Daily Archives: February 25, 2008

A painful past sparks concern about Obama's safety

There is a hushed worry on the minds of many supporters of Senator Barack Obama, echoing in conversations from state to state, rally to rally: Will he be safe?

In Colorado, two sisters say they pray daily for his safety. In New Mexico, a daughter says she persuaded her mother to still vote for Obama, even though the mother feared that winning would put him in danger. And at a rally here, a woman expressed worries that a message of hope and change, in addition to his race, made him more vulnerable to violence.

“I’ve got the best protection in the world,” Obama, of Illinois, said in an interview, reprising a line he tells supporters who raise the issue with him. “So stop worrying.”

Yet worry they do, with the spring of 1968 seared into their memories, when the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert Kennedy were assassinated in a span of two months.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

On a Personal Note

The active clergy of the diocese of South Carolina are meeting with the Presiding Bishop in Mount Pleasant this morning. Thank you for your prayers.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Feast of Saint Matthias

Almighty God, who in the place of Judas chose your faithful servant Matthias to be numbered among the Twelve: Grant that your Church, being delivered from false apostles, may always be guided and governed by faithful and true pastors; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History

St. Catharines church votes to split from Niagara Anglican diocese

For her entire life, Phyllis Wilson has worshipped in the Anglican Church’s Niagara diocese, but on Sunday she voted to break away from the pack.

“It’s been coming for a long time,” the 84-year-old said after the congregation at Church of Good Shepherd in St. Catharines overwhelmingly voted to leave the diocese.

Instead, church members will align with the more conservative Anglican Network in Canada.

“It’s wonderful,” Wilson said. “The main thing is to stick to the New Testament and the teaching of Jesus.”

With a show of hands, members voted 82-4 to split in a closed-door meeting, before breaking into Hymn No. 275, How Firm a Foundation.

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

Canadian Anglican rift deepens as two sides go to court

The cracks in the Anglican Church of Canada are widening over the issue of blessing same-sex marriages, with three more congregations voting to split with the national organization over the weekend – and the two sides headed to court on Friday.

So far, the legal battle is limited to the diocese of Niagara in Ontario, where two congregations voted to break away last week and a third, the Church of the Good Shepherd in St. Catharines, followed suit yesterday. Two congregations in the diocese of New Westminster in B.C. – Church of the Good Shepherd, and St. Matthias and St. Luke, both of Vancouver – also voted to break away, bringing the total of dissident churches to 15. They have all put themselves under the authority of the Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Province of the Southern Cone in South America.

That traditional branch of the Anglican church does not recognize same-sex marriages.

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

Responses from Episcopalians in the Baylor Religion Survey

Check it out and see what you make of the analysis.

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

Irwin Stelzer: Sun shines on some as storm clouds gather over US economy

JUST when it seemed things couldn’t get any worse, they did. The Federal Reserve Board’s economists revised their growth estimate down, and their inflation forecast up. The dreaded word “stagflation” has begun to make its appearance, reminding those Wall Street analysts old enough to remember that in the 1970s the economy experienced 15% inflation, 9% unemployment and three recessions.

Those who want to update their financial vocabularies further should also take note of the new buzz word, “contagion”, used to describe the fact that sub-prime problems are spreading to other parts of the closely interlinked credit market, such as credit cards and non-sub-prime mortgages.

Add “decoupling” to your lexicon and you will be au courant: analysts who confidently predicted America’s problems would not spread, are now less certain that the US economy is decoupled from the rest of the world. That’s why BNP Paribas economist Ken Wattret said that “all the reliable leading indicators of eurozone economic growth point to even worse news ahead”.

And why Mario Draghi, governor of the Bank of Italy and head of the Financial Stability Forum, said of write-downs by Europe’s banks, “it’s not over yet”.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Airline in first biofuel flight

The first flight by a commercial airline to be powered partly by biofuel has taken place. A Virgin Atlantic jumbo jet has flown between London’s Heathrow and Amsterdam using fuel derived from a mixture of Brazilian babassu nuts and coconuts.

Environmentalists have branded the flight a publicity stunt and claim biofuel cultivation is not sustainable.

Earlier this month, Airbus tested another alternative fuel – a synthetic mix of gas-to-liquid.

Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson said the flight marked a “vital breakthrough” for the entire airline industry.

“This pioneering flight will enable those of us who are serious about reducing our carbon emissions to go on developing the fuels of the future,” he said.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources

Iran Confirms New Nuclear Centrifuges

Iran said Sunday that it has started using new centrifuges that can churn out enriched uranium at more than double the rate of the machines that now form the backbone of the Islamic nation’s nuclear program.

The announcement was the first official confirmation by Tehran after diplomats with the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog reported earlier this month that Iran was using 10 of the new IR-2 centrifuges.

“We are (now) running a new generation of centrifuges,” the official IRNA news agency quoted Javad Vaidi, deputy of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, as saying. No futher details were provided.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Iran, Middle East

Canadian same-sex marriage faces U.S. challenge

Adamant that Canadian views on same-sex marriage shouldn’t be allowed to define American law, a New York county is appealing a recent landmark U.S. court ruling that forces the border state to fully recognize gay couples wed in Canada.

In a unanimous Feb. 1 decision that drew attention across the U.S. for its precedent-setting potential, a New York appeals court ordered the Monroe County Community College in Rochester to grant full spousal benefits to two women legally married in Canada in 2004.

The victory for college employee Patricia Martinez and her partner Lisa Golden was hailed by gay-rights advocates as a major breakthrough in the fight for marriage equality. But it has sharply divided Republicans and Democrats in New York and beyond, fuelling a nationwide debate over same-sex marriage heading into this year’s presidential election campaign.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Canada, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family

Heather Mac Donald: Promiscuity and hype have created a phony epidemic at colleges

It is a central claim of these organizations that between a fifth and a quarter of all college women will be raped or will be the targets of attempted rape by the end of their college years. Harvard’s Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response uses the 20% to 25% statistic. Websites at New York University, Syracuse University, Penn State and the University of Virginia, among many other places, use the figures as well.

And who will be the assailants of these women? Not terrifying strangers who will grab them in dark alleys, but the guys sitting next to them in class or at the cafeteria.

If the one-in-four statistic is correct, campus rape represents a crime wave of unprecedented proportions. No felony, much less one as serious as rape, has a victimization rate remotely approaching 20% or 25%, even over many years. The 2006 violent crime rate in Detroit, one of the most violent cities in the U.S., was 2,400 murders, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults per 100,000 inhabitants — a rate of 2.4%.

Such a crime wave — in which millions of young women would graduate having suffered the most terrifying assault, short of murder, that a woman can experience — would require nothing less than a state of emergency. Admissions policies, which if the numbers are true are allowing in tens of thousands of vicious criminals, would require a complete revision, perhaps banning male students entirely. The nation’s nearly 10 million female undergraduates would need to take the most stringent safety precautions.

None of this crisis response occurs, of course — because the crisis doesn’t exist.

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I will consider posting comments on this article submitted first by email to Kendall’s E-mail: KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Sexuality

Canadian woman tipped to be bishop in New Zealand

A controversial Canadian woman is tipped to be Christchurch’s next Anglican bishop.

Church sources confirmed to The Press yesterday that Bishop Victoria Matthews was two-thirds of the way through the ratification process.

The paper said the former bishop of Edmonton, Canada, had signalled support for blessing gay marriages, but was not expected to break with tradition.

News of her election was leaked by London’s The Guardian newspaper on Friday.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anglican Provinces

Fay Weldon: Why we should sterilise teenage girls … temporarily at least

Last week, an intriguing proposition was mooted by Government minister Dawn Primarolo.

Teenage girls, she said, could be steered towards what is described as “long-term contraception”.

This is now possible thanks to the development of contraceptive jabs and implants which can last up to five years.

In other words, there is a way of effectively sterilising girls for a lengthy period of time.

At what age? Well, doesn’t 12 until 17 sound rather sensible?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology

NY Times Letters: Trying to Understand Midlife Suicide

Here is one:

Re “Midlife Suicide Rises, Puzzling Researchers” (front page, Feb. 19):

As we try to understand the increase of suicide in this age group, one of the most descriptive phrases in the article is “inexplicable gloom.”

As a rabbi in one congregation for 25 years and as a professor of a course on death for the last 30 years, I have observed this gloom (or sadness, ennui, feeling of emptiness) in this age group.

It is not so much the means as it is the psychosocial and spiritual condition of boomers ”” what Émile Durkheim described in his 1897 pioneering book on suicide as anomie, referring to a lack of regulation or a breakdown of norms.

To quote one statement from his writings, “Man is the more vulnerable to self-destruction the more he is detached from any collectivity.”

Anomie as a cause of suicide is rare when human beings share their lives in intimate connection with others, when there is a sense of mutual interdependence in the human community.

The breakdown of personal relationships has been a major cause of depression and anomie among boomers. With the impermanence of friendships, unremitting mobility, job insecurities and the breakdown of the family structure, it should not be surprising that the suicide rate in this age group has increased.

Jack D. Spiro
Richmond, Va.

Read them all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Psychology

Religion and Ethics Weekly: God and Hollywood

[KIM] LAWTON: In Los Angeles, Jonathan Bock runs a company called Grace Hill Media, which he says tries to bridge the gap between Hollywood and the religious community. Formerly with Warner Brothers, Bock now promotes big-budget films to churches and Christian leaders.

Mr. BOCK: We have a database of about 75,000 pastors that we regularly invite to screenings. We don’t want to be in a position of just telling them this is good for you, so there you go. We want them to find out for themselves.

LAWTON: Last year, in a promotional gimmick, Bock’s company convinced the evangelical flagship magazine Christianity Today to run a mock-cover featuring the film “Evan Almighty.” He says the studios’ willingness to commit such big ad money shows Hollywood’s growing respect for the religious audience.

Mr. BOCK: They knew this audience was out there. They really thought, you know, that this film would resonate with Christian families.

LAWTON: But “Evan Almighty” wasn’t a box office hit. Neither were two other movies targeted to Christians, “The Nativity Story” released in 2006 and “Amazing Grace” in early 2007, although all did better in video sales and rentals.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

Building may be on the line after local Anglican vote in Saint Catherines Ontario

Same-sex marriage blessings are the “flashpoint” but not the main reason a St. Catharines Anglican church is voting on whether to break from the national body, a spokesperson said.

Members of the Church of the Good Shepherd on Grantham Avenue will make their decision Sunday in a meeting after the morning service.

It’s a move that could see them booted from the church building if they vote to separate.

“It comes down to the fact that as long as the Anglican Church has been established, it has based its beliefs on the reliability and authority of scripture,” said Pat Decker, the church’s treasurer and people’s warden. “We have seen in the last 20 years, a major drift by the hierarchy of the church.”

In November 2007, lay and clergy members of the Anglican Diocese of Niagara voted to allow reverends to bless same-sex unions. At that time, the Good Shepherd’s Rev. Gerry Brodie voted against the blessing, saying his congregation didn’t support it.

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

Bishop of New Westminster diocese issues ultimatum to breakaway clergy

Anglican Bishop Michael Ingham, whose New Westminster diocese sparked a still-boiling controversy when it approved the blessing of same-sex unions several years ago, issued an ultimatum to clergy members Friday.

Ingham wants eight clergymen to declare whether they are in or out of the Anglican Church of Canada.

He sent rectors and clergy working in the St. Matthew’s Abbotsford and St. John’s Shaughnessy parishes “notice of abandonment of the exercise of ministry.”

The letter asks them to tell Ingham whether they have left the ministry of the Anglican Church of Canada, and whether they intend to join another Anglican ministry in another part of the world.

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

B.C. Anglican priests get 'grace period' in diocesan rift

The Anglican Diocese of British Columbia has temporarily softened its position against a pair of priests who have been suspended for leading a congregation of breakaways.

Diocesan Archdeacon Bruce Bryant-Scott wrote in an e-mail to parishioners on Thursday that he has agreed to a 12-day grace period, during which no disciplinary action will be taken against the Venerable Sharon Hayton, the rector, and Rev. Andrew Hewlett, the assistant priest, of St. Mary’s of the Incarnation in the Victoria suburb of Metchosin.

Ms. Hayton and Mr. Hewlett were told a week ago to stop performing their duties “as an ordained priest.”

“You will recall that the inhibition required that they not contact members of the parish, but during this period I will not take notice if they do,” Mr. Bryant-Scott wrote after a meeting with the two and their lawyers on Wednesday.

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

The NY Times Public Editor Goes After the Paper for the McCain Article

The article was notable for what it did not say: It did not say what convinced the advisers that there was a romance. It did not make clear what McCain was admitting when he acknowledged behaving inappropriately ”” an affair or just an association with a lobbyist that could look bad. And it did not say whether Weaver, the only on-the-record source, believed there was a romance. The Times did not offer independent proof, like the text messages between Detroit’s mayor and a female aide that The Detroit Free Press disclosed recently, or the photograph of Donna Rice sitting on Gary Hart’s lap.

It was not for want of trying. Four highly respected reporters in the Washington bureau worked for months on the story and were pressed repeatedly to get sources on the record and to find documentary evidence like e-mail. If McCain had been having an affair with a lobbyist seeking his help on public policy issues, and The Times had proved it, it would have been a story of unquestionable importance.

But in the absence of a smoking gun, I asked Keller why he decided to run what he had.

“If the point of the story was to allege that McCain had an affair with a lobbyist, we’d have owed readers more compelling evidence than the conviction of senior staff members,” he replied. “But that was not the point of the story. The point of the story was that he behaved in such a way that his close aides felt the relationship constituted reckless behavior and feared it would ruin his career.”

I think that ignores the scarlet elephant in the room. A newspaper cannot begin a story about the all-but-certain Republican presidential nominee with the suggestion of an extramarital affair with an attractive lobbyist 31 years his junior and expect readers to focus on anything other than what most of them did.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Ralph Nader Running for President — Again

Calling Washington, D.C., “corporate-occupied territory,” consumer advocate Ralph Nader launched his fifth campaign for the presidency Sunday.

“I’m running for president,” said Nader in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Nader downplayed the impact he might have on the ultimate outcome of the race, saying “if Democrats can’t landslide the Republicans this year, they ought to just wrap up, close down, emerge in a different form.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008