Monthly Archives: April 2008
“We have 19 1/2 square feet [of retail space] for every man, woman and child in this country,”
April 30, 2008
For the House of Bishops
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
Inasmuch as the past several weeks have involved some significant situations, I thought it would be helpful to review and comment on process. First, regarding deposition for “abandonment of the communion of The Episcopal Church,” it is important to remember that such an act is not by definition punitive, but does give formal recognition to a reality already taking place. Once the Title IV Review Committee has certified that a bishop has abandoned the communion of this Church under Title IV, Canon 9, the bishop in question is given sixty days to respond.
During this sixty day period, Title IV has a provision for temporary inhibition of the bishop by the Presiding Bishop with the consent of the three senior active bishops of the Church. These bishops who must consent to the temporary inhibition do not, however, have a veto over consideration of the merits of the deposition by the House of Bishops, any more than those who must consent to temporary inhibitions in other circumstances have a veto over consideration of the charges by a trial court. This understanding of the canon is held not only by my Chancellor, but also by members of the Title IV Review
Committee including an attorney who is an original member of the Committee, the chancellors of several dioceses who have been consulted, and the former Chair of both the Standing Commission on the Constitution and Canons and the Legislative Committee on the Canons at the General Convention.
The back story of how a Torah got from the fetid barracks of Auschwitz to the ark of the Central Synagogue at Lexington Avenue and 55th Street is one the pastor of the Lutheran church down the street sums up as simply “miraculous.”
It is the story of a sexton in the synagogue in the Polish city of Oswiecim who buried most of the sacred scroll before the Germans stormed in and later renamed the city Auschwitz. It is the story of Jewish prisoners who sneaked the rest of it ”” four carefully chosen panels ”” into the concentration camp.
It is the story of a Polish Catholic priest to whom they entrusted the four panels before their deaths. It is the story of a Maryland rabbi who went looking for it with a metal detector. And it is the story of how a hunch by the rabbi’s 13-year-old son helped lead him to it.
This Torah, more than most, “is such an extraordinary symbol of rebirth,” said Peter J. Rubinstein, the rabbi of Central Synagogue. “As one who has gone to the camps and assimilates into my being the horror of the Holocaust, this gives meaning to Jewish survival.”
It is great to see that we finally have some national unity on energy policy. Unfortunately, the unifying idea is so ridiculous, so unworthy of the people aspiring to lead our nation, it takes your breath away. Hillary Clinton has decided to line up with John McCain in pushing to suspend the federal excise tax on gasoline, 18.4 cents a gallon, for this summer’s travel season. This is not an energy policy. This is money laundering: we borrow money from China and ship it to Saudi Arabia and take a little cut for ourselves as it goes through our gas tanks. What a way to build our country.
When the summer is over, we will have increased our debt to China, increased our transfer of wealth to Saudi Arabia and increased our contribution to global warming for our kids to inherit.
No, no, no, we’ll just get the money by taxing Big Oil, says Mrs. Clinton. Even if you could do that, what a terrible way to spend precious tax dollars ”” burning it up on the way to the beach rather than on innovation?
The McCain-Clinton gas holiday proposal is a perfect example of what energy expert Peter Schwartz of Global Business Network describes as the true American energy policy today: “Maximize demand, minimize supply and buy the rest from the people who hate us the most.”
Good for Barack Obama for resisting this shameful pandering.
Federal, state and local governments are hiring new workers at the fastest pace in six years, helping offset job losses in the private sector.
Governments added 76,800 jobs in the first three months of 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.
That’s the biggest jump in first-quarter hiring since a boom in 2002 that followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks. By contrast, private companies collectively shed 286,000 workers in the first three months of 2008. That job loss has led many economists to declare the country is in a recession.
Job numbers for April, out Friday, will show if the trend is continuing. Some economists say a government hiring binge could soften a recession in the short term.
Clergy and laity from the Diocese of Fort Worth comprised a little less than half of those attending the reception. Their questions dominated, with some pleading with the Presiding Bishop for “help to get us out of the wilderness we now find ourselves in.” Fort Worth is one of several dioceses that are likely to consider leaving The Episcopal Church when their conventions are held this fall.
Bishop Jefferts Schori assured her questioners that a plan similar to the one employed in San Joaquin has already been prepared. When the Fort Worth delegation declared that they have been forgotten in this battle, the Presiding Bishop replied, “Have you been watching San Joaquin? They were not forgotten and now show dynamic signs of new life. You will not be forgotten, either.”
Fareed Zakaria is an optimist: He believes in the ability of the United States to adapt.
But in his new book, The Post-American World, the author and journalist raises a tantalizing argument that the war in Iraq will mark the decline of American power, and that the rise of China, India, Brazil and other countries pose a special challenge to the United States in this century.
Zakaria, a columnist and the editor of Newsweek International, talks to Robert Siegel about a possible precedent for the U.S. in Iraq ”” Britain’s war just over a century ago in South Africa, the Boer War. He also discusses how the U.S. ought to think of its role in the world going forward as being the “chairman of the board.”
The killings of three U.S. soldiers in separate attacks in Baghdad pushed the American death toll for April up to 47, making it the deadliest month since September.
One soldier died when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb. The other died of wounds sustained when he was attacked by small-arms fire, the military said Wednesday. Both incidents occurred Tuesday in northwestern Baghdad.
A third soldier died in a roadside bombing Tuesday night in the east of the capital, the military said.
Capitol Hill insiders say the battle for congressional superdelegates is over, and one Senate supporter of Barack Obama is hinting strongly that he has prevailed over Hillary Rodham Clinton.
While more than 80 Democrats in the House and Senate have yet to state their preferences in the race for the Democratic nomination, sources said Tuesday that most of them have already made up their minds and have told the campaigns where they stand.
“The majority of superdelegates I’ve talked to are committed, but it is a matter of timing,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.). “They’re just preferring to make their decision public after the primaries are over. … They would like someone else to act for them before they talk about it in the cold light of day.”
Standing in a sunlit church, the People’s Gospel Choir of Montreal begin their song with slow formality. Then the tempo picks up, the piano rumbles, and the choristers dance and clap. One woman breaks loose in a kind of frenzy, boogying to and fro with her arms swaying.
All this in an online video to promote the 2008 Anglican-Lutheran worship conference, where the theme is (as you may have guessed) “Order and Chaos.”
From June 25 to 28, 2008, Montreal, Que. will host the third biennial, national Anglican-Lutheran worship conference. Keynote speakers will be Gordon Lathrop, liturgical scholar from Lutheran Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, and Karen Ward, pastor of Seattle’s Church of the Apostles.
“These conferences are wonderful learning experiences. They bring together really good people who talk both intelligently and critically about liturgy,” said Dean Peter Wall, the conference’s Anglican co-chair. “I think we have a lot to learn from each other, both Anglicans and Lutherans.”
Paying for gasoline easily tops the list of economic woes facing families in the United States, according to a survey on how changes in the economy have affected people’s lives.
About 44 percent of survey participants said paying for gasoline was a “serious problem” for them. Across all income levels, the cost of gas was the most frequently cited economic concern. The price of gas nationally averaged $3.60 a gallon on Monday, according to the Energy Department.
More than a quarter of households earning more than $75,000 a year described paying for gasoline as a serious problem. For those with incomes of less than $30,000, about 63 percent felt that way.
In a distant second and third place among participants’ economic concerns were: getting a good-paying job or raise, 29 percent; and paying for health care and health insurance, 28 percent.
One thing climate experts often say is that people need to change their behavior to slow climate change. And they also acknowledge that they still have a lot of convincing to do before that will happen.
One man, Martin Palmer, argues that religion is a better messenger than science and politics ”” that it can do things the others cannot.
Palmer is the founder of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation, a small group working out of Bath, England. Its credo is that religions from Buddhism to Zoroastrianism are the perfect groups to become climate activists.
Delegates to a special convention in the Diocese of California will consider far-reaching structural changes when they meet May 10 at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco.
The change was proposed by Bishop Marc Handley Andrus in his first address to the diocesan convention, according to Sean McConnell, communications officer of the diocese.
“The intent is to create a body of governance that is transparent and accountable to the people of the diocese,” Mr. McConnell said. “I think there was concern that [under the corporation sole model] major decisions could be made by one person with very little consultation. There was also very little interaction between the existing diocesan organizations and concern about a lack of transparency.”
Under the proposed revisions, an executive council would become the board of directors of the diocesan corporation and would be responsible for the operation of the diocese and strategic planning when convention is not in session. The executive council and a newly created investment committee (reporting to the executive council) would assume the responsibilities currently held by diocesan council and the board of directors.
“The superiority of pagan over Christian truth was believed by Catholic Christianity’s critics to subsist precisely in the fact that ‘these things never happened, but always are.'”
–Markus Bockmuehl, quoting Sallustius (4th cent.), De dis et mundo 4 (tauta de egeneto oudepote, esti de aei), against Hauerwas’ Matthew; Pro ecclesia 17:1 (Winter 2008): p. 27
Americans are more likely than Europeans to own and read a Bible, but Poles are most likely to have a basic knowledge of Scripture, the Vatican reported Monday.
The statistics are among preliminary findings of a study of Bible reading in the U.S. and eight European countries. An Italian market research firm produced the survey in preparation for an international synod of Catholic bishops to be held this October in Rome.
As the critical pendulum has swung to a new appreciation of religion and spirituality in the early-modern world, all sorts of critics have rushed to claim Shakespeare as their own. In his 1994 A Buddhist’s Shakespeare, James Howe tells of his personal journey to Buddhism and to new understanding. As he studied under an Indian teacher named Trungpa, Howe began to see Shakespeare’s plays differently: “Perhaps not coincidentally, they seemed to change in directions that paralleled the changes I could see in myself. Each time I congratulated myself on the achievement of a new level of wisdom, Shakespeare seemed already to have been there.”
In the 2007 Godless Shakespeare, Eric S. Mallin presents a Shakespeare who has “a mind and spirit uncontained by orthodoxy”; elements of Christianity appear in his work, but “Shakespeare activates these features in decidedly irreligious or ironic ways.”
Such eccentric variations aside, the recent reevaluation of Shakespeare’s religion has generated new understanding. Forbidden Catholicism often functions as a potent fund of myth, ritual, and assumption that enables conflict, inflects situations, and charges action and character. The evidence does not amount to a manifesto of the playwright’s personal belief or to a discursive body of dogma advocated either openly or secretly. But it does grow to something of great constancy, howsoever strange and admirable, and it does, to the confounding of some orthodoxies, have real presence.
“Deeper than consciousness . . . is the longing to give love and a willingness to give it sacrificially. The child’s response to the mother’s face is a unique gift to the mother even if the mother knows the three-month-old child will respond to a cardboard face on a wooden stick. The gift, in a primal form, is the gift of sacrificial love because it celebrates or calls forth from the mother the repressed longing in her for the face that will not go away. Her response to the smiling child is implicitly a religious one, and the child’s unwitting gift of grace is a sacrificial one. . . . Speaking ontogenetically, before the emergence of the ego and the decentering of the psyche, a child’s sacrificial love is not a death-ridden thing; rather, it is a matter of drawing the other one into the Presence of God. However, as an adult, such caring is dangerous business. To re-present the Presence of God is after all the point of witnessing (martureo, ”˜to witness’) and martyrdom, but if the recipient of the witness is locked into an ego-structured existence, witnessing to the Presence of God becomes a much bloodier matter, and the usual meaning of sacrificial love emerges. It is the untransformed ego that is the bearer of alienation from the face of God and the repressive preserver of guilt and shame. As the psyche’s own primary response to victimization, the ego reenacts its origins, making victims of birds, animals, people, and God, all in a perverse attempt at self-preservation.
“Combining the primal level with the ego level, it seems that a child’s innocence provokes both religious longing and a sense of condemnation or judgment. Hence, a profound motivation for child sacrifice in some primitive cults would be expiation for distance from God and extinction of the innocent accuser or the accusation always implicit in innocence. The archetypal significance of the slaughter of infants in association with the birth of an infant God may, similarly, have roots in fundamentally ambivalent religious motivations engendered by the underlying defensive structure of the ego. If the infant is God as in the birth of Christ, then the others who are slain become scapegoats; they take on themselves the negative side of the ambivalence engendered by the appearance of innocence that is divine.”
–James E. Loder, The Transforming Moment, 2nd ed. (Colorado Springs, CO: Helmers & Howard, 1989), p. 177
The Anglican Bishop for the Diocese of Central Newfoundland plans to tour sections of the Diocese to discuss issues of importance to the church. Right Rev. David Torraville says he is committed to meeting with congregation members to talk about matters such as same sex marriage. Bishop Torraville says they have to look seriously at what’s going on in their own diocese and formulate their own thoughts about it. Bishop Torraville said there are a variety of views on the matter in the Anglican church throughout Canada.
All but swooning over the wonderfulness of himself, the reverend acts like he is the first person to come up with the idea that blacks too often get the short end of the stick in America, that the malignant influences of slavery and the long dark night of racial discrimination are still being felt today, that in many ways this is a profoundly inequitable society.
This is hardly new ground. The question that cries out for an answer from Mr. Wright is why ”” if he is so passionately committed to liberating and empowering blacks ”” does he seem so insistent on wrecking the campaign of the only African-American ever to have had a legitimate shot at the presidency.
On Sunday night, in an appearance before the Detroit N.A.A.C.P., Mr. Wright mocked the regional dialects of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. I’m not sure how he felt that was helpful in his supposed quest to bring about a constructive discussion about race and reconciliation in the U.S.
What he is succeeding in doing is diminishing the stature of Senator Obama. A candidate who stands haplessly by as his former spiritual guide roams the country dropping one divisive bomb after another is in very little danger of being seen by most voters as the next J.F.K. or L.B.J.
The issue of homosexuality continues to tear the Anglican Communion apart in the build-up to the 2008 Lambeth Conference. In June the conservatives who oppose the ordination of gay priests will meet in Jerusalem, in what some see as an alternative conference. Many of these will refuse to go on to Canterbury for the main meeting in July.
Meanwhile the gay Bishop, Gene Robinson, whose consecration brought this dispute to a head, shows no sign of backing out of the limelight. His latest book In the Eye of the Storm is published this week by the Canterbury Press. He explained why he wrote it.
Don Mathis was in for some good news ”” sort of. He wouldn’t have to pay another water bill for 600 years. But the circumstances of such good fortune left the Houston man sourly dismayed.
Mathis thought his check for $99,000 was safely en route to a Dallas securities firm where it would be used to purchase a certificate of deposit. Instead, it arrived at Houston’s Department of Public Works and Engineering office, where it was automatically processed, endorsed and deposited.
“It’s a comedy of errors,” Mathis said, noting that he never suspected anything was amiss until he received a nervous phone call from Dallas. “I have no idea what went wrong. I’ve done this a jillion times.”
Angel Kreutzans has been hobbling around for a month since her minivan broke down and the vehicle ran over her left foot as a truck began towing it.
Her husband keeps telling her to go to the emergency room, but the mother of three reminds him that she is among the 1 million Michigan residents without health insurance.
“I refuse to go to the hospital because I cannot afford it,” said Kreutzans, a Warren resident.
Opec’s president on Monday warned oil prices could hit $200 a barrel and there would be little the cartel could do to help.
The comments made by Chakib Khelil, Algeria’s energy minister, came as oil prices hit a historic peak close to $120 a barrel, putting further pressure on global economies.
His remarks suggest Algeria wants Opec to continue to resist calls by US and European leaders for the cartel to pump more oil to help ease prices. But Mr Khelil blamed record oil prices on the weak dollar and global political insecurity.
In 1982, Americans saved more than 11 percent of their disposable income. The personal savings rate dropped to just 0.4 percent last year. An economist blames easy credit ”” and how we think about money.
Twenty to 40 years ago, economist and Financial Times columnist Tim Harford says, “a lot of people were denied credit” because of their income, their gender or their race.
“It seems to me that we’ve always been willing to borrow, we’ve always been keen to borrow, if the lenders have been willing to lend to us,” Harford tells Steve Inskeep.
People have “suddenly been given the ability to borrow more ”” credit cards, mortgages, unsecured loans ”” and they’ve taken advantage of that,” Harford says.