Daily Archives: April 14, 2009

AP: Dolan to fight anti-Roman Catholic bias

New York Archbishop-designate Timothy Dolan said Monday, on the eve of his installation, that he will challenge the idea that the Roman Catholic Church is unenlightened because it opposes gay marriage and abortion.

In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Dolan said he wants to restore pride in being Catholic, especially given the damage the church endured in the clergy sex abuse scandal, which he called a continuing source of shame.

“One would hope that through education and through the joy that we give by our lives that people will begin to see that these fears and this skepticism we have about the church are unwarranted,” Dolan said.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Amy Laura Hall : Designer baby' option raises ethical concerns

Why is it that now, at a time when “hope” is supposed to still be resilient over despair, there would be a thriving market for choosing to love a child who looks more like you, or perhaps more like someone more aesthetically normative than your spouse? (It might be worth noting that the man now running the free world was beloved by a mother and grandmother who did not share his supposedly relevant “predictive genomics.”)

Rather than condemning the choosers, I want to ask about the context in which the choice is made, and why other choices just seem less attractive. Why does the expenditure of time and effort involved in pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) on embryos seem more worthwhile than the time and effort to prepare to adopt one of the thousands of children or teenagers waiting to be received out of foster care?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Theology

AN Wilson: Why we should no longer be cowed by the chattering classes who sneer at Christianity

Like many people who lost faith, I felt anger with myself for having been ‘conned’ by such a story. I began to rail against Christianity, and wrote a book, entitled Jesus, which endeavoured to establish that he had been no more than a messianic prophet who had well and truly failed, and died.

Why did I, along with so many others, become so dismissive of Christianity?

Like most educated people in Britain and Northern Europe (I was born in 1950), I have grown up in a culture that is overwhelmingly secular and anti-religious. The universities, broadcasters and media generally are not merely non-religious, they are positively anti.

To my shame, I believe it was this that made me lose faith and heart in my youth. It felt so uncool to be religious.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Religion & Culture

Holy Week Earthquake Miracle

This is the third instalment of our Easter Monday triumvirate of life-affirming posts.

It’s an account, published last week by The Times of London, of how an Italian doctor was led mysteriously to the precise place where his 20-year-old son lay trapped alive following last week’s devastating earthquake in Italy.

The article, tilted how “Divine intervention helped Antonello Colangeli find his son,” describes the inexplicable series of events that guided Dr. Colangeli to where his beloved only son Giulio lay entombed in the rubble of a building and that resulted in his rescue.

Inexplicable, that is, if you don’t credit the power of prayer and the intervention of a loving God.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Holy Week

Orlando Sentinel–Where Obama turns for spiritual advice: Rev. Joel Hunter of Longwood

He doesn’t thunder from the pulpit in righteous rage. He’d rather relay stories that make a moral point.

He has no catchphrases, fussy handlers or televised religious talk shows.

What the soft-spoken Rev. Joel Hunter of Longwood does have is an evangelical church of 12,000, a talent for building diverse coalitions and a prominent spiritual advisory role in the administration of President Barack Obama, a Democrat.

Not bad for a registered Republican who came to Central Florida in 1985 to take charge of a small flock that grew into one of the region’s largest megachurches.

As Hunter delivers his three Easter sermons today at Northland, a Church Distributed, he holds a place in the national spotlight unmatched by any other faith leader in Central Florida.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Evangelicals, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture

Allied Militants Threaten Pakistan’s Populous Heart

Taliban insurgents are teaming up with local militant groups to make inroads in Punjab, the province that is home to more than half of Pakistanis, reinvigorating an alliance that Pakistani and American authorities say poses a serious risk to the stability of the country.

The deadly assault in March in Lahore, Punjab’s capital, against the Sri Lankan cricket team, and the bombing last fall of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, the national capital, were only the most spectacular examples of the joint campaign, they said.

Now police officials, local residents and analysts warn that if the government does not take decisive action, these dusty, impoverished fringes of Punjab could be the next areas facing the insurgency. American intelligence and counterterrorism officials also said they viewed the developments with alarm.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, Pakistan

Jane Williams: God's life is inexhaustible

So Easter also says something about God’s justice and God’s judgment. God is just: he did not allow the false verdict on Jesus to stand. But his justice restores relationships. We are the ones who deal death with our judgments. God’s judgment brings life.

And that’s the heart of Easter: God’s justice is trustworthy and life-giving. God sees all the judgments we pass on each other and ourselves; God sees all the death we deal to others and suffer ourselves, and God reaches through it all to restore us to friendship with him. In every place that seems bereft of hope, God can be found. The death and resurrection of Jesus show that God’s life is inexhaustible, and cannot be curbed by our arid and muddle-headed judgments.

The resurrection is an event that defines everything. It tells us that there is no relationship that cannot be restored by God, no judgment that cannot be reversed by God and that nothing we do can empty the world of the life and love of God.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter

Willis Moore: the Episcopal Church tries to follow Jesus' model

Jesus’ teaching ministry was not an exhortation to toe the line, follow the letter of the law and not stray. Jesus urged expanded views of “who is my neighbor?” and of forgiveness, as in the prodigal son. He offered a broader sense of just who deserves God’s love, namely that the whole world is loved by God (John 3:16-17). Jesus did not speak of sinners in the hands of an angry God, but rather of a community living in God’s love by loving each other and the world.

Many in the Episcopal Church, and our brothers and sisters in other denominations, are too busy “walking the walk” of Jesus to spend time and energy arguing with self-appointed keepers of orthodoxy regarding directions of the church. Fifty U.S. Episcopalians went to El Salvador to join with several hundred other faith-based volunteers in monitoring the presidential elections on March 15. Thousands of Episcopalians have journeyed to New Orleans — I have gone thrice — to work with the Louisiana diocese’s Office of Disaster Relief in gutting more than 500 homes and rebuilding nearly 75 homes for needy folks.

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

In Murrieta California, a fading American dream

“I used to spend $160 every two weeks for food. Now it’s $50 every two weeks,” said Glenn Garrett, 36, a laid-off construction foreman with three children. “But I’m still a dad, and it’s still my responsibility to put food on the table.”

Here in southwest Riverside County, where foreclosures and unemployment have taken an enormous toll, one of the biggest casualties has been the middle class, which is rapidly becoming the new poor.

“This is more of a middle-class recession than any before because of the housing component and because the shutdown of the financial system has spread into the service and construction sector where you have a lot of the better jobs,” said John Husing of Economics & Politics Inc., a regional economic research firm. “Recessions usually fall on those at the bottom, but now all tiers of society are being hurt.”

Few places illustrate that better than Murrieta, a tidy city of about 100,000 with a median family income of $85,439, according to the 2007 census.

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

Deseret News: Mormons Growth Continues

The LDS Church remains one of the nation’s top four churches in membership size and growth rate, despite 2008 statistics that didn’t reach ’07 numbers but mirrored the past decade’s annual averages.

At its recent April general conference, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reported a worldwide membership of 13,508,509 through Dec. 31, 2008 ”” an increase of 314,510, or 2.38 percent, over the end-of-’07 total of 13,193,999.

The year before, the church recorded an increase of 325,393, or 2.53 percent.

Over the past 10 years, the LDS Church has averaged an annual membership increase of 310,407, with a high of 348,536 from 1998 to 1999 and a low of 263,716 from 2002 to 2003.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Mormons, Other Faiths

North Korea Says It Will Boycott Nuclear Talks, Restart Weapons Plant

Fuming at the U.N. Security Council for condemning its recent missile launch, North Korea said Tuesday it will restart its plutonium factory, junk all its disarmament agreements and “never participate” again in six-country nuclear negotiations.

North Korea had warned before launching a long-range missile on April 5 that it would tolerate no U.N. criticism of what it insisted was a peaceful attempt to put a satellite into orbit.

When the 15-member Security Council unanimously condemned that launch on Monday and demanded a halt to all future missile launches, the North’s reaction was swift, vitriolic and surprisingly substantive.

It called the Security Council’s statement a “brigandish,” “wanton” and “unjust” infringement of its sovereignty. It said that six-party nuclear talks with the United States, South Korea, Japan, Russia and, even its closest ally, China, had “turned into a platform” for forcing the North to disarm itself and for bringing down its system of government.

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

Reuters: More Americans wary of tax man this year

As a deep recession strips Americans of their jobs, homes and investments, the 2009 U.S. tax season promises to see a large uptick in first-time delinquent income taxpayers.

“Our calls are up 280 percent,” said Richard Boggs, founder and chief executive of Los Angeles-based Nationwide Tax Relief, a firm that helps delinquent taxpayers resolve tax issues.

“We’ve seen a huge rise in what we call the rookie delinquent taxpayer,” he said. “They are incredibly scared, and they have no idea what’s going to happen to them because, God bless them, they’ve never owed before.”

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

Statement of the Iowa Roman Catholic bishops regarding the Iowa Supreme Court decision

We, the Roman Catholic Bishops of Iowa, strongly disagree with the decision of the Iowa Supreme Court which strikes down Iowa’s law defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman. This decision rejects the wisdom of thousands of years of human history. It implements a novel understanding of marriage, which will grievously harm families and children.

This unwarranted social engineering attacks the good that marriage offers to society, especially the good of children, and weakens the critical relationship between marriage and parenting. We will resolutely continue to protect and promote marriage as a union between a man and a woman because of its unique and historical contribution to the common good.

We uphold the right of all people to be treated with respect and live in peace. This right, like the right to enter into a permanent, monogamous marriage of one man and one woman, derives directly from the intrinsic dignity of the human person. These are rights which the state has the duty to recognize and protect. They are not something that the state creates or may redefine. The citizens of every state who have been given the opportunity have voted to preserve civil marriage as it has been recognized and defined since the beginning of recorded history.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality

The Bishop of Arkansas Votes No on Northern Michigan

The Rev. Larry Benfield, the Episcopal Bishop of Little Rock, has voted against the confirmation of Kevin Genpo Thew Forrester as bishop of Northern Michigan.

In an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Benfield said he was concerned that Thew Forrester had altered the denomination’s rite of baptism without the approval of the broader church. The rite is included in the Book of Common Prayer.

Instead, Thew Forrester has used and promoted a “Trial Baptismal Liturgy” which removes any mention of Satan and adds New-Age style language.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Liturgy, Music, Worship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan

The Bishop of Northern Indiana Votes No on Northern Michigan

In the Christian Church, bishops are not “private citizens”. They are called “to be one with the apostles in proclaiming Christ’s resurrection and interpreting the Gospel, and to testify to Christ’s sovereignty as Lord of lords and King of kings . . . [and] to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church” (BCP, p. 517). These are solemn obligations, and inherent to the ministry of bishop in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. St. Paul himself lays this charge upon his successor, Timothy: “Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us” (2 Timothy 1:13-14).

A bishop’s teaching ministry must never be idiosyncratic. We have no message other than the one that has been given to us. The task of bishops is to pass on that message as faithfully as we can; to proclaim Jesus Christ ”“ crucified, risen, coming again; clearly and winsomely to present his person and his work; and to offer the world a Gospel that challenges, heals, and restores us to a relationship with the Father. With the information I have at hand, I am not convinced that Fr. Thew Forrester would be able to discharge this essential obligation of episcopal office.

I cast my No vote without joy; indeed, with sorrow in my heart. If the Church denies consent for Fr. Thew Forrester to be consecrated as Bishop of Northern Michigan, it will be a tragic development for the diocese, and for Fr. Thew Forrester himself. He is, from all reports, a beloved and respected priest, passionate about ministry and committed to his people. Please join me in praying for him, and for the diocese, that in the midst of a most difficult time Jesus will be experienced more and more deeply, and ultimately his kingdom extended and his people with encouraged.

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