Daily Archives: February 24, 2008

Christopher Howse: Rock of Ages and the rebel pilgrims

More importantly, for Toplady’s verses, the water flowing from the rock was a type or foreshadowing of the water that flowed, together with blood, from the side of Christ when he was pierced by a spear as he hung on the cross.

Toplady and his congregation were equally aware of the water that flowed from the right side of the temple in the vision of Ezekiel (47:1). That verse is sung round the world at Eastertide (and has been set by great composers such as Victoria) during the Asperges, the ritual sprinkling of the people at the beginning of Mass. That is not a practice of which Toplady would have approved, although the biblical reference is the same.

And this is what is so strange about Toplady’s devotion to the wounds of Christ, the real subject of his hymn. They (standing for Christ’s one sacrifice in his suffering and death) have saving power. The hymn writer wants to “hide himself” in them – at face value a grisly desire. Yet it is one that medieval mystics expressed too – Julian of Norwich springs to mind.

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Posted in Uncategorized

An interview with Archbishop Mouneer Anis

Watch it all.

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

Phyllis Alsdurf: Krista Tippett, Speaking of Faith

Tippett uses her pulpit””both in print and broadcast””to preach the healing power of conversation. “Something magical happens in a real conversation,” she writes, “where people bring the clearest words they can muster, and the most natural, to matter and meaning. Paradoxically, what is most personal also lands in other ears as most universal.” She says she no longer looks for solutions, systems and overarching themes that “apply to all people and all places.” Instead, honoring the humanity of “different others” is her task. Her goal is not to champion a particular worldview, but to “keep sense and virtue and the possibility of healing alive in the middle of the world’s complexity.”

A commitment to finding the truth in all religious traditions may keep the conversation going, but it can avoid facing the unbridgeable abyss that exists between many religious traditions. The tension for Christians, of course, is that personal experience is not the bedrock of faith, and a focus on first-person narratives may only contribute to the “Sheilaism” or intensive privatization of faith that Robert Bellah warned of back in the ’80s. Enamored of mystery, nuance, and questioning even as she finds herself delving into faith systems that are built on certainties and absolutes, Tippett may have chosen a stance that keeps her in a sort of spiritual limbo, where she is ever encouraging of others’ accounts of their faith but is left standing on the sidelines of religious experience herself.

Tippett says she has opted for a “clear-eyed faith” that asks her to confront both her own failings and the world’s horrors. For her, the Hebrew phrase tikkun olam, to repair the world, is one that holds special resonance. Clearly, listening to others has become a way for Tippett to repair if not save the world””one conversation at a time.

Read it all. I really like Ms. Tippett and her program.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Media, Religion & Culture

S.C. school-bus incidents: Driving a busload of stress

Duct tape is used to seal the mouths of unruly children on a Ware Shoals school bus.

Two 16-year-old boys sexually assault a 14-year-old girl on a Berkeley County school bus after paying the driver $10 to look the other way.

A once-beloved Gilbert school-bus driver sits in prison after confessing to sexually abusing girls as young as 7 on his bus.

Such stories grab the headlines and paint a grim picture of the trek that more than 300,000 S.C. children take twice a day on a school bus.

But the reality is the vast majority of them arrive at school and back home again safe and sound.

Ugh. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Education

A ”˜Moral Hazard’ for a Housing Bailout: Sorting the Victims From Those Who Volunteered

Over the last two decades, few industries have lobbied more ferociously or effectively than banks to get the government out of its business and to obtain freer rein for “financial innovation.”

But as losses from bad mortgages and mortgage-backed securities climb past $200 billion, talk among banking executives for an epic government rescue plan is suddenly coming into fashion.

A confidential proposal that Bank of America circulated to members of Congress this month provides a stunning glimpse of how quickly the industry has reversed its laissez-faire disdain for second-guessing by the government ”” now that it is in trouble.

The proposal warns that up to $739 billion in mortgages are at “moderate to high risk” of defaulting over the next five years and that millions of families could lose their homes.

To prevent that, Bank of America suggested creating a Federal Homeowner Preservation Corporation that would buy up billions of dollars in troubled mortgages at a deep discount, forgive debt above the current market value of the homes and use federal loan guarantees to refinance the borrowers at lower rates.

“We believe that any intervention by the federal government will be acceptable only if it is not perceived as a bailout of the bond market,” the financial institution noted.

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

Roderick Strange: Water can bring us death or a new life in Christ

In 1990 I was appointed to a parish where both the church and house needed extensive refurbishment. Late one afternoon the clerk of works came to report that the day’s plumbing work was unfinished; it could be completed only the following morning and they would have to leave the water turned off overnight.

He advised me to fill buckets for my needs. But what were my needs? I realised that I needed water for drinking and for cooking, for washing up and washing myself, for shaving and flushing the lavatory. It taught me very quickly how essential water is for survival. Water is a source of life. Some time later a woman came to see me to plan a funeral. Her brother had fallen into the local canal and drowned. Water is not only a source of life. It can be an instrument of death.

Then some years later still I found myself here at the Beda College in Rome, where older men from the English-speaking world are prepared for priestly ordination. One was Vietnamese. He had escaped from his country by boat and spent nine days on the open sea. Water was carrying him to safety, but it was also a threat: there was doubt about the seaworthiness of the boat, danger from storms and from pirates. For him water was ambivalent. And water’s very ambivalence is one reason why we use it for baptising, when we mark a passage from death to new life in Christ.

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Posted in Baptism, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Bexley Hall to Close Rochester Campus

The class of seminary students graduating in May will be the last for Bexley Hall Seminary’s Rochester, N.Y., campus which will be closed. Bexley Hall remains committed to a three-year residential seminary program at its Columbus, Ohio campus, according to the Very Rev. John R. Kevern, dean of Bexley Hall.

The decision to close the Rochester campus was based in part on changing demographics, Dean Kevern told The Living Church. Another factor was the more stringent standards the Rochester campus would have to meet when its accreditation from the Association of Theological Schools came up for renewal in 2012.

“We are too thin on the ground there to meet the labyrinthine requirements of the state and the accrediting agency,” Dean Kevern said. “So with reluctance and no great pleasure, the board acquiesced to the analysis of both entities and decided to terminate the satellite M. Div. program as of this May.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

An interesting Ethical Dilemma: was the FDA Right to Grant Aceelerated Approval to Avastin?

First, read the Wall Street Journal article from Wednesday, before a decision was made, which included this:

Marketing Avastin to fight breast cancer is “important from a business perspective,” Dr. [Susan] Desmond-Hellmann says. But, she says, it also offers women more treatment options, her goal since her days treating cancer patients in Lexington, Ky., in the early 1990s. Few drugs were available then. Now there are more, but none are yet specifically approved as a first-line treatment for metastatic breast cancer.

Avastin is a so-called biologic drug that replicates the body’s own weapons — antibodies that block the growth of blood vessels that feed tumors. But just because Avastin mimics a natural function, that doesn’t mean it is benign. “We’re all catching up to the fact that just because they’re what the body would make, antibodies are no less powerful,” says Dr. Desmond-Hellmann. A biotech drug like Avastin causes different — but not necessarily fewer — side effects than a drug concocted from chemicals in a test tube….

The study cited by Genentech included 722 patients observed for three years. Nailing proof-of-survival benefits would require studying 2,000 to 3,000 patients for another three years, and that would unacceptably slow the pace of cancer-drug development, argues Dr. Desmond-Hellmann. “Does that 5.5 months outweigh toxicity? I think it does.”

Still, Michigan’s Dr. [Maha] Hussain wrestles with doubts. “Our job is, if we cannot make people live longer, to make them live better,” she says. “Not to lower the bar is important.”

Now, read the San Francisco Chronicle article on yesterday’s decision.

Did the FDA make the right call?

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Theology

Lawyers divided on death penalty system

Defense lawyers and prosecutors agreed Wednesday that California’s death penalty system was deeply troubled but split over the causes and solutions.

During a hearing in Los Angeles before a state reform commission, prosecutors called for quicker appeals and amending the state Constitution to permit the California state Supreme Court to transfer some of the initial review of cases to state appeals courts.

Defense attorneys opposed the proposal, saying it would make the process more cumbersome.

Instead, they asked that the state pare the list of crimes that qualify for the death penalty and provide more funding for lawyers who represent accused killers.

But John Van de Kamp, chairman of the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice who previously served as Los Angeles County district attorney and state attorney general, said the prospects of increased state funding were bleak.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Capital Punishment, Law & Legal Issues

Christopher Seitz: The Communion Partners Plan

Particularly in a period of contestation about the role of the Presiding Bishop it is crucial to keep in mind the peculiar polity of TEC. Bishop Stanton of Dallas has been clearest about this in questioning the option of alternative Episcopal Oversight given that specific limitations already inhere in the office of Presiding Bishop. No metropolitan powers are attached to this office. More recently, in the Diocese of South Carolina we witnessed appropriate attention to the limits this Church has imposed, in the course of its history, on the role of the Presiding Bishop. The Diocese of South Carolina did so, in other words, not as an act of revenge nor in a position of questionable advocacy, but in full compliance with the Canons of TEC.

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