a donation to the Bible Society for Bibles for orphans in India, envelopes will be available. After the service refreshments will be served in the church hall, where the biography of Pastor Bob in book and DVD will be on sale. The service will also be recorded for future availability.

Please forward this e-mail to your list to make sure no one misses out on this historic event. As Pastor Bob would have said: ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches’.

Yours in Christ for the City,
Pastor David Carson
On behalf of the Vancouver City of Destiny Exec.

He was one of the remarkable Christian leaders of the 20th centruy, and he will be sorely missed–KSH.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pentecostal

Archbishop Rowan Williams' Christmas Eve Thought for the Day

Well there’s plenty of challenge still in the news from the Holy Land and the talks in coming weeks will have some hard business to transact, but I hope that they don’t forget brave people like these and others who belong to the Families Forum ”“ that’s a network for those who have been bereaved through violence in Israel and Palestine and who are committed to joining together to work for peace. There are several such groups ”“ as indeed there were in Northern Ireland in the darkest days there: people who are able to say, ”˜I know the worst that war can do, and I am turning my back on revenge’.

Few statements could be more powerful. What my visitors were saying was that grief and desperate loneliness aren’t political things but human things. It’s that only when we can get to the humanity can we begin to get beyond the sterility of historic racial and religious conflicts. Facing the abiding realities of the human condition, facing death; your own, or that of someone you love, is something that puts everything else into perspective.

Change, real change, happens when we’re ready just to be human ”“ not to use our suffering as another weapon against each other, not to argue about whose sufferings are worse, but just to recognise the same love and the same loss. Which is why my Jewish and Muslim visitors have been for me this year’s most important preparation for Christmas.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Archbishop of Canterbury, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons