Daily Archives: May 2, 2009

Swine flu outbreak forces Milwaukee area churches to reconsider communal wine cup

Thousands of children will be making their first Communions in Catholic churches across the region this weekend, their first opportunity to partake in what Catholics believe is the body and blood of Christ.

But the ceremonies may not go off exactly as planned for some, as churches consider suspending the communal cup for sacramental wine, along with other precautions to stem the spread of the swine flu.

Concerns about a possible swine flu pandemic spread through Wisconsin houses of worship this week, where leaders were taking steps to educate their congregations and minimize any potential spread.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry

Reiki causes Roman Catholic unease

Madeline Gianforte sees no conflict between the vows she took as a Catholic Sister of St. Agnes and her role as a master of reiki, a Japanese healing practice.

But her church does.

Co-founder of the natural healing center CORE/El Centro on Milwaukee’s south side, Gianforte employs reiki to help clients work through pain, both physical and emotional.

“It’s a very spiritual, very prayerful experience for people,” said Gianforte, one of a number of Catholic practitioners in southeastern Wisconsin. “It’s about finding balance between the body, mind and spirit.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Japan, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Frank Lockwood: Creative bishop elect in Michigan faces veto

What other religious leaders are saying about the teachings of the Rev. Kevin G. Thew Forrester, the bishop-elect of Northern Michigan: “I don’t really see what there is left to say – the unique incarnation, saving death, bodily resurrection and universal lordship of Jesus are basic to Christian faith and to question that means you are disqualified from being an upholder of that faith in any official capacity in the church. That such a man should be considered even a possibility for a bishop is quite simply extraordinary.” – The right Rev. N.T. Wright, lord bishop of Durham, England “I think [Thew Forrester is] solidly a Christian believer, a disciple of Jesus Christ and will be a faithful bishop. … I don’t think he’s outside the tent of acceptable theological thinking and understanding.” – The right Rev. Tom Ely, bishop of Vermont “This gentleman, apparently, doesn’t believe the creeds. … The doctrine of redemption through the incarnation and atoning work and resurrection and heavenly reign at present and future return of the second person of the Godhead: That is Christianity. Take that away and you have destroyed the Christian religion. Period. That’s what Christianity is about.” – Regent College Professor of Theology J.I. Packer

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

Philadelphia Inquirer: Debating an end-of-life decision

A year ago, when a doctor finally diagnosed the brain disease that had been making it harder for her to walk without falling, Rona Zelniker told her son and daughter that she was going to end her life while she still could, before complete disability set in.

Her children were grateful for the way she prepared them, and for the time they had together at the end. “I must have cried 150 times in the last year,” said Keith Zelniker, 32, her son. He scheduled off the week she was planning to die, writing on his work calendar, “bereavement time.”

Zelniker felt anxiety about how she would end her life. She didn’t want to swallow pills, only to wake up even worse off, with brain damage. A gun was out of the question.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

A Rising Anger in India's Streets

At a trendy pub in this cosmopolitan IT capital, Hemangini Gupta, 28, and some of her girlfriends were recently relaxing with cocktails after work. A group of Hindu men later followed them outside, verbally accosting them for drinking in a public bar and for wearing jeans.

“These guys went psycho,” Gupta said. “This isn’t Afghanistan. But here in Bangalore, as a young woman on the streets, if you are driving a car or in a pub or dressed a certain way, you just feel this rising anger.”

The incident was mild compared with some of the violent assaults on women that have taken place here. The attacks are part of what many see as rising Hindu extremism in much of the country over the past few years, especially in places such as Bangalore, precisely because it is a bastion of India’s fast-changing culture. Bangalore is home to an explosion of software companies, a lively heavy-metal rock music scene and burgeoning gay rights and environmental movements.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Hinduism, India, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Episcopal Bishops Brainstorm to Reach Unchurched

This is not the first time that Mr. [Brian] McLaren has singled out Anglican churches as perhaps best suited for worldwide evangelism in the 21st century. During his plenary address to bishops and spouses at the Lambeth Conference in July, he said the Anglican Communion, with its worldwide network of episcopally led, locally governed churches, is the prime candidate to bring culturally divergent people into a closer relationship with a church community.

But if that opportunity is to be grasped, he said this week, bold and critical action is needed by a cohort of creative and courageous bishops. These bishops must create “a zone of innovation and empowerment, a zone in which creative young and emerging leaders can be supported to plant new faith communities relevant to the needs of young adults.” Such a move, Mr. McLaren said, could do for the 21st century Episcopal Church what the Church of England failed to do for the followers of John Wesley in the 19th century.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops

L. Gregory Jones: Investing in Sudan

“What would you say to someone who is hesitant to invest in Sudan’s schools or health clinics given the likelihood that violence will return to Sudan?” My colleague was addressing Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul of the Episcopal Church of Sudan during a Lambeth roundtable on the church’s needs in his country. Archbishop Deng replied, “It is only by building schools and health clinics and supporting sustainable agriculture that we will have a chance that peace will come at last in Sudan.”

My colleague expressed what many of us were thinking. We worry about investing in infrastructure that may be destroyed by the violence of militias; we wanted reassurances. Yet Deng’s response was compelling. He pointed to the significance of visible institutions that form and support Christian leadership and care, thus bearing witness to God’s healing, redemptive love. He knows his people need them.

I found my heart breaking as I talked with Sudanese leaders who told stories of recurrent violence and of battalions mobilizing in violation of the fragile peace agreement. Would elections be held as planned? What would make the most sense in the face of so much violence?

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Africa, Sudan

In New Orleans, giving kids options through music

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Music

ESPN's Campus Connection: Bowdoin College

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Education, Energy, Natural Resources

Swine flu warps life in Newberry, South Carolina

On a day when state health officials cautiously declared the swine flu an epidemic in South Carolina, county schools superintendent Bennie Bennett was trying to convince a Bishopville baseball team it was safe to play in Newberry.

But after nonstop media coverage following a group of private school students’ trip to Cancun, Mexico, two weeks ago, fears of the disease had grown so much that janitors wearing surgical masks spent the afternoon wiping down third-grade classrooms in Newberry with nonacidic disinfectant bathroom cleaner ”” even though no students there were infected.

Newberry County’s 6,000 public school students are at home today. A cancer research fundraiser that had amassed $120,000 in early pledges is canceled.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Health & Medicine

WHO Cautions Public on Alarmist Flu Predictions

Officials from the World Health Organization today cautioned the public against jumping to any conclusions about the virulence of the swineflu virus, and President Obama said that since the disease is caused by a new strain of the influenza virus, officials are concerned that it could cause more serious disease as it spreads.

Some observers have questioned whether reports have been too alarmist about the new virus, which, outside of Mexico, has resulted in relatively mild symptoms. But Gregory Hartl, spokesman for the WHO, told reporters in a conference call that the devastating Spanish Influenza started out very mild in the spring of 1918, “only to reappear in the autumn of 1918 with a vengeance.” That epidemic killed at least 50 million people around the globe.

He went on: “It would be remiss of us not to take this extremely seriously. If, at the end of the day, it remains a mild pandemic, or if we could somehow avert the worst of the disease, or stop the worst of the disease, that would be fantastic.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine

Bishop Mark Lawrence Reflects on the ACI Bishops' Statement on Polity

First, the document is consonant with my understanding of our Church’s polity which I first encountered in Powell Mills Dawley’s The Episcopal Church and its Work (the last volume in the first Church Teaching Series, see p. 115-16) while as a layperson, new to the Protestant Episcopal Church in the early 1970s, being trained to be a lay reader. Further reading in our history during seminary and while teaching courses on The Episcopal Ethos at San Joaquin School for Ministry and in Adult classes in the parish has only confirmed what Dr. Dawley wrote almost fifty years ago.

Secondly, this statement of the bishops is also in keeping with the resolution that the Standing Committee and I brought before our recent Diocesan Convention and which was subsequently passed, “Resolution 1: Proposed Anglican Covenant”. It is, among other things, seeking to defend the authority of dioceses to sign onto the Anglican Covenant should other bodies in TEC choose not to.

Thirdly, it is in all of our interests not to have our polity and heritage redefined by civil courts in litigation with departing dioceses without a more thorough vetting of our Church’s history and polity, as well as the larger Communion’s ecclesial reflections.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

One site with some Links for the Anglican Consultative Council Meeting

Check it out.

Posted in Uncategorized

From the House of Bishops Theology Committee: Some Observations on Just War

All of this is salutary and worth the attention of the Church in general. Nevertheless, we think there is a larger problem facing the church when it comes to thinking and reflecting upon issues of such magnitude as war and peace. That is, we Christians, as a group are not well formed or prepared to speak, to listen and to argue about such matters in ways that reflect the true riches of the Christian tradition. Rather than issue one more statement, it seems to us that the most urgent questions facing the General Convention, and indeed all Christians, are not whether or not just war thinking needs to be updated because of the changing shape of war. Instead, we would urge the bishops to take the lead in offering churches a pedagogy for Christian citizenship.

A first step would be confessing how poorly we have managed this task when we take it up at all. We have too often not considered our duties as Christian citizens to our fellow-citizens in the kingdom of God and in the United States. We have not truly taken up the responsibilities that come with the vast worldly power that the United States has enjoyed, and continues to enjoy, for our fellow Christians around the world and for humanity as a whole, our neighbors in Christ. We have not acted in our capacity as citizens to take due care for how our nation reflects God’s will to care for the least and the lost, both at home and abroad. We have failed in our fundamental responsibilities to care for creation. For all these things, we are truly sorry and we humbly repent.As ever, our repentance must take the form of a renewed and more serious intent to do better. We can do this by thinking in new and deeper ways about the relationship between our roles as citizens of this worldly kingdom and our more fundamental vocation as citizens of the kingdom of heaven. It is for this we need a new pedagogy for Christian citizenship.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, TEC Bishops, Theology