Daily Archives: February 23, 2008

A Pastor Begs to Differ With Flock on Miracles

“It’s not the dirt that makes the miracles!” the Rev. Casimiro Roca said with exasperation.

True, discarded crutches line a wall inside the Santuario de Chimayo, a small adobe church in this village of northern New Mexico known as the Lourdes of America.

True, tens of thousands of pilgrims walk eight miles or more to the shrine on Good Friday, some bearing heavy crosses and others approaching on their knees. Scores of people visit every day the rest of the year, many hoping to cure diseases or disabilities with prayer, holy water and, most famously, the healing dirt, which visitors collect from a hole in the floor inside the church.

Now the disparagement of the dirt was jarring, coming from Father Roca, who has devoted much of his life to creating the present-day shrine and is its revered eminence. At 89, he wears a beret that reveals his Barcelona origins.

Some 50 years ago, he took over the abandoned, nearly ruined site of the church, which was first constructed in 1816. He oversaw the rebuilding of the sanctuary ”” holy hole included ”” into the spotless place it is today, with bright paintings and statues inside and giant cottonwoods out back that he planted as saplings. It has become a stop for tour buses taking the scenic route to Taos as well as for local residents in search of solace or cures, and was declared a national landmark in 1970. Visitors bring their own baggies or containers or can buy little plastic containers marked “blessed dirt” at the church’s gift shop.

Read it all.

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Bishop John Howe responds to the Telegraph article Alleging a Secret Plan

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is not quite 11:30 PM here in Orlando. In London it is not quite 4:30 AM tomorrow. And Jonathan Petre of the London Telegraph has just released a story about yesterday’s meeting between four American Bishops (Howe, Central Florida; MacPherson, Western Louisiana; Smith, North Dakota; and Stanton, Dallas) with the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.

Petre could not have been much more inaccurate! Here are his opening remarks:

“The Archbishop of Canterbury is backing secret plans to create a ‘parallel’ Church for American conservatives to avert fresh splits over homosexuality…. Dr Rowan Williams has held confidential talks with senior American bishops and theologians who oppose the pro-gay policies of their liberal leaders….
“Dr Williams is desperate to minimize further damage in the run up to the once-a-decade Lambeth Conference this summer which could be boycotted by more than a fifth of the world’s bishops….
“According to insiders, Dr Williams has given his blessing to the plans to create an enclave for up to 20 conservative American bishops that would insulate them from their liberal colleagues.”

No, Dear Friends. Here is a summary of what we presented to the Presiding Bishop yesterday. We were not quite ready to release it, but in the light of this significant distortion, I am doing so tonight:

Communion Partners
In the context of the Episcopal Visitors concept announced by the Presiding Bishop at the House of Bishops meeting in New Orleans, a number of us have reflected a need for a larger gathering which we are calling Communion Partners. We believe such a gathering will afford us the opportunity for mutual support, accountability and fellowship; and present an important sign of our connectedness in and vision for the Anglican Communion as it moves through this time of stress and renewal.
Ӣ To provide a visible link for those concerned to the Anglican Communion
Many within our dioceses and in congregations in other dioceses seek to be assured of their connection to the Anglican Communion. Traditionally, this has been understood in terms of bishop-to-bishop relationships. Communion Partners fleshes out this connection in a significant and symbolic way.

Ӣ To provide fellowship, support and a forum for mutual concerns between bishops
The Bishops who have been designated Episcopal Visitors together with others who might well consider being included in this number share many concerns about the Anglican Communion and its future, and look to work together with Primates and Bishops from the Global South. In addition, we believe we all have need of mutual encouragement, prayer, and reassurance. The Communion Partners will be a forum for these kinds of relationships.

Ӣ To provide a partnership to work toward the Anglican Covenant and according to Windsor principles..
The Bishops will work together according to the principles outlined in the Windsor Report and seek a comprehensive Anglican Covenant at the Lambeth Conference and beyond.

”¢ The Communion Partners will be informally gathered ”“ there will be no “charter” or formal structure

Ӣ Are committed to non-boundary-crossing: the relationships will be governed by mutual respect and proceed by invitation and cooperation

Ӣ Will work with mutual cooperation within and beyond the partnership

Ӣ The Episcopal Visitors who desire to participate (EVs named at House of Bishops New Orleans)

Ӣ Those Bishops who are willing to serve as EVs

Ӣ Initially, five Primates of the Global South: West Indies, Tanzania, Indian Ocean, Burundi, Middle East

Ӣ Communication of activities with both the Presiding Bishop and Archbishop of Canterbury

Ӣ Respect for the canonical realities, integrities and structures of the Episcopal Church and other Churches

Our purpose in meeting with Bishop Schori yesterday was to apprize her of this plan, seek her counsel, and assure her that we remain committed to working within the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, and that the Primates involved in this discussion are NOT involved in “border crossing,” nor would we be. We will visit no congregation without the Diocesan Bishop’s invitation and permission. We do believe this is a step forward, albeit a small one.

I hope this is helpful, and I thank you for your prayers regarding this important meeting.

Warmest regards in our Lord,

The Right Rev. John W. Howe
Episcopal Bishop of Central Florida
1017 East Robinson Street
Orlando, Florida 32801

Posted in Uncategorized

Telegraph article Alleges Secret Episcopal Church plan to avoid church gay split

According to insiders, Dr Williams has given his blessing to the plans to create an enclave for up to 20 conservative American bishops that would insulate them from their liberal colleagues. The scheme would allow them to remain technically within the Episcopal Church but under the care of like-minded archbishops from abroad. The Primate of the West Indies, Archbishop Drexel Gomez, a moderate conservative, has agreed to participate, and other primates could be recruited.

However, the initiative is likely to infuriate liberal leaders of the Episcopal Church, who will see it as an attempt to undermine their authority and interfere in their affairs. Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori, the head of the Episcopal Church, has been cracking down on any diocese or parish that seeks to leave, and numerous legal actions are under way. She and her colleagues have already rejected similar proposals suggested at a meeting in Tanzania last year of all the primates, the leaders of the 38 independent Churches that constitute the Anglican Communion. However, she met a group of conservative bishops and theologians in New York last week after hearing that Dr Williams was sympathetic to the new proposal.

Read it all but make sure to read the next post before coming to any conclusions.

Update George Conger has a Church of England Newspaper article on this which begins as follows:

US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has endorsed a programme of alternative Episcopal oversight brought to her by a group of conservative American bishops.

The “Anglican Bishops in Communion” seeks to meld the Primates’ Dar es Salaam pastoral council scheme with the “Episcopal Visitor” programme created by Bishop Schori in a bid to hold the fissiparous elements of American Anglicanism together until an Anglican Covenant is agreed.

“This is a step forward, albeit a small one,” the Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt Rev John W Howe noted, that permits freedom of conscience for traditionalist while preserving good order in conformance to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.

However, critics charge there is nothing in the plan to compel a liberal bishop to permit alternative oversight, while spokesmen for the dioceses of Pittsburgh and Fort Worth told The Church of England Newspaper they were unable to comment on the merits of the plan as they had not been consulted in its creation and were unaware of the details.

Read it all as well.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Alternative Primatial Oversight (APO), Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts

Healing by Helping in New Orleans

Wonderfully inspiring.

Posted in Uncategorized

Notable and Quotable

Now, as Polycarp was entering into the stadium, there came to him a voice from heaven, saying, “Be strong, and show thyself a man, O Polycarp!” No one saw who it was that spoke to him; but those of our brethren who were present heard the voice. And as he was brought forward, the tumult became great when they heard that Polycarp was taken. And when he came near, the proconsul asked him whether he was Polycarp. On his confessing that he was, [the proconsul] sought to persuade him to deny [Christ], saying, “Have respect to thy old age,” and other similar things, according to their custom, [such as], “Swear by the fortune of Cæsar; repent, and say, Away with the Atheists.” But Polycarp, gazing with a stern countenance on all the multitude of the wicked heathen then in the stadium, and waving his hand towards them, while with groans he looked up to heaven, said, “Away with the Atheists.” Referring the words to the heathen, and not to the Christians, as was desired. Then, the proconsul urging him, and saying, “Swear, and I will set thee at liberty, reproach Christ;” Polycarp declared, “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?”

–The Matyrdom of Polycarp, Chapter IX

Posted in Uncategorized

A Prayer for Saint Polycarp's Day

O God, the maker of heaven and earth, who didst give to thy venerable servant, the holy and gentle Polycarp, boldness to confess Jesus Christ as King and Saviour, and steadfastness to die for his faith: Give us grace, after his example, to share the cup of Christ and rise to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Scripture Readings

And as he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him.

But he refused, and said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decap’olis how much Jesus had done for him; and all men marveled.

–Mark 5:18-20

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Banks taking back Miami homes at high rate: broker

Lenders were repossessing south Florida houses and condos at a dramatically increased pace in the first weeks of 2008, a signal that the shaky Miami market is nearing capitulation, a prominent broker said on Friday.

REOs, or “real estate owned” by banks after failed foreclosure sales, rocketed up to 858 in January and February from 273 during the same period a year earlier, a 214 percent increase, according to data gathered from public records by Condo Vultures.

The data includes condos, houses and commercial space, although commercial represented only a small fraction.

“It’s starting to show that the moment of capitulation is near,” said Peter Zalewski, Condo Vultures founder, in an interview for the Reuters Housing Summit.

“Banks are now coming to us. In the last two weeks, I’ve had three REO bulk packages brought to me, between 150 and 300 units,” he said. “These are entire complexes in which the bank has foreclosed, took back the deed, and now is basically trying to sell it for anything they can get.”

Read it all.

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

Dalton Conley: Go on a Savings Spree

What if instead of giving rebates we helped create an investor society by seeding universal investment accounts? This would not only pump cash into the economy, through the slightly more indirect route of investment, it would also help us correct some of the near-fatal flaws in our long-term economic landscape.

The recent slowdown in gross domestic product growth is only a symptom of recession, not the cause. While there are many things to blame for the current crisis ”” most notably the subprime mortgage mess ”” one factor that has received little attention is America’s low savings rate. In 2005, net private savings in the United States were negative. In other words, we were spending money that we didn’t have, chipping away at our national wealth.

The last time the savings rate dipped into the red was during the Great Depression. At that time, of course, it made sense not to save. Joblessness was high and money scarce; we needed to dip into our kitty to survive. But our negative savings during the Bush boom had a different cause. Evidently, we felt so flush with (paper) gains in the stock and housing markets that we spent money as if there were no tomorrow….

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Canadian Anglican church rift threatening to spread

With two conservative breakaway churches refusing to hand over their keys, the Anglican Church of Canada is looking for a place for its faithful to worship this Sunday.

“We have a pastoral duty to these people,” Niagara Archdeacon Michael Patterson said.

“They want assurance that the graveyard where their ancestors are buried will remain part of the Anglican Church of Canada.”

Patterson said up to 40 members of 150-year-old St. George’s Anglican church in Lowville, north of Hamilton, do not agree with its decision ”“ in a 128-to-3 vote Sunday ”“ to sever ties to the national church and join the conservative Anglican Network in Canada.

They want to stay with the national church and hope to one day return to St. George’s. For now, they can’t, however, because the minister there refused yesterday morning to cede control of the property to the local diocese.

“We were asked, and declined,” said Rev. Canon Charlie Masters, adding he will be conducting services at St. George’s this weekend. “All are welcome on Sunday.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces

Web Site Encourages Churches to Break the Mold

In an era of declining attendance, churches across the country are scrambling to embrace modern marketing tools: Web sites, podcasts, billboards and the like. But a backlash is forming, as critics argue that while these megachurch-inspired tactics fill the pews, they sometimes lead to a weakened Christianity and ecclesiastical bait-and-switch.

At the center of the debate is the Web site ChurchMarketingSucks.com. With more than 40,000 unique visitors per month, the site aims to “frustrate, educate and motivate” churches into communicating effectively in a religious environment. But it’s also a little tongue-in-cheek.

“If churches were doing what they’re supposed to be doing, they wouldn’t need advertising,” says the site’s founder Brad Abare. He contends that if churches were more active in the community and addressing its needs, they would grow naturally from the original form of marketing — word of mouth.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Parish Ministry

Lambeth 2008 Bible Study Plans Announced

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Lambeth 2008

The Latest From Intrade

In the Democratic nomination contracts, Barack Obama last traded at 82.0 and Hillary Clinton 18.1. In the Repubican nomination contracts, John McCain currently trades at 94.0, and right now seems to be the only Republican nomination contract trading actively on a daily basis. In the Individual Winner contracts, Obama last traded at 54.1, McCain was at 34.0, and Clinton found a bid at 10.7

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008