Daily Archives: February 20, 2008

Breakaway Anglican Churches begin to organize amid confusion

Bishop Roger Ames is no longer a cleric in the Ohio Diocese of the Episcopal Church USA.

But he is a leader in the global Anglican Communion, which includes the Episcopal Church USA.

Then there’s the church that Ames pastors ”” St. Luke’s in Fairlawn. Its incorporation papers list its name as St. Luke’s Anglican Church and Ames as pastor. Diocesan records, however, show that it is St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and that the pastorate is vacant.

The status of both Ames and the church is an indication of the level of confusion in the denomination and of what might very well be the beginning of a new Anglican province in North America.

Both Ames and Bishop Martyn Minns, the missionary bishop for the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), say an effort is under way to unify the theologically conservative parishes that have broken away from the Episcopal Church.

”We’re trying to hold onto the traditional teachings of the church and stop the fragmentation that is going on across the country by bringing people together,” Minns said. ”We definitely have some real divisions (in the Episcopal Church) and we are trying to develop tight connections with the international church and the churches in this country.”

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

Wisconsin: Beginning of the end for Clinton?

With his victory in Wisconsin’s Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday, Barack Obama withstood an aggressive assault by rival Hillary Rodham Clinton and gained new momentum for their high-stakes battle ahead in Texas and Ohio.

Obama’s win raised new doubts about the Clinton campaign’s strategy of casting the Illinois senator as a candidate whose soaring rhetoric masks a lack of preparation for the presidency.

And it showed that Obama is continuing to make inroads into Clinton’s coalition of women, the elderly, working-class white voters and other groups. And that, analysts say, spells potential danger for her in the March 4 primaries in Ohio and Texas.

“Her coalition just is not holding,” said Lawrence R. Jacobs, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance. “This could be — I wouldn’t say her Waterloo, but maybe the battle before the Waterloo.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Vallejo On Brink Of Bankruptcy

The city of Vallejo is on the brink of becoming the first California city ever to declare bankruptcy, City Council members said Tuesday.

Vallejo may run out of cash as early as March, council member Stephanie Gomes said.

“Not only that, but now we have 20 police and fire employees retiring because they are afraid of not getting their payouts,” Gomes said. “That means we have another few million dollars in payouts that we had not expected. So the situation is quite dire.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

National Post: Canadian Anglican split could spread worldwide

In the past week, seven Canadian parishes in five dioceses have split from the national church and have put themselves under the authority of Archbishop Gregory Venables, head of the Province of the Southern Cone, which encompasses parts of South America. This week, the Diocese of Niagara in Ontario said it will replace the clergy at its two churches that voted to separate and went on to say that breakaway parishes “are no longer considered officially Anglican.” Two ministers in British Columbia have also been suspended.

ArchbishopVenables, speaking from Buenos Aires, said he is not happy about the potential for a global division, or what is happening in Canada, but he believes the worldwide Anglican Church has been on this course for more than 100 years, and he is becoming less hopeful for a resolution.

“It ends up you have two versions of Christianity,” he said. “There are two positions that have moved apart over the last century: the Bible-based orthodox Christianity that goes back to the early years of the Church and a post-modern Christianity that believes everybody can find their own truth. And those two things cannot work together.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Cono Sur [formerly Southern Cone]

Obesity 'requires climate plan'

Obesity needs to be tackled in the same way as climate change, a top nutritional scientist has said.

The chairman of the International Obesity Taskforce wants world leaders to agree a global pact to ensure that everyone is fed healthy food.

Professor Philip James said the challenge of obesity was so great that action was needed now, even without clear evidence of the best options.

He also called for stricter rules on marketing and food labelling.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Globalization, Health & Medicine

Message from the Anglican Primate of Brazil – The Most Revd Mauricio de Andrade

I think we need to take a hard look in the mirror and see what we are doing with the Anglican Communion; I think it is time to remember that we are a “communion” and not simply a “federation” of churches and that, therefore, we do not need a “pact.” What we do need is to deepen the communion beyond the search for power, domination, and control.

Who will hear us? Who can hear the message we have to proclaim, which some want to envelop in the concept of “orthodoxy,” when it is in fact the message of God through Jesus Christ, whose love reconciles us with life, and life in abundance? Our words have been words of division. Yet, in Brazil we sing: “The Word was not made to divide anyone; the Word is the bridge over which love comes and goes. The Word was not made to dominate; the destination of the Word is dialogue.” Who will hear the archbishops/primates, bishops, and priests of the Church?

We are seriously preparing ourselves in Brazil to participate in the 2008 Lambeth Conference because we are certain that this is the space for unity, and we know that unity does not mean uniformity. All of us bishops in Brazil and our spouses are in prayer while we await to meet and be reunited with brothers and sisters who live challenges and in different contexts from our own, knowing that we are united in God’s mission. So we are preparing to share our lives, challenges, and experience of being a Church that lives in missionary expansion. In 1998, the Province of Brazil had seven dioceses. Today, in 2008, we have nine dioceses and one missionary district. Despite the difficulties of two schisms, one in 2002 and another in 2004, we can say “thus far the LORD has helped us” (1 Sam 7:12, NRSV). We therefore desire to devote ourselves fully at the Lambeth Conference to the Bible study groups, to prayer, and to the breaking of bread (Acts 2).

How will we bear witness? Who will hear us? We are not being honest with ourselves. Could it be that we want to propose the path of disunity for the future of the Anglican Communion?

I believe The Episcopal Church of the United States has been showing all of us an example of the path to unity and reconciliation, because they have met all the requests for visits that were made and answered all the questions that were posed. They have spent time, money, and energy to meet the primates’ requests, always with generosity and openness. I think we need to keep in mind that we are Anglican. We are seeing a disregard of our richness and our ethos, that is, autonomy of the Provinces.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary

Midlife Suicide Rises, Puzzling Researchers

Shannon Neal can instantly tell you the best night of her life: Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2003, the Hinsdale Academy debutante ball. Her father, Steven Neal, a 54-year-old political columnist for The Chicago Sun-Times, was in his tux, white gloves and tie. “My dad walked me down and took a little bow,” she said, and then the two of them goofed it up on the dance floor as they laughed and laughed.

A few weeks later, Mr. Neal parked his car in his garage, turned on the motor and waited until carbon monoxide filled the enclosed space and took his breath, and his life, away.

Later, his wife, Susan, would recall that he had just finished a new book, his seventh, and that “it took a lot out of him.” His medication was also taking a toll, putting him in the hospital overnight with worries about his heart.

Still, those who knew him were blindsided. “If I had just 30 seconds with him now,” Ms. Neal said of her father, “I would want all these answers.”

Mr. Neal is part of an unusually large increase in suicides among middle-aged Americans in recent years. Just why thousands of men and women have crossed the line between enduring life’s burdens and surrendering to them is a painful question for their loved ones. But for officials, it is a surprising and baffling public health mystery.

A new five-year analysis of the nation’s death rates recently released by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the suicide rate among 45-to-54-year-olds increased nearly 20 percent from 1999 to 2004, the latest year studied, far outpacing changes in nearly every other age group. (All figures are adjusted for population.)

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Middle Age, Psychology

Oil Jumps Above $100 on Refinery Outage

Oil futures shot higher Tuesday, closing above $100 for the first time as investors bet that crude prices will keep climbing despite evidence of plentiful supplies and falling demand. At the pump, gas prices rose further above $3 a gallon.

There was no single driver behind oil’s sharp price jump; investors seized on an explosion at a 67,000 barrel per day refinery in Texas, the falling dollar, the possibility that OPEC may cut production next month, the threat of new violence in Nigeria and continuing tensions between the U.S. and Venezuela.

The fact that there was no overriding reason for such a price spike could be a bad omen for consumers already bearing the burdens of high heating costs and falling real estate values. Many recent forecasts have said oil demand growth this year will be less than initially expected, yet prices continue to rise. That suggests they may continue rising as the weakening dollar attracts new investors to the futures market.

And rising oil prices mean higher gas prices.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources

Tony Judt: The 'Problem of Evil' in Postwar Europe

The first work by Hannah Arendt that I read, at the age of sixteen, was Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.[1] It remains, for me, the emblematic Arendt text. It is not her most philosophical book. It is not always right; and it is decidedly not her most popular piece of writing. I did not even like the book myself when I first read it””I was an ardent young Socialist-Zionist and Arendt’s conclusions profoundly disturbed me. But in the years since then I have come to understand that Eichmann in Jerusalem represents Hannah Arendt at her best: attacking head-on a painful topic; dissenting from official wisdom; provoking argument not just among her critics but also and especially among her friends; and above all, disturbing the easy peace of received opinion. It is in memory of Arendt the “disturber of the peace” that I want to offer a few thoughts on a subject which, more than any other, preoccupied her political writings.

In 1945, in one of her first essays following the end of the war in Europe, Hannah Arendt wrote that “the problem of evil will be the fundamental question of postwar intellectual life in Europe””as death became the fundamental problem after the last war.”[2] In one sense she was, of course, absolutely correct. After World War I Europeans were traumatized by the memory of death: above all, death on the battlefield, on a scale hitherto unimaginable. The poetry, fiction, cinema, and art of interwar Europe were suffused with images of violence and death, usually critical but sometimes nostalgic (as in the writings of Ernst Jünger or Pierre Drieu La Rochelle). And of course the armed violence of World War I leached into civilian life in interwar Europe in many forms: paramilitary squads, political murders, coups d’état, civil wars, and revolutions.

After World War II, however, the worship of violence largely disappeared from European life. During this war violence was directed not just against soldiers but above all against civilians (a large share of the deaths during World War II occurred not in battle but under the aegis of occupation, ethnic cleansing, and genocide). And the utter exhaustion of all European nations””winners and losers alike””left few illusions about the glory of fighting or the honor of death. What did remain, of course, was a widespread familiarity with brutality and crime on an unprecedented scale. The question of how human beings could do this to each other””and above all the question of how and why one European people (Germans) could set out to exterminate another (Jews) ””were, for an alert observer like Arendt, self-evidently going to be the obsessive questions facing the continent. That is what she meant by “the problem of evil.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe

Science Standards Will Call Evolution 'Scientific Theory'

Florida’s State Board of Education has voted to use the term “scientific theory of evolution” in new science standards, the first time the word “evolution” has been included.

Florida’s current standards require the teaching of evolution using code words like “change over time.”

Adding the term “scientific theory” before the term “evolution” was a modified proposal at least one board member called a compromise, not standards proposed originally to the committee. The option to include “scientific theory” was made late last week.

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

Ben Smith Comments on the comments on his Blog

I just wanted to take advantage of a (relatively) slow news day to make a quick point about comments. They are, ideally, ideas, not rants; content, not therapy. They’re at their best when you’re sharing something somebody else might want to read ”” a fact, an opinion, an argument.

A good reminder. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet

From the CSM: Anglican Archbishop: too intellectual to lead?

But nothing has troubled England quite as much as his remarks this month on the inevitability of certain elements of sharia law in Britain. Sharia, he said, offered a way of arbitration, particularly in marital or family disputes, that could provide an alternative to divorce courts. “Certain conditions of sharia are already recognized in our society and under our law, so it is not as if we are bringing in an alien and rival system,” he said.

The comments ignited a furor that has seen British tabloids call for his resignation and members of his own hierarchy publicly disown him. For some Britons, Williams’s remarks came as an unwanted reminder of the forward march of Islam in their midst. For some in the church, there was a sense of outrage that Muslims would get special dispensation, while Christians get no such favors in secular Britain.

The episode says as much about the personality of the archbishop, say observers, as it does about the knee-jerk tabloid proclivity to judge first and inquire later.

Part of the problem was not what was said (sharia justice has been arbitrating in civil affairs of British Muslims for 25 years) but the way it was communicated. The sentiments were woven into a lofty speech that was not easily boiled down into snappy headlines.

Therein lies the conflict: Williams is a public intellectual, ponderous, studious, and given to rich, convoluted peroration, which doesn’t always sit happily in the era of sound-bite journalism.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury

Obama broadens winning coalition in Wisconsin

Barack Obama defeated Hillary Clinton in today’s Wisconsin primary, showing a broad reach across Democratic constituencies, including many ”” such as women, lower-income families, and union households ”” that had been strongholds for Clinton in previous contests.

Obama’s projected victory, his ninth in a row, was quickly answered with twin attacks from opponents in both parties. John McCain, who declared that he will be the Republican nominee after beating Mike Huckabee in Wisconsin, dismissed Obama’s message as ”˜”˜an eloquent but empty call for change,’’ while Clinton launched her most aggressive critique yet on his preparedness for the presidency.

”˜”˜One of us is ready to be commander in chief in a dangerous world,’’ Clinton said at a rally in Youngstown, Ohio.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Early Exit Polls Seem promising for Barack Obama

From here:

Some more internals from the second wave of AP Wisconsin Democratic primary exit polls:

Among women: Barack Obama 51%, Hillary Clinton 49%. Among independents: Obama 63%, Clinton 34%. Among families with incomes under $50,000 per year: Obama 51%, Clinton 49%. Among union households: Clinton 50%, Obama 49%.

UpdateYou have to love this:

Whoever they voted for – Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama among the Democrats, John McCain and Mike Huckabee among the Republicans – there was a feeling by many in this region today that this election truly mattered, that Wisconsin was poised to play a role in the making of a president.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Archbishop Peter Jensen's Address to his Standing Commitee about the Lambeth 2008 Decision

The decision of our Bishops not to attend the Lambeth Conference in 2008 is the culmination of ten years of thought, prayer and action. We have played our part in challenging false teaching and practice, always hoping that those who have flouted the strong position taken by the last Lambeth Conference would turn back in repentance. As part of this, we have developed strong fellowship links with the many Anglican christians all over the world who feel as we do that the crisis over human sexuality is of momentous significance, and who are determined not to accept unbiblical teaching and sinful practice.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Lambeth 2008

The Presiding Bishop Responds to the Anglican Church of Uganda

From here:

After hearing about the five primates’ intentions to boycott Lambeth, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said February 15 that the conference will be diminished by their absence, and I imagine that they themselves will miss a gift they might have otherwise received. After hearing about the five primates’ intentions to boycott Lambeth, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said February 15 that the conference “will be diminished by their absence, and I imagine that they themselves will miss a gift they might have otherwise received.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, Presiding Bishop

In California Churches weigh in on same-sex marriage

The legal battle over same-sex marriage in California is also a clash of religions.

As the state Supreme Court prepares for a three-hour hearing March 4 on the constitutionality of a state law allowing only opposite-sex couples to marry, the justices have been flooded with written arguments from advocates on both sides – including two large contingents of religious organizations with sharply differing views.

On one side are the Mormon church, the California Catholic Conference, the National Association of Evangelicals and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations. They describe marriage between a man and a woman as “the lifeblood of community, society and the state” and say any attempt by the courts to change that would create “deep tensions between civil and religious understandings of that institution.”

On the other side are the Unitarians, the United Church of Christ, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Soka Gakkai branch of Buddhism, and dissident groups of Mormons, Catholics and Muslims.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture


Let’s consider two recent, related pieces in the University of Miami newspaper.

The first announces the appearance, in selected classrooms, of a new technology called SYNCHRONEYES.

Synchroneyes is the sort of thing universities all over the country are spending your tuition dollars on.

Instead of doing something about disruptive in-class laptop use that costs nothing ”” banning them ”” many universities are starting an expensive war with them.

Synchroneyes marks a major escalation in the classroom technology battle: The professor as spy-master.

With Syncroneyes, the professor can “view all the computer screens in the classroom and redirect the student’s attention if they digress from the lecture topic.”

Elegantly put. Let’s see this interaction in practice.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Education

Gafcon conference 'rearranged'

The Gafcon organizing committee, which is arranging an alternative to the Anglican Lambeth Conference, has announced that the dates and venue of the Jerusalem conference have been changed.

Following consultations with the Bishop in Jerusalem, the Rt Rev Suheil Dawani, the conference will now be broken into two parts: a consultation for church leaders in Jordan from June 18-22 and a pilgrimage to Jerusalem from June 22-29.

“We are very grateful for the feedback that we have received on the many complex issues that confront us,” the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Peter Jensen (pictured) said on Feb 19.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Global South Churches & Primates, Middle East

Presiding Bishop to Visit Diocese of South Carolina February 24-25

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

Martin Wolf of the FT is concerned about the American Economy

So how bad might this downturn get? To answer this question we should ask a true bear. My favourite one is Nouriel Roubini of New York University’s Stern School of Business, founder of RGE monitor.

Recently, Professor Roubini’s scenarios have been dire enough to make the flesh creep. But his thinking deserves to be taken seriously. He first predicted a US recession in July 2006*. At that time, his view was extremely controversial. It is so no longer. Now he states that there is “a rising probability of a ‘catastrophic’ financial and economic outcome”**. The characteristics of this scenario are, he argues: “A vicious circle where a deep recession makes the financial losses more severe and where, in turn, large and growing financial losses and a financial meltdown make the recession even more severe.”

Prof Roubini is even fonder of lists than I am. Here are his 12 – yes, 12 – steps to financial disaster.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy