Daily Archives: February 6, 2008
For more than half a century, Americans have proved staggeringly resourceful at finding new ways to spend money.
In the 1950s and ’60s, as credit cards grew in popularity, many began dining out when the mood struck or buying new television sets on the installment plan rather than waiting for payday. By the 1980s, millions of Americans were entrusting their savings to the booming stock market, using the winnings to spend in excess of their income. Millions more exuberantly borrowed against the value of their homes.
But now the freewheeling days of credit and risk may have run their course ”” at least for a while and perhaps much longer ”” as a period of involuntary thrift unfolds in many households. With the number of jobs shrinking, housing prices falling and debt levels swelling, the same nation that pioneered the no-money-down mortgage suddenly confronts an unfamiliar imperative: more Americans must live within their means.
“We don’t use our credit cards anymore,” said Lisa Merhaut, a professional at a telecommunications company who lives in Leesburg, Va., and whose family last year ran up credit card debt it could not handle.
For many in the Episcopal Church the rights of gay and lesbian people are seen unequivocally akin to the rights of African-Americans. There is a poignant irony here for it is with Africans from contemporary Africa that many American Episcopalians are most at odds in a cause that they feel parallels the plight of and the fight for justice by their ancestors who came to America two centuries earlier. Gay rights are civil rights. It is a matter of natural justice. Failure to understand this at best mystifies and at worst angers the majority in the Episcopal Church that was once so guiltily complicit in slavery and is now so anxious to shake off the shackles of the past and prove its commitment to social justice which is such an important strand in the prophetic literature of the Bible. These are serious historical and contemporary moral and social perspectives that need to be understood in the international debate about human sexuality.
What I have learned from our on-going tripartite conversation is that we need to have and protect the space for genuine dialogue in the spirit of Lambeth 1:10. I worry about the Windsor proposals not because I doubt the courage and integrity of those who are working on them but because I fear that they will take us in the direction of narrowing the space and of closing down the debate on this and any future issue where Christians find themselves in conversation with their culture on some new moral development or dilemma. The result is that energy is sapped by internal definitions rather than released into engaging with the world so loved of God.
The description in John’s Gospel of Jesus “full of grace and truth” presents us with a person who created space around himself for others to “see the Kingdom of God”. He was neither truthless in his grace, nor graceless in his truth. I fear that in our debates with each other and with the world especially on the subject of homosexuality we have come over as graceless. Jesus was a pastor, as well as a prophet. He spoke commandments with compassion. And when in John 8 he was asked to judge an adulterer he said “Neither do I condemn you” before adding “Go away and sin no more”. The Pastor spoke before the Prophet. Had it been the other way around she would not have been there to hear his words of mercy. I am not here equating homosexuality with adultery but simply registering the priority Jesus gave to the pastoral approach.
I know there are some ”“ from all sides of the argument ”“ who might feel that to be in conversation with those with whom you profoundly disagree is to legitimise their own position and compromise your own. I know too that the continuing debate does not alleviate the suffering of those most affected. In this time we are particularly dependent on the grace of those who are hurt by the words and actions of others. All I know and can testify to through our own discussions within the Diocese and with our partner Dioceses is that entering the debate prayerfully in the company of the One who is “full of grace and truth” takes you to places beyond “all that you can ask or imagine”. I know that many are pessimistic about the future but I find myself strangely and surprisingly optimistic that if we can maintain the space to listen to “the still small voice” there might emerge a new understanding and paradigm that none of us can yet imagine.
The Covenant Design Group (CDG) held its second meeting at the Anglican Communion Offices, St. Andrew’s House, London, UK, between Monday, 28th January, and Saturday, 2nd February, 2008, under the chairmanship of the Most Revd Drexel Gomez, Archbishop of the West Indies.
The main task of the group was to develop a second draft for the Anglican Covenant, as originally proposed in the Windsor Report 2004; an idea adopted by the Primates’ Meeting and the Joint Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Primates in their following meetings. At their meeting in January 2007, the CDG produced a first draft ”“ the Nassau Draft – for such a covenant, which was received at the meeting of the Primates and the Joint Standing Committee in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in February of that year. This draft was subsequently sent to the Provinces, Churches and Commissions of the Anglican Communion for consultation, reflection and response.
At this meeting, the CDG reviewed the comments and submissions received and developed the new draft, which is now published. In addition to thirteen provincial responses, a large number of responses were received from commissions, organisations, dioceses and individuals from across the Communion. It is intended that these responses will be published in the near future on the Anglican Communion website. The CDG is grateful to all those who contributed their reflections for this meeting, and trust that they will find their contributions honoured in the revised text prepared.
A majority of members of six congregations in the Diocese of Central Florida are leaving The Episcopal Church following discussions with their bishop, the Rt. Rev. John W. Howe.
Church of the Good Shepherd, Maitland, held its final service as an Episcopal Church on Feb. 3, and the rector of Grace Church, Ocala, and the leadership and majority of members at Good Shepherd were received into the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) the following day.
During the past six weeks, a majority of members at four Central Florida parishes and two mission congregations have walked away from consecrated Episcopal church buildings. The parishes are Good Shepherd; Gloria Dei, Cocoa; St. Edward’s, MountDora; and Holy Cross, Winter Haven. The mission congregations are St. Philip’s, LakeNona, and St. Nicholas’, Poinciana. The six have been received into the AMiA, a missionary outreach of the Anglican Church of Rwanda.
I will consider posting comments on this article submitted first by email to Kendall’s E-mail: KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Slogans, T-shirts, campaign buttons, snacks, pleas for donations and speeches galore dominated a rally in St. George on Super Tuesday ”” but the topic had nothing to do with political candidates.
“The topics we address tonight are very urgent,” the Rt. Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish, Episcopal bishop of Utah, said during remarks she made at the “Love Your Air ”” Stop Toquop” rally held at the St. George Episcopal Church.
“The Episcopal Church has taken a forward effort on sustainability. It is time for us to take a great deal more wisdom and thought into what we do,” she said. “We are the only creatures on Earth that can contemplate the ramifications of our actions.”
The rally, which attracted more than 250 residents, was billed as a way for individuals to voice their opposition to the Toquop Energy Project, a $1.2 billion coal-fired power plant to be constructed on 650 acres about 12 miles northwest of Mesquite. The plant would generate 750-megawatts of electricity for Nevada and Arizona customers, according to Toquop officials.
Budgets for the current year and the next triennium will be on the agenda when the Executive Council gathers February 11-14 in Quito, in the Diocese of Ecuador Central.
The Council will also have a day-long chance to learn about and engage in the ministry of the diocese, which includes approximately 1,500 Episcopalians worshipping in 23 congregations.
The Quito gathering fulfills the council’s pledge to meet in Province IX of the Episcopal Church during the current triennium. Such a pledge is important, said Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, “because a significant part of this church is not part of the 50 United States, speaks other languages, and labors for the gospel in vastly different contexts.”
Jefferts Schori said she hopes Council members learn about the different context in which the Diocese of Ecuador Central labors “and of the great vitality and creativity” in the diocese.
“This diocese is truly engaged in transformative work in the communities it serves,” she said. “My hope would be that Episcopalians would learn more and think about partnering with these other parts of the Episcopal Church.”
House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson said Council, the church’s governing body between meetings of General Convention, makes an effort to meet in each of the provinces, as possible, during the triennium.
“Because the ‘first language’ of most of the council members is English, we have asked that some of our conversations and worship be conducted in the ‘first language’ of the area — Spanish,” she said.
The preparation of the breakfast cake was originally seen both as a time of celebration and as a way to use eggs, sugar and butter before the arrival of Lent. A Pancake Supper and Parade will be held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at 6 p.m. today. The youth of the church are sponsoring the event. Plates will be $4 adults and $2 for children under 11.
Lent ”” a 40-day period of introspection ”” begins with Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. Many churches hold services involving the imposition of ashes.
“Often these Ash Wednesday ashes are made by burning Palm leaves from the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebrations and mixing them with olive oil as a fixative,” said Bishop David Epps, rector of Christ the King Charismatic Episcopal Church. The ashes are applied in the form of a cross, and the minister or priest generally says, “From dust you were taken, and to dust you shall return,” or something similar.
“This symbolism recalls the ancient Near Eastern tradition of throwing ash over one’s head signifying repentance before God ”” as related numerous times in the Bible,” Epps added.
“The imposition of ashes on the forehead is an ancient symbol of penance and a sign of one’s mortality,” explained Marie Mulvenna, who handles publicity for St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church. A worshipper traditionally leaves the cross mark “on his or her forehead until sundown, before washing it off,” Epps said.
A part of my daily e-mail traffic comes from people who have read my various pieces, in which I show the mess into which North American Anglicanism has got itself through (a) the initial infidelity of The Episcopal Church [for details of this see my Episcopal Innovations, 1960-2004, from www.anglicanmarketplace.com] and then (b) the indiscriminate creation of small groups bearing the name “Anglican” from 1977 through to 2008 [see further my Anglican Identity from the same site]. They ask simply: what are we to do? And some of them expect that there is a simple answer which applies in all the 48 contiguous states, not to mention Alaska and Hawaii.
It seems to me that the extra-mural Anglican situation outside TEC has got so complex””not least through the intervention of at least five overseas Anglican provinces in recent years””that it is not possible to offer any simple answer, except the one that avoids the problem and is simply: “Pack your bags, leave this Anglican house, go to another with a different name [Lutheran, Catholic, Orthodox etc.] and forget about the Anglican mess as far as you are able, for to clean it up will take a generation.”
If people have patience to consider principles and not be caught up in “winds of change” and “instant solutions” and “imitating others,” then I put to them””in brief””something like the following (adapted of course to local and personal reality). I presume here that the starting point is a parish in TEC where there is a dissatisfied group of Episcopalians who wish to be faithful to Biblical religion….
The problems posed by the American church are not going to remain in North America. This means that the rest of the Anglican world must be active in teaching the biblical faith as endorsed by Lambeth 1998. Many, including bishops in England, have questioned whether Lambeth will be able to deal adequately with these urgent issues.
Some have said to me: isn’t it better to be there than stay away? I respect those who hold that view but it is not as simple as that. Several African provinces have indicated that they will not be attending, because to do so would be to acquiesce with the North American actions. They are not ending the Anglican communion, or even dividing it. They are simply dealing with the reality that the nature of the communion has now been altered and reflecting that Lambeth is not as crucial to the future as it once was.
They see that since the American actions were taken in direct defiance of the previous Lambeth Conference, the Americans have irreparably damaged the standing of the conference itself. They asked without success for it to be postponed. As in family life, it is sometimes better to delay a meeting to allow time for greater clarity. They do not think that this conference is what is needed now. To attend would be to overlook the importance of the issues at stake.
After much thought, I agreed with this approach. Yet people, the media included, should not jump to wrong conclusions. We are not alone in this. Some of the largest Anglican communities in the world have taken the same decision. This is not a discourtesy to the Archbishop of Canterbury. I have assured him of our prayers as we continue in the Anglican communion and I am sure he understands our situation.
The A.P. Delegate Count:
On Intrade, Mrs. Clinton is at 52.1 and Mr Obama 46.5 for the democratic nomination.
A number of political observers note the importance of Missouri as a kind of national bellwhether; there Obama won 49% to 48% with some having called Missouri for Mrs. Clinton earlier in the evening. It really is that close–KSH.
…Americans need to accept their share of financial responsibility. A key proponent of debt prevention is rigorous consumer education, both at home and at school. This is something [James] Scurlock just doesn’t discuss: how parents need to teach their children about debt, credit, and money management from an early age; and how schools need to educate kids about these issues before they get into college and start getting flooded with credit card offers that seem to good to be true””and are. The book raises far more questions than it answers, such as why the states with the highest personal bankruptcy rates tend to have high religious adherence (including Utah, Missouri and Tennessee). My own guess on this would be that these religious people are more likely to be living on a single income and also more likely to give some of their money to charity, but beyond that I don’t know. Scurlock’s book would have been better if he had followed through with some of these questions, rather than skimming the surface of America’s debt culture.
It is back and forth and back and forth.
The early presidential contests provide a glimpse of the role religion may play on Super Tuesday. Two patterns are evident in the initial election results: reliance on a single religious constituency and support from a broad coalition of religious groups.
Perhaps the best known example of the single-constituency result is Mike Huckabee’s support from evangelicals in Iowa. But other examples include Barack Obama’s reliance on Black Protestants in South Carolina; Mitt Romney’s support from Mormons in the western caucuses; Hillary Clinton’s strong showing among white Catholics and Jews; and John McCain’s support from the less observant. Most candidates need this kind of strong support to rise above the crowd in the initial contests””a point illustrated in part by Rudy Giuliani’s weak backing among fellow Catholics in Florida and John Edwards’ less than overwhelming support from white Protestants in South Carolina.
But at some point, candidates need to broaden their religious support. So far Huckabee has failed to reach out beyond evangelicals–in fact, he has lost ground among them to other candidates. One of the challenges facing Obama on Super Tuesday is to attract more votes from white religious communities””as he may well have done in the Iowa caucuses. For Clinton, the challenge is to develop a clear edge over Obama among mainline and evangelical Protestants. Romney (in Michigan and Florida) and McCain (in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida) have assembled the broader religious coalitions. McCain has been the most consistent, obtaining sizeable support from evangelicals, mainline Protestants, and Catholics in the states he won.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s campaign accused Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee of “a backroom deal” that gave the early Super Tuesday win in West Virginia to Huckabee.
Romney, who addressed the state GOP convention in person Tuesday, comfortably led the first ballot at the convention, leading to a three-way second ballot contest between the three contenders.
Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic reported Tuesday that, after the first ballot, McCain’s campaign called his supporters there and urged them to vote in favor of Huckabee.
“Unfortunately, this is what Senator McCain’s inside Washington ways look like: he cut a backroom deal with the tax-and-spend candidate he thought could best stop Governor Romney’s campaign of conservative change,” Beth Myers, Romney’s campaign manager, said in a statement.
A long-simmering dispute over digital copyrights between the Church of Scientology and its critics has boiled over in recent weeks after video clips turned up on the Internet from a 2004 interview by the church’s most famous member, actor Tom Cruise.
When Scientology officials complained the clips were copyrighted and requested their removal from YouTube and other websites, a shadowy organization of online troublemakers sprang into action.
The group known as “Anonymous” posted an eerie video on the Internet featuring a computer-generated voice announcing a campaign to destroy the church and calling for worldwide protests Feb. 10.
It was all for laughs, said a member who spoke on the condition of anonymity. But things are now getting serious. A series of cyber attacks the group claimed responsibility for slowed access to church websites and apparently shut down the main one, www.scientology.org, one day last month.
As of Friday, suspicious white powder was mailed to 23 church locations in Southern California, forcing 60 people to be cleared from buildings in Tustin and causing police to close part of busy Brand Boulevard in Glendale for two hours. Preliminary tests by the LAPD determined the powder was cornstarch and wheat germ.
Americans are increasingly downbeat about the economy and deeply worried that their standard of living is at risk, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll that shows family finances battered by a rise in fuel prices, the loss of jobs and a housing bust.
In all, 42% of those surveyed from Wednesday to Saturday rate the nation’s economic conditions as poor, the most negative outlook since 1992 ? another presidential election year, and one defined by economic angst that contributed to a Democratic takeover of the White House.
As a record 22 states hold presidential primaries and caucuses today, almost half of Americans say the USA is in a recession or depression. That bleak outlook is likely to reverberate in favor of Democrats again in this November’s election, according to economists surveyed in a separate poll.
“It’s gone from two years ago you could heat your house for $200, $220 a month, and now it’s up to $500 or $600,” says Natale Umbro, 59, owner and executive chef at the Tuscan Sun restaurant in Easton, Mass., who was among those surveyed. That has strained his budget ? he is carrying about $12,000 in credit card debt ? and made him wonder about the nation’s leadership.
Dr Jensen’s confirmation of his diocese’s boycott came after Nigeria’s Archbishop, Peter Akinola, declared that Nigeria, Uganda, Rwanda and some other African churches would not go to Lambeth, which he called “a three weeks’ jamboree” that would sweep issues under the carpet.
Instead, Dr Jensen, Archbishop Akinola and other conservatives are planning their own, rival “global” conference in Jerusalem in June. This despite appeals for them to attend Lambeth from 21 evangelical English bishops and the West Indian Anglican archbishop, who is drawing up a document designed to resolve the dispute.
Dr Jensen says the Anglican communion is now in a “tumultuous” state, but insists he and his allies remain “totally committed” to its good health. Yet their present tactics seem likely to deepen the crisis and widen the division. They are not so much taking their bat and ball and going home as refusing to go on the field at all, preferring instead to play among themselves.
Much better, surely, to go to Lambeth and put their case.