Daily Archives: April 5, 2009

Yesterday's Heart-rending Tragedy in Pittsburgh (I): A deadly sequence of events

A police criminal complaint described the sequence of events that began with a domestic-violence call at 7:03 a.m. and led to the shooting deaths of Officers Paul Sciullo III, Stephen J. Mayhle and Eric Kelly at 1016 Fairfield St.

The suspect’s mother, Margaret Poplawski, called 911 to say that she had argued with her son after she discovered that a dog had urinated on the floor of the house. She told police she wanted him removed.

Officers Sciullo and Mayhle radioed at 7:11 that they had arrived at the home. Mrs. Poplawski told police she opened the door and told police “come and take his ass.”

When the officers were 10 feet into the residence, “she heard gunshots, turned and saw her son about six feet away with a long rifle in his hands, at which point she fled downstairs after asking him ‘what the hell have you done?’ ” according to the report.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Violence

Matt Gunter on Northern Michigan: Why We Should Not Proceed

The Rev. Forrester is also primary author and a signatory of A Response from the Diocese of Northern Michigan’s Standing Committee to the “Dar es Salaam Communiqué,” in which there is the following:

“Baptism confirms this most basic truth which is at once, the Good News: all is of God, without condition and without restriction.”

This is incongruous with each of the Eucharistic Prayers and the Rite of Baptism, particularly the renunciations.

“Because each and every one of us is an only begotten child of God; because we, as the church, are invited by God to see all of creation as having life only insofar as it is in God; because everything, without exception, is the living presence, or incarnation, of God”

Claiming “each and every one of us is an only begotten child of God” and that “everything, without exception, is the living presence, or incarnation of God” is a pantheism incompatible what we say (and pray) we believe about Jesus Christ as the Incarnation of God. It also contradicts the language we use in every rite of the Book of Common Prayer, not to mention the Catechism.

I know these are serious charges. I do not make them lightly. I am not given to finding false teaching under every rock. And it is no small thing to reject a candidate put forward by a diocese to be its bishop. But I also believe, with Charles Gore, that ours is a tradition that is “conspicuously orthodox on the great fundamentals of the Trinity and the Incarnation” (Roman Catholic Claims, p. 173). If we believe the rule of our praying is the rule of our believing, then the prayers of our common worship must guide what we teach and preach. One whose stated beliefs are as at odds with that common worship as are the Rev. Forrester’s can hardly “guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church” (BCP p. 517).

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, Theology

Notable and Quotable (II)

I was afraid of a united Church; it makes a mighty power, the mightiest conceivable, and then when it by and by gets into selfish hands, as it is always bound to do, it means death to human liberty and paralysis to human thought.

–Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Chapter X

Posted in * General Interest, Notable & Quotable

Sunday Telegraph: Roman Catholic Priests stop saying 'good morning' to their congregations

Clergy attended a meeting last month to hear about the work of The International Commission of English in the Liturgy, which is producing a new English translation of the Latin mass which will be used in churches next year.

Priests at the meeting, held in the Diocese of Leeds, were told to question whether it was appropriate to say “good morning” once the priest was on the altar and had made the sign of the cross.

Following the meeting, some priests in the diocese told their congregations that they would no longer greet them in an informal manner at the start of services.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, England / UK, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic

New rector at California's oldest Episcopal church

After a two-year search, California’s oldest Episcopal Church now has a new rector, Nevada City native Seth Kellermann.

The Rev. Kellermann, 32, starts preaching Sunday at Grass Valley’s Emmanuel Episcopal Church downtown, kicking off the highest holiday of the Christian calendar: Palm Sunday and Holy Week, featuring a series of sermons leading up to Easter on April 12.

“This is kind of our big time,” he said.

It’s a big time for mainstream churches across the country, as they face the challenges of an aging demographic and struggle to attract younger people and busy families.

Read it all.

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

WSJ: 'Grandfamilies' Come Under Pressure

Today, more and more children are being raised by their grandparents. These grandparents provide a crucial safety net, allowing children whose parents can’t provide for them to remain in families, instead of winding up as wards of the state. But as the recession hits “grandfamilies,” that safety net is under stress.

The unemployment rate for older workers is lower than the overall rate. But once they become unemployed, older workers find it harder to land a job and they tend to remain out of work longer than younger workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate for those 55 and over has been climbing significantly in recent months; in March, it rose to 6.2% — the highest it has been since September, 1949, according the bureau.

At the same time, the number of grandfamilies has been growing. In 1970, about 3% of all children under 18 lived in households headed by a grandparent. By 2007, 4.7 million kids — or 6.5% of American children — were living in households headed by a grandparent, according to Census Bureau data. This shift was driven by a variety of factors, including more parents hit by drug use, AIDS or cancer, and the large numbers of single parents who, if struck by tragedy, leave children behind.

Not all of these grandparents are sole caregivers, says Kenneth Bryson, a director at Generations United, a Washington nonprofit, “but most are making important contributions,” providing “substantial care so that the parents can work or go to school.”

Caught this one on the way home yesterday on the plane. Take the time to read it all. The portrait of the lead character and her six year old granddaughter is especially heart-rending–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Children, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Marriage & Family, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

India Knight: We don’t know what work is ”“ until we lose it

Last autumn most of my friends’ lives looked as if they might be recession-proof. I don’t know many people who work in the City, or for wobbly high street chains, and although house prices were dropping and everything was getting a bit stressful, I wasn’t personally acquainted with more than two people who’d actually lost their jobs or seemed at risk. They were feeling poorer, yes, booking holidays in Britain, going out less, not buying new clothes, buying cheaper food at cheaper supermarkets, even thinking about taking their children out of private school (although one friend who informed the headmistress of her intentions was quickly whisked aside and offered a 50% reduction in fees, applicable immediately). But they weren’t sitting in mortal fear of unemployment.

Fast forward six months and everyone’s dropping like flies. The only people who I know are doing well are my hairdressers since, apparently, people in search of cheering up the hard times with a non-grey root or a blowdry no longer travel to West End salons but walk to their local one.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, England / UK, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Psychology, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Barack Obama leads condemnation as North Korea launches rocket

President Obama has led international condemnation of North Korea this morning after it launched an intercontinental rocket over Japan, defying weeks of warnings from world leaders and risking new sanctions and high level denunciation in the UN Security Council.

Mr Obama called the launch “provocative” and a clear violation of UN Security Council rules.

“The launch today of a Taepodong-2 missile was a clear violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718, which expressly prohibits North Korea from conducting ballistic missile-related activities of any kind,” the US President said in a statement.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Foreign Relations, North Korea

Notable and Quotable (I)

There is a lesson here not just for policymakers but also for the rest of us. “It is human nature always to want a little more,” writes the psychologist Timothy Miller in the recent book How to Want What You Have, perhaps the first self-help book based explicitly on evolutionary psychology. “People spend their lives honestly believing that they have almost enough of whatever they want. Just a little more will put them over the top; then they will be contented forever.” This is a built-in illusion, Miller notes, engrained in our minds by natural selection.

The illusion was designed to keep us constantly striving, adding tiny increments to the chances that our genes would get into the next generation. Yet in a modern environment–which, unlike the ancestral environment, features contraception–our obsession with material gain rarely has that effect. Besides, why should any of us choose to pursue maximum genetic proliferation–or relentless material gain, or anything else–just because that is high on the agenda of the process that designed the human mind? Natural selection, for better or worse, is our creator, but it isn’t God; the impulses it implanted into our minds aren’t necessarily good, and they aren’t wholly beyond resisting.

Part of Miller’s point is that the instinctive but ultimately fruitless pursuit of More–the 60-hour workweeks, the hour a month spent perusing the Sharper Image catalog–keeps us from indulging what Darwin called “the social instincts.” The pursuit of More can keep us from better knowing our neighbors, better loving our kin-in general, from cultivating the warm, affiliative side of human nature whose roots science is just now starting to fathom.

Robert Wright in a 1995 cover article in Time Magazine entitled “The Evolution of Despair”. I bumped into this this week while working on a teaching and scrounging through some old sermon files. It’s appropriateness is, I think, quite evident in our time. Not especially this line also in the essay: we are designed to seek trusting relationships and to feel uncomfortable in their absence–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Psychology

North Korea launches rocket, defying world pressure

North Korea fired a rocket over Japan on Sunday, defying Washington, Tokyo and others who suspect the launch was cover for a test of its long-range missile technology. President Barack Obama said the move threatens the security of nations “near and far.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Foreign Relations, North Korea

In Binghampton New York 13 Shot Dead During a Class on Citizenship

A gunman invaded an immigration services center in downtown Binghamton, N.Y., during citizenship classes on Friday and shot 13 people to death and critically wounded 4 others before killing himself in a paroxysm of violence that turned a quiet civic setting into scenes of carnage and chaos.

The killing began around 10:30 a.m. and was over in minutes, witnesses said, but the ordeal lasted up to three hours for those trapped inside the American Civic Association as heavily armed police officers, sheriff’s deputies and state troopers threw up a cordon of firepower outside and waited in a silence of uncertainty.

Finally, officers who had not fired a shot closed in and found a sprawl of bodies in a classroom, 37 terrified survivors cowering in closets and a boiler room and, in an office, the dead gunman, identified as Jiverly Wong, 42, a Vietnamese immigrant who lived in nearby Johnson City.

Two pistols and a satchel of ammunition were found with the body. In what the police took to be evidence of preparation and premeditation, the assailant had driven a borrowed car up against the center’s back door to barricade it against escape, then had walked in the rain around to the front to begin the attack.

Read it all.

Update: A slideshow is available there.

Posted in Uncategorized

Geoffrey Rowell: The ride to salvation in lowly pomp on a donkey

One of the popular traditional hymns for Palm Sunday was written by Henry Milman, a Victorian dean of St Paul’s. He wrote dramatic poems and romantic verse dramas, as well as some of the first studies of biblical history to root Scripture in the culture of its day (he gave offence by describing Abraham as “a nomad sheikh”). In his Palm Sunday hymn, Ride on, Ride on in Majesty, he sees the Palm Sunday procession as a poignant, funeral procession ”” “in lowly pomp ride on to die”. Indeed, that is how this Holy Week, which begins on Palm Sunday, unfolds.

If there was an expectation among the Palm Sunday crowds that this was the beginning of a revolution in which Jesus would drive out the oppressive Roman occupiers, it was not to be. The week that begins with Palm Sunday moves inexorably through ever darker moments: the Last Supper, the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (the garden of the pressing out of the olives), betrayal, arrest, torture, mocking, scourging and a trial that shows both religious and political leaders as utterly unconcerned with truth (as Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, asks dismissively, “what is truth?”).

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

The Economist: Diplomacy, faith and freedom

Back in February there were groans of dismay among civil-liberties activists when Hillary Clinton, in one of her early pronouncements as secretary of state, suggested that America had more important things to discuss with China than human rights. “Our pressing on those [human-rights] issues can’t interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate-change crisis and the security crisis,” she said.

But on March 31st the Obama administration did something very concrete to correct any impression that diplomatic lobbying for liberty was too big a luxury in a world with other woes on its mind. In a bid to redeem a body which sceptics had called irredeemable, it announced its intention to seek one of the 47 seats on the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture