Daily Archives: January 15, 2008

Survey: Asia Has World's Freest Economy

Asia is home to the world’s freest _ and most repressed _ economies, but Europe ranked highest as a region in terms of economic freedom, an annual report released Tuesday by the Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal said.

While the world as a whole made little progress toward greater economic freedom, there were some surprising improvements by countries such as Mauritius and Mongolia, the survey found.

Hong Kong and Singapore retained their No. 1 and No. 2 rankings respectively on the annual Index of Economic Freedom for the 14th successive year. Both port cities benefit from low taxes and liberalized trade. Hong Kong, however, saw its score dip slightly due to higher inflation and greater tax revenues.

European countries accounted for half of the top 20 economies considered free or mostly free, with Ireland at No. 3, Switzerland at No. 9 and Britain at No. 10. The U.S. ranked No. 5, and Canada ranked 6th.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Economy

Albert Mohler: Does Marriage Matter?

Bonnie Eslinger willingly gave her heart “the intent of his question,” she insists, but not to marriage. Her explanation is straightforward — she has no need of “a piece of paper from the state” and is not a believer in any religion that would demand that romance, sex, and “committed love” be restricted to marriage — a couple’s “joint allegiance to God.”

In one sense, the column is not shocking. Rates of heterosexual cohabitation are growing annually. Marriage has been subverted by easy divorce, pummeled in the mass culture and in entertainment, confused through debates over same-sex relationships, and sidelined by a generation that is extending adolescence past age thirty.

In another sense, Bonnie Eslinger’s column is surely noteworthy for its candor — and its evasions.

Read it all and the whole Newsweek article to which it refers.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Marriage & Family

The CoE: Who’s in? Who’s out? Who decides?

Read it all.

Update from the elves:
Due to technical work (a site transfer), the Anglican Mainstream website is currently offline, thus the link Kendall posted no longer works. We were able to retrieve the article via Google’s cache. See comment #21 below for the text.

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

A Statement from the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion


The situation with respect to the Anglican Church in Harare is a matter of grave concern to all in the Anglican Communion. Bishop Kunonga’s close ties with President Robert Mugabe is of deep concern to many and the resort to violent disruption has been widely deplored.

His unilateral actions with respect to the Diocese of Harare and his own status within the Province of Central Africa are, to say the least, questionable and have brought embarrassment to many. Above all, I am concerned for the well-being of faithful Anglicans who seek to practice their faith in peace and free from violence.

We assure Bishop Sebastian Bakare of our prayerful support in this difficult situation, and it is my firm hope that the Province of Central Africa will be enabled to find a way forward at this anxious time.

The Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary General

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

Living Church: Bishop Schofield Will Ignore Inhibition

The Diocese of San Joaquin and its Bishop, John-David Schofield, will not participate in any ecclesiastical disciplinary action brought against them by The Episcopal Church, according to statements released by the diocese and Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables, Primate of the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone.

Read it all.

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

Church brands draw members

Frustrated that the Episcopal Church’s battles over doctrine and sex were turning off newcomers, the former members of Holy Cross decided, in essence, to switch brands. No longer Episcopalians, they were now Anglicans, allied with more conservative believers in Uganda.

Once reserved for consumer products like Coca Cola or Doritos, branding has become increasingly important in the God business. Churches, old and new, are using branding to define their theology, attract newcomers and get their message out.

“There is sadness for what we left behind, for who we left behind,” Richardson said. But “God will be faithful,” he added.

For Faith Anglican, the brand switch went deeper than a name change, Richardson said.

“It gives us a new identity,” Richardson said. “The Anglican Church does not have the baggage that the Episcopal Church has at this time. It speaks of a deeper tradition and a more biblically grounded faith.”

Read it all.

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

Can biofuel help prevent global warming, or will it only make matters worse?

Biofuels can come in one of three varieties. The first is bioethanol, or alcohol, which is usually produced by the fermentation of sugars. The second is biodiesel produced from processing plant oils and the third is synthetic biofuels, which result in fuels identical to petrol, diesel and even aviation fuel.

[But]…people have failed to look at the overall costs and benefits from the complete production process, from “farm to forecourt”. This is sometimes known as life-cycle assessment and it involves taking into account all aspects of the carbon budget from one end of the production process to the other. When this is done, the simple assumptions that politicians and some environmentalists have made about the benefits begin to look hopelessly optimistic.

Take for example biofuels made from maize (in the US way) and from sugar (in the Brazilian way). The Worldwatch Institute estimates that the reductions in greenhouse gases on a life-cycle assessment resulting from ethanol produced in Brazil is about 80 per cent, compared with just 10 per cent from ethanol made from intensively-farmed maize in the US.

But the problem is not just about the efficiency of biofuel production. Britain will never be self-sufficient in biofuel and so other parts of the world will be expected to set aside land and water to supplement our needs. This has led to a growth in non-food crops in parts of the world where millions already go hungry. It has also put pressure on wildlife as forests are cut down to clear land for biofuel crops.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Climate Change, Weather, Science & Technology

Bruce MacPherson Has Been Invited and Will Be Attending GAFCON in Israel


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Global South Churches & Primates, TEC Bishops

Death penalty system is a mess, legal experts tell Calif. panel

Leading judges and scholars provided a grim verdict Thursday on how well the California justice system is carrying out the ultimate punishment as a state commission began an unprecedented review of the death penalty.

From California Chief Justice Ronald George, a death penalty supporter, to law professors who oppose capital punishment, the theme was consistent: The state’s death penalty system is a mess.

George and six other witnesses, including a federal appeals court judge and Florida’s former chief justice, named a string of reforms to improve death penalty justice in California, where there are now nearly 670 inmates on death row who typically spend decades awaiting execution.

But for the most part, many of the proposals called for spending more money – just as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger elsewhere in the building was proposing dramatic cuts in education and prisons to cope with a $14 billion budget shortfall.

“The current system is not functioning effectively,” George told the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice. “We’re at a point now where choices must be made.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Capital Punishment

Colorado Dean nominated to be bishop

The dean of St. John’s Cathedral in Denver has been nominated to be the next bishop of Maryland, one of the oldest and most historic sees in the Episcopal Church.

The Rev. Peter Eaton, 49, is among four nominees for the post, which will be filled in a diocesan election at the end of March.

“This is not only an honor for me but a huge honor for the cathedral,” Eaton said Monday. “What I am most pleased about is the attention this brings to the ministry of St John’s Cathedral, which I believe to be significant and important.”

If elected, Eaton would take office at the end of June.

Since becoming dean of the Denver cathedral in October 2001, the Cambridge-educated priest has overseen a $1.1 million fund-raising effort and helped put Denver on the map with a series of visits from church notables. They included the former Archbishop of Canterbury, who is a personal friend of Eaton’s, as well as the first woman bishop in the Episcopal Church and the present Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco.

Read it all.

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

In San Joaquin, conflicting responses to bishop's inhibition issued on his behalf

Meanwhile, Diocese of Utah Bishop Carolyn Tanner Irish said January 13 she “deeply regret[ed] the necessity of this inhibition.”

“Yet I am in full support of our Presiding Bishop’s actions. When the Body of Christ is broken by the departure of any of its members, we are all diminished,” the bishop said in a statement emailed to Episcopal News Service. “Yet I know that our Presiding Bishop has taken courageous steps to ensure the long-term future of our beloved Church, whose structure must be respected as we live out our common life. Bishop Schofield has chosen to violate the authority and canons (church law) of the Church that called him into the ministry of bishop. We cannot do otherwise than to hold him accountable to the vows he took the day he was ordained.”

Irish said in her statement that Episcopal bishops from western U.S. dioceses who concluded a three-day meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, on January 10 were unanimous in their support of Jefferts Schori’s action.

“While we have tried over the years to be in collegial fellowship with Bishop Schofield and to work productively with the Diocese of San Joaquin, he has consistently refused to join in our conversations,” Irish said. “The Episcopal Church is actively supporting and ministering to those persons who wish to remain members in San Joaquin, and our prayers and thoughts are with them as they suffer abandonment by their bishop and fellow Christians. We trust good things will come for them through the comforting ministry of the Holy Spirit at this challenging time.”

Read it all.

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

Banned Episcopal Bishop Fights Back

Bishop Schofield said, “Even though the American Church is threatening us with all sorts of things, they no longer have jurisdiction over us.”

The decision to split came after several years of disagreements over same-sex unions and the roles of homosexuals in the national church. Bishop Schofield says the Valley’s view of the Bible is more traditional and orthodox.

“We’re dealing with two different teams with two different rules for the game” said Schofield. Schofield also said those differences could easily turn into a battle over who has legal ownership of the church and estates in the Valley. “Unfortunately, the liberal side is mean and ugly and going for the money and the big time” said Schofield.

After news of the split the national church issued a statement saying a lawsuit could be filed if Schofield and his congregations try to keep Episcopal Church property. But Schofield said the national church wasn’t there when he and other clergy raised money for church and the property within those sanctuaries.

Read it all (or watch the video).

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

Lutheran pastor in non-celibate Same Sex Partnership reflects on flock's reaction

Like many mainstream denominations, the Lutheran church in the United States is grappling with sexuality issues, including how to deal with homosexual clergy.

“Our current policy is that if a pastor or other rostered [lay] leader is homosexual, he or she is not expected to be in a relationship. It’s the same policy as for heterosexual, not married, individuals,” said Bob Fisher. He’s the communications director for the Norristown-based Southeastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

In 2007, after considering several proposals on the issue, a national Lutheran assembly voted not to change church policy. At that time, the assembly encouraged regional bishops to use their discretion in situations like [David] Wagner’s.

The national church expects to tackle issues involving sexuality ”” including homosexuality ”” at its 2009 general assembly. Wagner said church leaders could agree to the status quo or ban homosexuals in relationships from the ministry.

Wagner said he grew up in Minnesota in a conservative community that never allowed for differences. By age 11 or 12, he recalled that he knew he was “different.” It wasn’t the kind of thing you admitted, so he decided to repress his emerging attraction to males.

Wagner also had a deep love of God and a desire to preach the Gospel to others. He attended Gustavus Adolphus College south of Minneapolis-St. Paul. That’s where he decided to enter the ministry and where he was ordained 34 years ago.

He also married and had two children, whom he dotes on. Twenty-five years after his marriage and just before he took over at God’s Love, he finally admitted to his wife that he was gay. He moved to Newtown alone, but said he has remained close to his former wife and his children.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Lutheran, Other Churches, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

Ottawa Bishop to rule on same-sex blessings soon

Anglican Bishop John Chapman says he will likely decide within seven months or so whether to allow blessings of same-sex unions in the Ottawa diocese.

He is to discuss the issue with other clergy in July at the Lambeth conference, an international meeting of Anglicans that happens once a decade.

“I’m really hoping that, when we have an opportunity to look each other in the eye that, somehow we will find a way through so that more traditional-minded dioceses can live together with a more liberal-minded diocese under the same roof,” he said.

“I hope I am not being naively optimistic, but I do put a lot of stock in what can happen when people sit down and start to reason together.”

Then, Bishop Chapman said, the three Ontario bishops whose dioceses have asked for same-sex blessings ought to be able to come to some agreement on how to proceed “in a way that will be compatible with the Anglican Church of Canada as well.”

Read it all.

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

Jim Holt reviews John Allen Paulos' Irreligion

From that barest of sketches, it is obvious that the cosmological argument has some grave problems. For one thing, it takes for granted the dubious principle that everything has an explanation. For another, there is no reason to suppose that the self-existent entity it points to has any other divine attributes, like omniscience or benevolence. But grappling with its flawed logic has led to a deeper understanding of existence, causation, time and infinity.

Paulos misses most of that. Just when the going ought to get good, intellectually speaking, he bales out with a jokey allusion to self-fellating yogis. He has a similarly glib way with the other classic arguments for God’s existence. The ontological argument ”” which, in its most up-to-date version, involves a subtle analysis of how existence might be built into the very definition of being like a god ”” is “logical abracadabra.” The argument from design is a “creationist Ponzi scheme” that “quickly leads to metaphysical bankruptcy.” You wonder how such transparently silly arguments could have engaged serious thinkers from Descartes, Leibniz and Hegel to the present day.

Clearly, Paulos is innocent of theology, which he dismisses as a “verbal magic show.” Like other neo-atheist authors, his tone tends to the sophomoric, with references to flatulent dogs and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Ann Coulter crops up in the index, but one looks in vain for the name of a great religious thinker like Karl Barth, who saw theology as an effort to understand what faith has given, not a quest for logical proof.

Read it all.

Posted in Apologetics, Theology

The Latest Rasmussen Numbers from South Carolina

Over the past several days, the only real movement in South Carolina’s Republican Presidential Primary has been a four-point gain for Fred Thompson and a five-point decline for Mike Huckabee.

The big winner from that trade-off is John McCain.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey shows McCain at 28%, Huckabee at 19%, Mitt Romney at 17%, and Fred Thompson at 16%. Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul are tied with 5% support. Giuliani is betting his entire campaign on a strong showing in Florida, where he is now tied for the lead with three others.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, US Presidential Election 2008

In Tennessee Faith Anglican holds first service

The members of the church left Holy Cross and the Tennessee diocese saying they believed the Episcopal Church had strayed from its core doctrine and scripture on the role of Christ, salvation and sexuality. The Episcopal Church has been embroiled in controversy over its decision to allow gay priests to lead congregations.

“I felt this was where God wants my husband and son to be,” Sharon Garner said, explaining why she and her family left the Episcopal church to join the Faith Anglican Fellowship.

Faith Anglican Fellowship is affiliated with the Anglican Communion through the Anglican Communion Network and the Common Cause Partnership of North America as a part of the Church of Uganda.

“There’s a place of worship for everybody and this is our place,” Garner said.

Read it all.

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