Daily Archives: May 8, 2009

Jordana Horn: Taking One Day at a Time

A few weeks ago observant Jews put away their Seder plates for another year and began the seven-week waiting period between Passover and Shavuot, the holiday celebrating the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. It is not a well-known part of the religious calendar to those who are less observant, but it is filled with profound meanings that deserve to be better understood.

The space between the two holidays is called the Omer, and it is commemorated by the “sefirat ha’Omer,” or the counting of the Omer. The Omer was a measure of about two quarts of barley that ancient Jews brought to the Temple in Jerusalem as an offering on the second day of Passover. In Leviticus, Jews are commanded: “You shall count . . . from the day that you brought the Omer as a wave offering” (one placed in a priest’s hand and waved before God).

Even after the destruction of the Temple, the practice of counting the Omer continued — right down to the present day. On each of the 49 nights, religious Jews recite blessings and take note of the number of days before Shavuot. “The whole idea of counting the Omer is to recognize that the freedom of Passover only has meaning if one also couples it with the commitment of Shavuot,” explains Rabbi Haskel Lookstein of New York’s Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun. “One recognizes that liberty is just a step in the direction of the responsibility and commitment that are reflected in the festival of Shavuot, where the Jewish people received the Torah.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Judaism, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

Fort Worth Standing Committee President responds to lawsuit

To the clergy and people of the diocese:

On April 14, 2009, the newly formed diocese of Fort Worth, along with representatives of The Episcopal Church (TEC), filed a lawsuit in a Tarrant Count, Texas, court. The suit names Bishop Iker and the five-person Board of Trustees for the Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth as defendants.

As you might remember, at our 2007 diocesan convention we passed a revised canon outlining a process that could be used if a parish disagreed with the course of the diocese. At the end of the process, if reconciliation were not possible, the canon provided that the church property would be released to the congregation. Even after our 2008 convention, where we ratified our decision to separate from TEC by an 80 percent majority, none of the congregations wishing to remain loyal to The Episcopal Church asked for that procedure to be used.

However, the facts allowed the Bishop and the Standing Committee to investigate, and at the end of our investigation, the properties of Trinity Church, Fort Worth, and St. Martin in the Fields, Keller, were deeded to their respective congregations. At the same time, two other parishes ”“ St. Christopher’s in Fort Worth, and St. Luke’s in Stephenville ”“ were contacted. They had outstanding building loans which were made in the name of the Diocese. The Diocese offered to release their properties to them if they would renegotiate the loans and remove the Diocese from their notes. St. Luke’s renegotiated their note and had their property deeded to them. As soon as we hear from St. Christopher’s, we will do the same for them.

We’ve done everything we can think to do to make a settlement with any congregation that wants to stay with TEC. Bishop Iker and the Standing Committee have no wish to take property from those churches that do not wish to remain with us.

But Kathleen Wells, the chancellor for the new TEC diocese, has said publicly it’s all or nothing. “We’re not feudal lords where the bishops get together and play poker and say, ”˜You have this property, and we’ll keep this one.’

“They’re using our name; they’re holding themselves out to be the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth,” Wells said of us.

The lawsuit filed in April demands that properties held by the Corporation for the benefit of the people be given to them. It also asks that we stop using the name and seal of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

Wells says the new diocese is merely a continuation of the one originally organized in 1982, located in a geographic area that includes 24 North Central Texas counties. The new diocese claims all 56 congregations in Fort Worth, Arlington, Hurst-Euless-Bedford, Wichita Falls, Weatherford, Brownwood, Stephenville, and elsewhere in the 24-county area. “That’s the number we had before Nov. 15, [2008,] when our diocesan convention met and some of these individuals left. We still claim all 55 [sic] and their property,” Wells said.

We will respond to the lawsuit with an appropriate defense. Please keep the bishop, Board of Trustees, and the members of the Standing Committee, in your prayers. Pray that we may respond in humility, in love, and in faith.

The Rev. Dr. Thomas Hightower
President, Standing Committee
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth

Posted in Uncategorized

Robert Lundy–Live Blog from Kingston: ACC Covenant and Resolutions

Follow it if you are interested.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Consultative Council

Professor Thomas Williams: An open letter to the Bishop-elect of Northern Michigan

Dear Fr Thew Forrester:

I most earnestly beg you to stop talking about Saint Anselm. You simply do not know what you are talking about, and your apologia is not helped by your insistence on perpetuating pseudo-historical claptrap about this great theologian.

In Approaching the Heart of Faith, you quote a passage from Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire in which the authors say that “Anselm’s doctrine of the atonement gave support for holy war” and that his “theology and piety crystallized the religious foundations of the Crusades.” “Christians,” the authors say, “were exhorted to imitate Christ’s self-offering in the cause of God’s justice.” Exhorted by whom? Certainly not by Anselm, who would have rejected any such notion as fundamentally incompatible with his key conclusions in Cur Deus Homo: the sufficiency of the God-man’s self-offering and the inability of fallen human beings to do anything on their own to effect a reconciliation between themselves and God. Indeed, the idea that Anselm’s soteriology could provide theological underpinnings for the Crusades is not merely a gross libel against Anselm but rather obvious nonsense.

The authors seek to paper over this nonsense by sleight of hand, invoking “Peace by the blood of the Cross.” I take it we’re to think that the notion of the bloody Cross as an instrument of peace leads naturally to the Crusades. But for Anselm, the peace that is made by the blood of the Cross is peace between God and humanity — a peace that is entirely of God’s own making, that he initiates and sustains because he loves us and created us for himself — and the blood of the Cross can only be the blood of the God-man, offered once for all as a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and (yes) satisfaction. How any reasonable or fair-minded person can think that this soteriology supports wars of conquest and religious imperialism is beyond me.

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

Church Times: Dr Williams calls for ”˜shared honesty’

THE Anglican Communion may not survive its current crisis over authority and dif­fering theological perspectives, the Archbishop of Canterbury acknowledged on Tuesday.

But he insisted: “Even if we are separated by a number of canonical, theological determinations; even if we blew apart as a communion in chaos and disruption, which God forbid, sooner or later we would have to hear the voice of Christ say: ”˜There’s your brother, there’s your sister, there’s a long journey for you together in the path towards reconciliation.’”

Dr Williams was giving the Anglican Con­sul­tative Council (ACC) a 40-minute presenta­tion on the recommendations of the final report of the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG), the body created, as he put it, to “con­tain the chaos and division” that threatened the Communion over the issue of human sexuality.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Consultative Council, Archbishop of Canterbury

Stress Tests Results Split Financial Landscape

At one bank in Alabama, the problem is a construction bust. At two in Ohio, the trouble is real estate. And in San Francisco, at Wells Fargo, the worry is credit cards ”” a staggering 26 percent of that bank’s card loans, federal regulators have concluded, might go bad if the economy takes a turn for the worse.

The stress tests released by the Obama administration Thursday painted a broad montage of the troubles in the nation’s banking industry and, for the first time, drew a stark dividing line through the new landscape of American finance.

On one side are institutions like JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, which regulators deemed stronger than their peers ”” perhaps strong enough to repay billions of bailout dollars and wriggle free of government control.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Anglican Journal: Meeting organizer praises indaba meeting method

Q: How did the idea to have “discernment groups” come about?

A: One of the things that the (2008) Lambeth Conference was trying to achieve was to create a process within the conference itself to enable every voice to be heard and we felt that there were two or three things that needed to happen. First of all, there needed to be trust. Secondly, there needed to be groups that were small enough for people not to feel that they had too large a group of people they were talking to. And thirdly, a process where they didn’t have to have everything very clearly worked out in their minds before they could speak and talk.
The way we did it at the Lambeth Conference was, first of all, we put people into Bible study groups, and those were groups of eight or nine people that met every day. And so, there was a sense of trust growing out between those Bible study groups. Then, we put five Bible study groups together to make an indaba group. So we were building on units that were already getting to know one another.
We took that same principle here. We created Bible study groups of eight or nine people with a cross section of people across the Communion, trying to make sure that all the groups had bishops, clergy and laity within them. And then we combined three Bible study groups into the four discernment groups.

Q: Why not just call them indaba?
A: There was quite a lot of confusion about why the Lambeth Conference chose the word indaba. My reading of the way it came about was that when indaba was introduced as a way of describing what was going on at Lambeth, it was actually describing the whole process at the Conference, not just what happened in those two-hour groups, the second half of each morning.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Consultative Council

The Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations (IASCER) Resolutions at ACC

The Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations (IASCER) on May 7 asked the 14th ACC meeting here to endorse a set of resolutions, including one that urges the resumption of the Anglican Communion’s dialogue with the Oriental Orthodox Churches of the Middle East.

The resolutions and documents, compiled in a book, The Vision Before Us, also asked the ACC to commend to member provinces for adoption, “key sections” which include matters ranging from the administration of baptism and eucharist, to guidelines for ecumenical participation in ordinations to the Four Principles of Anglican Engagement in Ecumenism.

Gregory Cameron, who is bishop of the Welsh diocese of St. Asaph and former IASCER director, likened the book to “a box of chocolates” that offers many delights and surprises.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Consultative Council, Ecumenical Relations

ACNS: ACC-14 Press Briefing 7th May 2009 with Canon Phil Groves

At the ACC-13 meeting in Nottingham a resolution was passed that asked the Secretary General to do a number of things in connection with the Listening Process. They included:

* To collate relevant research studies, statements, resolutions and other material on these matters from the various Provinces and other interested bodies within those Provinces
* To make such material available for study, discussion and reflection within each member Church of the Communion
* To identify and allocate adequate resources for this work, and to report progress on it to the Archbishop of Canterbury, to the next Lambeth Conference and the next meeting of this Council, and to copy such reports to the Provinces.

As a result of this motion The Revd Canon Philip Groves was hired as the facilitator of the Listening process to work within the Anglican Communion Office. Philip is a canon of All Saints’ Mpwapwa, Tanzania and continues his parish ministry in England. Following his presentation at ACC-14 and the announcement of The Continuing Indaba and Mutual Listening Project. In the podcast that follows he talks about the challenges and opportunities of the listening process and the role the new project will play in assisting people to hear and listen to God and to one another on the subject of human sexuality.

This one is over 35 minutes; listen to it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Consultative Council

ACNS: ACC-14 Press Briefing 7th May 2009 with Canon John Rees

At Church gatherings such as ACC-14 the delegates experience different styles of worship, theology and conversations that fosters growth and development in each person. There are also moments when decisions need to be made-the election of a new chairperson, resolutions on very important matters and constitutional questions to name a few. In those moments there is often needed a clear legal mind to help with the process and settle matters when disputes arise. The Anglican Consultative Council has been blessed with the presence of Canon John Rees as its legal Advisor since 1995.

John is a practicing solicitor and Provincial Registrar to the Archbishop of Canterbury. He has advised successive Archbishops for over 20 years. He was also the Convener of the Anglican Communion Legal Advisers Network since its inception in 2001. He served as the Legal Consultant to the Lambeth Commission in 2003-04.

John is an Honourary Canon of Canterbury Cathedral and in the following podcast responded to a variety of constitutional and legal questions that affect the Anglican Communion.

Watch it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Consultative Council

Mixed Views on the Credibility of the Government's Stress Tests for Major Banks

The relatively modest size of the hole discovered by regulators carrying out the tests, which were based on an “adverse” economic scenario, led to both applause from investors who believe the worst is over and skepticism among those who think the examination wasn’t rigorous enough.

“The fears of nationalization or of failure have more or less disappeared, and now what we’re getting is details of how banks are going to fill in their capital deficiencies,” said Eric Kuby, chief investment officer at North Star Investment Management in Chicago.

The doubters believe the banks will need much more of a capital cushion than stipulated by the regulators, as the U.S. jobless rate soars and the housing market and economy takes time to pull out of a funk, driving up credit losses.

“I’m a skeptic. I don’t see this as a genuine audit. They have been playing the marketing game strongly lately,” said Robert Andres, president of Andres Capital Management in Philadelphia.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Pakistani forces bomb Taliban in Swat

Pakistani planes bombed the Taliban in their Swat Valley bastion today, after the prime minister ordered elimination of “militants and terrorists” and on the heels of a commitment to Washington to fight extremists.

The struggle in the scenic north-western valley 80 miles from Islamabad and a former centre for tourism has become a test of Pakistan’s resolve to fight a growing Taliban insurgency that has alarmed the United States.

Helicopter gunships, fighters and troops were all involved in Swat operations, and up to 17 militants were killed after as many as 55 were killed the previous day, military officials said.

“To a rough estimate there are between 4,000 to 5,000 militants … present in Swat,” Major-General Athar Abbas, military spokesman, said in an interview with Dawn TV.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Pakistan, Terrorism

Keith Hennessy Coments on the Bank Stress Tests

6 The administration seems to bounce back and forth between emphasizing building a strong capital base and helping BHC[Bank Holding Company]’s get rid of toxic assets. I think the capital cushion is more important.
7 $34 B more for Bank of America is a big number.
8 I continue to be confused about why the administration is so confident they will not need to ask Congress for more TARP money, especially if they intend to use a lot of cash to prevent GM from liquidating.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Anglican Journal: 'Free-floating' body seeks formal relationship with Anglican Consultative Council

The Compass Rose Society, an international body which seeks to support the ministry of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican Communion is seeking “a more formal relationship” with the Anglican Consultative Council, its president told the council on May 6.

Currently, the Compass Rose Society is “a free-floating body with no group to which it connects and no accountability,” said its president, Canadian Bishop Philip Poole, in an address at the ACC meeting here. “I would like to ask whether we can have a more formal relationship so that the Compass Rose Society can continue for generations to come.”

There have been misconceptions that the Compass Rose Society is merely “an administrative bureaucracy” that doles out money to Anglican bodies, said Bishop Poole, who is also a suffragan (assistant) bishop in the diocese of Toronto (York-Credit Valley). “We’re much more than a source of money for meetings,” he said, adding that the Compass Rose Society was “taking responsibility” for the image that it projects and was doing something to change it.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Consultative Council

A Detail from the ACC Meeting that Many Have missed

From here (posted earlier, but this section was not excerpted):

However, it was also drawn to Canon Kearon’s attention that another infringement of the requirements of the instruments of communion had been the continuance of the lawsuits against orthodox churches in North America by TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada. The cessation of these lawsuits was a requirement of the Dar-es-Salaam Primates Meeting in 2007 as part of the compliance required of TEC and the ACoC with the Windsor Report and thus a condition for the re-entry of TEC and ACoC delegates to the Councils of the Communion ( they had been asked to withdraw from ACC 13 at Nottingham, but attended as visitors). How was it that TEC and ACoC had not complied with a requirement of the instruments of communion, yet had been readmitted, and that Uganda was not complying with the embargo on cross-border jurisdiction and yet its selected delegate was barred? The answer given that Uganda as a province had not been barred, only its delegate who was a product of cross-border intervention.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Consultative Council

U.S. Says Ailing Banks Need $75 Billion

Federal regulators told the country’s 19 largest banks that they must raise $75 billion in extra capital by November, a more upbeat verdict on the health of the financial system than the industry had feared just two months ago.

Ten of the 19 bank holding companies deemed “too big to fail” by the Obama administration will be required to raise additional capital, according to the results of the government’s stress tests, released late Thursday afternoon. But the 10 banks will have to raise much less capital than some analysts had expected as recently as a few days ago.

“With the clarity today’s announcement will bring, we hope banks are going to get back to the business of banking,” Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said during a news briefing on Thursday afternoon.

Mr. Geithner noted that banks had a long way to go to restore the nation’s confidence in the financial industry, and that they could get a start in generating good will by lending more.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Kevin Thew Forrester Musters a Theological Self-Defense

”¦ ”˜the way’ that John speaks of is not about believing doctrines about Jesus. Rather, ”˜the way’ is what we see incarnate in Jesus: the path of death and resurrection as the way to rebirth in God. According to John, this is the only way ”“ . . . it is ”˜the way’ spoken of by all the major religions of the world. Dying and rising is the way. Thus Jesus is ”˜the Way’ ”“ the way become flesh. Rather than being the unique revelation of a way known only in him, his life and death are the incarnation of a universal way known in all of the enduring religions.

Read it carefully and read it all.

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