Daily Archives: March 10, 2008
King Canute would have appreciated the dilemma. He famously ordered the sea to halt at his feet in order to demonstrate to sycophantic courtiers that even a monarch was powerless before the forces of nature.
The Churches are now faced with a tide of secularism that seems equally irresistible. In fact, their defences are being over run so fast that they are sometimes at a loss to know how to respond.
Should they be trying to hold back the seemingly inevitable, as some demand, or should they accept the limitations of their powers and beat a strategic retreat, ready to fight another day?
The Government’s decision to abolish the blasphemy laws, despite the deep reservations of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, is just the latest wave to crash over them, part of a tsunami of change that is shifting the ground beneath their feet.
The dilemma has been further sharpened by the departure from Downing Street of Tony Blair and the arrival of Gordon Brown.
Blair, the most overtly Christian Prime Minister since Gladstone, was always willing to tailor his reforms to recognize the historic role of the Churches in society – at least until his power waned at the end of his premiership.
Brown, though a son of the manse whose values are shot through with a Calvinist sense of justice and duty, has no brief with what he sees as anachronistic privilege.
During the Blair era, the changes were creeping and incremental, and Church leaders always knew they had an open door at Number 10 to argue their case for special treatment, to the fury of the secular lobby.
Nevertheless, the Blair regime forced through a raft of gay equality regulations that blunted the moral authority of the Churches and eroded the Judeo-Christian assumptions that underlie the political consensus.
In the short time since Brown’s arrival, the Churches have hardly been given time to draw breath before the next chill wave has struck. Within days, there came the unilateral announcement that the Prime Minister was relinquishing his right to choose between candidates for bishoprics, symbolically weakening the historic ties between Church and State.
Church authorities, forced onto the back foot, acquiesced with alarming speed after the Government agreed to emphasise the implausible claim that the Church’s Establishment status would be unaffected by the reform.
In fact, the Church’s genuine position had been stated a few weeks earlier in an official report by a group set up to review senior ecclesiastical appointments; that had concluded that such a reform would be deeply unsettling as it would hasten the unraveling of the subtle web that entangles the Church, monarchy and Parliament.
Apparently, Church advisors, who had been expecting the usual period of consultation before any changes were announced, concluded that Brown was not open to negotiation and that strategic retreat was the best option.
Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, then announced a new law to ban the stirring-up of hatred against gays, which is currently being debated in the House of Lords as part of the Criminal Justice Bill. Both the Roman Catholic and Church of England bishops have resisted this more strongly, arguing in a joint statement that a homophobic hatred law could restrict the freedom of Christians to say that homosexual behaviour is sinful.
But the Government has so far shown no inclination to accept a Church-backed amendment to the homophobic hatred law that would ensure that preachers who voice such “politically incorrect” views did not face up to seven years behind bars.
Finally, the Church was last week uncomfortably bounced into accepting the demise of the nation’s ancient blasphemy laws. Having signalled that it would not stand in the way of the abolition of laws that are widely regarded as unfit for purpose, they were again wrong-footed by the speed with which the Government moved to introduce an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill to do just that.
Again the Church has put up a token resistance, with the Archbishops arguing that such a development will leave the Churches even more vulnerable to secularist assaults. But there is little evidence that anyone in the Government is seriously listening these days.
So the omens are hardly propitious for key battles that lie ahead, from the status of the bishops in a reformed House of Lords – a key disestablishment issue – to the role of faith schools in an increasingly secular society. The bishops should have a case that will resonate with the public; the electorate, unsettled by rapid changes in society, is sympathetic to many of the traditional values that the Church encapsulates.
But the bishops themselves are divided not only over social and political issues but also over the more fundamental question of what they actually believe. Their splits are painfully public. Until they can achieve a greater unity within their own ranks, they will always be giving ground.
–Mr Jonathan Petre is Religion Correspondent at the Daily Telegraph; this article appeared in the March 8, 2009, edition of the Church of England Newspaper, page 24
The Web site Apple.com attracted nearly 16 million American visitors last month. Some of them got there by typing in the address directly; others used a search engine, linking to company’s site via nearly 25,000 different keywords, including “iTunes,” “iPod” and “iPhone.”
So says Compete, a company based in Boston that tracks Internet traffic. How does it know? It has installed its software in the computers of 100,000 Americans – with their permission – allowing the company to track their every movement on the Internet. It gets additional, anonymous data on about two million American Web users from Internet service providers.
That is a lot of people, but a far cry from the total U.S. Internet population – more than 200 million, according to some estimates. Like other monitors of Internet traffic, including Nielsen Online, Hitwise and ComScore, Compete extrapolates total Web audience figures from such samples, in a system similar to the panel-based research that is used to measure television audiences.
Marketers rely on these numbers because they are skeptical about data submitted by individual Web publishers, which often seem to overstate their own audiences, at least by comparison with independent measures.
Just hours before the Air Force announced the winner of a $35 billion contract to build aerial refueling aircraft on Feb. 29, an Airbus plane lumbered off the runway in Getafe, Spain, and climbed to 27,000 feet to rendezvous with a Portuguese F-16 fighter.
Then, in the skies south of Madrid, the two aircraft edged closer and closer, until they were joined by a 50-foot boom hanging off the back of the big Airbus plane. For the first time, the boom pumped fuel into another plane, 2,000 gallons in all during several connections.
The technology to pass fuel from one plane to another may not be rocket science ”” in fact, aerial fuel booms have been in use for more than 50 years ”” but it helped Airbus’s parent and its partner, Northrop Grumman, establish their technical bona fides.
Eager to enter the American defense market, the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company, the owner of Airbus, made several bold plays, perhaps none more dramatic than building the $100 million state-of-the-art refueling boom on spec.
As a result, Boeing, the pride of American aerospace, was outmaneuvered on its home turf for a contract that could grow to $100 billion, becoming one of the largest military purchases in history.
The words “sculpture park” bring the rolling expanses of Orange County to mind (Storm King Art Center) or, at least, the river’s edge in Queens (Socrates Sculpture Park). They do not instantly conjure up the traffic-jammed corner of Varick and Canal Streets.
Yet that is where New York’s newest sculpture park will be established: on a recently cleared block owned by the Episcopal Trinity Church, paralleling Juan Pablo Duarte Square on the Avenue of the Americas.
“When they’re idling in traffic trying to get through the Holland Tunnel, they’ll have something to look at,” said Maggie Boepple, the president of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, which will curate the sculpture park on behalf of Trinity Real Estate, managers of the church’s extensive holdings downtown.
“It’s a tremendous gift to the city,” Ms. Boepple said.
Library officials do not track attendance by visitors’ ages. But as buses from churches and nursing homes pull up and people walk gingerly down the steps ”” some on canes, others using walkers ”” it is obvious that the library is attracting an older crowd. Linda Sutton, who helps coordinate volunteers, said her staff loved helping older people, who spend an average of one to two hours touring the library. She added, “We’re so thrilled when we see a group of kids on a school group come through.”
The minister’s elder son, Franklin Graham, who runs the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, said the library’s goal was not to glorify his father, or the stadium-style revivals where he preached to 215 million people over more than a half-century. Instead, the library is meant to serve as an evangelical tool.
“We want this not to be a memorial to Billy Graham or something that promotes the successes of his life,” he said. “We want it to point to Jesus Christ.”
The communion and the U.S. denomination have been embroiled in a bitter division since 2003 when the American church authorized the consecration of an openly homosexual bishop.
Bishops from the provinces of Uganda, Nigeria and Rwanda have said they are not going to Lambeth. Instead, they are encouraging bishops to attend the Global Anglican Future Conference in June in Jerusalem.
“What is the use of the Lambeth conference for a three weeks’ jamboree which will sweep these issues under the carpet,” Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria said in January, referring to the issues of sexuality and biblical interpretation. “The issue is that church leaders are endorsing what is wrong.”
The conflict has rocked the U.S. church, too, with scores of parishes leaving and seeking protection under more traditional and conservative primates in Africa and Asia.
On the business docket for Wednesday is a recommended disciplinary action against conservative Bishop John-David Schofield whose Diocese of San Joaquin. Calif., voted to leave the Episcopal Church in December and realign with the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of the Americas, based in Argentina.
Recently, 60 Minutes heard about an American relief organization that airdrops doctors and medicine into the jungles of the Amazon. It’s called Remote Area Medical, or “RAM” for short.
As correspondent Scott Pelley reports, Remote Area Medical sets up emergency clinics where the needs are greatest. But these days, that’s not the Amazon. This charity founded to help people who can’t reach medical care finds itself throwing America a lifeline.
I especially commend the video report to you (a little over 12 minutes). I do not know how anyone can watch this and not be concerned about medical care in this country. We can and we must do better–KSH.
The faith-based reconciliation presentation which had begun on Saturday continued this evening, led by the Rev. Canon Brian Cox of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the Hon. Joanne O’Donnell of the Diocese of Los Angeles.
O’Donnell reviewed one of the core values of faith-based reconciliation, which is submission to God, the principle of sovereignty.
Acknowledging God’s sovereignty is the single-most important element of faith-based reconciliation, she noted. The basis of unity in the sovereignty of God is harmony, diversity and community.
“Unity is not uniformity,” O’Donnell said.
Fred Hargesheimer was shot down in the southwest Pacific on June 5, 1943. A lifetime later, he sits in his quiet California ranch house amid the snow and soaring sugar pines of the Sierra Nevada foothills.
The light blue eyes, at age 91, can’t see as well as they once did. But when he looks back over 65 years, the smiling Minnesotan sees it all clearly ”” the struggle to survive, the native rescuers, the Japanese patrols and narrow escapes, the mother’s milk that saved him. He remembers well his return to New Britain, the people’s embrace, the fundraising and building, the children taught, the adults cured, the happy years beside the Bismarck Sea with Dorothy, his wife.
“I’m so grateful for getting shot out of the sky,” he said.
Garua Peni is grateful, too, as a member of those once-future generations here on New Britain.
“I thank God from the depths of my heart for blessing me in such an abundant way when He brought Suara Auru Fred Hargesheimer,” she said.
A photo and short company bio don’t reveal much about a person.
The U.S. Episcopal Church and its pension fund, both based in New York, received an embarrassing reminder of that when they attempted to target Zimmer Holdings with a dose of shareholder activism.
The recent proxy filing by Zimmer, a Warsaw-based orthopedics company, included a shareholder proposal from the church asking the company to take more steps to diversify its board of directors, “all of whom are white males.” The church pointed to the “cozy clubbiness” that too often has characterized U.S. corporate boards.
There was just one problem.
Dr. Augustus White, a member of Zimmer’s board since 2001 and a noted spine surgeon, is black — a fact Zimmer pointed out right below the church’s proposal.
Zimmer’s Web site carries a photo of White and summary of his career, including a professorship at Harvard Medical School and receipt of the Bronze Star for service in the U.S. Army Medical Corps in Vietnam. Zimmer also said White is recognized for his work in “medical education, diversity and issues of health care disparities.”
A single candidate chosen to be the provisional Bishop of San Joaquin will participate in a two-day walkabout visitation to the diocese immediately after the House of Bishops’ meeting concludes at Camp Allen in Texas on March 12.
The bishops are scheduled to vote on whether to depose the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin during a “business session” after Morning Prayer on that day. Bishop Schofield has already formally resigned from the House of Bishops. Bishops with jurisdiction must obtain consent from the House of Bishops to resign, according to national church canons.
Change ringing does sound good. The typical bell tower in the United States is attached to an Episcopal Church (with a few exceptions) and has eight tuned bells that form a diatonic scale. Some towers have 10 (the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., for example) or even 12 bells (Trinity Wall Street).
Invariably, the bells ”” giant instruments cast in a foundry ”” are procured from England. Many are very old. They are mounted in a manner that enables them to rest in the upright position and turn a little more than 360 degrees when rung. A rope is attached to a big wheel in such a way that pulling it gets the bell going in both directions.
A ‘stay,’ or rigid piece of wood, projects from the bell’s crossbeam and reaches the ‘slider,’ another piece of wood fixed at one end but able to slide a little to and fro at the other end. A properly struck bell has just enough momentum to get it back into the upright position with each pull of the rope. The stay reaches the slider, preventing the metal tonnage of the bell from continuing in the same direction. Another pull on the rope and the bell comes ’round the other way.
David Porter, tower captain at Grace Episcopal Church, is teaching me the hand stroke. The hand stroke and back stroke together cause a complete two-dong ring. A circle of practiced ringers can achieve ‘perfect striking’ with even and orderly strokes. The rings of the bells overhead should be evenly spaced. It requires concentration and adroit maneuvering.
Nevertheless, it is true that agreement among exegetes is capable of surmounting antiquated contradictions and of revealing their secondary character. It can create new avenues of dialogue for all the great themes of intra-Christian controversy: Scripture, tradition, magisterium, the papacy, the eucharist, and so on. It is in this sense that there is, indeed, hope even for a church which undergoes the afore-mentioned turmoil. However, the actual solutions which aim for deeper assurance and unity than merely that of scholarly hypotheses cannot proceed from there alone. On the contrary, wherever there develops a total dissociation of Church and exegesis, both become endangered: exegesis turns into mere literary analysis and the church loses her spiritual underpinnings. That is why the interconnection between church and theology is the issue: wherever this unity comes to an end, any other kind of unity will necessarily lose its roots.
Read it carefully and read it all (emphasis mine).