Daily Archives: October 29, 2010
For many churches this week, there won’t be any Styrofoam grave stones, skeletons or spooky signs of death and decay. Instead of morbid celebrations of Halloween, there will be innocuously termed””and innocuously decorated”””Harvest Parties.” It’s Halloween cleaned up, made appropriate even for the youngest congregants.
But maybe that’s a wrong approach. Halloween, also known as “All Hallows Eve,” and All Saints Day (on Nov. 1) offer a rare opportunity in the Christian calendar to reflect on death. The holidays were intended to celebrate the communion of the saints, the spiritual unity of all””living and dead””who trust in Christ and await the eventual resurrection of their bodies.
This is the hope on which Christians stake their lives. But in a culture with deep fears of death and dying, even many of the faithful would rather avoid talking about the grave.
US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has dismissed claims the legal campaign waged against traditionalists has been suicidal for the Episcopal Church, stating the funds expended on litigation have actually declined in recent years….
Asked at a post-meeting press conference whether the church’s suicide was by litigation, which had drained the church’s coffers, the presiding bishop responded this was not so. “Our legal costs have gone down in the past couple of years,” she said.
However, according to an analysis performed by canon lawyer Allan Haley, the national church and its dioceses have dedicated over $21,650,000 to lawsuits and disciplinary actions against the clergy.
Airports in some of the United States were on high alert Friday after investigators found a suspicious package on a plane in the United Kingdom the night before, a law enforcement source with detailed knowledge of the investigation said.
The suspicious package, which contained a “manipulated” toner cartridge, tested negative for explosive material, the source said, but it led to heightened inspection of arriving cargo flights in Newark, New Jersey and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and a UPS truck in New York.
Police also were investigating a suspicious package at the distribution center of an airport in East Midlands, in the United Kingdom, an airport spokesman said. Authorities said they could not immediately connect that investigation to the ones unfolding in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
Authorities seemed most focused on inspecting cargo planes.
A new book, “The State of Church Giving,” says congregations have waning influence among charitable causes because their focus now seems to be on institutional maintenance rather than spreading the gospel and healing the world.
The 20th annual study by Empty Tomb Inc. reaffirmed a “long-term turning inward of congregations” exhibited by a dwindling share of church donations spent on benevolence and evangelism. It also found a dip in money given to churches during the 2008 recession, even while donations to religious organizations overall increased.
The Archdeacon of Bradford, the Ven. Dr David Lee, has described press reports saying that the diocese of Bradford is to be merged with neighbouring Ripon & Leeds as “premature speculation”.
A report in The Mail on Sunday alleged that the diocese was “facing the axe” and was to be “scrapped”. It cited the rise in the Muslim popÂulation of the city as a factor behind declining congregations, which meant that the Church was “strugÂgling to maintain a foothold”.
Archdeacon Lee said that the diocese was currently being exÂamined by the Dioceses ComÂmisÂsion, which last year set up a review of the bounÂdaries of the five Yorkshire dioceses (Bradford, Ripon & Leeds, Sheffield, Wakefield, and York).
Obtained via email; in wide circulation at present so important for blog readers to see; please read it all and follow all the links–KSH.
The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin
The Central Third of California
The Rt. Rev. Jerry A. Lamb, Bishop
The Rev. Canon Mark H. Hall, Canon to the Ordinary
Dear Bishops and Standing Committee Members,
The Standing Committee of the Diocese of San Joaquin joins me in sending you this letter that outlines our grave concerns about the election of the Rev. Daniel Martins as the Bishop Diocesan of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois.
Our concern is not about the electing process, but about the suitability of Daniel Martins to be ordained a bishop in the Episcopal Church. We write to you now before the consent process is in full swing, so you will know of our concerns and have a chance to review pertinent information about Daniel Martins and his involvement in the attempted separation of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin from the Episcopal Church. We also request that you visit Daniel Martins’ website (http://cariocaconfessions.blogspot.com/) and review his comments about the startup of the Continuing Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.
All of the material concerning Daniel Martins’ relationship to the Diocese of San Joaquin can be found on our diocesan website (www.diosanjoaquin.org) under “Updates” on the right sidebar or by direct link at http://www.diosanjoaquin.org/dioceseofspringfieldconsent.html.
Daniel Martins came to the Diocese of San Joaquin in 1994 when he was called to be the rector of St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in Stockton. He remained at St. John’s until August 2007 when he accepted a call to St. Anne’s Episcopal Church in Warsaw, Diocese of Northern Indiana. St. John’s is the oldest Episcopal Church in Stockton (and was one of the leading parishes in the diocese.) Only months after Martins left St. John’s, the parish chose to follow John-David Schofield in the attempt to leave the Episcopal Church. It is our contention that Daniel Martins did not prepare this congregation to remain in the Episcopal Church, but did just the opposite. St. John’s, Stockton is one of the few incorporated parishes in the diocese, and we were forced to file suit to recover this property for the Episcopal Church.
While residing in the Diocese of San Joaquin, Daniel Martins was very active in diocesan affairs. He was elected a deputy to General Convention multiple times, the last time in 2006. The Diocesan Council meeting minutes on April 8, 2006 report on a discussion of the upcoming Diocesan Convention resolution regarding disassociation from the Episcopal Church. In response to a question as to why deputies to General Convention 2006 had questions about the timing of the resolution, the Rev James Snell is referenced: “Read e-mail from Dan Martins. Endorse substance of proposal but concerned that (1) language provocative, (2) timing is ill-advised (prior to GC 2006) – diverts attention, (3) resolution will be spun by Bps adversaries, (4) robs GC deputations of effectiveness and credibility at GC. If GC rejects Windsor Report, then it will be time to act and Dan will lead the charge.” (See http://www.diosanjoaquin.org/doc/CouncilMinutesApr2006)
In John-David Schofield’s address to convention in December 2006, when the first reading of the proposed change to the Constitution was made, he made the following statement, “Working independently of this Virginia meeting, three of our rural deans: Frs. Dan Martins, Jim Snell, and Richard James came up with a substitute for the original proposed changes to our diocesan constitution.” This substitute amendment became the very amendment that the disaffiliating parties attempted to use as their vehicle to leave the Church. (See http://www.diosanjoaquin.org/doc/SchofieldAddr2006)
When former Bishop Schofield called for a vote in 2006 on this constitutional change removing the accession clause (after rejecting the motion for a secret ballot) and called for a vote by delegates standing in favor, reliable witnesses noted that Daniel Martins voted in the affirmative.
The Standing Committee and I contend Daniel Martins was instrumental to the process that led to first and second votes by the diocese to change the Constitutions and Canons that resulted in the failed attempt to unilaterally leave the Episcopal Church. Further excerpts from Diocesan documents are available at our diocesan website. (See for example, email dated June17, 2007 from Martins to Standing Committee http://www.diosanjoaquin.org/doc/Email6172007, Standing Committee minutes from June 2007 http://www.diosanjoaquin.org/doc/SCMinutesJun2007, and email from Dan Martins in December 2006 http://www.diosanjoaquin.org/doc/Email12182006).
We also urge you to read excerpts from Daniel Martins’ blog entitled “Confessions of a Carioca.” (See http://www.diosanjoaquin.org/doc/DanMartinsBlogExcerpts) The following are examples from his blog.
3-5-2008: There’s a new group of Non-Jurors in the process of formation even as I write. They are former clergy and laity of the Diocese of San Joaquin. Their principled stand places them between the “rock” of their former bishop, whom they have loved and served loyally, but whom they cannot in good conscience follow to the Province of the Southern Cone, and the “hard place” of the noncanonical rump “remaining” Diocese of San Joaquin, which they cannot in good conscience join because it represents the raw exercise of naked illicit power by the Presiding Bishop, and because to do so would compromise their oath of loyalty to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.
7-13-2008: Now, aside from the … what shall we say? … ungenerous … tone of the missive, it raises some curious issues. It comes as no news that, for a number of substantive technical reasons, I recognize neither the constitutional foundation of the “Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin” nor the authority of Bishop Jerry Lamb. By any rational reading of the Constitution & Canons of the Episcopal Church, we’re talking about a bogus diocese with a bogus bishop, though they have some impressive-looking stationery. That they exist at all, and are able to maintain the chimera of legitimacy is a result only of the raw exercise of naked political power on the part of the Presiding Bishop. She is manifestly guilty of presentable offenses but it will never happen because the political calculus just isn’t there.
Out of concern for the Episcopal Church, we urge you to review the information in this letter, on our website (http://www.diosanjoaquin.org/dioceseofspringfieldconsent.html), and in Daniel Martins’ own blog.
Upon reviewing the materials, we believe that it is clear that Daniel Martins not only actively supported and voted to attempt to remove the Diocese from the Episcopal Church. Furthermore, it is implicit in his writings and actions that he clearly holds the belief that a Diocese may leave this Church unilaterally, which is contrary to our understanding of Anglicanism and the polity of the Episcopal Church.
In closing, the consent process, as mandated by our canons, is the only way the wider Church can respond to the election of a person to be a bishop. Accordingly, we would ask you to join us in withholding consent for Daniel Martins to become the Bishop of Springfield.
–(The Rt. Rev.) Jerry A. Lamb is Bishop of San Joaquin [the TEC Affiliated Diocese]
Members of the Standing Committee of the Diocese of San Joaquin
Now, I don’t think there’s some kind of mass conspiracy amongst some Diocesan Registrars to keep us from knowing the results. I know of one diocese where all the clergy were emailed the full return so no problem there. It’s more an issue of transparency caused by sticking to the letter of the law rather than the spirit. If ordinary members of the Church can’t get hold of the full returns, how can the elections be deemed to be open and fair? In any state election, an inability to show the return would be simply unacceptable.
How hard would it be for the Church of England to publish the full returns of every single diocese in one place (for example the Church of England website)? After all, rule 39(11) quoted above says that every single diocese has to send the full return to the Clerk of General Synod. It’s a very quick job (much quicker than emailing 44 Diocesan Registrars I can tell you) at that stage to put them all into one spreadsheet and post it on the CofE website. At the moment (since no-one is replying to two thirds of my emails), to get the same information I would have to jump into my car and drive round to every single Diocesan Office. That is if they would even let me see them. Think of the carbon”¦
Kudos to Church House. After two days I did eventually get a copy of every single full return ”“ all attached separately in one email, a mixture of spreadsheets, pdfs and word documents. Some of the returns were missing which makes you wonder at what point, if at all, the dioceses were going to send them to the General Synod Secretary. The fact that I had to put them all together into one easy to read document (the ones that were made available) just proves my point for me.
According to Webb and Maher, Clawson’s view that speaking is educational is not at all accidental. Drug companies train representatives to approach a narrow set of doctors in a very specific way, using language that deliberately fosters this idea that the doctors who speak are educators, and not just educators, but the smartest of the smart.
For example, every drug representative interviewed for this story used the exact same phrase when approaching a doctor with a pitch to become a speaker: Each doctor approached to speak was told that he was being recruited to serve as a “thought leader.”
This phrase, Webb says, seems to have incredible psychological power.
“When you do say ‘thought leader’ I think it’s a huge ego boost for the physicians,” Webb says. “It’s like a feather in their cap. They get a lot from it.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, spent more than Â£45,500 on hospitality at Lambeth Palace last year, twice the previous year.
It also emerged that bishops can pay their wives for catering.
Dr Williams’s bill was more than double the previous year’s total of Â£21,387 for church meetings and functions.
The Vatican on Tuesday (Oct. 26) called for former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz to be spared the death penalty, and suggested it might intervene diplomatically on his behalf.
“The position of the Catholic Church on the death penalty is known,” said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office. “It is therefore truly hoped that the sentence against Tariq Aziz will not be carried out, precisely in order to favor reconciliation and the reconstruction of peace and justice in Iraq after the great sufferings undergone there.
Is modern moral relativism as advocated by rationalists, for instance turning out to be even more of a problem than absolutism as we know it in orthodox religion?
Relativism is a real problem. It can lead to a weakening of belief that all people have an absolute right to equal justice, to a weakening of the belief that some things (torture, rape and other atrocities) could never be justified on any grounds, and so on.
How would you compare Indian-style pluralism with the kind of secularism practised in France?
Pluralism is used both in the political and religious context; states are a bundle of diverse communities with a common administration but different communities have a life of their own. Indian pluralism recognises that religious communities have a right to be active and visible, though not privileged by the state. Most western secularism seems to want to make faith invisible. India is a good reminder that this western idea isn’t the only or the best way to secure a neutral state in a plural society.
Precious in thy sight, O Lord, is the death of thy saints, whose faithful witness, by thy providence, hath its great reward: We give thee thanks for thy martyrs James Hannington and his companions, who purchased with their blood a road unto Uganda for the proclamation of the Gospel; and we pray that with them we also may obtain the crown of righteousness which is laid up for all who love the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
O Lord, whose way is perfect: Help us, we pray thee, always to trust in thy goodness; that walking with thee in faith, and following thee in all simplicity, we may possess quiet and contented minds, and cast all our care on thee, because thou carest for us; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.
–Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)
And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”
The latest exposure by Wikileaks of thousands of secret documents about the aftermath of the Iraq war has once again provoked debate about transparency and the implications of the indiscriminate cascade of disclosure. Exposures like these and notoriously, the MP expenses scandal before the last election, have fostered the belief that transparency is now a necessary condition for a functioning democracy.
Transparency advocates argue that the public disclosure of information is more important than the right to privacy because it is vital to rebuild trust, that this is impossible if politicians continue to “hide secrets” from the public, that democracy is a sham unless it is forced into honesty by radical campaigners like Julian Assange, pictured right.
But does this compulsive desire to publish every note, leak every memo, really do anything to bolster trust in society?
The short answer is that it does the opposite: it fuels mistrust rather than nurturing a climate of trust. It breeds suspicion and fosters secrecy.
Update: If you missed it, make sure to see “The Web Means the End of Forgetting” by Jeffrey Rosen, which was posted back in the summer, as it covers the theme from another angle.
To pay or not to pay is the question now facing some homeowners ”” not because they can’t afford their mortgage, but because they don’t want to keep paying on a home that’s lost value.
But even as they gain popularity, strategic defaults are highly controversial ”” some might say immoral. About a quarter of American homeowners took out loans that are bigger than their homes are now worth, and some of them say it’s simply irrational for them to keep paying the mortgage.
Grace Chen and her husband, Antonis Orphanou, have this debate about their own home. From the outside, there is nothing to flag them as troubled homeowners. They haven’t lost their jobs. Their interest rate has stayed the same. They are not counted among the legions headed to foreclosure. In fact, they haven’t missed a single mortgage payment.
But they’re tempted to.
Bishop Kevin Farrell of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas has taken issue publicly with a Southern Methodist University professor’s upcoming lecture on U.S. Catholic bishops and abortion law.
The Rev. Charles Curran is a Catholic priest and ethicist who has long taught at SMU, and who also has a history of tangling with the Vatican over social issues.