Daily Archives: March 26, 2008

Retired Quincy Bishop Faces Church Trial

A canonical case against the Rt. Rev. Edward H. MacBurney, retired Bishop of Quincy, will be heard by Court for the Trial of a Bishop. It will be the first such case since the canons were amended by General Convention in 2006 to include members of the clergy and laity among the judges in a disciplinary case against a member of the episcopacy.

Bishop MacBurney has been served with a presentment, an ecclesiastical indictment. It charges him with violating Article II, Section 3 of The Episcopal Church Constitution and Title III, Canon 12, Section 3 which states: “No Bishop shall perform episcopal acts or officiate by preaching, ministering the sacraments, or holding any public service in a diocese other than that in which the Bishop is canonically resident, without permission or a license to perform occasional public services from the ecclesiastical authority of the diocese in which the bishop desires to officiate or perform episcopal acts.”

Bishop MacBurney, 80, was Bishop of Quincy from 1988-1994….

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

California housing Freefall

Signs of distress are piling up in the California housing market, where prices are falling at three times the national rate of decline.

–Statewide, median sales prices fell by a stunning 26% in February, with home prices dropping at a rate of nearly $3,000 a week, the California Association of Realtors reports. Further, the CAR says the Fed’s interest rate-cutting campaign “will have little near-term direct effect on the housing market.”

–In the San Fernando Valley, losing a home to foreclosure is now almost as common for families as buying a home.

Read it all.

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

Who was Helmuth James von Moltke?

If you do not know, you need to–find out from Fleming Rutledge.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

(London) Times–Robert Mugabe: a bad man in Africa

For a man so deluded about his past achievements, Robert Mugabe has a painfully clear understanding of his prospects at the polls. His rivals for the Zimbabwean presidency “may win some seats”, he said recently, “but they cannot win the majority. Impossible.”

Few would gainsay him. Zimbabwe’s opposition movement is more vocal than in past years, but more divided. Its voters can expect systematic intimidation this Saturday from police at polling stations. Constituencies have been redrawn in favour of the ruling Zanu (PF) party. The count has been centralised and will be supervised behind closed doors by presidential appointees. There is not even a pretence of fair election coverage in the state media, and in any case voting, for millions, will take second place to the more urgent business of survival. This is why Mr Mugabe’s election forecast is likely to be accurate. It is a tragedy for Zimbabweans; it is also proof of a colossal failure of international diplomacy.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Africa

Iraqi PM Gives Basra Gunmen Ultimatum

Iraq’s prime minister on Wednesday gave gunmen in the southern oil port of Basra a three-day deadline to surrender their weapons and renounce violence as clashes between Shiite militia fighters and Iraqi security forces erupted for a second day.

At least 55 people have been killed and 300 wounded in Basra and Baghdad after the fighting spread to the capital’s main Shiite district of Sadr City, police and hospital officials said.

The ultimatum came as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was in Basra to supervise a crackdown against the spiraling violence between militia factions vying for control of the center of the country’s vast oil industry located near the Iranian border. The violence has raised fears that the cease-fire declared in August by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr could unravel, presenting the gravest challenge to the Iraqi government in months.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Iraq War

Nottinghamshire Pew plan sparks conservation row

A Nottinghamshire church is at the centre of a conservation row over plans to modernise its interior.

Rev Allan Scriviner has said he wants to create a more flexible space for worship at St Edmund’s Church in Mansfield Woodhouse.

But this means the removal of a number of antique mahogany “poppy head” pews, believed to be unique in the area.

The Victorian Society and English Heritage have lodged objections, saying the pews should be preserved.

There has been a place of worship on the site since at least the 11th century but the building has been regularly rebuilt.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

From NPR: Builders' Bankruptcies Erode Buyers' Confidence

Demand for new homes continues to erode and one reason is that high-profile builder bankruptcies have made people anxious to sign on the dotted line. And with good reason: People like the Carias family in north suburban Chicago are getting stuck with half-finished houses and thousands of dollars locked up in bankruptcy proceedings.

Analysts say as more builders declare Chapter 11, this fear could hobble any housing market recovery ”” especially in the area of new home construction.

A good piece about one example of the collateral damage caused by the current credit and housing crisis. Listen to it all[/i].

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

From NPR: Class Teaches New Muslims About Faith's Practices

It may be one of the fastest growing religions in the world, but in the U.S., it’s a challenge for converts to Islam to learn about their new faith. Muslims are a minority here, with estimates of the population ranging from 2 million to 6 million, and they often come together in small groups to learn what they can and cannot do as practicing Muslims.

Some of the questions new Muslims have can be as complex as the “meaning of life” or as simple as owning a dog or hanging a photo in their home. Many Muslims regard dogs as unclean, and there are rules about whether you can own one. Whether Muslims can hang a picture depends on if it has any spiritual meaning.

Imam Johari Abdul Malik is the outreach director for a mosque in Falls Church, Va. He heads a meeting at Howard University for a half-dozen men who come every week looking for answers Muslims in other countries would normally get from their sheik or spiritual adviser.

Read or listen to it all.[/i]

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Stockton Record: Episcopal leader to head San joaquin diocesan reorganization

The national leader of the Episcopal Church will be in Lodi this weekend to lead a major reorganization of the embattled San Joaquin Diocese and to elect a new bishop.

The diocese, which had 47 member churches, voted in December to secede from the national church body over disagreement on issues such as biblical interpretation, women in leadership roles and whether the church should ordain openly gay clergy.

But 18 churches wanted to stay aligned with the national church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin

Another Singing Child to brighten Your Day

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Music

Sydney Morning Herald–Infidelity: forgive and forget

The Spitzers are the latest in a chain of publicised indiscretions where the wife not only stays put, but stands by her man: from Hillary Clinton to Wendy Vitter and Kathy Lee Gifford.

Public or not, what motivates someone to stay after his or her spouse has an affair?

In her 25 years of research and consulting on extramarital affairs, DearPeggy.com’s Peggy Vaughan says as much as 70 per cent of people stay in the marriage after infidelity. “Most people think all infidelity ends in divorce, but frequently they (the couple) just keep it quiet,” she says.

The common yet judgmental question “Why did she stay?” implies that she shouldn’t, Vaughan says. “It’s an extra burden for all the women who stay to have to defend themselves to their family and friends. When somebody tells you ‘If it were me, I’d …’ you can ignore the rest of the sentence because they aren’t you.”

She cautions couples from seeking divorce right away. “The people who get out right away second-guess themselves the rest of their lives,” says Vaughan, founder of the Beyond Affairs Network and the author of eight books, including The Monogamy Myth.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Theology

Boston Globe: A puppeteer's tribute to Iranian democracy

The parliamentary elections in Iran this month resemble the work of a clumsy illusionist. A Guardian Council of clerics and jurists disqualified about 90 percent of the reformists who wanted to run. The campaign was confined to a week, and public rallies were banned. Iranian liberals claim the official turnout figure was greatly exaggerated and a certain amount of finagling entered into the counting of votes.

Nevertheless, what makes Iran different from other authoritarian states is that Iranian politicians compete for power in a uniquely hybrid system: democratic institutions draped over a rigid autocracy. The founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini, invented rule-by-the-supreme-Islamic-jurist out of whole cloth. Thanks to that system, Khomeini’s successor as supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, rules Iran as a grand puppet master.

All the strings dangle from his hands. The chiefs of the armed forces and the Revolutionary Guards report to him. He has representatives in each of the ministries. All important decisions on foreign and security policy and on Iran’s nuclear program are his. And he has ultimate control over the intelligence and security services.

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

Der Spiegel: The Ahmadinejad Machine

“The president is doing well, in fact, he is doing very well indeed.” Mohammed Ali Ramin leans back, sips his tea, pours in a little milk, and takes another little sip. Then he sets down his glass and folds his hands. The man with reddish-blond hair and a pious full beard enjoys his position as close advisor to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ramin, 54, who once studied engineering in the German town of Clausthal-Zellerfeld, has been a member of the president’s inner circle of “friends and companions” for years. The university lecturer is said to be an influential figure even among Iran’s religious zealots, and he is proud to have stood beside the late revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini during his exile in Paris. “Anyone who knows my thoughts,” he says knowingly, “also knows what motivates the president.”

And what motivates Ahmadinejad?

Primarily his “boundless love for the people, especially the disenfranchised” and “his commitment to the Islamic principles of truth and justice.” And, of course, “the welfare of the Iranian nation.” Ramin: “Ahmadinejad is the standard-bearer of our people and the entire Islamic world.”

Read it all.

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

Quiz: The first election of a Presiding Bishop by General Convention took place When?

No googling or snooping, take a guess.

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

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church Writes the TEC Bishops About Recent and Upcoming Events

For the House of Bishops

My brothers and sisters:

As discussed in our spring meeting, we will hold a special meeting of the House of Bishops 17”“ 19 September. We are exploring the possibilities of holding this meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, and will get back to you in the near future once the location is certain. The 16th is recommended as a travel day and the meeting will conclude at midday on the 19th. The main purpose of this meeting will be to reflect and deliberate together following the Lambeth Conference. I encourage you to be present for the entirety of the meeting as your voice and presence are needed and appreciated. Those bishops who will have been consecrated since our last spring meeting are encouraged to join us.

Concerning the issue of Bishop Duncan, all relevant materials have been posted on the College of Bishops website, including the Review Committee’s certification and the two submissions the Committee reviewed. It does not include the exhibits to either submission, which are voluminous. If any of you wish to see them, you can contact David Beers or Mary Kostel. Regarding financial assistance for Lambeth, those who can assist are invited to send checks to my Discretionary Fund via Sharon Jones, and marked for Lambeth. Those in need are invited to contact our office for assistance. Companion diocese bishops are our second priority, and only after that will we send any excess to Lambeth itself.

We had mentioned the possibility of a one-day May meeting. I am not sure there was adequate desire for it on the part of the House at this point, and so this will be determined after a poll in April.

Again, more detailed information about the agenda, registration fee, and location of the September meeting will arrive in a future mailing to help you prepare for our time together.
Until then, I wish you every blessing in this Easter season.


–(The Rt. Rev.) Katharine Jefferts Schori is Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church

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

Protecting the friendly gray whale

Watch it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources

Britain is world's 7th most stable and prosperous nation

The United Kingdom has been ranked as one of the most stable and prosperous countries in the world, beating the United States, France and even Switzerland in a global assessment of every nation’s achievements and standards.

A one-year investigation and analysis of 235 countries and dependent territories has put the UK joint seventh in the premier league of nations. The top ten comprise also the Vatican, Sweden, Luxembourg, Monaco, Gibraltar, San Marino, Liechtenstein, the Netherlands and the Irish Republic.

The US lies 22nd and Switzerland, normally associated with wealth and untouchable stability, is rated 17th, losing points in the assessment of its social achievements.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Economy, England / UK, Globalization

Bishop Michael Nazir-ALI: Let's not pass law against fatherhood

Policy on embryo research continues to zig-zag. Having first said it would outlaw the creation of animal-human hybrids for medical experimentation, the Government then decided to allow it. That position was endorsed last week by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

I hope that the Government will change tack yet again. I am deeply uncomfortable with the use of human embryos for research. The HFEA recognised the revulsion many feel at such use of human cells, but insisted that the benefits outweighed such feelings. The recent go-ahead for the creation of ‘cybrid’ embryos – created by the use of a human cell or its nucleus to fertilise an animal egg from which the nucleus has been removed – brings more dilemmas.

If the embryos are human enough to be of use in research, are they not human enough for it to be wrong to experiment on them – whatever the possible benefits?

Read it all. Many more links to related material may be found there.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

Boston Globe: Gene Robinson readies for next round

In June, Robinson plans to enter into a civil union with his partner of 20 years, Mark Andrew. He says he will do everything he can to keep photographers away, out of deference to those who find his same-sex relationship offensive, but he acknowledges that the event is likely to attract negative attention nonetheless.

And then, in July, he will head to London, as the most prominent uninvited guest of the Lambeth Conference, the decennial gathering of the world’s 800 Anglican bishops. Robinson was not invited by the Archbishop of Canterbury because he is a noncelibate gay man, a status that many Anglican leaders believe is prohibited by the Bible.

The Anglican Communion offered to allow Robinson to appear at a booth in an exhibition hall, rather than attending the meeting; that proposal was ridiculed by a columnist for one British newspaper, the Guardian, who suggested, tongue in cheek, that the invitation for Robinson to appear in the so-called “marketplace” was made “presumably so that passing bishops can poke him in his cage with a stick.”

Robinson said that because he will not be permitted inside the Lambeth Conference, he will instead be outside the meeting daily, talking to anyone who will listen. He said he is working with gay organizations internationally who hope to have gay people from throughout the Anglican Communion in London to show the bishops that the issue is global.

“One of the things I think I’ve learned in the last five years is that, as much as I wanted to be known as the good bishop, and not the gay bishop, there’s no escaping,” Robinson said in an interview last week at the diocesan headquarters here. “I would love just to be a simple country bishop, but that just doesn’t seem to be in the cards.”

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

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts

Study: Spirituality a Big Part of Kids' Happiness

Spirituality is a major contributor to a child’s overall happiness–even more so than for adults–according to a new study from the University of British Columbia.

The study tested 315 children aged 9 to 12, measuring spirituality and other factors such as temperament and social relations that can affect an individual’s sense of happiness.

“Our goal was to see whether there’s a relation between spirituality and happiness,” said Mark Holder, associate professor of psychology and the study’s co-author. “We knew going in that there was such a relation in adults, so we took multiple measures of spirituality and happiness in children.”

Read it all.

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

A Boy the Bullies Love to Beat Up, Repeatedly

All lank and bone, the boy stands at the corner with his younger sister, waiting for the yellow bus that takes them to their respective schools. He is Billy Wolfe, high school sophomore, struggling.

Moments earlier he left the sanctuary that is his home, passing those framed photographs of himself as a carefree child, back when he was 5. And now he is at the bus stop, wearing a baseball cap, vulnerable at 15.

A car the color of a school bus pulls up with a boy who tells his brother beside him that he’s going to beat up Billy Wolfe. While one records the assault with a cellphone camera, the other walks up to the oblivious Billy and punches him hard enough to leave a fist-size welt on his forehead.

The video shows Billy staggering, then dropping his book bag to fight back, lanky arms flailing. But the screams of his sister stop things cold.

The aggressor heads to school, to show friends the video of his Billy moment, while Billy heads home, again. It’s not yet 8 in the morning.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Education, Teens / Youth

Christopher Wolf: Setting boundaries

The anti-Muslim Dutch politician Geert Wilders is testing the limits of the Internet.

Promotions for his film purportedly condemning the Koran, that were posted on YouTube in February led the government of Pakistan to block the site in its entirety.

Wilders also created a stir when he announced that he would premier the film on his Web site, fitnathemovie.com, hosted by Network Solutions (best known for its domain name services). Network Solutions suspended fitnathemovie.com, saying that it did so to investigate whether the site’s content violated its “acceptable use policy.”

Under that policy, material that is “harassing, abusive, threatening, harmful, vulgar [or is] hate propaganda” is prohibited.

Predictably, on the blogosphere in the United States, Network Solutions is being called a censor and a coward, with scores of posts praising the Internet for its “anything goes” culture. Some are arguing that if Wilders’s movie is offensive and prompts violence, so be it – that’s the price of Internet freedom.

But do we really permit anything on the Internet? Of course not.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet, Law & Legal Issues

Archbishop Rowan Williams: We live in a culture of blame – but there is another way

In recent years, a number of Christian writers, inspired by French critic and philosopher René Girard, have stressed with new urgency how the Bible shows the way in which groups and societies work out their fears and frustrations by finding scapegoats.

Because we compete for the same goods and comforts, we need to sustain our competition with our rivals and maintain distance from them. But to stop this getting completely out of hand, we unite with our rivals to identify the cause of the scarcity that makes us compete against each other, with some outside presence we can all agree to hate.

Just as the BBC drama suggested, Jesus’s context was one where Judaeans and Romans equally lived in fear of each other, dreading an explosion of violence that would be destructive for everyone. Their leaders sweated over compromises and strategies to avoid this. In such a context, Jesus offered a perfect excuse for them to join in a liberating act of bloodletting which eliminated a single common enemy. The spiral of fear was halted briefly.

Frequently in this mechanism, the victim has little or nothing to do with the initial conflict itself. But in the case of Jesus, the victim is not only wholly innocent; he is the embodiment of a grace or mercy that could in principle change the whole frame of reference that traps people in rivalry and mutual terror.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury