Daily Archives: March 4, 2008

David Brooks: A Defining Moment

Clinton rode the passion of the crowd and delivered an energetic battle cry. And in many elections that sort of speech, delivered around the country, would clinch the nomination.

But this is a country in the midst of a crisis of authority, a country that has become disillusioned not only with one president, but with a whole system of politics. It’s a country that has lost faith not only with one institution, but with the entire set of leadership institutions. The cultural context, in other words, allowed for a much broader critique, a much more audacious vocabulary.

And Barack Obama leapt right in.

He spoke after 11 p.m. The crowd had been sitting for four hours. In the previous months, Obama had been criticized for being bland on the stump. But this night, he unleashed a zealous part of himself that has propelled his candidacy ever since.

His first big subject was belief itself. Instead of waging a partisan campaign as Clinton had just done, he vowed to address “not just Democrats, but Republicans and independents who’ve lost trust in their government but want to believe again.”

Then he made a broader attack on the political class, and without mentioning her, threw Clinton in with the decrepit old order. “The same old Washington textbook campaigns just won’t do,” he said, in a now familiar line. He said it was time to “finally tackle problems that George Bush made far worse but that had festered long before George Bush ever took office ”” the problems that we’ve talked about year after year after year.”

Obama sketched out a different theory of social change than the one Clinton had implied earlier in the evening. Instead of relying on a president who fights for those who feel invisible, Obama, in the climactic passage of his speech, described how change bubbles from the bottom-up: “And because that somebody stood up, a few more stood up. And then a few thousand stood up. And then a few million stood up. And standing up, with courage and clear purpose, they somehow managed to change the world!”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

English Archbishops’ response to Government consultation on blasphemy

As the Government publishes its amendment to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill to abolish the blasphemy laws, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, have made public their response to the Government’s consultation. In their response the Archbishops make clear their affirmation of the central place of Christianity in British public life and call on the government to explain precisely what the removal of the blasphemy laws does and does not mean for those living out their religious faith in society.

The Archbishops, following consultation with a number of other Christian leaders in England and Wales, restate the Church of England’s longstanding position on the blasphemy laws in their joint letter to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government: “Having signalled for more than 20 years that the blasphemy laws could, in the right context, be abolished, the Church is not going to oppose abolition now, provided we can be assured that provisions are in place to afford the necessary protection to individuals and to society”. They also register ”˜reservations’ about the method and timing of such a change and call on the Government to be clear as to precisely why the offences are being abolished.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Alan Dershowitz: Worshippers of Death

Zahra Maladan is an educated woman who edits a women’s magazine in Lebanon. She is also a mother, who undoubtedly loves her son. She has ambitions for him, but they are different from those of most mothers in the West. She wants her son to become a suicide bomber.

At the recent funeral for the assassinated Hezbollah terrorist Imad Moughnaya — the mass murderer responsible for killing 241 marines in 1983 and more than 100 women, children and men in Buenos Aires in 1992 and 1994 — Ms. Maladan was quoted in the New York Times giving the following warning to her son: “if you’re not going to follow the steps of the Islamic resistance martyrs, then I don’t want you.”

Zahra Maladan represents a dramatic shift in the way we must fight to protect our citizens against enemies who are sworn to kill them by killing themselves. The traditional paradigm was that mothers who love their children want them to live in peace, marry and produce grandchildren. Women in general, and mothers in particular, were seen as a counterweight to male belligerence. The picture of the mother weeping as her son is led off to battle — even a just battle — has been a constant and powerful image.

Now there is a new image of mothers urging their children to die, and then celebrating the martyrdom of their suicidal sons and daughters by distributing sweets and singing wedding songs. More and more young women — some married with infant children — are strapping bombs to their (sometimes pregnant) bellies, because they have been taught to love death rather than life. Look at what is being preached by some influential Islamic leaders:

“We are going to win, because they love life and we love death,” said Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah. He has also said: “[E]ach of us lives his days and nights hoping more than anything to be killed for the sake of Allah.” Shortly after 9/11, Osama bin Laden told a reporter: “We love death. The U.S. loves life. That is the big difference between us.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

Statement from Bishop Mark Lawrence in response the ENS article on the PB's visit

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

Episcopal rector in the Pittsburgh Diocese put on leave

The Rev. David Wilson, rector of St. Paul’s Church in Kittanning, Armstrong County, was placed on leave Saturday. During the three-month leave he will not serve either as church rector or in his position as president of the diocese’s standing committee, which advises the bishop.

“The diocese upholds a very high standard of behavior for its ministers,” diocesan spokesman Peter Frank said. “While the behavior involved inappropriate language, it technically falls within a policy that demands zero tolerance.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops

GetReligion Chimes In on the Bishop Paul Moore New Yorker Story

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

Michigan Anglican Church relocates to accomodate growth

The congregation of St. Matthew’s Anglican Church is growing and moving down the road to a new building.

The church is moving from 66 N. Saginaw in Lapeer to 1009 N. Saginaw, said Pastor Jack Irvin, who has headed the 100-member congregation for six months.

“We’re going to have more room to grow because now we’re limited to 90 people,” he said. “The new place will be able to accommodate 150-200 people including room in the balcony.”

St. Matthew’s first service in the new church at 1009 N. Saginaw will be at 10 a.m. March 9.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, - Anglican: Latest News, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

In Toronto Anglicans padlock church

St. Chad’s Anglican Church sits empty after the Toronto diocese changed the locks and told all parishioners to go elsewhere, in response to the congregation voting recently to split from the Anglican Church of Canada.

“They’ve locked us out of the building,” said Cheryl Chang, a lawyer for the breakaway parishioners. “They’ve closed the building to worshippers.”

In a press release, the diocese said the west-end premises will remain closed to all parishioners for an unspecified “cooling off period” following a vote last month in which the small congregation voted to leave the Anglican Church of Canada in a growing dispute over same-sex marriage blessings.

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

To Tithe Or Not To Tithe?

Pastor Marty Baker is a believer in the idea. “When Jesus says, ‘I will build the church,’ he says, financially, I’ve got a system for you,” Baker preaches, “It’s called tithing.”

Tithing means giving a tenth of your income – and church construction is exactly what pastor Marty Baker is pitching his congregation to pay for.

“God doesn’t fund the church through bingo nights, pancake suppers and chicken dinners,” Baker says. “God funds the church through people willing to commit to the tithe.”

Over twenty years, tithing has helped transform Stevens Creek Church in Augusta, Georgia from a few people in somebody’s living room to a megachurch in the making.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: The Federal Reserve's rescue has failed

The verdict is in. The Fed’s emergency rate cuts in January have failed to halt the downward spiral towards a full-blown debt deflation. Much more drastic action will be needed.

Yields on two-year US Treasuries plummeted to 1.63pc on Friday in a flight to safety, foretelling financial winter.

The debt markets are freezing ever deeper, a full eight months into the crunch. Contagion is spreading into the safest pockets of the US credit universe.

It is hard to imagine a more plain-vanilla outfit than the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which manages bridges, bus terminals, and airports.

The authority is a public body, backed by the two states. Yet it had to pay 20pc rates in February after the near closure of the $330bn (£166m) “term-auction” market. It had originally expected to pay 4.3pc, but that was aeons ago in financial time.

“I never thought I would see anything like this in my life,” said James Steele, an HSBC economist in New York.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

In California Supreme Court takes up same-sex marriage

As gay-rights groups call for marital equality and opponents warn of a public backlash, societal decay and religious conflict, the California Supreme Court is prepared for an epic three-hour hearing Tuesday on the constitutionality of the state law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

It shapes up as the most momentous case the court has heard in decades – comparable to the 1981 ruling that guaranteed Medi-Cal abortions for poor women, the 1972 ruling that briefly overturned the state’s death penalty law, and the 1948 decision, cited repeatedly in the voluminous filings before the court, that struck down California’s ban on interracial marriage.

The arguments on both sides are weighty.

Supporters of same-sex marriage invoke the state’s commitment to equality regardless of gender or sexual orientation, the needs of the children of gay and lesbian couples, the persistence of societal discrimination, and legal rights such as freedom of expression, association and privacy.

In defense of its law, the state cites a cultural tradition far older than statehood, the will of the people as expressed in a 2000 initiative, the steps California has already taken toward equal rights for gays and lesbians, and the power of lawmakers and voters to determine state policy.

Beyond those arguments, groups opposing same-sex marriage want the court to justify the state law on moral or scientific grounds, as an affirmation that limiting matrimony to a man and a woman is best for children and society.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Sexuality

The Ny Times Magazine: How Do You Prove You’re a Jew?

One day last fall, a young Israeli woman named Sharon went with her fiancé to the Tel Aviv Rabbinate to register to marry. They are not religious, but there is no civil marriage in Israel. The rabbinate, a government bureaucracy, has a monopoly on tying the knot between Jews. The last thing Sharon expected to be told that morning was that she would have to prove ”” before a rabbinic court, no less ”” that she was Jewish. It made as much sense as someone doubting she was Sharon, telling her that the name written in her blue government-issue ID card was irrelevant, asking her to prove that she was she.

Sharon is a small woman in her late 30s with shoulder-length brown hair. For privacy’s sake, she prefers to be identified by only her first name. She grew up on a kibbutz when kids were still raised in communal children’s houses. She has two brothers who served in Israeli combat units. She loved the green and quiet of the kibbutz but was bored, and after her own military service she moved to the big city, which is the standard kibbutz story. Now she is a Tel Aviv professional with a master’s degree, a job with a major H.M.O. and a partner ”” when this story starts, a fiancé ”” who is “in computers.”

This stereotypical biography did not help her any more at the rabbinate than the line on her birth certificate listing her nationality as Jewish. Proving you are Jewish to Israel’s state rabbinate can be difficult, it turns out, especially if you came to Israel from the United States ”” or, as in Sharon’s case, if your mother did.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Judaism, Other Faiths

The Archbishop of Dublin: Drafting an Anglican Covenant

In this context, and looking to the future, it has been proposed and fairly generally accepted throughout the Anglican Communion that there should be a Covenant produced which would express what was essential to being “in communion” with one another in terms of our shared faith and calling, and of our responsibility towards one another. In 2007, a first draft was produced in Nassau which, following miniscule amendment at the Primates’ meeting in Dar es Salaam, was circulated for comment throughout the Communion. The Church of Ireland through the Standing Committee of General Synod established a Covenant Response Group which offered a response and proposed a much shorter redrafting.

Responses were received from many of the Anglican Churches, as well as from individual scholars and conferences and various groupings. These were all carefully examined in January 2008, when the Covenant Design Group, on which I serve, held its second meeting at St Andrew’s House (The Anglican Communion Office) in London. This group is representative of Churches in Africa, Asia, North America and Oceania, and also of the various strands within Anglicanism.

In working with the Covenant Design Group, I learnt a great deal, but I would mention one or two insights that I gained, or gained afresh.

The first was that, in spite of the hyping of differences within our Communion, there is a deep determination to stay together, and that we really experienced a deep unity around prayer, the Bible and sharing in the Eucharist.

The second was that the role of Synods comprising bishops, clergy and laity varies greatly around the Communion. In some parts of the world, what the Primate says on almost any question is regarded as the voice of the Church, even though there has been no work done on the question at synodical level, whereas, in America and Europe, the voice of the Church requires a great deal of consultation before it is articulated.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Covenant, Anglican Provinces, Church of Ireland

Al Zadig Reflects on the Presiding Bishop's Visit to South Carolina

One of the most critical leadership strategies I have tried to live day in and day out as your Rector is to make sure that our theology drives every single thing we do together. Gospel-Holy Spirit driven theology that is clearly evident in our preaching, teaching and all we do. For instance, the goal of our instructed Eucharist was to enrich our worship by realizing the theological ”˜whys’ of why we do what we do in worship.

One of the most profound learnings for me during our day of Clarity and Charity was a simple vacuum of any coherent theology coming from the Presiding Bishop. There was no there-there, no center of theological gravity. The most often repeated word from her was experience. Re-evaluating marriage, Scripture, the uniqueness of Jesus Christ through our own experience. I felt as if the head of the Unitarian church was at the microphone and not the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

This idea of our own experience kept coming up to the point that finally at the end of the question and answer session I went to the microphone and stated to the P.B. that I am a happily married man of twelve years, but that as a priest in a very difficult ecclesiastical marriage with the church, feeling as if the Bride of Christ (the church) has become completely unfaithful with little or no fidelity. Imagine if my wife were to come home and say”¦. “Al, I think we should abandon the marital vows and base our marriage on our experiences of what feels right and wrong, in fact out of that experience Al, I think we should have an open marriage. I know it’s out of the box thinking but experientially it just feels like the right thing to do!” If that were agreed to, our marriage would inevitably end in destruction, not to mention the damage done to the countless relationships surrounding the marriage. So it is when we use our experience to trump Scriptural authority. I ended my time at the microphone asking the question of where in the world do we go from here now that we have once again and with clarity been exposed to our massive differences? The question was never answered.

Well, where do we go from here? How can we together move forward if one side of the relationship has no theological moorings? This juncture should drive each one of us to our knees in prayer, praying that Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit would make clear our future. As you pray that prayer, please pray for the Gospel unity of this Diocese and the leadership of Bishop Mark Lawrence.

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