Monthly Archives: November 2008

Notable and Quotable (II)

When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating the precursor’s birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

–Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, paragraph 524

Posted in Eschatology, Theology

Notable and Quotable (I)

Christ the Lord already reigns through the Church, but all the things of this world are not yet subjected to him. The triumph of Christ’s kingdom will not come about without one last assault by the powers of evil.

On Judgment Day at the end of the world, Christ will come in glory to achieve the definitive triumph of good over evil which, like the wheat and the tares, have grown up together in the course of history.

When he comes at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, the glorious Christ will reveal the secret disposition of hearts and will render to each man according to his works, and according to his acceptance or refusal of grace.

–Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, paragraphs 680-682

Posted in Eschatology, Theology

Jewish Community Shocked By Mumbai Attacks

One of the targets in the Mumbai terrorist attacks was a Jewish community center, where at least six hostages were killed. Among the dead are Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, both directors of the center. Antony Korenstein, country director for India with the American Joint Jewish Distribution Committee, speaks about their work with the Jewish community visiting and living in Mumbai.

Listen to it all from NPR.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, India, Judaism, Other Faiths, Terrorism

Episcopal Clergy invited to participate in unprecedented survey

Inclusion of both women and active and retired men is meant to give comparative data on careers, and men’s needs for family leave as well as retirement. It is also meant to help the church understand the way the call to ministry is being lived out in 2008.

The survey is “the first to include and hear the voices of those in non-institutional and non-traditional ministries” in the same survey as those serving in traditional ministries, according to the Rev. Paula Nesbitt, one of two research consultants working on the project.

Those serving in such non-traditional ministries are “a growing constituency in the church” and researchers want to better understand the work of all ordained ministers — “not just those being paid,” said Nesbitt, a visiting associate professor of sociology at the University of California in Berkeley and the author of “The Feminization of the Clergy in America.”

Nesbitt said her conversations with research colleagues show that the scope of the Called to Serve project is also unprecedented among denominations.

Read it all.

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

The Archbishop of York's Temple Address to the Evangelical Alliance

Mercy is born from compassion and enjoined with a desire to give freedom and dignity to others. Mercy recognises a power relationship that exists between those who are in need, those who seek mercy, and those who are in a position to give it. Sadly, mercy plays little part in political or judicial systems.

Traditionally, our legal system of justice was built upon the three pillars of law, religion and equity. If mercy is to be found within that system it resides only as a minor subset of a wider equity.

In our political system one can only imagine the fortunes of a politician or political party that stood on a platform of being merciful. Indeed in our politics the opposite seems to be true. It is the tough talking of the unmerciful who would come down hard on criminals, immigrants and trouble makers whose voices seem to compete for votes in the public square in the belief that this is the way to win hearts and minds.

Only recently an honourable member of the House of Commons ”“ a Junior Minister – attacked lawyers and charities working on behalf of those who are seeking asylum and accused them of “playing the system.” In an interview with the Guardian he was reported as suggesting that charities “by giving false hope and by undermining the legal system, actually cause more harm than they do good.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

Jonathan Wynne-Jones: Squabbling evangelicals need to find a united voice

A meeting of around 400 evangelicals at one of London’s biggest churches went largely unnoticed last week.

Hardly surprising really, given that nothing was achieved and nothing agreed.

But actually, the fractious, ill-tempered gathering could be scene as a significant tipping point in years to come.

Talk of division and schism in the Anglican communion has been discussed for years, but is normally viewed as a battle between the liberals and evangelicals.

Now it’s the evangelicals who are fighting amongst themselves.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Other Churches

Time Magazine Cover Story: Can we Fix America's Schools?

In 11th grade, Allante Rhodes spent 50 minutes a day in a Microsoft Word class at Anacostia Senior High School in Washington. He was determined to go to college, and he figured that knowing Word was a prerequisite. But on a good day, only six of the school’s 14 computers worked. He never knew which ones until he sat down and searched for a flicker of life on the screen. “It was like Russian roulette,” says Rhodes, a tall young man with an older man’s steady gaze. If he picked the wrong computer, the teacher would give him a handout. He would spend the rest of the period learning to use Microsoft Word with a pencil and paper.

One day last fall, tired of this absurdity, Rhodes e-mailed Michelle Rhee, the new, bold-talking chancellor running the District of Columbia Public Schools system. His teacher had given him the address, which was on the chancellor’s home page. He was nervous when he hit SEND, but the words were reasonable. “Computers are slowly becoming something that we use every day,” he wrote. “And learning how to use them is a major factor in our lives. So I’m just bringing this to your attention.” He didn’t expect to hear back. Rhee answered the same day. It was the beginning of an unusual relationship.

The U.S. spends more per pupil on elementary and high school education than most developed nations. Yet it is behind most of them in the math and science abilities of its children. Young Americans today are less likely than their parents were to finish high school. This is an issue that is warping the nation’s economy and security, and the causes are not as mysterious as they seem. The biggest problem with U.S. public schools is ineffective teaching, according to decades of research. And Washington, which spends more money per pupil than the vast majority of large districts, is the problem writ extreme, a laboratory that failure made….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Education

The Economist on the World Economy: The perils of incrementalism

THE prognosis is looking ever more grave. What began 15 months ago with a seizure of the credit markets has become a disease with an alarming list of real economic symptoms. America, Britain, the euro zone and Japan are already in a recession that threatens to be the worst, in some places, for a quarter of a century and possibly since the Depression. American consumers, unable to borrow and fearful for their jobs, are cutting spending; so are firms, short of cash and worried about sales. German business confidence is at a 15-year low. Japan’s exports to both rich countries and emerging ones are falling. Emerging economies are suffering too, as commodity prices fall and capital flees faster than in those countries’ own crises of a decade ago. In some countries””notably the United States””a vicious deflationary spiral of banks withdrawing credit and demand contracting is no longer unimaginable.

Seeing the threat to the world economy’s vital functions, the policymakers have been working overtime. Interest rates have been cut dramatically. American rates are already down to 1%; Britain’s are at a 50-year low; and this week China’s central bank lopped 108 basis points off its main policy rate. Hundreds of billions have been pumped into banks and financial markets. Many financial institutions have been bailed out: the rescue of the once mighty Citigroup (see article) is merely the latest unthinkable to happen.

Despite all this, the patient has not responded. This is partly because some traditional remedies, such as looser monetary policy, are weakened in a credit crunch. It is also because the doctors have been ham-fisted….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Globalization, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Roderick Strange: Advent teaches us the deeper lessons of waiting

Nevertheless we realise on reflection that not all waiting is tedious. Waiting can be essential. Think of the grapes that have now been gathered. New wine is being prepared. The best must not be drunk too soon. We have to wait. By doing so we respect the vintage. Waiting is respectful. And it is more than respectful. It is also wise.

One aspect of that wisdom is something personal. When I have to wait, I realise I am not in control. I cannot make everything happen at my command. I may wish that I could, but that is fantasy, unreal. Waiting keeps me in touch with reality. Another aspect of that wise reality reminds me of others’ needs rather than my own. While waiting, I place myself at their service. It is not by chance that those who serve in restaurants are called “waiters”. And good waiters are also attentive, they watch.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Advent, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

Michael Kinsley: How Many Blogs Does the World Need?

How many blogs does the world need? There is already blog gridlock. When the Washington Post editorial page started a blog before this year’s conventions, participants (I was one) were told: Don’t forget that the Post political staff also has a complete set of blogs. It wasn’t clear what we were supposed to do about this, but the implication was that there are only so many aperçus to go around, so don’t be greedy.

The great thing about blogs, in my view, is that they share the voice of e-mail. It’s a genuinely new literary form, which, at its best, combines the immediacy of talking with the reflectiveness of writing. But many readers may be reaching the point with blogs and websites that I reached long ago with the Sunday New York Times Magazine–actively hoping there isn’t anything interesting in there because then I’ll have to take the time to read it.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Blogging & the Internet

Religion and Ethics Weekly: U.S. Hispanic Catholics

Friar CAVAZOS GONZALEZ: In 20 years time, if I could dream, you know, I’d like to see 50, over 50 percent of the U.S. Catholic bishops being Latino.

[JUDY] VALENTE: What concerns the hierarchy right now is that many Latinos are being lured away to the passionate and emotional services in evangelical and Pentecostal churches. Some Latinos who want to remain Catholic also want the Mass to change.

MARTIN ENCISO (Congregant, Good Shepherd Parish, Chicago): We’re going to see a lot more life in church. I think life that’s been missing, because I mean a lot of people, at least a lot of people I knew growing up, said, “Oh yeah, I went to church. We just sat there. We kneeled, prayed.” Church is more than that. You need to feel alive when you go to church. This is the word of God.

[JUDY] VALENTE: There is little doubt about the growing political influence of the Hispanic clergy, especially in the now high-profile issue of immigration.

Friar CAVAZOS GONZALEZ: We expect that the hierarchy of the Church is going to advocate for the poor, for the marginalized, for the outcast, and right now a lot of the poor, the marginalized and the outcast are us.

Read or watch it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Other Churches, Roman Catholic

The Bishop of Reading on Preparing for Christmas

The Bishop of Reading urges everyone to ask themselves, ‘what do I really want for Christmas?’

The Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury launched a website for Advent encouraging people to think about the true meaning of the holiday and reflect on the birth of Christ.

In response to the website, Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell, the Bishop of Reading, said he thinks that rushing through Christmas without thinking about the essential meaning is a trap most Christians get caught in. Getting caught up in the traditions and festivities that come along with Christmas make it hard to focus attention on the true purpose.

“Christmas carols would be a good example,” he said. “I love singing Christmas carols but it feels like we start singing them in October and a bit of ancient Christian wisdom would be the balance between the feast and the fast.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Advent, Anglican Provinces, Christmas, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, CoE Bishops

Seven positions terminated as part of Anglican Church of Canada National office cuts

Faced with declining revenue and recurring budget deficits in recent years, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada announced on Nov. 25 the termination of seven positions at its national office in Toronto. The terminations were part of a plan to cut the 2009 budget by $1.3 million and reduce the deficit to $800,000.

“I want to emphasize that all these decisions were due to structural changes we are forced to make as a result of financial constraints we are facing. None were due to performance issues,” said an internal memo sent to staff by Archdeacon Michael Pollesel, the national church’s general secretary. “Each of these seven individuals contributed to the ongoing life of church house and we thank them for their time with us.”

Five staff from the financial management and development department and the communications and information resources department were laid off; the positions of two staff (yet unidentified pending negotiations) set to retire next year will not be filled.

Read it all.

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

World's largest cathedral plans rededication in NY

The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in Upper Manhattan will be open from end to end for the first time since its restoration following a devastating fire that damaged ancient tapestries and a 8,500-pipe organ.

A celebratory rededication is planned for Sunday at the Gothic Episcopal church, called the largest cathedral in the world.

The entire length of the 601-foot-long building will be open. A temporary wall had halved the cathedral, concealing the scaffolding set up for the restoration work. The fire originated in the gift shop on Dec. 18, 2001.

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

Monks are left homeless after Santa Barbara wildfire

For more than 60 years, Mount Calvary Monastery sat as a patch of holy ground high atop the Santa Barbara hills, home to seven Benedictine Anglican monks whose only jobs in life were prayer and welcoming pilgrims.

Now, after one of the most devastating fires to ever hit Southern California, visitors are left with a different kind of religious experience – a pile of charred ruins.

As drivers make their way to the monastery along narrow roads, banners hanging from side posts thank firefighters. Green vegetation turns to black-dusted earth.

Mount Calvary’s guests no longer read or pray; they snap pictures of the remains of the retreat house. The tall, steel cross that framed the courtyard, the golden bell that called the monks to prayer, the painted archway that greeted visitors, are all still there. There is, however, little else.

Charred cacti form a barrier between the parking lot and what was once a 20,000-square-foot, Spanish-style home. A narrow brick wall divides the property from the burned mountains underneath. And the hilltop provides a commanding view of the town that the fickle fire largely spared.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Spirituality/Prayer